Sunday, July 24, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E05 The Cost of Living

(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.

Note: The actor who played Mr. Eko wasn't actually arrested, he asked to be off the show. Skimming this column, it appears as though I made a major error, but I am reproducing these columns in their original form, so there it stays.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, before the controversy and scandal, I would like to apologize. For what, you might be asking yourself. It’s a good question and this revelation may come as a shock to some of you, most of you really. Recently, I was arrested.

The exact details of my encounter of the law will not be chronicled. All you need to know is it involved a thermometer, a moving violation, and one very power hungry cop. Yes, even more power hungry and trigger happy than the late Ana Lucia. Why am I recounting this event at all? My transgression has necessitated one very grave consequence for those residents of The Midside.

Due to the rules of LOST, my column has been discontinued. I was asked to pen one final edition in order to bring some sort of hasty full circle storyline to my (hopefully) in depth back story. I know, it’s a sad day for you and for me. However, it is important that you stay strong in my absence because I have a very important message for you:

You’re next.

No, I’m not Bill Goldberg. I’m Jayemel and no, I was not really arrested nor has my column actually been canceled. Did you really think anyone would be foolish enough to remove that much pleasure from the world? Doing so would probably throw off the Valenzetti Equation and induce the demise of the human race. Welcome to The Midside.


I never thought I’d make this statement, and I don’t know how it reflects LOST that I am seeing it, but these people need Jack to lead them, desperately. He’s been gone for three days and already they let the one injured guy wander off into the woods to meet his demise at the hand, literally, of the mysterious monster. I shudder to imagine what zany adventure the dynamic duo of Hurley and Charlie will get themselves into as they follow Locke, Sayid, and Desmond Christ around the island.

This section isn’t about the bumbling crew of 815ers though. This section is about the deceased. I was going to write the departed then reconsider because Martin Scorsese might have sued me. Eko, dear Mr. Eko, why did you have to get arrested? I’ll admit to being partially surprised at his death. The sting wasn’t too intense though since I read about the arrest of the actor who played Eko whose name I’m not going to try to spell.

The beginning of this episode really annoyed me. When the show recapped previous Eko flashbacks I felt as if I was being talked down to because they were reintroducing information to hook new viewers. LOST has never gone out of its way to recap old flashbacks in the way that it did this episode. The end of the episode provided me with a proper resolution to this concern though. In hindsight, I guess I should have known that Eko was dead at this point. Oh well, I guess I’m off my game. I can’t be perfect all the time.

It’s very surreal to see Eko go. All the characters that we’ve lost so far have either been unlikable, inconsequential, or destined to die. Boone was the universe’s punching bag from day one. I know a lot of people liked him, but come on. Pull your head out of your butt. He was always meant to be Locke’s first sacrifice. Arzt was a decoy. He was destined to die AND unlikable. Shannon may have been hot. I’ll give her that much. How much did her death really affect though? Sayid has always been destined to end up with Nadia. Ana Lucia was the most unlikable character in LOST lore, even more so than Arzt. Sure, Arzt was annoying, but there was something comical about him. As for Libby, well, her death was the worst to stomach. It seemed so out of place and random. It STILL seems so out of place and random. Did her demise really change the character scheme of the island? No, Hurley is the only who has ever missed her. Yes, Libby’s death was the weirdest and hardest to stomach, until now.

Those of us with a keen eye will point to Eko’s death as a result of the actor’s arrest. I’m not certainly not going to disagree that is why the writer’s chose to kill him off. In light of his death and Ana Lucia and Libby’s death, it’s safe to say that the LOST producers do not want a black eye on their public image. Anyone who still believes that Ana Lucia was always destined to die, and not fall in love with Jack, is a fool. Of course, it may also be ABC pressuring them to off people. I might lean towards the latter explanation because of how integral of a character Eko seemed to be and how minor of an offense the actor committed. I certainly hope if I ever forget my license when I go out driving one night I don’t lose my job because of it.

The why is not interesting to me at all when it involves off the field influences. I care as much about actors getting arrested as I do Terrell Owen’s attempting to kill himself. I do wonder though why the LOST actors are getting in so much trouble and not, say, the Grey’s Anatomy actors. Are the Hawaiian Islands cursed as well? What is interesting to me is the how (through a giant monster fist) and why in LOST mythology (reasons debatable). If the writers are going to let the outside world influence the LOST world rather than letting their story develop naturally then they are going to make their job much more difficult. I’m also going to be much more critical.

There are advantages to killing Eko off so early. He will never be subjected to the third season flashback slump that Jin, Sun, Locke, and Sawyer have been subjected to so far. His story felt complete and made sense. He was that guy who was always forced to make the tough moral decisions and take the heat for it even though in the end he always made the right choices. I’m going to make an analogy that is going to be unpalatable to some, but Eko was the George W. Bush of the island. He invaded Iraq even though everyone else told him it was immoral and evil.

I make the Bush comparison for one reason. Eko’s lesson on the island was the one Bush has always known. It is the one that causes the American media to hate Bush so viscerally. In this world, the only person a man has to answer to is himself. Eko lived his life bucking against his brother’s life. Every choice he made, he compared himself to his Yemi’s Christian conception of morality. He was living his life DOING what he thought was right and beating himself up over those choices. Then, the more he came to know God the more he understood that the choice was his and God would judge him in the end. And who are we to say how God will judge us? If Eko really did make the wrong choices by taking “immoral” actions for “moral” reasons, will Gob judge him negatively even though Eko is clearly human and thus necessarily fallible? What I’m trying to say is, how can we apply a natural human thought process to the supernatural God?

The disadvantage to killing is Eko is a heavy disadvantage. Not only was he one of the characters seemingly most connected to the island, but he had an apparent dichotomy to Locke. I could go into the dichotomy here. However, I’ll save it for the LOSTology section because it goes into the reasons behind Eko’s death (both plot resolution and otherwise) and thus the discussion is more appropriate for that section.

Seeing as how we’ve reached the end of Eko’s story, I’d like to say my own goodbye to the character. Eko was one of my favorite characters on the show. He ranked up the on that second level with Sayid, Rose, and Kate right below Sawyer. I always appreciated how he had such a strong sense of what he needed to do and his actions were always defendable. He never did something horrible and we never came to understand why he did it. When he emerged from the church covered in blood and everyone else stared at him horrified, did you? No, I thought not. You understand the context of the situation only he did. I also appreciated how he didn’t feel the need to go around imposing those explanations on everyone else the way a Jack does. Eko reached a unique badass level with his FDR approach to life. He spoke softly and carried a very big Jesus stick. And when he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, he feared no evil. He faced his judgment with his head held high, refused to apologize for his life, and took the monster’s pounding like a man. If you need to, do not wait 40 days to cry.

Me? I’m going to continue to randomly say, “Dude, they killed Eko.” in varying tones as I have been since the episode aired.


I really don’t feel the need to comment on most of the characters this week. Any Locke conversation can be postponed to the LOSTology section because of how intertwined I saw him and Eko. Sayid had one worthwhile scene at the beginning of the episode. Hurley and Charlie became the two annoying sidekicks a la Rosencrantz and Guildenstren. Desmond was little more than a prop, following the group around. Although, it’s probably important to note that they had him follow the group at all. Staying at camp were the minor characters, Charlie, Hurley, Claire, and the so far absent this season Rose and Bernard. The writers clearly wanted to link Desmond with the leaders of the 815ers.

You are correct, reader. Thus far I have deftly avoided mentioning the inclusion of the two new characters. Were the writers trying to link them with leaders? I’m not so sure. I think the main reason they went along on the journey was to be introduced as characters. If I’m not mistaken, this was the first time we saw that girl and the third time we saw that guy. I will now address each of them in an individual paragraph for each.

All I can ascertain about the girl is that she has some type of common sense intelligence. She pointed out what we all wanted to say about the TVs in The Pearl, that they were linked to other hatches. For some reason, she could figure that obvious implication out, but Locke and Sayid couldn’t. Sometimes smart people lack that common sense. Sayid could have been running game though letting her think she is smart. He is a pimp after all. I’m obviously joking as she and the guy have some sort of a relationship demonstrated by their marital spat. I think this girl will be sticking around for a long time as we lost three women last season. Her boyfriend or husband is a different story altogether.

The new guy is starting to remind me of Arzt. First off, he adds nothing to anything. What use was he on the trip? And did you notice how the new girl convinced him to come along? She used Arzt reasoning saying he was always complaining about not being included. Also factoring in that these two may be the new age Shannon and Boone, I think this guy is on borrowed time. Could he be the first victim of Eko’s warning? Is the island’s next death New Guy? Of course, the writers could always twist us and kill the new girl off. The subject of the “you” in Eko’s statement is open for a lot of debate as well…which leads me perfectly into my next section.


There are three important ideas to discuss in regards to mythology and the first two lead into the third, which I feel is the most important, so I will begin with the first two and work towards the third.

First, we finally have a direction in which The Good Guys are headed and I believe I can make sense of their plot. By now it is accepted canon that The Good Guys are left over Dharma scientists. Most people are leaning towards classifying them as bad. I am going to accept the former and contradict the latter.

Juliet represents the dissonance within The Good Guys camp. Her scene with Prince Ben this week showed their divergent points of view. Now, Jack has arrived and she thinks he’s going to save them. She thinks he is going to fix their camp (and that’s why they’re going to fall in love, but that’s a different story). By fix, I mean kill Prince Ben “by accident on purpose” when trying to remove his tumor.

Consider why we think The Good Guys are bad guys. Prince Ben is our main link to them. We are beginning to understand that he is a corrupt misguided leader. The writers have further blurred the line of our view of The Good Guys by introducing Pickett. We are supposed to believe Pickett is bad because of how he treats Sawyer. However, I refute that notion by pointing out that everyone treats Sawyer like crap and Pickett is nothing more than a loyal soldier who is now grief stricken. Why wouldn’t he see the 815ers as the enemy? They killed his wife.

What I’m getting at here is that The Good Guys actually aren’t bad. They are a bunch of good hearted people lead by the corrupt Prince Ben. My prediction is that Jack will kill Prince Ben and become the new leader of The Good Guys. Even Pickett will see that the reason his wife died wasn’t the 815ers fault, Sun was only acting in self defense, but Prince Ben’s fault for acting as if the 815ers are the enemy. Who is really the enemy then? Let’s move forward.

Second, the two groups of others theory has emerged again. In fact, it is essentially proven. Remember last season when I supposed that there were two groups of others, one represented by the clean Ethan and Goodwin and one represented by the dirty band of travelers who we only saw of through their feet? I was dead on with that differentiation. I’m patting myself on the back for it too.

Prince Ben sent Ethan and Goodwin in to determine who the “good” people were. By “good” they meant people who would be a worthwhile addition to their group. We have since learned that those people are Jack (because he is a doctor), Sawyer (because he is a con man), Kate (because she is multitalented), and possibly Locke (because he is also multitalented). “Good” is so subjective in this sense, which is why Goodwin could argue that Ana Lucia could be made “good.” Imagine the Jigsaw Trap they would have made to mold her. “Good” is also a clever trick by the writers. They had us focusing on a good and evil debate when really “good” only meant “useful.”

Pirate Pete, the man with the eye patch, represents the other group of others. I won’t call them The Bad Guys because I’m not sure they are yet. These are the dirty people. These are the people that kidnapped the children and Cindy. Many people have been asking, since we have now presumably met the others, where are the children? They are with the other others.

We’ve met The Good Guys and they don’t and can’t kidnap people the way the other others do. First off, if they did, they would have no need to send spies into the two camps. Second off, the reason they need spies is the only parts of the island they can monitor are the hatches. Notice how there was little interaction between The Good Guys and the 815ers before they entered The Swan. Once again, there was some clever writing here. The writers made use believe there was only one group of others by having Ethan kidnap Claire and then have Tailies get kidnapped at the beginning of season two. Thus we naturally associated the two groups of others. Did you notice how none of the main group of 815ers were kidnapped though?

The only child the main 815ers had since day one is Walt. The other others left them alone because it wasn’t worth their effort to kidnap him. Once again, we have some clever writing here. The Good Guys want to know why the other others want children as badly as we do. It is the reason they kidnapped Claire, Walt, and Alex. Then, by making Walt special, having Ethan abduct Claire, and seeing Alex with The Good Guys in season two, we naturally assumed they were the same others. Wrong, The Good Guys are using bad tactics to figure out the other others.

So why do the other others want children? The answer is simple, to stop anyone who inhabits the island from reproducing. There is a reason Claire was written into the show with child and Sun was impregnated. It sets up confrontation down the line. The other others are going to want those children. Why do the other others want to stop people from reproducing? They are the only rightful inhabitants of the island. They see themselves as the protectors of it. We’ve already established that the island is supernatural. They keep that power out of the hands of the rest of humanity. Dharma tried to harness that power and they stopped them. Now, Prince Ben is still trying to harness that power. The Good Guys and the other others are at war.

You can see the Jack and Locke split from season one returning. Locke will join the other others, and possibly lead them, and Jack will lead The Good Guys. Two players, one light, one dark…Jack and Locke have always been our players. I am sure of that now. I digress though. It is time to delve into my third point.

The crazy French chick was right. The monster is the island security system. It is clearly not under the control of The Good Guys. Rather, it is under the control of, or working hand and hand with, the other others. The monster may literally be the island itself, a manifestation of the island. The interesting thing is how the monster killed Eko.

We have now reached our third point. Initially, Eko was the only person the other others tried to kidnap, but he killed two of them. Then, the island tried to communicate with Eko the same way it communicated with Locke. Yes, Eko was the Tailie Locke. He was looking for a higher answer and the island tried to provide it for him. In the end though, he refused to curtail to it, first killing two of its allies, then denying it through the body of Yemi, and was killed for his insolence.

I have a bunch of answers to a couple of LOST quandaries at this point. Through Yemi’s resurrection, we now see what happened to Christian’s body. The island was communicating with Jack the way it was communicating with Eko. Jack’s Dad may not be dead and neither may be any of the other recently deceased (except Arzt because he blew up). Remember how Hurley made the Ethan resurrection joke? I wouldn’t be surprised if the other others were comprised of Boone, Shannon, Ana Lucia, Libby, the Marshall, the Pilot, Scott (or Steve), and Eko, or at the very least the people the island had a direct hand in killing, Eko and Boone. You see, the other deceased were all killed by actions put in motion by other humans.

Yes, I have contradicted myself and that is the newest question I have and I will attempt to answer it. Did the island kill Eko because it did want him or didn’t want him? It makes more sense if the island didn’t want him. This answer would align the island and the other others. If it killed Eko because it did want him, then we would now have three groups, The Good Guys, The Other Others, and the islands.

The final quandary I now have an answer too is the circular nature of the storylines of some of the deceased. My answer is: That kind of writing is just good writing. Every main character has a resolution to their storyline. The viewer doesn’t feel like the character was incomplete or stories were left unfinished. Notice how the main characters who died (Boone, Shannon, Ana Lucia, and Eko) all had full circle storylines whereas the minor characters (the Pilot, the Marshall, Scott or Steve, Joanna, Colleen, Arzt, and yes, Libby) never had a flashback. Sorry Libby fans; she was never a main character. Also note how Shannon, Ana Lucia, and Eko all died at the end of episodes where they had a flashback. I think if the writers did Boone’s death all over again, it would have been his flashback episode rather than Jack’s. You know what this observation means? When your favorite 815ers is having a flashback, hold your breath. That episode is the only time they might die.

Oh, one final note I forgot. I definitely think the island is observing and manipulating the 815ers. Locke said he saw a bright light. Eko saw that light the first time he saw the island monster. It was the island flipping through his past. The monster then uses that information to manipulate the 815ers using materials on the island such as Sawyer’s boar, Kate’s horse, Christian, and Yemi.

I hope I answered a lot of your questions. LOST is starting to make a lot of sense to me and I see how they can only take it a few more seasons. This season we are going to learn about The Good Guys and see Jack’s rise to power with them. The Other Others will also be introduced. Next season we will learn about the Other Others and Locke’s rise to power with them. Season five might be the preparation for the final battle. The movie will definitely be the final battle.


-Next week is a huge week for LOST, especially Kate, Sawyer, and Jack fans. The episode is a Kate flashback called “I Do” and according to TVGuide Kate is supposed to make her choice between the two. Based on the name, I would expect the flashbacks to be about her failed marriage. Based on the storyline, I would expect her to choose Sawyer.

-My other prediction for the next episode is that it will end on a cliffhanger. Like the cliffhanger at the end of season one of Everwood where we didn’t know the fate of Dr. Brown’s patient Colin, we won’t know the fate of Jack’s patient Prince Ben until February. Either Jack will emerge from the OR and not tell us the news, he will agonize over whether he should make the Eko choice and kill Prince Ben during surgery or not as the episode ends, or the end of the episode will be him and Juliet in the OR and he says “scalpel.”

-On a final note, I found the perfect Kate song. I downloaded Kellie Pickler’s new album (I’ve come to realize I love Southern blondes) and there is a song on it called Wild Ponies. Here are the lyrics:

She was a beautiful girl
She was wild as the wind
On top of the world
Til she fell in love with him
Everyone told her that he was bad news
A boy goin nowhere ain't no good for you

Cause wild ponies are born to run
Don't you no wild ponies
Don't belong to no one
So baby, run
Run away

The first time he hit her
Was right after church
He said he was sorry
But it only got worse
Now she's not the same girl
That she used to be
He's breakin her spirit
He's killing her dreams

Cause wild ponies are born to run
Don't you know wild ponies
Don't belong to know one
So baby, run
Run away

She went out for groceries
Just an ordinary day
She realized she was just a block from the interstate
She set at the stop light
The wheel in her hands
And when the light changed
She knew this was her chance

Wild ponies are born to run
Don't you know wild ponies
Don't belong to no one
Baby, run
Run away

Wild ponies? He hit here? Born to run? Did she write this song for LOST? It’s pretty eerie either way and it proves Kate belongs with Sawyer. The song is a vintage country song. Kate is a country girl and belongs with the country boy Sawyer. And well, if you’re not down with that, I’ve got four words for you:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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