Jayemel Pet Peeve #372: When you know people will continue to deny the truth behind a statement or situation that is already proven.
No, that pet peeve isn’t in reference to ideas like the Theory of Evolution. It is a theory after all. What I’m referring to is, for example, the mindset of supporters of professional athletes such as quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. If you’re from Indy or your Dad raised you on Colts football and the games remind you of him (aw, how sweet), your fandom is all well and good. However, if you still think Manning is the best quarterback in football, you’re a moron. It is proven that he cannot perform under pressure. He can win small games on big stages. Put him on the big stage and he puts on a worst show than a quickly signed teen pop punk band. The onus is on him to prove that he is the best in the game, not vice versa. In other words, the status quo is him choking in the playoffs and blaming his offensive line.
How does JMLPP372 apply to LOST? I cringed at the cliffhanger to the fall finale. I didn’t cringe because it was a bad cliffhanger. I cringed because I knew how people would react to it. Kate was refusing to leave Jack behind. All the people who claimed Jack and Kate would end up together now have their out. Kate wasn’t running, therefore she will choose Jack in the long run and Sawyer is just a fling, right? Wrong.
Kate and Sawyer are the status quo. The writers have been building towards their pairing since the scene where Sun dug up the message bottle to find her wedding ring and Kate tore through the messages to find one from Sawyer. You could argue they’ve been building towards it since the second half of the pilot episode, but I picked that moment in season two for a reason. Much of the triangle writing was very ambiguous in season one. We all picked our favorite, Jack or Sawyer, but Kate conceivably still could have chosen either one.
Season two marked a change in the writing. Ana Lucia was introduced as a love interest for Jack (yes, I still maintain that was the plan) and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Kate got over her childlike reverence of Jack and chose Sawyer. Well, even though she finally chose Sawyer, the child like reverence remains. The Jack and Kate fans have their out, presumably until Jack dies and I’m not so sure I want to see his demise anymore (even though I’m still sure it will occur). Let’s save this discussion for later though.
For now it’s to infinity and beyond…or at least the flashback section.
WHAT WOULD DUNCAN MCLEOD DO?
Before I go into any indepth character analysis, I’d like to make an observation. I think I fell in love this past Wednesday night. I’ve always thought Evangeline Lilly was cute. She never rose past number two on my LOST list though. Emilie de Ravin always held the top spot over her. During the flashback scenes this episode though, Evangeline blew Emilie out of the water. She seriously looked ridiculous. I don’t even just mean when she was in the wedding dress. She looked amazing when she was shopping for taco night. Who looks good when the go to the grocery store?
Ahem, this column is serious and respectable. How dare you insinuate that I am immature and childish! To prove you wrong I am going to be critical and intellectual when dissecting this episode’s flashback! I’m not going to tell you that I just changed my long standing Confidence Man screen capture desktop wallpaper to an Evangeline Lilly wallpaper either.
I think I’ve located the source of my critique of the flashbacks this season. They aren’t surprising. Take this week’s for example. I feel as if I could have written it. Hold on a second. Don’t start attacking my ego. Besides wasting your time because everyone already knows that my ego is exponentially larger than it should be, you’d be missing the point. I’m not saying I could have penned the exact lines the LOST writers did. I’m not saying I would have thought to have Kate call the Marshall in the pouring rain and confide in him. The short scene subtly explained a lot about their relationship. We’re beginning to get a sense of why the Marshall acted so familiar with Kate. He was that familiar.
What I am saying is the basic plot was easy to outline; you there’s no such thing as DomestiKate. She thought she wanted to settle down. She thought she had found true love. The truth is that she had found nothing. She had to run. How hard is it for a hardcore LOST fan to conceive of the plot “Kate meets guy. Kate gets married. Kate drugs him and runs away.” Though with how the flashback ended, I have to wonder, is she still married? How does marriage law work? If you have a runaway bride AFTER the marriage, can you get a divorce without her consent? It seems kind of messed up to think of a judge saying, “Nope, the bitch ain’t here. You gotta stay legally bound to her until her body turns up dead.” Maybe that’s the reason the guy took to space in that show Firefly.
While I’m referencing other shows, did anyone else think of Friends every time someone called her Monica? I wasn’t even a big Friends fan and I thought of it every time. I really wanted her to flip it around by going Sawyer style and calling her husband Chandler at one point. That scene would have been priceless.
Overall, though the plot was predictable, I enjoyed the flashback. It was well balanced in the episode. I didn’t feel like it dominated the show, nor did the island activity dominate the episode. Kate has a lot more emotional depth to her now. Before she seemed like a cold hearted fugitive who ran and manipulated people without remorse. In a way, she was treated worse by the writers than Sawyer ever was. The fact that people have always thought of Sawyer as worse than Kate goes to show how far being a pretty girl goes in life.
I’ve already touched on the phone conversation with the Marshall. The other scene that I thought was powerful was the scene with her husband’s mother. You could feel the tragedy in the air. Deep down Kate knew she wasn’t going to be staying even though she wanted too so badly. She wanted to take that locket in good faith. The pain in her eyes was palpable through her happiness. Part of me wanted the marriage to work out even though I knew it never would. And that sense of inevitability is the true difficulty behind the flashbacks. In season one, and to a lesser extent season two, the flashbacks were a cool and unique way to learn about the characters. You could place yourself into the situation of the 815ers. Whenever you meet any new group of people they have seemingly automated responses and reactions that you have no idea how they developed. The pilot episode threw us into that situation and each subsequent episode pulled the curtain back a little more. Now, the novelty has worn off and many viewers are turning a callous shoulder to the show. I’m going to press pause on the discussion here and leave it as a “To Be Continued” until the LOSTology section because, in a point which I’m surprised no one has tried to argue yet, the flashbacks are actually a subsection of the mythology of LOST.
HEY, AT LEAST IT BUILDS CHARACTER
What we witnessed this episode was a little ironic character development. I’m not interested in talking about Locke. I’m not interested in talking about Sayid. I’m not even interested in talking about Sawyer and Kate. The character I’m interested in is Jack.
My admiration for the good doctor has been growing steadily this season. Maybe this odd outcome is a factor of him being placed in a situation he can’t control and where the control isn’t impressed upon him. If he wants the power, he has to earn the power. He has to struggle like the rest of us. Maybe I’m enjoying Jack because he’s no longer the golden boy. He’s the flunky being played like one of Sawyer’s marks.
He finally stepped up and grew a pair. More importantly, he did it in a way I never anticipated. Maybe he outsmarted me simply because I know little about medicine (even though I watch House religiously). I would have just killed Prince Ben. My hand would slipped, “Whoops, that was an essential nerve. We lost him. Aw, shucks. I said lost, isn’t that ironic?” Instead, Jack cut a small incision in Prince Ben’s kidney. Would a person really bleed out in an hour if that were the case? Of course, I don’t think there’s really any way to answer that question. I don’t think doctors gather a group of people and then put small incisions in all their kidneys to learn the average time it takes them to bleed out. Or maybe they do. It is a sick world we live in these days (Slim, for pete’s sake, put down Christopher Reeve’s legs).
The irony is that Jack pulled a con. If you wanted to argue hierarchically, you could even say he is now a better con man than Sawyer. Prince Ben conned Sawyer and Jack conned Prince Ben. Sawyer’s good, they’re better, Jack is the best. I don’t advocate such an argument though. Sawyer has conned the 815ers so many times it’s not even funny anymore. Ok, I lied, it’s still funny. No matter how many Jack Bauer outsmarts the world, it’s still awesome. The same applies to Sawyer.
The exact irony wasn’t the con. The exact irony was how the con fit into the whole Kate storyline of the episode. It was great to see Jack get some courage and take a stand. It was great to see him make the Good Guys scramble. It was even good to see him save Sawyer’s life. What was ironic though was how he gave Kate hope back, sort of.
Sawyer never told Kate that they were on a smaller island because he wanted to give her something to believe in. When he did tell her there, she finally chose him and all the risqué LOST footage ensued. Then, a few minutes later, Jack did everything in his power to give her something to believe in. It’s like rain on your wedding day. She makes her choice and the other guy seemingly gives her what the one she chose couldn’t.
I said seemingly for a reason. Initially when I saw the episode, even when I wrote up to this point in The Midside, I thought Kate as crying because she now had an opportunity to run and she didn’t want to leave Jack behind. Like I said, I’m sure many people, especially the Jack and Kate fans, are going to argue that point. However, it is now my belief that she was crying and yelling because she fears for his life.
When Jack took control of the operating room and starting making demands my first thought was, “This is it. This is where he dies.” Then I saw the end of the episode and I thought he was the hero again. However, Jack doesn’t have all the information. There is nowhere to run to. Sure, Kate and Sawyer could leave the cages, but where would they go, to the edge of the island? Would their lives become a giant game of hide and seek with the Good Guys? The only out I see to this situation is that Kate and Sawyer take the boat and drive to the other island. If they do, Jack might be safe. Otherwise, he’s in major trouble.
Then again, there’s the whole storyline with Juliet. If he kills Prince Ben, will there be new leadership among the Good Guys? Will he assume the leadership position I speculated about in a previous Midside? Wow, this cliffhanger actually left a lot of open (of course, what LOST episode doesn’t) and the questions are much different than the “Will Kate run?” one I focused on after my initial viewing. God, I love The Midside. God, I love LOST.
The time has arrived for me to note a trend among LOST fans I’ve noticed since the middle of the second season. This trend first manifested in response to S. O. S., the Rose and Bernard episode. Even though the episode was well written and produced, some people complained about it being slow and unentertaining. Others, like me for instance, praised the episode for its story and character depth. We learned a lot about Rose and Bernard’s relationship that episode and it made us consider them on a different level. There was even a bit of mythology thrown in with Rose’s cancer and the crossover with Locke. The response was split into those two groups, character and mythology, and the schism has only continued to grow since.
LOST’s popularity arose due to the focus on the characters. As I already mentioned in this column, the flashbacks were used in a unique way. We were given a new perspective on a situation we’ve all been placed in. We were given a perspective we’ve all always wanted. We saw inside the hearts and minds (a nod to Boone and Shannon’s first season episode) of people in a way we never could be more. What made this perspective even more powerful is the twist on the common character archetypes. LOST succeeds here where Heroes fails. The good looking talented doctor is tragically tormented by the family legacy he was forced to follow. The Iraqi soldier is the rational level headed one who abhors even his own use of violence when it is unnecessary. The pitiful old cripple is mysteriously knowledgeable and talented at seemingly everything. The Korean couple is not the bad reflection of their society in a Western perspective. The redneck Southerner rebel is intellectual, witty, and emotionally self aware. We were sucked in by the storytelling elements and fell in love with the characters. Before we came to know the island, we came to know them. Then Locke and Boone found the Swan Station Hatch.
Upon discovery of the hatch, Locke’s storyline became one of two epicenters of this dichotomy (the other is Hurley). His journey to uncover the mythology of the island, starting with the unearthing of the Hatch, became a metaphor for his search for purpose that spanned all the way to his depressing back story. In order to find inner significance, he demanded outer significance. The fans that followed his iconic character began to feel the same way. It wasn’t important how the characters reacted. What was important was what they reacted to. Those fans that drifted to the mythology side of the dichotomy had their reasons of course.
There is no denying that there are people who just love mythology. They love puzzles and they want the answers as soon as possible. They come to their decisions and want to be proven either correct or incorrect at the earliest possible date. I am not talking about those people. There is also no denying that all of us enjoy the mythology on some level. I want to know the answer to the puzzle. You all read my theories. If I didn’t care about the questions, I wouldn’t try to formulate an answer. The difference between myself and others like me and the mythology-driven fans is we don’t have a desire to know that burns like when a prostitute pees because we’re still as invested in the characters as we have been since day one.
I’m not saying that mythology-driven fans don’t care about the characters. Rather, they feel like they’ve gotten to know the characters so well that they’re like old friends. Think about when you first met your good friends and compare the way you interacted then and the way you interact now. You didn’t have complex flashbacks, but you had to learn how and why they would react to different situations anyway. Now, you know them so well that you can anticipate how they will react. The same can be said for the 815ers. It’s a safe bet that Jack is going to get frustrated and angsty at any situation he doesn’t have direct control over. Locke is going to do and say crazy things when faced with something he doesn’t understand. Sawyer and Kate are going to outwit, outplay, and outlast (except when it comes to each other). We have sufficient why to understand some things. We don’t have the entire why to understand everything. For some people, the sufficient is enough. For me, it’s not.
How do I stay invested in the characters? First off, I love a good story. I don’t care how many buildings you blow up, vampires you stab through the heart, victims you mutilate in traps, or aliens you disintegrate with your laser if there is no soft chewy center to your story. If there’s no human element, then there is only senseless whatever genre. Second, and more importantly, in regards to LOST I believe that the characters are the answer to the mythology. I’ve already explained the growing difficulty with the flashback technique. One could even argue that the flashbacks have run their course. The writers could have easily abandoned the flashbacks at the start of season three, but they didn’t. Additionally, the back story crossovers of the characters is one of the most interesting and important parts of the mystery. Ask yourself if you’d care half as much about LOST if the characters weren’t connected in the past.
My advice to all LOST fans is to be patient. The introduction of more questions doesn’t necessitate a lack of answers. Think of how much your life wouldn’t make sense without the context of your perspective. The mystery of LOST has never hinged on cheap twists and magic tricks. It is based upon what we weren’t being told. Go back and watch season one again. Considering the information we have now, it seems a whole lot less mysterious. What it all boils down to is if you’re a man of science or a man of faith. Are you only going to focus on what you see, only trusting what is immediately in front of you or are you going to keep the end in mind and believe that the writers, producers, and creators know the end? Me? I’m a man of faith.
-I’ll try and write some columns over the break. I can promise you that they definitely won’t be about the Groundhog’s Day rip off daybreak. I can also promise you that it will be better to look for them on MONDAY as my schedule best allows me to write on the weekend.
-Enjoy the break and remember: LOST is a pleasant diversion, but it’s not life. And if you disagree with that truth, well, then:
Shut up, you’re wrong.