Sunday, August 14, 2011

LOST Redux: S3E21 Greatest Hits

(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.)

IT’S A TRAP! Mark my words with little white stones. It’s a trap. What is it? The trek to the radio tower. Do you really think that it wasn’t planned the entire time? Waiting there will be an entire group of…people I don’t even know how to classify anymore. But that analysis is best saved for later (as there really wasn’t much happening mythology wise this episode so I have to overcompensate in other areas like buying a sports car).

Seriously though, you know it’s a setup because of the string of punch in the gut endings we’ve had in the last eight episodes. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a quick recap:

It’s Locke’s Dad trapped in a closet (sans R. Kelley)!
Nikki and Paulo are buried alive (with diamonds)!
Juliet actually was left behind too!
Wait, no she wasn’t…and Ben is coming in a week!
Wait, that isn’t Penny…but she still knows who Desmond is!
They’re all dead!
Locke’s father is dead!
Locke is dead (maybe)!
Charlie isn’t dead (yet)!

Except for Left Behind and maybe The Brig, all of those endings were built up to in such a way that they appeared unlikely in the episode. Arguably, the ending to One of Us was somewhat predictable (I certainly predicted it), but the episode was still written so we’d identify and trust Juliet and then have the rug pulled out from under us. I still don’t think we’ve gotten the full story there (and will hopefully get it next week), but that thought is beside the point. If the end of the season has been built up in such a way, won’t the season finale have to top the build up? Isn’t such a culmination not only the way television shows are marketed, but good storytelling? Maybe they’re setting us up to think things will be huge and the season will end with a whimper. In like a lion and out like a lamb, right? Oh, that’s March, isn’t it? My mistake.

Well then, that’s march on into The Midside…

(Yeah, that transition was so cheesy you loved it.)


At first, I thought Charlie’s flashback was going to be another about the band. When they were arguing on the side of the road and he said he quit, I was thinking, “Great, this episode’s going to be about how he overcame obstacles to reach his pinnacle of fame.” Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. Then, there was a nice twist to the scene. If you’ve ever read an article or interview that talks about a band first hearing themselves on the radio, that scene played pretty much how the event is described or at least how I personally imagine it from how it was described. However, the scene then ended and I wondered where this flashback was going. Would we see the story of the band’s rise to fame? That’s not much of a story, is it?

Then, the next flashback scene was young Charlie being coaxed to jump into the pool by his father and I was all confused. First off, the two scenes felt extremely disjointed. Obviously, young Charlie learning to swim has nothing to do with old Charlie learning to be a rock star. Er, well, nothing in common besides the parallel structure of that sentence. Second, what happened to the whole bad father thing? Charlie’s father was made out to be a bad father in early flashbacks and most of the characters have had some sort of negative relationship with their father. Is the point that on your death bed you’re only going to remember the good things or is Charlie’s father not as bad as we were first led to believe? Maybe the point is to remind us that the negative aspects of these characters lives are focused on so much for a reason, but they all have had wonderful memories as well. Happiness doesn’t make for a good story, only a good chick flick and even then the guy has to be a dirt bag and reform himself for there to be any bliss.

Then, they introduced the idea that Charlie was fore fronting these memories in the form of a list and I thought it was a clever storytelling technique. It at least gave an excuse to show more of Charlie’s past. I mean, is there anything left to tell with this character? To me, he’s been stalked by the Grim Reaper since the end of season two. If you remember correctly, I predicted his death in the season two finale because his story was over when he chucked the Virgin Mary statues full of heroin into the ocean. Well, hold onto that thought (and your hats) because we’ll return to it in a couple seconds.

Before we return there, I would like to point out the one negative to the flashback technique in this episode. It allowed for the seemingly seamless inclusion of that random “6 Hours Ago” flashback. What was that scene? Whose flashback was it anyway, Alex’s, Karl’s? Why can’t this story just be told in order anymore? Oh no, we can’t show you what Locke’s doing so we can have a flashback for him (instead of Sawyer) when his father is killed. Oh no, we can’t show you what Ben is doing so Karl’s arrival on the Survivors beach will be more dramatic. Ok, ok, maybe this flashback was sort of necessary because there was no way to show Ben arriving back to “his” camp in time order without sacrificing the ending to The Man Behind the Curtain. However, couldn’t the episode have just started with Alex finding Karl? It would have emphasized their relationship and role in everything. The one incredible strength of that scene is the possible irony of Ben being done in by the same gun he shot Locke with. Alex hands the gun to Locke. Ben steals the gun from Locke. He shoots Locke and gives the gun to Alex. She gives the gun to Karl. He gives the gun to Sayid because they need more than two guns. Wait, what happened to Sawyer’s stash? Anyway, Sayid shoots a pile of dynamite and Ben is standing nearby. Ben goes boom via the same gun he shot Locke with. It’s not going to happen, but it would be nice.

