Sunday, July 24, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E01 A Tale of Two Cities

(At the request of a reader, I will be reposting old editions of my LOST column as they no longer appear on the internet. I will not be making any edits to them, so please be aware that they represent a moment and time--my thoughts and analysis after watching an episode's initial airing.)

Is this really happening? Am I really writing a column about the third season premiere of possibly the greatest show in the history of television while sitting on a bench outside of an academic building of a major public university with 80+ degree heat beating down on me in the first week of October? Yes, I am writing such a column. Yes, LOST may be the greatest show in the history of television. Yes, I am sitting on a bench outside the English building at Clemson University. Yes, I am sweating in my black t-shirt due to the weather (in the first week of October!). And yes, I did intentionally use the pronoun “this” without a noun in the first sentence of this paragraph.

Is this really happening? When you read that question you surely asked what this was referring to (especially if you’re one of my English 103 lab students). By “this”, I mean everything. However, asking if everything is really happening would only make you wonder what asinine rant I was about to go on and, in all likelihood, you wouldn’t read any further than the first four words of this column. Instead, I tricked you into reading a different two paragraph asinine rants.

Presentation is the key to trickery. Trickeration is the key to manipulation. How else can you explain that I’m now a critically acclaimed LOST theorist? Yes, you read correctly. According to FHM, I am the author of one of the four best LOST theories, “Scientists Are Squatters.” (They wrote the title, not me.) Thank you to all those fans who have been loyal since the beginning (all two of you and my Godmother) and welcome to all of the new readers who may have found me through the url mention in the FHM article.

Wow, can you tell that it’s been three months since the last new episode of LOST? Someone make me stop typing! “But Jay, you’re job is to type!” Ok, well, if you all insist I’d like to discuss the most important surreal event of the week. Yes, a new episode of LOST did air on Wednesday night and, damn, it was a good one. The Midside beckons. By all means, after you.


Jack was down right Lockean in this episode and I don’t mean he was running around advocating Social Contract Theory. His first flashback, our first flashback of the season, opened with Jack sitting in a parked car so he could spy on his soon-to-be ex-wife. Later, we were treated to our second ever LOST group therapy scene as Jack jumped his father during an AA meeting. Apparently, Jack’s father was sober for 50 days. I say was because being jumped by your son would compel any man to turn to the sauce. Jack’s hatred drove his father back to drinking; did it drive Christian to his untimely death? Did I write a sentence expressing sympathy for Christian, a man I believe may be the devil?

The last time we saw anger expressed so visibly in a flashback by a 815er was John Locke, perhaps not so coincidentally in his group therapy scene. “I want my kidney back,” is LOST Lore Line and I would argue that, “Tell me who he is!” has joined those ranks. The writers continued the move they began last season. Jack and Locke are no longer on opposing of the rift. The two are now compatriots, linked by their faith in the predestination in the process. The question that arises is my mind is: Did Locke not survive Desmond’s key turn (no, I don’t read spoilers or message boards anymore so all my information is gathered during the episodes…and that stupid Sri Lanka video) or is Jack starting to outlive his usefulness? Is the good doctor’s moment of tragic self sacrifice no longer inching closer to us, but hurtling at us like a tire hitting Mary in the face?

If you need further proof of Jack’s flashbacks being interesting (with the sheer mass of them he is featured in, there was bound to be one decent one), look no further than my reaction to the plot. Yes, I am the measure of all things good, evil, and otherwise since we’re living in a relativist socially constructed society or something. Anyway, I challenge you to honestly say that you didn’t want to know who Jack’s wife was cheating with. After the Desmond revelation last season, I thought the writers were going for a parallel story and we were headed for another “See you in another life” character introduction. To the contrary, when Juliet (if Jack falls in love with her, her name is lame) asked Jack if there was anything he wanted to know I found myself thinking, “He is not going to ask.” On the surface, I was experiencing my typical knee jerk reaction to Jack. For the love of anything (there’s no need to involve God here), I wanted him to let something go. When I dug a little deeper, I wanted him to let it go because if he did, then he might actually realize that sometimes we fail and it isn’t our fault. He might actually realize that yes, he does need to fix everything and it made him a bad husband, but Sarah married a man out of pure immature hero worship and that made her a bad wife. He might actually realize that he can’t control other people’s actions and embrace Wu Wei a little.

