Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lost - "Not in Portland"

91 days. Unless my math is wrong (which is always a possibility), it’s been NINETY-FREAKING-ONE DAYS since we last laid our eyes upon a new episode of Lost. Factor in the 133 days between the Season Two Finale and the Season Three Premiere, and you realize that over the course of the past 224 days, we have only seen six new episodes of Lost. That’s less than one episode per month over the past seven months! It’s no wonder Lost fans think the story is moving too slow and the answers aren’t coming fast enough!

That’s the bad news. The good news? We’re now about to start an unprecedented streak of new episodes in the history of Lost. SIXTEEN whopping new episodes in a row. For those of you keeping track at home, the previous record for new episodes of Lost in a row was a measly nine episodes (the first nine episodes of Season One). It’s about to be a great time to be a Lost fan.

But for all the complaining, I will say this – I greatly respect ABC for trying this “fall season and spring season” experiment, because it showed that they were actually listening to the fan complaints about reruns. Thankfully, next year Lost looks to be employing a 24-esque January through May “nonstop season”. I’m sure we’ll still have people complaining about Lost not being on the air for six months in the summer and fall, but after this year’s strategy, I think most rational people realize this is the optimal solution.

But enough chatter about next season – there are more pressing matters at hand. Put the children to bed (literally, since Lost is now on at 10:00 pm!), it’s time to get down to the serious business.

Episode Title: “Not in Portland”

Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: If you still aren’t excited about the first new episode of Lost in months, these two words should be all that is required to get your mind racing:


Why is that important? Well, think about this –

You know how frustrated we have been about the slow reveal of the true nature of the Others? Myself included, I was hoping that with Jack, Kate, and Sawyer fully immersed in their culture, as viewers, we would suddenly know their purpose, their history, and their plan. But as you know, we didn’t really get any of that through the first six episodes of Season Three, and it left a lot of people disappointed and angry.

However, when you think about it, everything we know about the Others so far is based on what we have seen from the perspective of our Survivors – and it’s been quite clear that the Others are very conscientious about what they show and reveal. For whatever reason, they’re a secretive bunch. They’re very careful about what they say and do, and it all seems very “planned”.

But with a Juliet flashback, we will be instantly thrust to the other side of the looking glass – seeing things from the perspective of an Other, not a Survivor. In fact, I expect this episode to answer a huge number of questions about the Others – more than the first six episodes of this season combined. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the “Deeper Meaning Guess” portion of the program.

The reason for this digression? We’ll, it’s not just a product of bad writing – which abounds through each of my posts - it’s also important to know that this is a Juliet episode in order to understand the deeper meaning of the title.

When I first saw the title, the first thing that came to mind was that this was a spin on the famous line from Wizard of Oz, “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Given the Wizard of Oz history in this show (Henry Gale, the hot air balloon, Vincent symbolically representing Toto, etc.) it seemed like a logical assumption.

When you look at what that line represented in the Wizard of Oz, it was Dorothy realizing that she is suddenly in this strange and magical place – spending only a few minutes there, she can see it is wildly different than the boring flatness of Kansas. There’s a sense of disbelief and wonderment in her voice, but also a hint of fear of the unknown.

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Compare that to our girl Juliet. I’m predicting this episode focuses on her arrival on the Island (again, more on this later), and her having this same sense of disbelief, wonderment, and fear of the new world she encounters there. My assumption is that the Portland reference comes into play because she was originally from Portland in her pre-Island life.

As for the city of Portland itself, well Portland is often regarded as one of the most well-planned and thought-out cities in the world. Designed around mass transportation, conservation, and practical land use policies, it is built to be optimal... probably a lot like the Others’ civilization on the Island (this portion of the Blog brought to you by the Portland Chamber of Commerce).

It’s not a far stretch, based on some of our previous assumptions, that they intended their Island home to be a utopia of sorts – so it was likely built from the ground up with a very specific design in mind, one that sought to eliminate the problems associated with a typical town.

