Saturday, April 28, 2007

D.O.C. In-Depth Analysis

I apologize for how long it took to get this post out. Let me just say by recent and painful experience that it is devastating when you finish your post, go to put it on the blog... and it disappears.

But fear not! This episode was just so good I couldn't possibly give up and not post a decent analysis. And aways we goes!

Mr. and Mrs. Kwon: Poetic that Jin was willing to do anything Mr. Paik required, and that Sun was the person that indirectly placed Jin in the servitude of her Father. Once again we see that Sun has the resolve to not only make a decision with unpleasant consequences, but isn't afraid to follow through on her threats. Observe:

We also learned that Jin is also a member of the Island group with military service. I had always been curious as to where Jin had learned how to fight, because his time as mob muscle just didn't seem to be able to account for all of his KO power. Props to xtine for commenting that in Korea, military service is mandatory. And hey Jin, you really are gonna be a daddy!

Timeline: As commenter Amber noted, the timing of Sun's pregnancy is coinciding with the expected timeline that the show has set for its conclusion. Making note of this is potentially a very big deal, as the show may take on an element of a race against time for the life of Sun and her and Jin's child. The clock is ticking.

Leadership, and the Lack Thereof: Take a quick look at Jack:

Compare what you see to your memory of Jack from season's one and two. You know, the leader. Does Jack's recent wardrobe choice look like something that a great man would pick out? Think too how easy is was for Sun to talk to Kate, questioning Jack's commitment to the cause of the survivors. Jack's leadership is slipping quickly, and maybe rightfully so. In the void Sawyer, with Hurley's help, has emerged and Locke when present was always looked for to provide some guidance. Desmond's unique ability has also positioned him into a quasi-leadership position. However, let's take a quick look at Desmond:

Does this look like a man that inspires confidence? Sure, at least he picked out a nicer shirt than Jack, but Desmond is beginning to take on the single-minded characteristic we associated with Locke from the first two seasons. Their single-mindedness is even following similar paths to redemption: Locke struggled with frustration as he fought to open the hatch, and was demoralized by his misunderstanding of pushing the button, whereas Desmond lives in regret of not changing his circumstances when he had the chance, and worries that once again his disobedience towards the universe has seperated him from Penny. Like Locke, who has always maintained the goal of understanding the Island, Desmond maintains his goal of reuniting with Penny. It remains to be seen whether Desmond will like Locke become a similar force working for better or worse to satisfy the desire he has to achieve his goal.

In short, the on-Island leadership rolls are changing, with some filling in past roles, and old roles being abandoned. How it will shake out is anyone's guess.

Communication: One interesting tidbit from this episode was our insight into how the Others communicate. This was hinted at when Paolo discovered a walkie in the Pearl, and confirmed when Juliette headed directly for the recorder after working with Sun. There will be interesting consequences if someone like Sayid ever learns about the Others' habit of dropping off communications devices with messages to be picked up at a later time.

Patchy: In my instant reactions, I noted that we just don't have many pieces to the Patchy puzzle. Here's what I've got so far, with one new idea:

- Patchy was recruited to the Island.
- Patchy speaks multiple languages.
- Patchy is some sort of communications/information gathering expert.
- Despite this, he doesn't always carry his walkie.
- Ben is leery of him.
- He's like the Others (able to lie and manipulate, has access to Island resources) but is also very unlike all of the Others we've met so far (he lives alone and apart from the community, seems to be following a different agenda).
- He is very much alive, and acknowledges the uniqueness of the Island
- He says things that are kinda funny, at least to him.
- He has medical knowledge as well.
- Even though we call him Patchy, his face is noticeably splotchy.
- When he sees a flare, he comes runnin'.
- He knew Radzinski.

Think about that last one. Remember the episode when Eko found part of the Swan orientation film reel in the Good Book? With a glass eye? At this point it seems safe to assume that the eye used to be Patchy's. Since we know that Radzinski edited the film, we can assume that Patchy and Radzinski were familiar with each other. Patchy knows a lot more about things than we can even begin to guess.

All that said, there's still a lot missing. Why did he come after the flare, alone, and why did he mistranslate the parachutist's words to the campers? Why try to steal the satellite phone? What are his motives?

Hot women falling from the sky: There's a lot to look at regarding this parachutist, and I don't just mean because she adds another pretty face to the Island population.

In short, she likes reading Heller, recognizes Desmond, speaks a bunch of languages, isn't alone (thanks to those able to translate the many languages that appear on the show), and knows that Oceanic 815 went down, was found, and no one survived.

Wait, what?

This is the thing that's weird to me: for all the speculation about alternate timelines and multiple flight 815s and whatnot, roughly three months have passed since the crash. In today's modern world where information travels quickly, and yesterday's news is the oldest news, doesn't it seem a bit remarkable that some random woman could parachute onto an island with plane crash survivors, and be able to share information pertinent to their particular situation? Why would she have information about that on hand?

My suspicion is that for Oceanic 815 to be in the parachutist's memory, she must be connected to someone that was on that flight and I would not be surprised to see her appear in a flashback with a close association to an Island inhabitant. As neat as that would be, it still doesn't do anything to determine whether what she has to say about Oceanic 815 is true. Lost does a great job of giving just enough of a hint of something weird to really allow the imagination to go to extremes. Thus far, the wildest ideas haven't panned out, but a good cliffhanger leaves you with the idea that it could. That's where we found ourselves at the end of this past episode, and I just have a hard time believing that the answer will end up being something where multiple worlds and realities are involved.

In the end we got a great episode with hints of things to come from all sorts of interesting angles (you know it was action packed when you feel like you analyzed a lot of things, and didn't even cover everything), and next week's preview looks to bring on another great episode. Brian will be back soon, and it's been a pleasure.

Happy commenting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

D.O.C. Instant Analysis

Rutkowski's Several Word Review: Full of nuggety goodness.

I didn't really know what to expect for this episode. I enjoy the flashbacks involving Sun and Jin because I'm that rare breed of person that likes to read subtitles while hearing languages that I don't understand, but I wasn't sure how much story they had left to tell. As it turns out, it appears that there is quite a bit more left. I'm going to break my instant analysis down into two parts, first reflecting on the flashback, and then on the action taking place on the Island.

Sun and Jin's awesome flashback: Intrigue aplenty! As if the honorability of Jin's father wasn't in question enough to the Paiks, it turns out that his mom is even shadier. Not only does she have some things in common with the neighborhood bicycle (oh snap!), she's even shameless enough to use this fact to blackmail Sun. I particularly enjoyed the Trashy-Moms-Blackmails-Sun-Sun-Blackmails-Questionable-Father bit during this episode, and found it quite revealing that Mr. Paik for at least a little while was willing to allow Jin to work in the family business, without working in the family business. Upon finding the money, Jin also had the wisdom to foreshadow the consequences of being in debt to Sun's father, but the ending also made it clear that Sun is a crime boss's daughter and that crossing her has consequences as well.

Awesome Island action: There's a leadership void on the beach, and maybe Jack doesn't have the chops anymore. Havng an identifiable leader around is great when you need people to fall into line, but when you want answers like Sun does, it's time for action and that's what we got when Sun chose to confront Juliette directly. The result, of course, was that she was given answers, and hopefully we can expect similar occurences in future episodes as our Lostaways force the action. I wasn't entirely surprised that there was more to the medical hatch than previously discovered, but it was downright chilling when Juliette explained how the room they went to was a place where pregnant women prepared to die. The hospice hatch? Creepy. Juliette seemed to genuinely enjoy working with Sun, deepening the mystery surrounding her motives.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle, events with the campers took more twists than a Chubby Checker record. Our parachutist we soon discover suffered some ugly injuries during her descent, and it appears as though she's speaking multiple languages. I've never been delirious, but I find it interesting that she was trying to communicate something multilingually. After Hurley fires a flare, we find out that Patchy (?!?!) is alive and well, and also got to witness Jin's Chuck Norris impression. Patchy saves the parachutist in gruesome fashion, and then attempts to make off with the satellite phone. I can't quite figure him out - living through the fence is weird enough, but Ben's reaction to him, and with the cloudiness of his motives... we just don't have very many pieces to his puzzle. The action on the Island ends with Patchy leaving the campers behind, and the parachutist telling Hurley that to the outside world, flight 815 was found and that there were no survivors.

Things to chew on:

-Jack was wearing red. For some reason, my gut is trying to tell me something about this that my head hasn't figured out. Any ideas?

-Jin was in the military, meaning the count of military connections continues to grow. It strikes me that there's more to the story of Jin's service and why military service is such a prevalent theme on the show.

-So, the medical hatch was built with a secret passage. What does this tell us about its construction and the original purposes behind its usage? Also, the recorder - is that just for Juliette, or are other Others communicating in this way at various points on the Island?