Oh, and Jack is from Los Angeles? I guess we all should have figured that since that is where the plane was headed back to. Why did I believe he was from Boston then? We all make mistakes I guess. Well, except for me. Well, except for this one time. Where’s Agents Jay and Kay with their memory eraser pen thing when you need them?


Sorry Charlie fans…and Claire fans…and Locke fans…and Sayid fans…and Sun fans…and Jin fans…oh, you get the point. While it was disappointing to have the break between seasons sandwiched by my least favorite 815ers (the Charlie and Claire kiss ended season two on the island and Jack was the first 815er we saw this season), I was extremely satiated by the extreme (redundancy rocks) amount of Sawyer and Kate in this week’s episode.

My initial thought is that it’s all a trap. By my unclear pronoun use (it), I once again mean everything from the Sawyer cage to the Kate shower to the Jack escape attempt. The Good Guys (as Prince Ben said, “We’re The Good Guys, Michael.”) are up to their old tricks again, manipulating our heroes into who-knows-what. Anyone who has seen Saw or Saw II can attest to the fact the set for Jack’s prison looked like it could have been borrowed from the lot for Saw III.

My question concerning the Sawyer trap is do The Good Guys know what they’re doing or are we seeing the first instances of their fallibility? Despite all Sawyer’s rage, he is still just a rat in a cage. He is forced to procure his food in the same way bears that were the subject of an experiment were forced to. Then, they dress Kate up in a hot dress and stick her in the cage opposite him. By the way she was crying while being marched over to the cage, it’s safe to say she knows she’s being used to manipulate him. Is there any doubt his base instincts are being appealed to? The odd thing is, while Sawyer portrays himself as a base guy, we all know he isn’t. He wants to belief he is because of his self loathing, but he is in complete control of himself as much as any human being can be. To be a con man, you have to exert that kind of control over yourself. To control others, you must first control yourself. So, are The Good Guys mistakenly viewing Sawyer as what he portrays himself to be? I don’t see how they could if they have a file even half the size of the one they do on Jack. So, are they trying to strip away that control by turning him into an animal? Here the conversation turns into a philosophical debate. If he loves Kate and they are using that love to turn him into an animal, can they succeed? To rephrase the question: Is love a base desire or a higher desire?

My other consideration concerning the Sawyer situation is how much he is aware of the setup. Someone who is so good at conning people has to know that kid’s “break out attempt” was all staged. Can The Good Guys con the ultimate con man?

Kate, dear Kate, I don’t even know where to begin with her. I see how Kate’s scenario was setup to mess with her. First, they dressed her up to look traditionally female (one of the things I’ve always loved about Kate is she dresses conservative yet feminine) and then they locked inside a cage inhibiting her ability to run. Is her “Two Week” Trial as simple as making her stand and face a decision rather than fleeing from it? Is she going to have to choose between Sawyer and Jack or simply face her feelings for Sawyer? I loved when Sawyer smiled when she took the cracker from her, but I’m a sappy sucker who listens to too much Emo music.

Oh yeah, we still don’t know why The Good Guys are doing what they do. Maybe their plans have to do with the Sri Lanka video, which I guess makes this sentence my segue way to the next section…


The most interesting and informative part of this episode were the opening five minutes. I honestly thought the entire scene with Juliet was a flashback and we weren’t being shown the 815er it involved or we were being introduced to a new character. When everything started shaking, I thought we were witnessing the effects of Desmond’s Key Turn on the rest of the world. Finally, when we saw Prince Ben, I understood what was going. I caught the nod to Stephen King, did you?

