Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lost - "Whatever Happened, Happened"

Episode Title: "Whatever Happened, Happened"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: It's like the writers knew exactly what was going to happen at the end of last week's episode (Ben getting shot), and named this episode as a way to immediately answer any questions people might have about the fate of Ben! Given that this week's episode was written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (joy!), I think that's probably a pretty safe bet. We've all thrown the expression around for the past few weeks, but it still seems like some people are confused by it. In a nutshell, it basically means that you can't create a paradox of time. Meaning, Sayid can't go back and time and shoot Ben unless that has ALWAYS happened. You can't add new events to the past. You can't say "well, that didn't happen originally, but now that our Survivors are back in the past it's different." Whatever happened, happened.


Applying this theory to Sayid shooting Ben, it means that Sayid has always shot Ben, and somehow Ben still survives, becomes leader of the Others, messes with our Survivors, ends up off-Island, ends up back on-Island, and gets whacked upside the head by Sun with a Backrigger paddle. From there, who knows what happens to Ben - but at the very least we know that regardless of what happens in 1977 - all these events will eventually happen.


We debated exactly how Ben could survive such an apparent killshot, and I'm anxious to see exactly how the writers explain his survival. It seems to me there are two cards they can play - the Medical Card, or the Mystical Card. The Medical Card would have Jack / Juliet saving Ben, and having a medical explanation for how he was able to survive ("It went right through him without hitting anything major! It's a miracle!"). The Mystical Card could still have Jack / Juliet working to save him, but wouldn't be able to explain why he didn't die ("The bullet is lodged in his heart. He should be bleeding to death but he's not!") In the first case, we would have a scenario with a great deal of irony where Jack / Juliet end up saving the life of someone who will eventually cause such heartache and trouble for them. In the second case, we would have another example of the Island not allowing someone to die until it's damn well ready... which may actually mean Ben was somewhat "chosen" by the Island after all (at least to carry out the Purge). Either way, this event should result in some Lost-classic long wordless stares between our Survivors (I'm looking at you Jack and Kate) as they realize what happened (happened).


Guest Stars: Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Kim Dickens as Cassidy, Doug Hutchison as Horace Goodspeed, Susan Duerden as Carol Littleton, Sterling Beaumon as young Ben, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Jon Gries as Roger Linus, William Blanchett as Aaron, Sebastian Siegel as Erik, Candace Scholz as Debra, Susan King as sweet young woman, Miko Franconi as grocery worker, Scott Moura as manager and Olivia Vickery as Clementine.


Guest Star Breakdown: Anytime Richard Alpert appears in an episode, it's good news for me. The question is - will he be interacting with our 1977 Survivors, or our 2008 Survivors? Remember, we still have absolutely no idea what the Others have been up to from 2005 to 2008, so an appearance of Alpert in 2008 might be our first chance to find out... also, we seem long overdue to have some advancement in the 2008 storyline. Remember how important Locke was to the beginning of this season? We've now gone three episodes without seeing him. Does he finally make his way over to the main Island to reunite with Alpert and learn his "new mission"? On the other hand, a reappearance of Alpert in 1977 might confirm that he witnesses Ben's apparent "death" and "resurrection" in surviving Sayid's gunshot wound, which puts him on the path to becoming the eventual leader of the Others. I guess either way, it'll be good for the storyline. Dare I get greedy and hope he appears in both 1977 and 2008 to advance BOTH storylines? Probably an unrealistic request...


The other shocking guest stars all appear off-Island, most likely in the form of flashbacks. First we've got Carol Littleton (aka "Claire's Mom") and Aaron (aka "Claire's Kid"), which seemingly confirm that this week will be a Kate-centric episode, featuring flashbacks about what she did with Aaron before boarding Ajira 316... and it looks like the answer is "left him with Carol and told her the truth about who Aaron is"... which would absolutely blow the cover off "the lie" that the Oceanic Six have told since they returned from the Island... and might inadvertently lead to a whole new set of people finding a reason to hunt for the Island.


Then, we've got Cassidy (aka "Sawyer's Former Lover") and Clementine (aka "Sawyer's Bastard Child"). For those who don't remember Cassidy, she was a recently divorced woman who Sawyer hooked up with, then taught how to con before long conning her (that sounds dirty), took her money, and left her... even though it kinda seemed like he truly liked her. 


She would later interact with Kate in a few flashbacks and eventually meet Sawyer in jail to inform him that he had a daughter named Clementine Phillips. Remember the mysterious thing that Sawyer whispered into Kate's ear before jumping off the helicopter in last season's finale? Smart money was that he told her about Cassidy and Clementine, and asked Kate to "take care of them" or "tell them he was a hero" or "give them some money". Based on their inclusion in what seems to be a Kate-centric outing, it looks like she kept her word... and this was probably the person Kate was talking to on the phone when Jack got all paranoid in "Something Nice Back Home".


Remember last week when I said it looked like we filled in all the "holes" in Sayid's storyline, so I was afraid he might be on "Death Watch"? Based on the characters appearing in this episode, there's a good chance we're going to do the same thing with Kate, filling in all the "holes" (that's what he said?) - so she might be on Death Watch as well from this point forward... or there's just the possibility that with less than 25 episodes of Lost remaining, these are simply the first characters to start "wrapping up" their backstories in preparation for the inevitable ending... boy, that makes me depressed just thinking about it. This should cheer us up:



Episode Description: Kate goes to extreme measures to save Ben's life when Jack refuses to help.  Meanwhile, Kate begins to tell the truth about the lie in order to protect Aaron.


Episode Breakdown: Wow. Talk about your all-time backfires. I guess forget about all those times I referenced Jack saving Ben's life over the past week! Apparently he's throwing that Hippocratic Oath out the window and saying "Oh, Young Ben needs help to survive? Sucks to be him!" The irony here is that in 2004, Jack hated Ben, yet still saved his life by performing the spinal surgery on him. Yet in 2008, after Jack has been working with Ben to get back to the Island, seemingly on good terms, he's presented with a situation to save his life and refuses. Is Jack trying to change the past? Or has he really just become that hardened during the three years he spent off-Island?


At any rate, this forces Kate to go to "extreme measures" to save Young Ben's life, which is again ironic since less than a week ago she was the person who had such anger towards Ben, slapping Jack for talking about his funeral and walking away from their proposal to return to the Island at the marina. Is she trying to prevent creating a paradox of time, or does Young Ben just remind her of Aaron, which makes her a softy for saving the lives of children?


Either way, this episode description makes it seem like Ben's survival of Sayid's gunshot is going to be explained medically, rather than mystically. But this still doesn't help explain what extreme measures she could go through to save him. It seems like there are rather limited options on the Island to save him - especially if Jack is refusing to help. That leaves the shoddy medical staff in Dharma who couldn't even deliver baby Ethan (I guess this is before The Staff existed since that was a MEDICAL STATION), Juliet, or the Others. Since there's some obvoius tension between Kate and Juliet, would that qualify Kate going to her for help as an "extreme measure"? That seems like a stretch. Going to the Others to help Ben would seem "extreme" given her current position inside Dharma, but how would they be able to help? While this could explain Alpert's role in the episode, it doesn't seem like they have any super-doctor among them or magical healing fountain. If they did, wouldn't they have used either one over the past few seasons when our Survivors were killing Others left and right? Puzzling...


The second portion of the episode description appears to actually be a description of the flashback portion of the episode, where Kate begins to tell the truth about "The Lie" (about the Oceanic Six) in order to protect Aaron. I'm guessing this simply means dumping Aaron with Carol and saying "this is your grandson. He's was born on this mysterious Island that no one can find, but the natives may or may not think he's special. For some unknown reason, I'm going back there. Make sure Aaron doesn't go back there... even though technically his mother - and your daughter - might be alive and well on the Island... bye". This scene should be followed by Carol asking Kate if she is drunk and / or high, but probably will result in her accepting Aaron in the end.


So there you have it. Am I excited for this episode? Absolutely. As I mentioned, it's written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, which means we could receive some serious mythology or big picture revelations. In theory, all the writers on Lost probably know all the "secrets", but in my head, I picture Carlton and Damon revealing only what they need to each week, while keeping the major secrets locked inside their heads until they reveal them. I don't think they would "trust" anyone else to write an episode with a big revelation out of fear that the details might not match what they've envisioned inside their head - which is why they usually are the ones to write the season premieres and season finales, which many would call the "most important" episodes each season.


...and with that, I've sufficiently over-hyped this episode so that no matter what happens, people will be disappointed. You're welcome.


Happy Losting!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

"He's Our You" Analysis!

Unlike most episodes, where I need a little time afterwards to "digest" everything that happened, I'm feeling pretty good about this one right off the bat because there really wasn't that much to it. Some people loved the episode (because they love Sayid, and he was front and center for the full hour) and some people hated the episode (because nothing really "happened" for the vast majority of the episode). As for me, I come down somewhere in the middle. Yes, it was good to "fill in the gaps" on Sayid's story… but nothing that was revealed was all that shocking. It was almost like those flashbacks were designed to give us exactly enough information to explain why things happened (why Sayid "quit" working for Ben, how Sayid got "arrested" by Ilana and ended up on Ajira 316) without raising any new questions or giving away any huge revelations. In some ways, those flashbacks were a bit of a letdown since they seemed like "the easy way out". Instead of Ben and Sayid having some huge falling out or fight - it was simply that Ben stopped giving Sayid orders and the two men walked away from each other. For the time being, Ilana appears to be a simple bounty hunter - not a former Other or person working for Widmore for some greater purpose. In both cases, my reaction was "okay" instead of being "holy crap!"


As for the on-Island 1977 action, Sayid seemed resigned to "give up" for the majority of the episode, not willing to work with Sawyer on his schemes to free him or come up with a cover story - which seemed pretty uncharacteristic for Sayid. It's like he was a broken man, instead of a calm, confident, hero. Aside from killing Benjamin Linus, which Sayid seems to realize is "his mission" on the Island, he seems willing to lay down and die rather than fight… which was kinda sad to me. Perhaps finding out that Ben is still alive despite his best efforts will be just the spark that Sayid needs to find a passion and mission on the Island again. If not, I think his days on Lost are numbered. Here's hoping!


On to the analyzin'…


Widmore. For the over-analytical among us (me), one of the still-outstanding questions from Season Four has been the identity of The Economist. As the season progressed, most casual viewers probably just assumed that The Economist was Widmore, which makes total sense - but if you look closely at the details of the episode "The Economist", they actually seem to rule Widmore out as a candidate (relive the memories here: http://lost-and-gone-forever.blogspot.com/2008/02/economist-analysis.html). Later in the season, we also saw Ben visit Widmore in "The Shape of Things to Come" - before the events of "The Economist" episode took place, which even further seemed to prove Widmore was not The Economist. Long story short - it seemed like Ben and The Economist didn't know each other, when Ben and Widmore clearly have a long history. So up until this point, there was still a big question mark about this Economist. Was it a third party that we hadn't met yet? Was it someone like Jacob or Alpert?


As it turns out, the most obvious answer was the correct one - and maybe we were all looking into the details of "The Economist" a little too closely.


This week, after Sayid completes his "last kill" for Ben, Ben clearly states "that man was the last of Widmore's people" who were putting the Oceanic Six at risk, which seems to confirm that all the people who Sayid had been killing over the years were working for Widmore, who is also The Economist.


Long story short - in case anyone out there still had "Who is the Economist" on their "Outstanding Lost Questions" list, which has to be about 1000 pages long at this point, you can cross it off!


From an overall storyline timeline perspective, we've got the following:

  • Ben leaves the Island after turning the FDW
  • Ben recruits Sayid
  • Ben visits Widmore
  • Sayid kills Widmore's Henchmen
  • Ben determines that Sayid's work is done, and sets him free


This just seems a little strange to me, since one has to assume Widmore would just recruit new henchman - and at this point, Ben still has no idea how he's going to get back to the Island (I'm assuming Locke hasn't left the Island at the point of Ben and Sayid parting, since you have to allow enough time between this scene and Sayid starting to work with "Build Our World" in the Caribbean). It all just seems like Ben was using Sayid for the sake of using him - sure he might have been killing Widmore's men, but there wasn't an "end game" in mind - unless it was just to put himself in a advantageous position over Widmore in their "race for the Island" by taking out Widmore's resources.


The other thing that bothered me was there really wasn't some huge fallout between Sayid and Ben. Remember Sayid's impassioned plea to Hurley about "if you meet Ben, always do the opposite of what he says"? Where did that come from? To continue the overall storyline timeline perspective:

  • Ben determines that Sayid's work is done, and sets him free
  • Sayid goes to work in the Dominican Republic building homes
  • Locke visits Sayid
  • Ben kills Locke
  • Ben visits Sayid, claiming that Widmore killed Locke and is threatening Hurley
  • Sayid rescues Hurley and tells him to never trust Ben


See the disconnect? Where does Sayid get off telling Hurley to "always do the opposite of what Ben says" when in fact he is doing precisely what Ben told him to do? Or is it just that Sayid hates himself for doing what Ben told him to, and wants to save Hurley from a similar fate? Either way, we never saw anything that reveals why Sayid went from happily killing the people on Ben's list to absolutely hating him and promising to kill him if he ever sees him again. Maybe that scene will happen in the future and this will all make sense, but for now, it just seems like a glaring character inconsistency for Sayid.



Ilana. Last week we seemed to confirm that Ilana and Caesar did not know each other pre-flight (since Caesar called her "lady" after the crash, instead of "Ilana"). This week, we learned more about her identity - she's a bounty hunter, hired by the family of Peter Avellino (the guy Sayid killed on the golf course last season)… at least that's what she thinks. Here is where there are three distinct schools of thought:

  1. Ilana was truly hired by the Avellino family, and the fact that this just happened to put Sayid on Ajira 316 proves that it was "fate" or "destiny" that he end up back on the Island.
  2. Ilana thinks she was hired by the Avellino family, but was really hired by Ben - who was pretending to be the Avellino family. Ben is ensuring that Sayid ends up on Ajira 316, rather than it being a question of fate.
  3. Ilana knows she is working for Widmore, but is using the Avellino family story as a cover to hide her true allegiances. This opens the door for Ilana to suddenly become an agent for Widmore who made her way back to the Island… thus helping him "find the Island".


Looking at the history of Lost, the first scenario seems the most likely. After countless conspiracy theories over the first two seasons, we eventually found out that it was "fate" that Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island (not some pre-planned event). Although some still have elaborate schemes to the contrary, it seems like it was "destiny" that our Survivors ended up on Oceanic 815 in the first place. Sayid ending up on Ajira 316 - and back on the Island - could follow the same logic, where we come up with conspiracy theories and logical ways to explain it… but in the end, it comes down to fate.


The second scenario removes this "mystical element" from the explanation, and is easily explained. Ben would know the names of the people he killed, and has the wealth to hire Ilana for the job under false pretenses. Also, what are the odds that the Avellinos are one of the less than 175,000 people who live on Guam? It seems a little convenient that someone murdered in the Seychelles (population 82,000) would have family in Guam. Out of the 6.7 billion people in the world, it's like two needles in a haystack.


The third scenario is definitely the most fun, but also the kind of scenario that Lost nerds like me come up with in hopes of everything having deeper meanings and shocking twists. If there really is a "war" coming for the Island, I have to assume that Widmore will be involved… and unless he finds the Island again, how is that going to happen? There's a million other ways that Widmore could enter the picture, but having Ilana be the one to pull him back to the Island makes her character infinitely more interesting and important - and not another Nikki / Paulo throwaway-type character.


So what's it going to be? I'm hoping for the third scenario… but if I was a betting man, I'd go with the first. Prove me wrong, Lost writers!


Sawyer. Poor Sawyer. First he tried to "play house" with Kate in Dharmaville (unsuccessfully). Then he succeeds in "playing house" with Juliet, builds a nice comfortable life for the two of them, and finally seems to find peace and happiness… and then along come our Ajira 316 Survivors and suddenly his cover is nearly blown, burning buses are running into buildings, and Juliet seems to be questioning their love. It's pretty ironic actually. Locke left the Island and pleaded the Oceanic Six to return to the Island to "save the other Survivors" - but from the moment Locke left, things have gotten significantly better for those Survivors to the point where things were going pretty great. Granted, they're living a lie in 1977, but you can't tell me that they haven't been happier on-Island than the Oceanic Six have been off-Island. When our Ajira 316 Survivors showed up, Sawyer's first instinct was to get them assimilated into the Dharma culture, not "figure out how to get off the Island or back to 2008". Clearly, he's found something on the Island that he never found off-Island - an honest "normal" life. You could argue that it's nothing more than "playing house" - it's fake, it's temporary, and it's inevitably going to end (by the Purge if nothing else), but I can't help but feel bad that Sawyer's happy world is quickly coming crashing down.



Ben. Last but not least, we have our good friend Benjamin Linus. Speaking of feeling bad, it's pretty cruel how the writers have done their best to make the audience feel sorry for Ben - dead mother, abusive father, miserable on the Island, nerdy-looking, shot by an Iraqi - when we all know that he will grow up to be a conniving, murderous, two-timing, still nerdy-looking guy. Which means at the end of the episode, I didn't feel any remorse for an innocent kid who just wanted to belong getting shot point blank in the chest - part of me wanted to cheer, part of me simply said "it's not going to stick. Whatever happened, happened."


Still - this event is really pushing Faraday's theory about being unable to change the past to the test. I know a lot of people have commented that this seems to take away the notion of free will, since it seems like everything is pre-destined to happen, and there's nothing you can do would change it - but I think it's important to realize that "whatever happened, happened" only applies to the time travelers in the past - they're the ones who are in the wrong place in the space-time continuum, and are therefore "handcuffed" by the repercussions of their actions. In 1977, members of Dharma could do whatever they wanted. Likewise, our Survivors in 1977 still have free will and can die or affect the other time-traveling Survivors, they just can't interact with the events of 1977 enough to change the outcome… if that makes sense. So once our Survivors return to 2008, everything will once again be up for grabs. The future will be unwritten, just like the theme song to The Hills.


But for now, we're in the past. This story has already been told, and our Survivors are somewhat just "experiencing it" firsthand. So even though Sayid has always shot Ben, it has always just been a part of Ben's life that makes him the man we know in 2008.


I can see two possible ways that the shooting of Benjamin Linus will play out:

  1. He's magically fine. Although we know that the Island doesn’t let people die until they're supposed to, this is a little different because we actually saw the bullet make a hole in Ben's body, as opposed to a gun not firing (Michael). It's also different than what happened when Ben shot Locke, since this bullet was to the heart, instead of in the side (conveniently close to where a scar from kidney surgery might be). I would have a hard time believing that Ben is just going to sit up, have no blood pouring out of him, and be like "huh, apparently I'm invincible". Lost may have time travel and smoke monsters, but this would be absurd to the point where I might have to pretend Season Five never happened.
  2. Ben is injured, but survives. Hard to believe since Sayid is a trained assassin, but it would set the stage for a pretty great storyline where Jack and Juliet have to save the life of Benjamin Linus. The bullet could have missed Ben's vital organs, allowing Juliet or Jack to remove it, patch him up, and eventually bring him back to health. The great thing about this theory is that it could give us an explanation to the "she looks just like him" comment that the Others made about Juliet when she first arrived on the Island. I would think that if she is able to save him, Ben would be eternally grateful to this mysterious woman - and if he happened to find a woman who looked just like her twenty years later, he would have an affinity towards her. Ah, puppy love.


As I've mentioned before, I think this season ends with "The Incident", which sends our Survivors back to 2008. From the perspective of Dharma, our Survivors must just "disappear", I suppose. But still, Dharma will remember them - they'll know their names, their habits, and their history. However, after the Purge Benjamin Linus is going to be one of the few people left on the Island with this intimate knowledge of characters like Jack, Juliet, Sawyer, and Sayid. He's going to "know" them before they ever arrive on the Island, and know what they did to him in his youth - both good and bad. As I said before, this has to be a huge advantage to Ben, and explains how he is so easily able to manipulate our Survivors and stay one step ahead of them. Because technically, he doesn't just know their past, he knows their future! He knows what they will become… or is it that he helps mold who they become? Crazy time travel chicken and the egg discussions!


After this episode, the relationship between Sayid and Ben becomes far more interesting. So - Sayid shoots Ben in 1977 and tortures him in 2004… almost killing him twice. I wonder if Ben sent Sayid on missions around the world killing random people not to weaken Widmore… but just to mess with Sayid and put him through the same pain and torture that he has caused Ben? I mean, taking that many lives has to weigh on you, right? That could explain the sudden ending of their killing spree. Ben just figured he'd put Sayid through enough, and things were even now.


Probably not, but this puts Sayid right up there with Locke and Alpert in terms of "most layered relationship with Ben" of any characters on the show, making their scenes all the more interesting from here on out.


Note: I did go back and review the Sayid / Ben scenes from inside the Swan Hatch in Season Two. There's no real obvious "hints" of their prior relationship, mostly because Ben is uber-mysterious and creepy to everyone equally… although his frightened screams when he first saw Sayid while caught in CFL's trap could be interpreted as "oh crap, not this Iraqi again! He shot me in the heart the first time!"



What's next for Ben's character? As I mentioned in the Instant Reactions, I think his miraculous recovery from a should-be fatal gunshot will certainly pique the interest of the Others (once they find out about it), and might even make them start thinking "Huh, the Island doesn't want him to die. Maybe he's special?" which has to be a great argument when Ben eventually runs for the position of "Leader of the Others". The problem is that there is still a lot of time between this episode and the Purge, which means we're probably not going to see that gradual acceptance into the Others happen. Based on the timeline and episodes remaining, we've probably got no more than a week or two left in 1977, which means we might leave Ben as a kid recovering from a gunshot wound, left to wonder about what exactly happened in the next few years leading up to the Purge.


PS - I definitely think Ben was the one to light the Dharma van on fire, creating the distraction needed to free Sayid.


PPS - No, Ben's Dad wasn't inside that flaming Dharma van - he dies via poisonous gas in a Dharma van on the day of the Purge, remember?


…and I think that's all for this week. Discuss!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"He's Our You" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Three Word Review with Punctuation: Whatever happened, happened?

After a pretty slow first fifty-seven minutes, Lost got way crazy in its final three. I mean, the one fundamental rule we've been using to explain this season has been Faraday's adage of "whatever happened, happened" - which means that Benjamin Linus grows up to lead the Purge, mess with our Survivors, bring them back to the Island, and creep us all out. Doesn't Sayid shooting him totally break that rule? And didn't we all (and by "we all", I mean "I") think this would mean the space-time continuum would tear apart and it would bring about the end of the world... and couldn't only the "special ones" like Faraday or Desmond carry out such actions? GREAT SCOTT!


It would mean all these things... if Ben was really dead. But there's no way that Ben is REALLY dead. Or even if he is, he's coming back to life next episode, a la Locke when Ben shot him (or when he came back to the Island). 

Want a reason for why the Others were willing to accept Ben as their leader even though he was an enemy "Dharma"? How about the fact that he survived a deadly gunshot thanks to fate / whatever happened, happened. But they don't know that. All they know is that he's pretty "special"... kinda in the same way that John Locke is special since he foretold his arrival to the Island 50 years before it happened. What if the Others have foolishly picked two incorrect leaders thanks to these wacky time travel adventures of our Survivors?! No wonder they're falling out of favor with the Island, unable to have babies, and Jacob asked for help!

I can guarantee that this is going to be the primary discussion point for this episode. Some will argue that Faraday was wrong and that you can change the past, which will spawn discussions about how they can now save Charlie / Boone / Shannon, prevent the Purge, save the cheerleader, save the world, and all live happily ever after... but just trust me when I say there is no way that this will happen. The Lost writers seems smart enough to know that this is an EXTREMELY slippery slope to start heading down, and have been beating us over the head with the "whatever happened, happened" stuff from the start - to reassure us that they won't go this route.

Again, the discussions are inevitable - but just trust me that you can't change the past.

The other discussion items from the episode are a little less glamorous than the first:

  • The book that Young Ben gave Sayid was "Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan" by Carlos Castaneda. It's about a young anthropologist living with a Yaqui Indian's world of "non-ordinary reality" and the difficult and dangerous road a man must travel to become "a man of knowledge", full of hallucinogenic drugs. See the relevancy to this episode? 
  • Ben seemed to confirm that The Economist = Widmore, even though there are still some logical holes in the episode "The Economist" because of this. However, it does make things a little easier, since we know there are just two "big players" in the battle for the Island - Ben and Widmore - not three, including a mysterious third party that we haven't met yet.
  • Is it possible that Dharma started their whole "time travel" kick thanks to Sayid telling them that he was from the future? Is the Swan Station named the Swan Station thanks to Sayid? Fun stuff to think about... except for when it makes your head hurt.
  • She could just be a good liar - or unknowing pawn in Ben's schemes - but for now Ilana seems to be an innocent bounty hunter, not a former Other / off-Island henchman for Ben. So it was just fate that Sayid ended up on Ajira 316 (unless Ben paid her off, pretending to be the family for one of Sayid's victims... which would make some sense since Guam and The Seychelles are nowhere near each other).

...and I think that's about it. Like I said, not a whole lot to this episode aside from the final scene. I'm still worried about Sayid's chances for survival on the Island since in one episode, they basically filled in every gap in his storyline, and Sayid seems to think that he just completed "his mission" in returning to the Island in killing Ben. Of course he's wrong, but his character doesn't know that.

Okay - discuss!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lost - "He's Our You"

Episode Title: "He's Our You"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: This is probably one of the most fun episode titles Lost has ever produced. It's totally gibberish and twisted - yet somehow makes total sense given the numerous dichotomies we've seen on Lost this season... and is strangely exciting for me to think about. So what does it mean?


I have to assume that it's a phrase spoken in the episode... or a phrase that could be spoken in the episode to explain the scenario. So it must be one "group" talking to another "group", attempting to explain someone by comparing them to a person that the other group would understand. Let's use a simple scenario to explain:


We are a group of die-hard Lost fans who read a Blog written by Brian (me). Let's pretend that I come across a group of die-hard Chuck fans who read a Blog written by Joe. In having discussions with these Chuck fans, to explain who Joe is to me, they would say "he's our you" and it would make total sense.


As an aside, if anyone knows where I can find these die-hard Chuck fans, let me know. Chuck is the best show on TV right now that no one is watching, and it saddens me greatly. If you are not currently watching Chuck, you are saddening me. Why are you so mean?! There's a good chance that if Chuck gets cancelled, I'll stop blogging about Lost and turn this site into a "Bring Back Chuck" Blog. So... no pressure on you, but unless you start watching Chuck and get your friends to join in - ensuring that it stays on the air, you will have no one to blame but yourself when Lost... and Gone Forever becomes Chuck is Lost... and Gone Forever? Got it?


Back to the title.


The way I see it, there are a number of "groups" that could be involved in the "he's our you" discussion:

  • Dharma
  • The Others
  • The Survivors in 1977
  • The Survivors in 2008
  • The Ajira 316ers


None of these groups has a total understanding of the other groups, and may require a "he's our you" analogy to explain someone within them in a way they could understand. There are a number of really cool potential explanations for the episode title, mostly ones that would reveal the true nature / purpose of characters on the show. The possibilities are pretty endless - the only thing that we confirm is that it will involve a male character (sorry Kate, Juliet, Amy, and Sun) and it will involve an interaction between two of these thus-far separate groups, which can only help us understand them even more.


Or - it could be something even more mind-blowing... like a character running into himself in the past. In this scenario the "he's our you" is taken much more literally - like "this is our copy of you". But I don't know that Lost would go that far.


In the end, I'm going to settle down on "He's Our You" involving one of the following characters: Locke, Alpert, Ben, or Sayid. The first three should be pretty easy to understand, since they have all been involved in the "leadership" of the Others at some point in time. "He's our you" could easily be used to explain to Locke who the new leader of the Others is, who Christian Shephard is, or something along those lines. As for Sayid, as you'll soon see, this looks to be a Sayid-centric episode, and with his unique role on the Island as a Survivor who Dharma thinks is an Other, our Survivors know is one of them, and the Others have no idea who he is - there's a lot of potential to "explain" him using a "he's our you" phrase.


In some ways, Sayid represents Dharma's version of our Survivors' Ben - a stranger on the Island they can't explain who seemingly knows too much, so they keep him locked up until they can debate and figure out what to do with him. This might be the least geektastic explanation for "he's our you", but it's certainly the easiest.



Guest Stars: Doug Hutchison as Horace Goodspeed, Zuleikha Robinson as Ilana, Reiko Aylesworth as Amy, Sterling Beaumon as young Ben, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Eric Lange as Radzinsky, Jon Gries as Roger Linus, William Sanderson as Oldham, Sayed Bedreya as Iraqi father, Xavier Raabe-Manupule as 12-year-old Iraqi boy, Dmitri Boudrine as Ivan, Michael Hardy as Floyd, Joe Toro as bartender, Achilles Gacis as guy in car and Anthony Keyvan as young Sayid.


Guest Star Breakdown: To start things off, I don't want to read too much into things - but it's curious that Ilana is listed as a guest star for this episode without Caesar (the first time that this has happened). While it's entirely possible that this simply means there is a Ajira 316 scene involving only Ilana and Locke / Ben, the over-analytical side of me can't help but wonder if instead she appears in a scene with the Others - proving that she is one of them, even if Caesar is not - or that she appears in a flashback, explaining how or why she came to capture Sayid. Otherwise, there is the standard inclusion of the major Dharma players we've met thus far (Horace, Amy, Phil, Radzinsky) with the inclusion of Roger Linus to accompany Young Ben on the Island.


The other guest stars seem to indicate that we will be getting the first traditional Lost flashback of the season. A scene involving a 12-year-old Iraqi boy and an Iraqi father makes Sayid the most likely candidate to receive the flashback... oh, and the inclusion of "YOUNG SAYID" might also be a clue as well. 


Initially, reading this really disappointed me. With as much exciting stuff going on between our Survivors in 1977 and 2008 - plus the fact that we haven't seen any Desmond / Widmore stuff for weeks, the last thing I wanted to have eating up a portion of the episode is a flashback to Sayid's youth to provide parallel symbolism with his current predicament on the Island... unless we get a total flashback of all the pieces of Sayid's backstory that we haven't seen thus far.


If that's the case, sign me up. I'll take one scene with Young Sayid if it means I'll get a few scenes that show what caused the falling out between Sayid and Ben - or how he got captured by Ilana and ended up back on Ajira 316.


Although - if we receive all these flashbacks, I would start worrying about Sayid's character on the show. An episode dedicated to telling the remaining portion of his backstory certainly makes it appear as though he's not going to be surviving on the show much longer - especially given his current predicament on the Island. Don't die, Sayid!


Episode Description: Things begin to unravel when one of the survivors goes rogue and takes matters into their own hands -- risking the lives of everyone on the island.


Episode Breakdown: In my mind, there are three potential candidates to "go rogue" - Faraday, Sayid, and Jack Bauer. We all know that Jack Bauer is the most likely candidate, but since he's not on Lost, I'll rule him out. That leaves Faraday "going rogue" through his actions inside the Orchid / attempting to change the past, or Sayid "going rogue" and busting out of his jail cell and going kung fu on his Dharma captors. Since it's a Sayid-centric affair, he seems to be the more likely candidate... until you read the rest of the description - that this rogue action puts the lives of everyone on the Island in risk. That certainly sounds like a "changing the past which will bring about the end of the world" type situation, the kind of situation I envision Faraday putting us in by messing with the FDW or trying to save Charlotte's life.


Even if Sayid were to break out of his cell (somehow) after finding out who Young Ben is - and is so full of rage that he takes it upon himself to try and kill Ben - he wouldn't succeed, right? Because we all know that Ben lives until at least 2008. Whatever happened, happened, right? Only Faraday or Desmond can change the past because they're "special", right? If this is the case, it seems like the main "action" of the episode would surround Faraday - which makes no sense in a Sayid-centric episode since the two characters have totally different things going on right now on the Island.


In the end, although there are logical holes (at this point), I think Sayid is the most likely candidate to go rogue - and take matters into his own hands to carry out whatever "mission" he feels brought him back to the Island in 1977 - even if he ultimately will not (and cannot) succeed. Over the past few weeks, we've had some pretty questionable episode descriptions, so it's possible that it's inaccurate.


After all "risking the lives of everyone on the Island" sounds way more exciting than "but finds that he can't change the past so it's no big deal."


Happy Losting!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Crappy "Namaste" Analysis

You’ll have to forgive me for the delay and rushed nature of my “Namaste” Analysis. For me, the greatest four days of the year surround the start of the NCAA Tournament, and traditionally involve taking off work, drinking, and watching basketball for about 48 hours over the course of four days. This year, it was even sweeter thanks to the Dayton Flyers not only making the tournament – but winning a game in it for the first time in nearly twenty years. On top of it all, the wife scored us tickets to go watch the Sunday games live and in person back at the Happiest Place on Earth (UD).

Add it all up, and it equals no time for Lost for
Brian. I toyed with the notion of just skipping the “Namaste” Analysis, but had some base thoughts in my head that I figured should be posted or else you’ll be confused when I reference them later and you don’t understand what I’m talking about. So it’s going to be short and sweet this week – with “Namaste” Analysis tonight, and “He’s Our You” Preview tomorrow.


Take a deep breath, here comes the fastest episode analysis of the year…


Ethan. We learned this week that Ethan Rom is the potentially-miracle baby love-child of Amy and Horace Goodspeed. Why the different last name? How did he survive the Purge? Ethan would have been 15 at the time of the Purge – so it’s not as though the Others took him away at that time and raised him as one of their own (“Raised by an Other”, in your face Aaron!) – by that time, he would have probably been well on his way to becoming a card-carrying Dharmite, and probably would not play friendly with Ben and Alpert – who killed his parents.


This must mean one of two things:

  1. He was taken away from Amy and Horace well before the Purge, and raised as “Ethan Rom” among the Others, explaining how he survived it. We’ve already seen Horace give up Paul’s body to keep the “truce” with the Others – what if they break it again and this time the cost is much steeper – like giving over Horace’s first born son? This theory definitely has a Biblical / Mythological feel to it, which would fit in with Lost.
  2. He became a Rebel Dharmite with Ben, and believed so strongly in their purpose that he was cool with killing his mother and father, along with a host of other innocent people. Lest we forget that Ethan was the same guy who hung Charlie, probably killed Scott, and threatened numerous other Survivors in Season One… plus he would have been in that rebellious teenage stage at the time.


This is one of those rare situations where I like both of my theories (as opposed to most of the time, when I like neither), but I’m not sure which is more likely. But depending on which comes true, it will definitely help shape just how “good” or “evil” Ethan Rom really was.


Faraday. We also learned this week why Faraday has been strangely absent among the scenes of our Dharma Survivors. After Sawyer briefly explained the “rules” about being 30 years in the past to Jack, Jack asked, "Faraday’s here?" to which Sawyer responded, "Not anymore."


Personally, I took this comment quite literally – like Faraday had left the other Survivors and Dharma. Others took it to mean that Faraday had mentally left the Survivors – reverting back to the crazytown state we saw him when we were first introduced to his weeping character in Season Four.


To me, it looked like the Faraday we saw at the start of the season, inside the Orchid, was altogether “there” and hatching some mischievous plan – not a basket case needing someone to help take care of him. I also think having Faraday leave Dharma provides him with a chance to interact with the Others, and give the audience a chance to learn a little bit more about them, their motives for carrying out the Purge, the nature of the truce, etc. We need at least one of our characters to interact with them to pull these answers out, why not make it Faraday, who might happen to be the child of two current / former Others in Ms. Hawking and Charles Widmore?


This would also keep Faraday as a “wild card” – who might be accidentally bringing about the end of the world in his efforts to save Charlotte… or might be the hero saving all our Survivors and sending them back to their proper time through his actions at the Orchid. I like keeping these options available!


Radzinsky. I think the biggest question from our introduction to Radzinsky this episode is “why was he so concerned that Sayid – who he believes to be an Other – saw his plans for the Swan?” It’s pretty clear that Dharma building the Swan Station is either in violation of the truce between Dharma and the Others, or that it is going to cause some sort of negative impact on the Others – which would explain why Radzinsky would be so concerned with keeping it secret.



If it was as simple as a violation of a truce about where Dharma was allowed on the Island, these fears would seem pretty silly. I think it would be obvious the Swan Station was being built when they excavated the land and actually, you know, BUILT IT. It’s not as though that thing would spring up overnight. It would require a lot of manpower, a lot of hours, and make a lot of noise to create that concrete underground fortress we all knew and loved. So that doesn’t make a lot of sense.


The other option would be that the creation of the Swan would be a “bad thing” to the Others. Some have come up with some pretty wacky theories about the Swan Station being used to keep the Island from moving by releasing the Island’s “unique electromagnetic energy” every 108 minutes – which would be a “good thing” to Dharma (easy trips to and from the Island), but a “bad thing” to the Others (easier for the Island to be found by no good outsiders). The only problem with this is that according to Pierre Chang (as Marvin Candle), it wasn’t until after “The Incident” that the 108 Numbers became necessary – and “The Incident” didn’t occur until after the Swan was built and operational. Unless Dharma was really forward-thinking, this doesn’t seem to make sense either.


But if you keep in mind the original aim of the Swan Station – “to study the unique electromagnetic fluctuations” of the Island, you can begin to formulate a theory where Dharma used the Swan Station to get close to the gooey core of the Island – which might have been the key to understanding what it was, how it worked, and some other very fundamental things about the Island… things that the Others might take as very secret, important, and sacred. If Dharma was able to “figure out” these powers, they might have been able to “harness” them – for good or evil – and you could see how that would be something the Others would be against. Therefore, even though it was built on “their side” of the Island, if Dharma found out about it – they would almost certainly do everything they could to stop it from being built… which would explain the secrecy.


Or, maybe Radzinsky was just uber-paranoid about stuff and concerned about copyright infringement on his sweet designs.


Ben. I think it was pretty obvious that when Ben heard there was an Other being held in the cell underneath the Barracks, he put himself in a situation to interact with that mysterious Other – the question is whether this was his first contact with a “hostile”, or if he had already been in contact with Richard Alpert at this point.


Depending on the timeline, this interaction could lead to two very different repercussions.

  1. If it’s Ben’s first meeting with an Other, it could have taught Ben that there was nothing to fear about them, giving him the confidence to venture out beyond the Sonic Pylons and learn more about them. It’s Sayid’s fault that Ben turned into the creeptastic adult we all know and fear!
  2. If Ben has already been in contact with Richard, things get a lot more interesting. Then, he could be acting as a spy for the Others – reporting back to Richard about their “fellow Other” that has been captured, working to help him escape, and learning the truth – that Sayid is not an Other at all.


But for me, here’s the most important thing – I think we’re close to finally having the confirmation we needed that the Others knew a hell of a lot about our Survivors before they arrived on the Island. We now know that Ben met Sayid and Alpert met Locke / Sawyer (and talked to them about time travel). While they might not have enough to go on to actually work up the full life histories of these characters (yet – aside from Locke), they have about 30 years until they come back to the Island with the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, which is plenty of time to start researching EVERYTHING about them.


How was Ben seemingly always one step ahead of our characters? Because he had full files about some of them before they ever arrived on the Island – because he knew they would eventually be there (especially true of Locke, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Juliet – who just conveniently happen to be the characters he has “messed with” the most over the years). While he didn’t know exactly when or how they would arrive, he knew they would eventually get there – which is why he quickly sent out Ethan and Goodwin to work up “lists” of the people who survived the Oceanic 815 crash. He probably did something similar each time ANYTHING crashed on the Island. He was waiting for them.


Runway. Of course, the one thing this prior knowledge doesn’t confirm is how the Others knew to start building a runway in 2004 in preparation for a plane to crash-land there in 2008. We have yet to see any proof that the Others themselves were able to hop around in time at ease – and things like Alpert being surprised and skeptical when Locke starts talking about time travel makes me think they never did. Was this a command of Jacob? Were the Others just planning on using a plane to go to and from the Island instead of the submarine? Or was it just a lucky coincidence / fate?


Barracks. One item that seems to be confusing a lot of people (and making them question Faraday’s claims of “whatever happened, happened”) is that the buildings that Sun and Frank entered on the Main Island were way more derelict and boarded up than they were in 2004 (when Locke and Co. were living there), even though they are in 2008. But here’s the thing – those weren’t the Barracks. They were the “Processing Center”.


The Dharma Barracks are more in the “center” of the Island, whereas the Processing Center is near the shore. Aside from flashbacks we saw in Ben’s flashbacks, I don’t think our Survivors have ever explored the Processing Center – which means it could have fallen into shambles after the Purge, hiding those pictures of our Survivors in 1977 all these years… or maybe the Others found those as well at some point, which helped them do some research on our Survivors.


