Sunday, August 14, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E16 One of Us

(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’ve gotten into a habit I enjoy this season. The only information I allow myself to know about next week’s episode is the preview. Yes, I know, it’s still a spoiler of sorts, but think of it like marijuana. It’s a small, mainly harmless, drug used for recreation. The people who use it mainly forget stuff and are lazy. In the case of previews, the opposite holds true. My mind starts racing a mile a minute and I remember more stuff from previous episodes, especially the episode that just airs.

I know, I know, marijuana is a gateway drug, right? The same too can be said for previews. Once you have a little bit of information, you go seeking out more. You download the Canadian preview. At this point, the information isn’t enough to satiate you. The spoiler forums on LOST message boards start to look better and better until, finally, you know who has a flashback in what week, who will guest star in every episode, and what exactly the writers are foreshadowing in their podcasts. You know how I know this development? I’ve been there. Consider me Christian Shepard and yourselves as my AA sponsors. You satiate me to the point that I don’t need to go looking for anything else. Wow, that sentence sounded dirty.

Seriously though, don’t worry about me relapsing. I’m not as weak as Jack’s Dad. Plus, I don’t have a douchebox of a son (we’ll return to that subject later) to break into my AA meeting and punch me in the face or, in my case, to smash my computer screen in while I’m typing my column. HULK SMASH! Alright, I’m all over the map like the LOST island tonight. I’m not going to relapse because I enjoy not knowing. Way back in Season One, I knew who was going to have a flashback weeks ahead of time. Now that I don’t know, I’ve realized how fun it is being in the dark. I honestly feel more in tune with the writers. For instance, when I said, man, we need more Sayid, what did they do? Well, they wrote a Sayid story and put his flashback episode in exactly where I said they would. I can imagine them sitting in a production meeting and missing Sayid as much as I did. OK, maybe not as much as the fans missed him, but you get my point.

There is one thing I miss when not reading up on the episodes ahead of time. I rarely ever know what the episode titles are before I view them. That state is like reading a book without knowing the title. How can you properly analyze a piece without knowing the first cursory piece of information the writer provides to you? In a stand alone piece such as a book or poem, you can’t. Luckily with LOST, the name of the show gives you a clue as to what is going on in every episode.

Tonight was a very different matter. Usually I can figure out what the episode title is based upon what is going on in the show. For instance, it was obvious that Mittelos Bioscience was not in Portland. Hence, it was a logical jump to say that was the episode name. Tonight, I came to the episode name in a very different manner. The opening scene to the episode was very long, it even contained a long flashback, and it became very obvious that the episode would be about her fitting in with the 815ers. It was at this point I joked to myself that it would be funny if the episode was named, “One of Us”, a reference to that creepy movie that I can’t remember the name of where they say that line. That movie is always referenced and I’ll always remember the scene in the Clerks cartoon where the twin retarded oafish sisters say it to Randall. One of us. One of us.

Wow, this introduction is long. See what happens when I sit down to write my column immediately after the episode airs? Maybe I should take a lap around the block, go downtown, get some pizza, or pick up some chicks. Who am I kidding? I love LOST more than I could ever love a woman. Am I pathetic or what?


Once again, the flashbacks were so deftly crafted. How can anyone say that this show isn’t planned anymore? Expose. EXPOSE! I know what the response to this episode is going to be. “They used the scenes from Season One” to make it look like this week’s episode was planned, when really, they just got lucky and made up the bullshit about the implant. I’m not suggesting that this episode was planned from the beginning. The implant may have been made up soley for this episode. That in depth of a plan would be absolutely ridiculous. What I am saying is that the situation was planned.

Do you really think it’s a coincidence that Claire was kidnapped and Juliet is a fertility doctor? Do you really think it’s a coincidence that Juliet is the top of fertility doctor who was brought to the island and that pregnancy has been a major theme of the show? No, it’s not a coincidence. The greater scheme is starting to come into view. I’ll talk about it a little more in the LOSTology section, but the important part is that there was a kernel of truth in this episode and that truth is relevant to Juliet’s story.

The best lies are the ones that are centered on a lot of truth. What I mean by that statement is, you don’t tell the lie. You use the truth, you portray it in a certain manner, to lead people to the lie you want them to believe. Notice how tonight, Juliet never said she should be trusted. She never said she was one of the 815ers. Well, I take that claim back. She might have said it to Jack. I don’t really remember. The broader point is that she didn’t go around screaming it from the hilltops. Rather, she left that job to Jack. He was leading everyone to believe she could be trusting. Heck, he was her Johnny Cochran. If Juliet is left behind, she must be kind.

What was the chewy center of truth? Claire really is the first woman (that they know of) to survive pregnancy on the island. I believe everything Juliet said about why Ethan acted the way he did too. It makes too much sense. If you go back and watch Season One again, you can tell the point where Ethan goes out of control and it really is because of Hurley’s census. Also, why else would he inject a pregnant woman with all that serum? Why else would he take her to an abandoned hatch? Ethan went renegade and got killed by the lamest character because of it. Serves him right.

Did Claire survive the pregnancy because of the medication? I’m not so sure. Juliet said the disease begins at conception. What I think she means is that when the sperm bonds with the egg, the disease begins to infect the mother. It looks like it then kills the mother before she can conceive. My bet is that because Claire was so far pregnant when she crashed on the island, the disease didn’t have a chance to fully work on her. Thus, she was the control in the situation as Juliet said. I’ll return to this discussion later in LOSTology. I discussed what I did already to show how Juliet wasn’t lying.

The other part of the flashbacks that was deftly crafted was the way Juliet was portrayed. As the episode progressed, I felt more sympathetic towards her. I honestly believe she wants to leave the island. The writers used that sympathy and that belief to lead us to belief she was acting in earnest in the episode. I’m not going to lie. About halfway through, I almost bought that she was really left behind. I almost bought that she was someone to feel sorry for. Then she gave that little speech to Sayid and Sawyer and I knew it was all an act. The ending of the episode came as no surprise to me.

The question I have now is how deep does this con go? In Expose, we saw Ben being to explain the plan to Juliet. Was part of the reason they captured Austen and Ford so that they could release them? Remember, Ben likes to make you believe the action you are taking is your idea. Did he want Jack to demand that they release Kate and Sawyer so Juliet could help him and gain his trust? True, stuff went wrong. Plans never unfold perfectly. If Sun had never shot Colleen, Juliet wouldn’t have had to kill Pickett.

Do you want further speculation on what I’m contemplating? Consider the scene where Jack opens the door to the Hydra and water comes spilling in. Ben repeatedly says that if he opens it, everyone will die. Why would Ben allow the possibility of Jack killing them all? He wouldn’t. The door was mysteriously left open and Jack could wander around. The entire scene was setup for Jack to bond with Juliet. He thinks he put his and her life in danger and when he woke up she was there.

There is, of course, always one more thing to wonder. Why is Juliet in on everything? If she really does want to leave the island like I honestly believe she does, why would she go along with Ben? Is it because he holds the power to get off the island and now that it’s not possible to get off the island, he holds all the power on the island? Or is there actually brainwashing and she’s been brainwashed. Whatever the case may be, I do think she has honest feelings for Jack and it will become important later.


Jack is a douchebox. There I said it for the nine millionth time. If you can’t see why after this episode, I don’t know how I can convince you. First off, he has been so conned by Juliet that he is unintentionally helping her con everyone else. Second off, I did not believe for one second that he was trying to get off the island to help everyone. Did you notice that when he said that everyone kind of went silent? They all realized the truth. Jack is no different than anyone else who spouts the “live together, die alone” mentality. As long as he feels like he’s on the same level as you, he’ll have your back. The second he feels like it’s too his advantage or he’s better off than you, he’ll turn into “every man for himself.” He showed it in his scene with Juliet. He believes her because she wants the same exact thing he does: to get off the island by any means possible, even if that means leaving people behind. Yes, there is always the possibility that Jack is in on the con (or on a different mission from Ben), but I’m not so sure that would redeem. It would at least make him less stupid.

I’m not even going to touch Sawyer and Kate. What I am going to touch is Sawyer and Sayid. I think I’m ready for a spinoff. Can you imagine a show where Sawyer and Sayid are bounty hunters or FBI agents? That show would be the most badass show ever. I’d watch it more often than LOST. I’m really glad they’ve come to an understanding because if you combine both of their knowledge of deceit and their toughness, no one can mess with them.

Did you also notice how Sawyer has usurped leadership from Jack? I’m sick of people bagging on him too, saying he has to learn to be leader and such. Remember way back in Season One when he said, “Hell, give me a couple bandaids, bottle of peroxide, I could run this island too”? He knows he can run the island, but doesn’t want the hassle because he thinks people will shit on him. Remember when he gave up all the alcohol when Boone had his “accident”? He’s always been willing to help people. Remember in The Long Con when he said, “when I was off trying to get us rescued”? He’s always been trying to help everyone. Now just may be the time he finally steps up.

Why now? Well, after Expose, the scope and breadth of Ben's cons became apparent. Ben is conning everyone, always, at all times. He has his goals (either given to him by Jacob or, possibly, his own) and manipulates everyone around him to acheive them. The proof of this is how the entirety of S2 was a long con by Ben in order to get Jack to operate on him which culminated in the initial six episode arc of S3. We now know that the long con may still be on or at least parlayed into another long con.

However, it is my contention that at the rear end of his plan (well, it may still be the middle), Ben (possibly) made a major mistake that will result in his undoing.

Before I explain the mistake, I have to put forward a theory about "Jacob's List." Everyone who is an "Other", from Ben down, is excellent at deceit and conning. It is part of the job description. Look at how Ethan and Goodwin (and possibly Cindy) integrated into the 815ers. It's still up for question whether Juliet is manipulating Jack or not. Tom played the part of Zeke. Now, turn to Pickett's comment about Shepard not being on the list. The insinuation of this comment is that Austen and Ford ARE on the list. Why would they be "good" people? They are excellent at deceit and conning. Similarly, the other person from the middle who may have been on the list is Locke. He pretty much tries to manipulate everyone all the time. The main character from the Tailies that "The Others" tried to take was Eko. His entire life was a con. He first played the part of a warlord and later played the part of a priest. Jack isn't on the list because, as good as he is at some things, a deceiver he is not.

Now, what is Ben's mistake? The episode, "Every Man for Himself." In order to keep Sawyer in his cage, Ben revealed how adept he and "The Others" are at conning. He said, "The only way to earn a con man's respect is to con him." That statement may be true, but there is a difference between respect and allegiance. As a Patriots fan, I respect Peyton Manning's talent, but would never swear my allegiance to him or the Colts. Ben created his most dangerous enemy by showing how good of a con man he is to Sawyer.

One key scene to the Kate and Sawyer dynamic is, obviously, the sex scene. However, this scene had interesting subtext from Sawyer. Before sneaking out of her cage, Kate tells Sawyer all about how Ben wants Jack to do the surgery.

Sawyer says, "And you and we are what, bait?" This line shows that Sawyer understands the con.

Kate replies, "Something like that."

Sawyer laughs, "At least the Doc ain't dumb enough to do it."

Kate replies, "I told him I had to." At this point, Ben's con is arguably complete. Jack has agreed to do the surgery because Ben used Pickett's hatred of Sawyer to manipulate Kate into begging Jack to do it.

Sawyer yells, "Why the hell would you do something so stupid?" Sawyer understands that the con is or is almost complete.

Kate says, "To save your life."

Sawyer, "My life don't need saving."

Kate asks, "Do you want to die? Cause that's what's gonna happen..." In this pause there is a shot of Sawyer. He is no longer angry. He understands. He sees how emotional Kate is and understand the role HE played in this entire con. Here is where the attitude change everyone has noted begins. Knowing they're on "Alcatraz" and how deep the con ran, he resigns himself to defeat. As Kate climbs out of her cage, he yells at her because he knows what is going to happen, but doesn't want it to. Notice, how when she kisses him at first, he only responds with, "Now what was that for." He is reluctant. However, he then realizes, "You know what? I probably am going to die." and, well, we know what happens.

How do I know the above is true and not some ridiculous interpretation I've conjured? Post-coitus, Sawyer asks Kate one question, "Let me ask you something, Freckles. The day Blockhead was beating on me, you said, 'I love you.' That was just to get him to stop, right?" Kate only responds by kissing him. After escaping, the two fight and Sawyer reveals what he realized about the situaton, "You only slept with me because you thought I was going to die." Sawyer sees how she was manipulated by Ben and it hurts him that the moment isn't in earnest. He asked the question in hopes it was in earnest, but her lack of a verbal response (and subsequent refusal to leave Jack) demonstrated to him that it wasn't.

In the midst of escape, Sawyer witnesses other practices of The Others. The most notable is the "brainwashing" room. Here is the moment where people say Sawyer changes. I reject this claim. He had already changed. Besides, he wasn't privy to the whole experience the way Mr. Rousseau Jr. was. Rather, he was taken aback by how crazy the whole thing was.

Back on Craphole Island, Sawyer has done some questionable things. First off, he let John Cusack go to save Alex from her tax evading father. Why did he do that? Yes, part of him is a hopeless romantic. Another part of him knows that Alex and Karl can't fully be manipulated by Ben and that is the most dangerous thing to a con man, an unmanipulatable mark. Yet another part of Sawyer has given up. The situation is hopeless to him and if it's hopeless, isn't it better that Karl is with Alex than without?

Back at camp, viewers are questioning his more affable nature. The truth is, Sawyer always thought there would be rescue. Now, his apathy is battling his knowledge of Ben. The part that doesn't care is letting things slide. The part that knows all about Ben is preparing to battle him. Why give the diamonds back? Why let Sun slap him? Sawyer is building a repoire with the 815ers in order to fight back against Ben.

It is my belief that, in Every Man for Himself, Ben created his most dangerous enemy in Sawyer, an extremely skilled con man. Of course, there are questions as to whether Ben or the mysterious Jacob are the master, but if Sawyer is opposed to Ben, would he really trust Ben's superior? Now, Sawyer is beginning to rise to a leadership position and Jack is beginning to be distrusted, which leads me into my next section…


The foreshadowed split of LOST is finally occurring and it’s not along the lines everyone thought it was going to be. It’s on much more logical lines. Jack and Locke never made much sense. Locke was never much of the leader type. Sure, he masqueraded as it for awhile, but he’s way too self involved. For all Jack’s arrogance and self centeredness, he does genuinely care at some points. Even if he doesn’t care, he wants to save people and he does save people. I really think Locke is only out for himself on every level.

No, the true divide is between Jack and Sawyer. On one hand, you have Jack, the leader who wants you to depend on him and come to him when there is an important decision. On the other hand, you have Sawyer, the leader who wants you to take care of yourself and come to him when there is a need for mediation. Which one would you want as your leader? It’s clearly foreshadowed that the split will occur or already is occurring. The question is why.

The 815ers are facing the same dilemma we are. That identification is why I love LOST. They never reveal too much information so that we don’t identify with our heroes. In Season One, we wanted to get to know everyone. In Season Two, the hatch controlled us. In Season Three, we don’t know how to react to The Good Guys. For instance, in the middle of tonight’s episode, I genuinely asked myself if they were all on the same side. The whole pregnancy thing made me think that they were facing the same problem. Then I realized that the pregnancy thing is a small hurdle for The Good Guys. Sure, it would be nice to have children on the island, but recruiting people works fine too. Children are a way around recruiting. It’s much easier to indoctrinate a child than an adult, but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Jack has already shown a willingness to work with The Good Guys. Sawyer stands opposed to them (for the reason I explicated in the last section). I expect the 815ers to divide on these lines. Claire, Jin, and Sun will go with Jack. Hurley, Desmond, and Sayid will go with Sawyer. Kate will stay in the middle as the triangle progresses further and further. One day she will be forced to make a choice. I only hope death doesn’t make that choice for her. (And I didn’t say Charlie because he’s going to die.)

Of course, we are left with a myriad of other questions. Does the island not want babies to be born on it? Who runs The Good Guys in America? How does Jack saving Ben fit into this whole story? Yes, Ben has plans, but I also believe the island has plans. Why would the island want to save Ben? Oh, and, for what it’s worth, while I’m thinking it, I don’t think Ben was born on the island anymore. Why would he need a last name if he spent his whole life on the island?


Alright, I’m done. See you next week.

Oh yeah:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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