Returning to the season two finale prediction though, I am going to make the same exact prediction for the season three finale. Charlie is going to die in the season three finale! I don’t think anyone has plausibly made a prediction about a character dying in two sequential season finales before. Put this one in the record books under Jayemel. I’m making it and it’s going to happen. At least, it better happen after the roller coaster we went through this week.

I’ll admit it, by the end of the episode I actually liked Charlie. He was being a complete badass. He was volunteering, he was saying his goodbyes, he was writing lists, and he was smacking Desmond in the face with an oar. He believed he was a hero and was going to do something heroic. Of course, then there’s the whole debate over whether a hero can consider himself a hero or not. Isn’t that arrogance how the Venom symbiote took over Peter Parker in Spiderman 3? Anyway, that discussion is tangential.

I liked Charlie by the end of the episode…until the final scene! All of his badass and slick actions were completely negated by his stupidity in the final scene. He rushes to the bottom of The Looking Glass, swims under it, finds an opening, pops up on the deck, and yells, “I’m alive!” First, what led him to believe there was no one manning that station? If Ben was blocking signals, he needed to make sure that the signals stayed blocked. The only way to make sure is to have someone constantly monitoring the technology, therefore at least one person in the station. Second, did I miss him flipping the yellow switch or something? No, I didn’t. Did he forget already that Desmond said he would die after flipping the switch? There’s no reason to celebrate being alive before you’re supposed to die. Third, he just left the ring in Aaron’s crib without telling anyone. This action not only pretty much insured that it would be lost but that the meaning behind it being a family heirloom would be lost. Why not tell Claire the story so she could tell Aaron when he’s older? I know, I know, he didn’t want her to know he was going to die. Finally, what made him believe Desmond was telling the truth about how he would die? The story seemed pretty plausible, but he conveniently left out the part about the two people in the station. Maybe he was omitting certain facts for Charlie’s benefit the way Charlie was omitting certain facts for Claire’s benefit. Then, he mysteriously wanted to go along with Charlie. I’m betting the whole thing about Claire and Aaron getting on a helicopter was a load of rubbish to get Charlie to let himself die. What better way is there to trick a man into dying uselessly than to say, “Your death will result in the ultimate benefit of the woman you love and her child you have taken on as your own.”

What a waste of all that buildup. If they kill him in the season finale, would it even have the same emotional impact it would have if he died this episode? I actually felt sad throughout the episode. If he dies in the next episode, it will almost be like Arzt blowing up, “Finally!”


I can’t wait until next week because I am sick of waiting to figure out what is going on with Jack. Suddenly, he too decides to be a badass (did I really just call Jack and Charlie badasses in the same column?) by blowing Ben and Company to hell when they attack camp. He even enlisted the help of the resident island explosives expert Rousseau. I also have to wonder how she knows so much about explosives. Wasn’t she supposedly on a scientific research vessel? There’s got to be more to her past. Hopefully she’ll get a flashback episode because right now she’s little more than a prop in the show. Ha, take that women’s rights activist, the crazy French chick who misses her daughter is nothing more than a prop used to progress the plot. Take heart though, her daughter is a complete and utter badass.

Jack finally reveals his big secret and it’s the explosive ambush plan. The problem I have with this story is, it’s not enough to lie over. It’s not enough to conceal the truth over. If Juliet is truly a double agent and the ambush was the plan all along, all he would have had to do was explain it all when they first got back to camp (especially after the Claire “sickness” where everyone “learned” to “trust” Juliet) and everyone would have either understood or had the extra few days to digest what Jack was saying. Heck, no one was even really that mad in this episode, why would they have been mad back then?

Consider Juliet as well. Her actions were unnecessarily deceptive too. Why did she need to test Sun at all? Why did she have to go about gathering information in such a concealed manner? Yes, I understand that she needed to record the tape in order to keep Ben unaware of the ambush, but couldn’t she have just lied on the tape and said “Kwon and Austen are pregnant”? Furthermore, if she had told Sun she was a pregnancy expert and what Ben wanted her to do, but that she wasn’t going to do it, Sun’s own curiosity about the health of the baby and who the father was would have likely caused her to ask for Juliet’s help. Have all these people (from Ben to Juliet to Locke to Jack) been inundated with the need to manipulate for no reason?

Something doesn’t add up. Look at the way Jack reacted to some of the statements that were made. When Kate asked him about getting off the island, he avoided giving a direct answer. Then, he used his “leader” position to act more like a bully than a leader telling people what they were going to do (ok, so he has always told people what they were going to do, but never so forcefully). Finally, Sayid called him on his antics.

