Episode Title: "The Cost of Living"
Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Finally! After spending two and a half seasons dealing with the mysteries of the Island, it looks like Lost is finally getting around to something far more interesting - economics! As the episode title hints, this episode seems to be dealing with the economic principle of the cost of living. A Cost of Living Index measures differences in the price of goods and services over time. Price indexes, such as the U.S. Consumer Price Index, are examples of these indexes. Price indexes measure the cost of purchasing a bundle of goods and services. In a nutshell, it tells you how expensive it is to buy basic necessities in a given area.
So what does this have to do with Lost? Absolutely nothing - I'm just doing my public service to make the world a smarter place. You'll thank me when you're on Jeopardy someday. But on to the deeper meaning...
What is the cost of living? What do we pay each day in order to remain living, breathing, and alive? You could argue that the cost of living is putting up with the pain and suffering that inevitably comes from time to time in life. From a religious perspective, one could argue that the cost of living is the risk that comes each day that you will commit some action to damn your soul. You could even argue that the cost of living is death. Whether we like it or not, everyone dies. The cost of living is that some day you're going to die. As Dave Matthews puts it, "Another year older - another year closer to being dead"). Wow! Most morbid paragraph on the Blog ever! How Halloween appropriate!
Which brings us to Eko.
The Cost of Living is an Eko-centric episode. Who has had a higher cost of living than Eko? Even Locke's "horrible past" pales in comparison. Think back. Eko was forced to murder a complete stranger to save his brother from the same act, he turns into a feared drug lord, and is eventually responsible for his brother's death. He's killed a lot of people, including those closest to him. That's a lot of baggage for someone to shoulder, even if they are built like a hoss. The cost living for Eko is this burden of his past - and it looks like he's coming to grips with it this week.
But he's not the only one. In a nutshell, Lost has always been about people with tortured pasts for one reason or another, and coming to grips with these burdens. Even now, we've got Jack wrestling with the decision of helping the Others in order to get off the Island (the cost of living - off the Island!) and the Others seemingly having an internal struggle (the cost of living on the island is a lack of free will?), without even re-hashing all that we've learned about Sun, Locke, and Sawyer this season. Everyone has plenty of issues, no question there. What worries me is that in the past, when you overcome your demons and find peace on Lost, you usually die (see: Boone, Ana-Lucia, Shannon).
The cost of living can be steep. But to take it to the extreme, the highest cost of living is one person sacrficing themself so that another can live. That puts the value of one life over the value of another. The cost of one person living can sometimes be the death of another (see: Bruce Willis at the end of Armageddon).
TV.com Description: A delirious Eko wrestles with past demons; some of the castaways go to the Pearl station to find a computer they can use to locate Jack, Kate and Sawyer; Jack does not know who to trust when two of the Others are at odds with each other.
TV.com Breakdown: When we last left Eko, he was seemingly still unconscious from his Polar Bear attack (I think we can safely chalk up his "talking" to Locke as a hallucination on Locke's part). The way the description is worded, his "wrestling with past demons" could happen regardless of if he wakes up or still unconscious. I'm curious to see if this struggle is going to be another trippy scene that's all inside Eko's head while he's still unconscious and dreaming, or if it's a product of him waking up and being "changed" by the Hatch implosion, a la Desmond. Only instead of seeing the future, Eko's seeing his demons from his past. Either way, I'm expecting a heavy dose of Yemi guilting Eko about his past.
Meanwhile, it looks like Locke decides a return trip to the Pearl Station is in order to help facilitate his journey for Jack, Kate and Sawyer. It’s about time that one of the Survivors started thinking logically, using the resources from a Hatch to their advantage! It’s still bothered me that there have been no repeat visits to the Staff, the Pearl, etc. other than the initial visits there. If it was me, and I was stranded on a mysterious Island with no idea what was going on all around me, you better believe I’d be tearing each Hatch apart, trying to find some clues.
Inside the Pearl, I’m assuming Locke encounters this freaky image:
Who is this guy? Well, given that he has an eye patch, smart money is on the fact that he’s the same person who lost his glass eye inside the Arrow Hatch. It’s also likely that he was the one who was sitting at the desk inside the Pearl, burning cigarettes (whose butts were found by Locke and Eko last season).
Rather than being our first “Reject”, I’m more expecting him to become a “wild card” on the Island – the equivalent of someone like CFL, who doesn’t seem to have any true allegiances, but seems to have a fair deal of knowledge about the Island. Although mega-freaky, he doesn’t quite have the “savage look” that I would expect from the Rejects, and also seems to be all alone, which somewhat rules him out for being an Other. Look for him to provide the clues necessary to lead Locke to Jack, Kate, and Sawyer – and also be plenty freaky.
Lastly, it seems that we’re getting our first taste of some dissension among the Others, and Jack is right in the middle. Although it might be something as simple as Pickett and Ben arguing (over if Pickett can kill Sawyer or not), it would make more sense to have this be a fight between Juliet and Ben – over the tumor that Jack pointed out last episode. Juliet seemed a bit taken aback by Jack’s comment about the X-Rays showing a tumor, and the previews seem to indicate that the endangered spine was none other than Ben’s.
Suddenly, the reasoning behind the kidnapping of Jack becomes quite clear. Ben needs spinal surgery. Jack is a spinal surgeon. It’s pretty simple really. Kate and Sawyer are brought along for the ride to help “coerce” Jack if needed.
So why the argument? I’m guessing that none of the other Others were aware of Ben’s tumor or the need for Jack. Something tells me that they were under the impression that Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were kidnapped for some higher purpose than just helping Ben survive. Suddenly, it seems that Ben is out for his own well being more so than that of the group. At least that’s my hope, in my dream world of Others and Rebel Dharmites.
Previously on Lost...
Brian's One Word Review of "Every Man for Himself": Intense.
I was really surprised to see how many people were not huge fans of last episode. Granted, I didn’t believe the “exploding heart” bit for a second, but it was still the most action packed episode of Lost so far this season. Between Sawyer getting his ass kicked by Ben (reminiscent of Ethan’s domination of Jack in Season One, anyone? Maybe these Others do have some sort of super strength after all…), getting stabbed in the heart (which to me was a pretty clear reference to the movie “The Rock”, not “Pulp Fiction”), Colleen dying, and the bunny seemingly being shaken to death, there were enough “edge of your seat” moments this episode to more than make up for the weak flashback and “exploding heart” storylines.
Again, it wasn’t a five star episode, but I enjoyed it as much as any episode so far this season. So what happened?
Desmond. As predicted, he’s using his newfound clairvoyance to help protect his fellow Survivors from danger – in this case, saving Claire, Charlie, and Aaron from a lightning strike that could have seriously injured them – or at least ruined their shelter. So what’s the deal here?
We didn’t really get any further information about how or why Desmond suddenly has this power, but it’s clear that it’s not strictly some sort of “mind meld” with Locke and Eko, but rather straightforward seeing into the future. Knowing exactly when and where the lightning bolt would strike was in no way tied to any knowledge that any of the Survivors would have. Needless to say, if Desmond somehow has control over this power, it would prove indispensable in any sort of “fight” against the Others, as well as predicting what is going to happen on upcoming episodes of Lost! Here’s hoping we continue to learn more about one of the most intriguing developments on Lost we’ve ever seen.
Purple Haze. As some commenters have astutely noted, one of the big lines of the episode was something of a throwaway line between Tom and Ben when Sawyer was waking up on the operating table, where Tom mentions somewhat frantically that “the sky went purple, we’ve lost communications, and Colleen is dying…”
Why is this so important? For one, it demonstrates that the Others have no idea what happened when Desmond blew up the Hatch any more than our Survivors do. The curious thing is that Ben’s capture and toying with Locke seemed to be for the purpose of getting them to stop pushing the button – why would he have done so if they were unaware of the consequences of such action? This also leads me to the question – if the Others don’t know what happened when the sky went purple, who will? Are we ever going to get a firm answer of the repercussions of this action, or are we going to have to piece it together as we go along, chalking up new occurrences on the Island as resulting from the Hatch implosion?
Also huge in this conversation is that the Others have lost their communication with the outside world. When the magnetic force “released”, it clearly knocked out whatever sort of communication equipment they were using – leaving them as stranded on the Island as the Survivors are. Will this possibly lead to the two sides working together? Not likely – the Others seem quite content to stay on the Island, which is the exact opposite of how our Survivors feel. What this might do, though, is give our Survivors a bit of an upper hand in some sort of “battle” between the two groups. With their communications down, maybe their ability to remotely monitor the Island is lessened as well.
Crappy Equipment. I also found it curious that the Others lacked functioning medical equipment. If they had Defibrillator Paddles, Colleen might have been able to be saved – but Juliet quietly admitted that they did not. These Others are definitely not as advanced as we initially gave them credit for – they might somehow be able to get ten copies of the same book for Book Club, but they can’t request updated, functioning medical equipment? Something seems a little off here – as if they don’t have as constant communication lines with the outside world as they would have us to believe. It’s almost as if they’re holding on to their life on the Island even after their supporters on the outside world have forgotten about them. Very intriguing.
Lame. Much less intriguing was the flashback this past episode, showing us that Sawyer was able to con people for some good. I suppose the flashback gave us a more well-rounded image of Sawyer as a person, but it really didn’t do much for me. Yes, it was nice to see Cassidy back, showing some continuity between Sawyer flashbacks. Yes, it was nice to know that Sawyer has a kid out there (allegedly), and has the heart to support this kid in his own way. But my main problem with the flashback, and something that seems to be happening more and more, is that the flashbacks seem to have little to no connection to what’s going on the Island at the time.
I remember back to Season One, when a character on the Island would say or do something that would “launch” a flashback, where we would see something saying or doing something similar. That makes sense. The actions on the Island are “triggering” the character to have that flashback. Anymore, it seems very disconnected, as we have Sawyer in a cage, plotting his escape – then flashing back to him in a boxing ring – huh? It just doesn’t make much sense.
One of my fears for a while has been that the flashbacks among our core group of characters would become stale with time. It’s slowly happening, but it’s not because the things happening in the flashbacks are uninteresting or lack a huge “twist”, a la Locke being in a wheelchair – but rather they are just starting to feel extraneous to the storyline on the Island. More than anything, this seems to be a product of lazy writing. Disappointing.
Paulo. Speaking of disappointment, I again have to mention what an absolutely horrible job the writers are doing introducing Paulo and Nikki – another episode with a throwaway scene featuring Paulo where we don’t learn his name or anything about him, but instead see a forced scene with an existing character, acting like they’ve known each other all along. This is getting to the point of awkwardness. You know how when you meet someone new, if you forget their name, you only have so much time to ask them what it is again before it becomes too awkward to do so since you’ve already been hanging out with them so much? I think we’re officially there with Paulo. Nikki, you’re not far behind.
Alcatraz. Finally, the big shock at the end of the episode is that there’s more than one Island on Lost. If we’re to believe Ben, the Island that they’re currently on is used as a “prison” of sorts (thus the “Alcatraz” reference). After seeing this, some immediate questions come to mind:
- How have the Survivors, the Tailers, CFL, etc. NOT seen this until now? Is there some sort of “magic invisibility shield” around it? Did the Hatch exploding somehow make it visible, where it was cloaked in the past? Or are we to believe that no one has ever made it to the side of the main Island that it lies across from?
- Here’s a big question – was it even real? It’s almost a little too convenient, given that we saw the Others’ “main civilization” is on the main Island, and could be nothing more than some optical illusion designed to keep Sawyer from any escape plans. How? No idea – but something to keep in the back of your mind…
- Assuming that the Island is real, was the wire that Sayid found along the beach somehow running communications / power from the main Island out to Alcatraz? If so, wouldn’t he have seen Alcatraz out in the ocean when he was looking at where the wire was going? Or is this where the “cloaking” comes into play?
- Again assuming Alcatraz is legit, how do the Others get to and from the main Island? There was some mention of “the sub returning”, so it sounds as though they do have some means of sea transportation – but we’ve yet to see any proof of this.
- What is the purpose of this second Island? It isn’t mentioned at all in the “Numbers” Orientation video, but may have been referenced in the Pearl Orientation video, where they talk about performing your experiments and then returning to the ferry to take you back to the barracks. Is Alcatraz the true “living quarters” for the scientists, to protect them from the wacky experiments going on the main Island? If so, what are we to make of the fact that the Others were seemingly living on the main Island during the first scene of Season Three? Is that their “summer home”?
Spoilers. Last but not least. Someone forgot the golden rule of “Lost and Gone Forever” – that is, we don’t post spoilers in the Comments Section, since they are the equivalent of fast-forwarding to the end of a movie before watching the middle, or searching for your Christmas presents around the house the week before Christmas – it just ruins the fun for everyone.
Because of this, and for the sake of all those who don’t actually read the Comments (which I hope is most people!), I’m going to refrain from commenting on the post in question (but have already kinda hinted at my thoughts already) – but will say this – I have a very hard time believing it to be true. From a storytelling perspective, it doesn’t make any sense to me, and I will be shocked to see it come to fruition.
Maybe I’ve already said too much.
So with that, I’m done for this week. I’ve got to say, I’m going into this week with little to no expectations about the quality of the episode, which should hopefully leave me pleasantly surprised. But honestly, we’ve only got two weeks of Lost left before the winter break, and it has definitely under-performed up until this point. It’s going to take a strong finish for Lost to build some momentum to carry us through the cold winter months – but here’s hoping.
PS – God bless those male Lost producers. Another week, another scene of hot Kate action!