-We're definitely going to need some translations for this episode. It sure seemed like some interesting things might be uncovered from this episode with the help of some Chinese/Italian/Korean speakers.

-Juliette said that in her 3 years on the Island, she lost 9 patients. The Others have been sustaining some serious casualties since our Lostaways arrived, and it looks like previous to that they were having some big time population issues as well. This has to be of some concern.

-Patchy acknowldged to the campers that the Island does indeed have healing properties, and it looks like we can add Jin's fertility to the list of miracle healings.

-Is it just me, or is something about Desmond reminiscent of Locke and his interactions with the Island and the Others?

-It appears as though Juliette's mission is to get "samples" from the women on the beach. Well, that's weird. Looks like Kate's up next. Whatever that means.

That's all for now. I'll go into things in much greater detail for the complete analysis, and I'm already formulating ideas regarding Juliette's actions and our mysterious parachutist. If you have any ideas, don't hesitate to leave comments or visit the message board.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lost - "D.O.C."

Episode Title: “D.O.C.”

Andi’s Deeper Meaning Guess: The beauty of using a TLA (Three Letter Acronym) as an episode title is that it is laden with potential meanings. Death of Charlie, Day of Contact, Department of Commerce, Department of Correction, Drug of Choice, etc, etc. However, this week’s protagonists are Jin & Sun, and the only current unresolved storyline they are involved in is Sun’s pregnancy. I think you therefore have to conclude that D.O.C. most likely refers to Date of Conception.

At the end of the regular ABC preview, Sun says “I lose either way.” Referring back to the series title, what we care about is whether the date of conception occurred before the plane crashed or after. In “The Whole Truth” we learnt that Jin was infertile. So if the baby was conceived before the crash, then it’s obviously not Jin’s and likely to be Jae’s, her English teacher. However, if the baby was conceived after the crash, well, we know what happens to people who get pregnant on the island. It’s fatal. Claire survived because she was already eight months pregnant when she arrived on the island – providing the ideal control case for Juliet’s theory that something happens at conception to make the body attack the foetus. That’s why the D.O.C. is so important, but Sun loses either way.

NB – Unlike last episode, this is a real catch-22 situation. Jin wants a baby, but if it was conceived off the island, it’s not his. If it was conceived on the island, it’s doomed.

But let’s explore a few other meanings, for fun!

The potential Death of Charlie (or Claire) has been an ongoing topic since the very beginning. Either those characters are cursed, or the producers made them annoying to viewers on purpose so we would root for their demise. I don’t think any other character has been put into harm’s way as much as these two. I feel bad just thinking about it. But how many times has Charlie “almost” died?

NB – Charlie has been hit by one of CFL’s traps before:

How about Drug of Choice? The 4-81516-23-42 drug was injected into Claire by Ethan when she was captured. At the time, Ethan said it was a vaccine but there wasn’t enough for Claire and her baby. It was the same drug Desmond injected himself with when he was in the Swan for three years. There is currently some at the beach camp, as Charlie found some in a supply drop.

Is this a drug that Juliet developed to save the mothers-to-be on the island? Desmond told Claire the drug doesn’t do anything but maybe it doesn’t do anything for males – could it have been designed to prevent death from pregnancy?

Before Alex rescued Claire, she was being prepped for surgery in The Staff. They had injected the drug into her, which someone had prepped her for a Caesarean or baby-extraction procedure. Could this be Sun’s dilemma? Either she accepts that she and the baby dies, or she takes the Drug of Choice, which means the baby has a chance of living, but she dies in surgery. She loses either way.

To be honest, I feel like we moved on from the drug, the sickness and the numbers – I don’t see the producers raising all this again, especially with the season finale so teasingly close. It would be a Pandora's box...

Episode Description: After discovering that all of The Others' pregnant women died before giving birth on the island, an extremely reticent Sun allows Juliet to examine her -- and uncovers the identity of the unborn child's father. Meanwhile, Desmond allows an unlikely nemesis to help save the life of a new, mysterious island inhabitant.

Guest starring are Byron Chung as Mr. Paik [Sun’s father], Andrew Divoff as Mikhail [Patchy], Marsha Thomason as Naomi [Parachutist], John Shin as Mr. Kwon [Jin’s father], Alexis Rhee as older woman, Esmond Chung as Paik's associate and Jean Chung as Paik's secretary.

Episode Breakdown: Isn’t it funny how many things can crash onto the island? You’d think the Pacific ocean was about as big as my bath tub. So, Naomi is a new, mysterious island inhabitant. We know from the book she was carrying that she speaks Portuguese, which happened to be the same language the two researchers working for Penny spoke. And, she was using a photo of Desmond and Penny as a bookmark. This is a huge reveal for the ultimate storyline. It means that Penny and her team know how to get to the island now. It’s no longer off-the-maps. So, we now have a path for a rescue attempt in series 4 or 5 from Michael or Penny.

Who is the unlikely nemesis? Well, I’ve never been to Korea, but I bet there isn’t much call for Russians out there. So unless there is another crazy everyone-is-connected or others-are-always-watching moment in the flashbacks, it’s safe to say the Patchy is still alive and well. We all saw what happened to him in the sonic barrier, but no-one checked his pulse afterwards. Our crack team just left him for dead. I don’t think the producers are going to open the cloning can of worms just yet, so I’ll bet it’s the same Patchy. To be fair, he did patch up Sayid after he shot him, so he has some medical skills which could save Naomi.

Meanwhile, Juliet learns that Sun is pregnant. Incidentally, if your wife is pregnant, do you leave her to go camping with buddies who don’t understand you? Anyway, she tells Sun all about how mothers-to-be are really dead-in-waiting and so they have to find out when Sun got pregnant, and therefore who the father is. They both go to the medical hatch, The Staff, and Juliet gets to perform crazy tests. She’d obviously need DNA from the fathers to do a DNA test, and since Jae isn’t around, it’ll be something around checking out how big the foetus is, and determining how many months pregnant Sun is. Long shot guess: Sun’s life is endangered by these tests – Desmond gets a flash and tells Jin, who starts running across the island to save her. Either that, or he’s running away from Mikhail, having been strangled by him earlier in the episode.

The flashbacks centre around Sun and Jin. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, but I expect Sun’s father to be overbearing and Jin’s father to be wise and moral. I’ve just watched the preview for the 600th time, and I’ve realised that Sun’s hair when she says “I lose either way,” is strikingly different. It’s clearly in her flashback! So here’s the new flashback theory. We pick up where we left off in the Jin/Sun back story. Sun’s father has to have words with his daughter about her infidelity shaming him. But he isn’t the kind of guy that wants to have his dirty laundry aired. It would bring massive shame on his family if it became public that Jin was sterile. So he tells his daughter, “Either you get impregnated by my associate [Esmond Chung] or I tell Jin about your infidelity.” She loses either way (bingo!) Jin believes that Sun has been faithful to him, so she clearly has kept her secret from him. Esmond’s character, feels bad about the whole thing, especially as he works with Jin, so he tells the secretary to hand Sun an envelope of money. Sun refuses. Is that all the characters worked in? Great!

And finally, we’re going to see a shot of the others camping out. They are staring up at something – maybe the flare that Hurley fires, the helicopter, or smokey? This’ll just be a tease, setting things up for next week’s Locke episode.

Phew! Thanks to Brian for this opportunity, but I’m not doing that much work again for a TV show! It’s made me appreciate Brian’s posts a whole lot more. Are you pumped for this episode? I think this’ll be a decent episode but the real fireworks will be next week…
Discussion has already begun over at the forum. Clicky!

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Catch-22"- Anaylsis

I may have been a bit quick to judge in my instant reactions – hey, I'm no Brian – and I've realized there was a lot more going on here than I first thought. It's one of the innumerable qualities I (and I assume most fans) love about the show; the more I think about it, the more I enjoy and appreciate it. As popular as the theory that writers are making things up as they go along may be, I still find myself struck how well minute details appearing now tie into episodes written more than 3 years ago. “Catch-22” was a great example of this, so let's end the extraneous exposition and get to the meat of the episode.

Character Development: Too often, especially with Jack and Kate, it feels like the writers are really just spinning their wheels when it comes to driving along the roles of, motivations for or story behind so many of the island's inhabitants. How many times do we need to see Kate running away, or Jack being too dedicated to his job? But this time, we managed not only to get a good deal of information about someone through their back story, but a good deal of information about different characters and the role(s) they play on the island.

So this wasn't as revealing as his first flashback, and wasn't as insane as his second. But it was a great story about a man Lost in life, willing to abandon any and everything to follow what he believed was his path in life. We also got to see how he met Penny, a scene I don't think could have been done any better.

Obviously, the big reveal of his flashback - other than why he calls everyone brother - was the Easter egg we saw on the monk's desk:

Beyond working in a jewelery store, it's not really clear who this woman is, and until now, it wasn't even that clear whether she was a real person, or just a figment of Desmond's imagination. But the fact she's connected with the monk, the man who helped send Desmond down a path that eventually led him to the island, is fascinating. Were we shown this picture to remind us of Desmond's last flashback, to let us know that maybe he can change the past/future depending on what actions he takes? Was Penny going to be the one who landed, until Desmond saved Charlie's life?

For the last one at least....probably not, since we saw the Portuguese version of "Catch 22" prior to Charlie being saved, which is much more likely to have been in the possession of a Portuguese parachutist working in conjunction with the Portuguese men we saw on the submarine at the end of season two, rather than the Australian Penny.

But it's interesting they would have a reveal that may tie into the very nature of the show that would be impossible to have noticed were it not for the die-hard fans.

I know three's not one of the magical numbers, yet it's one that holds biblical and cultural significance nonetheless. Desmond's now revealed himself as the third significant character guided more by his beliefs than an overwhelming sense of logic or practicality (like a Sayid or Sawyer).

Locke was first, and his faith has led to: Boone's death, the destruction of two stations and a submarine, and a betrayal of the Losties.

Eko's faith in his own path, and a refusal to waiver from or repent for it, led to his death.

But it seems like Desmond betrayed his faith, a faith that had led him to believe he would be granted the one thing he wanted more than anything else in the world – the safe arrival of Penny on the island. But by betraying the will of the universe, he did the right thing, and saved Charlie's life. So is faith, in anything, the wrong way for the survivors to go? Or was this merely a test of faith that he passed? After all, the monks he lived with bottled a wine named after the land where God tested Abraham (Moriah), it's hard to say whether the decision to spare Charlie's life was Desmond betraying his faith, or passing a test laid out by it. Even if it was the latter, he's still the first of the three to pass any real test of his faith on the island.

Beyond that, it’s curious what role Desmond plays among our survivors. Until now, he’s always been the outsider who participates in but isn't really a member of the island’s society. He wasn't even on the plane with them! Sure, he’s saved Charlie’s life a few times and hunts boar, but until this episode, he’s never been in any kind of position of leadership. We saw him lead an expedition into the jungle, and rescue the latest person stranded on the island. With the growing rift between Jack and Sawyer, it’ll be interesting to see whether Desmond might step into a position of power. But even if this mantle were to fall upon Desmond, could he handle it? We already know Hurley’s got his back, just as he did with Jack, and later, Sawyer.

Which leads us to…

Hurley: Who was the one to figure out Ethan was a fraud? Who has been the one best suited to trigger good relations between the survivors? Who’s easily the most popular-and well-liked person on the island? Who’s the “man-behind the curtains” leader, the one responsible but not accountable for a lot of major events on the island?

This season alone, we’ve seen Hurley con people into a number of things because he felt they needed to happen. In “Tricia Tanaka is Dead” we saw him coerce Jin, Sawyer and Charlie into helping him with the van. In “Left Behind,” he manipulated Sawyer into a leadership role; this time, we saw him manipulate Jin into coming along for Desmond’s camp-out, again, for the greater good. But he’s never led these people astray, as opposed to Jack, who got three of the survivors kidnapped, or Sawyer, who until recently has only been using people for personal gain.

As negative an effect faith seems to have had on the well-being of everyone once aboard flight 815, Hurley seems to have had a positive. Everyone, in some way, is better off because Hurley is in their midst.

Why does any of this matter? Easy – the last time Hurley was talked into a trek across the jungle, that time by Jack, the end result was a major game-changer; three people being taken to Other-prison. This time, the end result was the appearance of someone (seemingly) sent to the island with the sole purpose of rescuing Desmond. She even brought along a satellite phone! Sure, it’s dead now, but there’s got to be a charger somewhere in Otherville, and if not, it won't take Sayid more than five minutes to get it working again. I think we're supposed to view this episode as being just as significant as the Season two finale.

Jin: Now that Hurley seems to be taking on a more significant part in the Island hierarchy, is Jin the de-facto comedic relief? In the first season, we saw him nearly beat Michael to death over a watch; now we have him telling Korean ghost stories? I don't really have much more to say about this, I'm probably reading too much into simple character development, but after the learning-English-from-Sawyer scene outside of Roger Workman's van, he's definitely been getting some of the show's funniest moments.

Sawyer: After being appointed leader-in-absentia by Hurley, and going against Jack by stalking down Juliet with Sayid, Sawyer is looking more and more like he's going to be the head of a rebel group of Survivors, fed up with Jack, who's actions have led to his, Sawyer and Kate's kidnappings, and now, allowing a traitor to live in their midst. But he'll never usurp Jack; he'll always be the second-string leader, the go-to guy when people are tired of Jack. Sort of the way Kate only slept with him again because she was jealous of Juliet. He's not the first choice, but sometimes, he's the best you can do. At least he can beat him at Ping-Pong. Like I said before though, his afternoon delight comment was priceless.

Beyond the character development, we saw, arguably, the most significant thing to happen to the survivors since they've crashed on the island: the arrival of the outside world. We've known since the finale of season two that Penny's been looking for, and possibly found, where Desmond's been all this time, but there's been no allusion to this until now. It seems pretty obvious that the parachutist is only there because she was looking for Desmond - she had his picture, read Portuguese, and knew his name.

The big question though is this - if she was really sent by Penny "If you have enough money, you can find anybody" Widemore, why was she all alone? And where/why/how did her helicopter crash? It looked like she was flying over the ocean when it went down, but that doesn't explain how she ended up in the middle of the jungle, sort of the same way Jack did when their plane crashed. Is there some kind of barrier around the island? Does not pushing the button cause some kind of signal to go out that destroys anything electrical in its path?

When Desmond didn't push the button, flight 815 crashed. After Locke destroyed the Swan Hatch, Ben said they lost communication with the outside world. I'm guessing whatever force released by the magnet is incredibly destructive, but not in a way that currently affects human beings. When it was being pushed, it allowed the island to remain hidden; now, it's sending out a dangerous, electronic signal that allows people to locate, but not safely travel to, where it is. But since we don't know anything about how the parachutist arrived, it's impossible to say. Since the next episode looks as though it will center mainly on what's happening back at the beach, we're probably not going to learn anything more about her for three or four weeks.

Overall, this was an incredibly well-done episode, packed with humor, plot and character development, and a healthy dose of "what's really going on here?" moments. It gave us a lot more questionsThe few flaws that stuck out immediately still bother me - I really hated that Kate slept with Sawyer because of her jealousy of Juliet, and I wish Charlie had died. I've heard there's going to be a lot of "significant" character deaths...why couldn't we have gotten one out of the way now, and let it be him, instead of someone worthwhile?

I'm sorry for the lateness of this post - I was without internet all weekend - and I've had to put it all together this morning at work. Good luck to everyone else filling in for Brian, even though I had to rush this, I still enjoyed it a lot. See you in the comments section!

Also - thanks Alec - here's a link to the message boards.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Catch - 22" Instant Reactions!

"Catch-22" Instant Reactions!

James' One Word Review: Entertaining.

I came into this episode with really big expectations - so it would be unfair to say the episode itself was a letdown. I was just hoping for too much. Desmond's last two episodes have been among my favorite of the series. I dig everything - his character, his backstory, his freaky future-seeing powers, etc. While I liked the back-story here, it just didn't offer as much about the character as the past two have. Although, I loved the way he met Penny. It was perfect.

Overall, there were only two real gripes I had, and there were a lot more things I enjoyed, so I'll get those out of the way:

  • Not a whole lot happened to drive the main story forward. I guess I've gotten greedy with how much this season has offered, but I was really hoping to learn more about the parachutist this episode, or at least see something happen with Juliet other than her helping drive Kate into Sawyer's arms. Which brings me to...
  • The love rhombus. I've always enjoyed the love story - every good show or movie needs one - but this episode felt like too much. Is Kate really that pathetic that she's going to use Sawyer like that? And is Sawyer going soft on us? The Jack/Juliet chemistry is good, but I'm not sure where the writers are going with this. Isn't she leaving in a week?
The good:
  • A lot of humor. Sometimes the show veers a little too far into the dark territory (ha) but there was a lot to laugh at in this episode: Hurley's "I'm...just keeping Desmond company. Because...he's my friend." Sawyer's afternoon delight comment, and Jin's hilarious telling of a Korean ghost story.
  • Desmond. Even though this wasn't his best episode, I feel like there's so much more they can do with this character, as opposed to a Jack or Kate, who don't really seem to have much more backstory worth seeing. Plus, I love his accent.
  • The Beach. It was nice to see such a large part of the episode dedicated to the relatively content life our Survivors have on the beach. There's just something about the way they interact with each other and go about their lives that's very utopian. And this was a part of the show they'd really gotten away from in the beginning of this season, so it's nice to see it back.
  • Charlie getting Final Destination'ed. Awesome. I gotta give Desmond credit for not letting this happen, and potentially screwing up Penny's chance of survival/even being on the island. Did he change who was in that suit by saving Charlie? Who knows? Anyway, I'll have a lot more to say when I post my analysis, but I'll leave you all with this:

Also - a link to the new Message Board for comments on this episode.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lost - "Catch - 22"

Episode Title: “Catch - 22”

Greetings to all. Drudo here filling in for Brian while he’s hopefully blissfully drunk somewhere in Europe. Thanks to all for the chance to do this. I’m not Brian, but I’ll give you my best… And so… on with the show…

Drudo’s Deeper Meaning Guess: I have to admit, after last week’s trailer for this episode, I was scared. It really left me grasping at straws. Mostly because the trailer wasn’t for this episode, it was for the next five. So, with little to go on from that, I turned to Brian’s method… Google!

My very first thought’s regarding the title were of the phrase “Catch – 22” in conversational dialogue. In my experience, catch – 22 essentially means “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.” From this and the fact that we know this is a Desmond centric episode, I thought maybe Desmond would see one of his flashes and find that he couldn’t stop something from happening.

I haven’t totally given up on that line, but after watching the trailers released later in the week, we see that this round is slightly different. Desmond wants something to happen. The trailer leads us to believe that maybe this involves rescue or more importantly to Desmond, maybe Penny.

The last lead I followed was that I saw a flash of a book cover in the trailer with the title “Ardil – 22”. After a little research, I found that “Ardil - 22” is Portuguese for “Catch – 22”. This is exciting, because at the end of last season, we were introduced to Penny’s research team which was… you guessed it… Portuguese! Will we be seeing them again? Several rumors on the net suggest we’ll be introduced to a “Pivotal new character”. All we know is that it’s a female and a parachutist. Could this be a member of the research team? I guess we’ll find out soon.

The last point I want to make is from the book “Catch – 22”. I haven’t ever read the book. However, I took my responsibility seriously and read a summary and theme analysis on the book. I will tell you what. Brian puts a lot of work into this blog. I have a new respect for that. “Catch – 22” is a novel set during World War II in the summer of 1944. The main characters are all in the same squadron in the U.S. Air Force. While the story seems like a good one, I found only a few items that really screamed “LOST!” at me.

The first of the items that I found very lost like was the time-line of the book. It may have nothing to do with plot, but the story has a very similar pattern of jumping from present to flashbacks to present again to keep you guessing. It uses the device in the same way as Lost to reveal a key component in a character’s past at a moment when it will mean the most in the present.

The second and most important theme I found was toward the end of the book. The book’s main character: Captain John Yossarian is called into a conference with his superior’s. He’s offered a “deal”: He can return home if only he will speak well of the commanding officers and turn his back on the men of the squadron. Yossarian accepts. Can you say “Jack”? However, Yossarian reflects on all his friends who have died or disappeared during the year. He decides to renege on the agreement even though he is thus eligible for court-martial. He instead forms a plan to rescue the kid sister of a squadron buddy who died and flee to Sweden. This is a bit of a stretch on the guess work, but what if The Other’s come back and take baby Aaron. Claire and/or Charlie may die somehow. (This wouldn’t upset most lost fans.) Then, Jack, like Yossarian turn’s on the Others, rescue’s Aaron, and lead’s the survivor’s to safety. Okay, I’m pushing the line a bit, but it’s possible.

Okay, I’ve probably done most of my analysis here rather than in the Episode breakdown, but we’ll step through it anyway.

Episode Description: Desmond coaxes Charlie, Hurley and Jin on a trek across the jungle after experiencing one of his future-prophesizing “flashes” -- but is he purposely placing Charlie’s life in harm’s way? Meanwhile, Kate turns to an unwitting Sawyer after seeing Jack alone with Juliet. Guest starring are Sonia Walger as Penny Widmore, Jack Maxwell as Derek, Joanna Bool as Ruth, Andrew Connolly as Brother Campbell, Andrew Trask as older monk and Marsha Thomason as Naomi the parachutist.

Episode Breakdown: Okay, the big questions for me are as follows:

- What does Desmond see in the future that he wants to happen?” We can make educated guesses. It could be rescue. It could be Penny. Most likely it’s both. If it is rescue, one of several things would have to be true. Either they fail, or the pieces of Desmond’s “puzzle” are going to take some time. We’re in season 3 of a predicted 5 or 6 season show. I don’t believe they are going to be rescued this soon. Also, what other pieces of the puzzle are there? We see Hurley lifting the cable from the sand while looking up. Why is he looking up? Does he hear the helicopter? We may as well assume that it’s going to be infuriating. Desmond says he can’t tell Hurley what he’s trying to achieve or it won’t happen. So I’m sure the producers aren’t going to be telling us either.

- If we assume rescue is still at least a season or 2 away, then who’s in the helicopter that we see in the preview? Also, if there’s a helicopter, why isn’t there a rescue unless they are others or some other party not interested in helping the survivors. Maybe the helicopters belong to the Others and this confirms the rumor that the sub was just a prop to confuse those who come to the island.

- How in the world does Desmond end up looking like a monk? Is he a monk or is he pretending? Other than his romance with Penny and his boat race, we know very little about Desmond. Is the monastery in his life pre – Penny or is this maybe a layover during his boat race?

- Who is Naomi the parachutist? How is she pivotal? We can only assume she’s from the helicopter. Is she from Dharma? From Penny? One new character can only be “pivotal” as the producers claim if she has some knowledge or ability to share. What might she know and who’s side will she be on?

- Last, what is Jack thinking? Yeah, Kate made a mistake, but she is way hotter than Juliet and now he’s gone and made her turn back to Sawyer.

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got. I’ve probably asked more question’s than made guesses like Brian does. It’s been fun taking a shot at this though. Let me know how I did.

- Drudo

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"One of Us"- Anaylsis

Greetings, Lost fans, Sodfather here. I have the opportunity to write an analysis for this intriguing episode while Brian is out and about, tramping all around Europe. So without any other hoopla, here is my take.

Flashbacks- I believe Lost is at its best when the
flashbacks give as much insight, if not more, to what is going on the Island, and this episode was no exception. I mean look at the wealth of information gained in this episode: we know why for sure why Juliet was on the Island, the extent of Ben/Jacob's influence even in the outside world, the capabilities of the Flame hatch, and Ben is most comfortable in office casual. (okay, the last one we were probably already sure about, but hey he can sport a polo and khakis like no other villain in history.)

The flashbacks of "One of Us" takes place pretty much right where "Not in Portland" left off. However, there are a few things not explained in the small time between the two episodes. For one thing, "Not in Portland" left off with Juliet not quite sure about Alpert and Ethan. And there was something else, she was suspicious that they may have
actually MURDERED her ex-husband! So, how good of smooth talkers are Ethan and Alpert? Evidently pretty damn good ones, as Juliet in this episode was arriving at an airfield and preparing for an airplane trip, and unknown to her, a submarine ride to the Island. So what was discussed that convinced her? Was it some kind of Island influence?

I am not quite for sure, but something seemed to come over when the tranquilizer laced orange juice was introduced. Maybe I have been out of the private sector for too long, but expecting a new recruit to take drugs in order to get to the location of your company doesn't seem very corporate kosher. So, why did she do it? I am guessing from her conversations with Ben, and even Alpert, that some tidbit of information was given to her about saving the babies, saving the world. But there is no real evidence of that at this time.

Something else that was finally talked about was the "history" that Ben and Juliet had. And, can anyone really blame Juliet for having sour grapes when it comes to Ben? Sh
e was told she could leave after a short time on the Island, and when she can't quite pinpoint why the Others gals are dying when they are pregnant, she doesn't really see any reason for her services needed. So Ben devises a plan where Juliet's sister has cancer again, but promises she can go into remission if Juliet will just stay a little longer. So when Juliet concedes and then later Ben takes her to the Flame hatch to see Patchy, shows her the healthy Rachel playing with her young son, we the viewers are left with asking did Ben really have anything to do with it? Did Rachel really have cancer? Is it possible for Ben to cure cancer when he has a tumor? I know some people on the boards swear that the EKG readings that Ben procures are not accurate in determining whether Rachel or not had cancer, and since I am not an expert, I can not say with any certainty one way or another, but I would love to read more info about it.

Something else about the Flame station. When Ben draws Juliet's, and our attention to the date of the paper, he says its today's date. Does that mean that there is a conflict in the funky time line theory? I don't necessary think so. Maybe the Island works in a way where one of the aspects can change when it needs to, either slowing down or speeding up, but they are also in a position to some how have the Island time work on the same wave as the outside world. Which would make alot of sense since the Others send agents like Alpert and Ethan work in the outside world. It wouldn't really work if they were somehow living in two different time lines. Somehow I think it is connected to the once magnetic field around the Island and the need for outsiders to take tranquilizers on the submarine trip to the Island.

And speaking of outsiders...

Back with the Survivors- Juliet found herself in some hot water between a mad Kate, a distrustful Sayid, and an understanding Jack in this episode. When Jack declared Juliet was "under his protection" I about laughed out loud, I mean does Jack really think he could take on Sayid? But once they got to the beach something interesting happened. Sawyer and Sayid, sharing in a distrust for Juliet, bonded and seemed to have a few tricks up their sleeves. If there is going to be any upheaval in Ben and Juliet's one week plan, it is going to be because of those two. If only Vincent was around join the posse, there would be no trouble on that beach.

Also, we saw a very sick Claire. Not that it would matter very much if she had bit the bullet this episode, as I am prone to worry about baby Aron, and since Sun and Charlie seem to be his primary care givers lately, no real trouble done. But of course her sickness was not only a ploy for Juliet to earn the Survivors' trust, but actually an implant that was inserted at some point in the past and only Juliet had the cure that was left by the Others. Most likely I am going to say I think it was Ethan who did it... but at what point did he insert an implant, and for what purpose could they realistically see the need for such a thing? Hopefully the truth will come out eventually, maybe even Claire can find out and go crazy, we haven't really seen that in awhile. I think though, that the focus is going to be put on Sun and her pregnancy, the Others finding out about it, and if she is safe.

But, I think the biggest question this episode brought up is whether or not Juliet can be trusted at all. I believe she can't be. She is willing to do anything, and I mean ANYTHING to get off the Island. If that means planning to kill Ben in surgery, then that is how it has to be, if that means helping Ben in some unscrupulous plot, then so be it. In a lot of ways she is like Michael in that respect. Nothing really has been shown that will make Juliet seem any different from selling out her new buddies. And that last few minutes certainly did nothing to help her case. And Jack sees her more of an equal and in the end, I do believe it will be Juliet who plays Jack. But this is the type of show that will show a segment like that and then pull the carpet from under us again right after we got up from the last time.

Well, that is it from me for now. Thanks for reading everyone and thanks to Brian for letting us guest bloggers getting on here, may we be good Bens to your Jacob!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"One of Us" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Enthralling.

Seriously, this was one of those episodes that had me totally hooked from the first minute - savoring each scene (both on Island and in Flashback, what a rarity!) and when it ended, my first thought was "this might be the best episode of the season". This was television at its best, and continues what may be the greatest streak of episodes I've ever seen. I really think at the end of it, I'm going to look back on Lost Season Three and rank it right up there with Buffy Season Two as the greatest pieces of storytelling I've ever seen.

So what was so great?

  • The Writing. Thinking about it, this was right up there with "Walkabout" in terms of ending twists. The writers spent the first forty minutes totally convincing us that Juliet was to be trusted (she admitted to kidnapping Kate, explained the Claire kidnapping, was understanding of the mistrust, looked pretty hot), and then with one scene totally pulled the carpet out from under us. So what does this mean?
  • Juliet. I think Jack was right (and the flashbacks seemed to confirm) that what Juliet wanted more than anything is to get off the Island. But once Ben proved that Rachel was alive and well, Juliet realized she had to keep up her end of the bargain too. Once she figures out how to make babies on the Island, she can go home... and the best chance to figure out how to do it is to infiltrate our Survivors - to study Claire and Sun (although you could still argue that the Others don't know she is pregnant yet). But does this mean that everything with threatening Ben's life was part of the plan too? Or did she legitimately think that Jack offered the chance to "cheat" her way off the Island?
  • One Week. So what in the heck is going to go down in one week?! Lucky for me, assuming the next two episodes continue at the same pace as most episodes, "one week" should coincide with the first episode in May, right when I get back. It's worth nothing that this is also the episode where Locke returns and we're supposed to get an explanation about the Locke's Dad mystery. Are the Others going to storm the Survivors' Beach? Is Juliet going to lead our Survivors into a trap?
  • Jacob. Once again Jacob was referenced in a way that makes him / her / it seem like a "god". Most intriguing was that we learned apparently Jacob's power exceeds far beyond the Island, as Jacob was able to cure Rachel's cancer back in the good ol' US of A. But how?
  • Wishes. I know it's crazy, but if you believe Ben's line about "the Island granting wishes" a lot of things make sense. Ben wished that Rachel would get cancer to use as a bargaining chip with Juliet. Once Ben found out he had cancer, he wished a plane would crash that had a spinal surgeon on it. While he was at it, he also wished the plane would have a pregnant woman on it. Perhaps "Jacob" is some mythical Island "god" that grants wishes, but only to those who are worthy.
  • Cancer. I found it very intriguing that Ben said "no one on this Island has ever had cancer" as if cancer was some problem of the rest of the world that they were immune to. But why? Due to the unique magnetic properties of the Island? Or due to their communion with a benevelont Island "god"? If you buy into the Cowboys and Indians theory, it would explain why Ben suddenly got cancer, and why it came as such a shock to him - it was the Island's way of saying "you screwed up".
  • Life. Lastly, this episode got me thinking about a quote from the Lost creators early on in the series. The question was "what is Lost really about?" Their answer was that "Lost is about life." While I took that to mean it was about anything and everything (aka - a cop out of an answer), maybe we should have taken it literally. What if Lost is really just about a group of people trying to sustain life (the Others making babies) in a place that is free from the death and destruction (and cancer) of the rest of the world? That would pretty much sum up Lost as being "about life", wouldn't it?

I can't think of ending on a better comment than that.

Just for fun, try the new Message Board for comments on this episode. See if it's easier to follow and read than the traditional Blogger Comments section!

...and with that, I bid you all adieu. I'm still around for the next day or so, so I may reply to comments here and there, but the next full fledged post you'll see from me won't be until May. Although I'm insanely excited for my trip, I have to admit, I'm going to miss Lost for the next two weeks.

Jonah Yoyo, I turn the keys of the Blog over to you first for your "One of Us" Analysis. Treat her like a lady while I'm gone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lost - "One of Us"

Episode Title: “One of Us”

Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: Another week with an episode title that clearly relates to a central theme of the episode – I like it. It’s actually a lot like last week’s “Left Behind”, where you can see the very literal interpretation of the title, as well as the deeper emotional / psychological interpretation… and that makes perfect sense since this week picks up exactly where last week left off, only this time coming from Juliet’s perspective rather than Kate’s.

Looking back, this might be one of the first times in Lost history that we’ve had a smaller group of characters have back-to-back flashbacks. In other words, the writers are actually sticking to a storyline for two straight weeks rather than the traditional back and forth style we usually see on the show (alternating between Alcatraz and the Beach, etc.) – which is exciting for the viewer. I like that they’re dedicating time to the story that has the “steam”, rather than trying too hard to spread the flashbacks around evenly. That means this week should pick up right where last week left off – with Sayid, Jack, Kate, and Juliet making their way to the Beach.

Unlike last week though, this episode title is one of those ones that you can picture a number of characters saying. Clearly, the theme of the episode is Juliet’s true intentions. Has she really been exiled by the Others? Is she just doing a covert operation for the Others? Is she playing both sides against each other in a crazy scheme to get off the Island? We’ve already had a scene with Ben telling Jack, “Remember, whatever Juliet does to help you, in the end she’s still ONE OF US.” Likewise, I can picture Jack in this episode telling the Beachies (who will clearly be upset about an Other being in their midst) to “Relax, she wants to go home just like the rest of us. She’s ONE OF US.”

In terms of flashbacks this week, the preview below shows glimpses of the submarine, while the episode description’s guest star lists reads like an All Star list of Others – Ethan, Goodwin, Patchy (technically it says “Mikhail” instead of Patchy), Alpert, and Ben are all due to make appearances. This would seem to indicate that the flashbacks deal with Juliet arriving at the Island (via airplane, then submarine – note the “airport guard” listed as another guest star), getting to know the Others and their way of life, and “becoming one of them”.

So the big question becomes – which “them” is Juliet “one of”? It’s funny, when I wrote last week’s analysis, I came down clearly on the side of “Juliet is still an Other”. But as I’m writing this episode preview, I find myself coming down on the side of “Juliet is no longer an Other”. I’m torn (just like when I sing Natalie Imbruglia songs at BWs…)

As I said last week, smart money (and logic) is on Juliet being less than 100% truthful in her words and actions. It explains how she got Kate out into the Jungle, why she had the key to the handcuffs, and why she would work so hard to try and convince Kate to trust her. She’s secretly going on a mission for the Others (most likely surrounding Aaron and Sun’s Baby), perhaps in return for another shot at getting off the Island. We’ve seen Juliet has a pretty solid track record of both lying and hiding information (the handcuffs, Smokey), but also at manipulating people to achieve her own agenda. When you look at the facts on the table, of course she’s still an Other.

But the biggest argument against this is that it’s all too easy. How obvious is it to have another Other infiltrate our Survivors’ Beach to gather information? Ethan did it. Ben did it. Now Juliet as well? Our Survivors are right to be distrustful… but maybe that’s the strongest argument why Juliet really has been ousted from the Others. Think about it this way:

  • Ethan represented our Survivors trusting someone and getting burned (not literally – literally they got “hung”) by it.
  • Ben represented our Survivors wrestling with trusting someone, debating the ethics of torturing them for information, and in the end getting burned (again, not literally – this time they were shot and killed!) by it.
  • Juliet represents our Survivors absolutely not willing to trust someone again, no matter what. So how deliciously ironic would it be to have her be the one that they can trust? Although logic tells us that she (and maybe Jack) can’t be trusted, the twist-wanting writer in me is telling me the exact opposite. (This is the same side of me that wants Lost to end with the realization that the Others were the good guys all along, and our Survivors were the bad guys / getting rescued somehow destroys humanities best chance at long term survival.)

Imagine our Survivors finally thinking that they’re going to outsmart the Others, not listening to Juliet and the information she provides. Imagine Sayid torturing her for information only to find out that she’s a “good guy” in the end. Imagine our fearless leader Jack returning and vouching for Juliet, only to be dismissed when our Survivors find out he was about to leave everyone on a submarine. Then imagine the Others eventually attacking our Survivors, and our Survivors realizing that if they had listened to Juliet, they would have had a fighting chance.

In my mind, that would be awesome – twisted, leaving considerable emotional impact and guilt on our Survivors, and teaching us all a very valuable lesson. (It would also make the episode title serve as a nice reference to Season Two’s “One of Them”, referencing Ben – who is clearly an Other. Ben is “One of Them”, but Juliet is “One of Us”. The truth was in front of us all along, if only we would have paid attention to the episode titles!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

However, the alternate scenario would also be pretty great…

Imagine our Survivors distrusting Juliet, but having Jack convince them that she’s cool. Imagine Sayid wanting to torture her for information, but seeing Patchy’s cat in the jungle, reminding him that he promised himself to never torture a female again. Imagine Juliet “making friends” with Claire and Sun, but secretly gathering information all along. Then imagine the Others arriving at the Beach, with Juliet and Jack switching sides to help them steal babies in return for a trip off the Island / being let in on the Island’s “big secret” (Wish granting? Fountain of youth? Stripper Hatch?)

That would also be fairly solid and serviceably twisty – but predictable in the long run, teaching us to never trust anyone who is different in any way.

The good news is that either way, it makes me very excited for this storyline and where it’s headed. The other good news is that by presenting both scenarios but not taking a firm stance on what I think is actually going to happen, no matter what the outcome I can say “I knew it!” and pretend that I predicted it…

In the end, the ironic thing (and perhaps social commentary) is that while we are busy concerning who is on one side versus the other, I still can’t help but think that eventually the two sides are going to merge. The line between good and bad isn’t so well defined, and it’s only going to take the Others and our Survivors coming across a common goal to make them realize that each side needs each other. Just because the Others’ actions may not seem in line with our Survivors goals at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t also working towards some greater good.

Enough philosophizing – onto the episode!

Episode Description: Jack's joyous reunion is cut short when his fellow survivors realize that an Other is accompanying him; a mysterious illness strickens Claire. Guest starring are Robin Weigert as Rachel, William Mapother as Ethan Rom, Brett Cullen as Goodwin, Andrew Divoff as Mikhail, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Joah Buley as other dude and Tyrone Howard as airport guard.

Episode Breakdown: The first sentence is good news for all of us – we seem to be jumping ahead to Jack and Co. arriving at the Beach rather than spending much time focusing on their journey back to the Beach. While it might cheat us from some good conversations between Kate and Sayid to Jack and Juliet (such as “tell us everything you know about the Island”, “what is the Others’ purpose?” and “are you two going steady?”), getting to the Beach quicker is a good thing. It opens up the door for everyone to start questioning about the Others, the Barracks, Alcatraz, and should prompt some serious discussions (finally) about what is happening on the Island and what it is going to take to get off of it (one hopes). I would LOVE to see our Survivors take some initiative in trying to understand the Island rather than blissfully living in ignorance on their Beach. But I fear I’m asking for too much here…

The other good news is that after spending the entire season apart, Jack has finally returned to the rest of the group. I’m fully expecting another soft music montage with plenty of hugs, pats on the back, and chest bumps as everyone rejoices that their leader has returned. It’s quite ironic that just as Hurley is trying to get Sawyer to be a leader, de facto leader Jack returns. This will provide yet another reason for conflict between the two of them, setting up what is looking to be a very ugly love rhombus between Jack, Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate. It’s pretty obvious there’s going to be a lot of tension among all four parties – but at least it’s legitimate tension (Other vs. Survivor, New Leader vs. Old Leader) rather than just being about fighting over a girl / guy.

The first sentence of the description continues with the introduction of Juliet to the Survivors. This should also play out pretty interestingly. Recall that Sawyer seriously distrusts Juliet from his time on Alcatraz (and seems to think that she’s badass enough to actually kill someone, unlike a lot of the other Others). Sayid already thinks she can’t be trusted, and seems to get his chance at some soft interrogation this episode. Kate hates her for stealing her man and setting up the crazy handcuffing scheme last week. Others kidnapped Claire, hung Charlie, attacked Sun, Jin, and Sayid, and killed Scott (or is it Steve?) – so there’s no way any of them are going to make nice with Juliet.

Who does that leave? Jack (and technically Hurley – but he likes everyone). Really, if it weren’t for Jack, Juliet would probably last about two minutes on the Survivors’ Beach before being fed to Smokey. The question becomes – do the Survivors trust Jack enough to trust his word on Juliet? After all, he has been gone for a while… and was about to abandon them all at the first chance he got with the Others’ submarine. Sure, he’ll say that he was going to send help once he got back to the mainland, but can we trust him? It should setup some very interesting “trust issues” between Jack, Juliet, and the rest of the Survivors, adding a new (and for me, welcomed) element of tension among the Beach Community. Shake up their peaceful little existence!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The second sentence of the episode description is a bit of a blast from the past. Remember “the sickness”? No? Let me refresh your memory…

The “Sickness” is some mysterious illness that may or may not exist, but has been referenced multiple times by different people on the show.

CFL first mentioned it back in Season One, when she said that the members of her crew got “sick” two months after arriving on the Island, forcing her to kill them all. She cryptically said “what would have happened if we were rescued? I couldn’t let that happen” as if the Sickness was some sort of contagious disease that if spread, would kill lots and lots of people / potentially bring about the end of the world. This seemed to tie in nicely with the whole “Valenzetti Equation” story we learned about during the Lost Experience, where scientists were carrying out tests to try and change variables that indicated how and when the world would end. It’s reasonable to assume that in order to “defeat” this Sickness, they would need to contaminate some people (like the Others, perhaps?) in order to test out potential cures.

In Season Two, we theorized a little bit more about the Sickness, but were never explicitly told about it. We saw that the Swan and Arrow Stations had “QUARANTINE” written on their doors, as if to indicate that if one went outside their station, they would be subject to some sort of disease. To reinforce this idea, we also saw Kelvin teach Desmond that you couldn’t go outside without an air-tight hazmat suit on (but we later learned that he didn’t really believe it / care).