I anticipate this episode showing us a scene with naïve, wide-eyed Juliet experiencing Island life for the first time. They might not come out and actually have the character come out and say it, but the thought running through her mind is going to be a combination of “what did I get myself into?” and “I’m not in Portland anymore…” Description: Jack has the Others in a desperate situation as he holds Ben's life in his hands. Meanwhile, Kate and Sawyer try to escape from their captors. Back at the beach, Charlie and Hurley search through Sawyer's belongings and discover his hidden possessions. Flashbacks reveal Juliet's past. Breakdown: A pretty thin description (and misleading!). Seriously, the first two sentences basically describe the scene with which we ended the fall season (Jack has the Others in a desperate situation - with Ben dying on an operating table, they have no choice but to cave in to his demands… for a while, at least. Meanwhile, Kate and Sawyer are trying to escape. Got it.) The third sentence is a flat-out lie. Based on the reviews of the episode that I’ve seen popping up this week (by the way, how do I get on that mailing list? I want episodes early!), there is no action back on the beach. This episode deals solely with the action on and surrounding Alcatraz. That means Charlie and Hurley searching through Sawyer’s belongings (featured in Lost Moment 3) actually happens next week… or not at all, a victim of the editing room. The final sentence simply reveals the centricity of the episode – something we have known for months.

Fear not! While the description lacks any real information, we’ve got a much better source to base our predictions for this episode… Lost Moments!

Although I’m uber-excited for this episode for the flashbacks with Juliet, revealing another side of the Others, it’s probably one of the most predictable episodes of Lost ever in terms of action happening in the present on the Island. Why? Due to the “Lost Moments” that have been airing each week since Lost went on hiatus, we’ve already seen three scenes from this episode, and you can somewhat fill in the gaps to what happens in between them.

Here’s how I see the episode going down:

Lost Moment 6Kate talks to Jack via walkie-talkie, telling him that she needs a boat to get off of Alcatraz. Kate and Sawyer are pursued by Others, who shoot their walkie-talkie. Our Survivors receive help from an unseen ally in escaping them.

This probably picks up right where we left off, and we’ll see Kate and Sawyer granted their temporary escape from the Others. But as soon as they are off, a group of Others are tasked to trail after them. The shooting of the walkie-talkie is actually a big plot point, because that ends the communication between Jack and Kate. Now he’s left to wonder if they escaped, if they were captured, and what to do with Ben.

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If they escaped, he would be a man of his word and patch Ben up, effectively sacrificing himself for Kate (what a sweetheart!). If they didn’t escape, he would be faced with a tough decision. His shenanigans probably mean he’s in bad shape regardless of if he finishes the surgery on Ben or not (whether that means death, torture, or a life sentence of smashing rocks), but he does have a chance to take out the leader of the potentially evil Others before they take him out. But what if Ben isn’t evil, Kate and Sawyer don’t escape? Then Jack would have killed an innocent man for nothing. That’s not good for the conscience. It’s a pickle! Which brings us to the next scene…

Lost Moment 7Tom asks Jack if Juliet really told him to kill Ben. Jack confirms, ratting out Juliet. Tom reminds Jack that the only reason he is still alive is to complete the operation. If Ben dies, Jack loses his bargaining chip and is as good as dead.

The big thing that should jump out at you here is that Juliet is no longer in the Operating Room. It looks to be just Tom and Jack. So where is Juliet? Also, how does Tom know about Juliet telling Jack to kill Ben? Here’s my best guess:

Once Jack loses communication with Kate, he begins to freak out a little bit. His plan is falling apart, now he’s in the dark on the whole situation, and really needs confirmation of Kate’s escape so that he can finish the surgery and save Ben’s life… and the clock is ticking. Jack probably makes some off-the-cuff comment to Juliet about how she wanted Ben dead anyways, much to the surprise of Tom.

