Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Midside: S5E15 Follow the Leader

Tee dum, tee dee, cue the Peter Pan music as we delve into another LOST adventure. We’re following the leader, which means we’re playing the part of Richard Alpert in what ended up being a disappointing turn for me. I read some rumors earlier in the week that the episode would be Alpert-centric and hyped myself up. On Wednesday, I discovered it was only Alpert-centric based on a technicality. Technically, he was the only one in 1977 and 2007 following the leader (whoever he may be), but it wasn’t a traditional “centric” episode in which we learned about the character’s back story. You could even argue that Alpert’s character was majorly weakened in one scene. I’m not so sure of that claim though.

Fret not, for while this episode may not have lived up to expectations, it still provided us with something we can always depend on in LOST: Jack was the anti-Jack Bauer. Seriously, can the guy ever make a good decision? For part of this column, I’ll revel in pointing out the absurdity of his actions this episode, even though it’s so obvious how he is a fuck up that I shouldn’t have to. I can’t help it. I just enjoy it too much. Then, I’ll talk about a random assortment of things and other characters, as this episode was merely a random assortment of things in order to set up the season finale. Onward!


The previews for this episode teased us with the question “Why are Jack and Kate fighting?” Well, the answer to that question is simple: because Jack is a moron. And he started right away in the episode. With Faraday shot dead in front of the pair, Kate says they should get the hell out of Dodge (which is probably a good idea).

Kate: “Jack, he's crazy.”
Jack: “What if this is why we're here?”

So, essentially, Jack’s response to Kate’s argument is to make himself seem crazy too by agreeing with said crazy person (Faraday). And, to be fair to Kate (because we aren’t fair to Jack), Faraday did seem pretty crazy ranting about relativistic physics (which were seemingly contradicted in this episode). Jack got his response though, as Widmore came through on horse back and gave him a crimson mask. Am I the only one who’s noticed that Jack has become the new Boone? He gets the crap kicked out of him pretty regularly.

He brings it on himself too because he never learns his lesson. In Hawking’s tent, he tells a Hostile to “Take it easy on, her” (Kate). He is immediately kicked in the face. To make matters worse, he tries to convince Kate they need to “fix” the timeline again, but goes about this objective in a way that demonstrates that he has no knowledge of audience.

He calls everything they have gone through during the first five season misery. This statement says two things to Kate. First, it tells her that Jack considers they’re time together off the island (in the flashforwards) as “misery.” Second, it tells her that Jack doesn’t really care about her at all. If the plane never crashes, Kate will be in prison. Clearly, life after the plane crash hasn’t been misery for her at all. Jack had no chance of convincing Kate with this line of argument, which is clearly shown when Hawking comes into the tent. Jack explains everything to her, and she turns to Kate.

Hawking: “Does he know what he's talking about?”
Kate: “He thinks he does.”

That statement isn’t the last time Kate owns Jack either. Later, before they dive into the tunnels, Kate wants to leave. Jack tries to convince her that going back to Dharma is pointless.

Jack: “You can't go back there now. They know about us. They tried to kill us.”
Kate: “And what are you trying to do?”

To make matters worse, he doesn’t even understand how he is getting owned and continues to give orders. A Hostile points a gun at Kate and he commands, “If she wants to leave, she can leave.” Really, Jack, you’re going to tell the guy with the gun what to do? Since when were words more powerful than a gun (in an immediate sense)? I suppose you did create enough of a distraction for Sayid to shoot the Hostile. Still, Kate insisted on owning you one more time before she ran away from you for good.

Kate: “And if you're wrong, then everyone on the island dies. Do you understand that?”
Jack: “I'm not wrong, Kate. This is it. This is why we're here. This is our destiny.”

It’s amazing to me how someone can make a complete character change and still be a fuck up. He went from a man of science to a man of faith in this season (as is the dichotomy created within LOST), but still insists on doing ridiculous things like blowing up a hydrogen bomb to save everyone. At least we know Jack and Kate is finally over. Seriously, if she ends up with Jack after this episode, then screw her, she’s not worth anyone’s time, let alone Sawyer’s. There’s only so many mistakes someone can make before they stop being mistakes and you realize the person is just a fuck up.

Also, am I the only one who is starting to wonder if Jughead is a joke by the producers about Jack?


The most logical place to start this section is with Richard Alpert. His involvement in this episode was mainly interesting due to the way he interacted with John Locke. His interaction with the characters in 1977 was pretty typical of what we’ve seen of him so far. He acted like he knew a lot, although didn’t really say that much at all. In contrast, when speaking with Locke, Alpert seemed to be unknowledgeable, dimwitted even, in a way he had never seemed to be before. This appearance began when Locke showed up:

Alpert: “There's something different about you.”
Locke: “I have a purpose now.”

