What I’m doing: Racing through Lost in an attempt to catch up before the season finale airs and I get spoiled all to hell.
What this is: These are my thoughts as I watch the episode.
What’s important: In an effort to avoid spoilers, note that I won’t be reading any comments made to these posts until I’ve caught up. Feel free to say whatever you like and discuss among yourselves, just don’t expect a reply from me for the next month or so.
Stating the obvious: There are spoilers in this post for any and all events through to the episode I’m making notes about. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, please stop reading now.
– See Ben run. Run, Ben, run.
– Without his power, Napoleon would rather be dead. I think you may not be speaking of Napoleon.
– Oh good lord, Arzt. Stab him with your chopstick, Ben!
– “If the man in charge doesn’t care about this place, maybe it’s time for a change.” This is pretty obvious parallels all around, but for some reason it’s not bothering me like it usually does when this show is so obvious.
– Oh Ben’s still with this group, I thought they would’ve kicked him out after finding out he was all stabby on Jacob.
– Okay … Dharma did exist on the island in Ben’s past.
– Oh hey, Alex. She’s in Ben’s history club. How did Rousseau get to LA?
– Protect the candidates, that’s to be Bounty Chick’s mission from Jacob.
– Book: The Chosen. Missed the author though. Pretty sure it’s not me.
– The ship in the history book for the East India Trading Company. The Black Rock? An incredible simulation?
– Tsk Ben, you know you won’t keep this stuff about the principal to yourself.
– Richard’s age: “Jacob gave me a gift.”
– Oh and speaking of the Black Rock.
– That’s a pretty straight and evenly lined grave for something dug under duress with a bamboo shovel.
– Richard can’t kill himself, he wants Jack and Hurley to do for him. “Jacob touched me. When Jacob touches you it’s considered a gift. But it’s not a gift at all, it’s a curse.”
– What? Wait what? Jack is doing this? AT LEAST ASK QUESTIONS JACK, YOU KNOB. Oh Jesus, “Let’s talk” maybe you should’ve done that before lighting the stupid fuse.
– And yet we still don’t get answers, he just wants to go to the bloody beach. Sigh.
– You’re too much the manipulator to not know that’s what Dark!Locke is doing to you, Ben. Ahh but you run and I guess what choice do you have.
– Oh here’s your fork in the road, Parallel!Ben: Throw Alex under the bus or take power? You chose the wrong way last time, what will you do in your do-over?
– Aww. Bounty Chick will have Ben.
– Aww. Alex got her letter.
– And we revisit slo-mo end-of-ep montage for the first time in a very long time. Quite a changed group now.
– The sub is back. And so is Whitmore.
Aww. For having been such a little weasely ass, Ben’s turned out to be like the most interesting and likable character in this whole show. Seriously, I think by this point I’m rooting for him more than anybody else.
Jack and Kate, I’ve made no secret my feelings there. Locke isn’t Locke anymore, and I feel nothing but pity for LockeThatWas. Sawyer I’m pretty meh about all around. Claire’s gone bugfuck. Jin I still like okay I guess, but even after six years he’s tremendously one-dimensional. Sun, I was starting to kinda get over the affair thing when she just decided to forget about her child completely. (I find it interesting that for a show with such mommy and daddy issues, they’re creating a horrible mommy right in front of our eyes. Poor Ji Yeon, yet another sacrifice at the alter of plot.) Miles looks like he’s a fairly permanent part of the cast now, but since his only purpose appears to be for sarcastic one-liners that aren’t even even all that witty I don’t care about him. Sayid has been reduced to knife slashing and creepy blank smiles. And everyone else is either dead or disappeared or so inconsequential as to not even blip on my radar.
(Oh, whoops, forgot Hurley. Yeah, I like Hurley too, but that’s because Hurley’s inherently likable. They’d have to work hard to make you hate Hurley.)
But in Ben we have a character swimming in layers, who’s smart with a damning ruthless streak, but who loves his kid and maybe just wants to feel that someone, somewhere, wants him around. Yeah, that’s kinda “aww”. I can get into Ben. Hell, there’s something there to get into. I find myself wondering why Ben works so well for me, and I think maybe it’s because the writers weren’t trying so hard. I think at first they just sort of let Ben do what Ben wanted to do without worrying too much about trying to force some greater significance onto him. Honestly, Ben’s like a rogue element in this series. He switches sides at the blink of an eye, he lies as easily as breathing, and he seems simultaneously unimportant in his importance. Dark!Locke didn’t try to recruit him (at first, when he was the most easily recruitable), Jacob doesn’t seem to want him … and yet Ben refuses to allow himself to be brushed aside. If Dark!Locke and Jacob are the two major forces in the Lostiverse then they could also be considered analogues for the writers – forcing the flow of action, directing events to their preconceived conclusions. As far as the creators are concerned, both real and fictional, Ben runs around in defiance of them. Perhaps more than any other character, he’s free from destiny, both inside the context of the show and outside it. Unlike everyone else, Ben isn’t a puppet. And I think that’s why he works for me.
Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t give huge props to the actor (whose name I don’t know and I haven’t looked up for fear of accidental spoilage). I think he’s the one that weaves the layers into Ben; you may not know exactly what is going on, but you know it’s more than what you’re seeing. That sort of thing can’t be scripted.
One last comment on Ben: There are still nine episodes left, but I sincerely hope they don’t go back to that whole Ben+Juliet thing. I’m tentatively optimistic since it was just in that one episode and never touched again. I’ll happily ignore it if they do.
– NoCrashTimeline: Are you kidding me?? For being this consummate con man, Sawyer has EXACTLY ONE CON.
– Sawyer a cop in the NoCrashTimeline? So they just let the police bone suspects on the taxpayer dime then, okay.
– AHH! THE BABOON SKULL BABY AGAIN! DO NOT WANT!
– Claire taking Kate’s hand. Yeah, I wouldn’t so much trust Claire right now Kate.
– NoCrash!Sawyer’s still looking for Real!Sawyer, just doing THAT on the taxpayer dime too.
– NoCrash!Miles’ dad still around, working for a museum.
– If all you wanna do is leave, Dark!Locke, why did you have to kill everyone in the temple? This is a question you should be asking, Sawyer.
– NoCrash!Sawyer’s blind date: Charlotte.
– Nice, the books on NoCrash!Sawyer’s dresser: Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time, and a third I couldn’t make out but that we’ve doubtless seen before.
– Weren’t you just mourning the hell out of Julia, like, yesterday Sawyer? Maybe you shouldn’t be all weepy-eyed and sitting in the cages with Kate’s dress.
– Yeah, there we go Claire. Knifing Kate in the face, much more the response I was expecting.
– Pile o’ bodies, people who didn’t survive the rough landing I guess.
– Hey it’s TV’s Tina Fey!
– NoCrash!Charlie’s brother looking for him at the station.
– Oh okay, those people didn’t die in the crash, something killed them after the fact.
– Yeah I suspect you, Tina Fey. Although you’re the only person in this show actually asking questions so I give you that.
– Dark!Locke: “My mother was crazy. Long time ago, before I looked like this, I had a mother just like everyone. She was a very disturbed woman. And as a result of that I had some … growing pains. Problems that I’m still trying to work my way through. Problems that would have been avoided had things been different.” Is that Locke or Smoke Man talking?
– Ah okay, Tina Fey is part of Whitmore’s group.
– Of course if Sawyer’s main (only?) goal is to get off the island I could easily see him aligning with Whitmore right now.
– Whitmore knows Locke is dead and the person we see isn’t Locke.
– And now Claire’s hugs and tears. Poor Claire, you started off so promising a character.
– But Sawyer’s telling Dark!Locke all about Whitmore. Another fun game of “guess the team”.
– Seriously, the pylons are supposed to keep out the smoke monster? I just … rar. Join me in Overall for more on this.
– Crashing the car into NoCrash!Sawyer – NoCrash!Kate? Yes indeed.
– Sure, the sub that requires an entire crew to man. I’m sure you’ll be able to pilot it just fine with only the two of you, Sawyer.
Sawyer’s story. I’m disappointed at him going back to mooning over Kate; it makes Juliet’s suspicions about Sawyer dumping her for Kate not so out there as he would’ve liked her to believe, and makes Sawyer look even more an ass for it. What’s more, I really do think he and Juliet worked much better than he and Kate ever did. But honestly, I can’t say that I’m all that invested either way, so the most I can summon up is an eye roll and a head shake.
His NoCrash!storyline is equally uninteresting to me. I’m having by far more problems with him sleeping with the suspect while being monitored and recorded for what appears to be an ongoing investigation. I’m not all up on criminal law and shit, but I’m pretty sure that’s a violation of something somewhere. And if it’s not it should be. Other than that, he’s still looking for Real!Sawyer, which makes me briefly wonder, what with NoCrash!Locke seeming to be okay with his dad now and all, if it’s the same person it was before. But only briefly, then I stop caring again.
Now for the main event. The pylons. The bloody pylons. Okay.
I feel the need once again to point out that when the Lostaways were infiltrating South Otherington and first came upon the giant pylons? They conquered this impenetrable obstacle by climbing over it. That was it. Chop down a tree, climb up and over the pylon and drop safely on the other side. Easy enough to do even if you’re a clunky thing on two legs, should be even easier to float up a tree if you’re made of smoke, right?
But wait it gets better. Because the smoke monster can just float right over them.
It’s been pre-established that the smoke monster can get at least that high. In the very first episode it ripped the pilot right out of the cockpit. A cockpit that was leaning up against trees at something a 45+ degree angle. I think a plane simply resting on the ground, even without wheels, would be as high as the pylons in the jungle, and certainly as high as those constructed on the beach.
But here we have the cockpit of 815, jutting up into the air, but not so high that the monster couldn’t just pluck the pilot right out of it.
Then what about the trees? The trees that we’ve seen, multiple times, the monster yanking out of the ground. Not knocking over, not breaking in half, but ripping straight up from the ground.
I don’t think floating up and over something roughly ten foot tall would present any problem for the smoke monster whatsoever, and I feel insulted that I’m supposed to believe it could.
Oh, but maybe it’s something more mystical than that? Maybe it creates a dome of protection of some sort, or projects a wall far taller than the pylons, or has some other property that keeps out the monster?
Nope. No good. The writer’s shattered all possibility of higher walls or domes when they had the Lostaways shimmy up the tree without problem. And if the pylons create some other kind of protection, why go to all the trouble of showing us the sonic fence and its effects? Richard makes it clear that they fence isn’t keeping out The Others (who seem equally plagued by the monster at this point), so what other purpose does it have? At this point the only point to the thing is to keep out Smokey, and they already showed us exactly why it shouldn’t.
A weak and sloppy plot device that, in order to function within the context of the story, forces your big scary smart mastermind evil guy to look like a fucking moron.
– Oo a Richard episode? Hopefully so, though we’re starting with Bounty Chick.
– Sun: “She said I was one of [the candidates].” Well no, she said MAYBE you.
– Per Jacob, Richard is supposed to know what they do next. Richard seems to disagree.
– OO! ME! ME! I WANT TO KNOW THE SECRET!! Richard says that everyone’s dead, that they’re in hell. Aw, was that it? Sadface. Still for getting such potentially upsetting information everyone is taking it very much in stride.
– Flashback yay. Tenerife, Canary Islands, 1856.
– Dying girl: “Close your eyes.” And then she stabs Richard with a sword and he’s sucked into a hell dimension. No? Aw. :(
– Well honestly, who didn’t see the violent confrontation with the doctor coming? Still the Black Rock – not a slave ship but a prison ship perhaps, going to a penal colony?
– And she’s dead. Well that sucks for Richard.
– As does the “you’re burning in hell, boy, nothing you can do”.
– Slave ship it is then.
– Yeah I’d imagine that seeing the giant Anubis statue in the pitch black of a terrible thunder storm could look like the devil.
– Then they crash. But … into the head of the statue? How did they get that high, and so fast? Was there a second statue? with just the head poking out of the water or something? And how did the ship get so far inland? Mike says that part of the island may have been submerged in water, but the statue we saw was facing out to the sea like we’ve always seen it, plus the statue is on completely the wrong side of the island from the Black Rock isn’t it?
– Smoke monster does not approve of the killing of slaves. And it let Richard live.
– Almost stabbed but not stabbed. Got a nail but lost a nail. Sees dead wife, dead wife dies again. So tremendous mind fuckery going on for Richard. All a test by Jacob?
– But that’s not Jacob, that’s the guy who was with Jacob on the beach, who I’m guessing is Dark!Locke/smoke monster.
– This Not!Jacob guy is so Randall Flagg. That could only have been more “Flagg meets Lloyd in prison” if rats and cannibalism were involved.
– Not!Jacob says the statue broke up when the Black Rock smashed into it. Difficult to believe for me, not to mention all the spacial problems I’m having with all this.
– The knife and the instructions Not!Jacob is giving to Richard are the same that Nobunaga was giving to Sayid for Dark!Locke. How did the knife change hands?
– Jacob says that the island is the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs. Not!Jacob believes that everyone will be corrupted because it’s human nature to sin. Jacob brings people to prove him wrong. When they get here, their past doesn’t matter anymore. Others before Richard? Many. They’re all dead. If you brought them why not help? Wanted them to help themselves to know the difference between right and wrong without Jacob telling them.
– Jacob offers Richard a job: I don’t want to step in, maybe you can do it for me. (Which, doesn’t that count as you stepping in?) You can be my intermediary. Richard wants his wife back, Jacob can’t do that. And he can’t absolve of sin. But Richard wants to live forever, and that he can do.
– The actor they got to play Not!Jacob, he’s definitely taken some of Terry O’Quinn’s mannerisms.
– Richard’s defecting to Locke now huh?
– And Hurley comes out of the jungle? …oh wait, that’s who he was talking to in the beginning of the episode, huh? Richard’s wife? And since he can speak spanish, not a problem to understand her.
– Yup, there we go, wife sent him.
– Standing next to Richard and … looking quite modern actually.
– And then he smashes the bottle getting around the cork and oh good lord that was cheesy. I didn’t need the closeup on the hand okay I got it.
So … God vs. Devil thing huh? Yeah. I have an issue with that. I’ll come back to it.
First of all let’s address my more tangible problem of the Black Rock crashing into the Anubis statue. I won’t even dwell further on the fact that one second we’re miles out at see and the next we’re literally on top of the thing. Or how the wave suddenly lifted the ship like 80 feet in the air to reach the head, then flung the ship halfway across the island. Yeah, those are the least of my concerns.
How about the fact that the little wooden ship utterly decimated a solid stone statue?
How about the fact that the ship survived AT ALL?
I am finding tremendous difficulty in accepting that a 19th century wooden slave ship can be hurled through a wall of stone with such force that the stone is shattered completely but the ship not only survives that impact but then ALSO survives a hundred foot drop into the middle of the jungle, miles inland. And is mostly intact when it lands.
And this isn’t even considering the dynamite that’s on board. Brand new not, I wouldn’t fancy my chances of throwing nitroglycerin at solid stone so fast that the stone shatters.
No. I don’t buy it.
All that is really but one detail in a much larger episode however, so let’s turn our attention to the real meat, and that is the setup (as I perceive it) for the rest of the season, and by extension, the entire show from the first episode onward.
God versus the Devil. Good versus Evil. The One True Battle.
I am just so disappointed in that idea that I’m not sure where to begin.
Okay, so the idea isn’t new on the show. My Season 1 notes even include multiple references to light and dark imagery. I believed that would be a factor, and that idea in and of itself isn’t inherently poor. But to break it down to its most literal components? “Here’s a good guy dressed in white who believes in the best of us and is keeping the evil at bay”; “Here’s a bad guy dressed in black who is manipulating and corrupting us so he can be free to damn the world”. It’s the world’s oldest story. And I don’t mean that in the sense of “it’s a classic take on humanity’s first story”, I mean “it’s done to death, STOP.”
Let’s narrow our perspective back to the show again. Since the beginning it’s really been about three groups: Dharma, The Others, and the Lostaways. Here’s why that was cool: The Lostaways were us of course, thrust into this incomprehensible situation and trying to make sense of it. Dharma and The Others, they’re our opposing forces. Both seem quite shady and frightening, both are powerful and compelling.
Both are utterly inconsequential.
The Others? They aren’t indigenous people, they’re the toys Jacob played with then forgot about. Dharma? Not only inconsequential but painfully, dangerously incompetent. Think about it for a second: YEARS ago we learned that Dharma was tricking people into monitoring everyone else for no reason. The meticulously kept journals that creepily went nowhere? No purpose. Just for shits and grins I guess. But who cares! What difference does that stuff make when the fate of the entire world rests, very literally, on smoke and mirrors.
It all has an inescapable air of great importance without meaning anything at all. Smokey says that he believes people will always be corrupted because it’s human nature; Jacob thinks the opposite so he keeps bringing people to the island to prove it.
Jacob is clearly more powerful than Smokey. What the fuck does he care what Smokey thinks and believes? Not to mention the fact that with every single group of people that Jacob brings he’s just proving Smokey’s point. There were “many” more people brought to the island before Richard arrived in the 1850s. Just because you keep trying over and over again and may even one day find that certain someone who is incorruptible doesn’t make your argument right. I would in fact say that 1000 people to one person on the “corruptible” to “incorruptible” scale would still translate into “humans = corruption”.
And that’s without even going into the people you’re just happily letting die along the way. “Yeah I bring a lotta peeps. They kill each other. I bring more peeps. I’m Jacob, s’up?”
Jacob the force of good? Jacob the utter douche.
– “Previously”: Oh that’s right, Jin was taken into customs custody, then Sayid found him in the restaurant.
– Sawyer wearing a wire?
– Dark!Locke: The only way they can all leave the island is if all the not-crossed-off names leave together. Or, perhaps if they’re all dead, I suspect that will work for him too.
– Oh interesting, NoCrash!Jin and Sun aren’t married. …wait a thought. Did maybe Jacob’s touch kind of … undo something? Like maybe NoCrash!Sawyer really didn’t finish the letter and that made him be a cop. And Jacob greeted Sun and Jin at their wedding, so that part never happened. NoCrash!Jack’s kid seemed a bit too old to have happened with the nerve bundle thing, but maybe that girl died and changed something for Jack. Hm.
– NoCrash!Sun and Jin. Not married, but certainly a little more than acquaintances.
– It’s the brainwashing room again.
– Tina Fey has turned into Sally Field!
– Room 23, Dharma testing the effects of subliminal messaging.
– Dark!Locke: “Something wrong, Claire?” Well she’s keeping a baboon skull baby in a crib, that’s pretty damned wrong in my book.
– Claire’s not a candidate, but Dark!Locke says that he needs Claire anyway. Maybe, maybe not.
– Kate’s name on the list? “Not any more.”
– Heeey, Mikhail Fury! And with both eyes.
– Mike on commando: “Man, what a creepy-ass guy. I hope he bites it in this reality too.” I remind him about Sayid shooting him. Mike: “Well I hope we get to see it again then, I’ll enjoy it.”
– I’m guessing that this “package” that Whitmore just asked Sally Fey to move is important, given the episode title and all.
– Hey, they still have the shar pei. :)
– Shots go wide – Sun hit? Mikhail gets it in the eye. And yes, she is.
– Dude, at one comment per page, Sun’s going to be out of paper by the end of this single conversation.
– Mike: “Man the only thing more dangerous than Sayid is a Sayid without any kind of moral compass.”
– The secret package: Desmond.
A surprisingly boring episode really. It moved plot along, but had little to offer outside of that. What I found the most interesting was Dark!Locke’s statement that Kate isn’t on the candidate list “any more”. So can you be removed from the list by ways other than straight up death? And if so, what did Kate do that got her booted? The only thing I can maybe think is in not bringing Aaron, but what difference would that make? His absence in no way prevented them from coming back, and he’s clearly not a candidate himself else he’d be on “the list” too. Other than that she hasn’t done much that I would think to be so reprehensible, but then I don’t exactly know the criteria either.