Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Midside: S5E08 LaFleur

I’d like to begin with an apology, although, it seems like I’ve been handing out too many of those recently. (Did I just apologize for apologizing?) Don’t worry though, I’ve mainly been apologizing to myself. This edition of The Midside has been in the works for too long. The last week or so has been very…interesting for me and it delayed the release. I had developed a nice routine that was dismantled pretty handily, especially because LOST wasn’t new this past Wednesday. I actually went to trivia night at the bar. Our team got second, so it was worth it (though we should have gotten first, if we hadn’t listened to a certain dumbass). But this column isn’t about my life, as interesting as it may be. It’s about LOST. So let’s move on.

As if my apology in the previous paragraph wasn’t belittling enough, I now have to take back a claim I made last column. That’s right, my hypothesis didn’t even last one episode. I stated that we wouldn’t see a Juliet, Miles, Dan, or Sawyer episode for awhile. Well, this episode was all about Sawyer. To be honest, I’m kind of shocked. I’ve gotten so accustomed to him being pushed to the background that to see his story unfold was a bit jarring. However, he’s still one note Sawyer. His entire character is centered on romance and I’m not sure I like it. Thankfully though, he’s no longer Emo.

Let’s not get too excited, even though this episode was about our favorite character, Elizabeth Sarnoff co-wrote it, which means it was all over the place. There were bad lines. There were good lines. Some of the transitions rocked. Some of them sucked. There was some mythology. There was a lot of broad stroke characterization. I guess it could be worse though. As South Park reminded us in its season premiere, we could be watching a certain show we have disdain for in the Midside:

Cartman: “Grey's Anatomy? Kenny, what kind of douchebag garbage are you watching?"

How about we talk about the most ridiculous show on television that still somehow manages to maintain a level of quality?

TIME TRAVEL, TRUCES, STATUES, AND “THE WHEN GAME”

The episode began by reminding us that Locke “reset” the donkey wheel (as if we could have forgotten), which did exactly what I said it would: ended the time travel. However, before that happened there was one last jump, to the way past. Yes, that term is scientific. They traveled so far into the past they saw the back of the statue with four toes. What did it mean? What did it look like? Well, it looked like a person. Beyond that obvious observation, I don’t really know. Where’s Daniel Jackson when you need him?

How do we know the time travel is finally over? Well, there were no more flashes. But just in case we didn’t catch that basic easy to comprehend causation, Sarnoff gave us some of her patented dialogue to beat us over the head with the point:

Juliet: "What the hell was that?"
Miles: "That one was different. That was more like an earthquake."

Yes, it was different, which we could ascertain from the different visual and audio editing. Also, it didn’t appear to be like an earthquake to us, so either the director completely ignored this line in the script, or it should have never been written.

Juliet: "My headache is gone."
Miles: "Yeah, mine is too. And my nose isn't bleeding anymore."

The Polish judge gives a 10 for unnecessarily expository dialogue! You know how we can tell that their noses aren’t bleeding anymore? Because there’s no blood coming out of them! Besides, the nosebleeds didn’t even necessarily start immediately after a flash, so it was way too early for Miles to declare that they were done.

Jin: "Daniel, no more flash?"
Faraday: "No, no more flash. The record is spinning again. We're just not on the song we want to be on."

Enough! The metaphor has run its course. It’s become hokier than a Virginia Tech student. What’s next, parallel universe jumping where Faraday says that we’re on a similar record by an unheard of artist? Sadly, I wouldn’t doubt it.

Regardless, the time travel is over, and I can’t decide which side of me is having a more powerful reaction: the dork who is sad about it or the rest of me who is relieved because things might start to make a little more sense (yeah, right). I still have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll see a bit more of it though. After all, Locke is in a different time period than everyone else.

The next bit of interesting information we learned in this episode was details on the relationship between the Dharma Initiative and the Hostiles/Others. Apparently, they had some sort of truce. The details of the deal aren’t revealed, but the existence of it is interesting enough. Seeing how the Hostiles/Others agreed to a truce, they must not have had too much of a problem with Dharma’s research. If they did, why would they agree to a truce at all? They wouldn’t.

