Monday, February 27, 2006

Lost - "Maternity Leave"

Episode Title: “Maternity Leave”

Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: I suppose it would be wishful thinking to have the title refer to Claire dying – but that would be the ultimate “maternity leave”, leaving Aaron alone after his mother’s death. Nothing against Claire, she’s pretty cute and has a fun accent, but we’ve now got something like 20 main characters on the show, and I think some trimming would tighten the story up immensely. Plus, they’re on a mysterious and dangerous Island; you’d think deaths would be a pretty common occurrence, right?

Sadly, I’m guessing this title merely carries this dual-meaning:

Meaning 1: Flashback to when Claire was kidnapped in Season 1, finally showing us what happened to her (but I bet not showing us everything – I mean, this is Lost after all!). She took a “leave” from the group.

Meaning 2: Claire leaving Aaron to go hiking through the jungle in search of the places she sees in her memories.

This should serve as the first of what I hope is an upcoming trend on the show, giving us flashbacks that occur on the Island. Tell me you wouldn’t love to see a flashback of what Michael has been up to since he’s disappeared? Or Walt’s kidnapping? Or Locke when he first encountered the Monster?

At some point, we’re going to have a full understanding of the characters on the Island based on their pre-Island flashbacks, so if Lost is going to continue it’s flashback format, I think this is the only way to go!

TV Guide Description: A desperate Claire, along with Kate and Rousseau, attempts a return to the scene of her kidnapping where she believes she might find the cure for Baby Aaron's mysterious illness. Meanwhile, Jack and Locke must keep their prisoner a secret from the rest of the survivors.

TV Guide Breakdown: Show creators and Internet people in the know (not me… yet) have hinted that “big changes” were coming for Aaron this season. Is this what his mysterious illness is? Does Aaron have “the sickness” that CFL warned about? Is he turning evil, as forecasted by the psychic last season? Or is he merely ill due to malnutrition because he’s living on a freakin’ tropical island without getting any medical shots right after birth? I hope this is the start of something big, a place to begin explaining why children are so important on the Island, perhaps?

It also looks like new girl Libby finally has a role on the show! She’s serving as psychologist to Claire, helping her dig up repressed memories of her abduction prior to Aaron’s birth. It’s about time! Is it just me, or do these memories look an awful lot like Sydney’s, circa Alias Season 3?

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This really brings up the fundamental question of “Are the Others good or evil?” If good, they’re putting a needle in Claire to check the health of her and her baby. If they’re evil, they’re injecting pure concentrated devil juice into her. To be honest, if you look at how the whole Claire abduction storyline turned out last year, I’m leaning towards this being for Claire / Aaron’s own good. I mean, why would they kidnap her, do tests on her, and then just release her? If they wanted Aaron so badly, they would have kept her captive until he was born and then taken him. Perhaps this is merely an injection of Desmond’s 4815162342 juice to protect Aaron from the “sickness”? If so, his new mysterious illness might be the result of not getting a fresh injection for a while, leaving his susceptible to the sickness.

There has also been some chatter that this is a third Dharma Hatch:

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I don’t buy it. For one, there’s a very clear medical symbol (two snakes around a staff with wings) in the center of what appears to be the outside door of some sort of facility. Both the Swan and Arrow Hatch doors had no markings whatsoever on their outer doors (probably to help camouflage them?) My money is on this being a legitimate Dharma Medical Facility – one used by Dharma scientists when they get cuts, performing autopsies on experiments gone terribly, terribly wrong, and administering yearly Hanso flu shots. But… what are the odds this thing is abandoned when they enter? I’d guess pretty high.

It also seems very odd that the crew that goes on this mission would be Claire, Kate, and… CFL?! Hi, do we not remember CFL’s Claire and Aaron-napping past? And I don’t even think Kate and CFL have ever even been formerly introduced. If I was going to return to the scene of a violent crime, I wouldn’t pick a complete stranger who may or may not evil to accompany me. I’d also be taking some strapping boy along in case they encountered spiders or sports-trivia games. Be on the lookout for a CFL double-cross.

Lastly, it looks like Jack and Locke finally come to some agreement regarding Henry… that they are going to keep him secret from everyone else. This makes no sense to me. What harm could possibly come from everyone else knowing there was a strange man who might be a mysterious “Other” held captive in the Hatch? Keeping him secret just opens up the door for someone else to be in the Hatch on 4-8-15-16-23-42 entering duty and literally open up the door and let him escape down the road.