But the most intriguing thing is that the Others / Dharma seem to believe that the 4-8-15-16-23-42 vaccine we have seen from time to time provides a cure to the disease. Desmond was instructed to inject himself with it every nine days. Ethan injected unborn Aaron with it, and apologized to Claire that there wasn’t enough for her as well. However, just like Kelvin before him, Desmond seems to no longer believe in the disease or the cure (“the disease is worse than the cure” from the Blast Door, anyone?), as he told Claire she was wasting her time by continuing to give Aaron shots of the vaccine that Charlie retrieved from the Food Drop.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There’s definitely some conflicting information in there. It would seem as though the “Sickness” and the “Vaccine” are some product of a Dharma experimental mind game – something to keep people in control, performing their experiments, and not sunbathing on the beach of the Island. However, the Others also seem to be believers of the Sickness (as some have mentioned, this may explain the gas masks they put on last week when leaving the Barracks), which would mean that it was more of a real thing, not just the product of Dharma mind games. This starts to lead you down the path of thinking that Dharma created a virus on the Island to try and cure it, using the Others as experiment subjects, but only found a temporary cure – the 4-8-15-16-23-42 vaccine that needed to be administered every few days. It would go a long way in explaining why Dharma suddenly felt the need to “purge” the Others (to prevent the virus from escaping to the rest of the world), and also why the Others fought back – to save themselves. But if that’s the case, why haven’t any of our Survivors (who have been on the Island much longer than CFL’s crew, when they went crazy) or Desmond or Kelvin contracted the Sickness? Or have they, and we don’t know about it?

Now do you remember?

That, in a very long way, brings us back to Claire and the second sentence of the episode description. Could this “mysterious illness” that has stricken Claire be the Sickness? Or is this going to be another case of “Aaron has a fever” or “Sawyer needs glasses to read” where we think the Sickness is going to come back, but it ends up being something totally lame?

Either way, considering how our Survivors over-reacted to Aaron’s fever, they are absolutely going to pin any sort of stomach ache, dizziness, or paper cut on being caused by “the Other” in their midst. While I would love to see this “Sickness” storyline come back, I have a hard time understanding how our Survivors could have been immune from it for so long. If Claire is being affected due to her taking the vaccine, then shouldn’t Desmond be totally “sick” by now too, since he was pumping himself with the stuff for years? Or are his “flashes” really just a symptom of the Sickness – hallucinating to the point where you think you are time traveling?

It’s intriguing. I’m going to wait and see how this episode plays out before taking the theory any farther, just in case it ends up being “Claire ate bad boar”. It most likely is a plot device used to further drive the rift between Juliet and the Survivors (as if we needed any more!), but there’s always the chance that the Sickness ends up being that thing that ties together the Others, Dharma, the Valenzetti Equation, the Secret of the Island, and Smokey (okay – probably not Smokey) in a nice neat package.

How amazing would that be?

…and with that, I’ll wrap up my last episode preview for the next few weeks. I should also mention that FOB Alec went out and created a formal Message Board for the Blog, so we won’t all be hindered by the limitations of the Blogger Comments section. Feel free to continue using both, but if you want to get crazy with your discussions, the Board is going to be where it’s at (two turn tables and a microphone). I’m still working on what sort of original content I’ll post there, or how to utilize it to its fullest, so definitely hit up the “Suggestions” section and let me know what would make your Lost… and Gone Forever experience even better.

Click here to enter the wild and magical world of The Lost… and Gone Forever Boards… creatively named, Lost and Gone for a While.

Those scared of Message Boards, registering for websites, and emoticons – the regular Comments section awaits as always…

Friday, April 06, 2007

"Left Behind" Analysis... and Control the Blog Contest Winners Revealed!

Brace yourself. Although I’ll still do next week’s “Episode Preview” and “Instant Analysis”, this is my last full “Episode Analysis” until May. That means I need to do my best to ensure it’s as chock full of wacky theories, uber-excessive analysis, and witty puns to hold you over for the next few weeks. It could get out of control. But rest assured, based on some of the entries I’ve received in the Control the Blog contest, you’re going to be in good hands. The winners and their assignments are listed at the bottom of this post. Heck, you might not even want me to re-claim control of the Blog when I get back. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let’s take a closer look at what the writers “left behind” for us to analyze about the episode (see, the witty puns are already starting. Woo!)

Locke. One of the first scenes of the episode was arguably the most intriguing. In it, we saw a very free John Locke (still sporting his hunting knife, no less!) enter the game room and apologize to Kate for not being able to take her with them. His hand is bandaged, which may simply be the result of being handcuffed and roughed up by the Others after his submarine-blowing-up escapades (yes, he really blew up the submarine - we need to accept this). It sounded as though he fought for Kate, arguing that she was worthy of taking with them – but then found out about her sketchy past and understood why she couldn’t come.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The first question becomes – what are the criteria for being “worthy” vs. “unworthy”? If you look at the ones who were “left behind”, we have Kate (killed her biological father), Sayid (tortured and killed numerous people), Juliet (killed Pickett), and Jack (pulled the stunt that almost killed Ben). But if that’s the case, how is Locke (responsible for Boone’s death) any better? Does he get a free pass due to his communion with the Island? For that matter, one wonders why the Others were cool with Ethan killing / nearly killing our Survivors, but if any of our Survivors do it they’re immediately considered unworthy.

The answer is that it doesn’t add up, and that there appears to be a bit of a double standard, but should we expect anything less from a freaky religious cult? If they were 100% logical in their actions and beliefs, they wouldn’t be a freaky religious cult.

Really the important thing from the scene is this – Locke is now one of them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s in any sort of power position yet, but Ben is probably viewing him as a potentially dangerous “equal” due to his pull with the Island. He also seems to have been “let in” on some of the Others’ secrets, and has taken on the calm, knowing, understanding demeanor we have seen from Cindy, Juliet, and Jack – as opposed to the rapid-fire questioning that we see from Kate and Sayid (and formerly Jack). Speaking of which…

Jack. I will be VERY interested to see Jack’s actions in these next few episodes. As I mentioned above, during his last major scene with Kate, he was definitely acting “weird”, as though he now understood the Others and their actions. Does he still view them as enemies who have kidnapped and tormented his fellow Survivors, or does he now understand WHY they did what they did, viewing them as allies who can help everyone get off the Island? Or, does he view them with indifference, chalking them up to a crazy cult that is no real danger – but also not willing to help the Survivors out? If I’m Sayid / Kate / Sawyer, I would be immediately grilling Jack for information – even more so than Juliet – because you could be sure that he would be telling the truth…

…or would he? You know, I’m personally starting to doubt the words and actions of ol’ Jack Shephard. He’s been acting a tad too strange for me the past two episodes, punctuated by the scene at the end of this week where Kate spilled her guts, apologized to Jack, and grew as a person before his very eyes. Jack’s response?

“Where’s Juliet?”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sure, maybe he and Juliet have formed some sort of bond – and maybe he’s still a little bitter with Kate for her hookup with Sawyer - but didn’t this seem a little too cold and emotionless? Even though a few weeks ago, I wrote that Jack had “given up” on Island life once he saw the video of Kate and Sawyer (which may help explain his demeanor), it still makes me wonder what happened between the time when Jack left Alcatraz, and when we saw him tossing football with Rag-arm Tom. In the few scenes we’ve seen with him, he seems like a totally different person. Is he brainwashed? Drugged? Under Juliet’s spell? I mean, she’s hot – but not Kate-hot.

Like I said, keep an eye on Jack. While Juliet is the obvious traitor at this point, secretly working for the Others, Jack is certainly in the running as well – remember, this show was always supposed to be about Kate leading the Survivors anyways…

Juliet. Up until this point, I thought I understood the character of Juliet – but now I’m feeling fairly confused. I had always viewed her as something of a helpless prisoner of the Others, who just wanted to go home, but realized that her best chance of doing so lied with playing nice with the Others and not making any trouble. Deep inside, she hated them, hated Ben, hated the regiment and mindless obedience of the lifestyle, but she kept her feelings to herself. Once Jack was kidnapped, she saw him as her ticket out, attempting to convince Jack to kill Ben in a crazy scheme to cause an Others coup that might lead to her freedom. When the episode aired, we wondered if she was just testing Jack or if she was serious about taking Ben out – and based on her actions since then (killing Pickett, buddying up with Jack in a scheme to get off the Island) it certainly seemed like she was dead serious.

But now? I’m not so sure. The fact that she orchestrated this scheme with handcuffing herself to Kate in an effort to show that they were “in the situation together” makes me go back and reassess her actions. It’s almost as though she’s trying too hard to “fit in” with our Survivors.

In my mind, one of two scenarios is possible.