Here is also where the interesting debate begins. Is Alpert as unknowledgeable as he seemed in this episode or was he pretending to be that way in order to appease Locke? Consider the above exchange. He immediately notices something is different about Locke. Wouldn’t that change the way he interacted with him? Before, Locke was easy to mold if you acted like you knew what was going on with the island. Now, he thinks he knows exactly what is going on with the island. On a similar note, consider how Alpert acted like he knew nothing about time travel when Locke was explaining it to him. How could he not know about time travel? We know he was there in 1954 and 1977 when the other characters appeared. We know he’s met some of them since that year (he was with the Others when Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were brought to Hydra Island). There was no way he actually knew as little as he did when he was questioning Locke. On the contrary, he had to be pumping Locke up, making him feel like an expert.

While mentioning 1977, Alpert says he watched all of the people in the picture Sun handed to him die. I guess we’re operating under the assumption that he is immortal, because I can’t think of another reason he would have survived the Incident and none of the other characters did. Of course, maybe the faulty assumption is that he watched them die in the Incident. Maybe he watched them die in the Purge. The immortality theory gained more ground with what Ben told Sun:

Ben: “His name is Richard Alpert. He's a kind of advisor, and he has had that job for a very very long time.”

I do enjoy how out of it Sun appeared. She knew nothing and was only focused on finding Jin (too bad she doesn’t care that much about her kid). It’s also clear that Ben knows about whatever secret Alpert has. Beyond that fact, we have to think about Ben’s use of the word “advisor.” Of course Ben would think Alpert is an advisor, he’s one of the leaders Alpert has manipulated. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that Alpert is not simply an advisor. Consider how he reacted when Locke said he was going to see Jacob. He clearly did not want that to happen. Perhaps he’s worried he won’t have time to set up the elaborate ruse he has been running for years.

Where did he come from? His building of the ship in the bottle seems to be a huge bit of foreshadowing that he was on the Black Rock. Clearly we’re going to find out more about that ship in future episodes, as Widmore also bought the log. Where is he going? It would seem he is going to take some sort of over action soon. Look at this exchange with Ben:

Alpert: “I'm starting to think John Locke is gonna be trouble.”
Ben: “Why do you think I tried to kill him?”

The exchange closely mirrors Jack’s “We’re going to have a Locke problem” from Season One. Maybe the end of this show will be people killing Locke when they realize he’s been messing things up from the beginning. Regardless, it was almost as if Alpert was looking at his old puppet figurehead (Ben) and regretting that he chose to exchange him for Locke.

Typing about the new puppet figurehead, Locke has an interesting plan up his sleeve. At the very end of the episode, he informs Locke that they are going to see Jacob to kill him. It’s not clear exactly what his motivations are. I’m not sure if he even actually wants to kill Jacob. Doesn’t he believe that he saw Jacob before? And when he saw him, didn’t Jacob ask for help? Why would he kill someone who asked for help? Maybe he is just intent on calling Alpert’s bluff. He is killing Jacob metaphorically in order to expose Alpert. Although, didn’t Christian say he spoke for Jacob? Does Locke think Christian is Jacob and thus wants to kill him? Regardless, won’t Christian show up during the attempted murder? Locke is also making some very interesting claims:

Ben: “Your timing was impeccable, John. How did you know when to be here?”
Locke: “The island told me. Didn't it ever tell you things?”

If the island actually tells him things, which seems absurd to me, how does it tell him things? Does a voice talk to him? Do ideas pop into his head? If ideas are popping into his head, maybe they’re just new memories the way Faraday gave Desmond a new memory earlier in the season. In that case, it’s not the island telling him anything at all. It’s just him experiencing reality.

Then there’s the Asian convention in the middle of the jungle that Hurley somehow became a part of. PF Chang, Miles, and Jin all met, and Chang finally understood that all these people were from the future. And later on, Miles finally understood why his father kicked them off the island and acted the way they did. It’s a lesson to all of us about analyzing people’s actions, both past and present. You can’t ever really know why people do things unless you witness the actions, sometimes even if you witness the actions.

Oh, and Sayid is still a character in this show. He shot a Hostile and followed Jack to Jughead. What was his reasoning for doing what he’s doing?

Sayid: “Well if this works, you just might save us all, and if it doesn't, at least you'll put us out of our misery.”

It’s interesting the dichotomy that’s being created based upon characters that are happy and characters that think their life is misery.


-The preview for the season finale was by far the best preview I’ve ever seen, just for the first few seconds. You can watch it here. Jack having a hydrogen bomb has to be the most horrific thing that could have happened on the show. I don’t think I could have written a better comedy routine about Jack constantly fucking up and the worst fuck up he could achieve.

-Abrams’ new Star Trek movie is a lot better than I expected and worth seeing. Kurtzman and Orci don’t mess up the writing because the movie is just a reboot, so it didn’t need much intellectual depth. However, I wasn’t a big fan of the “Spock is picked on as a kid” scene. I was a big fan of the blatant plug for the movie on Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci’s show Fringe though. It was so over the top, it had to be appreciated. And if you disagree with that, well then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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