We also have to consider Charles Widmore’s role in this truce. We know that he was once a Hostile/Other. We also know, according to him, he once led the Hostile/Others. Finally, we know he has something to do with Dharma (from the logo on the book Keamy pulled out on the freighter). I hypothesized that he founded Dharma. Did he also negotiate the truce? If so, this deal would seem to further point to Widmore being a good guy. He was trying to achieve his goals through rational and legitimate means.

Hopefully, over the coming weeks, we’ll find out more of the truce, its eventual breakdown into the purge, and Ben and Widmore’s role in it. However, mentioning the purge deeply worries me as we now know that Juliet, Miles, Faraday, Jin, and Sawyer are members of Dharma. Are they exterminated in the purge? By the way, don’t listen to any rumors of “LaFleur” or any other name being on a jumpsuit in the mass grave in Season’s 3 and 4. I just watched the scenes from “Through The Looking Glass” and “Cabin Fever” again and the only name that can be read is “Horace.”

In closing of this section, I’d like to introduce you to a game we play in my LOST viewing group, both while watching the show and while seeing each other at random times: The When Game. Numerous times over this season, characters have replaced the word “where” with “when” due to time travel. It’s extremely entertaining to do so with any of the 5 Ws and the H. Take some examples from this episode.

This line is a perfect example of the birth of the game as Faraday corrects himself:

"Wherever we are now, whenever we are now, we're here for good."

Ridiculous yet amusing, no? Now take this line from Juliet:

"James, stop, we can't help. Wherever John went, he's gone. And wherever we are is before that well was ever built."

Now, substitute “when” for “where” and you get the following:

"James, stop, we can't help. Whenever John went, he's gone. And whenever we are is before that well was ever built."

Ridiculous! But do you want to know what’s even more ridiculous? Of course you do, you read this column. Miles started playing the game himself:

Juliet: Who do you think they are?"
Miles: "Who cares who they are? We don't even know when they are."

That’s right, he replaced “who” with “when.” Ridiculous! Bound to fail! I can’t even deal with it. I’m pressing ctrl+s and closing the computer lid until I can regain my composure and push onward to the next section.

SON OF A BITCH: LAFLEUR AND COMPANY

In case you didn’t see the twist coming a mile away like I did, LaFleur was obviously going to be Sawyer. It didn’t even make me yell, “What a twist!” How did I know? Everything in the episode had been about Sawyer to that point. It started with him trying to save Locke and ended with everyone grilling him for a plan of action. Also, you had to consider the way the opening scene ended. Juliet asked him how long they would wait. He responded with his catchphrase for the episode, “As long as it takes.” The text “Three years later” immediately appeared on the screen. How could LaFleur not have been Sawyer? If it was anyone else, it would have been irrelevant to the episode.

Sawyer’s story here didn’t revolve around being a badass head of security for Dharma, but his romantic entanglements. The distressing turn of events in this episode was that the oft-predicted relationship between him and Juliet began. First, he asked her to just stay two weeks. I have to wonder how he became so attached to her so quickly, especially when he basically hated her in Season 3. I get that he has no one else around, but isn’t he accustomed to being alone? Then, he finds her to perform a C-Section and waits outside the building like a nervous father. Finally, we were treated to the most horrific scene since Jack and Kate’s crying-because-Aaron-is-gone sex. Sawyer picks a flower. There is a romantic dinner setup. He and Juliet kiss. Everyone here booed. They exchange I love yous. They kiss again. We all went to commercial feeling dirty.

Why did we all react that way? Well, I can’t speak for the rest of my viewing group, but there are a few reasons I dislike her, starting with her facial expressions (or lack thereof) and ending with her ridiculous personality. Let me use an example from this episode to explain:

Sawyer: "Thanks for getting my back with that whole beach issue."
Juliet: "You should thank me. It was a stupid idea."
Sawyer: "Well what does that say about you agreeing with me?"
Juliet: "Any plan is better than no plan. Besides, if I hadn't agreed with you, we'd still be arguing about where to go next. I just hope we figure out something before we get there."

If she really believed that way, it would have been much better for her to say, “I don’t like the plan either, but we need to get moving. We’ll come up with something on the way” or “The plan’s not very good, but I don’t have anything better.” Instead, she went along and pretended it was good until she was asked about it because she’s more concerned with appeasing people than anything actually getting done. Is it any wonder she’s been stuck on the island for so long? Just tell Ben how badly you want off! Likewise, she wanted off but let Sawyer convince her to stay. She needs to stop mediating so much and start voicing her opinion. It’s annoying as frick.

To be fair to her character, she did receive about five minutes of development. She was finally able to deliver a baby on the island and have both him and the mother survive. It’s still not clear whether this outcome was due to her skill or luck though. Sawyer pointed out that maybe whatever caused pregnant women to die on the island hadn’t happened yet. Contradicting that theory is the doctor stating that all of Dharma’s women delivered off the island. There could be several reasons Dharma chooses that methodology, but the most likely is that women die during child birth on the island. Hopefully we’ll eventually get the answer to this question. As long as it’s open, Juliet will surely stick around.

Juliet isn’t Sawyer’s only flame now though. Due to the sped up plot development of Season’s 4 and 5, the square immediately came back into play. Kate and Jack showed up in an ending that was nearly impossible to fuck up due to the strong writing of the broader plot arcs of the show. Sawyer sees. Hurley. Sawyer sees Jack. Sawyer takes off his glasses. Sawyer sees Kate. LOST. Seriously, if Sarnoff wrote that ending well, anyone could have.

More important than the ending was the scene right before it. Hippie Horace found the necklace that belonged to Paul, Amy’s old flame, and flipped out about it. He asks LaFleur, “It's only been three years, Jim. Just three years that he's been gone. Is that really long enough to get over someone?" Sawyer answers "…is three years long enough to get over someone? Absolutely." But it isn’t. Did you hear the things Sawyer said about Kate, such as staying up at night thinking about her? Sure, he said he couldn’t remember what she looked like, but that’s why love isn’t shallow. Feelings are stronger than visuals. And if you truly love someone, can you ever get over them? I’m not an expert on the subject, but my guess would be no.

And now that Sawyer is no longer Emo (how would you describe what he is now?), the mantle has been passed to Faraday whose Emocity began in his first scene of the episode, as he kneeled over where Charlotte’s body used to be in a catatonic state. Later, he saw Charlotte as a child and gave such a creepy look it almost seemed like he became a pedophile at that exact moment. However, his most Emo action of the episode proves that Emo is harmful. He nearly walked into the sonic fence. Sawyer and Juliet reacted:

Sawyer: "Sonic fence? Didn't I say let me do the talking?"
Juliet: "One more step, Dan would've friend his brain."
Sawyer: "His brain's already fried."

See, Emo fries the brain. It’s proven now. Also, did you see how Amy avoided the sonic fence? She was wearing ear plugs! That’s it, really? That’s all it takes? I bet that’s how Mikhail survived in Season 3, and his “death” was all an act. It always did seem a little over the top to me.

QUOTE FOR QUOTE

Faraday: "It doesn't matter what we do. Whatever happened, happened."
Sawyer: "Yeah, thanks anyway, Plato. I'm going over there."

Really, Sarnoff? The nickname isn’t bad, but the rest of the line is crap. “I’m going over there”? Why not “I’m going to go make it happen” or “You stay here and contemplate the meaning of live, I’m going to go live it”? Hell, “I’m going to kill someone” probably would have been better.

Miles: "You know what, getting on that sub is starting to sound like a great idea. What do ya say, sub, anyone?"
Sawyer: "Hold your horses, Bonzai. No one's gettin' on a sub."
---------
Sawyer: "Let me talk to him."
Horace: "Excuse me?"
Sawyer: "Your buddy out there with the eye liner, let me talk to him."

Clearly Lindelof and Cuse got sick of Sarnoff’s poor writing of Sawyer and edited these lines in during the writers’ meetings.

Juliet: "Sawyer's right, Miles. We should go back to the beach. We survived there before. We can do it again."
Miles: "Or maybe when we get there you'll want to go back to the Orchid again and then when that gets boring, we can head back to the beach. It's the only two plans you people have."

There’s no way Sarnoff could have written that line either. It’s way too good. I’ve been saying it since Season 2. All anyone does on this show is walk back and forth across the island! I’m glad they finally acknowledged it within the show.

Horace: "I wish you would have told me you were coming. I would have turned the fence off for you."
Alpert: "That fence may keep other things out, but not us."

Because the Hostiles/Others wear earplugs!

Miles: "We're screwed. He's probably trying to explain time travel by now."

And no one can do that. Not even the writers of a show about time travel.

Sawyer: "Hey man, where is she?"

See, when you become a leader you start asking that question. Although now it should be “When is she?”

Random Dharma Dude: "Oh, he's got dynamite."

Really? What gave it away, the stick with fire on it that just blew up a tree?

Sawyer: "Now we wait for them to come back."
Juliet: "For how long?"
Sawyer: "As long as it takes."

Or three years.

FREDDY ADIEU

Thanks for baring with me and staying loyal to The Midside through my brief intermission. I guess we’ll just say that LOST took a break for a week, so I did as well. I really don’t have anything else for you this week. Let’s just cue the catchphrase:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

5 comments:

*a said...

I don't know what exactly you mean by "ridiculous personality," and I couldn't care less about whether or not you like Juliet. But, I disagree with your judgment of her as someone who compromises her desires to appease others.

If I remember correctly, Juliet, on more than one occasion, told Ben how badly she wanted off the island, and as for being persuaded by Sawyer to stay, we don't know what happened during those two weeks to cause Juliet to stay. Knowing what we do, though, isn't it possible she stayed because she was falling for Sawyer and being on the island with him was more desirable than being off if it without him?

She backed Sawyer up because she thought action (however stupid, apparently) was more productive than standing still and bickering. If you want people to do something they think is stupid, admitting you agree with them exactly brilliant rhetoric. The ends justify the means for Juliet. If her desire were simply to appease everyone, she would not have risked further provoking Miles. And she wasn’t forced, or even encouraged, to tell Sawyer what she really thought of his plan. If she wanted to gratify him, she would’ve just smiled or something when he thanked her.

As for the question of whether three years is adequate time to get over someone, I think it is. Love changes with time. Is three years enough time to stop loving someone you were once in love with? No. Not in my experience, at least. In fact, I agree with you. I don't think you ever stop loving them. But is it enough time to get over someone to the point of falling in love with someone else? Yes. What that means for sawyer.juliet.kate.jack, I haven't a clue.

Jayemel said...

Juliet most certainly compromises her desires in favor of the desires of others, no pun intended. She internalizes her feelings, causing anguish, in order to keep everyone else happy. How do you think she always becomes the other woman? She doesn't demand to be the woman.

Her thinking action was more productive but not saying so was exactly my point. She reacted to the two rough personalities of Sawyer and Miles rather than what she thought. She privileges audience over content.

And if you think smiling or nodding appeases Sawyer, then you don't know his character at all.

Thanks for signing your name.

*a said...

I think her feelings are generally pretty apparent, but no woman wants to have to demand to be The Woman. (It wouldn't work anyway). We want to just be Her, not because we demanded it, but because the man (or woman) we want to be with wouldn't want it any other way.

Agreed, she does privilege audience over content, which I think she sees as a smart rhetorical move. I know you place the value on content, and personally, I think delivery can be audience-centered without compromising content. The ultimate goal for each of us, however, is the same. What I mean(t) is: Her approach is tactically manipulative, but she uses it to achieve her purpose.

I took appease, in that context, to mean "keeping the peace," which dismissal with a smile would have done.

You're welcome. It was never my intent to evade honesty with you, but rather, to maintain some privacy from others. I assume(d) you know my writing style, and me, well enough to identify something I authored.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Jayemel said...

We've seen how far not demanding it has gotten Juliet.

Privileging audience over content is never a good idea, as it privileges people's beliefs over facts. The consequences of this decision can be seen in Juliet's life.

Appease may mean "keep the peace," but you don't keep a con man peaceful by lying to him.

*a said...

I know you don’t think she should settle for a relationship in which she is less than The Woman, and if that's your point here, I absolutely agree. But when you said internalizing her feelings is the reason she never is The Woman, I wasn't sure if you meant she isn't open enough about her feelings and desires with the men she's involved with and doesn't demand to be The Woman for them . Love just doesn't work that way. If Juliet isn't The Woman, she isn't The Woman. Telling Goodwin or Jack that he's The Man, won't necessarily make her The Woman any more than my saying I want to have a conversation with you will make you talk to me. As for her settling for less, the chick has serious self-esteem issues. That was clear even before she got to the island. Whether she ultimately is The Woman for Sawyer, who knows, but she has that role now, so we'll see what happens now that Kate’s back.

I don't disagree, and point taken.

She wouldn't have been lying to him.