Sunday, August 14, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E13 The Man from Tallahassee

(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.)

I broke my little ships. Wait, I mean stool. And I didn’t exactly break it, more divided it in two with a crack right down the middle. Its hardly noticeable. The seat is still firmly attached to the legs. You can still sit on it without fear of a sudden drop. I tried, trust me. I probably won’t even have to pay for it when I move out of this apartment. The school will never know. Well, unless they read my column, but we know no one does that, right? Right? Anyone? Bueller?

How did I break my stool? The answer is the end of the episode, of course. No, the ending didn’t literally crack the wood. It’s a simple case of cause and effect. The ending of the episode caused me to be frustrated. My frustration caused me to stand up and knock over the stool that was standing in front of me. Before you say it, I don’t have anger management issues. I’m a LOST fan.

I dare you to try and say (and mean) that the ending of the episode didn’t make you want more like a college girl in a low cut top. I don’t know where that metaphor came from. Anyway, we’ve hit the middle of a strong swing of episodes and it doesn’t seem like the upward trend on the graph is going to stop anytime soon. The last couple of episodes have featured a couple revelations that have been pretty obvious (Claire is Jack’s half sister? Duh. Locke was paralyzed because of his asshole father? That outcome was a safe bet.), but the stories have all been told in an entertaining manner. Isn’t entertainment what a television show is all about? Sure, this next week is going to be one long hellish wait because of the timely ending (which ranks up there with Jack seeing the Red Sox win the World Series as one of the best endings to a LOST episode ever), but isn’t that timeliness one of the reasons we love LOST so much, even if it makes us destroy household furniture?

To be fair, as I’m always fair here (especially to myself), the stool was already half cracked from earlier in the season when Kate demanded an apology from Sawyer. As with this episode’s ending, it prolonged a plot line that I painfully and begrudgingly enjoy, but such enjoyment doesn’t mean there weren’t parts that were emotionally dissatisfying. Maybe that balancing act is where the college girl metaphor from last paragraph came from. LOST is a brilliant example of how to pull off the Ying and the Yang that college girls could learn a thing or two from.

I have no idea where I’m going with this introduction anymore except that I broke stuff and referenced Captain Picard, so I’m going to discuss Locke’s flashback now.


Finally, FINALLY, we see some evolution of John Locke in his flashback. Every week it becomes more and more ridiculous that Locke is Mr. Iconic on the island and Mr. Pathetic in his flashbacks. How’s that dichotomy for a Jekyll and Hyde comparison? Write that down. Oh wait, I already did.

As I was typing above, Locke finally grew some backbone in a flashback and stood up to someone. When his father conned him out of his kidney before, what did he do? He demanded entrance into the jerk’s swanky estate and after he was denied it, he yelled his heart out before sneaking out of bed with the woman he just-, um,-let’s-leave-it-at-that and parking his car outside the jerk’s swanky estate. When his girlfriend followed him to find him parked outside of said swanky estate and threw his keys over the gate of the estate (I really need to stop rhyming in my free time), what did he do? He broke down and bought into the whole “That’s why it’s called a Leap of Faith, John” line. I don’t know what he could have done to his father, but he could have at least stood up to Helen by saying something like, “Sure, I’m crazy, but isn’t it crazier to follow me in the middle of the night, grab my keys, and throw them into my jerky father’s swanky estate? Besides, I’m allowed to be crazy because I’m John Locke. No one except this Iraqi named Sayid calls me on my bullshit even when I kill this kid named Boone. Who are you, Helen? No, I’m not buying that you-were-on-Married-with-Children crap.” Yes, I love hyphenated adjectives. You get my point with the whole evolution thing though, right? Good. I mean, the dude manipulates everyone on the island like he’s Brian Freakin’ Heidik and in his flashbacks he’s (insert the name of a bad Survivor player here). At least we finally saw him realize he needs to play the game, even if he sucks at it.

Oh my, does he suck at the game. I was so pissed during the episode. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s watching shows or movies where the point is to enjoy watching stupid people doing stupid things (unless it’s some sort of comedy like Dude Where’s My Car or a movie where the dumb people get plugged in the end). For instance, recently a friend who I introduced to the wonders of House wanted to introduced me to the wonders of something she found, um, wondrous. She let me borrow her copy of the movie Snatch. Now, it made sense she would let me borrow it. It’s a British action comedy and I love action. Plus, House’s sarcasm is essentially British humor. Why wouldn’t I like the movie? Well, all the characters were stupid. The guy who narrates the beginning tells you how dangerous a mob boss is and all his trouble in the movie stems from his dealing with said mob boss. This guy and his cohort Tommy turn out to be the heroes of the movie. One of the other interlaced plots features four robbers who are completely asinine in an unfunny way. What does this diatribe have to do with LOST? Nothing, I’m trying to fill up space so my column seems long this week. In reality, the point is that the only enjoyment I got out of the movie was that when it was over I knew I didn’t have to waste anymore time watching it. You can imagine how little sympathy I had for the characters.

John Locke was as dumb this episode. First off, rather than telling the kid the truth, he confronts Anderson Cooper/Mr. Sawyer/whatever-name-he’s going-by-this-week jerk father face to face. Um, hello? You know this guy is an old, well off con man. Do you think he got to that far without ever having a contingency plan? Predictably, the young (and as I was told by my friend Ashley, good looking) kid who only wanted to help his mother gets offed. Nice one, Locke. Put one in the “You’re a stupid moron” column.

Then, the FBI comes to his doorstep. He responds to the agents in such a ridiculous way I can’t tell if he’s in Mr. Iconic mode or Mr. Pathetic mode. Did he honestly not know who the kid was until they reminded him or was he lying? Did he honestly believe they would buy his solicitation line because he didn’t realize the kid was as rich as Shannon’s father was? Then, when he is obviously sniffed out, he doesn’t tell the pair the truth. No, never mind the fact that they work for the US government and thus have the resources to track down terrorists who spend their whole lives concocting ways not to be found or that this show is fiction and thus the US government has even greater powers than in real life (just look at what Dharma can do and imagine greater power), Locke wants to keep his mouth shut for his grand resolution to his plan. Put another in the “You’re a stupid moron” column.

What John Locke does next is the kicker. Sure, a confrontation somewhere down the line between you and your jerk father nemesis makes sense drama wise. We all want to see him, say, tied to a chair and gagged in a closet at your complete mercy, but, come on, John, it’s way too early in the narrative to make the kill! You don’t walk into the lion’s den without any contingency plans yourself. Put a third in the “You’re a stupid moron” column.

Predictably as Christian showing up in Claire’s flashback last week, John Locke gets pushed out the side of the building and falls eight stories. He feels his back break as it collides with the pavement. The amount of sympathy I feel equals zero. Plus, I missed the actual push because my cell phone rang in the middle of this scene because my Seattle (not Portland) friend was calling because she was at dinner and thus would miss the American Idol results show and wanted to know if I knew them (I didn’t). Thanks, AC. I really appreciated the phone call. Actually, it’s probably better off you called. I probably would have just laughed when he got pushed.

Seriously though, Locke is the one character who my disdain has grown for the most over the run of the series. Walkabout was the first episode that was completely LOST. The twist at the end was killer. It made you have so much sympathy for John Locke. You understood his love for the island. Then, he smashes Sayid so there won’t be any triangulation. Then, he, essentially, sentences Boone to death. Now, in the middle of the third season, we discover that the whole reason we had sympathy for him (his paralysis) was his own fault for making me put marks in the “You’re a stupid moron” column.

To top it all off, what does he do? He blows up the submarine. Sure, he progressed the plot. Sure, he made it so The Good Guys have a reason to be mad at Prince Ben and the revolt could begin. But do you know what he did that was so egregious I can never forgive him for it? He sentenced us to more Jack! If the submarine hadn’t blown up, Jack and Juliet would have left and never returned. No more bitching about his sucky father. No more lame self doubt when the guy graduated from Medical School and preformed frickin’ miracles. No more quadrangle. (Interesting side note: Quadrangle is actually a word, according to both Microsoft Word and

John Locke, you are entertaining and thus more valuable than Charlie, but from this moment on you are placed above (or is it below) Jack on my most hated list. Sucks, don’t it?


The other side of the island was once again left out in the cold. I’m sure a bunch of people will have a problem with it. I didn’t. It’s well known that I am the #1 Sawyer fan and I still enjoyed the heck out of this episode, so whatever.

There wasn’t much out of Kate this episode. At least she was consistent with her motivations this week. They definitely played up the tension between her and Jack in the billiards room scene. Who was the director of this episode? I wonder if the almost kissing blocking was his idea or if it was in the script. Regardless, I’d like to have a girl as hot as Kate not understand what I mean when I say, “Go away and don’t come back.” Of course, I’d never say that statement to a girl as hot as Kate. Of course, I’d never get the chance to say that that statement to a girl as hot as Kate.

There was even less Sayid this episode. So, he got kicked in the face and chained to a swing set. I have to admit though that one of the most enjoyable facial expressions of the season so far was when he was chained to the swing set and you could see that he was thinking “Why did I let Kate talk me into this?”

Jack, did anyone buy his “I can bring help” excuse to Kate? Dude, we know you just wanted to get onto the submarine with Juliet so you could make babies and then resurface in, well, I don’t know what country where you would celebrate the Red Sox World Series win by getting drunk off vodka. Does anyone buy any of his crap anymore? Everyone knows the island can’t be found, Jack. Of course, he is dumb enough to believe he could somehow save everyone. Of course, he does have a knack for working miracles.

Ben, did anyone else catch how he was trapped in a corner? Sure, don’t send Jack and Juliet home and break a promise. Sure, send them home and seem weak. However, as he himself said to Locke, take away the ability to send people home and The Good Guys start to get restless. Now what does he do with the submarine gone? Sure, he could turn everyone against John Locke, but he himself said that Locke is far too valuable to everything, so what does he do? Prince Ben is undone.

On a random side note, did Locke have more than one package of C4 or is one enough to blow up an entire submarine?


So, Ben was born on the island? The actor who plays him is 52 years old. However, he would appear to have the same affliction as Jayemel where you look younger than you are. If Dharma was founded sometime in the 70s, I could totally believe that Ben is in his late 30s or early 40s. Of course, that statement is assuming he was part of Dharma and The Good Guys are part of Dharma.

Ben being born on the island also raises some interesting questions. Why did they need a fertility doctor then? Why did Ethan kidnap Claire and mess with her baby in womb? Was he trying to begin brainwashing pre-birth? Is that what The Others do with children, brainwash them? Which brings me to what Jack said to Kate. All of the children are safe? Then what was the deal with Cindy saying they were there to observe and the parading of the children in front of Jack. Something about those actions make them seem unsanctioned by Prince Ben and the work of other others.

I think we’re close to unraveling the mystery of the Others and will find out a lot next week. My suspicion is that there were two groups of Others (Dharma and the Hostiles) and they merged into two through the confrontation the Russian explained. Kelvin in the Swan was likely a leftover as he was not allowed to leave for more than an hour or so at a time because he had to push that button.

Toss my hat in the “Locke’s father is Mr. Sawyer” theory crowd. That theory is the next one that is all but proven in the same way Claire being Jack’s half sister was. Which, by the way, brings us back to the beginning of the column. How the heck did The Good Guys get Locke’s father to the island? I don’t believe the Magic Box story for one second and, if I did, I would ask Ben if he’s ever heard of Pandora’s Box and when he replied that he’s not an idiot I would say, “You could’ve fooled me. You opened the damn thing.”


Did anyone catch the murse (that’s male nurse for all you non-Scrubs fans) say he didn’t want to hear about what John Locke can’t do? Now that line was some cheeky writing. It also reminds me that this comment probably belongs in the LOSTology section. How does someone fall eight stories and survive? Sounds like divine intervention to me. Of course, how does anyone survive a plane crash like the 815ers?

You know how I always claim this show is well written and planned from Day One. That question is silly, of course you know that I always make that claim. Well, this episode is a perfect example of that planning. Do you think it was by some sheer coincidence and luck that Ben happened to be in a wheelchair in the episode where we found out why Locke was in a wheelchair? No, it was an irony planned from the beginning. Perhaps it was even a symbolic role reversal of the power shift of the island. Granted, we don’t know if the power shift is good or bad (as they played with the whole Good vs. Evil theme again with Locke and Ben as the extremes this time), but if you don’t think everything in this episode was planned for a very long time, well, you know what I’m going to say:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

No comments: