Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Midside: S5E04 The Little Prince

It’s time to face facts. It meaning now, of course. What fact must you face right now? The truth behind following if-then statement:

If you watch LOST, then you’re a dork.

I substantiate the claim on the following two premises:

1. This show is all about time travel. That subject means the writers sit around and talk about time travel all day. That subject means the fans sit around and talk about time travel all day. You know who talks about time travel all day? Dorks. Most time travel stories are incredibly convoluted. Thus, their creators and followers spend way too much time debating the details than focusing on what’s important: the characters and the value of the story. We have reached that level in LOSTology. (And yes, Stephen Hawking talks about time travel all day, but he’s a dork too. You aren’t precluded from being a dork because you’re confined to a wheelchair. That condition probably makes you more likely to be a dork.)

In contrast, let’s refer to the only great mainstream American time travel epic: Back to the Future. You know how they dealt with the details? They didn’t. They wrote them away. “Hey, Zemekis, what do we do about pre-destination paradoxes?” “Ahh, just say you can’t ever meet yourself. Done!” Of course, hardcore nerds (or dorks, whatever) would still argue pre-destination paradoxes can occur because you can affect events and people connected to yourself and thus indirectly affect yourself, but no one really argues the rules of Back to the Future. You know why? It’s pointless. The movies clearly established that should not be taken seriously. No one is that dorky. Then again, time travel really shouldn’t ever be taken seriously, so maybe people are that dorky.

Um, I take that back. Anyway…

2. Nerdcore rap artist Beefy referenced Brian K. Vaughn in a song on his latest album “Rolling Doubles.” What is nerdcore rap? It’s a subgenre in which the artists rap about the nerd/dork lifestyle rather than the gangster lifestyle. Beefy’s album contains songs about pinball, being good at board games, and what it’s like when your internet connection is down. The song that mentions Vaughn is called Dork Date. Beefy asks the fictional object of his affection out by naming dorky activities they could participate in: “Grabbed ya by the hand and asked ‘Ya wanna go to comiccon?’/We can meet Brian K. Vaughan and get our cosplay on.” I didn’t know what cosplay was until I copied and pasted that lyric. I’m sorry I looked at Wikipedia: “cosplay, short for ‘costume play,’ is a type of performance art whose participants outfit themselves, with often-elaborate costumes and accessories, as a specific character.”

Why is Vaughn mentioned in this song? He is the creator of the awesome graphic novel “Y The Last Man,” the tale of Yorrick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand, the last two remaining males of any species left on Earth. The books were immensely successful and garnered a huge dork following which surely includes, at the very least, Damon Lindelof. Now, Vaughn writes for LOST, probably thanks to that fandom. He co-authored this episode and his comic book style was apparent through out. Yes, LOST is so dorky that they went out and hired a dork writer to handle the dork material.

I have to admit though. I’m kind of disappointed they didn’t reach out to me. Nah, they probably enjoy the Midside too much to aid in its ending. How about we appease them them and journey onward?

BEN IS BAD

Whereas last week’s episode teased us on the idea that Charles Widmore might actually be a good guy, this week’s episode reminded us that Ben might actually be the (or a) bad guy. Several of the main characters were shown distrusting or working against him. Then again, now that I think about it, Jack was the only character that seemed to be on Ben’s side. Regardless, a couple different quotes highlight Vaughn attempting to make us view Ben in a negative light.

Jack: “Ben is on our side.”
Sayid: “The only side he is on is his own.”

Outside of the context of the show, I would have a problem with Sayid’s statement implying that Ben is a bad dude. Every person is necessarily on his own side. However, within the context of the show the quote is supposed to remind us of Ben constantly mistreating everyone, including those people he supposedly loves, such as Juliet. Pretty much the only two people we haven’t seen him mistreat are Annie (and who knows if she’ll ever return) and Richard Alpert, and the only reason he may not mistreat Alpert is the fact that Alpert does everything Ben commands (that we know of).

Even if you are on your own side at all times (like you necessarily are), there is always an opportunity to ally with people who have similar goals. Thus, you temporarily (for any designated period of time) appear to be on each other’s side. What makes Ben such a bad dude is that he doesn’t grant those alliances respect or even the appearance of loyalty. Sometimes it seems he has no end goal or values that he lives by besides “the island.” Living by such a standard can be extremely dangerous, as a famous leader in the past lived for only one reason and region: Hitler lived for Germany. (Oh my God, run for the hills, I mentioned Hitler. Nothing is like the Nazis! Everything I’ve ever said is invalidated!)

Kate: “And it’s just a coincidence that her lawyer happens to be the same lawyer that’s trying to take my son?”

Besides being self aware of the show and pointing out how ridiculous of a coincidence it is that Claire’s mom happens to be in LA at this exact moment, this quote opens up a plethora of possibilities as to Ben’s role in the story. We learn in the next scene (or when the quote was said or when the lawyer first showed up in “Because You Left” if you’re as smart as my friend Dan) that Mr. Dan Norton is Ben lawyer. They discuss documents while Ben and Sayid sit in a truck whose name is an anagram for reincarnation (credit: Susan). We then learn in the next to last scene of the episode (or when the quote was said or when the lawyer first showed up in “Because You Left” if you’re as smart as my friend Dan) that Ben is indeed the person requesting the DNA tests from Kate. Clearly, he never expected her to agree to the test (as he could never win a custody battle), so the tactic was intended to make Kate run back to the island. This explanation satisfies my problem with what initially seemed like a contrived way to get Kate back to the island in “Because You Left” when the lawyers first knocked on her door. It also makes me reconsider Ben’s relationship with Sayid.

It is entirely possible that Ben has been playing Sayid since (or before) Nadia’s death to keep him in line when they inevitably had to go back to the island. Ben knows Sayid doesn’t trust him. What better way to make someone align with you than to create a bigger evil than yourself? This creation would mean all the assassinations Sayid was sent to complete had no purpose (or a different purpose than he was told), the people being sent after him and Hurley were sent by Ben, and the girl Sayid killed in The Economist was also working for Ben. If all those people don’t work for Ben, who do they work for? The implication is they are employees of Widmore, but what reason could he possibly have for sending assassins after Sayid, Hurley, and, now, Kate. Would someone have eventually been sent after Sun as well? Or was the paper in the guy’s wallet with Kate’s address on it intended to manipulate Jack into using it to manipulate Kate? If so, it worked. If not, I wonder who the “big bad” is, especially if it isn’t Widmore.

Part of the reason I’ve concocted this theory about Ben and Sayid is the implications about Sun if Ben is good. Then, Sun would be evil. Granted, she has always been kind of a bitch, always lying to Jin and cheating on him with the Golden Child. However, especially now, her bitchiness gradually became a badassness. Is she supposed to be bad? I can’t buy it. Of course, next week, or two weeks from now, Ben will probably talk her down by saying Jin is still alive. Then she’ll be good that had been tempted by bad.

Maybe the girl in The Economist was working for Widmore. Maybe it is that stupidly obvious and Ben is one of the “good guys, Michael.” But man, I hope not. And speaking of things that suck.

WHY I HATE JACK

After going a week without Jack, we were welcomed back to his wonder. Man, that sentence had a lot of ws in it. Logically, with more Jack, I was reminded as to why I dislike him so much. There were five specific instances:

“I can fix this, Kate. I can fix it.”

At least we know that Vaughn understands the characters. But seriously, now that Jack is no longer addicted to pills and alcohol (or at least is avoiding them for the moment), he has returned to his addiction to fixing things. This turn of events means we have to listen to and watch him try to control every situation from this point on in the series. Gee, that should be fun. Is there ever a situation he thinks he can’t fix? “Paging Dr. House…Dr. Shepard, why are you here? NO, you’re NOT better than House. Even Wilson admits that and he’s as much of a wuss as you are.” Fact.

(Side note: Can the island heal physical addictions the way it does injuries? What about depression? Is no one ever depressed because their serotonin levels are always controlled? What constitutes a hurt body? Is the island technically a drug because of all the healing it does? Can you become addicted to the island? Are Locke, Ben, and Jack addicted to the island?)

It starts raining and Jack knocks on Claire’s Mom’s motel room door.

While there is no way for Jack to realize this parallel, Christian did the exact same thing in Australia. Now, the lack of awareness on Jack’s part lowers my annoyance with him, but the fact still remains: every episode Jack becomes more and more like his father, who he has badmouthed so many times and essentially blamed for all his shortcomings. I know. It’s good writing. We all become like our parents. But isn’t that state of reality exactly the point? We’re all affected by and similar to our parents. However, we don’t all blame them for all our shortcomings and problems. Fact.

Claire’s Mom: “You look drenched.”
Jack: “No, no, no, I’m fine.”

Really, Jack, you’re fine? You mean, you weren’t just standing in the pouring rain on a fool’s errand? Look, I get that he didn’t want to complain or impose, but it makes him seem like much more of a douchebag to burst into this lady’s apartment just to talk to her about completely irrelevant shit. It’s not like he was out for a walk on a sunny day or anything. He had to consciously decide to run through the rain and then act like it’s no big deal. Fact.

Kate: “Why is Sayid here?”
Jack: “That’s not important right now. All that matters is we get you and Aaron to some place safe.”
Kate: “Safe from who?”

Here we see a classic Jack “I’m not going to answer you because I know what’s best” answer. I understand that Jack couldn’t tell Kate they were going with Ben because she wouldn’t want to go with him, but isn’t that exactly the problem? Shouldn’t he have enough respect for her to tell her everything and let her decide for herself what she wants to do? No, because he doesn’t have respect for anyone. Why not? Because you can’t respect anyone if you don’t respect yourself. Fact.

(Kate sees Ben.)
Jack: “It’s ok. He’s with me.”

He’s with you? That makes it all ok? The man with possibly the second worst ethos on the show (behind Ben) thinks he can vouch for someone? That’s like A-Rod vouching for someone about steroids. Yes, I filled my Jack-Hate quota and A-Rod mention quota in the same paragraph. I win. Fact.

EMO SAWYER

Over the past season and the beginning of this season, I have had some interesting discussions with my friends on the role of Sawyer in this show. I’m sure some of it has bled into my column. However, I will repeat it for the sake of this section.

It seems to me that the writers only originally wrote half the series for Sawyer. “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a guy who became a con man because of a con man and that con man was Locke’s Dad?” “Yes and eventually he can kill Locke’s Dad.” “Yes, let’s do it.” The problem with such an idea is the character is forgotten from the point he murders Locke’s Dad on because he has nothing to do. And that series of events exactly has happened to Sawyer.

Ever since the end of Season 3, Sawyer has moped around the island, lamenting his life. Well, he’s done that this season. Last season, he had no arc. He was simply there. Oh, and he argued with Kate a few times. This episode, in what I believe was 100% intentional by the writers, we were finally re-introduced to his character. Though I’m thankful for the turn of events, the problem is that he’s become a shell of himself: Emo Sawyer.

Emo Sawyer slips on his words to say things like “I did it for her, I mean them.” Emo Sawyer gives weak nicknames like “Johnny boy” and “crazy town.” Emo Sawyer opens up to Juliet, an ex-Other that he pretty much hated in Season 3 and barely saw in Season 4. Emo Sawyer says things such as “It doesn’t matter what I want,” “It don’t matter. It’s gone now,” “What’s done is done,” and “Time travel’s a bitch.” Ok, so that last one is true, but you get my point. Emo Sawyer isn’t Sawyer. He’s a watered down version who has forgotten rhetoric and reason (and without rhetoric and reason, what is life?)

Don’t get my wrong. Emo is ok. We’re all Emo once in awhile. Everyone has down moments. The trick is pulling out of them and realizing their relevance because Emo becomes as annoying as Jack when it’s prolonged. No, scratch that, prolonged Emo IS Jack. The problem is what the writers have done with Sawyer’s solution to Emo. They’ve made it Kate.

As independent and awesome Sawyer has always been, you could easily argue his greatest failure is that he was a second hander. He lived his life based on Mr. Sawyer, not on himself. This argument is supported by the fact that the writers had him read “The Fountainhead,” the novel where Ayn Rand put forward the philosophical concept of a “second hander.” Everything he did in life was motivated by Mr. Sawyer and what he did to his parents. Now that Sawyer has killed him, we should have seen him face life with only himself to deal with. However, the writers have replaced Mr. Sawyer with Kate.

Why was it intentional that this episode was about Sawyer missing Kate? Because this episode is also where Jack and Kate reconnected, especially with the line, “I’ve always been with you.” Yes, Kate meant as an ally, but you better believe we were supposed to consider the double meaning and that “Jaters” are touting it all over the internets (and probably real life). Back in Seasons 1, 2, and 3, I was all for Sawyer and Kate. However, if their pairing must occur at the expense of Sawyer’s character, than I am against it, just as I am against sacrificing my life and values for any girl (sorry, Mystery Girl X). Do I think Kate is Sawyer’s constant so he won’t ever get a nose bleed or be in danger from the time travel? Yeah, but that doesn’t make me ok with it. What happened to the Sawyer is a leader storyline from Season 3? Bring that arc back.

And to answer your question: Yes, boys and girls, if Sawyer is going to be Emo until he gets Kate back, and prolonged Emo is Jack, Sawyer will either end up with Kate or become Jack. Why do I like this show again?

FREDDY ADIEU

In other nose: Charlotte, Miles, and Juliet got nosebleeds. So, Miles is probably PF Chang’s son and everyone is going to die a horrible bloody death unless they find a constant.

I still have no idea who “The Little Prince” is. Does the title refer to Aaron? He would be my best guess considering that the episode seemed to focus on Kate, and her story was about him possibly being taken from her. What are the implications of him ruling the island and the actual story “The Little Prince”? I don’t know, go ask someone who cares.

Oh yeah, and:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

1 comment:

Daniel T. Richards said...

1. At least proofread your headlines, please.

2. Your friend Dan is a genius.

3. Is Emo Sawyer eventually going to turn into Goth Sawyer?

DTR