Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Expose" Analysis

(Yes, I've officially given up on making that mark above the "e"...)

Well, “Expose” turned out to be quite the expectation roller coaster, didn’t it? Months ago, when we first heard about a Nikki and Paulo-centric episode, everyone feared the worst. Then suddenly, after a few intriguing stories in magazines (Entertainment Weekly) and quotes dropped by the Lost creators (Lindelof and Cruse), there was some honest excitement for this episode. There were rumblings about this being an episode with a “game changing event”, holding the potential to answer “mythological questions about the Island”, and turning Nikki and Paulo into “iconic characters” on the show. Personally, I found myself getting more excited for this episode than last week’s Locke-centric masterpiece.

But in the end, “Expose” turned out to be nothing of the sort. It was cheap fun without much substance, and certainly didn’t change any games or turn Nikki and Paulo into characters central to the show. In my “Instant Reactions”, I summarized the episode as “entertaining”, and that’s exactly what it was. But there isn’t too much to analyze from it, so this should be a fairly short and sweet post. Brian Leonard, you’re right – I should have been in Europe for this episode!

Nikki and Paulo. These two characters appeared in a handful of episodes, never with more than a line or two of dialogue, really only had two very brief pre-Island flashback scenes (but one of them featured Nikki stripping, so at least we got our money’s worth), and died in the first episode where the audience started to learn who they actually were. The big question that a lot of people are asking is "why"?

Looking back at the entire time that Nikki and Paulo spent on the Island, including their flashbacks in "Expose", what contributions did either make to any storylines? You could argue that Nikki helped Sayid and Locke figure out the television screens in the Pearl (although you have to figure they would have eventually figured this out anyways), but otherwise, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any physical or emotional impact that either character had on any storyline or other characters on the Island. Really, they were throwaway characters.

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In my mind, this was a huge missed opportunity. If you remember my episode preview, I thought I understood the purpose of the characters, and thought the writers were brilliant in their thinking. Nikki and Paulo could have served as the gateway for the audience to view prior events from different perspectives, gaining more understanding about them, revealing mysteries, and providing information you couldn’t otherwise logically provide to the viewer. Unfortunately, the writers only seemed to get halfway there. Sure, they showed us new perspectives on scenes from prior episodes – but we didn't actually get any new material or understanding from them.

There’s nothing wrong with the way the episode played out – personally I got a sort of nostalgic happy feeling seeing familiar scenes replayed from different angles. But by doing it this way, we’re still left with the fundamental question of "why?” as in “Why did Nikki and Paulo exist at all?”

In my mind, there are two possibilities here, or some combination of the two:

  1. Nikki and Paulo were originally going to be more “major” characters on the show, but the writers screwed up in their introduction leading the audience to absolutely hate them. Rather than slowly and painfully phasing the characters out, leading to more fan backlash, the writers quickly killed them to clean up their mess.
  2. Nikki and Paulo existed merely as a representation of the "background" characters on the show, and were meant to simply give a commentary of the isolation and lack of communication between the Survivors of Flight 815. Having served their purpose in delivering this message, they had no further purpose and were killed off.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that the writers could screw up as badly as they did with the introduction of the characters. They were never formally introduced, never had any meaningful dialogue, and just seemed out of place in every scene they were in. Compare these characters to Ben, Desmond, or Juliet. These characters were properly introduced, given a purpose, and are now arguably some of the most popular characters on the show. So I’m tempted to fall down on the second possibility and look at the symbolism of the characters.

How ironic that “major events” on the show such as the discovery of the Beechcraft Plane and the Pearl Station could have been revealed much earlier if the Survivors actually communicated with each other. Heck, Paulo could have single-handedly prevented the kidnapping of Kate, Sawyer, and Jack if he relayed the conversation he overheard in the Pearl.

But instead, each Survivor is truly an Island – fighting their own inner demons and overcoming their own issues rather than banding together with each other. The inclusion of Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech wasn’t by accident. It was meant to highlight the central theme of the episode, and perhaps even the series.

At least that’s the best justification I can come up with to answer the “why”.

Because of this, part of me is tempted to ignore some of the analysis of these two characters – to toss them out as “exceptions to the rule”, rather than hold their experiences on the Island up to the same logical analysis as other characters – because if you include them, some of the commonalities we’ve seen over the course of the series don’t match up… in particular their deaths.

Every other character on the show seems to have found some sort of peace before they died – either on the Island or in their flashbacks (Boone got over Shannon, Shannon learned to love, Ana-Lucia gave up her “tough girl” act, Libby got over her crazy, Eko accepted his past actions, and Arzt learned a valuable lesson about the dangers of dynamite). But if anything, Nikki and Paulo were worse off right before they died. They seemed to have forgotten about the diamonds and learned to love each other mid-episode, but at the end they were as hateful and greedy as ever. They didn’t get their peace that the writers have given every other character.

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Does this mean that they are truly “bad people”, and everyone else on the Island is really “good” at heart? Or is it more that everyone else was supposed to die, and these two were not – merely victims of bad luck? Or is it just a product of the “quick exit” of these characters, that the writers didn’t have time to exhibit character growth? I’m not sure – but it’s not something I’m going to dwell on. It’s almost like this episode taught us to not worry about the background characters on the show. It showed that even if we did get to know these people, we wouldn’t like them, wouldn’t want them eating up screen time from the core characters we already know, and wouldn’t miss them if they were dead.

Jokes. Which brings up another interesting point: more than any episode of Lost ever, this seemed to be an episode where the writers were talking directly to the audience. I remember one of the early explanations for Nikki and Paulo from the writers was that they “represent the audience, viewing the action on the Island, but not being a part of it.” Therefore it’s fitting that the writers used their episode to throw out a number of “inside jokes” and references to the hardcore viewer. Things like…

  • Sawyer and Hurley's argument about what Eko meant when he said "you're next". Did he mean Locke was next, Nikki and Paulo were next, or all the Survivors were next? This is a question we all asked after the episode, and the characters on the show are asking the same thing.
  • Paulo being afraid to climb up into the Beechcraft plane to look for a radio out of fear it will fall – which we all know Boone foolishly did, and eventually led to his death.
  • Nikki accepting her death on the television show “Expose” because she was just a guest star… just like on “Lost”.

They all made me laugh, and made this one of the most tongue-in-cheek episodes of Lost ever. But again, these are all just stylistic and subjective thoughts about the episode. Is there anything we actually need to analyze? Just a few things…

Ben and Juliet. It seems as though the Others used the Pearl Station to observe our Survivors once the entered the Swan Station, and this is how Ben formed his plan to get Jack to perform the surgery on him. It’s important to note that this further confirms that Ben was well aware of his tumor back before the Hatch Implosion, when he still (in theory) could have gone back to the mainland to have the surgery performed. He definitely is not willing to leave the Island for whatever reason. It also reminded us of the former ruse of the Others, trying to look derelict to keep our Survivors in the dark about their knowledge and power. It all ties back into the “we are protecting a huge secret and they can’t find out” theory I mentioned a few weeks back.

Ben also mentions the need to cover the Hatch entrance to the Pearl with the Beechcraft Plane. For one thing, I find it quite ironic that Locke (who was so consumed with figuring out a way to get into the Swan Hatch) was basically standing on top of the much easier to open Pearl Hatch when he and Boone first found the Beechcraft Plane. Later, this dragging of the airplane over the top of the Hatch may have led to the apparent image of a question mark that was seen from above.

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We can also assume that the Others used tunnels to get to and from the Pearl Station after the plane was moved – which makes it curious that none of our Survivors tried to follow them when investigating the station. Are they hidden? Will we finally see them when the Search Party tries to leave the Barracks?

Smokey. Yes, I know that Arzt said that the Medusa Spider emits a powerful pheromone that would attract other spiders, logically explaining why they would have attacked Nikki at the end of the episode. But go back and watch it. Before the spiders show up, when Paulo is still giving his heartfelt “I thought the diamonds would break us up” speech, the Smokey Chatter starts. Nikki looks up and around, frightened. She hears it too, and seems to know what it means. It’s this noise that distracts her from noticing the Medusa Spider climbing on her leg.

So while we can’t jump to the conclusion that Smokey caused the death of Nikki and Paulo, his (her? its?) near appearance could be indirectly attributed to them. Does this mean that Smokey wanted them dead? Is Smokey an Island Grim Reaper, nearby whenever someone dies to judge their souls? Or is this all a coincidence? There’s really not enough evidence to come down on any sides here, but it’s nice to know that the writers haven’t forgotten about one of the biggest mysteries on the show. We’re due for another Smokey attack any time now, aren’t we?

Dead! I know a lot of people have speculated that Nikki and Paulo could still rise from their grave in the next episode, but I would bet pretty heavily against it. While Locke’s line that nothing on the Island stays buried for long might hint at the possibility, doing so would cheapen the most shocking deaths that Lost has ever seen and would seemingly undo what this episode was at least partially trying to accomplish – getting rid of Nikki and Paulo.

Miscellaneous. Just a few other miscellaneous items, not warranting dedicated paragraphs:

Vincent. He knew that Nikki and Paulo were alive, and was trying to save them. He continues to be one of the most knowledgeable characters on the show, but unfortunately he can’t talk. If he could, I’m pretty sure our Survivors would all be off the Island by now.

Big Bad. The “reveal” in “Expose” about who the Big Bad (Buffy term for “main bad guy” of a season or series) truly was at the end of Season Four has some wondering if the same will be true for Lost. It would tie in with the original planned five or six season arc of the show – find out the bad guy, then have a season or two to overcome them – but who would it be? It’s pretty obvious that the Others aren’t the bad guys. I’m still a big fan of our Survivors being the bad guys, but there are also options like Hanso coming back, Island Savages, other Outsiders, etc. But again, I think that introducing this Big Bad would be the best way to get our Survivors merged with the Others, so I’d like to see it happen by the end of THIS season, not next season. We shall see…

Shannon and Boone. I love that Nikki asked Paulo to promise they wouldn’t end up like Boone and Shannon, fighting with each other. Ironically, they ended up exactly like them in more ways than one, since all four characters died on the Island. There was also some quote about a gay character being revealed in this episode which some have assumed meant Boone based on Shannon’s comment about flirting with other guys to him. But wasn’t that just in jest, meant to mock Boone rather than a commentary of his sexuality? I don’t buy it.