Remember one of the main rules of LOST: Sayid is a lie detector. The reason he didn’t want Jack to stay behind is that he knows Jack is up to something. Notice how hard Jack fought to stay behind. Either he wanted to stay behind to complete the plan or he didn’t want to go to the radio tower because something is going to happen when they get there. Either way, Sayid knew he needed to introduced an uncontrolled variable into Jack’s equation and did so by throwing Jack’s leadership demands back in his face. “You want to be a leader, then do what any true leader would want to do.”

I’m still hot on the Richard and Jack conspiracy trail. Notice how distressed Richard got when Ben said the attack was going ahead early. Ok, so he wasn’t incredibly upset, but have we ever seen Richard not in cool calm and collected mode? No, we haven’t and the reason he wasn’t is that the attack going ahead early jeopardized his plan with Jack. Lucky, Alex and Karl were acting as agents for him without his or their knowledge.

The sad truth of the matter is, Jack no longer wants to get off this island. Richard told him the island’s secrets. Or maybe he’s part of the island’s secrets. I’m leaning towards the former. Now, Jack wants to stay on the island for whatever reason he was told be it replenishing the numbers on the island, saving the world, or whatever else. Saving the world, do I smell a Heroes crossover? If so, I want a death match of Cute Blonde Girl vs. Cute Blonde Girl, Claire vs. that cheerleader who has the Unbreakable power.

Is it me or has Kate devolved into a nonentity over the course of this season? She started off as an angry and emotional wounded fugitive and has become an erratic teenager. “Watch as Kate sleeps with Sawyer and then whimpers as she tries to win Jack’s favor again!” Considering that the season supposedly started out with her making a decision, she needs to make an actual decision NOW before this triangle last any longer than it has to (if it hasn’t already). However, if she does end up with Jack, I may find myself offended, not as a fan of Sawyer, but as a moral person. Not only did Kate sleep with Sawyer at the beginning of the season, but she has slept with him several times since. Yes, yes, people make mistakes and sex isn’t necessarily tied to love. Wait, no, I don’t agree with that statement. Get that politically correct crap out of here! If you’re not sure who you love, don’t sleep with anyone until you get your head straight! If her and Sawyer is a mistake, she’s made it one, two, three times that were acknowledged in an episode. Oh yes, it all progresses the plot, but it’s still ridiculous.

Speaking of Sawyer, why was he a nonentity this episode? He went from Sayid’s investigated partner and the voice of reason to a background player. Did Sayid get more screen time rather than Sawyer because Naveen Andrews complained earlier in the season about not getting enough (and if complaining about not getting enough works, I may have to start complaining)? Also, did it seem to anyone else that Sawyer was going to the group to the radio tower? What happened to his being on the frontline? If they needed a shooter, they should remember how well he picked off one of Ben’s crew in the season two finale. I thought was pretty good aim. But no, Sawyer’s character was put on the backburner in The Brig and now is a nonentity. It worries me. I mean, Bernard is a shooter over him?

I would not be shocked to see three characters die in the season finale. My top three are Charlie, Bernard, and Sawyer. I think they may kill Bernard at this point just because he’s the only tail section Survivor left. Maybe the only people who were supposed to survive the crash were the middle section Survivors and the universe is “course correcting” by killing all the tail section Survivors. The only two people who definitely know the Black Smoke actually killed are the pilot (a front section Survivor) and Eko (a tail section Survivor). Either way, Bernard is dead next episode. Rose is supposed to be on the island and he is not. The setup in this episode was completely for his demise.

Did anyone else notice Rose’s minidreads? Did Jack look different to anyone else? One of my friends said his hair was a little longer. What’s the deal with these continuity errors? I’ll never forget Claire’s sudden hair change halfway through the season (see ladies, I do pay attention). My friend also noted that in her and Charlie’s first meeting she had her new hairstyle and not her original hairstyle (ok, so maybe I don’t pay attention). I’m willing to let these errors slide because even genius is imperfect and if something has to be messed up I’d rather is be, as a guy, the hair than the T and A. Of course, maybe these observations aren’t errors at all but hints the show is all in someone’s mind or something. I don’t know how they can keep their hair so nice when they’ve been missing hairbrushes for 90 some odd days anyway!


Is it just me or was there no mythology this week? If there was, I’m going to leave it up to you, my loyal readers, to bring the discussion into The Midside this week. You’ve been hitting the comment box hard, keep it coming!


-As I write this column, I’m flipping through the 2007 Maxim Hot 100. Yunjin Kim is #95 (
)! I still can’t get over the fact that “jin” is in her first name. I’m sure Evangeline Lily is even higher on the listed. I’ll keep you all posted.

-Remember to check out my non-LOST blog (

And, as always, before you open you mouth, remember:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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