Scenario #1 - Juliet’s intensions are true, and she’s not trying to scheme against our Survivors in any way. This would have to mean that Ben told Juliet she was voted out of their tribe either because she killed Pickett, was too attached to Jack, or had demonstrated that she would do anything to get off the Island – making her no longer trustworthy or “Island Material”. In this scenario, the Others didn’t knock Juliet out - unlike Jack, Kate, and Sayid - and she was left free to roam around the Barracks alone, put Jack and Sayid in funny positions and take pictures of them, and drag Kate out into the Jungle in a desperate scheme to “fit in” with them. While Juliet doesn’t appear to be overly strong, it wouldn’t be the first time an Other demonstrated crazy strength (see: Ethan hanging Charlie, Ben dominating Sawyer), and we saw Juliet was quite kickasstastic when she took down Kate in the gameroom scene (PS – nice work Heather!) – so it’s plausible she could have carried this out on her own.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Scenario #2 - Juliet is in the middle of a Long Con of Jack and our Survivors. The Others knocked out Jack, Sayid, and Kate, and helped drag Kate out into the Jungle where they handcuffed her to Juliet and turned over the key. She either was lying about wanting to get off the Island (not likely) or has been offered a ticket on one of the Others’ boats in exchange for going on one last mission for them. What they’re after is still anyone’s guess, since they seem to know just about everything about all our Survivors… at least pre-Island.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

But what about post-Island? Based on the scene inside the Pearl from last week, all the information that the Others know about our Survivors after the crash is based on what they’ve seen on the monitors inside the Pearl, and the reconnaissance performed by Ethan / Goodwin. But what could they possibly be so interested in post-Island?

How about babies? Even without talking about Sun, who I think is too recently pregnant for the Others to know / care about, the Survivors still have the ever-growing Aaron in their camp, who was important enough to them in Season One to kidnap Claire and inject him with their 4-8-15-16-23-42 secret formula. We’ve seen the Others demonstrated lack of baby-making prowess, and it would make perfect sense to send the fertility doctor on a secret mission involving babies. While I don’t think it’s something as blunt as stealing the babies (which could be done by sheer force if need be), it may be something as subtle as observing Aaron to see if he is showing any negative side affects from the injections, if he’s turning into some sort of super-baby, or if he remains immune from the “illness” – whatever the injection was supposed to be accomplishing.

In my mind, the second of the two scenarios seems the more likely. If Juliet was looking to gain the trust of our Survivors, she could have easily done so by telling them the truth and letting Jack vouch for her. Instead, she’s demonstrated that she’s incredibly tough, willing to lie, and knows a lot more about the Island than she’s letting on… and that’s a dangerous combination for our Survivors. Plus, look at this picture! Tell me she doesn’t look like pure evil!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Others. Regardless of Juliet’s intentions, there’s still the big question of where the Others actually went. Although it seems like our Survivors have now combed every inch of the Island, the mountainous regions still remain relatively unexplored, as well as the underground tunnel system we’ve seen referenced on a number of maps and blueprints – making either a potential option. But why would they leave the comfort of the Barracks just because they were discovered? Something tells me they didn’t leave out of fear of the Survivors finding them. Is it possible that Locke has convinced Ben to have everyone pack up their backpacks (seriously – the Others are hippies – get some real luggage!) and move out?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

If you buy into the whole “the Others have lost touch with the Island” theory, it might make sense. Ben’s noticed he’s not as powerful as he used to be and isn’t healing like he should, then along comes Locke, who seems to have a very strong understanding of the Island, and calls them out for their “easy way of life” in the Dharma Barracks on the Island. Locke calls them to return to their Other roots, get back in touch with nature, and re-connect with the Island – and Ben buys it, ordering all the Others to go on a spiritual journey led by one John Locke.

It’s a little far fetched, but seemingly a much better rationalization for why the Others would leave their comfortable Barracks. Remember, we’re due for the action on Lost to shift back to the Beach for the next few weeks, which gives the Others some off-screen time to go on this hippie revival, setting the stage for their confrontational return in time for the Season Finale, now super-charged with their new leader in John Locke. It practically writes itself!

(Note: some have also questioned why the Survivors wouldn’t return to the Barracks and enjoy some of the comforts it would provide. For one, it’s not as pretty as the Beach. For two, if they’re serious about getting off the Island, staying on the Beach is a better option, as you’re more likely to see any random passing ships. For three, the Beach has been 100% Smokey-free since the start, whereas the Barracks seem to be surrounded by Smokey territory. While it would make sense to collect as many resources from the Barracks as possible to try and understand the Others, living there doesn’t make as much sense).

Smokey. Speaking of the Smoked One, this episode finally revealed a “weakness” of the seemingly unstoppable monster (besides TNT) – the electric fence that surrounds the Barracks. For those wondering why the Others moved into the Barracks post-Others, here’s a pretty good reason – it kept them safe from Smokey.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Let’s look at Juliet’s comment that “we don’t know what it is, but we know it doesn’t like our fence.” If we are to believe Juliet, it means that Smokey is a Dharma invention, and the Others are just as clueless about it as we are (a nice call by the writers to keep the truth about Smokey a mystery even after we understand everything about the Others – which should be by the end of this season). Want a reason for why the Others moved into the Barracks? A runaway Smokey is a pretty good one. Did you notice that the code to turn on the fence was 1623? This would also indicate that the Electric Fence and Barracks were created by Dharma, who were obsessed with these Numbers, and not the Others.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

But should we believe Juliet? For whatever reason, I viewed her comments the same way I viewed Patchy’s comments in “Enter 77” – she’ll lie for a long time, then she’ll tell the truth. Juliet lied to Kate the entire episode, but then told the truth about Smokey. At least that’s the way I interpreted it. If she was lying, and Smokey is some sort of “Island Protector” that the Others know about, it would still make sense that the newly-exiled Juliet would suddenly become an enemy of him, but if Smokey is some sort of “magical Island creature”, it would be much harder to explain him with pseudo-science.

Which once again brings up one of the biggest mysteries on Lost – what the heck is Smokey? In “Left Behind”, we saw him apparently take on the “bright, beautiful light” side when flashing at Juliet hiding in the trees (just as Locke described it). However, when we saw it later, it appeared to be the dark, shape shifting killing machine that dominated Eko earlier this season. Are both Smokeys one and the same? Or could there be a “Good Smokey” and a “Bad Smokey” on Island? Why has Smokey seemed to scan some people (Locke, Eko, Juliet) but not others (the Pilot, Jack, Kate) – does it have something to do with which people are good vs. evil? I could accept Smokey being inconsistent if he’s some sort of wild monster, but the weird thing is – he doesn’t seem to be.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Smokey comes and goes pretty quickly. He gets in, gets the job done, and gets out. If he truly did “scan” Juliet early in the episode, couldn’t he have instantly determined her fate? Why did he wait until later in the episode to try and attack her, rather than doing so when she was a helpless victim in a Banyan Tree? It’s almost as if it needs to collect the information, then take time to evaluate it and determine the course of action. Or it could indicate that it collects the information to pass along to some other entity (Jacob?), and then receives instructions on how to proceed – like a spy and executioner rolled into one.

I don’t have any hopes of getting answers about Smokey until near the end of Lost, but it does add an element of danger if both the Survivors and the Others are afraid of him – it keeps the jungle “dangerous”, maintains a sense of “mystery”, and prevents the Others from being able to answer all of our questions. It puts them on a level playing field – at least for one aspect of Island life.

(Aside: I actually finally read the Michael Crichton book “Prey” last month – and by “read”, I mean “listened to the book on MP3”, and even though the Lost creators have flat out said that Smokey is NOT nanobots, all I can say is that Smokey looks and acts EXACTLY like the nanobots Crichton describes in his novel… and would easily explain Smokey with pseudo-science. They observe, they mimic, they take on the appearance of various people, they can separate, combine, and kill. Honestly, it’s the only logical explanation I can think of for Smokey that wouldn’t betray the foundation of “pseudo-science” that we’ve been told this show is built on.)

Winners. Finally, here it is. Big thanks to everyone who expressed interest and wrote in – I was absolutely blown away by the response. While there were many great entries, there could only be (what turned out to be) six big winners. Without further ado, here’s who will be pitching crazy theories and over-analyzing simple scenes while I’m gone:

  • 3.16 – “One of Us” Analysis – Jonah YoYo
  • 3.17 – “Catch-22” Preview – Dave Rudolph
  • 3.17 – “Catch-22” Instant Reactions and Analysis – James Borden
  • 3.18 – “D.O.C.” Preview – Andrew Pang
  • 3.18 – “D.O.C.” Instant Reactions and Analysis – Rutkowskilives
  • 3.19 – “The Brig” Preview – Steve Barlow

Note: I was originally ambitiously thinking that I would be able to write the 3.19 Preview, since I’ll technically be back in time for it – but then I realized that I’m going to have to watch the two episodes I missed before I could even think about writing a preview for the next episode, which might be tight given everything else that will be on my plate when I get back. Rather than potentially half-ass it, I’m turning it over to someone who will give the preview justice.

You’ll also notice that writers have the option of doing both an “Instant Reaction” and “Analysis” as I do, or just an “Analysis” if they think they’ll get it up quick enough to keep the Commenters satisfied.

So hopefully this all works out and everyone behaves themselves. If not, well at least we tried our best and failed miserably... the lesson is - never try.

Happy Easter everyone!