Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Midside: S4E06 The Other Woman

Life is tough. It really is. Or, at least it’s hard out there for a LOST fan. One week, you’re given this supremely magnificent episode, fast paced and full of revelations and romance, and the next everything is slowed down on you. If you’ll bear with another one of my sports metaphors, it would be like your team playing the undefeated Colts one week and facing off against the always tough opponent “Bye” the next week. You face the emotional invest of trying to end your heated rival’s dreams of an undefeated next season and the emotional lack of investment of playing no game at all the next week. What do you even do with your time off? Do you watch other games? Do you speculate about the last game? Do you watch your DVDs of past Super Bowl championships?

Fortunately, we didn’t have a complete bye week. No, thanks to the strike we’ll have an entire bye month later on. However, for this week we did have another episode. The problem is that I’m not really sure if there’s much to talk about. I don’t think I can stretch an entire column out of it. So, where does this episode rank amongst the episodes so far this season? I refuse to answer that question. I hate rankings of unquantifiable concepts such as “Best Team Ever” or “Best Episode of the Season”. The more important question is: Was it a good episode?

The answer is simple. Yes. So how am I going to stretch a paragraph out of this explanation? The same way I’m going to stretch an entire column out of this episode.

I’m going to use my mad graduate school skills to pick part the context surrounding the episode in order to help you at least understand the steps it takes to reaching that point of view (if not agree with me). Essentially, I return to the main statement I used a few weeks ago.

We’re still watching LOST. This episode was still a small part of an overarching serialized story. It still necessitates our prior knowledge of the characters and the story. More importantly, it still has the same high quality of production that LOST always has. An episode isn’t scripted lightly. A scene isn’t filmed haphazardly. A lot of time and effort go into any single episode of LOST. And the quality shines through, to such an extent that we can sense when the quality is off. And that we can even differentiate between the ups and downs demonstrates that not only is this show pushed by all of us associated with it (starting with the producers and trickling down to us) to be as good as it can be, but that this show has turned us into distinguishing minds. Sure, a program like LOST is already going to attract the discerning viewer (such as myself). However, the fact that after an episode airs, you can almost hear a collective groan from the fanbase demonstrates that everyone who watches the show has begun to indulge in that sort of thought. And that fact is the most important thing to remember about LOST.

If an episode was so bad, you wouldn’t be reading about it right now. You wouldn’t have used the wide wide world of web to get wherever you did to partake of these words. Even more strongly, if the episode was that horrific, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Isn’t it weird how I can use both the present tense for you reading something and me writing that same something in the same paragraph? If the episode that horrific, it would be like my friend RJ said, “Ok, next episode.” Ok, so maybe to him it was that horrific, but to me, it wasn’t. There are still things for me to write about. I still want to put ideas and characters in context of one another. If not for my own enjoyment, but because I know I have at least one fan out there. Besides, it’s like RJ would also say, I have to maintain my LOST street cred. I am an FHM published theorist anyway. Are you?


It feels good to be able to write that subject heading again. I always figured I would be able to. Although, I think pretty early on the writers said that the episodes from now on would be a mix of flashbacks and flashforwards. I was sure some characters, like Ben and Rousseau, would have flashbacks, but Juliet was one of those weird in between characters that I didn’t know what they would do with. Sure, she probably has some flashback stories to tell. Sure they might be interesting, but she’s kind of creeping up to that season three category for some of the original LOSTaways where you just felt they had run out of flashback material. With the shorter seasons (episode wise, especially this season), that probably won’t be a problem though. I would anticipate her episode next season being a flashforward, if there is any type of flashes at all. The dissolution of the flashback/flashfoward storytelling technique was never one I really considered before The Constant, so I’ll leave any detailed thoughts about it out until I have more detailed thoughts. I will leave you with one question though: Don’t the flashes have to stop at some point in order for there to be a satisfying conclusion to the story?

To be honest, I’m not sure what Duncan McLeod would do this week. Sure, he’s a passionate guy and would surely appreciate all the love (or at least love) being tossed around, but I’m not exactly sure how he would feel about essentially being stuck in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. And let’s not fool ourselves, this episode was most definitely LOST’s Anatomy. The only storytelling device that was missing was the shallow narration that disguised itself as deep philosophical pondering. “They say never to lie, cheat, or steal, but then they twist that phrase to say when to do those things. I think that’s what we all do and the secret is knowing when. When do we allow our passion to override our sense of right and wrong so we can steal moments with those we enjoy? I think it’s far too infrequent. Sometimes, you just have to buck the system by saying, ‘Hey world, this is who I want to be with, you all deal with the mess.’ Well, this is who I want to be with and look at the mess it caused.’”

Do you see part of the reason I hate Grey’s Anatomy now? As a joke, I just penned an opening or closing narration monologue like the show would use, and if you didn’t know any better, you could assume that I actually quoted that from the show. Believe me, I would not make myself suffer by sifting through the narrations to find an appropriate on to this episode. Instead, to write it, I thought of the situation, a cheesy cliché that annoys me that applies to it, and used self centered reasoning to explicate an analysis of it. Pretty drab stuff, right? Or maybe, if you love Grey’s Anatomy, I’m just that good of a writer, and now you want to see me transition away from LOST to not only write columns about that craptasterpiece, but episodes. Yeah right, like that outcome is ever going to occur.

When I say this episode was Grey’s Anatomy, I’m referring to the dual layers of the title. You could actually argue that there are three layers to it (which I will demonstrate), but I reject the third. The first layer is the square in Juliet’s flashback. She was the other woman because Goodwin was married. The second layer is in present island time, she was an other and is a woman, thus she is an other woman. The third and final layer is if you believe Jack and Kate are meant to be together, then Juliet is again the other layer. I will address the first two layers in this section and use the next section to discuss the final layer.

Initially, after the episode, I didn’t see the need to give Goodwin a wife. The Juliet and Goodwin thing was setup last season in Juliet’s second flashback, so I didn’t really have a problem with it. That flashback leading into this flashback shows some foresight on the part of the writers (as many parts of LOST do). However, it’s tough to say that the whole wife storyline was part of any forethought by the writers, or they just thought it would add to the episode. The point I’m making is, I could see them completing the script for this episode and then going back and adding Goodwin’s wife to the entire thing. She seemed superfluous, simply added in to create more drama. However, upon further thought, I think she was in the episode to add some negativity to Juliet’s character. With her, Ben would have been the villain of the episode. Instead, I have to temper my sympathy for her because she was having an affair with a married man. So, was the square Grey’s Anatomy-esque? Yes, especially in one particular therapy session scene. However, I can see why the writers did what they did and I did enjoy watching it more than Grey’s Anatomy. I mean, at least in LOST someone ended up dead and someone else ended up threatening someone else.

The second layer is, of course, the way this entire episode positioned Juliet in relevance to Jack. Early in the flashback, Juliet was made very Jack-esque. She was crying in a Dharma lab over her inability to fix the pregnant woman on the island. Then, just to drive the point home, Goodwin swooped in and told her the problem is not her fault, so even though she hasn’t fixed it yet, she hasn’t caused any harm in her trying, which is what Jack always feels, but not succeeding in fixing a problem he didn’t create, he’s causing harm. Juliet felt that same responsibility to fix the world. Interestingly, Goodwin became that character that told her she didn’t have to. That character is one Jack hasn’t met. Most people expect him to fix the world or they ignore him while he tries to. Likewise, in present island time, Juliet has been trying to make the “noble sacrifice” since she fell for Jack. What I mean, in order to protect him, she wouldn’t let herself admit how she felt. How Jack-ian is that action? Ironically, by finally telling Jack, she elicited a classic Jack response, daring the world to tell him he can’t stop things from happening the way they’re supposed to. Damn, Ben’s the bad guy and he’s the good guy and Ben can come find them if he wants to start something. Hey, these people may have gone off the deep end, but at least they’re finally taking a stand.


The question that sits with us after this episode is: Is Juliet a stop measure for Jack the way many people believe Sawyer to be for Kate? Is this storyline just a small part of the overarching great love story of Jack and Kate? The answer is no. Whereas episode like Eggtown lower my faith in the writers, episodes such as this one raise it again. While I will openly admit to having no reaction to the Jack and Juliet kiss (maybe I just don’t believe the guy can truly love or something), the parallel storylines between Jack/Juliet and Kate/Sawyer are undeniable to anyone with half a brain. Now Jack and Kate both have unfinished business on the island to return to. They will without-a-doubt leave the island without proper goodbyes and when they return and see their respective love interests their feelings will come rushing back. Also, it’s impossible to deny how Jack continually walks away from Kate. And these days he’s walking to Juliet. One day Kate will see that she has never been more than an obligation to Jack, a pretty obligation he probably fantasizes about, but an obligation none-the-less. Look at what happened when he found her hurt. He took care of the wound, gathered information, and took off after Juliet. Truth be told, I’m glad Jack finally found someone as crazy as he is. And those of you that love Jack and buy the parallel between him and Juliet need to go back and watch season two, especially if you hated Ana Lucia. They tried to make her a douchebag leader to parallel Jack’s douchebaggery. Believe it.

The script has seemingly finally been flipped on Ben. In the flashback, he seemed like a good guy. He explained the situation regarding the evil Charles Widmore to Locke. But, in the flashback, he was a totally manipulative asshole. Is he could or bad? What about when he was stitching up Sayid in the flashback, was he good or bad? I will say the following: I’m not so willing to believe the writers are going to make Ben a good guy at the end of all this. Sure, they’ll play with the tension the entire series, but the dude just does too many bad things. Remember, anyone who is locked in a closest and has no other options has to act nice to get freed. If you’re not in a power position and care about the hierarchy the way Ben does, you have to suck up to those people at the top, so don’t believe he’s nice all of a sudden. He’s just playing in Locke’s need for a father figure. Besides, how can someone who taped over the Red Sox’s first World Series championship in 86 years be good? That act was the final straw for me. If you have 3.2 million dollars, do you really have to save money by reusing such an important tape?

I’m kind of annoyed by the continuance of people on this island not to trust each other. If Daniel and Charlotte really were doing good, why did Charlotte have to hit Kate over the head? Couldn’t she have explained the situation to Kate? I guess you could make an argument that their SOP (standard operating procedure) is to not indulge in relationships with people on the island and Daniel was breaking that procedure when he convinced Juliet to let him make the gas inert (if that is what he indeed did). Although, he did need to convince her to complete his mission. Finally, ironically, since when did Kate start trusting people so much that she would allow Charlotte to hit her in the back of the head the way she did? It seemed a bit out of character for her, didn’t it?

Most importantly to us here in The Midside is that after nearly two full episodes our hero returned and his leadership angle was foreshadowed the entire episode. Is Sawyer going to lead a coup of Locke? It sure looks like it. He’s ready to kick ass and I love it. I would love nothing more than for Sawyer to kill Locke or Ben (or both) and take over, starting his own Galt’s Gultch on the island. If that storyline happened, I think I wouldn’t need to live my life anymore. I would have seen perfection on a television show. The only thing that could make the storyline better would be Kate returning to the island and entering Sawyer’s Village the way Dagny entered Galt’s Gulch. I can’t even begin to describe how the simply possibility, the simple thought, of this idea pleases me. Come on Sawyer, become the true leader this people so sorely need.


The most obvious development to the mythology this week seems to be the deepening of the involvement of Charles Widmore. By his kicking one of Ben’s people in the face, we’re supposed to believe he is some sort of nefarious customer. He wants to use the island for his own selfish purposes. Well, you know what? I don’t buy it and my reasoning is two fold.

First off, that storyline is too obvious. Oh, Ben really is the good guy and here’s Charles Widmore, a bad corporate asshole. Out of everything LOST is done, do you think the writers would stoop to such a cliché storyline? I guess you could argue they would. I’d have to know more about JJ Abrams past work to say, but I think I do remember hearing something about a triple twist with Sydney Bristow’s father. First he was good, then he was bad, then he was good again. I’m not sure though, so someone should confirm or deny that belief for me.

Second, part of Widmore’s storyline is his relationship to Desmond. Remember, he tried to get Desmond to leave Penny alone. Now, you could have a whole conspiracy theory here and say he needed Desmond to get on the island so his daughter would find it, but I won’t go there. What I will say is this: If Widmore is evil, it calls into question Penny and she is the one character I will not call into question on this show. If every romance on the show ended except Desmond and Penny, I wouldn’t care. They have to be together. Likewise, Widmore will eventually accept Desmond. He will see what a great man he has become and welcome him into his family with open arms. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the end, in all his jumping around, Desmond has to choose whether to believe Widmore or Ben and make a crucial decision off of it. No, I don’t buy Widmore being evil for a second.

The other interesting mythology based issue is the appearance of Goodwin’s wife in present island time. The whispers came, she appeared, she disappeared, and the whispers came again. I’m not 100% sure about that order or the exact details, but I don’t believe I saw her walk away. The question here is: Is she dead? If she’s dead, then it explains a lot, because we’ve seen other dead people appear in that manner. However, I have no reason to believe she’s dead, so I’ll say her appearance present some pretty interesting ideas about Richard’s group of people. If Goodwin’s wife is somewhere, it’s at the temple. Now I believe the temple isn’t a temple at all. When we find out what’s going on there, it’s going to be some pretty crazy shit.

This puzzle is slowly coming together. It’s exciting, isn’t it?


For this week’s conclusion, I have a bit of a Jerry Springer Final Thought to make. What’s your flashback? If you were on the island, what would the character flaw be that they kept bringing back in order to show you haven’t been “found” yet? The reason I ask is to point out that fixing that flaw is how to improve your life. Do I know what my flashbacks would be about? Yes and it’s juvenile and boring. It would make for awful television (or maybe Disney Channel fare). Regardless, I work to fix it every day and the truth is that I flashback less. What I mean by that metaphor is, the more I improve my life, the less I consider and care about what I have done and the more I start to think about what I will do. And what you will do eventually becomes what you do do.

Oh man, did I just write a cheesy Grey’s Anatomy final monologue? I can’t believe that I did, so if you think so, please, spare me the commentary and just do what that catchphrase says:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached by email at

No comments: