Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Midside: S5E06 316

Eye open. Wider shot to establish that a man is lying in the jungle. Wish you had written a column starting with the Pilot because then you could start this edition of The Midside the same way you started that edition and really confuse the audience. Because that’s how we measure success in the LOST-verse, by how confused the audience is, right?

What’s confusing me right now is the apparent promotion of Stephen Williams to head director. His first episode was the incredibly weird “Further Instructions” in Season 3. You remember, the one where Locke builds the sweat lodge and has that trippy vision about the airport. Obviously he can’t be held accountable for the content of the writing, but the directing is totally up to him. I always thought a lot of the shots in that episode were strange, most notably the whole rescue of Mr. Eko from the polar bear in the cave scene. I initially thought not showing the entire bear was a budget issue. Now I’m not so sure.

Williams seems to love these really tight close shots that have, up to this point, been atypical of LOST. Maybe I’m not remembering the pilot correctly, but the opening shot to this episode, which was supposed to parallel the opening shot of the series, felt a lot tighter and a lot brighter. If you don’t believe me you can check the Pilot screencaps here and the 316 screencaps here.

Of course, numerous other factors could play into me perceiving a difference. This time, Jack woke up in another place in the jungle, so the foliage was a bit difference. This time, the episode was shot in HD (though I haven’t yet viewed it in HD), so the image capture is different. This time, Matthew Fox is older, so maybe Jack just looks different.

Regardless, the sound effects in the background were interesting during this scene. There was heavy use of the opening credits and ending thud effects. I’m intimately familiar with the latter because it’s now my text message sound, and thus I can easily identify it. I’m not sure of all the symbolism here, but it did remind me of the end of the video game LOST: Via Domus, where the main character circled back in time to the original plane crash, but events were a bit different. Could this show end up Mighty Maxing? If you don’t know what I mean, go do some research on the 90s cartoon “Mighty Max.” It’ll be good for you.

And when you get done, come back and join me on my journey into The Midside.


You know what this show needs? Another frickin’ Dharma station, but this time it should be off the island! Oh, you mean there already is one and it’s called the Lamp Post? My bad. I guess I should have seen this coming. I mean, why else would Ms. Hawking hang out in a church? We wouldn’t want to endorse Christianity too much, would we? (Yes we would. That’s why we’ll make John Locke into Jesus.)

So, Ms Hawking plays the part of Faraday’s mother and tries to explain everything, but not really. Here’s what we did learn:

-The island is non-linear. Which, I suppose we should have known from the first episode on, as the storytelling of this show has never been linear.

-All you need to locate the island is a giant pendulum, giant chalk, and a giant floor map. Oh, and a giant amount of time to waste.

(Also, don’t think time travel is a pendulum. It’ll destroy your ethos.)

-They have to go back to the island. (Though I still ask according to who and for whose purpose?). The rules: "If you want to return, you need to recreate, as best you can, the circumstances that brought you there in the first place. That means as many of the same people as you are able to bring with you." Which, apparently, didn’t even include Walt, even though these rules were so sensitive that the shoes belonging to a dead guy were important. But no, not Walt. It must be because he’s black. Black children don’t count. Well, unless you’re into slavery anyway. Or trying to start a basketball team. Racist statement. Racist statement.

Also, the only seemingly purely good guy left on the show (Desmond, duh) gets in Jack’s face and tells him what’s up:

"These people here are just using us. They're playing some kind of game, and we are just the pieces. Whatever she tells you to do, ignore it."

This statement by Desmond harkens back to Locke’s quote from Season One, “Two players, one light, one dark.” Desmond doesn’t want to be part of the game, so he tells Jack to do the smart thing and peace (piece?) out. He even follows up with a “Fuck You” to Ms. Hawking:

"You say the island's not done with me. Well, I'm done with the island."

Good for you, Desmond. You know, I understand that this whole show is about the island and the producers want to keep the main characters together, but I’d really like to see some other characters be done with the island. Out of all these people, can Desmond really be the only one who is sick of all this ridiculous nonsense? Well, we at least known Jack isn’t. He ignored Desmond’s advice, ending up back on the island, leading us to…


When you get a Jack episode, you have to. I’m sorry. I know I had one of these sections a couple weeks ago, but can you blame me? He’s such an easy target. Besides, if you love Jack, why are you reading my blog? That’s like me walking into an Obama supporters meeting. This time though, I will be proving my Jack = Sad theorem.

Here’s our first Jack quote:

"My father is gone. My father has been dead for three years. You want me to...and to give it to Locke. He's in a coffin."

Yes, he’s gone. Let him go, ok? But no, we can’t. And the writers can’t either. So what do we do? We make Jack revisit his issues with his father by having him need to use Locke as his dead body proxy (what?). And since Jack can’t actually see his father to sort these issues out, what does he do? He goes to see his grandfather. Those father issues are real deep if you put them on the grandfather when your father is gone. I even thought the grandfather was going to the island to become the new Locke, considering the desire to leave and the cane. Was he just supposed to be symbolic of Shepard men, or was this scene another example of a Jack failure? Take your grandfather to the island, Jack! Although, I have to admit, this scene was awesome because of how Jack’s grandfather reacted to his unique brand of crazy. “Can I take these shoes that belong to my dad who’s been dead for three years and not explain why so you’re probably just assuming I’m still not over it?” “Sure.” His grandfather didn’t even blink. He was that used to Jack’s crazy.

All of this buffoonery culminated in some weird scene that the weird LOST fans with foot fetishes must have loved, as Jack put his Dad’s shoes on Locke. I’m not even sure how I feel about the fact that I just wrote that sentence. The scene makes me wonder though: were the white tennis shoes, that Jack explicitly mentioned in this episode, hanging in the tree in the Pilot symbolic of Jack’s character flaw? Or maybe they were symbolic of the entire series, considering the important role Christian seems to have.

Ms. Hawking: "...and start asking yourself whether you believe it's going to work. That's why it's called a leap of faith, Jack."

We once again return to the notion of Jack being a man of science or a man of faith. In fact, Locke said the leap of faith line to Jack way back in Season Two episode “Orientation.” We know that Locke was originally told the statement by Helen. Even though this issue was raised in the Season Two premiere, Jack still hasn’t gotten over it. Although, to be fair to him, that question seems to be the entire question of the series: Do you take what the island can do on faith or do you try to understand it by studying it scientifically?

And just in case you didn’t understand what was going on in this episode, the writers beat us over the head with Ben’s explanation of the story of Thomas the Apostle. Jack is Thomas the Apostle and Locke is Jesus. Get it? No? Did you even actually watch the episode?

Kate: "We're on the same plane, Jack. That doesn't make us together."

I have to say, I loved that line. Anytime Kate sticks it to Jack, I can’t help but be happy. Yes, she continually has her weak moments and crawls back to him, which I’m not ready to forgive her for, but she still sees the way he really is. I’ve always said that Kate is brilliant symbolism of the way a lot of women in our culture are today. She portrays this tough and rugged independence, which she does have a lot of the time, but deep down she is deeply afraid of being hurt, so she falls back on the cultural norms that make her acceptable. When she falls back on them, she ends up with Jack.

Take this episode, for example. She is an extremely weak and scary moment, so she breaks into Jack’s apartment and cries in his bed. She then uses him for comfort, thinking that somehow what he is supposed to be will make everything ok. But he doesn’t, because he never does. Then, the next day, they share an awkward moment (“Do you want coffee or orange juice? Because I got you both, just in case!”), and she delivers the killer line on the plane. It’s a Sick Cycle Carousel (credit: Lifehouse).

The most interesting thing about Kate is people’s reactions to her. A lot of people have very negative reactions to her. She’s often called a bitch, a slut, or any other number of derogatory terms for women. Personally, I do think she’s emotionally immature, and her actions regarding Jack and Sawyer are pretty messed up, but I can’t help but have a soft spot for her. Of course, my perspective on her may be an entire other concern, but this column is not the place for that discussion. Let’s just say this there’s a nice cross section of women on LOST (Sun, Juliet, Claire, Shannon, Ana-Lucia, Rose) and Kate is by far the best one. Although, Goth Claire was pretty hot.

Besides, how can you not love a woman that says awesome things like: "Why hold onto something that makes you feel sad?" Which is exactly what Jack always does. He holds onto things that make him sad. That’s why Kate goes to him when she’s feeling sad. Thus, my theorem is proven. Jack = Sad. Fact.

And just to drive the point home, here’s Jack Most Epic Fail of the Series (so far):

Ben:"Is it because you're afraid?"
Jack: "Afraid of what?"
Ben: "Afraid that he blames you. That it's your fault he killed himself."
Jack: "Was it my fault?"
Ben: "No Jack, it wasn't your fault."
(Jack starts to cry.)
Ben: "Let me give you some privacy."
(Ben gets out of his seat and walks away.)

This exchange is THE epic fail for three reasons: Jack actually considers that Locke’s suicide might be his fault (No one’s suicide is ever your fault. They’re taking their own life.), he starts to cry over it, and he makes the situation so awkward that Ben, who loves other people’s pain, moves. Epic Fail. Fact.


Desmond: "I came here to deliver a message. Daniel Faraday, your son, sent me here. He wanted me to tell you that he and all the people on the island need your help. He said that only you could help them. He didn't say Jack. He didn't say Sun. He didn't say Ben. He said you."
Ms. Hawking: "But I am helping, dear."
Desmond: "Consider the message delivered."

Really, that’s it? So Desmond’s entire subplot this season paid off with “But I am helping, dear”? Oh, wait, Ms. Hawking also told him the island isn’t done with him yet…which we already know by virtue of him still being on the show!

Jack: "This is ridiculous."
Ms. Hawking: "Oh, stop thinking how ridiculous it is..."

Ok? Wait…no. You telling me to stop thinking about how ridiculous this show isn’t going to stop me from doing so. Yes, I enjoy it, but part of the fun is harping on the ridiculousness. It’s like being a Detroit Lions fan. At some point you just had to give in and enjoy the fact that your team is that bad.

Ben: "We're all convinced sooner or later, Jack."

Either that, or Ben punches you in the face. True story.

Jack: "Are you Jill? Ben sent me."

Oh why oh why couldn't Jack have said "Are you Jill? I'm Jack. Let's go up a hill to fetch a pail of water"?!

Jack: "Where ever you are, John, you must be laughing your ass off that I'm actually doing this, because this, this is even crazier than you were."

No, actually, it's pretty par for the course at this point. See? LOST is ridiculous.

Ticket Agent: "Mr. Shepard, if you just bare with me. The reason for transporting Mr. Bentham to Guam?"

Oh why oh why couldn’t Jack have replied: “He committed suicide so he could act as the proxy for my dead Dad so me and the rest of the Oceanic Six could crash onto an almost-unlocateable island for the second time.”



But, alas, Jack sucks and was more concerned with checking out Kate and her trendy sunglasses.

Sun: "If there is even a chance that Jin is alive, I have to be on that plane."

Forget the fact that I have a young child to take care of. I want to crash back on an island that moves through time.

Jack: "It's pretty crazy, huh?"
Kate: "Which part?"
Jack: "Hurley, Sayid, being on the same plane. How did they end up here?"

Yes, how did they? Thanks for rubbing that one in our face, Lindelof, or beating us over the head with it. We got it. We’re not supposed to know yet.

Frank: "Wait a second, we're not going to Guam, are we?"

No, but wouldn't it be awesome if they actually did? Season Six takes place in Guam. What a twist!

Jack: "How can you read?"
Ben: "My mother taught me."

Obviously she didn't teach you to read anything good. Also, she didn't teach you. She died giving birth to you. Do you really even have to lie about the little things?

Kate: "The plane, where's the plane?"

Don't you mean "De plane, where's de plane,” Kate?


Three questions we have:
-Is Ben’s loose end Penny, and what does that have to do with him being bloodied? (Probably)

-What happened to Aaron, and was it before or after Kate decided to go back to the island? (I don’t know.)

-Who busted Hurley out of prison and told him to get on the plane? (Widmore.)

-Why was Sayid arrested, and why did his captor subsequently take him on a plane to Guam? (His captor is a bounty hunter, not a cop.)

(Ok, so there were really eight questions.)

-In the airport, Hurley was reading the Spanish version of Brian K. Vaughn’s graphic novel “Y the Last Man.”

-Frank is back! I like Frank a lot. Well, except for the fact that he is a Yankee’s fan.

-The woman playing Sayid’s captor previously played Eva Marquez on the short lived Fox science fiction show New Amesterdam about an immortal living in New York City. How sad is it that I remembered the character name without having to look it up?

-316 was the flight number of the Ajira Airwaysplane, but it’s also a reference to the biblical verse John 3:16. Go look it up.


I have a whole section planned here, but need some graphic help to pull it off. Let’s just say it has to do with Locke’s letter to Jack and his middle name being Michael. Hopefully I’ll get it up soon. And if you don’t believe that, well then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.


Anonymous said...

An abusive childhood inhibits emotional maturation.

People who survive emotional trauma are strong, and having evidence of that, many of them are also independent. Knowing her own strength, Kate probably isn’t afraid to be hurt, but not wanting to hurt anymore, she’s probably afraid to make herself vulnerable.

Being emotional and being weak are not the same. Feeling sad or scared doesn't make Kate weak. It makes her human. Taking care of herself, by seeking comfort when she’s upset, makes her strong – and smart. I doubt she thinks Jack, or whatever he is supposed to be, can make everything better or that she even wants him to, but I imagine she does want him to make that moment a little easier.

I don’t know specifically what you mean by “cultural norms,” but in your example, she didn’t have sex with Jack to get him to accept her. He already does. More than that, he seems to care about her and want to be a source of comfort for her. Not because she needs it, but because she wants it, and because they both think she deserves it.

I don’t particularly like Jack, or Kate & Jack, but I wouldn’t call her weak for going to him in this episode - selfish and somewhat misguided, but not weak.

Jayemel said...

By "hurt anymore" do you mean "hurt anyone"? You can't mean "anymore," because then your statement would contradict itself (and agree with me).

How would making herself vulnerable hurt someone else? That statement is an oxymoron. I don't even need to explain it anymore.

Besides, all I have to do is remind you of "What Kate Did." She ran away from Sawyer not because she was afraid of hurting him, but because she was afraid of being hurt by him because he reminded her of her father. And who did she run to? (Enthymematic answer goes here.)

She was most definitely weak for going to Jack and having sex with him. She didn't face her issues, she avoided them through an attempt to reverse the purpose of sex. She was trying to feel better by having sex, not express how good she felt. What made her weak was that she allowed her sadness to overcame her to the point that it overrode her rational decision making process.

Finally, of course the appeal of Jack to her is that he might be able to "make everything better." That's his characters. Remember, it was only a couple episodes ago that he told her, "I can fix this."

Anonymous said...

No, I meant "hurt anymore," and my intention was to point out that *not wanting* to be hurt is not the same as *being afraid* of being hurt. Just because she doesn't want to be hurt, doesn't mean she isn't trough or independent. It doesn't mean she doesn't realize she could handle pain, it means she doesn't want to invite it (again).

"What made her weak was that she allowed her sadness to overcame her to the point that it overrode her rational decision making process."

Fair enough, but avoiding her issues in that scene - moment - does not mean she won't confront them in the next episode or the one after that. Having weak moments does not mean a person is weak. I know you know that.

And finally, Kate may not value sex the way you do, but she's not a moron. When Jack says "I can fix this" he's articulating a desire, not making a promise or predicting the future. Momentary comfort doesn't ultimately fix anything. She knows this. She used him, and because it benefited him, he let her.