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Thinking it through, Jack decides to send Juliet off to verify if Kate (and Sawyer) have escaped… and if they haven’t, to bring them back as proof, at which point he’ll let Ben die. In Jack’s eyes, this is the best option – assuming most of the Others like Ben and want him to live, they would surely just lie to Jack and say that Kate and Sawyer escaped so that Jack finishes the surgery. But with Juliet, if she truly wants Ben to die on the operating table, she needs to prove to Jack that his plan failed and Kate and Sawyer did not escape – something that requires them to be standing there next to him – something that you can’t lie about.

The only problem is, we still aren’t sure of what Juliet’s greater motives are. I think we can narrow down the scenarios to one of the following:

  1. Juliet was telling the truth. She wants Ben dead. She’s actually hoping that Kate and Sawyer didn’t escape. Does this make Juliet a good guy? No. Maybe this is all some power struggle between Juliet and Ben for overall control of the Others. Perhaps Ben is really looking out for the best interests of everyone through his actions, and Juliet is looking to use obtain some sort of personal gain. But at any rate, Juliet wanted Jack to kill Ben. This makes Jack’s plan a smart decision – but means that Juliet is seriously hosed now that the Others know her true intentions.
  2. Juliet was testing Jack. Ben, Tom, and the other Others are all in on it. This surgery is some sort of “ultimate test” on Jack to see if he can be trusted, to prove his worth and gain entry into the ultra-exclusive Others Club on Lost Island. This makes Jack’s plan a bad decision, because Juliet will clearly just say that Kate and Sawyer escaped, even if they haven’t, since she really doesn’t want Ben to die.

Looking at the two, the first really does seem like the more likely of the two scenarios. Putting Ben’s life on the line to test Jack in some way seems a little far fetched, even for the Ben, who has demonstrated his willingness to get his ass kicked in order to stick to accomplish some master plan (see: his time spent in the Armory inside the Hatch).

Going with the first option also opens up a world of intrigue and double-crossing of Alias-esque proportions, which would obviously be the more JJ Abrams way to do it. Juliet wants Ben dead – but is Juliet good or evil? Can Jack put his conscious aside to kill a potentially innocent man? Should Jack trust Juliet or Ben or neither? I like it. Which brings us to…

Lost Moment 12Kate and Sawyer are shown on a boat, mid-escape, when Kate has a change of heart and tells Sawyer they have to turn back and try to help Jack escape.

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Okay, when we last saw Kate and Sawyer, they were sans-boat and being chased by gun-toting Others. What happened between Lost Moments 6 and 12? Well, it’s clear that they receive some help in their escape – but from whom? Juliet is a candidate, but not a good one. It would reason that Kate and Sawyer have a pretty big lead on her, and I don’t see her catching up to all the action in time to help them out. Also, if you go along with my logic above – she wouldn’t want to help them. She would want to bring them back so that Jack lets Ben die. So who does that leave? Alex.

It’s not the first time that slingshot-slinging Alex has attempted to help Kate and Sawyer escape. She’s clearly anti-Other ever since they made her boyfriend disappear, so helping our Survivors seems logical. There was also an element of surprise when she last appeared in the rock-bashing camp on Alcatraz, as if the Others didn’t know how she could have gotten there… like she should have been on the main Island with everyone else. So how did Alex get there?

Say hello to the boat in Lost Moment 12.

I’m actually not quite sold on Jack and Kate returning to the Island to help Jack escape, as the Lost Moment hints. I could very easily see Sawyer talking Kate out of her idea, rationalizing that they need reinforcements if they’re going to actually stand a chance at helping Jack out. Plus, if Kate was this concerned about leaving Jack, why didn’t she make this decision sooner? Why wait until you’re out in the ocean, halfway home? I’d still pin my hopes for Jack’s escape on Juliet.

While it’s entirely possible that the Lost Moments are designed to be totally misleading us in everything that’s happening in this episode, if they aren’t, I think that’s a pretty good guess at how the majority of the episode goes down. It just leaves a few points to ponder…

Flashback. Earlier this season, Ben made the comment that he has lived on Lost Island his entire life. However, it seems that Juliet’s flashback deals with her life pre-Island, which brings up some very interesting questions. How many Others are lifers and how many are recruits? Why are they “recruiting” outsiders to come to the Island in the first place? How do they get to and from the Island? Luckily, I think all these questions are going to be answered this episode.

I see the Others as a very selective society, one that is mostly comprised of people who have spent their entire lives on the Island, as their families have done for generations, one that only recruits outsiders when the absolutely have to. So why Juliet? When you start putting together some of the pieces of the puzzle, you start to get an idea.

  • The Others have a penchant for stealing children.
  • The Others took a great interest in pregnant Claire.
  • From the few glimpses we’ve gotten of the Others’ camp, we haven’t seen a single child.
  • Juliet was a fertility doctor.

It really seems like for whatever reason (side effect of the funky magnetic properties of the Island?), the Others stopped being able to conceive babies. Without creating the next generation of crazy cult members, who would carry on their way of life on the Island? They needed help, so they went to the extreme measure of bringing an outsider to the Island to help them out. Enter Juliet.

When you think about it in this context, the rift between Ben and Juliet makes perfect sense. On one hand you have a cult-like leader in Ben, who has been brainwashed into believing a certain set of ideals and rules that govern life on the Island. They are all he has ever known, and to him they are the only way. On the other hand, you have Juliet, an outsider coming onto the Island with a totally different set of beliefs, formed in the “outside world” instead of on the Island. Sure, they probably had some trippy video to brainwash her, but as we learned in Zoolander – those don’t always work out in the end. Is it any wonder we’ve seen some conflict between the two – such as the book club incident that led off the season?

Ben. So what about Benjamin Linus, cut open on the Operating Table?

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I think it’s pretty obvious he’s going to live. Jack isn’t a murderer. He came up with a pretty sweet plan to help Kate and Sawyer escape and potentially take out the ring leader of the enemy – but he’s Jack Shepherd, not Jack Bauer. He’s taken the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm”, and in the end this whole plan is a bluff. He won’t let Ben die. (Also, Damon Lindelof is on record saying “I love Ben and Juliet. They are the face of The Others right now. They are fascinating characters that we still have many stories to tell, so I would not fear their death anytime soon…” Granted, this could be a red flag signaling that they’re both going to die since the producers like to lie about things for the sake of surprise, but I believe him in this case).

It will be interesting to see how Ben handles Jack’s little ploy once he comes to. I’m thinking there’s a reason that Jack is shown inside a cage in Lost Moment 5. After his shenanagans, he’s being punished. Also – now that Ben’s surgery is complete, Jack’s usefulness is limited. They’ve gotten what they wanted out of him.

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Previously on Lost…

This is the area of the post where I typically analyze the previous episode – but since I already did that (, I won’t rehash it here. If by chance you’ve been absent from the Blog for the past few months (jerk!), you might have missed it – so it might help to refresh your memory.

…and with that, I think I’ll call it a post. I feel like the Lost community has had some much time to think and over-analyze over the past few months, that there really isn’t anything that hasn’t already been discussed to death. I’m anxious to get some fresh material for us to chew on. Also – keep in mind that Lost is now on at 10:00 pm EST! ABC is airing a recap episode at 9:00 pm, so if you’ve forgotten where we left our characters, watching that might help too.

I’ll try and get some Instant Reactions up right after the episode, but it’s a school night, and 11:00 pm is usually bedtime for this guy – so I make no promises. But if this episode is as good as I think it’s going to be, I might be so jacked up afterwards that I won’t be able to sleep anyways.

Enjoy the show!


zyptron said...

Well thought out analysis of Jack's gamble of using Juliet's motives to get a report on Kate & Sawyer (assuming it goes down like that... which is likely). It's good stuff. Classic strategy like a big buildup in a chess match before either side has made any outcome determining moves.