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…and that’s all I’ve got. Some episodes I look back at my Instant Reactions and think “man, I must have been tired when I wrote that” because after a day or two, my thoughts about an episode have totally changed. But with this episode, they still ring true. This was an easy episode - in a way, ironically designed for the hardcore fans even though it centered around their two most despised characters and didn’t reveal anything. But for me, that’s fine. Every episode doesn't have to be earth shattering or continue one big long plot. Standalone episodes like this provide a breath of fresh air from the sometimes over-powering season long plots. As long as it's entertaining, I'm happy – and this definitely was entertaining.

Quick Update on the Control the Blog contest. I’ll be sending out a request to everyone who expressed interest asking that they write a few paragraphs about something – an episode preview, an episode analysis, some sort of thematic point about Lost, whatever – just so that I can get a feel for who can actually put together coherent thoughts in English sentences, and who writes in text message shorthand and misuses homonyms. They’ll be judged, and I’ll pick out the winners, who will be assigned one of the following tasks:

Episode 3.16 Analysis
Episode 3.17 Preview
Episode 3.17 Analysis
Episode 3.18 Preview
Episode 3.18 Analysis

…and maybe Episode 3.19 Preview, since I’m likely to be totally swamped the week I get back. I think it should all work out pretty great, and am excited to see some different writers on the Blog rather than my own quote-and-parentheses-heavy, overloaded-sentence style of writing.

I leave you with some pictures of Nikki in bikinis. Think of it as a montage to a character who has just died (I’d recommend humming along “One Shining Moment” to get the full effect), or as an excuse to put up an inordinate amount of pictures of a scantily clad girl on the Blog. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Expose" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Entertaining.

For an episode that was (unjustly) hyped as revealing answers to the "mythological" questions on the Island, "Expose" ended up being the exact opposite. Rather than progressing any of the existing Island storylines or opening up new mysteries, it simply explained the strange actions of Paulo and Nikki thus far, and cleanly (albeit shockingly disturbingly) wrapped up their storyline.

But damned if I wasn't grinning like an idiot throughout the episode. Entertaining indeed.

Just a few things to discuss:

  1. I loved the continued "who are you?" comments from Sawyer to Nikki and Paulo. Ironically, maybe if our core group of Survivors took the time to talk to them, they would have discovered things like the Beechcraft Plane, the Pearl Hatch, and even prevented Ben's scheme to kidnap Kate, Jack, and Sawyer.
  2. Finally our confirmation that there was no greater reason to kidnap Kate and Sawyer than to get Jack to do the surgery! Leave your crazy theories about "Ben's List" at the door!
  3. Paulo and Nikki's weird behaviors suddenly make sense (going to the Pearl, going to the bathroom, etc.). It's almost as if this episode existed to justify these characters being on the show for the first half of the season. Ironically, since they didn't end up adding too much to the story, it might have been just as easy to not have them exist at all.
  4. Did Ben say "we should cover the hatch with the plane?" to Juliet? But the plane crashed over the Hatch entrance due to Boone climbing into the Beechcraft, right?
  5. Did Smokey cause the spiders to attack Nikki, sealing her fate? I definitely heard the "chatter" of Smokey prior to the swarm of spiders appearing.
  6. In the end, Charlie's confession to Sun about the kidnapping came off a bit forced for me. It was a little rushed and didn't have much impact other than Sun slapping Sawyer. I guess it "wraps up" a dangling storyline - but didn't really have as much resonance as it could have.
  7. Nikki was hot.
  8. That was maybe one of the more shocking endings of Lost yet. It wasn't some huge twist, but it definitely left my jaw dropped. I really can't believe they just buried two people alive. Don't you feel bad for hating Nikki and Paulo now? Yikes.

As I said, this ended up being a surprisingly "light", almost "filler" episode - but it was well done, creatively done, and a satisfying story for me - so I'll take it. It should be a pretty brief "Analysis", but I'm sure I'll find some things to over-analyze and write about. For now, the Comments Section is yours...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lost - "Expose"

Episode Title: “Expose” (note: with a tilde over the e, but I can't figure out how to do that)

Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Once again, Lost is forcing me to learn the French language. I suppose this will come in handy in a few weeks when I’m in Paris and can drop phrases like “Par Avion” and “Expose” like a local… I mean, I’m sure those words come up all the time in day to day conversation, right?

Probably not. If you remember, “Par Avion” translated to “Airmail” and referred to Claire’s bird-brained (pun!) scheme to attach a letter to one of the migrating birds on the Island. This week, we’ve got “Expose”, with directly translates to the word “Exposed”. With this in mind, I immediately thought of the “Good Morning America” preview clip that aired a few weeks back, featuring (I kid you not), Nikki on a stripper pole. Check it out:

Looks pretty “exposed” to me.

However, much like “hors d'oeuvre”, “je ne sais quoi”, and “french fries”, “Expose” is an example of a word that doesn’t need translation, as it has taken on an English meaning all on its own. So, rather than hitting up, I hit up and found the following definition of “Expose”:

“a public exposure or revelation, as of something discreditable; a formal recital or exposition of facts; exposure, or revelation, of something which some one wished to keep concealed.”

Now we’re talking. AT this point, it’s almost impossible to start breaking down the deeper meaning without knowing what this episode is about, so we need to jump into the episode description here before we come back to the Deeper Meaning.

Episode Description: Hurley begins to suspect that Sawyer may be involved in an island mystery surrounding two fellow survivors, and Sun learns the truth about her past kidnapping attempt by The Others. Guest starring are Kiele Sanchez as Nikki, Rodrigo Santoro as Paulo, William Mapother as Ethan Rom, Ian Somerhalder as Boone, Maggie Grace as Shannon, Daniel Roebuck as Dr. Artz, Billy Dee Williams as Mr. LaShade and Jacob Witkin as Howard L. Zukerman.

Episode Breakdown: This is the long dreaded by some, long awaited by others, Nikki and Paulo-centric episode of “Lost”. Those who dread it do so because of their season-long hatred of annoying Paulo and hot-but-worthless Nikki, who are viewed as taking up screen time from our original beloved Survivors and not serving much of a purpose. They also were victim of the worst character introductions of any show in the history of television. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t even think any character on the show has uttered either of their names yet, have they? They just appeared out of nowhere and the characters on the show acted as though they’d been there all along… it was sloppy.

On the other hand, some (like me) are almost giddy with excitement for this episode after hearing quotes from Cuse and Lindelof about how this episode will “answer a big mythological question” and perhaps contain the “game changing event” that we’ve been hearing about since the spring season started. One (again, like me) could argue that the appearance of Cooper last week was pretty “game changing” – but depending on what the explanation behind his appearance is, it may or may not be as huge as we’re making it out to be. If that’s the case, this episode might contain an even more jaw-dropping moment. In fact, I actually tempered my excitement for last week’s episode because I had this creeping suspicion that this week would be even bigger… even though it’s centered around the Beach, not the Barracks, and the JV Survivors instead of the Varsity Team.

Why? Well, when I hear the term “mythological question” being thrown around, I start thinking about episodes like “Walkabout”, “Orientation”, and “Flashes Before Your Eyes” – you know, the kind of episodes that contain those “big questions” about the origin and power of the Island, the effect its having on our Survivors, and what it means for the past and future storylines we’ve seen on the show. In other words, the stuff that fuels the fire for our Lost obsessiveness and brings out the inner nerd in all of us.

But… how could this possibly tie to Nikki and Paulo? I’ll get there…

First, let’s breakdown the description…

Hurley begins to suspect that Sawyer may be involved in an Island mystery involving two fellow survivors. Since this is a Nikki and Paulo episode that would have to mean they are the “two fellow survivors”, right? If so, Hurley’s suspicions are clearly WRONG unless Sawyer was totally lying four weeks ago when he said “who they hell are you?” to them. It sure sounded legit to me, but hey – he’s the con man. Still, if Nikki and Paulo are as important as the show’s producers have hinted they are, I would bet that they are actually involved in some sort of Island mystery, and Sawyer’s just getting lumped in with them due to his sketchy past on the Island.

The bigger question is what is this new mystery that Hurley is trying to uncover? If he assumes that Sawyer is involved, one would have to think it involved stealing things or keeping secrets in exchange for monetary gain. I went back and re-watched the episode preview to look for any hints, but unfortunately, there weren’t any – other than the glimpses of diamonds which may or may not have been from during a flashback. However, what I did see was a big hint towards the episode title.

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Although this screen shot doesn’t quite show it, trust me when I say the title of the booklet Hurley is reading ends in an e with a tilde above it… like in the word “Expose”. What does it mean? Other than the fact that there were more random books, magazines, and scripts on Flight 815 than in most libraries, I’m not sure – it probably won’t be any more of a plot point than the “Bad Twin” transcript that Hurley read last season (are the producers of Lost planning another spin-off book this summer?) but it’s clearly one of the many references that the episode title “Expose” has in this episode. The far deeper meaning lies in the rest of the episode description.

The second deals with Sun finally finding out the truth behind her failed kidnapping attempt last season. I’m almost tempted to launch into my “the writers take too long to answer questions” speech I’ve given a few times over recent weeks, but I’ll refrain here. Yes, this is a storyline that most viewers have probably long forgotten about, but I think there’s a reason the answer couldn’t have come sooner (much like Sayid and the cable on the beach). For those who forget, here’s a refresher.

Midway through Season Two (during the Sawyer-centric episode “The Long Con”), Charlie pretended to kidnap Sun as part of a “long con” by Sawyer to reclaim possession of the guns stored inside the Hatch since his departure at the end of Season One on the Raft. Our Survivors immediately suspected the Others of committing the crime, but then began to suspect Ana-Lucia who was trying to recruit people for her “army” (PS – remember that storyline that was almost instantly dropped?) of doing it in an attempt to get people afraid, angry, and ready to fight. At the end of the episode, we learn that Charlie took part in the con not to gain access to the Virgin Mary Statues of Heroin (as we had suspected), but rather to make Locke look foolish for indirectly allowing Sawyer to get the guns back – as payback for Locke ratting him out to Claire (and punching his face in) during “Fire + Water”.

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So here’s my question – this happened a long time ago, and no one has made any mention of it. I don’t really see Sawyer or Charlie admitting to this and risking an ass-kicking from Jin or exile from their fellow Survivors, so how in the world is Sun going to find out the truth?

Enter Nikki and Paulo. All the sudden, I think I understand the purpose of introducing these characters – it’s to answer questions from the past on the Island that otherwise wouldn’t get answered. While it seems like we’ll get a brief bit of “pre-Island” flashbacks for them (unless Nikki stumbles upon the “Stripper Pole Station” on the Island), I’d bet that the majority of the flashbacks are on-Island, similar to “The Other 48 Days” or “Maternity Leave”. Think about it like this – using new, ancillary characters is a great way to see different perspectives of past actions… such as Sun’s kidnapping. Look at the guest stars for this episode – Ethan, Shannon, Boone, and Artz (among others, who must be flashbackers).

If we’re talking about Ethan being around, we’re talking about flashbacks going back as far as early Season One. It’s almost like in Back to the Future (I know, I need to stop comparing Lost to Back to the Future) where Marty would see an alternate perspective on something he already did through time travel. Nikki and Paulo serve the same function. Imagine seeing Ethan’s actions or Shannon and Boone’s deaths from a different point of view? Maybe Nikki and Paulo were friends with Artz and we’ll get to see someone actually mourn his death? It’s actually a clever way to “flesh out” past storylines and reveal more to the audience than we got from the original scene and perspective.

For that matter, suppose Nikki and Paulo were in the area when Sun’s kidnapping went down, or when Sawyer and Charlie were discussing it. They would be the ones who could “expose” the truth to Sun (Deeper Meaning alert! Go back and read the definition of “expose” and tell me that doesn’t perfectly apply here!).

In fact, this is where I bet our answers to “mythological questions” come into play. I’m betting there is something that the audience, in addition to the main Survivors “missed” the first time around that could dramatically shift our understanding of one of these past events. Nikki and Paulo’s flashbacks serve to give us this “other perspective”.

The writers know that we don’t care about them as characters, and that there isn’t really room for them on the show, but introduced them for this specific purpose. We all foolishly thought they were just adding these “new” characters to get fresh storylines – but actually the opposite is true… they were introducing them to better explain past storylines!

But I digress. Back to the preview…

Sun finding out about her kidnapping also explains the other scene in the preview, featuring Sun slapping Sawyer (since he was responsible for the kidnapping in the end), as well as her comment about “if you tell Jin, you’ll have to dig another grave”, insinuating that Jin would literally murder Sawyer if he found out the truth.

What’s that? ANOTHER grave, you say Sun?

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So who is Sawyer digging that first grave for? Has Charlie’s luck finally run out? Did Colleen’s decaying body wash ashore? Since historically characters die during their flashback episodes, Nikki and Paulo are our most likely candidates. Again, if you look closely at the episode preview it becomes pretty clear which contestant is behind Grave #1…

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If you ask me, it’s pretty suspicious that the episode preview would give away such a huge plot point – even for the ABC promo department that has a terrible track record for these things. That gives me a bit of hope for that the hotter of the two survives, and Nikki lives to strip another day. Maybe this is some sort of Nikki dream sequence (it is shown in weird black and white in the preview), or Desmond “flash” to the potential future that he changes? It’s out there, but I have hope. Something doesn’t sit right with me having Nikki’s death broadcast in the preview… unless both Nikki and Paulo are going to die, and his death is supposed to be the “surprise” of the episode, a la “Two for the Road”? I’m not sure. But it definitely looks like we’re about to have our second Survivor death of the season!

Not to sound cruel, but if my earlier suspicions are correct, and the only reason that Nikki and Paulo “exist” on the show is to give these tangential views of the past and “expose” past mysteries, then their deaths make perfect sense.

It’s a beautiful day, so I’m going to wrap this up with one of the craziest theories ever that I cannot take credit for – but thought I would share it with you. I’ll preface it by saying I don’t think it’s true, but if it was, it would be absolutely insane and definitely be the “mythological answer” we would be looking for. Courtesy of the former-DMB message boards at ufck…

“What if the reason that Nikki and Paulo are suddenly getting screen time, and Rose and Bernard are not is that Desmond went back in time and altered some event – and now, in this “new future” Nikki and Paulo survived the crash of Flight 815 INSTEAD of Rose and Bernard?”

When I read that, it blew my mind away. Once I calmed down and collected my scattered brain pieces, logic got the best of me and dismissed the theory. There are a number of reasons why it wouldn’t work (plus I still don’t believe in the “time travel” storyline) – but you have to admit, this would be unbelievably awesome and would not only leave the audience blown away, but explain the crappy writing to introduce Nikki and Paulo, and the missing Rose and Bernard thus far this season.

Even so, I’m still feeling really good things about this episode. It’s kinda weird. In the first two seasons of Lost, this would be the part of the season where the episodes would start to drag and spin their wheels, and we would justify it by saying “they’re just waiting for the season finale for the big action and reveals”. But this season, we got the crappy wheel-spinning episodes out of the way early, and are now on a roll with non-stop awesome ones (note: this usually would totally jinx us, and guarantees five weeks of awful episodes to come – but looking at our current plotlines on the show, I really don’t see it happening!). The storylines are firing on all cylinders, moving forward, and are insanely entertaining.

I have to hand it to the ABC Promo folks on this one. Remember all winter when they claimed “Lost delivers like no other show on TV”? Well, at least right now it’s looking like they were absolutely right.

Get pumped. I know I am.

(PS - just a few more days to Email me if you want to run the Blog for a post or two while I'm in Europe in April. Remember, the deadline is April 1st. Email me at if you want to be in the running. It's like winning the lottery... only without any financial gain!)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"The Man From Tallahassee" Analysis!

I remember back to the Season One finale, when it ended with Locke and Jack peering down the Hatch, but not revealing what was actually inside of it. I remember thinking, "Wow, we're really on the threshold here of defining what this series is actually going to be about - it's no wonder that they didn't want to actually show what was inside, since it could potentially disenfranchise a huge portion of the audience." You see, up until that point, Lost could have been about whatever you wanted it to be about. There theories that it was a "religious" show about redemption with people living in Purgatory, a "land of the lost" show with Dinosaurs lurking in the background, a "government conspiracy" show about people who were actually test subjects in crazy experiments, or any number of other theories that you could make strong arguments for. The main thing was, Season One of Lost was everything to everyone. The writers were careful to hint at things without ever fully showing their hand - which I think is part of why the show became so popular. In Season Two, we began to finally start seeing what the show was really about, introducing the Others and the Dharma Initiative as the underlying backbone of the Island mystery - but the writers carefully remained pretty vague about what was really causing all the crazy stuff that happened on the Island. Throughout the season, you could chalk the strange appearances and coincidences on the Island up to anything from fate to a magic Smoke Monster, and pretty much anything else in between.

Where am I going with this rant? Well, the ending of this episode potentially marked one of those moments where we finally get a reveal that knocks a lot of theories out of contention and further reveals what this crazy show called "Lost" is really all about. The appearance of Locke's Dad (Anthony Cooper) at the end of the episode could mean that all the visions we've seen thus far are manifestations of Smokey, wishes of people on the Island coming true, or simply evidence at the unbelievable power and reach of the Others. I don’t know how to put this, but it's kinda a big deal.

But there is a lot to discuss about "The Man from Tallahassee" besides the potential show-shifting final scene, so let's start at the beginning. It's a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A-B-C… so I present to you, my analysis of this episode in alphabetical order:

Alex. Something tells me that Alex is going to play a pretty critical role as the show goes on. She's always been a bit of a "rebel" within the Others, but could also get away with it by playing the "I'm Ben's daughter" card whenever someone questioned her. We've seen it work to help out Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet in the past, and I don’t see any reason to think it will stop in the future. To add fuel to her rebellious fire, this week she learned from Sayid that her mother is actually alive. You could argue that Alex has no reason to trust Sayid (he's a foreigner!), but she seems like she's already built up a good amount of distrust for her fellow Others (Ben even comments that she kinda hates him), so I'm thinking she believes it.

What does this mean? To Alex, this means that her "dad" has been lying to her for her entire life, which should make her start to question (if she wasn't doing so already) everything else that Ben has told her about her past and even the ongoings on the Island. At the very least, I would expect her to try and sneak in some more conversations with Sayid to get more information from him. Taking it a step farther, she could potentially help our Survivors escape the Barracks, leaving with them to get an alternate perspective on Island life and what's really going on. If you want to get really crazy, how about Alex being the person who brings the Survivors and Others "together" by exposing Ben's lies to the rest of the Others and revealing the truths about the Island to our Survivors? I've always thought that the easiest way to get the two groups unified (which has to eventually happen right? We can’t keep this “split screen time” act forever) was to introduce a common enemy to them (The "Experiment Rejects" for example) - but it might be just as easy to unite them with the goal of getting off the Island, now that they're all pretty much trapped there.

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Ben. Which brings us to Ben. One of his many fantastically interesting things Ben revealed this episode was that the sub keeps up the illusion that people can come and go as they please. The key word there of course being "illusion", as if the people can't really use it. We've already learned that Juliet was promised a short trip to the Island and then was forced to stay - but I assumed that she was the exception and not the rule. When you factor in Ben's other line about being "one of the few that was actually born on the Island", you start to view the majority of these Others as a group of people who were brought to the Island for various reasons - and then found themselves unable to leave. Over time, they start to buy into the mission (either voluntarily or through brainwashing) and eventually willingly stay there, going so far as to defend it with their lives. I wonder if, given the chance to leave, how many would actually take it.

It also makes you wonder who else besides Ben is a "native" to the Island, because it would seem that they would be the ones who would be the "higher ups" that have the power to actually use the sub and leave the Island, such as Alpert and Ethan - who we've seen on both the Island and in the "real world". I would wager these are the people that actually know the full story – know what’s going on on the Island and understand the importance of keeping it secret. Well, these people and John Locke of course.

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Remember that Ben made a comment to Locke that he “doesn’t understand why, but (Locke) has a communion with the Island”. It’s something I’ve recently been calling “Team Island”, thinking that Locke was “working” for the Island to prevent people from leaving and attack the Others. Now I’m somewhat re-thinking it, because based on Ben’s comments he’s also a member of “Team Island”, and I think all the “native Others” are as well. The way Ben talked to Locke, it was almost as if he understood that Locke shared this spiritual connection with the Island, but didn’t understand how an “outsider” could have gained access to it. This connection seems to give the person some sort of “special powers” or enlightenment. Locke is a newbie to this power, and doesn’t understand the “why” behind it as Ben does – but he’s definitely experiencing the “how”. We’ll touch on the “Magic Box” later, but potentially only those who enter this “communion” with the Island gain access to its powers.

The important thing is, thanks to Locke, Ben got out of an impossible predicament. As he said, if he didn’t let Jack and Juliet go, he would be seen as a liar, and would lose the respect of the Others. If he did let them go, not only would the Submarine be gone forever, but he would be viewed as “helping an inferior person” in escaping from the Island – also losing the respect of his people. Thanks to John Locke, he got “an out” which allows him to keep face with the Others, securing his position of power among them.

CFL. As for CFL, this episode confirmed for me that she is NOT a part of the Others. The scene with a teary eyed-CFL seeing Alex for the first time from the shadows? That’s a sign that she hasn’t seen Alex in 16 years – and you have to think that if she was an Other, she would have had the chance to do so… it’s not like the Others have multiple cities around the Island (or do they?! I’m just kidding, I don’t think they do…) However, still open are theories that she entered some sort of “pact” with the Others, is working with ulterior motives, or is lying about her knowledge about the Island – but as for being an Other, that theory is blown up like an Other Submarine.

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Jack. What about Jack? Is he an Other now? No – it turns out that with all the theories we had about why Jack was playing nice with the Others, the simplest answer was the correct one. He was playing nice with the Others in order to get a one-way ticket off the Island. However, he retained his “hero” status by confiding in Kate that although he was going to leave the Island, he was going to form a search party and come back to rescue everyone else. Ever-logical Jack realized his freedom was the best chance that EVERYONE had for actually getting off the Island, and he was ready to take it. Unfortunately, along came John Locke to destroy that plan. Two seasons ago, Jack told us we were going to have a “Locke problem”, and boy do we ever have one now.

The big question is – what now? Ben seemingly was going to let Jack go (although it certainly is debatable if this really would have happened), but now that the Sub is gone, does Ben let Jack return to the beach with Sayid and Kate? Or does he keep him captive. I think the answer to this hinges on the question of how much Jack actually knows. I’m not going to lie, when Jack started into his “the kids are safe” speech with Kate in the gameroom, I immediately thought “Oh great, he’s brainwashed like Cindy” because the two speeches sounded so similar… and both were so void of any real information. However, I think it’s safe to assume that Jack was kept in the dark on the majority of “secrets” of the Others – finding out only as much as was absolutely needed for him to spend a few days at the Barracks – and therefore could theoretically be released with the other Survivors. I mean, EVENTUALLY Jack has to return to the beach to have verbal spars with Sawyer and have awkward moments with Claire, right?

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But who’s to say (what’s impossible) that Kate, Sayid, and Locke would even be released? If you remember, Ben’s quote was “I’ll let your friends go as soon as you leave this Island.” We’ve seen in the past that Ben, while sneaky and conniving, seems to be a man of his word. But with Jack not leaving the Island, he doesn’t technically have to release the Search Party. But again, I feel like the writers (and the audience) have had enough of the “Survivors kept prisoner by the Others” storylines, so I would expect a conditional release of Jack, Kate, and Sayid. What about Locke? Well, if he’s a member of “Team Island”, that puts him in the inner circle of the Others, and I think he would stay. It certainly gives him the “greater purpose” he’s been looking for since he arrived at he Island, and Ben seems awfully eager to find out how Locke gained such favor with the Island so quickly. Plus, if Jack got his hands on Locke, he would literally kill him for blowing up the Submarine.

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Juliet. On the other hand, Juliet seems to be in the opposite boat. She’s pretty much demonstrated that she hates the Others, is tired of their antics, and just wants to go home. I find it hard to believe she would fall back into the role of a mindless Other following Ben after all she’s been through. Also, how could we have the Jack and Juliet potential romance blossom if the two are separated? No way – TV writers love geometric love stories (love triangles, rhombusi, pentagons – things like that). By introducing Juliet to the Jack / Kate / Sawyer mix, it guarantees that they can string along the inevitable Jack and Kate romance for a few more seasons. My money is on Juliet being dishonorably discharged from the Others and leaving with Jack, Kate, and Sayid.

Locke. I would have never expected John Locke to deliver a comedic line on “Lost”, but he surprised me this episode with his “You aren’t going to start talking about the Magic Box again, are you?” line to Ben. But this was just one of many insanely interesting conversations between the two characters. Based on Ben’s conversations, it seems that John Locke somehow got “instant communion” with the Island once Flight 815 crashed – something that apparently takes years to achieve for outsiders (if ever?) – something that only “native Others” seem to have had in the past. But why? What made John Locke so special? As we saw in his flashbacks, he definitely had the crappiest life up until the plane crash, which might mean the Island just took pity on him – or saw him as a weak personality looking for purpose in life that could easily be convinced to perform the Island deeds.

It almost seems like the Island used to be BFFs with Ben, but has ditched him for the “new guy in town” John Locke. Remember how Locke mentioned to Ben, “you’re in the wheelchair and I’m not”? This screams “the Island likes me better than you now”. But why? Well, also recall that Locke called Ben a hypocrite for using electricity and guns, whereas Locke is embracing the “au natural” route of Island life. Hunting. Gathering. Living in underground hatches. You know, the usual stuff.

How about this for your crazy theory of the week? Ben and his Native Other cohorts lived in total communion with the Island for centuries, and thus received its favor in terms of protection (Smokey), wishes being granted, and power. The Island liked them because they lived simple lives and ate, drank, and were merry. But then, along came the Dharma Initiative, and introduced our Others to things like electricity, guns, and Dharma beer, among other vices (a very Native Americans being polluted by the White Man sort of theory). Suddenly these Others were no longer living the way that the Island wanted, and it was pissed. It crashed Flight 815 to get some new blood on the Island that could take over, deeming Locke the leader of the group and zapping him with instant communion. Locke doesn’t fully understand it, but realizes that he has this power and omniscience over things happening on the Island. The Island is almost telling him what to do and then making it happen – which explains his destructive actions against the Others and anything that could provide escape from the Island. The Island is pissed at the Others and wants them gone… but it also wants to ensure that our Survivors stick around and re-settle the Island. Aaron becomes the first sign of the “next generation”, along with baby Sunjin (explaining why she could suddenly conceive – the Island needs babies!).

Absolutely crazy? Yes. But if this is the case, then Ben understands that his communion with the Island is slipping, whereas Locke’s seems as strong as ever – making him NEED Locke to keep control over the Others. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times this week which mentioned that Locke (and Locke’s Dad) wouldn’t be appearing on the show again until near the season finale (boo!). While we should take this with a grain of salt (you can’t trust the liberal media), it might also open the door for an insane reveal near the end of the season, as our Survivors again encounter the Others, only to find John Locke their new leader. Tell me that wouldn’t make for great TV!

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Locke's Dad. Speaking of great TV, it seems that the folks at Lost have learned their lesson from the Season One finale, where they opened the Hatch but didn’t show us what was inside, leading to riots in three US cities and hunger strikes by thousands of Lost fans worldwide (one assumes). Thankfully, this episode showed us what was behind door #1 at the end, what “the Magic Box” created, what John Locke apparently wished for – none other than a bound and gagged Anthony Cooper, his father. We’re through the looking glass, people.

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What does it all mean? Well to be honest with you, I haven’t decided yet. You might find it hard to believe, but typically when I start writing each post, I have no idea where it’s going to take me or what theories will spring up in my head as I write (for example, that crazy one above? No idea where that came from). This is one of those cases. I could easily see Locke’s Dad being a product of the Island granting wishes, Smokey, the power of the Others, or just another example of crazy coincidence / fate. So I’m just going to argue each point and see what sounds the best to me in the end. Kids – this is not a recommended method of “proper writing” – don’t try this at home…

Anthony Cooper is another crazy example of coincidence and fate on the Island. It’s definitely the “cleanest” of the explanations, albeit the least fun. The detectives in the hospital told Locke that his father “disappeared to Mexico” shortly after throwing him out the window, and then didn’t know where he went from there. It’s possible he decided to charter a boat on a trip to the South Pacific (far away from the long arm of the law) and ended up crashing on the Island. Hey, it happened to CFL and Desmond, right? What are the odds of that? Not great. What are the odds that the Others would find him and keep him captive for just this moment, knowing his relationship with Locke? Even not greater. But if you are one of those “I hate science fiction stuff and want everything on Lost to be explained very logically”, this is a good theory for you. This would also be the theory you would want to apply to Eko’s plane, or Jack and Claire ending up on the same plane, and all the crisscrossing characters in flashbacks.

Anthony Cooper is a product of the Others’ power and reach around the world. This is actually a better theory for those “realists” out there than the first – because it takes a lot of the “coincidence” out of everthing… but it also means that the Others are almost Dharma-like in their power and influence around the world, able to kidnap someone and bring them to the Island within the course of a few days (I guess technically they could have taken as long as 80 days) just in case they ever needed them to be a pawn in a psychological game with someone on the Island. Or maybe it’s just like Survivor where the Others brought a family member from each of our castaways to the Island just in case they ever needed leverage over them. This would also mean that the Others constructed a fake plane (with fake corpses!) for Eko, set loose a black horse for Kate, and had Charlie’s guitar conveniently hanging in the trees for him to find. It works… except that we’re supposed to believe that the Others are NOT Dharma (note: in a recent Podcast, Damon and Carlton confirmed that Patchy was telling the truth – the Others are NOT Dharma, but wiped them out in a “purge”)… and how would a group of Islanders gain this sort of power? It’s a pretty big hole if you ask me (that’s what he said?).

Anthony Cooper is a manifestation of Smokey. You’ll notice in the first two theories above I didn’t reference Jack’s Dad, Hurley’s Dave, Boone’s Shannon, or Shannon’s Walt. It’s dangerous to group every weird occurrence together on the Island and try to find a unifying explanation for all of them, because it doesn’t have to be that way. For example, I have always chalked up Hurley’s Dave to Hurley being crazy – not a product of anything on the Island. Hurley was having visions of his imaginary friend long before he arrived on the Island, so why should we think his visions on the Island are any different? Likewise, I would easily chalk Jack’s Dad up to a “dealing with the death of a parent” traumatic hallucination and nothing more. Walt seemed to always have special powers, even the ability to “appear somewhere that he wasn’t supposed to be” as Ms. Klugh said, so Shannon seeing him isn’t necessarily tied to Smokey. Even Boone’s Shannon, that Locke asked “is that what the Island showed you?” could just as easily be tied to the drug-laced goo that Locke smeared on this open wound rather than a manifestation of Smokey.

So when we talk about Smokey, we have to be very careful to throw out these examples and focus on the hard evidence. In my mind, this really just leaves Eko’s visions of Yemi as the only hard evidence of Smokey taking on the form of another person. At least, until this episode. In my Instant Reactions, this was the first thing that sprung to mind. Remember that the only two characters that have really had a “face to face” encounter with Smokey are Eko and Locke – and in Eko’s encounter we saw Smokey “scanning his memory for images from his past”. It’s easily rationalized that Smokey would later take on the form of these images (Yemi for Eko, Anthony Cooper for Locke) in order to achieve some goal.

But what is the goal? Well, remember that Eko and Locke both survived their encounters with Smokey, whereas the Pilot did not – so there must have been something special about them. They were both religious, they both were unafraid, something. Perhaps Smokey intended for them to both be a part of “Team Island”, but needed to “test them” to ensure that their intentions were true and they were “worthy” of gaining access to this great power. Smokey appeared as Yemi to test Eko, to try and get him to repent for his sinful past – and Eko was unwilling to do so, resulting in his demise. Maybe Smokey is now appearing as Locke’s Dad in order to test Locke to see if he forgives him, or takes out revenge on him (you can’t forget that Eko told Locke, “you’re next” – maybe he’s the next one to be tested?)

Also, remember those weird red flowers that were around Yemi when he appeared to Smokey (that some have theorized are always around whenever Smokey appears)? Well, check out the flowers that appeared with Cooper in the flashback:

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The problem of course is that Yemi appeared and disappeared, was seemingly visible only to Eko, and was in total control. Cooper appears to be very physical, very tied up, and totally out of control (although this could all be part of Smokey’s act to see how Locke reacts). It also raises a lot of questions about the relationship between Smokey and the Others that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around. Are they working together? Do the Others know that Cooper is actually Smokey? You could make this theory work if you wanted to, but the details would require a lot of explanation down the road.

Anthony Cooper is a product of the Island granting wishes. Which brings us to the last theory, the most out there, and potentially the most game-changing. Although Ben was clearly speaking in metaphor when he told Locke to imagine a “Magic Box” (since he worked a Box Factory, Ben probably thought this was a concept he could relate to), the underlying message was that the Island can grant the wishes of the worthy.

Here’s where you have to ask yourself – is Lost a show about a Time Traveling Scotsman and an Island that grants wishes, or is it a show about people finding redemption through dream sequences and hallucinations that are encouraged by a super-powerful organization on the Island? There’s a big difference there.

While I was never a big believer in the “time travel” theories with Desmond, somehow I’m finding myself buying into this theory about the Island making dreams come true. I know the show is rooted in science, and it couldn’t possibly explain this – but it would be the lynchpin that holds this show together and explains soooo much. This could be that “secret” that I’ve referenced that the Others are clearly willing to die in order to protect. This would explain why it’s so important to keep the Island a secret. Can you imagine this power falling into the wrong hands? Speaking of the wrong hands, this could explain why the Others only want the “worthy” Survivors to join them. How is Ben able to get the Others to follow his orders? Because he’s the magic man that has a communion with the Island, and he’s dangling the carrot in front of them that they could have this power as well.

I know, I know – it’s crazy talk. But after typing out each of the other possibilities above, it’s inexplicably the one that makes the most sense. There are a lot of holes with this theory of course – like it’s scientifically impossible, or why wouldn’t Locke wish for a scantily clad Helen, or why Ben couldn’t just wish his tumor away, etc. But if you believe that Ben and the Others have slowly been falling out of favor with the Island, it would seem to fill in a lot of them.

I can just see the creators never offering a formal explanation about how any of this is possible, and hinting at all the different alternate explanations that adhere to science – but having the “true believers” like Locke simply believing that the Island is magic. Heck, the fraudulent book “The Secret” has been hawking the notion of “believing in something makes it come true” and has been featured on Oprah twice - which is basically the same theory. If all those millions of people who mindlessly follow anything Oprah says believe it, why shouldn’t we believe a similar concept on Lost?

As I said in the beginning, I’m not 100% sold on any of these explanations, which makes me beyond excited to find out the truth… but for now, feel free to mock me for coming down on the side of “Island Magic”. I know I would.

Oz. An anonymous poster echoed my thoughts about this below, but it was something my friends and I discussed via Email earlier this week as well, so I wanted to throw it out there for everyone to chew on… I don’t think there is a "Jacob".

Instead, I think that Jacob is closer to the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz (another Wizard of Oz reference? Come on!) - that being an imaginary all-powerful figurehead that keeps people in line (an Island god?), but doesn't exist in the flesh and bone. The more we see about the Others, the more convinced I am that Jacob either was one of the original Others, who discovered this “communion” with the Island, or is a fairy-tale figure that is used to convince non-Native Others about the power of the Island.

Throughout all Ben’s conversations, he never mentioned fearing Jacob – just that he was afraid of losing power… as if he was the one who was ultimately in charge of all the Others. If Jacob existed, shouldn’t he have been saying stuff like “Jacob is going to kill me for letting Jack escape” or “Jacob is going to be very upset that I’ve lost the faith of my people” – but he wasn’t.

Just something to think about…

Submarine. Lastly, I wanted to address some of the questioning about the submarine that I read in the Comments to the Instant Reactions – sorry to tell you, but it was the submarine that blew up. If you watch the episode closely, you can see the sub still sitting there in the background right before it blows up. Locke didn’t move it and then swim back to the dock (even though he was wet – maybe he slipped and fell when getting off the sub?) – the submarine is gone. However, that doesn’t mean that the Others are now all stranded on the Island either – remember that fancy ocean liner they took from Alcatraz to the Main Island? That still exists, along with Desmond’s sailboat. Maybe the submarine was needed to “escape” the electromagnetic pull of the Island back in the day, but now – post purple sky – I would think that either of these two remaining vessels would provide a way to get back to the real world without having to follow any specific bearing (like Michael and Walt).

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Okay. I’m exhausted. Quick update on the “Control the Blog” Contest and I’m out of here:

I’ve received a lot of interest, and there are some definite front runners. I think I’ll take the advice of many of you and split up duties by episode, giving multiple people the chance to write. I’ve also gotten some tips on how to setup more of a “message board” structure for the Comments section, which would make it easier to navigate, read, and respond – which I think would be awesome. Due to my lack of technical know-how, I’m relying on FOBs to help make this happen, but it’s something to look for in the future that I think is very exciting for the Blog. If anyone has any other suggestions or wants to throw their name in the running to Control the Blog, shoot me an Email at . I’m still not sure how the winners will be selected (again, suggestions for this are also welcome), but I figure I’ve got another week to figure that out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"The Man from Tallahassee" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Boggled.

You know, up until the last ten minutes of the episode, I was thinking to myself "huh, this is a surprisingly thin episode." Sure, there was plenty of great action and plot development, but nothing that made you think too hard or over-analyze for the first forty minutes... then Ben started his "Magic Box" talk, and then the episode ended with Locke's Dad tied up in a room - leaving my mind totally boggled (note: WTF was a close second for the "three letter review" of the episode).

So what does it all mean? Well, here's what I'll be pondering tomorrow...

  1. The Others. Very few are actually native to the Island. Most seem to be coerced into coming to the Island under the pretense of being able to leave... but it's just a sham. It seems that Ben keeps them there until they become "believers" and don't want to leave - via brainwashing? Does that make Ben one of a dying breed of decendents of the people who made the four-toed statue? Did they die out due to infertility?
  2. The Barracks. Something about this doesn't add up for me. If we assume the Barracks were created by Dharma, and the Others are NOT Dharma, then where did the Others use to live? Did you see the walls of Ben's house featuring pictures of Alex growing up? Clearly the Others have had the technology to take and print photographs for quite some time - so they must have had a decent little civilization pre-Dharma, right?
  3. The Magic Box. "Imagine if I told you there was a box, and when you opened the box, whatever you wished was inside." Jigga what? At first I was thinking this was some sort of symbolism for "the Island will give you whatever you want" - not be taken literally... then Locke's dad appeared. Up until now, Smokey was the number one thing on "Lost" that couldn't be explained logically using pseudo-science... but now this "Magic Box" takes the cake. This can't be real, can it? Or is this what is used to entice people to come to (and stay on) the Island? Some magic power to tie into the mind and make wishes come true? Are they really just at Disney World?
  4. Locke's Dad. Has he always been there? So he was the "man from Tallahassee" that Ben summoned from Alpert while Locke was hiding in the closet, right? Was this just an illusion? Did he somehow "appear" via Magic Box powers? Does this mean that Jack's dad might also really be on the Island? As crazy as it sounds, if the Island does make "wishes come true", it would go a long way in explaining the freaky coincidence stuff we've seen so far with Jack's Dad, Eko's Plane (and Yemi), Kate's Horse, etc. All the stuff that we previously chalked up to Smokey... so does that make Smokey the Magic Box? Smokey the Magic Dragon? He scans you, finds your wishes and desires, and then makes them come true if you're "worthy"? Think about it - he scanned Locke a while ago - "creating" his Father on the Island, who the Others then kidnapped, not knowing what else to do with him. I'll keep working on this theory, but I think it has the most logic behind it so far.
  5. Locke. Ben pretty much came out and said it - Locke is Team Island. Although Ben doesn't know why, Locke is taking up the causes of the Island, making him the enemy of both the Others and the Survivors. Another sad Locke flashback to make us feel bad for him, when we really should be viewing him as public enemy number one.

Just like Bob Lawblaw, that was quite a mouthful. Sorry for the rambling, but I wanted to get the instant reactions out in raw form before I start second-guessing myself. All in all, it was a great episode - but let's be honest, without that ending it would have just been a solid episode. In the end my dropped jaw hadn't returned to its normal closed position when the preview for next week aired... which dropped it even farther. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First things first. I'll try to make some sense of this episode in the next few days.


PS - remember to let me know if you want to take over my Blog (

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lost - "The Man from Tallahassee"

Before we get started this week, there is some serious Blog news that we need to address…

First the good news. I'm finally making my long awaited return to Europe, which I should have taken last year for the World Cup. However, due to all of my friends being lame (and not having the plentiful vacation days that I have), it never happened. Thankfully, this year, it's happening in a big way with a two week European Extravaganza taking me through Edinburgh, York, Bath, London, Paris, Munich, Salzburg, and the happiest place on Earth - Augsburg, Germany.

Why do you care? Well, besides the fact that FOBs (Friends of the Blog) located in any of these fantastic cities need to start sending me Emails offering free places to stay and recommended non-touristy hotspots, it brings us to the bad news.

The trip is happening April 13 - April 29th… right in the middle of our current "nonstop" spring season of Lost. Since I don't intend to spend my trip watching TV or writing about TV (I wouldn't have the means, even if I wanted to), it means I'll be unable to write a Full Analysis of Episode 16, and will be unable to write Previews, Instant Reactions, or Full Analyses of Episodes 17, and 18. That's where you come in.

Since so much of the Blog is about readers commenting and discussing episodes on their own in the comments section, I definitely want that to continue in my absence. However, I think it would only be fair to take it one step further…

Someone is going to get to fully take over Lost and Gone Forever in my absence. Welcome to the first ever "Control the Blog" contest.

Think I'm an idiot and you could write better (and more quickly) about each episode? Want to have thousands of people each day read your crazy thoughts and theories for a while? I'll give some trustworthy individual the ID and Password to access the Blog and post their own episode previews and recaps. You don't have to do it in the same format as I do (although doing it like that would keep it nice and consistent…), but it would allow readers to continue obsessing and over-analyzing even when I'm gone. (Note: this can also serve as a contingency plan in case I ever die.) It's a big responsibility, but also a great opportunity.

If you're interested in taking over, shoot me an Email to (yes, I even setup a special Email address for this contest!) telling me why you want it. Nothing too fancy, just why you would be awesome. If I get a lot of responses, maybe we'll have some sort of judging contest or something. The other thing you should address is why I should trust you. Since technically whoever takes over could effectively destroy the Blog in a matter of minutes, it's kinda scary. I'm not sure how to limit the risk here - but if any computer savvy people out there think of anything, let me know.

If no one wants to assume this god-like power, then that's fine too. I can always post "shell" entries for each episode before I leave, and you'll just have to comment under the appropriate entry before and after each episode. It could get confusing, but it would be better than nothing.
So there you go. This could either turn into a horrible Blog experiment or a super successful annual event. We'll see.

Remember, Email me at if you're interested. We'll need to make a final decision on all of this before I leave, so I'll set a deadline of April 1st for any entries. That gives you about two weeks to decide if you're up for it.

But enough about me, let's get to the task at hand...

Episode Title: The Man From Tallahassee

Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Like every week, I started this week’s “deeper meaning guess” reading up on the city of Tallahassee, the state capital of Florida. Unfortunately, while very informative (the word “Tallahassee" is Muskogean for "old town” and it’s the home of Richard Simmons!) – it gave little insight to anything relative to the current state of the Island or characters on the show.

Instead, this looks to be another week where the episode title comes from something said inside the episode (similar to “Not In Portland”). More specifically, I’d bet the quote comes from inside the flashback. Why?

Well, who could possibly be from Tallahassee on the Island? If we’re to believe that most of the Others, sans Juliet (who’s from Miami), have lived on the Island for their entire lives, we can pretty much rule them out. Looking at the Survivors featured in this episode (Sayid, Kate, Locke, Jack), based on flashbacks we’ve already seen none hail from the Orange State. So who does that leave?

Take a look at the guest stars listed below. The one that should immediately jump out at you is Richard Alpert, aka – the guy who recruited Juliet to join “Mittelos” somewhere “not quite in Portland” in the first episode of the Spring Season. His reappearance in the episode means one of two things – either he’s on the Island, and now that we’re inside the Barracks, we’ll run into him… or that he once again appears in a flashback. While the former seems much more likely, the latter offers tantalizing possibilities about Locke’s knowledge about and role on the Island pre-crash…

…which brings us to this week’s Locke-centric flashback. “The Man from Tallahassee” promises the long-awaited answer to the question of “how did John Locke lose his legs?” Once again, it’s somewhat ironic that this is a question that the fans have been begging for since Season One – and yet now that we’re about to find out, this is one of the least fascinating parts of the show for me. Sure, I’m curious, but with a number of far more interesting stories happening on the Island at this point, learning how Locke became paralyzed is merely a side-story. The far more intriguing possibility for the episode is that Richard Alpert appears in Locke’s flashback.

Think about it. Although up until this point, we’ve had plenty of characters cross paths in their pre-Island lives, there have only been two that involved non-Flight 815 Survivors (Desmond / Jack / Charlie, and Kelvin / Sayid), and neither are “Others”. But the appearance of an Other like Alpert in Locke’s flashback would seemingly hint that there was some sort of greater plan in place for at least some of our Survivors, at the very least helping to explain the vast amount of information the Others have about each of our Survivors, and making the “conspiracy theory” geeks start freaking out.

Unfortunately, that would fly in the face of the facts that we’ve already learned about the crash of Flight 815. The Others were surprised by it. They had to gather information about the Survivors. The crash itself was caused by Desmond following Kelvin out of the Swan Hatch and racing back to enter the Numbers just in time. In the end, while it’s still possible that Alpert appears in Locke’s flashback (since we’ve already seen him in Miami, Tallahassee is only a few hours away), I wouldn’t bet on his appearance holding any greater meaning for Locke’s place on the Island. I think smart money is still on him simply appearing in the Barracks.

But where does that leave us? Like I said, I’m anticipating the episode title to be revealed in a fashion very similar to “Not In Portland” – a throwaway line that might hint at a key scene from the flashback, but nothing that we should be gathering any huge deeper meaning from.

Basically, something Lost creators use to torment me and my “Deeper Meaning” section. Jerks.

Episode Description: Ben tries to talk Locke out of his destructive plan by offering him some island secrets. Meanwhile, Kate's reunion with Jack does not go off as planned when she discovers he has made a deal with the Others. Guest starring are M.C. Gainey as Mr. Friendly/Tom, Tania Raymonde as Alex, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Mira Furlan as Danielle Rousseau, Kevin Tighe as Anthony Cooper, Patrick J. Adams as Peter Talbot, Barbara Baehler as Mrs. Talbot, Don Nahaku as Detective Reed, Marlene Forte as Detective Mason, Stephen Bishop as William Kincaid, Cleo King as government worker and Brian Goodman as Ryan Pryce.

Episode Breakdown: I’ll just say it – this episode has an insane amount of potential. Between the last three episodes, this week, and next week (it’s scary, but there are rumblings that next week’s Nikki and Paulo-centric episode will shockingly be one of those “change your opinion about everything” episodes and will make us all feel terrible for hating those characters for so long) we might just be in the best stretch of Lost episodes since the first few episodes of Season One.

This week, we have the long awaited reunion of John Locke and Ben (who was Henry Gale the last time the two talked). Ironically, this time Ben is in a wheelchair (the trigger for Locke’s flashbacks, anyone?) If you remember, Ben was the person who told Locke that “I came for you”, as if he was “chosen” and then proceeded to lie about the repercussions of not pushing the button. Looking back on this conversation now, the scene brings up some pretty interesting questions.

For one, it’s pretty clear that Ben was not “sent for Locke”, and that Locke is not someone that is on Jacob’s list. However, as I said last week, he does seem to be the one remaining Survivor without a questionable past – in fact, he’s consistently been the one that was used, abused, and taken advantage of. Maybe this is what makes him “unworthy” of gaining admittance to Otherville – they not only want “good people” spiritually, but also emotionally – and it’s clear from Locke’s past that he has some serious emotional baggage due to the rough go he’s had with life.

What’s not as clear is why Ben seemed to be setting up Locke (and the rest of our Survivors) to stop pushing the button and implode the Hatch. Remember, Ben told Locke that he didn’t push the button and nothing happened – that it was all a big experiment. This (along with the trip to the Pearl) planted the seed of doubt in Locke’s mind about his number-pushing mission. The really weird thing is that we learned earlier this season that the Others (Ben included) didn’t know what would happen when the 108 clock expired. When the sky went purple, it knocked out their communication – seemingly catching them off guard and negatively affecting them. So why did Ben want this to happen?

The only explanation I can think of is that while the Others had no idea what pushing the button actually did (which would be surprising, when you think about how much they do know about the Island and the people on it), they knew that it was a product of Dharma experiments, which they were opposed to. However, the ever-cautious Others didn’t want to risk their own skin in finding out what happened when the button wasn’t pressed – so they decided to send Ben to convince our Survivors to do it on their own. Risky, but it did all work out in the end.

Which brings us back to John confronting the person who rocked his faith in the Island and his importance there… and kinda almost killed him. This is one pissed off John Locke. The preview showed Locke with a gun to Ben’s head demanding answers about the Island. The episode description indicates there’s some bartering going on – with Ben offering up some of these “Island Secrets” Locke so desperately wants in exchange for Locke calling off his “destructive plan”.

What is this “destructive plan”? Based on the last few episodes, smart money is on Locke using the C-4 that he swiped from the Flame to blow up something tied to communications at the Barracks, or the ship / submarine that people could theoretically use to come and go off the Island. This would fit in with Locke’s recent rampage of destroying anything that could provide escape off the Island or allow others to reach the Island, as he continues his apparent mission to stay on the Island forever.

The worrisome part here is that the bloody ABC preview also showed an image of John Locke standing in front of an explosion, which would seem to indicate that Locke carries out his “destructive plan” after all. I really hope this doesn’t mean that the audience is cheated out of finding out some solid information about the Island due to Locke’s wacky Island obsession – if so, I’m going to be pretty furious at his character. Let’s hope for Locke just being extra shady and making Ben tell him all this information… then blowing stuff up anyways.

Two weeks ago we learned that the Others have “lived on the Island a long time”, much longer than Dharma – so logically you should assume that they have a lot greater knowledge about things innate to the Island… maybe things like Smokey, Funky Time, the Whispers, etc. That really raises the bar for the excitement level for the Locke and Ben confrontation, doesn’t it?

The second main storyline of the episode surrounds the Jack and Kate reunion, which clearly doesn’t go off as planned. As we rationalized last week, Jack seems to be “playing nice” with the Others in an attempt to gather information that could eventually be used to help his fellow Survivors. Kate entering the fray puts Jack in a difficult situation. If he shows his loyalty towards Kate, it blows his cover and could get both of them thrown back into captivity. If he keeps up his act with the Others, it will crush Kate’s fragile heart and potentially get her re-captured or killed… and that, my friends, is good TV.

There will clearly be plenty of excitement, tension, and drama – along with something for the “Kate Hearts Jack 4-EVA” fans out there. It will be interesting to see how far Jack is willing to take this act… or how far he can take it without getting caught. If this was “24”, the Others would wisely make Jack shoot Kate to prove his allegiance… but since this isn’t, I doubt things will escalate that high. Still, here’s hoping for some insight towards Jack plan… or the revelation that my assumption was wrong and Jack is actually just out for himself and getting off the Island (not likely – but it would be pretty jaw-dropping and would seriously shakeup the show!)

Who is curiously missing from the Episode Description? Sayid and CFL. It’s pretty easy to see how Locke and Kate spend the episode, but what about the other two members of the Search Party? Since Alex is listed as a guest star this episode, I would bank on CFL spending a good bit of the episode watching her daughter from afar… afraid to actually approach her – but just observing her and being all sad. As for Sayid, being the most logical one of the group, I’d look for him to try and gather as much information as possible while at the Barracks – information about the Others, the Island, and searching for access to the tunnel system that is their ticket out of the Barracks once Jack is rescued.

That only leaves one more thing… the flashback.

I would be a terrible Blogger if I didn’t harbor some sort of guess as to the cause of John Locke’s paralysis. Noting the guest starring characters, Anthony Cooper once again is in the episode – Locke’s sketchy biological father (who previously has used him to get a kidney, indirectly ruined his potential marriage, and dragged him into a con) is making a reappearance. Who wants to bet that he is in some way responsible for Locke’s loss of his legs? A con gone wrong? A former associate looking for revenge? Running over Locke with a car? Who knows, but what better way to increase our sympathy for Locke and add another example to the “every Survivor has a terrible father” column than to have his father once again hose him? Meanwhile, on the Island we’ll see the stark contrast between “poor helpless pre-Island Locke” with the headstrong, plotting, potentially evil Island Locke. Don’t let him trick you into feeling sympathetic!

That’s all for this week. Something tells me we’re going to have an insane amount of analysis to do after this episode… I better rest up.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Par Avion" Analysis

After three solid weeks of Lost in a row, with next week looking to potentially be one of the all-time great episodes, I think a lot of people are forgetting the frustration we all felt with the first six episodes of the Season. If you ask me, life is pretty good right now for Lost fans. Without further ado, here is the slightly delayed analysis of this past week…

Claire. As I’ve always said, Claire is one of my least favorite characters on the show. Now that baby Aaron has been born and doesn’t seem to be of any interest to the Others, she doesn’t really have any engaging storylines going on. She seemed like a totally expendable character. Then this episode happened, and you could argue she’s one of the central characters to the show. Why?

She is Jack’s pseudo-sister. The writers couldn’t kill her before this is revealed, could they? I suppose you have to debate which would be the more interesting storyline – dead Claire forcing other Survivors to raise Aaron or Jack and Claire having a heartfelt reunion on the Island. I have to think that the writers would opt for the later. As I said before, the only way this “reveal” would actually happen is if the Others were to disclose this information to Jack or Claire – but that really doesn’t seem to far-fetched anymore, given the knowledge that they seem to have about each Survivor.

The good news is, while it looks like Claire will be sticking around, at least her character is getting more interesting after this week’s flashback. As I said in my “Instant Reactions”, I interpreted the last scene of her flashback as a tearful apology / confession at her comatosed mother’s bedside – which makes Claire yet another one of our Survivors with a sketchy past – the kind of past that would make you “unworthy” of making Jacob’s List.

Some have questioned how I arrived at this conclusion. Well, if you combine what Claire said at the end of her flashback to her mother (“I’m sorry I said I hated you. Wished you weren’t my mother. Wished you were dead. It’s all my fault. The accident. Everything.”) with the Cop’s questioning of her earlier in the flashback (which indicated that it was Claire’s car that swerved and hit the truck – at a high speed – not vice versa), it paints the following picture:

Angsty Claire is driving with her mom as the passenger. The two start to argue about any number of teenage issues where she and her mom don’t see eye to eye. Claire gets irrational and goes on her “I hate you, I wish you were dead” rant. Either intentionally or unintentionally (because she’s so worked up) she starts to speed and loses control of the car. Bam.

Did Claire kill her mother? No. Technically, she’s not even dead yet. But Claire is keeping her alive using machines out of guilt (remember Jack’s Dad’s speech about the difference between guilt and hope?), because if she lets her die – then she in fact does become a “murderer”.

But either way, it adds Claire (one of the last holdouts!) to the list of (main character) Survivors with seriously sketchy or murderous pasts. In fact, the only character left who we haven’t seen with a morally destructive past is John Locke… and I get the feeling that could come into play with this week’s episode.

The other really intriguing thing about Claire is that she seems to be kryptonite for Charlie. Think about it – every time that Desmond has saved Charlie’s life, we have found out that he was going to die because of Claire. How long will it take for Charlie to put two and two together and realize the connection? Forcing him to choose between love and life is a pretty meaty storyline for his character (the kind he definitely needs). While each of Desmond’s visions so far have had some logical incongruities (why did he need to prevent Jin and Claire from catching the first bird? Wouldn’t that have saved Charlie too?), I’m excited to see if the trend of Claire’s involvement in each potential death continues. Again, it’s something that makes not only Charlie, but also Claire, a much more interesting character.

Family. As for Christian Shephard, he continues to be the character who has crossed paths with the most Survivors (Ana-Lucia, Jack, Claire, Sawyer). It also looks like he attempted to live a double life for quite some time – with one family in Australia, and one in Los Angeles. Talk about racking up the frequent flyer miles! Suddenly it all makes sense why Dr. Shephard, after having his life in LA fall apart and his son rat him out for performing surgery drunk, would go on a drinking binge in Australia and attempt to reconnect with his “other family”.

Some crazy people have suggested that Christian Shephard may in fact be the “Jacob” that is in control of the Others, and that the crash of Flight 815 was an elaborate scheme to get both of his kids on the Island with him. I know it seems like a neat way to tie everything together in a nice little package, but the number of facts that seemingly disprove this theory far outweigh any theories that could make it work… plus it would be a little too close to the Irina Derevko storyline on Alias.

Christian Shephard is dead. Numerous doctors would have examined his body in Australia (including Jack, who identified him in the morgue). It’s hard to imagine Christian leading a double life in Australia and LA while still being a successful surgeon, let along a THIRD life as leader of the Others. No, I think we’ll meet this “Jacob” at some point this season – but when we do, if it’s Christian Shephard, we’re going to need an entire episode of nothing but explanations about why and how this could be possible – and I don’t see that happening. Let this theory go.

CFL. However, feel free to jump onboard the “CFL is an Other” bandwagon, because after this episode, you’ve got more solid evidence that would support this theory. It was pretty convenient that CFL interrupted Patchy right as he was about to out John Locke’s paralysis. But if you think about it, if CFL was an Other, why would she care that Sayid and Kate learned about Locke’s paralysis? What harm would that bring to their cause? Reveal that they know a whole lot about everyone? Make them believe that the Island really is magic? Start questioning the motives of John Locke?

I’m not sold on it. On the other hand, a theory that might make more sense is that John Locke and CFL are both members of “Team Island”, working to sabotage any escape plans of the Survivors and take down the Others. It still has holes (like, why would CFL not go to the Flame last week?), but if you look at it from this angle, it would explain why she acted to protect Locke’s secret this week. She knows more about the Island than she is willing to let on, but isn’t an Other. She’s received “enlightenment” and survival skills from the Island just like Locke. Her random appearances to our Survivors have all been part of a larger plan, set in action by the Island / Smokey, to use our Survivors to finally get rid of those pesky “Others”. It’s yet another (debatable but flawed) theory for you to chew on.

But my thought? CFL is still just on “Team Crazy”. I think the writers are intentionally throwing these red herrings out to make us question the motives of CFL, but at the same time, they’re also giving us scenes that logically explain her actions, if we would just take them for face value and forget the other things she has said and done. Last week, it was the “I have survived this long by avoiding the Others”. This week, it was “I’m not showing any emotion because I know Alex isn’t going to know me” – which, by the way, is great foreshadowing for a potential Kate and Jack reunion where Jack doesn’t know or doesn’t react to Kate’s arrival with tears of joys and a hug-fest.

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong down the road, but for now, I still think CFL isn’t Dharma or Other or Team Island – I think she’s just crazy.

Patchy. Oh Patchy, we hardly knew thee – yet you gave us more insight about the Island and the Others over the course of your brief scenes than any other character on the show has in the past three seasons… and for that, you’ll definitely be missed. He went out the way he would have wanted, protecting the secrets of the Others the best way that he was able. He thanked Locke for giving him his release, as it kept him from being held responsible for the Search Party arriving at the Barracks or indirectly giving them any assistance. The Others are not only willing, but quite happy to die for their cause, and Patchy was given the chance to do it this week.

But before he died, he did give us some more tantalizing clues. For one, he confirmed that it was indeed the “electromagnetic pulse” from the Swan Hatch implosion that knocked out the Others’ communication. He also explained that since then, the homing beacon no longer functioned, which meant that if the Others used the submarine to leave the Island, they would not be able to return – and clearly these wacky cult members think they’ve found paradise and are not willing to take the risk of leaving and not being able to get back.

Initially, I thought this might explain why Ben needed Jack to perform his surgery, why he couldn’t leave the Island and have it performed in the real world – but then I recalled that the kidnapping of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer took place BEFORE the electromagnetic pulse – at a time when the Others still could have been coming and going to the real world as they pleased. So unless they could see the future (in which case, why not go and get the surgery done like three months ago?), it doesn’t help explain this mystery.

Patchy also demonstrated the Other’s uncanny knowledge about each of our Survivors (note that he didn’t say anything about CFL though… she must be an Other! Oh wait, I already went through that…) including pre-Island knowledge about Locke’s paralysis. Even though their knowledge continues to be things that could easily be obtained through medical records, police reports, and other easily obtainable information – but there’s still that nagging thought that they have some sort of “mind-reading powers”. It would explain some of the experiments being performed on the Island, their interest in Walt, and the whispers we’ve heard in the jungle. Also, obtaining the information they have about each of our Survivors would be possible if they were some super-powerful organization (Hanso), but if we learned last week that they are NOT associated with Dharma, where would this “ancient Island civilization” gain this information? For that matter, how did the Others come and go from the Island pre-Dharma, if the submarine was indeed theirs? How could they have recruited Patchy roughly 20 years ago (he said was 24 when he was “recruited” – I would say he looks about 45 or 50, right?) if they didn’t have means of coming and going to the Island?

It doesn’t add up. It’s funny that it seems the more we learn about the Others, the more puzzling they become. With each passing week, another theory that could have potentially explained them seems to find new holes… and there aren’t a lot of new theories springing up that tie everything together. That either means the writers are doing a great job, and are much smarter than we are – or we’ve gotten some misinformation along the way that is throwing us off. Either way, I’m extremely hopeful that next week’s episode brings us closer to the explanation that we’ve all been waiting for.

Lastly, Patchy again referenced “Jacob’s List” – not to be confused with Ms. Klugh’s list of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley – but rather the “original list” that determined who would be kidnapped and assimilated to the Others’ culture, and who would not be. It seems like the ones that weren’t on the list are the ones who have sketchy pasts, huge emotional baggage, and major issues that make them “unworthy” of the utopian bliss that the Island provides. It also would explain why our Survivors are not on the list – since these are the same people that we learn each week via flashback have some sketchy pasts (as we learned with Claire this week). Ironically, the audience views the Survivors as the “good guys”, and the Others as the “bad guys”. But technically, if what Patchy is saying is true – it’s the exact opposite. Our Survivors, even though we feel the most emotional attachment to, are the “bad guys”. We’re giving them all the benefit of the doubt because we believe that they can find redemption and overcome their past sins – but if you didn’t buy into this spiritual line of forgiveness thinking, like the Others – it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t want our Survivors “polluting” their perfect world.

I remember a long time ago – maybe early Season Two? – I said that the best Series Ending I could imagine would be to find out that the Others were the good guys all along, and that our Survivors basically hosed them and ruined paradise. In my mind, it would be a delicious surprise ending that would really make the audience think about the nature of good and evil, and how important perspective is in deciding which is which… but it’s probably a little too heady and a “downer” for the masses. Still, Patchy’s comments give the theory some legs.

Security System. Speaking of mysterious things about the Others, this week we finally encountered the “security system” that surrounds their Barracks (which look to be the same “neighborhood” looking place that we saw in the first scene of the season). It’s hard to say what technically happened to Patchy when he was pushed between the pillars, but it seemed to be some sort of electrocution. The weird thing is that he passed through it before the force started making him foam at the mouth and his ears bleed, yet our Survivors could climb over it, land in the same area as he was “zapped”, and be fine. What gives? Was this just an opportunity to show Kate straddle and climb up a tree (which was unbelievably hot, PS), or is there some sort of “technical” explanation – where passing through the plane subjected you to its power “shot you” regardless of where you went next. Our Survivors, climbing over the plane, never got “shot”, and could therefore walk freely where Patchy met his demise.

Clearly this sort of technology is quite advanced (a development of the Dharma Initiative scientists, for sure), but it’s odd that it was so easily bypassed by our Search Party. You would have to think it would be full of cameras too, right? Watching the perimeter and detecting anyone who came into a close proximity to it? Yet our Search Party seemingly bypassed it and arrived at the Barracks without much incident. Strange.

In fact, when you look at Sayid’s electrical map, it shows a tunnel system that goes under the Security System, which is clearly how the Others come and go from the Barracks (and probably Sayid’s number one escape strategy once they “rescue” Jack). So when you figure that you can easily go over or under the Security System, it loses some of its thunder, doesn’t it? It’s almost as if it was designed as a way to keep very simple-minded people or animals from getting through it – anyone with smarts could easily bypass it.

In my mind, this would indicate that when Dharma built the perimeter, they either thought that the Others were not too smart – and what amounts to a big electric fence would keep them at bay… or that the fence isn’t intended to keep the Others out. Once again, I think the design of the Security System points towards Dharma building it to keep “Island Savages” out – experiment rejects who walk around the Island barefoot and drag teddy bears in a noose. This was always one of my favorite theories about the Island that has lost a lot of momentum since Season Three started, but I think the Security System once again gives some evidence that there just might be another group on the Island – high on brawn, low on brain – that is the real purpose of the Security System. If you ask me, this would provide a very easy way to have our Survivors “merge” with the Others by having a common enemy. I guess just keep it in the back of your mind for now, since there definitely isn’t enough evidence to support it… and there’s always the chance that the Security System had to be simple enough for the Search Party to pass in order for the Jack Rescue to continue and we’re all just over thinking it.

Locke. I’ve really been on the fence with Locke these past two weeks. In my Instant Reactions, I always think he’s a bad guy – but then once I have time to rationalize the episode, I start to shift back to thinking he’s just a misguided guy. Well, after this episode, I think it’s safe to say that Locke clearly has different motives than the rest of the Search Party, and our Survivors in general. They want to rescue Jack and eventually get off the Island. Locke wants to understand the Island and stay there forever. Does that make him a “bad guy”? From the perspective of our Survivors, absolutely.

Does this mean that he intentionally blew up the Flame Hatch by entering 77? I think it’s important to think about what we missed from that episode. Clearly, Locke had time to wander around the station on his own (when he stole the C4), so it’s safe to assume that there was more to the Marvin Candle message on the computer than simply “If you are under attack from hostiles, enter 77”. Perhaps the next message was “station will self-destruct in ten minutes”. But regardless of what entering 77 actually accomplished, it definitely feels like Locke was responsible for the explosion in some way. The Flame Station represented a way to communicate with the outside world and potentially get off the Island – and this is something that goes against Locke’s goals.

While last week I was willing to forgive his actions as being ignorant about the repercussions, this episode we found that his excuse to Sayid when questioned was “if I knew there was C4 in the basement, I wouldn’t have done it” – yet then find out that not only did he know about the C4, but swiped some. Locke knew exactly what he was doing – and I think our “Locke Problem” is going to come to a head in the next few episodes here. If he really is on “Team Island”, it will be very obvious once he spends some time at the Barracks… which should be next week!

Barracks. Speaking of the Barracks, did they look like some type of summer camp to anyone else? If you look at the background, we have Others standing around with pool sticks, riding bikes and having a good time. It definitely gives the impression of the Barracks being a sort of “utopia” where everyone is happy and having a good time. You don’t see Others’ toiling in fields, worrying about Smokey or our Survivors, or guarding their Barracks with guns. It’s definitely a side to the Others that we didn’t see on Alcatraz, and would seem to indicate that once you succumb to their way of thinking, life is pretty good. Maybe we just happened to catch them during “recreation hours”, or are only looking at one area of the Barracks dedicated to “fun”, but the Others sure do seem to be loving life on the Island...

Jack. And that brings us to Jack, who seems to be fully participating in the fun that the Barracks provide. The episode ended with a beautifully shot scene of Jack running towards the Search Party, only to have him make a cut and catch a football at the last minute, revealing he’s happily tossing the football with Tom (who, by the way, had potentially the worst throwing motion I’ve ever seen – clearly he’s not a member of the Others’ intramural football team) leaving the audience sitting with their jaws dropped in shock. Great, great, scene. So what’s up?

Well, I think you can narrow it down to one of four possibilities, each with varying degrees of likelihood:
  1. Jack is Brainwashed. They subjected Jack to the a “Rave Room” just like Crazy Carl, and now he’s a card carrying Other, worshipping Jacob and planting a happy seed with Juliet. It’s an easy answer, but it’s not likely. In Island time, we’re only looking at four or five days passing since we last saw Jack, which doesn’t seem like a long enough time to break him down and rebuild him with crazy brainwashing techniques – especially for someone as stubborn and headstrong as Jack. If you think about it, it’s not hard to imagine Crazy Carl had been subjected to those techniques for many days or even weeks – and still wasn’t changed. It’s not likely that it could have changed Jack so fast.
  2. Jack is Drugged. They subjected Jack to the same “Happy Drugs” that they gave to Claire to make her a willing participant in the Others’ babynapping hijinx. It would explain the quick turnaround, and the dumb grin that Jack had while tossing the football – but the preview for next week seems to show a Jack that is clear of mind, not a loopy Jack like we saw from Claire when injected with the drugs. Still, it’s an easy explanation that could still set the stage for the heartbreaking “I don’t know you” scene between Jack and Kate, and a Jack who is reluctant to cooperate with the Search Party.
  3. Jack is Making the Best of What’s Around (yes, this – and the last time I wrote it – were intentional DMB references). If you go along with the “Jack has given up on life on the Island” line of thinking, it makes sense. He thinks that Kate has chosen Sawyer over him, and that he has nothing left on the Island worth fighting for. He’s basically given up, and just wants to get off the Island and go home. He’s tired of being the leader, fighting the good fight, and trying to rescue everyone. He’s just looking out for himself, and figures the best way to get off the Island is by playing nice with the Others in hopes that they hold up their end of the bargain and take him back to the rest of the world. It would be a pretty large character shift for Jack, and leave our Survivors with a large “void” in terms of leadership, but keep in mind that Jack was originally supposed to die in the Pilot episode anyways. What better way to “kill him” now than to send him back to the real world, turning his back on the other Survivors? Pretty shocking and powerful TV if you ask me. But I think the most likely scenario is…
  4. Jack is Playing the Others. He’s acting like he’s given up and joined them and is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing – but he’s really just gathering information and plotting his eventual escape. Really the only problem with this scenario is that the Others seem way too smart to fall for this sort of scheme. Remember the “long con” that Ben played on Sawyer? Even if Jack gets in line and says all the right things, I still don’t see the Others giving him a very long leash to wander around their Barracks. However, this would set up a great scene of our Rescue Party finally reaching Jack, and Jack having to tell them (Kate in particular) that he doesn’t want to be rescued and doesn’t care about them. The emotional impact of the scene would be pretty huge and heartbreaking, and would keep Jack in the role as “strong leader” on the Island. It would also set the stage for the eventual rescue for all of our Survivors, as Jack should figure out what needs to be done in order to get off the Island within the next few episodes. It’s my best guess as to the way the writers will take the storyline.