Monday, April 27, 2009

The Midside: S5E13 Some Like It Hoth

When they throw these one week breaks at us in the middle of the season, it feels like we’re far removed form LOST. Part of the reason I feel that way is my propensity for slackery, where I’ve pushed writing this column until over a week after the episode aired. The other part is that we’re all like addicts, and every week feeds our addictions. When we get an extra week off, we go through a bit of withdrawal, but then start to get over it. The situation is kind of like really liking someone and seeing them every once and awhile. The time apart makes the feelings less real and addictive. Then you watch an episode of LOST again and wonder why you ever strayed.

Over this short break though, I’ve started watching the series all over again. Yes, I am that crazy. No, it’s not simply for my own benefit. My friend wanted to watch the show from the beginning, so we are. That choice is actually rather appropriate, as this week’s episode (or last week’s or whatever) was very much like a Season One episode, although there are admittedly some major differences.

The story featured the old fashioned one flashback about one character where he and we learn a lesson. It was a bit slower and didn’t seem to reveal much about the mysteries of the island. In honor of these similarities, I will be using my old column format from before Through The Looking Glass. Reminiscing can be pleasant. However, I would be stupid to not mention the differences. The pacing of the episodes in Season One seems to be a lot slower. The stories feel tighter (literally physically) as they focus on extremely personal situations for the characters. The episodes were also much more ensemble based. Each character had to hit a certain point in each episode in order for the overall plot to progress. This week’s episode certainly featured different degrees of these elements (this show is still LOST after all), but it wasn’t to the same extreme. Does that difference mean the earlier or later seasons are better? I don’t know. I report. You decide.

And since this episode is more like a Season One episode, we have to ask a question, which will lead us to another extremely important question. What does Miles represent philosophically? Every character in Season One represented a philosophical mindset (be it concrete like John Locke and John Locke or abstract like Boone and a generation of American youth who throw money at problems). Their episodes were a certain type (Jin Sun and foreign romance, Sayid and war drama). We must consider what Miles is intended to represent/discuss, and if he isn’t intended to represent/discuss anything we must ask if the newer characters in the series are as important as the original characters. If a story doesn’t have philosophical weight to it, it becomes Heroes. If the newer characters are just added as plot points, then they pale in important to the original characters.


Miles represent the hypothetical situation we all daydream about that is uniquely presented to him in actuality in the show due to time travel: going back to the moments that scarred us with the knowledge we have now to better understand what happened. While outside the beginnings of The Orchid, he tells Hurley, “That douche is my Dad.” That line is important to understanding the observation I am making. Yes, due to time travel, the other characters have been able to go back and deal with events within the show that made them who they are (most notably Ben and his evilness), but none of them have been able to go back to their flashbacks the way Miles did in this episode. In fact, for the first time, a flashback was literally a flashforward. Thank about it. The flashback was backwards in Miles personal timeline, but in the overall timeline the events of the flashback took place after the events of 1977. Yes, it blows my mind too. Who wants to re-cut LOST so that all the scenes are in order of time? Do you think it would make less or more sense?

The first notable thing we learned about Miles in this episode is that he does indeed have a power. We could make an intelligent guess before that he did, but the opening to this episode confirmed it. And, by the way, has anyone else picked up on how much the writers have started to rely on the character as a child flashback? The first time they used it was in episode five of the series White Rabbit when Jack refused to stay on the ground while Marc was getting his ass kicked and they’ve used it ever since, more frequently in the later seasons. Anyway, young Miles finds a dead body and immediately listens to it. He knows things no one should know, so we know that he has a power. Instantly we start to wonder where the powers came from.

The most logical explanation seems to be that his powers come from being born on the island. If that thought is true, we then have to wonder if Aaron has some sort of power. However, we don’t know if Miles was born on the island. He may have been born off of the island and then brought back in with his mother on the submarine. Also, clearly people born off of the island have powers. The most notable example is Walt. (Interestingly, since a bunch of them have traveled back in time, they can now all talk to dead people. I know, I know, that statement is a bit of a play on time travel.)

The more interesting question regarding Miles’ power coincides with his relationship with his father. For seasons, I’ve been against the whole idea that the amount of characters with father issues is important. It’s just good storytelling to have broken characters, I said. Everyone has father issues (you, me, the Pope), I said. There’s an episode titled All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues, I said. And all those statements are true. They make sense. However, they don’t address the spectrum of LOST characters with father issues, the way in which they deal with those issues, and Miles’ place in that spectrum.

Miles represents a new way of dealing with missing father problems in the LOSTverse. Kate runs from her father issues by running from every guy ever. Sawyer internalized his problems and (eventually) came out the other end stronger by finding his worth within himself. Ben, Locke, and Jack hated their fathers and then adopted a new father figure (the island). For much of the episode, Miles seems to take the Ben/Locke/Jack route, hating his father and becoming an angry metal rocker with a poorly glued on chin piercing. However, his returning of the money to Mr. Gray signified an interesting character transition.

By telling Mr. Gray that if he wanted his son to know he loved him, he should have told him when he was alive, Miles was standing up for himself and demonstrating self respect. He explained that by continuing the lie he wasn’t being fair to the son for the above reason. In the same sense, by lying to himself about what his father intentions were by making him and his mother leave the island, he was being disrespectful to himself. If his mother or father wanted him to know, they should have told him. Instead, he was left with a quest that brought him back to the same island his father made him leave. Interestingly, this notion of Miles showing more self respect when dealing with his father issues can be tied to his love for money. He uses his talents to make as much money as possible. From a Randian perspective, he is acting as extremely moral. (We also now know the significance of the $3.2 million he asked Ben for last season.)

As previously mentioned, what also puts Miles in a unique position regarding his father issues is the time travel quandary he has been presented with. I even am willing to bet this storyline with PF Chang will have an interesting conclusion. As Hurley so eloquently pointed out through his Star Wars metaphor, “Instead of putting his light saber away and talking about it, he over reacted and got his hand cut off. I mean, they worked it out eventually, but at what cost? Another Death Star was destroyed, Boba Fett got eaten by the Sarlacc, and we got the Ewoks. It all could've been avoided if they just, you know, communicated. And let's face it, Ewoks suck, dude.” You better believe the writers don’t want their epic to have Ewoks, so Miles will be speaking to his father. And by doing so he’ll probably learn some interesting things like why his mother got cancer, the nature of the Incident, and why PF Chang was forced to banish his son and mother. I might even be willing to assert that Miles convinces his father to send young him and his Mother away from the island. Heck, when he finds out that The Orchid is for time travel, he might even reveal that he is PF Chang’s son, which will help the other characters support their story.

This whole mess is making too much damn sense. I can’t wait for the inevitable Faraday episode. Hopefully it’ll be next week. And hopefully we’ll get a Frank episode soon. It’s too bad Charlotte was such a useless character. She’s like the Libby of the Freighter Folk.


The other character development in this episode mainly focused on the square (or on the quadrangle as they’re apparently referring to as on because it would seem the writers don’t think anyone cares about anything else as they’ve intertwined the plot of the show with those four. And each of them was pretty much playing their role to the hilt, well, their new roles anyway.

We’ll start with Sawyer because we always start with him in The Midside. He was in control and going after what he wanted. He couldn’t help but brag to Kate that he was the head of Dharma security. When Phil came to him about his having stole Harry Potter, he knocked him out without any apprehension. Finally, when Jack said that Kate’s heart was in the right place, Sawyer asked where her head was. He’s becoming an Objectivist before our eyes, and it brings a tear to mine. Are the writers supporting Objectivism or attacking it through his portrayal? It’s tough to say. Everything falling apart seems to be everyone fault, most notably…

Kate has finally decided to get in touch with her emotions rather than run (perhaps because she can’t run because she’s stuck in 1977) and is completely out of control because of it. The only reason she felt the need to talk to Uncle Rico about Harry Potter being missing is because she identified with his pain and wished someone had alleviated hers. From a Randian perspective, perhaps you could argue she was looking out for herself because she was trying to create a world she wanted to live in, but I would argue that she isn’t taking all the factors into consideration, as she is ignoring his alcoholism and stupidity and their need to keep their cover. Is Kate showing character growth? Actually, yes, but I’m not sure it’s in the right direction.

Likewise, Jack finally seems calm, cool, and collected. He came to Sawyer, gave him some information, and peaced out. He talked to Uncle Rico, even talked him down, and did so rationally and with self control. He seems to enjoy being a cog in the system rather than running the system. And you know what the truth is? Before you can run the system, you first need to be a cog in it. You have to understand how it works before you pick it apart and run it. Why do you think you have to be at least 35 and have lived in the country for 35 years to be President of the United States of America? The only problem is that he may be straying in the direction of Locke and Ben, exalting the island, but we’ve been over that point before.

Juliet, unlike the other three characters, doesn’t seem to be showing any growth at all. When Roger is upset, all she does is try to calm him down, because calm is good. (Although, her need to calm people down proves she works well with Sawyer. She can calm them down. He can talk to them.) Likewise, when something goes wrong, she gives us her vintage response, “Well, here we go.” Yes, Juliet, don’t come up with a plan or anything, just see what happens.

And I’m not even going to address Hurley re-writing The Empire Strikes Back. I hate Star Wars. There, I said it, and it’s finally in writing. George Lucas rant aside, Hurley’s relationship with Miles is similar to his relationship with Sawyer. He’s just so good natured he can get along with anyone. Also, if you didn’t understand why he likes being a cook, it’s because he’s fat. I just thought I’d clear that mystery up for you. I know it’s a relief because there’s so many to keep track of.


There are two main things to talk about this week: two Dharma stations and the van incident. We’ll start with the Dharma stations, as they were in the episode more. We learned two very important facts about The Orchid and The Swan. First, they were built after Dharma arrives on the island. That information means that if the Swan was indeed retrofitted, it was after the Incident. Second, the two stations were built at the same time. That information creates the perception that they work together. Consider the following:

We know that The Orchid is for time travel. We know that The Swan contained electromagnetic energy and released it (after the incident). We also know that the flashforwards and time travel didn’t start until after The Swan was destroyed. Did The Swan and The Orchid originally work together to harness the time travel of the island? Then, there was an incident and The Swan was used to stop the time travel of the island rather than control it. That way, people could come and go from the island whenever they wanted, as it stayed in a static place. Notice how the sub only returns to the island every so often in 1977. The island is only in 1977 every so often. Likewise, this idea explains why Ben wasn’t upset when the sky flashed purple. The island was being freed from its constraints. Finally, this idea explains why Radzinsky told Kelvin pushing the button was saving the world. If the island was traveling through time, it would give people the ability to mess with the time line. I don’t think my explanation is the final answer, Regis, but it’s close.

On the other note, Miles was pulled into a van by Hoodie Ninjas where he was confronted by Bram, Illana’s associate on the island. He asked Miles the same question that he and Illana asked Frank on the island, “Do you know what lies in the shadow of the statue?” This event seems to confirm that the duo isn’t sick on the island. Also, the entire scene seems to raise the idea that there is another person “playing” against Widmore. This idea would make sense, as Ben’s edge has kind of disappeared as of late. Who could this other person be? What if it’s Richard Alpert? He leaves the island a lot. He could be amassing an army while off of it. Who else would know what lies in the shadow of the statue? If anyone has more knowledge about the island than Widmore or Ben, it’s Alpert. Finally, it’s interesting that Bram used the words “team” and “win.” This language harkens back to Locke’s “two players, one light, one dark” from Season One.


To close, I quote Hurley from this episode: “Why don't we carpool? It'll help with global warming, which hasn't happened yet, so maybe we can prevent it.”

…and in one simple line, the writers of LOST completely owned global warming.

Oh, and if you’re feeling Emo, go to Ann Arbor and visit the University of Michigan. They have the cure there. And if you disagree with that, well then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

(PS: The cure for Emo is Tom Brady.)

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