Anonymous said...

how do you think they will reveal why the other flight survivors are on the island too? they seem content....what is their purpose? do we think this will be disclosed this next episode?

Brian said...

I'm assuming you're referring to the crowd of people standing outside Jack's cage in the picture from this post (including Cindy).

I would bet on that scene (and explanation behind their contentness) to not be revealed until two weeks from now, when Jack's flashback episode airs.

Heather's Brain said...

Still thinking way too much belief in the Lost Moments on your part, but we shall see so very soon!

By the way, living in the middle of the country helps because it will only be 9 PM here! :)

Great analysis as always...can't wait to see the wrap up thoughts afterward.

Patrick said...

For those of you that need more stories on lost...

Feline said...

I'm sorry but I beg to differ here: I don't think we're get get -anything- on the others. This episode is about Juliet, her character: they're gonna show her pre-island life, her problems (they all had problems before, hers was probably the husband) how she came to be the cold hearted bit** she is today.

She's a fertiliy doctor, one day she receives a job offer from a rather mysterious company. She wants to get away so she does. But what she goes through after, once she's on the island, well, there's not gonna be enough time to reveal things about the island/others, and TPTB will probably save all this for the season finale. I bet on it.

And I agree about the Lost moments giving away most of the episode. We already know how Kate and Sawyer escape, we know Jack saves Ben (we don't know why though: how he knew Kate/Sawyer escaped, perhaps he didn't know but he saved him anyway, cause he swore no harm bla bla...)

They gave away too much and now I can picture it all in my head. I hope they're gonna surprise me.

I have to admit that I'm more excited about Heroes at this point. (No offense intented)

Hobnail_Boot said...

What I'm about to say involves some things that were posted in the wonderful interview further down Brian's blog, so fair warning that you should read that before reading this..

Damon mentioned a few times that we're about to see a "major shake-up" pretty soon, and also that we were likely to see the last of Alcatraz very soon as well.

I'm wondering if a) something catastrophic will happen to Alcatraz (forcing everyone to leave), b) something happening to the 'sub', thus keeping them from having transport to Alcatraz, c) possible union b/t the Others and the Survivors -- rendering Alcatraz useless, or d) something else.

Curious to your thoughts on this, and how soon we'll find out?

Stef said...

Great post, Brian, as always! You are definitely gambling on some big reveals via Juliet's flashbacks, but conservatively I think they will probably just give us a taste but leave many mysteries about Juliet open-ended. How long have we been asking questions about Locke's paralysis at this point? They can keep Juliet's story - or any new character's - going for a long time. So I don't think we'll learn more than one or two things, like maybe that she did come to the island as an adults, but much will still be a mystery. Either way, I'm just so darn excited!

Brian said...

hobnail_Boot - A "major shakeup" could refer to a character death, Alcatraz blowing up, or even our Survivors finding out the Others are good, not evil.

However, think about this - we've been told that Season 3 is about the Others. We've also been told that the separation of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer from the rest of the Survivors is coming to an end soon.

How can this season be about the Others if they continue to keep them separate from our Survivors? It seems to me that if they did this, the "split episode" trend would have to continue, and I think the writers are trying to avoid it.

My bet - Others merge with Survivors. I can't quite figure out how this would go down, but I bet it'll become more apparent after this week's episode. I can't think of a bigger "shakeup" than that! Brand new character interactions! Brand new conflicts among characters! Juliet and Jack romance!

W Riley said...

when do we get the "Dark Side of Lost" episode where the whole thing can be lined up with the Dark Side of the Moon album?

Randy said...

Wednesday, 10:45 PM - Holy Cow! What a loaded episode! 3/4 through the hour. Gotta go. Can't wait for your analysis Brian.

Stef said...

I loved this episode! It feels great to have that adrenaline rush again. I look forward to your posts! :-)