Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Lost - "Follow the Leader"

Episode Title: "Follow the Leader"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Say hello to the most exciting hyphenated word I've ever written about Lost.... ALPERT-CENTRIC. Aside from "Jacob-centric" or "Vincent-centric", it's probably the most exciting character-centric episode any true Lost fan can imagine. It's easy to get your hopes up and think that this will be the episode that answers all our questions, reveals the true nature of Alpert, and explains what his relationship with Jacob and the Island really are - but keep in mind that we have currently spent almost an entire season with Dharma and yet we still know very little about them or their experiments (kinda like how we spent half of Season Three with the Others but still know very little about them). Those tricky writers have a way of making it seem like it's the perfect opportunity for some reveals only to tip-toe around them, raise new questions, and leave us with just as many questions as when we started. But I rant. Based on this information, the episode title takes on a number of different meanings.


At a literal level, "follow the leader" could simply mean that Jack and Kate are going to follow Alpert. Last week ended with Faraday asking about the location of the Jughead - so it seems logical that if Jack and Kate are going to continue his "mission" (more on this later), they'll need Ellie or Alpert to lead them to the Jughead. Based on the episode preview, it sure does look like the place Alpert is going to lead them is right into the Temple...




Ever since we were introduced to the Jughead, the overwhelmingly popular theory about where the Others buried it was inside the Swan Hatch (since it had thick walls of concrete a la Chernobyl). The theory goes that Dharma, in their effort to build the Swan Hatch, accidentally got too close to the Jughead, which caused the Incident, made it necessary for the 108 Button, which led to Oceanic 815 crashing, etc, etc. However, that sure does look like a big veiled container sitting inside the Temple in the episode preview, doesn't it? If this is the case, it makes one wonder, why in the world would the Others put a nuclear bomb inside what appears to be their most "sacred" place on the Island? Wouldn't you dig a big hole and dump it in a crappy corner of the Island? I suppose the blast might be big enough to destroy the whole Island no matter where it was stored - but it seems more likely that someone could bump into it / knock it over / spill a drink on it sitting inside the Temple - where we know at least SOME others (like Alpert) visit once in a while, as opposed to burying it deep underground where no one would encounter it (unless they were digging a huge Dharma Swan Station there).


My best guess is that the Others didn't really have ready access to the "lead and concrete" Faraday told Young Ellie Hawking to use in sealing up the Jughead. Maybe the closest thing they had was the thick stone walls and deep cavern of the Temple, so they made the best of what's around. Or they were just no good lazy hippie slackers who thought it would be way easier to use a pre-existing hole than to dig a new one.


Back to the episode title. Even though this week is Alpert-centric (I can't even write that without getting excited!), "Follow the Leader" raises the question of "who is the actual leader of the Others"? Up until this point, we've all been under the assumption that although he's seemingly all-knowing and non-aging, Alpert is NOT the leader of the Others. He's the guy that finds the Dali Llama, not the Dali Llama himself. Which brings us to the "deeper" meaning portion of the program.


Just for fun, I Googled the phrase "follow the leader", which of course led me to a Wikipedia entry about it. This caught my eye:


"Follow the Leader (Game) - First a leader or "head of the line" is chosen, then the children all line up behind the leader. The leader then moves around and all the children have to mimic the leader's actions. Any players who mess up or do not do what the leader does are out of the game. The last person standing other than the leader is now the new leader."


Up until this point, most assume that the "leader of the Island" has been predestined and chosen by the Island well in advance. They're a "chosen one" rather than someone who won an election or overcame some challenge. But in the game Follow the Leader, the leader is chosen by being the last one standing - and one becomes the last one standing by following "the rules" when all others stop doing so. It's easy to see how this could relate to the Others and the Island. In this case, "the rules" are doing what is best for the Island - or being what the Island needs at the time. So in 1970s, when the Island needed a strong presence to deal with Dharma, Charles Widmore was the leader. In the 1990s, when the Island wanted to rid itself of Dharma once and for all, Benjamin Linus was the leader. And in the 2000s, when the Island needed its people to return to their spiritual roots, John Locke was the leader. Perhaps Richard Alpert's job is to keep around those Others who could someday become perspective leaders, and then wait for all but one to eliminate themselves from contention through falling out of line with the aims of the Island.


How about that for a far-fetched way to find deeper meaning with the episode title?


In the end, there are a number of ways to apply this episode title to the episode.


Over the past few weeks, we have seen there is at least some sort of rift between Alpert and Widmore. This week may feature the Others needing to decide which leader they are going to follow. How about this for a shocking twist? What if Alpert suggests using the Temple to heal Faraday, while Widmore refuses to do so... and this is what leads to him dying for good? That would certainly go a long way in explaining what could drive Hot Eloise Hawking and Baby Faraday off-Island, and explain why they seemingly cut off contact with him. Think about it – Kate was one of two Survivors who saw the Others promise to magically “heal” Young Ben. Upon seeing Daniel being shot, wouldn’t her first reaction be “no big deal, let’s get Alpert to take his innocence and it’ll all work out”? Having Widmore step in and refuse to allow it would make the audience absolutely hate him – which just makes it even more interesting if his character steps in as a “hero” to help save the Island next season. Keep blurring that line between good and evil, Lost writers!


On the other hand, it seems as though there's some debate between Jack and Kate on how to deal with Faraday's plan to change the past - and with it, their future. We may see the other Survivors meet up with Jack and Kate and need to help decide what to do - which leader to follow. In 2008, we've also got two leadership titles up for grabs. It seems that we're long overdue for Locke and Ben to reunite with the Others, which may finally determine if Locke is their true new leader, or if it was all a trick as Ben returns to the role. Lastly, we might even get a hint at who the leader of the Shadow of the Statue is. Is it a character we already know? A new character? Or are they actually not a third party, but just a part of some existing group on the Island?


As you can see, there are a number of battles for leadership on the Island - and even more people who are going to have to choose who to follow.


...or maybe Hurley will just be listening to a Korn CD in one scene, and that's the explanation for the episode title.


Guest Stars: Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Francois Chau as Dr. Pierre Chang, Doug Hutchison as Horace Goodspeed, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Eric Lange as Radzinsky, David S. Lee as younger Charles Widmore, Alice Evans as younger Eloise Hawking, Leslie Ishii as Lara, Sebastian Siegel as Erik, Kevin Chapman as Mitch, Elisabeth Blake as Vanessa, William Makozak as Captain Bird, Victoria Goring as mother and Maya Henssens as young girl.


Guest Star Breakdown: We’ve got the usual 1977 suspects again this week – Alpert (the star of the week), Mr. and Mrs. Chang (maybe featuring their “breakup” as Chang forces her off-Island?) Goodspeed, Phil, Radzinsky (holding our Survivors hostage), and Young Widmore, Hot Eloise, and Erik (for the Others portion of the storyline). The only other guest stars are “Mitch”, “Vanessa”, “Captain Bird”, “Mother”, and “Young Girl” – none of those names mean a lot to me, and Google Image Searching their names doesn’t reveal any huge giveaways (like looking like any other characters).


Worst Guest Star Breakdown ever!


Episode Description: Jack and Kate find themselves at odds over the direction to take to save their fellow island survivors, Locke further solidifies his stance as leader of "The Others," and Sawyer and Juliet come under scrutiny from the Dharma Initiative.


Episode Breakdown: Not a lot of huge reveals here either. It looks like Jack and Kate will indeed take opposing sides in the argument over whether to try and carry out Faraday’s plan to change the past – but the funny thing here is that the preview makes it look like Jack will be the one wanting to change the past and undo everything that happened over the past four years. Really? Isn’t this the same character who was a believer in a laissez-faire style of things like three episodes ago? Wanting to sit back and let the Island do whatever is supposed to happen? Now he’s trying to mess with the space-time continuum to undo the past, even though that past included repeated hookups with Hot Kate? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Granted, Jack’s life was sucking pretty hard before he came back to the Island – but it wasn’t exactly awesome back in 2004 either. I’m curious to see how he rationalizes his decision on this one.


In the end, again – based on the episode preview, it looks like Jack either wins the argument, or just marches off on his own and decides he’s going to do it regardless of if Kate agrees or not. Oh Jack, how I’ve missed your strong but often illogical leadership skills!


The more interesting part of the preview for me is the reference to Locke solidifying his stance as “leader of the Others”. Will they welcome him back with open arms? Will they freak out when they see that Ben is with them? Will they have any idea how to get our other Survivors back to 2008? Will they know about the forthcoming Shadow of the Statue threat? Will we learn what they’ve been doing for the past three years? There’s a lot of questions – and remember, we have absolutely no idea what has been going on with the Others from 2005 (when our Survivors started skipping) to 2008 (when Ajira 316 crashed on Alcatraz).



Lastly, we have Sawyer and Juliet being captured by the Others. Their situation would look pretty grim – and they would be almost wholly relying on the other Survivors to rescue them and get them back to 2008 – if it weren’t for the fact that most members of Dharma seem to be bumbling idiots. Honestly, where are all the smart scientists hiding that are carrying out these super advanced experiments on the Island? Why do they surround themselves with pretty much anyone they can find willing to hop on a mysterious submarine and end up on a mysterious Island? Couldn’t they be pitching some of the super benefits of the Island to get the best and the brightest?


As I said before, if this season marks the end of our insight into Dharma, I’m leaving it disappointed. I wanted more explanation about what drew them to the Island, what each station was used for, what they were hoping to accomplish with their experiments, and what their end-game goal was. Instead, we got to know characters like Phil, Radzinsky, and Goodspeed a little better – but none of them really gave us any worthwhile information.


Long story short – expect Sawyer and Juliet to be freed before episode end.


…and that’s all I’ve got. Logic tells us that this week should be an insanely awesome episode (did I mention ALPERT-CENTRIC?!?), but I’ll try not to overhype it.


One last note – right before Lost, ABC will be airing what might as well be the Series Finale of “Scrubs”, one of the great underrated shows of this era. While there is a chance that ABC will spin it off with different characters next season, this is the end of Scrubs as we know it. Thinking back over the past eight years, I have nothing but fond memories of this quirky show. Although some of the seasons have been uneven – each has brought at least one or two episodes that had me laughing out loud, tearing up, and pondering the nature of life and death. In the end, there has perhaps never been a better series that brought together the fundamentals of comedy and drama than Scrubs. It will sorely be missed. You owe it to yourself to tune into Lost an hour early tomorrow night to catch Scrubs as an appetizer – but fair warning, you may find yourself so choked up once it is over, it may be hard to focus on Lost.


I know I will.


In Summary:


The Saddest Moment Ever:


Will Be Played at My Funeral:






Anonymous said...

I only discovered Scrubs this past year and watched the entire series so I could watch this final season. It is indeed a brilliant and funny show, and has very high rewatchability value.

But back to Lost:
I think the Shadow of the Statue people have to be the opposing group for next season. We don't have much time this season, and I'd think that opposing group would have to be introduced by the time the season ends.

TheycallmeVic said...

Brian, do you listen to the podcasts from the producers?
Just wondering, because they always drop hints in there.

Unknown said...

Nuclear bomb in a temple? Looks like they're going... beneath the planet of the apes!

glf said...

Wow - is that Tom Selleck there in front of Locke?
So the Others have got Magnum PI in to investigate.... LOL (at my own lame joke but hey time for end of season silliness)....

Christian said...

A lot of people are saying that it's Alpert-centric, but does anyone actually have a credible source for this? Judeing from the latest podcast, it sounded like it was going to be Locke-centric.

Dharma Mayonnaise said...

Victor: yeah the podcast has lots of hints. Actually,. they dropped a pretty significant time-travelling information bomb this week but I won’t say it hear in case some of you consider it a spoiler. It may be them leading us on but it could be a pretty significant explanation regarding “whatever happens happens” vs being able to change the past…

Brian, reading your Follow the Leader game, I immediately thought of Ben and Locke and how he has to follow whatever John tells him (this was briefly hinted at as well in the podcast).

jj said...

I watch Scrubs every evening on Comedy Central. I'll be sharing your tears tonight.

Joyce Saenz Harris said...

"Lastly, we have Sawyer and Juliet being captured by the Others."

Brian, James and Juliet aren't captured by the Others; they are detained and questioned (rather brutally) by their fellow Dharmaites, led by Radzinsky. According to ABC's sneak-peek videos for "Follow the Leader," however, it appears we'll see Jack and Kate being captured by the Others, led by Charles Widmore.

Also, I think "Follow the Leader" refers to Richard Alpert following whoever is the Island's leader at a given time.

Chris DZ said...

Quick sidebar:


You know you are a LOST fan when you read a news story like that and think, "self-healing concrete developed in Ann Arbor? must be Dharma!"

Erin Blair Gobin said...

Does it bother anyone else that Faraday looks NOTHING like Eloise or Widmore? Seems like he should be a beefy blonde guy, not a scrawny brunette.

And Joyce, could you refrain from posting spoilers? Please?

That's all I have to say for now!

Joyce Saenz Harris said...

Sorry, Erin!

jack said...

The LOST podcasts, i find, can be tedious with C&L's humor, etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jack. While they can offer insights, I can't stand the podcasts. For such talented writers, they really aren't funny at all.

Dharma Mayonnaise said...

Really? I find them entertaining. Not laugh out loud funny but engaging. There is a lot of (mostly self-depricating) banter/humour which I think is just a way to not answer questions (which may be the bit that annoys you two) but I usually feel like there's enough answers to keep it informative.

Plus they seem like genuine and interesting guys so I actually look forward to the podcast. I'd recommend people giving it a shot anyway.

jack said...

Don't get me wrong...I admire these guys in how they handle most of the shows affairs. However personally, I lack the temperment to spend additional time to view podcats to hear their roundabout ways of vaguely giving clues to questions. Their levity in general is cool (ie; when they do the Jimmy Kimmel bits) but I'd strongly prefer concise substance personally.

Andrew Steger said...

My theory. Faraday is Jacob. He's been telling the others what to do because he knew what was going to happen.

Andre said...

Great explinatiton of the title. And all this time I thought it was an Eric B and Rakim reference.

I was hoping they'd show up on the beach and perform like some surf band in a 1960s comedy.

Andre said...

Great explinatiton of the title. And all this time I thought it was an Eric B and Rakim reference.

I was hoping they'd show up on the beach and perform like some surf band in a 1960s comedy.