Previously on Lost…

We flashback to the magical time that was “Operation Desert Storm”, where Sayid learns the Iraqi government is responsible for the murder of his family in a neighboring town and learns the fine art of torture.

Meanwhile, back on the Island, CFL has captured a person she claims to be “An Other” named Henry Gale. Sayid isn’t so sure, so takes him back to the Hatch where he questions him about his past. After an involved “hot air balloon ride gone terribly wrong” tale, it seems that he’s telling the trust. But after doing his best Jack Bauer impression, Sayid finally gets him to trip up on the details of his supposed wife’s death. Unfortunately, buzz-kill Jack turns out to be a Democrat who has problems with “torturing people for information”, and interrupts the party before Sayid can get any more information. However, Henry gives Sayid this look, which pretty much confirms he is pure evil:

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Elsewhere, in what could either be a throwaway storyline or an absolutely huge one, Sawyer is tormented by a noisy frog. In looking for the frog, he stumbles upon Hurley doing his best Piggy impression. Sawyer blackmails him into helping find Kermit, and upon finding it, smashes it with his hand and gives it to Hurley.

In what should been a huge event, the 108 clock finally ran out, and we were treated to Egyptian hieroglyphics in the place of the numbers… and also learned that the 108 clock is really more like the 109 clock since Locke still had the opportunity to enter the numbers and reset it after the hieroglyphics appeared.

Fade to black. LOST.

Sawyer. What is it with Sawyer and animals? First the boar, now this? After his conning of everyone last week and getting all the guns, I’m beginning to wonder if Sawyer is really a bad guy, and that animals can sense evil. But did the frog smashing scene have greater significance than solidifying Sawyer’s place as a bad guy?

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joexray, apparently some sort of frogologist who reads the Blog (does that make me a blogologist?) points out:

“One thing that I noticed tonight is that the frog Sawyer and Hurley were holding is a Poison Arrow/Dart Frog. These frogs contain poison that can kill human beings by entering through cuts, the mouth or even permeating unbroken skin. The poison is like curare and affects the heart and may cause hallucinations. The skin is used as a poison for blowgun darts and arrows by some tribes of the rainforest of Colombia. Some species are considered to be among the deadliest animals in the world with enough poison per frog to kill 10 adults. The toxicity varies due to the "cicle-of-life" situation of each frog. These frogs eat insects. The vegetation that the insect eat actually influences the toxicity of the frogs sweat. Since nothing on this island is safe, I'm betting these frogs are very toxic.I'm sure it's no coincidence that they used a Poison Arrow Frog in this episode. The fact that Sawyer squished it in his hand is even more concerning. He, in essence squeezed venom into his hand, then handed it to Hurley.”

So are Sawyer and Hurley doomed? If they choose to follow this storyline through, they’re actually in luck – because they effects of the Poison Arrow Frog can be prevented or reversed with the tetrodotoxin from a puffer fish. I’m sure Jin could catch one of those and save them!

Ranch. Cue Wendy’s Ranch Tooth yelling “Raaaanch!”

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As predicted, Hurley’s lack of weight loss is not explained by his “invincibility” due to his Numbers curse, but rather due to a secret stash of Dharma foodstuffs from the Hatch. (Should we be suspicious that some of the food labels – like Crepes Au Chocolat – are written in French? CFL, you’re going on the Threat Down!)

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Jorge Garcia (Hurley) has actually lost 30 pounds since the show started, but adding this quick storyline is a nice touch of realism, since anyone who watches Survivor (read: Currin) knows that you lose a ton of weight in a week, let alone in a month of an Island. It also gives Hurley a secret he’s hiding on the Island, albeit a minor one compared to some others (Sawyer, Locke, Charlie).

Sides. This is two weeks in a row that Jack and Locke have had a heated confrontation. If they’re trying to build up the Locke vs. Jack battle, they’ve done a good job. In fact, at this point it seems absurd that Locke and Jack would work together on anything, making their co-hiding of Henry seem a stretch.

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How long before Locke changes the combination on the vault again? How long before Jack makes a speech about how Henry is innocent and they need to let him go? If the rest of our Survivors knew about Henry, it’s logical to think they would neatly fall behind Locke or Jack’s line of thinking and reasoning. However, the interesting thing is that I now see a third side forming – a “You’re Both Crazy, I’m Taking Action” side – led by Sayid and Ana-Lucia.

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Sayid and Ana-Lucia? Yes, the most unlikely of friends after Ana-Lucia’s accidental Shannonicide earlier this season. But both have basically made the same speech about taking action. “You people aren’t afraid enough” says Ana. “You’ve forgotten how dangerous they are” says Sayid. I think it would be easy to sway Sawyer (and his mega-valuable gun stash) to their side as well. “You and me, we ain’t done, Zeke” says Sawyer – plus he’s now been shot by Others twice!

Iraq. Here’s the curious thing about the whole Sayid flashback. No, not the fact that Kate’s unbiological dad appeared in it.

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It’s that the whole reason they needed Sayid was to pump information out of his friend. I assumed this was because he spoke their language. However, in the end, we found that the Shawshank Redemption Guard also spoke the language… so why did he need Sayid? Did he think the Iraqi would be more receptive to Sayid? Or is there something bigger going on here? He talked very cryptically by saying “You’ve learned how to torture someone. You’re going to need that skill down the road” or something along those lines. It really reminded me of Desmond’s “I’ll see you in another lifetime brother” line, as if he knew Sayid would end up on the Island and need to torture someone down the road.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this. (But not as much as people who think this guy is Tom Degroot / Zeke:

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Yes, he has a beard, but that’s it.)

Hieroglyphics. To those of you who didn’t tune in last week for the post One of Them post (fun!), based on what we saw when the 108 clock went Egyptian on us, it said the equivalent of “To Cause Death”.

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This brings us back to the question of “what would happen if you didn’t enter the numbers?” If you watch the episode, there’s an audible sound of something happening (wheels grinding?) right before Locke gets the Numbers in. But I don’t see how any of this would bring about death. Would it have shut the blast doors, trapping the person inside the Hatch – where they would eventually die? Does it have something to do with the super-magnetic core that seems to be inside the Hatch as well? Not sure. But I’m betting we find out before the season is over.

The other curious thing is that this “To Cause Death” warning is written in a language that hasn’t been used since 391 AD. Why put up such an important message in a format that almost no living person understands? Initially I thought “well maybe this place has been around since the beginning of time, and back then they understood it…” but if so, they wouldn’t be using our modern number system. So the two pieces are completely incongruous. Why?

Oz. Quickly, if you didn’t read the previous post – I’ll point out that Henry Gale is the name of Dorothy’s uncle in the Wizard of Oz. Henry Gale on the Island tells Sayid that he got there when his hot air balloon crashed… which is the same way the Wizard claims he got to Oz. What does this mean?

Initially, I was worried this was a subtle reference that everything happening on the Island might end up being “all a dream”, like in Wizard of Oz. However, after doing some research, I found that in the original Wizard of Oz book, Oz is a real place – where Dorothy and her family go and live forever. In the movie, it was made into “all a dream” because Hollywood bigwigs were worried no one would believe such a fantasy concept. Making it “all a dream” made the story more believable.

Ask anyone who’s played Super Mario Bros. 2 – the “all a dream” ending is the worst thing ever. Here’s hoping the writers know this, and threw it in just to trip us up, similar to the “maybe this song is from another time” comment two weeks back.

What Would Brian Do? This is a new section of the weekly post I’m starting due to my increasing frustrations with the story-telling style of the show. What am I referring to? Let’s review:

So far this season, we’ve been introduced to Desmond, only to have him run away and not be seen again for 12 episodes and counting. We were introduced to the Tailers, only to have them have minimal interaction with our original cast, and appear in throwaway two minute scenes tacked on to the end of episodes here and there. We now have Walt and Michael missing, and no one is even talking about them. Jack, Locke, and Sawyer encountered a large group of “Others” in the jungle who knew way more about them than they should have, and yet they didn’t attempt to talk to them or find them again, or even tell everyone else about the experience. There’s this mysterious Hatch that may hold the secrets to the Island, yet everyone spends their time hanging on the beach instead of tearing that thing apart looking for answers. Charlie and Eko encounter a crazy smoke monster and don’t talk about it with anyone. Sawyer steals all the guns and cons everyone on the Island one week, and the next week no one is treating him any differently.

HELLO!? Am I going crazy here? Does this not seem insane to anyone else? Why aren’t the characters talking to each other, sharing Island experiences and trying to get off of it? Why don’t events on the Island carry any resonance into future episodes? Why are the writers hell-bent on starting a storyline, then abandoning it for two months, then coming back to it? It’s terrible, terrible storytelling!

They say that no man is an Island. Ironically, on Lost (which takes place on an Island) not only is every character an Island, but each episode is a seeming Island.

But it’s easy to complain. This is where I tell you how I would make this show better, starting with this week. If I were in charge, these five things would happen during “Maternity Leave”:

5. Find stuff in the Dharma Medical Facility. I'm talking charts about each of the Survivors on the Island, pictures, dossiers, etc. Something to let them know (and the audience know) that they have been watching them along, and perhaps they were all hand selected and brought there for a specific reason.

