Friday, May 9, 2008

The Midside: S4E11 Cabin Fever

Another week, another episode, and LOST is back to form…sort of. It’s the tail end of the season and we just had a Jack episode that made us question what in the heck is going on and a Locke episode that made us feel like there is a plan to everything. I’m still not as sold on the Locke episode as the Jack episode (no, nowhere did I say I disliked the episode last week), especially with the use of the flashback rather than a flashforward. But first, the Gay’s Anatomy update:

A male soldier dies and another male soldier comes into this room and kisses him on the lips. Sidestepping the weird necrophilia side of that scene, apparently there was a storyline criticizing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military which protects gays as much as anyone else. This trite scene transitions into the main character’s psychiatrist explaining how the two gay servicemen are a metaphor for her life. Wow, some respect for your fanbase. You actually have to write in a character to explain everything to them. And on top of that, aren’t we all just victims of an oppressive homophobic patriarchal system bent on denying us health and happiness?

(That was sarcasm, by the way.)

We do know, however, that Locke is a victim. But is he a victim of himself or Jacob (or someone else?)

DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO!

No, I won’t tell you what you can’t do. (So I will tell you what you can do?) But, now I have to wonder about the meaning of Locke’s catchphrase. In the beginning, it was a cry of empowerment. When someone told him he couldn’t do something, he said it, and did it anyway. Now though, I wonder if the point is that someone can tell him what he can’t do.

The entire scene with his teacher in high school played as if the teacher was right. Dude, Locke, you’re a nerd, let it go. I’m all for coming to terms with yourself and your talents, but the entire reason I have sympathy for Locke at all is that his catchphrase is right. The only person who can tell a person what he can’t do is himself (or insert the Eleanor Roosevelt quote here if you’d like). So, while Locke’s talents may have been with the sciences, if he didn’t want to be a scientist, he didn’t have to. However, the teacher’s speech seemed to be playing on the irony that Locke needs to just give in to Jacob. (I say Jacob for simplicity of discussion, but who knows who is telling Locke what to do.)

And it is that irony that is so interesting. From the beginning, Locke didn’t what he was told he couldn’t. He went on a walkabout. He hunted in the jungle. Heck, he was able to walk again. He certainly isn’t a scientist either. In fact, he’s seemingly fighting against scientists. It was his determination to do what he wanted and not what anyone else told him to do that brought him to the island and Jacob’s cabin. However, once he got to Jacob’s island, he became controlled.

Now, I could launch into an entire discussion of free will and determinism here, but I won’t. Rather, I’ll say this: Locke is making his own decisions. However, he lived his whole life to make decisions solely on his own input. He fought so hard to not be controlled by the absence of his father figure. It has come to the point that he has traded that father figure for another father figure. Jacob, not Anthony Cooper, is now Locke’s father. And instead of Locke realizing he is being controlled, he just strolls along merrily through the jungle thinking he is acting of his own volition. Once again, I don’t mean to say that Locke isn’t making his own choices or isn’t responsible for his actions. I’m just saying his catchphrase now seems to be: “Don’t tell me what I can do, unless you’re Jacob.”

What further confuses the issue is Richard’s walking out on Locke when he said the knife belonged to him. Like I said, the knife is symbolic of Locke’s journey to the island, which is obviously essential to him being under Jacob’s control. So then, why would Richard not want young Locke to claim possession of the knife? I have to wonder if Richard is associated with Jacob at all. If he is, does that assume determinism and Richard had to deny Locke the knife to mess with his head so he could get to the island later on? If he isn’t, what does his involvement do to the entire Widmore v Ben dichotomy that the show has set up this season? Richard has always seemed to be on his own team. What if the two sides are really Richard v Jacob?

Also of note in the Richard test for young Locke is the use of a compass. This item connects directly to the video game in which the main character must find a compass to the point “the way home” (via domus). Who does he talk to concerning the compass that explains it all to him? Yup, you guessed it, Locke.

Finally, it also interested me that Ben called Locke out on his manipulation tactics. I’ve been calling Locke a manipulative bastard since day one. He has always had a way of twisting whatever conversation to get the other person to believe him and do what he wants. Thankfully, unlike Ben, he doesn’t get people to do anything to ridiculous or over the top.

THE REST OF THE TRIBE

Speaking of Ben, the continued de-vilification of him is starting to annoy me. Apparently this week we are supposed to buy the fact that his actions aren’t his fault because it wasn’t his idea. It’s the old “Jacob made me do it” argument for innocence. I mean, seriously, as I’ve said over and over and over again, how can a man be absolved for ordering the deaths of hundreds of people? Then, he once again asked for sympathy for the fact that his ‘daughter’s blood is on his hands.” Are you kidding me? She wasn’t even your daughter.

In another stupid Jack move, not only did he get out of bed and risk ripping his stitches (much to Juliet’s chagrin), but he nearly got himself killed. I know what you’re thinking: there was no imminent danger to anyone on the beach in this episode. I only have to ask you what I would ask Jack: have you been paying attention to what’s going on? You know a bunch of people are going to come to the island and try and kill all of you. Then, a helicopter flies overhead, a helicopter than you know belongs to the people who are going to try and kill you. Then, something is dropped out of the helicopter. What do you do? Well, apparently if you’re Jack, you run to it. What do you do if you’re me? Run away from it and yell, “Get down!” Why? Because my first instinct was that it was a bomb! They’re going to try and kill you and drop something into the middle of your camp. Why wouldn’t you think it was a bomb? If you get down and it doesn’t explode, because it isn’t a bomb or it’s a motion sensitive bomb, then you can approach it slowly and carefully.

I guess what we’re led to believe concerning this backpack is that Frank threw it out so the people on the beach could follow the helicopter. I’m not so sure that he is the one that threw it out though. First off, if the commandos wanted to kill the people on the beach, why would they fly past them? Land on the beach, shoot them all, pile back in the helicopter, and fly somewhere else. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel (or unarmed people in a small location such as a beach). Second off, how could Frank drop something out of the helicopter without being noticed and then punished? Then again, he’s too valuable to kill or maim too badly, so what’s a little physical pain to save lives? Still, the commandos may not be interested in killing everyone everyone and may have thrown the back out of the helicopter. What could everyone mean if it doesn’t mean everyone then? Well, add a qualifier to it and the meaning changes. Maybe it’s everyone allied with Ben. Maybe it’s everyone at the temple. If this twist is the meaning is correct, it would have to be understood by Widmore’s crew, which makes perfect sense, as the mission would be explained to all of them.

I’m actually pretty disappointed the captain of the ship died. He was turning out to be a pretty smart, moral, and no nonsense guy. Although, he wasn’t all that smart, as he would have had a better plan than “I fixed your gun.” Regardless, maybe I’m a little late in realizing this, but it seems like authority figures are continually killed or undermined as a way of letting “everyone else” fend for themselves. The only people who have had a consistent power role are Jack, Ben, and Widmore. And even Ben’s control seemed to be very tenuous. People seemed to put up with him more than listen to him.

Desmond staying on the boat was very interesting to me. Once again, I loved his reaction of “That island? Pfft, yeah right. I’m staying here.” Any rational person (who wanted off the island) would have the same exact reaction. What I want to know though is where he is in the flash forwards? Yes, he wouldn’t be part of the Oceanic Six because he wasn’t on the plane, but wouldn’t a long missing man being found be big news (especially at the same time as the Oceanic Six). If Natalie Holloway was found tomorrow, it’d be a huge story. Then again, it was a huge story to begin with. What I’m thinking though is that Widmore somehow covers up Desmond being found. Maybe something Desmond did on the island makes him an ally of Widmore. Maybe Widmore finally respects him. Or maybe it has something to do with Penny’s artic station from the end of Season Two.

LOSTOLOGY

The most interesting piece of information revealed this week is Christian as Jacob’s mouthpiece. I’m ready to declare Christian as alive. We never saw the body. We never saw him die. All we had was the heart attack story. But if he didn’t die, we would have to assume an extremely devious side to him, one I’m not quite sure I’m ready to grant.

Here’s the problem I’ve having. In a lot of the flashbacks, Christian doesn’t seem like he’s being particularly deceptive. He drinks a lot. He messes up a lot. Heck, he bangs on Claire’s mother’s door in the pouring rain in Australia. Are we supposed to believe that these moments are deception and not earnest emotion? In other words, did he have to act like a drunk and a mess up in order for the plan to go through?

Likewise, Claire looked down right evil in this episode. She had a look on her face that was just calm confidence as if everything was under control. Not only was I impressed by Emilie de Ravin’s acting chops in this scene, but it made me question Claire’s history as a character. My first instinct, especially with her look and Christian saying he spoke for Jacob, was that she was Jacob. But Christian was born before her, so that doesn’t really make sense. My second instinct is that Christian told her a lot of what’s going on, or something that is going on, which changed her perspective on everything.

My second thought is where I’m inclined to lean right now. I’m not ready to invalidate all of Claire’s and Christian’s flashback moments as some sort of devious acting job. Rather, Christian may have even died, but, at some point, someone or something, perhaps Jacob, told them about the puzzle and their pieces in it, and it changed their perspective on everything. Though, there is a certain appeal to Christian’s life being a lie and him raising Jack to be a douchebag because he had to be a douchebag for the plan to work perfectly.

A final thought is that Christian is dead and Jacob reanimated him by taking possession of his body. This would explain both him appearing and disappearing in Jack’s flashforward and his comment of saying he speaks for Jacob. If Jacob is possessing him then, technically, Christian is the one speaking, but he is speaking Jacob’s thoughts and ideas. Although, the disappearing and reappearing can be explained by saying that Christian is one of those course correction people like Ms. Hawking from Flashes Before Your Eyes. And maybe the ability is genetic and Claire, Jack, and Aaron have it. Or maybe just Claire and Aaron have it.

The other interesting thing was the time delay. Apparently the island is ahead of the freighter by a certain amount of time, although I don’t know how much. What this lapse does is, once again, bring up the question of determinism. Is everything determined? It would seem like the death of the freighter’s doctor was. It also raises the possibility that someone on the island can control the events of the world. If the island is ahead, someone on it can look at what’s happening and then go back and change it. So, maybe an event is only determined if it interacts with the island, such as the doctor’s body did. It is also interesting to note that the one commando seemed to understand what was going on with the time lapse. When the doctor said it was crazy, he asked if it actually was.

I also have to wonder what this time lapse means for the movement of the island Locke is supposed to perform. Where is he supposed to move? Through the ocean? Into the sky? Through time? In between dimensions? The movement through the ocean would certainly explain how a Nigerian drug plane ended up on the island, but if the island was moved so recently, why is Locke needed to move it now? There is something unique about this story, this time, even in the unique history of the island, that makes it ridiculously important.

FREDDY ADIEU

Many of you may have noticed how I’ve completely sidestepped a discussion of the amount of screen time for characters in this episode. I have done so because I am saving it for the end of the season. To hint at why, I will say the following: I think it’s ridiculous to not have a Claire or Sawyer episode in this season, but at least Claire has an important role now. Sure, you can blame it on the writers’ strike, but that explanation is a cop out.

But hey, Nate, you were right, although, I am disappointed with the Locke flashback because it felt like filler. It looks like you can disagree with me and be right though. And if you disagree with that then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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

1 comment:

Deliz said...

Well written article.