Episode Title: “A Tale of Two Cities”
Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Great. Once again Lost is forcing me to learn about a literary work that I had thus far successfully avoided in my life. It would be nice if they started referencing novels that I actually read in high school to save me some time. But I digress – sometimes blogging requires you to buckle down and give yourself a crash course in Charles Dickens’ most famous work over the course of a Saturday morning (it’s not all fame, fortune, and gorgeous women like you might think!).
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Okay – if you’re anything like me, you know the first line of this novel and nothing else. So before we get too crazy (read: deep), here’s your crash course in the storyline of the novel:
The two cities in question are London and Paris. The plot centers on the years leading up to the French Revolution, telling the story of two men – Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a romantic aristocrat (read: fancy pants), Carton is a cynical English barrister (read: lawyer), but both are in love with the same girl, Lucie Manette (read: hussie!). I’ll save the extraneous plot elements, twists, and turns and give you the ending – Carton ends up sacrificing himself for Lucie, and Darnay ends up marrying her.
One of the big themes of the novel is comparing and contrasting people, places, and events. The other big ones involve fate, imprisonment, and oppression. Sound a little bit like a certain television show we know and love? Let’s get deep…
From a purely literal perspective, “A Tale of Two Cities” could simply refer to the two “cities” on the Island – the Others’ Camp, and the Survivors’ Camp. Although we have yet to see the camp of the Others (more on this later) it stands to reason that there will be some stark differences between the two.
Put as simply as possible, the Others have knowledge, resources, and collared shirts.
Our Survivors, while doing quite well for themselves living off of the luggage of the dead and random Dharma food drops, definitely are in the dark about what is going on and have been wearing the same ragged clothes since the crash. Furthermore, expect a sharp contrast between the disarray in the Survivors’ camp – who are now missing their two primary leaders (Sayid and Jack) as well as their secondary leaders (Locke and Eko) – “the worst of times”, versus the Others’ camp - which I envision being run like a well-oiled machine – “the best of times”. Everything we’ve seen so far shows the Others to be calculating, precise, and working in tandem. I expect their camp to be no different.
But, if one were to compare the Survivor and Other camps to Paris and London from the Dickens novel, which is which? Initially, you would logically say that the Survivors represent chaotic revolutionary era Paris; while the Others represent stable, established London. However, there’s also a very real chance that my crazy notion of Rebel Dharmites (which I’ve been pitching ever since we saw the Blast Door last year) might prove to be true – and the opposite is actually true.
One of the major themes of A Tale of Two Cities is that of oppression, a ruling class keeping everyone else down. While you could argue that this could be representative of the Others menacing the Survivors, I think it’s more likely to hint at Dharma keeping both the Survivors and Rebel Dharmites down. The Others camp, if currently inhabited by both Dharmites and Rebel Dharmites, might be about to have a Revolution of its own… and Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are going to be right in the middle of it.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite love triangle, how about the parallels between the characters from A Tale of Two Cities to these three?
Charles Darnay is the hero of the novel, full of honorable traits like honor, courage, and respect. Sounds a lot like Jack, doesn’t it? Sawyer is just like Sydney Carton, who was a lazy alcoholic who seemingly cared for no one but himself. Then we have Kate, who doesn’t quite fit into the mold of Lucie Manette, but come on – she’s a girl – that’s close enough. Are we to infer that this means Kate is going to choose Jack? Does this mean that Sawyer’s about to die? I mean, we do see Kate seemingly kissing Sawyer and then crying in one preview…
Let’s not get crazy. Although I would applaud the ballsiness of the writers to kill off Sawyer in the season premiere, no way that is happening. I think it is likely that we see Sawyer make some sort of “sacrifice” to help Kate, gaining some redemption a la Carton without going all the way of giving up his life for her.
The final major theme of the novel is fate. The funny thing is that in re-watching the Season Two Finale, I realized what a huge theme this has become to the show as a whole. Therefore, there’s much more about fate below – but keep in mind it’s also a big theme of A Tale of Two Cities.
So the only question that remains is how this episode title ties in with the flashbacks of the episode? It’s a Jack-centric episode, so if the flashbacks deal with his breakup with Sarah, we could easily get some more character parallels between Jack, Sarah, and Sarah’s Gentleman Lover and Darnay, Carton, and Lucie – but in this case, I think Jack would be more of a Carton than a Darnay. Does Jack make some sacrifice for Sarah, but end up ultimately losing her anyways?
Maybe we’re stretching here. I think there are enough “on-Island” deeper meanings to the episode title that none are needed in the flashbacks – but I would be very impressed with the writers if there were some in both.
Before we move on, one last quick note I found in my research of A Tale of Two Cities that makes it even more Lost relevant. Check out this line:
“every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other”
That’s Lost in a nutshell, isn’t it?
TV.com Description: Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are held in unique circumstances by the mysterious "Others". Meanwhile, back on the beach, a struggle for leadership and direction begins as Hurley makes his way back home with bad news.
TV.com Breakdown: From what we’ve seen in the previews, the Others implemented a “divide and conquer” strategy with Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. What are the “unique circumstances” referenced?
Jack appears to be held in some underground / underwater jail. The previews show him opening a door and having water pour in. Could this be the long rumored “underwater hatch” that Internet people have been chatting about for a year now?
Sawyer is being held in an oversized cage, which appears to have been built to contain some sort of large monkey (Joop, Lost Experience People?). There are oversized picture buttons to control food release and “corrective” electric zaps to prevent misbehavior.
Kate, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be confined to a particular cell or area. In fact, she’s wearing new clothes and being led around by Tom in some previews. It strikes me as very “King Kong”, putting her in a pretty new dress to lead her to be the “sacrifice” to some Island monster.
So what’s going on? Although I’ve had over a hundred days to figure out why the Others took Jack, Kate, and Sawyer specifically, I’ve still got no great reason. As I’ve said before, they’re not the “leaders” of the Survivors (which would include Sayid), they’re not the strongest (which would include Eko), they’re not the smartest (again, Sayid). Anything that the three of them have seen (such as “secrets” of the Island) were always in the presence of other Survivors as well (like Locke), so that can’t be the reason either.
Really the only argument you could make of what separates Jack, Kate, and Sawyer from the other Survivors is that they’re the most attractive – and while the prospect of the Others kidnapping them to help populate the Island would provide some steamy jungle love scenes, it’s completely ridiculous.
So, it’s time to look at this from another angle.
Jack, Kate, and Sawyer weren’t kidnapped because of some unifying factor – they were kidnapped for individual traits of each of them. Much like Walt being kidnapped, but not Aaron – even though both were “children”, there must be specific reasons why each of them were taken – and it was just easier to get all three of them in one fell swoop rather than individually.
(Unfortunately, it’s impossible to figure out what these traits are. They could be anything from blood type to survival skills to being knowledgeable about specific subjects.)
Meanwhile, a struggle for leadership and direction begins at the beach. Seriously, remember how many critical players are currently missing from the Survivors. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, Eko, Desmond, Sayid, Sun, and Jin are all currently away. From our “core cast”, that leaves one of the following left to take charge:
Claire, Charlie, Hurley, Rose, Bernard
None of those really stand out as having any sort of leadership qualities. So who is going to lead our Survivors in this time of need (at least until Locke, Eko, and Desmond return from the Hatch)?
Someone random from the background.
I remember before Season Two started thinking how great it was that there were always random extras in the background of scenes. The writers very smartly rarely identified these people with specific names, or had them appear in multiple scenes. We were always aware that they were there, but never enough to pick any out or associate faces with names. They were just background. The nice thing is that this makes it super easy to suddenly have one of these background characters step forward and become a “main character” (a la Dr. Artz). It provides the writers with a “bullpen” of characters to fall back on without having to explain who they are or how they got there (a la the Tailers). They’ve always been there. We just haven’t noticed them until now.
So what’s going to really happen in this episode? That was a pretty thin episode description compared to some of the paragraph long previews we grew accustomed to last season. My best guess is that we’re due for a surprise of Hatch-like proportions dealing with the Others that will turn the episode on its head. Remember the Season Two premiere that started showing Desmond’s typical day as all of America asked itself “isn’t Lost supposed to be on now? Are we on the right channel?” I think we’re due for something similar in the Season Three premiere. Aside from the opening shot of a single eye opening (which started both Seasons One and Two), I have no idea what to expect – but I’m anxious to find out.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t remember anything that happened four days ago, let alone four months ago. Therefore, to help bring you up to speed on what is going on in the world of Lost, here’s your Lost Reset – of where we left the various storylines on the Island, and where we’re headed in Season Three…
Others. Ever since we saw and analyzed the Blast Door in “Lockdown”, I’ve been a big fan of the theory of “Rebel Dharmites” – that is, individuals originally associated with Dharma / Hanso who rebelled against it either after finding out the truth behind the organization, or being experiment test subjects who have escaped. During Season Two there was plenty of evidence to support this theory, but also some pieces that didn’t seem to quite fit (most notably Ethan being pure evil, while the rest of the Others have been rather benevolent).
Well, I think it’s finally the moment of truth. While I don’t think we’re going to get a full disclosure of who the Others truly are and what their purpose is, I think it will become clear pretty quick if they are indeed Rebel Dharmites or not.
An Other World. Speaking of the Others, one of the big questions of the off-season has been “Where do the Others live?” I did a lot of searching on the Internet to see if I could find a map of what areas of the Island had been explored versus what areas remained a mystery, thinking these could be the potential areas of their camp – but there really aren’t any great ones out there.
Instead, I went back to the Blast Door Map, which I think is really the only accurate map of the Island that we can trust. A lot of the other ones have been pulled together by viewers (quite astutely) piecing together things we have seen in various episodes, which opens the door for a lot of variables. So back to our map…
We’ve seen the Swan, Arrow, Staff, and Pearl Hatches. For the most part, any travel on the Island has been around the perimeter of the Island. Therefore, the most logical place for the Others to be living – a place that hasn’t been much explored - is at the ? from the Blast Door Map.
(This is all based on my theory that Locke and Eko actually did not find the ? on the map last season like they thought they did - http://lost-and-gone-forever.blogspot.com/2006/05/incoherent-ramblings.html)
The only evidence contradicting this site for the camp is the instruction we saw in the Pearl Orientation video referencing taking the Ferry to go to and from the base camp. If this is the case, the Others camp must be some sort of off-Island location – a smaller off-shore Island? An aircraft carrier? An underwater Atlantis, tethered to the Island by the wire that Sayid found when walking along the beach?
The Incident. When I was re-watching the Season Two finale, something struck me as odd about the way Kelvin described “the incident”. He referred to it as “a leak”. I was also thinking about the repercussion of Desmond blowing up the Hatch.
Stop and think about this for a second – when the Swan Hatch was originally created, there was no need for the 108 Button pushing. Therefore, the magnetic charges clearly were being released naturally over time without causing any issue. Then there was “the incident”. Ever since then, the 108 Button became necessary. How could Desmond blowing up the Hatch return the magnetic release to their original “safe” state? How could destroying the Hatch “seal up” the leak? If it could, why wouldn’t Dharma have done it a long time ago? I’m thinking the “leak” was in no way tied to the magnetic charge. It was tied to secrecy.
During the Lost Experience, we learned that when Hanso picked the Island for its experiments, he kept the location secret, revealing it only to a few close personnel. What if someone “leaked” the location of the Island to the wrong person? In order to protect the experiments going on there, they would need a way to keep the Island hidden. Say hello to the 108 Numbers.
Dharma Scientists must have found a way to harness the “unique magnetic properties” of the Island to generate a “stealth mode” for the Island, keeping it hidden. However, in order to keep the magnetic force at the proper level, and not allow it to grow out of control, a release was required every 108 minutes. They told the Swan Hatch inhabitants that they were saving the world – but they were really just protecting Dharma. Desmond turning the fail safe simply destroyed whatever Dharma equipment was used to allow the magnetism to build up. It’s now back to the original, natural levels.
The show’s creators have said that Desmond blowing up the Swan Hatch would have huge repercussions for the rest of the series. I’m thinking that Desmond “blowing up” the Hatch opened up the door for the outside world to see the Island using radar / electronic methods / whatever those crazy Portuguese guys were using in the Season Two Finale… and if they can see it, they can find it.
I think we’re going to have some new visitors to the Island in the future. Remember HGI telling Michael that if he left, he wouldn’t be able to find the Island again? Well I don’t think that is true any longer. I think he could easily find the Island again if he wanted to. And if he can, so can Penny Widmore.
Fate. The other really big thing that struck me in rewatching the Season Two finale is the concept of fate, and how important it is to the entire series. I’m reminded of Eko telling Locke “do not confuse coincidence with fate”. Last season, we learned that Flight 815 crashing was not some pre-meditated act by Dharma or Hanso. It was directly related to Desmond deciding, one day, to follow Kelvin out of the Hatch. The Survivors, while having torturous pasts and interconnected lives, are not part of some greater plan to bring them to the Island. This is really a huge fundamental theme of Lost.
One might call all of these interconnected events a coincidence. But it’s not. The fact that there were so many variables involved in each character’s life that led them to the Island shows that it was their destiny to end up on the Island.
The great thing about fate is that it gives purpose to the characters being there. They might not know why they are on the Island, but they are there for a reason. It isn’t all just random, but it also isn’t some huge conspiracy. It’s the happy middle, where your religion of choice can come into play to give your life purpose and meaning. This is what Eko was trying to get across to Locke - that Locke didn’t realize until his tearful apology at the end of Season Two. Locke was looking for some concrete reason from someone about why he was brought to the Island – but there wasn’t any, which caused him to lose faith in everything he was doing on the Island. Eko understood the importance of fate.
Fate brought each of our Survivors to the Island, and as the series goes on, we’re going to find out why.
Previously. Finally, here is your Cliff Notes version of where we left each member of the Survivors at the conclusion of Season Two, and where we should pick up with their stories in Season Three this week:
- Walt – on a boat with Michael, crazy experiments behind him, headed for freedom. What did the Others really do to him? Will we ever find out?
- Michael – on a boat with Walt, having killed two people to get his son back, headed for a lifetime of guilt. Will he return to the Island and be a hero?
- Vincent – who knows? During the Season Two finale, Michael and Walt drove off, sans Vincent. However, in the “making of” feature on the Season Two DVDs, they show Michael, Walt, AND VINCENT in the boat. The big question becomes – who is going to take care of Vincent with Michael and Walt gone and Shannon dead?
- Claire – on the beach with Charlie, smooching, happily injecting baby Aaron with 4815162342 medicine. In serious need of a storyline other than “will she or won’t she date Charlie?”
- Sun – on a boat with Jin, puking her guts out. Whose baby is she carrying?
- Jin – on a boat with pukey Sun. Will he return to angry Jin if he finds out Sun’s baby isn’t his?
- Charlie – acting a bit odd after the Swan Hatch Blast. Seriously needs a new storyline than “will he or won’t he continue using drugs?”
- Jack – bound and gagged at the Pala Ferry dock by the Others. Will he finally get some sweet loving from Kate? Why did the Others choose him?
- Kate – bound and gagged at the Pala Ferry dock by the Others. Will she pick the bad boy or the stable doctor? Why did the Others choose her?
- Sawyer – bound and gagged at the Pala Ferry dock by the Others. Will he continue to get his ass kicked by every female on the show? Why did the Others choose him?
- Sayid – back on the boat after being puzzled by the Others’ fake campground. Will he lead the Survivors upon the return to camp?
- Hurley – making his way back to the Survivors camp, passing along word that no one else should ever go to Pala Ferry. Will he follow these orders or try and organize a rescue group? Will he ever find new batteries for his CD player?
- Locke – crying like a baby in the Hatch, finding out he was wrong about the 108 Numbers (but not really). Will badass Locke finally return, being cryptic and playing every other character for his own benefit?
- Eko – shaking off the aftermath of the explosion in the Hatch, his purpose of entering the 108 Numbers now gone. Will Eko go back to church building? Or back to Others killing?
- Desmond – manning up and turning the fail safe switch in the Hatch, ending the 108 Numbers. Will he lend his knowledge about the Island to the Survivors? Does he even have any additional knowledge?
- HGI – telling Michael “we won’t hurt your friends, we’re the good guys”, but sounding really scary creepy when saying it. What is his real name? Is he the leader of the Others? Who are the Others?
So there you have it. Everything you need to know in order to watch Lost this Wednesday. I guess technically you could watch it this week even if you didn’t read all my random ramblings, but where’s the fun in that?
Also – here’s the bad news. I’m in the middle of a crazy stretch of three weeks when I’m not going to be home at all due to work and vacation. That means I won’t be able to put up any sort of day after review / analysis of the Season Premiere. My next post won’t be until next Monday / Tuesday – like in the olden days when I only sent out one Email a week. But after that things should be back to normal.
Happy viewing! Click on the Google Ads above if you like puppies!