Obviously the Hatch wasn’t powering the island as the events on the island transpired after Desmond’s Key Turn, so what is powering the island? Of course, maybe The Good Guys strategically placed back up generators around the island for exactly such a scenario when they were part of The DHARMA Initiative (because Dharma has failed and that’s the only reference I am going to make to the Sri Lanka video since you all know I hate The LOST Experience. After you read my column, you internet junkies need to get out in the sun and play with a ball. Stop trying to save the World…of Warcraft.)? Is the Hanso Foundation still funding these people? Why still fund them if the research they are doing is so minimal (how can it not be minimal considering the limited manpower and technology they now have access to)? If they’re still being funded, have they found the most critical thing to research, the only thing that matters to research?

There are too many questions for me to keep typing them. I will enunciate something scary though. The beginning of the episode demonstrated that The Good Guys weren’t expecting the plane crash. They ran outside to see what the rumbling was all about and then Prince Ben sent our favorite hippie and our favorite Scientologist’s relative on their missions. All the orders were adlibbed. Then, a mere 80 odd days later (assuming each season is 40 days), Juliet was in possession of a file that sizeable on Jack. What kind of power does this group wield if they can gather that much information on over 50 people in that little time? At least we know how Prince Ben could control Locke so easily now. He knew all about him.


-We’re in the midst of the network’s bombarding us with new shows and here is my official statement: The only new show worth a damn is The Nine (30 Rock). Here’s why:

I’m fed up with the hyped. About a month before Heroes premiered, I began hearing how great it is. Then I watched the first episode and bore witnessed to an unintelligent rehashing of LOST, X-Men, and the 4400. The character types are all taken right out of LOST (from the drug addicted artist to the girl who always runs) and the premise from X-Men (people who spontaneously mutate into the next level of human evolution thus developing powers) and the 4400 (people who develop powers because they are destined to save the world).

Now, it doesn’t bother me that the premise and characters are rehashes. Hollywood ran out of ideas a long time ago. What bothers me is the show shoves it in my face and acts like I’m too stupid to understand. Would someone please explain to me why the Sayid character didn’t start carrying a gun after his father was killed and someone tried to trap in him a taxi? Would someone please explain to me how a first edition of Darwin’s Orgin of Species would be in an antique bookstore so the girl who played Colin’s sister on Everwood could find it? And most perplexing, would someone please explain to me who anyone who walked into a random room would pick up a gun that was on the floor next to a large pool of blood? Please Hollywood elites, stop talking down to me. Don’t even get me started on the steaming pile of crap Studio 60 is. Now 30 Rock, that might be funny, you know why? Tina Fey shares the joke with us!

What about The Nine? It had a decent opening hour. The first half was amazing. The aftermath of the bank robbery, 52 hours later, was creepy. I was intrigued to know how all the characters arrived at their final positions. Unfortunately, the next half hour wasn’t as strong. The key turning point was when Scott Wolf’s girlfriend seemingly randomly turned to Audrey Raines and said, “I’m pregnant.” From that point on, the show seemed a bit forced. I’m worried about the cop’s storyline being a bit too cliché with the whole corrupt force concealing the truth and he must sacrifice his job to stand up for it. Overall though, I enjoyed the show and will keep watching, especially considering it airs right after LOST. Plus, I think the black girl, the bank manager’s daughter, is lying and actually remember the entire ordeal.

-Do you need an example of how LOST doesn’t talk down to the viewer to fully grasp my critique of Heroes? When Prince Ben brought Kate out for breakfast by the sea, Kate demanded, “Where are Sawyer and Jack?” I turned to my roommate and said, “Sawyer and Jack, not Jack and Sawyer.” A few seconds later Prince Ben asked Kate why she said Sawyer’s name first. I smiled in self satisfaction. I had my proof that LOST is the best show in television and I am still a talented writer. And if you disagree with either of the claims in the previous sentence then you’ve forgotten the first and most important rule of The Midside:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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