4. Have Locke tell someone, anyone about what happened with the 108 Numbers turning hieroglyphic last episode. We can't let this be another one of those crazy things that happens and no one on the Island ever talks about it. Discuss it. Guess what it could be mean. Do something to let the audience know that you indeed saw the symbols and ponder what they might mean!

3. Continue to question Henry Gale. Don't just let him sit in the vault while Locke and Jack debate the ethics of keeping him there. Get details of his story, ask him if he's seen anything weird happen, look for him to slip up in his stories. Throw out information about the 108 Numbers, Desmond, Zeke, etc. to see what his reactions are. Keep a close eye on him at all times.

2. Show Sayid beginning to forgive Ana-Lucia and the two sharing a common bond in what needs to be done. Show them planning a strategy and commenting on how insane everyone else on the Island has been for merrily living their simple existence instead of questioning things, being afraid, and trying to get off the Island!

1. Kill Claire. I know, it sounds cruel, but think about it. Killing Claire would force someone else to raise Aaron. Who else? How about our resident couples on the Island, neither of whom have any major storylines going on. I'm talking about Sun / Jin or Rose / Bernard. Plus, we will all be left to wonder if the psychic's prediction about Aaron will come true - if he's raised by someone other than Claire, will he turn evil? I'd be very intrigued to see how this would play out.

How? Well, if we're to believe that The Zeke Others are really good guys (which I'm leaning towards), you'd need to either have one of The Misfit Others (Ethan / Henry) take her out (we've seen that Ethan had no problem killing our Survivors). With Ethan dead, the most likely candidate would be Henry. Since his escape seems eminent, he could easily crash the CFL/Kate/Claire party. CFL and Kate clearly have survivor skills. Claire does not. Sorry Charlie! (I'm using that both as a valid expression in our English language as well as expressing sorrow for the character Charlie who would be sad if she died. Hilarious.)

Tell me that wouldn't make for a fantastic episode?


Anonymous said...

Mr. Brian, I knew I was starting to get annoyed with this show, and you pointed out why I feel this way. Thank God I just discovered the greatness of 24, now I know at least one of the shows I watch each week will not disappoint.

Brian said...

No argument there. 24 is the most exciting hour of TV each week. However, it's a pure action show with little deeper meaning or symbolism to discuss. Lost is more of a thinking man's show, which allows for massive analyzing of each episode. It keeps you thinking and researching between episodes, which in the end, provides more overall entertainment.

When I grow up, I want to be Jack Bauer.

Brian said...

Jack Bauer whispers all the time because if he spoke at a regular level, it would shatter your eardrums due to the sheer power his voice commands.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Woohoo! DMB tour dates! You ready for Alpine Brian? I wonder who would win in a fight...Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer. Trick question...the world would explode from the pain that would ensue.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

But on a serious note...I like your 5 things Brian would do. Allow me to add one...some serious army building needs to take place. don't jerk us around by saying "how long will it take to get an army together." start getting some shit together. there are like 5 people on the island that know the severity of the "others." everyone else is all happy and shit. they need to have some sort of meeting and get their shit together.

also...i'm disappointed that "Free Ride" is on during the second half of LOST. that show looks pretty funny but will probably fall to the same fate of other Fox goodies like "Family Guy before it was reincarnated" and "Undeclared." Freaks and Geeks was NBC right? Another show that died way too young.

Brian said...

Jack Bauer has to say everything twice because he works with morons who continually fail to understand the importance of everything he says and does. God help you if Jack has to repeat himself three times though...

Chuck Norris has nothing on Jack Bauer. Those "Chuck Norris Facts" you see on the Internet are funny. The "Jack Bauer Facts" are true.

Tentative Summer Concert Schedule:
DMB at Deer Creek (June 2 - 3)
DMB at Alpine (July 1 - 2)
DMB at Riverbend (August 1)

Also very tempted by the Charlottesville shows in September...

Anonymous said...

I agree, Lost has more meaning, but each week leaves me more pissed, because it feels the show isn't going anywhere. I think my other problem is that I didn't watch season 1 until it was on dvd, so I knocked out the whole season in about a week.

Jenn said...

pdiddy - a good idea several of my friends have is to hold off watching LOST this season until the DVDs come out. I don't know though, being a part of the internet "book club" style discussion each week is also fun and interesting, and a great way to waste several productive hours at a time...

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