Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Midside: S4E01 The Beginning of the End

A cynical fan might say that the title of the season four premiere of LOST is indeed true. “LOST is dying!” he would exclaim. “It has become a shell of itself. It’s like Scrubs in its later seasons! No one cares about JD anymore!” From the heights of the internets (or is it depths?), he would bellow his call in hopes that someone heard it and bestowed upon him the attention he so obviously deserved.

I am no such fan. I love LOST and always will, no matter what. Well, maybe if they kill Sawyer for some reason stupid reason like saving squirrels, or if they completely vindicate Jack, I’ll conjure some contempt for the show. However, those events will never happen. The writers have already proven they are way too skilled to do something so stupid (or something even close to that stupid). Instead, my love for LOST remains and we journey on into The Midside.

I’m not saying this episode was perfect. It was a bit of a disappointment from the first hour on. The commercials led me to believe the episode would be two hours. Rather, we were greeted with a recrap (that I admittedly didn’t watch) and a single hour episode. A few of the characterizations also felt a bit off. Truthfully though, it’s impossible to know whether I thought these things because I’ve built the return of LOST up in my mind or because I’ve been removed from it for so long or some other such reason. After all, this show is meant to be watched in rapid succession. It’s why anyone who borrows my DVDs instantly becomes hooked. Which reminds me, I am about to convert another fan and spread the disease even further here. Regardless of any shortcomings, LOST is always of strong quality and there is always something to discuss. And discuss is what we do here in The Midside.

It’s good to be back.

MAYBE IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ANSWERS. MAYBE IT’S ABOUT THE CHARACTERS.

The most memorable part of this episode’s flash forward is arguably the opening to it. There were about three twists in the opening few minutes. First, we were lead to believe the episode was opening on the island through a close up shot of a pile of fruit (coconuts?). Then, a Dukes of Hazzard-esque car busted through, literally smashing our initial assumption of the setting. Then, as the car sped off, the picture shifted to a man’s hand pouring juice. Who is it? Who is it! Oh, he’s pouring vodka. It must be Jack. A pan up revealed the guess to be true and a breath is let out. Another season, another Jack beginning, which presumably needs another Jack ending. But wait! Jack looked back at the TV and the camera pushed in. The car, the car is driven by the main character. The car is stopped and the man climbed out, leading with his pudgy hands. There is only one man who could have such pudgy hands and his curly hair followed, Hugo “Hurley” Reyes.

The most intriguing part of the episode was that getting off the island also did not help alleviate Hurley’s problems. In fact, that series of events apparently had the exact same effect on Hurley that it did on Jack. It exacerbated his faults. Once again, Hurley is having visions of people who aren’t really there (and aren’t even really alive). He even ended up back in the same asylum. Although, I do have to admit, I was disappointed that Leonard was no longer to play Connect Four with him. I wonder if we’ll ever find out about him or if we’re just supposed to assume that he died while locked up. I certainly don’t think he was ever healed. The other option, of course, is that he was acting, and I don’t even want to address that option. It opens up way too doors.

Here is the first point where I think the episode faltered a bit. Ok, Hurley was off the island and he was crazy. Got it. What else was there in the flash forward? I don’t think there was anything. I mean, there were certainly a lot of expositional mystery things. A lot of new questions were raised (I’ll address those questions later). But in the way of character arc and single shot story development, the flash forward was sorely lacking. Then again, the same could be said of last year’s season premiere as well. Ok, Jack is a drunk and doesn’t like his Dad. Got it. The true strength of that episode wasn’t revealed until last year’s season finale and the mirror images between the two could be observed. I’d say the same possibility exists for this episode as well, but the writers’ strike has severely inhibited my ability to look at anything past the eight episodes that have already been filmed.

The one other interesting element of Hurley’s flash forward was his apparent inability to let Charlie’s death go. I understand that Charlie was his closest friend on the island to die. Well, as I write that sentence I recall and immediately debate my own claim. Was Hurley closer to Libby or Charlie? Regardless of that answer, my point becomes even stronger. Why was Hurley not able to get past Charlie’s death? Why was it so significant? My initial answer to that question is that his death was the event that cause the infamous split which is the event Hurley attributes his guilt to, as evidenced by his apology to Jack on the basketball court. I’d also be willing to be it’s the event that Jack attributes his guilt to as well. Which leads me to believe John Locke is in the coffin. Alright, I’m going to end this paragraph and section before it degenerates into the wild speculation that is currently flashing through my brain.

THE REST OF THE TRIBE

This episode felt like one where the writers were trying to fit every character in that they possibly good. In that way, it felt more like a season finale than a season premiere. Season finales are all about letting everyone see their favorite character before the show takes a summer long break, or, in LOST’s case, an even longer break. So, because of the extra long break, the writers may have felt obligated to give everyone a little camera time. Well, everyone except Alex and Karl that is. I don’t even think they had one line. It sucks if you’re a fan of them.

Besides the break, I understand why every character made an appearance. The writers needed to explain why each person chose the side they did. But, I still don’t even remember what side everyone took. Most notably, I have no recollection of Desmond choosing a side or being shown on a side the way Sayid was. Instinctively though, I would have to guess that he was on Locke’s side, considering the whole “Not Penny’s Boat” thing. Although, someone is going to have to explain to me why the people not being sent by Penny automatically makes them evil. Is it because Naomi had a copy of Catch 22 with a picture of Desmond and Penny in it? Couldn’t there have been any number of reasons she had that picture? What if she was personally hired by Penny and Penny had no idea she was on her way to an island to find Desmond? What if she coincidentally found the book with the picture somewhere or just the picture somewhere? I mean, come on, we’re watching LOST.

Sawyer was a little too nice in this episode. What was with his consoling of Hurley? The only person he has ever consoled is Kate. Now all of a sudden he cares about other people? Well, I guess he has always cared about everyone, and Hurley is the closest thing he has to a best friend on the island. I can understand why he acted the way he did. He has been trying to reach out to people since Ana Lucia died really. I guess what was missing was his biting sarcasm and aggressive tone. I really hope he doesn’t become the Ethan or Goodwin of Locke’s band of Others.

Jack was up to his usual antics. The guy has really gone off the deep end completely. My favorite Jack-ism of the night is how he made Rousseau lead Ben around on a leash because he doesn’t trust Ben with anyone but himself. Yes Jack, you’re the only one on the entire island who knows that Ben is a manipulative douchebag and can resist him. Speaking of manipulative douchebags, it’s a bit of a shock to me that Jack was going to shoot Locke so easily, but it was hilarious that the gun wasn’t loading. Everyone kept one-upping Jack in this episode.

Ben was by far the funniest character of the episode. I kind of like him when he’s tied up and can’t cause any harm. The situation allows him to express his intelligence without any danger of him using it to take over the world. Really, he just became the role I’ve wanted to have for all of LOST. He followed Jack around and mocked all the stupid things the doctor said and did. I’m not saying Ben is a good leader or someone I would follow, but he knows why Jack sucks. Unfortunately, Ben chose Locke’s side, so this new dynamic with Jack will seemingly disappear. Although, I have to admit, I am most interested in the Ben-Rousseau dynamic. They are like the incredibly dysfunctional parents of Alex. Their relationship has the potential for so much awesomeness.

While I’m considering characters that seemed a bit off, what was the deal with Kate? Yes, she controlled Jack most of the episode and finally embarrassed him like he so deserves for perpetually treating her like crap, but she treated Naomi a little too kindly, if you ask me, which you are because you’re reading this column. Maybe it’s just because she wants off the island ASAP. I don’t know. That explanation is probably sufficient. I guess something about that scene didn’t ring true to me. Maybe it was just the fact that Naomi died for a second time. I will say the following though: this episode was much better on a second viewing and gets a lot better the more I think about it.

A bunch of other characters made appearances as well. Jin and Sun renewed their loved. Rose and Bernard remained the sweet old couple. Claire, of course, played an important role in the mourning over Charlie’s death, which, by the way, I thought was handled very well. I thought it was probably the best part about the episode. Heck, Charlie even made an appearance, and, I have to say, he was much more badass than he ever was when he was alive. If I knew that dying was all it took for me to like him, I would have been advocating his demise much earlier in the series than when the rumors began last season. Hopefully, and I can’t even believe I’m writing this statement, we’ll see more of him in the remaining episodes of the series. Come on, you know it’ll happen. We’re guaranteed to see Boone again now too.

LOSTOLOGY

Speaking of seeing the dead again, my inclination is that Jacob takes over dead bodies on the island and acts as the people in order to manipulate the still living. Ms. Hawking from Desmond’s time travel experience may even be a dead old woman. Think about it. Locke saw Boone in his vision question. Jack’s dad walked around in White Rabbit all the way back in season one. The location of Jack’s dad’s body is one of the greatest mysteries of the show and it may have been solved, which leads me to my conclusion that Jacob controls dead bodies. Look carefully at the guest stars for this episode. John Terry is listed. Now, look closely at the guy sitting in the chair in Jacob’s house. It was clearly John Terry. Do I believe that Jack’s dad is Jacob? No. I can’t. It would make little sense. It makes much more sense that Jacob is controlling Jack’s dad’s body. As for the eye that popped up and viewed Hurley through the hole in Jacob’s door, it was probably Locke. I’d imagine that after Walt found him (hmm), he went back to Jacob’s and became the new Ben.

What’s most interesting to me in the mythology of LOST in this episode is the introduction of the phrase “The Oceanic Six”. Who are they? What assumptions are the writers trying to make us make regarding who gets off the island? The most obvious is that only six people get off the island. I would like to caution away from that assumption. Desmond wasn’t on the plane. Juliet wasn’t on the plane. Then again, the media is incredibly and sensationalistic and loves to give nicknames for people even if they don’t make sense, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone not from the flight gets off the island and they get roped into “The Oceanic Six” simply because the media is filled with dumbasses. But, for the record, I think “The Oceanic Six” will be Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, and Sun, but Desmond and Juliet will also get off the island. I’m not so sure about the other original Others, but I would not be surprised to see Alex and Karl leave either. The rest of them are at the temple, so I’ll leave them be for now.

The other looming question seems to revolve around the secret. What is it? Why does it drive Hurley to guilt and inevitably Jack? The initial reaction seems to be that only The Oceanic Six survived. However, two comments fly in the face of that assumption. First off, the creepy black guy who visited Hurley asked if they were safe or something. I think they’re definitely still alive. Second off, Charlie told Hurley he knew what he had to do to help them. The question now becomes: who are they? I think they are the people who stayed on the island and they’re trying to accomplish something, who knows what it is. Jacob is trying to get everyone back to the island, and that creepy black dude is part of an organization that is trying to figure out what the island is (still), maybe the group that Dharma was before Ben killed them all.

The interesting reaction to reconsider with this new knowledge is Kate’s in Through the Looking Glass. It seemed like she didn’t feel guilty about getting off the island and didn’t want to go back. But, in this episode Jack seemed to feel that way too. Will there be a future fast forward where Kate transitions into guilt too? Then again, I don’t think Kate feels guilt or remorse very often. Think of everything she’s done in her life and ask yourself if she’s a person who feels a lot of sympathy. She’s essentially a sociopath…

FREDDY ADIEU

-I was disappointed with The Missing Pieces special feature over the break. Some of it was done okay, but most of it felt cheesy and unnecessary. I enjoyed things like seeing Frogurt (and hope to see him in the series), but didn’t like how the writers tried to use some of the “pieces” to answer dumb challenges by fans who either can’t suspend their disbelief or refuse to in order to seem intelligent or analytical.

-If you haven’t yet, go see Cloverfield. I say this to you because you’re a LOST fan and probably a fan of JJ Abrams. It’s an incredible movie. It’s even written by Drew Goddard who wrote such episodes as Outlaws and The Man Behind the Curtain. It’s LOST-tastic.

-From now on, this column will be cross posted on my blog at http://themidside.blogspot.com. You can also find no-LOST related posts by me in that blog, mainly movie reviews, but a few other topics as well.

It’s nice to be back and, as always, if you disagree with that statement or anything written here remember:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached by email at jmlesniewski@gmail.com.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

And I thought I over-analyzed that show, thanks a lot Justin my mind is now twice as full of Lost theories that I will inevitably be unable to explain as more twists are brought in each week.

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