At any rate, I don’t think it proves that Sun and Frank are in a “new timeline”, or that the past has changed – simply that up until this point, everything was taking place at the Barracks, not the Processing Center.


Sun. When Christian tells Sun “I'm sorry, but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you." I instantly thought it was some type of journey to reunite with her friends… but why would Christian Shephard care about helping Sun out like that? Rather, I think this phrase means something far more cryptic – like Sun needs to do “her part” to help bring the Survivors back to 2008 (in preparation for the “battle for the Island”). I still stand by my belief that there will be only one more time jump on Lost – and it will involve everyone from 1977 coming back to the present. So to have Sun jumping around in time seems superfluous at this point.


Numbers. If you noticed, when the Ajira 316 co-pilot tried to place a mayday call, he briefly hears the Numbers broadcasting… even though in 2008, not only have the Numbers been replaced by CFL’s distress signal, but that was shut off by Jack in the Season Three finale. So what gives? I think it’s the same thing that happened with Sayid and Hurley picked up the “old time radio station” on the beach. The unique magnetic properties of the Island make radio signals bounce around and get “stuck” around the Island, making it possible to pick up things that haven’t been broadcast for years.


Creepy Girl. Finally, we have the mystery girl in the background of the Processing Station building that Sun, Frank, and Christian were in. On first glance, she looked like a blonde (Claire!). Upon further review, she seems a little “bigger” than Claire, and the hair might be more reddish than blonde (Charlotte!). While Claire would make sense – since we’ve seen her hanging with Christian in old cabins before, Charlotte’s inclusion would seem to give legs to the theory that “dead people on the Island come back as creepy spirits.” Although, that doesn’t explain why we don’t also see any of our other deceased Survivors walking around on the Island, so I don’t know that I’m sold on that one either… and it doesn’t actually look like either person.


(Or maybe this is finally a case of us catching a “production mistake” and that was just somebody in the shot that shouldn’t have been. This is by far the easiest and most boring explanation, but it’s always an option given the rushed nature of shooting Lost.)


…and breathe.


Okay, sorry for the craptasticly rushed analysis. But it’s better than nothing, right?


Until tomorrow’s episode preview…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Namaste" Instant Reactions!

Brian's One Word Review: Changes.

In some ways the storylines in this episode were fairly predicatable, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable to watch them unfold. It's a testament to the writers that they took the time to setup such awesome storylines that even though I pretty much guessed the direction this episode would go, I was still giddy in watching it unfold. Jack, Kate, and Hurley going through the enormous WTF of joining the Dharma Initiative? Totally awesome and surreal. They could have had twice as many scenes involving them going through the initiation process, and I think we all would have eaten it up and begged for more.

But the big theme of the episode is definitely "change". This week, Jack and Kate found out "you can't go home again". Three years have passed, things have changed. Sawyer is now in charge (and totally badass in being the leader). Jack has been relegated to following his lead, instead of being the defacto leader of the group. It seems like Jack and Kate thought that they could fall back into the same realtionships with Sawyer and Juliet that they had before they left, only to find that they had moved on... and unlike the Oceanic Six - have to some degree been totally happy in doing so on the Island.

In some ways, the return of the Oceanic Six is kinda ruining the party for our Skipping Survivors. Irony.

So what did we learn?

  • Caesar and Ilana do not know each other before the crash. I had some previous theories about them being Outcast Others, but they both seem to be clueless about what is going on, and don't seem to know each other. Either they're putting on a great show, or they are simply innocent people caught up in this mess.
  • We confirmed that Sun, Locke, Ben, and Frank didn't skip back to 1977 with the rest of the Oceanic Five... but why? It's easy to come up with excuses for why Ben, Locke, or Frank wouldn't have been included - but Sun is basically in the exact same mold as Sayid, Jack, Kate, and Hurley. The only thing I can think of (aside from making a good story about lovers being separated by time) is that she is somehow "changed" or "dirty" from working with Widmore off-Island. I don't have the theory fleshed out yet, but it seems like that's the only thing that separates her from the rest.
  • It turns out we do know the baby delivered last episode - it's none other than Ethan Rom! This is the first confirmed non-Ben Dharmite that survived the Purge on the Island. He would have been fairly young at the time, so maybe the Others did spare any Dharma youth in the Purge?
  • The good news is that Sun and Frank's Outrigger is at the dock near the Barracks, NOT at the Survivor's Beach - so it doesn't seem like they are likely candidates to get shot by Juliet in the skip earlier this season.
  • This episode touched on a question I didn't really think about until now - but what has happened on the Island from 2005-2008? None of our Survivors were there, so you would think that the Others would have just been living drama-free during this timeframe... but clearly not in the Barracks, which appear to now be home to Jacob-Christian, Smokey (!), and haven't been lived in for quite some time. 
  • It seems like Christian is going to "send" Sun back to 1977 with her friends - or use her to help get our Survivors back to 2008, maybe? The real irony would be if she jumped back to 1977 while Jin jumped forward to 2008... and once again they are separated by 30 years. If I was writing Lost, I would totally go for this story - but then again, I'm cruel.
  • FARADAY IS ON THE LAMB. In the past month, I went from theorizing that Faraday would be a bad guy (inadvertently bringing about the end of the world in trying to save Charlotte) to being a good guy (using the Orchid to cause "the Incident" to get our Survivors back to 2008), but with Sawyer's comment this week, I'm back to the FARADAY IS DANGEROUS side of the argument. It'll probably change next week, but for now, I want to know where the hell he is, and what the hell he has been up to.
  • Young Ben obviously had some interest in the Others, volunteering to bring Sayid food, hoping to get some information about the Others. He's obviously a disinfranchished youth rebelling against Dharma society - Ben is the original Rebel Dharmite! Teenagers..
  • Was that Claire I saw over Sun's shoulder after she was looking at the Dharma Picture from 1977? There was definitely someone else in the cabin with Christian... 

Okay - I think that's enough of the highlights for now. Time to focus on watching 24 hours of NCAA basketball over the next two days.