Monday, March 30, 2009

...or stop telling them they suck.

I don't usually post about these things, but this article was just too ripe to pass up:

Nearly 2 Million Teens Depressed, Government Urges Screening for All

There are some interesting claims (such as 6 percent of all kids are depressed), but the best are these:

Because depression is so common, "you will miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups," said Dr. Ned Calonge, task force chairman and chief medical officer for Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment.
You'll probably miss a lot if you only screen high-risk groups for cancer too, but that doesn't mean we should mandate cancer screening for every American

The group recommends research-tested screening tests even for kids without symptoms.
Now they kids who aren't depressed are depressed, we (and probably they) just haven't realized it yet.

Instead of telling them they have a condition and prescribing drugs or sticking them in psycho-therapy, maybe we could just stop propogating the "You Suck" Culture. Today's kids are constantly told they're all the same and told they're supposed to feel good for being good at something. The natural progression of humanity is to better itself. Is it any surprise they're depressed? They're made to feel guilty for existing.

The jocks are jerks for being athletic. The nerds/geeks are uncool for being smart. The attractive people are shallow for being good looking. The rebels are assholes for not seeking social acceptance. The passionate people aren't "well rounded" for not liking everything. The normal people are fake for being nice.

Any direction kids turn, they're chastised. I'd be depressed too. Luckily, I was a rebel, and was taught by my father to make the most important statement a man can make:

I think.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Midside: S5E10 He’s Our You

We’ve officially hit double digits. It’s hard to believe. The second to last season of the greatest television show ever is entering its tail end. I’m writing my tenth column of the season. It’s amazing how quickly things pile up, and how fast time flies. And now I’m having the strange urge to quote Ferris Bueller. Since I hate that movie and it’s most famous quote, I’m going to move on quickly.

(Although, I will admit to utilizing “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” especially when teaching. That usage is more an homage to Ben Stein though.)

When you reach this point in a season, story, movie, book, etc, you should probably have a good idea of what you think about most things. I definitely do. You’ve read through a lot of my musing so far this season (and hopefully beforehand), so you probably understand where I’m coming from at this point. Thus, you should be able to understand my “beginning conclusions” that I’ll be stating here.

What are “beginning conclusions?” I am referring to the very early conclusions you can make about something (a show, a book, a person, a situation). I don’t mean predicting what’s going to happen. I don’t mean saying what the definitive vision of a character is. I mean your opinions and feelings on the issue. This stage of “beginning conclusions” is why endings to stories are so difficult to achieve, especially when early parts of the story are so powerful. A perfect example is The Matrix Trilogy. The first movie was so powerful that people were not willing to accept the ending of the third and final movie because they made their “beginning conclusions” before they even saw the second movie.

It’s important to note that the skill of a writer can be partially determined by how he handles this issue. What the writers of LOST have been able to do since the first episode is twist our “beginning conclusions.” They nailed me on it big time in this episode, which is why it’s the perfect time to talk about this concept.

I admit I formed some conclusions early on in the series. I hope they won’t hinder me from enjoying the conclusion of this season and the show. (But some conclusions are necessary to formed early as they are implications of your values.) In this edition of The Midside, I’ll talk about a two of the more important ones: the romantic tensions of LOST and the failings of Benjamin Linus.


One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the gigantic romantic mess between Sawyer, Juliet, Kate, and Jack that has come to be known as “The Square.” And you know what? I’m not so sure I want Sawyer and Kate to get back together anymore. I’m not even sure I want the lot of them to travel Back to the Future Marty McFly style. Sure, I don’t like Juliet, but do you know who does? Sawyer. For the first time in his life, he has a life. No, he doesn’t have what most people, like Jack or Ben or probably even you, would call a life, but he has what he wants. He has a nice little house. No one bothers him at home. He has a position where he leads and people listen to his expertise. He has a woman he loves who loves him back. What more could he want? Nothing and he said as much to Juliet.

So why, as fan’s of the character, should we want his life to be destroyed for some overly-romantic reunion with Kate? Is it because they are more right for each other and thus his life will be even better? To be fair, Juliet is a bit down on herself, evidenced by her comment “So it’s over.” Sawyer and Kate are equals. But if we take this perspective, we are assuming the role of the omniscient reader. And in the case of who’s the better match personality wise for Sawyer, we are omniscient and know Kate is the answer. However, situationally, could he find himself a better life and relationship than what he has with Juliet? I don’t think so, but we really don’t know, because, in that instant we aren’t omniscient.

What we do know, however, is that the life with Juliet has a definite and immediate end. The incident and the purge are coming. But don’t all over our lives have a definite end? Maybe the immediate part isn’t true, but would we strive for anything if we just focused on the fact that it would end? Besides, with Sayid’s shooting of Harry Potter, we don’t even really know if the purge is going to happen anymore. Apply this idea to your own life. Are you living, striving for some hypothetical possible perfect romance or are you trying to make the best life you can and find the person that best gives you that? Yes, I am defining the question through what the person does for you, because that’s what you should pick on. Besides, we’re talking about Sawyer. It’s every man for himself. That phrase means take care of you first. So where do I stand on the Sawyer and Juliet life? I’m for it for the reasons stated above. All opposed? That’s what I thought.

Of course, now we have to flip the square around and consider the other half of it, Jack and Kate. I’ve been opposed to this relationship from day one and I’m still opposed to it because neither of them will ever find happiness in it. However, to a certain extent they deserve each other. Let’s start with Jack. My thoughts on his general personality don’t have to be repeated. Let’s turn to “Something Nice Back Home.” His self hatred was so strong it manifested in his berating Kate. Does he really deserve a woman who’s going to be committed and loyal to him? If he finds her, all he’s going to do is bring her down to his level. Take his interactions with Juliet. Say what you will about her (and believe me, I do), but she has been much less annoying since committing to Sawyer. Around Sawyer, she carries the load for herself. Around Jack, she had to carry the load for two, because that’s what happens with someone like Jack who finds his self worth in other people, the other people have to carry his load for him. (Insert lame pregnancy metaphor or counterargument here.)

Likewise, Kate is in that middle ground, always running between her self esteem and self doubt. When she is feeling strong and secure, she runs to Sawyer “the only other person who just don’t fit in” (because, to a certain extent, we all feel like we just don’t fit in because none of us are the characters and types we’re considered to be by most people). When’s she’s feeling weak and doubting herself, she runs to Jack, the societal conception of a “good guy.” By going to Jack, she thinks she can be given self worth, and ironically she finds it there, because she soon realizes how much stronger she is than him, but it’s thanks to herself, not Jack. At that point, she runs back to Sawyer, and the cycle repeats itself because Sawyer scares the crap out of her.

You see, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kate is the perfect metaphor for what a lot of women in our society go through. They want to be strong. They want to be independent. However, when they see Sawyer, it’s a very scary thing. He looks at her in a way Jack doesn’t. He looks at her as that strong and independent woman. In other words, in Sawyer, Kate sees everything she’s ever wanted. We all say we want it, but have you ever actually been faced with getting what you want? If you don’t truly believe you deserve it, you might piss your pants. In Jack, she sees everything she’s ever been told she deserves, the doctor, the leader, the altruist. Thus, being with Jack is a lot easier for her than being with Sawyer. Notice how Kate has only ever wanted anything with Jack when she ran from Sawyer, but makes up reasons to hang around Sawyer like “Carte Blanche.”

Of course, it’s important to mention one more thing that complicates matters further: Kate’s father. In “What Kate Did,” we learned how Sawyer reminded Kate of her abusive douchebag father. The difficulty with someone like Sawyer who is straightforward and says what he wants is that, at first glance, he appears to be very similar to the douchebags of the world. This appearance confuses matters even further, especially when someone like Kate has an abusive and/or painful history with douchebags. Everybody may love a Italian/Irish/Jewish/Insert-Ethinicity-Here Guy/Girl (and t-shirts that proclaim it), but nobody loves a douchebag. (Sawyer’s similarity to those douchebags is why he became and was good at being a con artist. His dissimilarity from them is why he lived a tortured existence. See also: Dr. Gregory House, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Captain Jack Sparrow)

Considering Kate as the perfect metaphor though, makes us more deeply consider the introduction of Juliet into the square, and consequentially realize the brilliance of that introduction. Juliet is always the other woman. The question is why. What does she lack or not understand? She does not have enough self worth to fervently pursue what she wants. To her, the world and other people’s desires are more important than her desires. Consider her conversation with Sawyer in this episode. She wondered to him if it was over when she very clearly didn’t want it to be. She was privileging everyone else’s lives over hers. They were so important they were going to take away what she wanted simply because they showed up and changed the dynamic. This perspective is dangerous because people are always showing up and changing the dynamic. In contrast, Sawyer responded by saying he would take care of it. Yes, everyone else was there, but that was just another variable, another constraint in the rhetorical situation, for him to deal with when trying to achieve what he wanted (because, as I said, the variables/constraints are always in flux). Thus, since Juliet is not being straight forward and up front, she must always wait for someone to come to her, and even then she may not get the entirety person. Maybe she’ll be married and get cheated on (as with Edmund Burke), maybe, conversely, she’ll be the mistress for someone else’s husband (as with Goodwin).

It’s also important to note that these personality and situation types are not necessarily limited to genders or one person. I can think of guys who are like Juliet. I can think of girls who are like Sawyer. Also, people might end up as one character in one situation and another in a different situation. Generally though, I think all four of the characters and the square are a brilliant metaphor for relationships in our society. The question you should ask yourself then is: Which character are you and how has it affected your life? (Me? I’m a complex guy, sweetheart.)

Of course, it’s important to mention that these characters are in the middle of a journey. Once again taking on the role of the omniscient reader, we can say what we think will happen and what the best pairings are. For instance, Sawyer’s journey is more complete than most of the other three characters because he faced his “Big Bad” in “The Brig” in Season Three. He is the more actualized well adjusted version of Sawyer, commonly referred to by the other characters as James. In the long run, I think Kate and Sawyer will end up together and are a strong pairing. They compliment and understand each other. Likewise, Juliet and Jack are a strong pairing, as when Juliet finally takes a leadership position, she can lead her relationship with Jack as well, who will then be secure enough with himself to be the doctor and nothing more. I believe Juliet will learn these things from Sawyer. However, I’m not sure Jack’s character will ever reach his actualized well adjusted form. I think he’ll end up dying, either in misguided self sacrifice or a tragic murder that is the consequence of his misguided beliefs throughout the series.


Any discussion of this episode without an acknowledgement of the shocking ending would be hopelessly inadequate. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see it coming. My friend Susan said it was obvious to her after Sayid said he realized what his purpose was. I wasn’t so lucky. I was distracted. Kitsis and Horowitz set me up well. I thought the ending of the episode was going to be Sayid beating up Uncle Rico (Ben’s father) before running off to join the Hostiles. When the van pulled up at the end, I was pretty sure I was right. After all, Uncle Rico drove a van in “The Man Behind the Curtain.” However, Jin stepped out of the van, and I wondered what the hell was going on. You see, Kitsis and Horowitz got me to react rather than think. As a writer, I should have understood they set up an expectation to distract me. I didn’t and that distraction, of course, ended with Sayid shooting Harry Potter, who collapsed in what we assume was his death.

To get the speculation out of the way, I don’t think Ben is permanently dead. My guess would be that the island is going to bring him back to life next episode. For one, we still don’t know how he ended up all bloody before getting on the Ajira flight (though it probably has to do with trying to kill Penny). For two, he seems inextricably tied up with the mysteries of the island. He seems to know whereas most characters don’t seem to know. Besides, Harry Potter could just not be dead for all we know. We’ve seen people get shot and not be dead on this show. Maybe he’s missing a kidney. Although, to be fair to the death side, next episode could be a Ben episode ending in his death the way several flashback episodes have in the past.

In general, this episode shows us how Ben is weaker than he portrays himself to be. There was a key line near the beginning which returns us to our discussion of who is “The Man Behind the Curtain”? Harry Potter asked Sayid if Richard Alpert sent him and then followed with “he’s your leader, right?” This line doesn’t confirm that Alpert is the leader, as Harry Potter doubts it, but it does grant more credence to the idea that he is. I’ve said since “The Man Behind the Curtain” that Alpert is the real leader. So where does this leave Ben?

In my mind there is little difference between Ben and Locke beyond the fact that Ben is a sociopath. Both have horrible relationships with their fathers. Both have self esteem issues. Both became leaders of the Others/Hostiles. How did they become leaders? Both experienced the same two series of events. First, Alpert approached them, Ben in the woods, Locke by handing him Sawyer’s personnel file. Second, they interacted with “Jacob.” Here’s where the father issues come into play. What if Alpert created Jacob as a way to provide a father figure to people who are looking for one, people with special abilities and/or talents that can aid Alpert’s agenda with the island? Note how Walt was taken and then let go. At the beginning of the series, Walt and Michael had an awful relationship. However, after Michael went crazy and saved Walt, their relationship improved. In other words, Walt was looking for a father figure and eventually found his real father. Is that why the Others let him go? He wasn’t useful anymore? Is that why the episode was called “Special”? On the same note, Locke has been told many times throughout the series that he is special. So, If Ben and Locke are similar in this instance, then Alpert has always been the leader of the Others/Hostiles and manipulated them using “Jacob.”

I have to bring up Christian here. Who is he? Is he Jacob? Is he the real leader of the island? His role in this series could destroy my whole fictional Jacob theory. His mere presence casts it all into doubt. However, consider this alternative. What if the two players are not Ben and Widmore, but Alpert and Christian. Maybe Christian showed up in the cabin to tell Locke to move the island because Alpert didn’t want him to move the island. Notice how he said he was speaking for Jacob. Was he using the same technique as Alpert, pretending to be speaking for a more powerful force? His name is Christian Shepherd. Considering all the religious imagery, does this show have a cynical edge towards religion? Jack at times seems like a destruction of the Jesus story technique. Likewise, now Locke has assumed the mantle of the Jesus character, and he is extremely weak.

Alternately, Christian could be under Alpert, or vice versa, and Widmore could be working against them. The only thing we know about the Widmore and Alpert relationship is that Widmore used to be an Other/Hostile. Widmore did say he was once the leader. Was he another father figure-less person manipulated by Alpert? He certainly doesn’t seem to be a person who is in need of a father figure anymore, although, if he is living for the island still, then the island is his father figure.

In the end, I think we’ll discover Ben doesn’t know nearly as much as he pretends. He has mastered the art of saying little and speaking enigmatically when he does. His answers can always be interpreted multiple ways and say little more than is necessary. He’ll end up being just another pawn in someone’s master plan, and we’ll find out he just felt the need to act more important because of his self esteem issues that are extremely apparent when we see him as Harry Potter.


I know I didn’t really talk about the specifics of the episode this time, more the greater storyline and philosophical implications of them, but I still feel like it was a fair treatment of the material. I know a lot of people are probably upset the square has become such a large part of the mythology of the show, but it has, so we either have to address it or, I would argue, stop watching the show. Besides, there are greater issues tied up in it beyond “who’s doing who.” I believe I have touched on them this week (with the discussion of personality types in relationships) and last week (with the dichotomy of thinking and reacting). And the writers are doing all of this very intentionally and very subtly.

If you don’t believe me, consider what Uncle Rico said to Harry Potter while berating him: “I’ll tell you what to think.” Knowing what we know about the importance of thinking for yourself, and the writers’ agreement with that sentiment, we see how important it is that one of the few clearly bad characters in the show said such a line.

And if you still don’t believe me, well then, you know what to do:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Midside: S5E09 Namaste

This week, I’d thought I’d begin my column with repeated material from an old edition. Then, I’d put some small twist on it and exclaim: “See, it’s an all new column!” Yes, I took the idea from this season. I’m getting really sick of every episode starting with scenes from old episodes. I understand that they’re trying to make sure everyone is caught up, but if you don’t understand how to watch LOST at this point, why should the writers cater to you? We’re in Season Five. You have to watch every episode carefully, which means Tivo it, download it, watch it on, or, for you old people out there who’ve just figured out how to use this new fangled thing called the “internet,” VHS it. I use to think I was crazy for watching each episode multiple times. I’m starting to understand that a lot of people do.

This week repeated a couple scenes: the pre-flash Ajira flight footage and the Sawyer and Kate reunion. The latter was so good they had to use it twice. The difference between last episode’s use of the footage and this episode’s use is this episode continued on to the next part of the reunion, the logistics of figuring out what to do with Jack, Kate, and Hurley. Likewise, the former footage was twisted by Frank’s perspective following his conversation with Jack. What I don’t understand is why the episode couldn’t just start in the cockpit with Frank. I think we’re all smart enough to be able understand what’s going on.

Regardless of this small nitpick, I am extremely happy to declare that LOST is back. Since The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, the show has returned to the high level of quality that it hasn’t reached since The Constant and Through The Looking Glass before then. Do I think these past three episodes have been as good as The Constant? No, because I have a feeling that when the series is done we’ll all look back at The Constant as one of the best, if not the best, episode of all. However, these episodes have been close, very close.

Maybe I’m jaded because this episode signals the return of Sawyer’s character that we haven’t seen since Every Man For Himself. Brian K. Vaughn must have decided to start writing characters again like he did in his graphic novel “Y The Last Man.” He penned an incredible scene this episode. The majority of my column will focus on my pure joy at that scene and what it means for the show. If you hate Sawyer, I suggest you stop reading. Although, if you hate Sawyer, I would wonder what about The Midside appeals to you at all.


The main overture of this episode was the divide between Jack and Sawyer and the passing of the torch between them. Everything slowly added to the burden each character was carrying until it finally culminated in the best scene of the season so far when Jack came to visit Sawyer. Thankfully, the scene was essentially a beat down of Jack. The character seems to have seen his moment in the sun. However, I recognize that the writers may be twisting us. I will address the possibility of Jack’s return to power in my analysis of the awesome scene at the end of this section, but we have to build towards it like the episode did.

The first thing that is extremely important to note is that even though Sawyer is in a leadership position, which means other people are following him and living their lives according to what he says, he is still working in his self interest. He is still number one in his mind. In his home with Juliet, he explains his thought process to her: “I don't understand it anymore than you do, but they're here, and I gotta find a way bring 'em in before somebody else finds 'em and they screw up everything we got here.” He’s worried about Jack, Kate, and Hurley blowing their cover and thus getting them kicked out of the Dharma Initiative. Sawyer’s got a nice life going on at this point. He’s head of security. He’s respected and liked. He’s living with a hot and smart woman. Sure, I’m not a fan of Juliet, but there are a lot of good things about her, I guess.

For a lot of the people who hate Sawyer and like Jack, this statement by Sawyer is certainly a major problem. We’re taught that doing “good” or being “good at something” is putting other people’s interests ahead of your own and worrying about the societal “good.” Sawyer is concerned with the opposite, his own good and in the process of protecting his good, it improves life for others. Jack, Kate, and Hurley could’ve been camping in the jungle, but instead are now living in comfort with Dharma. Likewise, contrast this perspective, summed up with the phrase “every man himself,” with “live together, die alone.” The latter phrase sets the premise that if you want to live, you do it as a group, and if you try to be alone, you will die.

To begin to drive home the point, Vaughn wrote a scene with the new plane crash survivors that was extremely similar to the original “live together, die alone” speech in White Rabbit. Frank stood in the middle of the beach while wearing a tie and delivered a speech about what they all had to do to survive. Caesar immediately disagreed and came up with other ideas of what they should do. The delivery of the speech and the rebellion was supposed to bring us back to season one and the early Jack and Sawyer dynamic. It was a brilliant piece of writing on Vaughn’s part.

Sawyer then returned to pick up Jack, Kate, and Hurley. Two quotes show us that the mantle of power has officially been passed:

Kate: “So what are we supposed to do now?”
Jack: “I'm not sure yet.”
Van pulls up.
Hurley: “Sawyer's back!”

Symbolically, the van showing up is very powerful after Jack admits he doesn’t know, especially considering the pure joy that Hurley shows at Sawyer’s return. It’s like the answer literally showed up.

Jack: “What do you think?”
Kate: “I think we should listen to Sawyer.”
Hurley: “I vote for not camping.”
Sawyer: “Trust me. Do what I say and everything'll be fine.”

Jack looks for reassurance, because that’s what he always needs, and a vote in his favor and both of the people he’s with side with Sawyer. Of course, to a certain extent, you have to note the negative situation Jack was in here. Hurley and Kate are probably the two people on the show who like Sawyer the most. Why wouldn’t they side with him? It’s like a Survivor nightmare. You’re bound to be voted out. However, those two characters aren’t the only ones following Sawyer at this point. Juliet, Miles, Jin, and a whole bunch of Dharma listen to him. You could probably argue that the transition of power had already occurred before these lines, but these lines were definitely intended to drive the point home.

Most of the middle of the episode dealt with how Jack differs from Sawyer and how Jack is dealing with his new position. Several things stood out to me. First, Vaughn seemed to make it a point to drive home how unprepared Jack was for everything. Sawyer called him out on his suit not being “island wear.” Considering we, the audience, know he knew he would be returning, the critique does not speak well of him.

He also seemed pretty dazed and distant through much of the episode. It seemed as if all of this was too much for him to handle, so he shut down. Look at the way he reacted to becoming a workman. Say what you want about the old Jack, but he at least would have gotten indignant at what he would have seen as a slight. We don’t know who made him a workman (Sawyer or Juliet) or why (easy place to hide him or he isn’t skilled at anything besides medicine), but we do know he probably didn’t like it. Instead, he sat there and just sort of took. It was kind of tragic, actually.

Second, Jack is insistent upon calling James Sawyer. None of the other characters seem to be. It’s an interesting distinction. What makes it even more interesting is he tried to call him James but Phil chastised him: “But I wouldn't call him James. He hates it.” Even the Dharma flunky who used to play a comedian who annoyed Don Draper on Mad Men is telling Jack what not to do.

Finally, when Sawyer was talking to Phil in front of Sayid, he commanded: “Bring the man some damn food. We're not savages.” This line parallels Jack’s famous season one line: “We’re not savages, Kate, not yet.” The interesting difference is Jack’s use of the phrase “not yet.” Under Jack, they became savages with the way they treated Ben in the hatch closet. Under Sawyer, with Sayid locked up, they aren’t going to act like savages. Did Jack say “not yet” because he believed people would eventually degenerate into savages? If so, why does Sawyer have the positive view of humanity and Jack the negative? Wouldn’t we think the opposite is true?

After all this story was told, it exploded when Jack knocked on Sawyer’s door. I have to acknowledge how much the scene had to suck for Jack. He is no longer leader and both the women he wants are in love with Sawyer. Plus, he hates himself, so he doesn’t really have much to live for. How is he going to react when he finds out how involved his father is with everything on the island? How exactly is he not going to die in this show?

The pair starts talking and the parallels between this scene and the best scene of last season are apparent. Just like Ben slinking into Widmore’s bedroom, Jack has crawled into Sawyer’s living space. The scenes were also shot every similarly. Ben and Widmore’s faces were both half lit and half dark, Jack and Sawyer’s face were both half lit and dark. And that symbolism is the main crux of the scene: who do you agree with, Jack or Sawyer? Interestingly, Jack was seemingly mean to parallel Ben. This observation is especially appealing considering Jack is now basically aligned with him. Are Jack and Ben the bad guys? Has the transition towards the climax of the story begun?

Just like the Ben and Widmore scene, Jack was totally beat down when he tried to call Sawyer out similarly to how Widmore beat down Ben:

Jack: “So where do we go from here?”
Sawyer: “I'm working on it.”
Jack: “Really? Because it looked to me like you were reading a book.”
Sawyer: “I heard once Winston Churchill read a book every night, even during the blitz. He said it made him think better. That's how I like to run things. I think. I'm sure that doesn't mean that much to you because back when you were calling the shots, you pretty much just reacted. See, you didn't think, Jack. And as I recall, a lot of people ended up dead.”
Jack: “I got us off the island.”
Sawyer: “But here you are, right back where you started. So I'm gonna go back to reading my book. And I'm gonna think. Cause that's how I saved your ass today. And that's how I'm going to save Sayid's tomorrow. All you've gotta do is go home and get a good night's rest. Let me do what I do. Now ain't that a relief?”
Jack: “Yeah.”

This exchange features three interesting points:

1. Sawyer critiques Jack’s leadership skills by pointing out how many people died. Jack tries to defend himself by saying he got everyone off the island. Sawyer responds by saying that they’re back on the island now. This part of the exchange basically points out what I’ve said from day one: none of Jack’s plans have ever worked. This fact finally being acknowledged within the show is huge as it means Jack’s plans failing was an intentional piece of writing.

2. Jack responds that he is relieved he no longer has to lead. He is downtrodden and tired. This state of mind also harkens back to season one where Jack tried to convince himself he was the leader. Maybe he’s not the leader he or anyone thought he was. Does his not being the leader mean his character is a failure and the tragic hero? Maybe, but if he finds a sense of self worth over the rest of the series, I would argue no.

3. The most complex point in this scene was the amazing distinction between thinking and reaction. Sawyer thinks. Jack reacts. Notice how Jack has always dealt with issues. He cries. He yells. He doesn’t understand his emotions. He simply feels them. In contrast, Sawyer is a con man who is always in complete control of himself, making every movement intentionally. He knows what he feels and why he feels it. This dichotomy is extremely relevant to a book Sawyer once read: “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. Here’s a key quote from the novel:

Howard Roark: “When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life.”

The quote is spoken by the novel’s main character, who Damon Lindelof explicitly compared Sawyer to. Extremely briefly, what defines humanity for Rand is our rational minds, our ability to think. Thus if you aren’t thinking, and thinking independently, you aren’t living. Consider how Jack’s reacting was coupled with death in this conversation. He doesn’t think and life quite literally stops. How can we not say that the writers favor Sawyer? Once again, every time I think they might disappoint me, they don’t.

I think (we now know how powerful of a statement that is) it’s important to pick apart this dichotomy of thinking vs. reacting. What distinguishes between the two? Don’t we all react? If so, how do you avoid reacting and start thinking? The main issue here is a matter of perspective. It’s making a decision to approach life from the perspective of thought. Let’s use Sawyer and Jack to contrast. In this scene, Sawyer was reading and Jack chastised him for it. What does Jack do when he is in charge? He immediately launches into the first plan that comes to his mind. The Others took Walt and said don’t cross the line? Let’s make an army!

Changing your perspective to thought makes you step back and say, “Ok, they took Walt and made the line, why? What will we do?” It also means that your reactions will be guided by the perspective. When you think, you know what’s important to you. That hierarchy of values guides your reactions. So, whereas all Jack has is his reactions, Sawyer has his values.

This hierarchy of values goes back to the beginning of the episode where what guides Sawyer is his self interest. It also goes back to my powerful statement of “I think.” Who thinks? I think. You can’t make that statement without talking about yourself first. If you value thought, you are going to value yourself and your self interest above all. What was guiding Sawyer’s decisions in this episode? Protecting the life he has. What was guiding Jack’s decisions throughout the series? His sense of inadequacy. Still, just because I agree with Sawyer and laid all of this stuff out for you beautifully doesn’t mean you like him, or that I’m even right about the writers. And that ambiguity was the last intriguing part of this scene.

Josh Holloway’s performance and the music at the tail end of the scene seemed very dark to me. I might just be acting paranoid due to past experiences where Sawyer-esque characters are treated like the villain or forced to change, but I’m not sure we’re supposed to be behind Sawyer as much as I am. Maybe the writers are setting up Sawyer for a fall of false pride or, still, the “ultimate sacrifice” for others when he has an epiphany that living for yourself is, of course, evil. Man, that story arc would make me so angry. However, I did ask several of my friends and they seem to think the ominous nature of the end of the scene was more supposed to symbolize Sawyer being powerful and having a strong sense of self worth.

Their answer helped alleviate my fears, and I wish I could share their perspective. Hopefully I’ll get there one day. Until then, Sawyer’s awkward wave to Kate to end the scene will just be too much angst for this man to handle.


There’s not much else to talk about this episode. Actually there is, but I’d really like you to focus on the ideas I’ve already put forward here. As far as the rest of the important information, I’m going to include a list of questions I’d like the answers to. (And yes, very good, you could change all of these to when questions):

Why was Sayid in handcuffs?
How did Hurley get out of jail?
Where is Aaron (and how are he and Ji Yeon important)?
Why didn’t Sun flash to 1977 with everyone else?
Why is everyone still surprised when she lies even though she has been a liar since season one?
Am I the only one who doesn’t give a crap about Jin and Sun anymore because Sun is a lying deadbeat mother?
Can someone (Hawking, Desmond, Jacob) control time as a whole (see: the runway being built for the Ajira flight)?
Why didn’t I figure out that “We have to go back” was a double entendre concerning space and time earlier?
Why was there a need for a second unsuccessful Punisher movie?
Are the Hostiles and the Others really the same people or is that just a misconception of the main characters?
Is the actress playing Alana putting on an accent or was she putting on an accent in New Amsterdam?
Does being born on the island give you super strength (explaining how Ethan beat up Jack so easily in season one besides the fact that Jack is Jack)?
Where is Faraday? Although, this one probably is better as:
When is Faraday?
Who is John Galt? Although, the LOST version probably is:
When is John Galt?

And if you think you know the answer to any of these questions, well then, the odds are you need to hear:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Midside: S5E08 LaFleur

I’d like to begin with an apology, although, it seems like I’ve been handing out too many of those recently. (Did I just apologize for apologizing?) Don’t worry though, I’ve mainly been apologizing to myself. This edition of The Midside has been in the works for too long. The last week or so has been very…interesting for me and it delayed the release. I had developed a nice routine that was dismantled pretty handily, especially because LOST wasn’t new this past Wednesday. I actually went to trivia night at the bar. Our team got second, so it was worth it (though we should have gotten first, if we hadn’t listened to a certain dumbass). But this column isn’t about my life, as interesting as it may be. It’s about LOST. So let’s move on.

As if my apology in the previous paragraph wasn’t belittling enough, I now have to take back a claim I made last column. That’s right, my hypothesis didn’t even last one episode. I stated that we wouldn’t see a Juliet, Miles, Dan, or Sawyer episode for awhile. Well, this episode was all about Sawyer. To be honest, I’m kind of shocked. I’ve gotten so accustomed to him being pushed to the background that to see his story unfold was a bit jarring. However, he’s still one note Sawyer. His entire character is centered on romance and I’m not sure I like it. Thankfully though, he’s no longer Emo.

Let’s not get too excited, even though this episode was about our favorite character, Elizabeth Sarnoff co-wrote it, which means it was all over the place. There were bad lines. There were good lines. Some of the transitions rocked. Some of them sucked. There was some mythology. There was a lot of broad stroke characterization. I guess it could be worse though. As South Park reminded us in its season premiere, we could be watching a certain show we have disdain for in the Midside:

Cartman: “Grey's Anatomy? Kenny, what kind of douchebag garbage are you watching?"

How about we talk about the most ridiculous show on television that still somehow manages to maintain a level of quality?


The episode began by reminding us that Locke “reset” the donkey wheel (as if we could have forgotten), which did exactly what I said it would: ended the time travel. However, before that happened there was one last jump, to the way past. Yes, that term is scientific. They traveled so far into the past they saw the back of the statue with four toes. What did it mean? What did it look like? Well, it looked like a person. Beyond that obvious observation, I don’t really know. Where’s Daniel Jackson when you need him?

How do we know the time travel is finally over? Well, there were no more flashes. But just in case we didn’t catch that basic easy to comprehend causation, Sarnoff gave us some of her patented dialogue to beat us over the head with the point:

Juliet: "What the hell was that?"
Miles: "That one was different. That was more like an earthquake."

Yes, it was different, which we could ascertain from the different visual and audio editing. Also, it didn’t appear to be like an earthquake to us, so either the director completely ignored this line in the script, or it should have never been written.

Juliet: "My headache is gone."
Miles: "Yeah, mine is too. And my nose isn't bleeding anymore."

The Polish judge gives a 10 for unnecessarily expository dialogue! You know how we can tell that their noses aren’t bleeding anymore? Because there’s no blood coming out of them! Besides, the nosebleeds didn’t even necessarily start immediately after a flash, so it was way too early for Miles to declare that they were done.

Jin: "Daniel, no more flash?"
Faraday: "No, no more flash. The record is spinning again. We're just not on the song we want to be on."

Enough! The metaphor has run its course. It’s become hokier than a Virginia Tech student. What’s next, parallel universe jumping where Faraday says that we’re on a similar record by an unheard of artist? Sadly, I wouldn’t doubt it.

Regardless, the time travel is over, and I can’t decide which side of me is having a more powerful reaction: the dork who is sad about it or the rest of me who is relieved because things might start to make a little more sense (yeah, right). I still have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll see a bit more of it though. After all, Locke is in a different time period than everyone else.

The next bit of interesting information we learned in this episode was details on the relationship between the Dharma Initiative and the Hostiles/Others. Apparently, they had some sort of truce. The details of the deal aren’t revealed, but the existence of it is interesting enough. Seeing how the Hostiles/Others agreed to a truce, they must not have had too much of a problem with Dharma’s research. If they did, why would they agree to a truce at all? They wouldn’t.

We also have to consider Charles Widmore’s role in this truce. We know that he was once a Hostile/Other. We also know, according to him, he once led the Hostile/Others. Finally, we know he has something to do with Dharma (from the logo on the book Keamy pulled out on the freighter). I hypothesized that he founded Dharma. Did he also negotiate the truce? If so, this deal would seem to further point to Widmore being a good guy. He was trying to achieve his goals through rational and legitimate means.

Hopefully, over the coming weeks, we’ll find out more of the truce, its eventual breakdown into the purge, and Ben and Widmore’s role in it. However, mentioning the purge deeply worries me as we now know that Juliet, Miles, Faraday, Jin, and Sawyer are members of Dharma. Are they exterminated in the purge? By the way, don’t listen to any rumors of “LaFleur” or any other name being on a jumpsuit in the mass grave in Season’s 3 and 4. I just watched the scenes from “Through The Looking Glass” and “Cabin Fever” again and the only name that can be read is “Horace.”

In closing of this section, I’d like to introduce you to a game we play in my LOST viewing group, both while watching the show and while seeing each other at random times: The When Game. Numerous times over this season, characters have replaced the word “where” with “when” due to time travel. It’s extremely entertaining to do so with any of the 5 Ws and the H. Take some examples from this episode.

This line is a perfect example of the birth of the game as Faraday corrects himself:

"Wherever we are now, whenever we are now, we're here for good."

Ridiculous yet amusing, no? Now take this line from Juliet:

"James, stop, we can't help. Wherever John went, he's gone. And wherever we are is before that well was ever built."

Now, substitute “when” for “where” and you get the following:

"James, stop, we can't help. Whenever John went, he's gone. And whenever we are is before that well was ever built."

Ridiculous! But do you want to know what’s even more ridiculous? Of course you do, you read this column. Miles started playing the game himself:

Juliet: Who do you think they are?"
Miles: "Who cares who they are? We don't even know when they are."

That’s right, he replaced “who” with “when.” Ridiculous! Bound to fail! I can’t even deal with it. I’m pressing ctrl+s and closing the computer lid until I can regain my composure and push onward to the next section.


In case you didn’t see the twist coming a mile away like I did, LaFleur was obviously going to be Sawyer. It didn’t even make me yell, “What a twist!” How did I know? Everything in the episode had been about Sawyer to that point. It started with him trying to save Locke and ended with everyone grilling him for a plan of action. Also, you had to consider the way the opening scene ended. Juliet asked him how long they would wait. He responded with his catchphrase for the episode, “As long as it takes.” The text “Three years later” immediately appeared on the screen. How could LaFleur not have been Sawyer? If it was anyone else, it would have been irrelevant to the episode.

Sawyer’s story here didn’t revolve around being a badass head of security for Dharma, but his romantic entanglements. The distressing turn of events in this episode was that the oft-predicted relationship between him and Juliet began. First, he asked her to just stay two weeks. I have to wonder how he became so attached to her so quickly, especially when he basically hated her in Season 3. I get that he has no one else around, but isn’t he accustomed to being alone? Then, he finds her to perform a C-Section and waits outside the building like a nervous father. Finally, we were treated to the most horrific scene since Jack and Kate’s crying-because-Aaron-is-gone sex. Sawyer picks a flower. There is a romantic dinner setup. He and Juliet kiss. Everyone here booed. They exchange I love yous. They kiss again. We all went to commercial feeling dirty.

Why did we all react that way? Well, I can’t speak for the rest of my viewing group, but there are a few reasons I dislike her, starting with her facial expressions (or lack thereof) and ending with her ridiculous personality. Let me use an example from this episode to explain:

Sawyer: "Thanks for getting my back with that whole beach issue."
Juliet: "You should thank me. It was a stupid idea."
Sawyer: "Well what does that say about you agreeing with me?"
Juliet: "Any plan is better than no plan. Besides, if I hadn't agreed with you, we'd still be arguing about where to go next. I just hope we figure out something before we get there."

If she really believed that way, it would have been much better for her to say, “I don’t like the plan either, but we need to get moving. We’ll come up with something on the way” or “The plan’s not very good, but I don’t have anything better.” Instead, she went along and pretended it was good until she was asked about it because she’s more concerned with appeasing people than anything actually getting done. Is it any wonder she’s been stuck on the island for so long? Just tell Ben how badly you want off! Likewise, she wanted off but let Sawyer convince her to stay. She needs to stop mediating so much and start voicing her opinion. It’s annoying as frick.

To be fair to her character, she did receive about five minutes of development. She was finally able to deliver a baby on the island and have both him and the mother survive. It’s still not clear whether this outcome was due to her skill or luck though. Sawyer pointed out that maybe whatever caused pregnant women to die on the island hadn’t happened yet. Contradicting that theory is the doctor stating that all of Dharma’s women delivered off the island. There could be several reasons Dharma chooses that methodology, but the most likely is that women die during child birth on the island. Hopefully we’ll eventually get the answer to this question. As long as it’s open, Juliet will surely stick around.

Juliet isn’t Sawyer’s only flame now though. Due to the sped up plot development of Season’s 4 and 5, the square immediately came back into play. Kate and Jack showed up in an ending that was nearly impossible to fuck up due to the strong writing of the broader plot arcs of the show. Sawyer sees. Hurley. Sawyer sees Jack. Sawyer takes off his glasses. Sawyer sees Kate. LOST. Seriously, if Sarnoff wrote that ending well, anyone could have.

More important than the ending was the scene right before it. Hippie Horace found the necklace that belonged to Paul, Amy’s old flame, and flipped out about it. He asks LaFleur, “It's only been three years, Jim. Just three years that he's been gone. Is that really long enough to get over someone?" Sawyer answers "…is three years long enough to get over someone? Absolutely." But it isn’t. Did you hear the things Sawyer said about Kate, such as staying up at night thinking about her? Sure, he said he couldn’t remember what she looked like, but that’s why love isn’t shallow. Feelings are stronger than visuals. And if you truly love someone, can you ever get over them? I’m not an expert on the subject, but my guess would be no.

And now that Sawyer is no longer Emo (how would you describe what he is now?), the mantle has been passed to Faraday whose Emocity began in his first scene of the episode, as he kneeled over where Charlotte’s body used to be in a catatonic state. Later, he saw Charlotte as a child and gave such a creepy look it almost seemed like he became a pedophile at that exact moment. However, his most Emo action of the episode proves that Emo is harmful. He nearly walked into the sonic fence. Sawyer and Juliet reacted:

Sawyer: "Sonic fence? Didn't I say let me do the talking?"
Juliet: "One more step, Dan would've friend his brain."
Sawyer: "His brain's already fried."

See, Emo fries the brain. It’s proven now. Also, did you see how Amy avoided the sonic fence? She was wearing ear plugs! That’s it, really? That’s all it takes? I bet that’s how Mikhail survived in Season 3, and his “death” was all an act. It always did seem a little over the top to me.


Faraday: "It doesn't matter what we do. Whatever happened, happened."
Sawyer: "Yeah, thanks anyway, Plato. I'm going over there."

Really, Sarnoff? The nickname isn’t bad, but the rest of the line is crap. “I’m going over there”? Why not “I’m going to go make it happen” or “You stay here and contemplate the meaning of live, I’m going to go live it”? Hell, “I’m going to kill someone” probably would have been better.

Miles: "You know what, getting on that sub is starting to sound like a great idea. What do ya say, sub, anyone?"
Sawyer: "Hold your horses, Bonzai. No one's gettin' on a sub."
Sawyer: "Let me talk to him."
Horace: "Excuse me?"
Sawyer: "Your buddy out there with the eye liner, let me talk to him."

Clearly Lindelof and Cuse got sick of Sarnoff’s poor writing of Sawyer and edited these lines in during the writers’ meetings.

Juliet: "Sawyer's right, Miles. We should go back to the beach. We survived there before. We can do it again."
Miles: "Or maybe when we get there you'll want to go back to the Orchid again and then when that gets boring, we can head back to the beach. It's the only two plans you people have."

There’s no way Sarnoff could have written that line either. It’s way too good. I’ve been saying it since Season 2. All anyone does on this show is walk back and forth across the island! I’m glad they finally acknowledged it within the show.

Horace: "I wish you would have told me you were coming. I would have turned the fence off for you."
Alpert: "That fence may keep other things out, but not us."

Because the Hostiles/Others wear earplugs!

Miles: "We're screwed. He's probably trying to explain time travel by now."

And no one can do that. Not even the writers of a show about time travel.

Sawyer: "Hey man, where is she?"

See, when you become a leader you start asking that question. Although now it should be “When is she?”

Random Dharma Dude: "Oh, he's got dynamite."

Really? What gave it away, the stick with fire on it that just blew up a tree?

Sawyer: "Now we wait for them to come back."
Juliet: "For how long?"
Sawyer: "As long as it takes."

Or three years.


Thanks for baring with me and staying loyal to The Midside through my brief intermission. I guess we’ll just say that LOST took a break for a week, so I did as well. I really don’t have anything else for you this week. Let’s just cue the catchphrase:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Midside: S5E07 The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

It’s nice to remember that the writers can actually pen a good story. This episode had it all: character development, action, philosophy, and it was bookended with the two important dichotomous characters of the series. It actually seemed like someone knew what they were doing, and I liked it. Let’s just hope this episode isn’t The Constant of this season though. What I mean by that statement is that episode was in the middle of last season, just as this episode is in the middle of the season, and was by far and away the best episode of the season. If this episode is the best episode of the season, we have nothing else to look forward to. Well, the Sawyer and Kate reunion should be interesting, I guess. We can always look forward to that scene.

The directing of this episode was just as good as the writing. Jack Bender was back behind the camera and you could tell. When he revealed Locke under the blanket (even though it wasn’t a surprise at all), he did a turn shot to the front of him just like in Season One. Also, when Locke was talking to Alana on the beach, the image was extremely reminiscent of any conversation on the beach in Season One. Yeah, the scenery is nice, but it’s awesome how Bender focuses on the characters and lets the actors tell the story, unlike Stephen Williams who adds in all types of weird lighting and colored imagery.

And speaking, or writing, of letting the character’s tell the story, we got an interesting look at some of the most important characters in this series and a possible goodbye to a formerly important one. Let’s consider them heavily, shall we? We’ll do it in order of appearance in this episode…


You have to love the section title here. It sounds like a stand alone movie or show in its own right. I may even use it in the future. It’s delightfully esoteric. The Academy would love it. (Did I really just call something delightfully esoteric and worry about what the Academy would think?)

So, Locke pushes the wheel back into place (you have to wonder what that act did to the time traveling on the island) and appears in the desert in Tunisia where Ben did. Then terrorists come and pick him up and bring him to a hospital where they reset his broken bone. How scary must that have been? But if you remember correctly, terrorist stereotypes attacked Ben when he appeared in Tunisia. Odds are that those people worked for Widmore and were trying to stop Ben. Did Ben know that when he defended himself? Probably.

Locke and Widmore finally meet, and it’s hard to believe they haven’t met before (as adults). But they haven’t and Widmore marvels over the time difference between their last meeting (four days for Locke, a few decades for him), and the two share some interesting conversation. Let’s pick it apart from the perspective of figuring out if Widmore is good or evil

Widmore claims he was fooled into leaving the island by Ben and at the time he was the leader of the Others. He said he protected the island peacefully for more than three decades and “then I was exiled by him.” What’s most interesting about Widmore’s telling of the story is there is no mention of the Dharma Initiative. Was Widmore exiled before or after the purge? I’m not sure, but combining Widmore’s version of events with Ben’s flashbacks from The Man Behind the Curtain, I’ve come up with the following idea.

Widmore was in charge of the island, peacefully protecting it, when he decided to found the Dharma Initiative with the help of Alvar Hanso and his foundation. This turn of events explains his wealth off the island (of course, he could have been wealthy before or after his time on the island). It also explains why he was exiled. When Ben was a boy, Richard Alpert reached out to him. This contact eventually led to the purge and elimination of Dharma and Ben’s rise to power (and explains why he believes he’s one of the good guys, he was at one time). When Widmore founded Dharma, Jacob and/or Richard (if they’re not the same person) didn’t like the island being “exploited” so they sought out Ben to eliminate the threat. However, now that the threat is gone, Ben is too aggressive and violent of a leader. Jacob and/or Richard need Locke to lead the island peacefully, returning to its, essentially good state of nature. Get it, John Locke, essentially good state of nature?

This idea, of course, has many consequences. Most notably, the important dichotomy is no longer Widmore vs. Ben, it’s Locke vs. Jack. It also means Jack isn’t the leader he thought (thinks) he was (is). Locke is.

On to the next day conversation where Locke plays the role of the audience:

Locke: "Why, why would you help me?"
Widmore: "Because there's a war coming, John, and if you're not back on the island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win."

Widmore recognizes the need to lead the island peacefully, and thus doesn’t want to allow Ben to run the island. He has acknowledged his own mistakes and understands Locke is the proper leader for the island. If Locke isn’t on the island, then Ben will control it. This idea would put Widmore on the good side. However, I have problems with him being repentant about the Dharma Initiative. I think Dharma was a great thing, man harnessing natural resources for his own improvement.

Locke: "How do I know that you're not the one who's lying?"
Widmore: "I haven't tried to kill you. Could you say the same for him?"

This argument is one of the strongest for Widmore. Unlike Ben, he doesn’t go around kicking the crap out of and killing people. He doesn’t have that sociopathic edge that Ben does (which is exactly why Ben was chosen to purge Dharma). Well, he might, because remember…

Locke: "You sent a team of killers and a boatload of C4 to the island. That doesn't exactly scream trust."
Widmore: "I needed Linus removed, so it could be your time."

This explanation satisfies me. Ben is a crazy dude. I can see it taking that many people and that much weaponry to kill him. Or more. You know why? Because the amount that was sent to the island wasn’t enough. Ben’s still alive. And he’s back on the island. Plus, the answer was straight forward and to the point. That type of answer is more than Ben ever provides.

In this next quote we see more of Widmore recognizing the importance of Locke, but we also seem him give a sketchy answer.

Widmore: "The island needs you, John. It has for a long time."
Locke: "What makes you think I'm so special?"
Widmore: "Because you are."

Because you are, really? Who do you think you are Widmore, Ben? This answer hurts Widmore’s ethos a lot, especially after he was doing so well. However, when dealing with the island, is it any surprise he would say something so abstract? If there is one word to describe the island, it’s abstract.

So is Widmore good or evil? I’m still putting him in the good category. Maybe reformed good is a better description. I’m not sure how I feel about the reformed part, but it’s better than making him the villain.


So Locke gets in his wheelchair (because when you leave the island, you revert to your crappy past), and goes to visit his friends, if they can be called that. Except, the first person he visits is Sayid, who is extremely happy with his life, contradicting the idea that when you leave the island, your life necessarily sucks. Maybe what matters is the individual taking control of his own life? Horrors no, a message of personal responsibility in LOST? This show sucks.

It hasn’t been all peaches and cream for Sayid though (huh?). He recounts and bemoans the fact that Nadia was killed. However, what’s important is that he calls his time with her the best nine months of his life and invites Locke to stay and do some “real good” with him. He even challenges Locke: "Why do you really need to go back? Is it just because you have nowhere else to go?" And part of us agrees with Sayid. Hasn’t that always been Locke’s story? But still, the most interesting part of the conversation was:

Sayid: "For two years I was manipulated into believing I was protecting everyone on the island."
Locke: "Who was manipulating you?"
Sayid: " who is manipulating you?"

We still don’t know who killed Nadia. Was it Ben? We were led to believe, as was Sayid, that someone was opposing Ben. Did Ben just manipulate Sayid into being his bodyguard against Widmore’s assassins? Also, Sayid’s question of who is manipulating Locke is meant to make us believe Widmore is manipulating Locke. However, Locke wanted to bring everyone back to the island before he met Widmore. Locke even says that he is speaking for himself. Still, we can’t help but wonder if Locke is still being manipulated, at the very least by Richard Alpert.

Next, we, in all likelihood, said goodbye to Walt. Last column I complained that they didn’t bring Walt back to the island with them on the plane. This episode we got an explanation as to why. Locke stated, “The boy’s been through enough.” Really, that explains why he wasn’t needed to increase the odds that the plane would crash? Does the universe have a sympathetic edge that I’m unaware of? Is that why it killed Michael? Oh, no, I forgot. Michael was killed because the writers of LOST are racist. They’re so racist, they didn’t even have Locke tell Walt his Dad was dead. And what final explanation do we get as to Walt’s role in the show? He had a dream that we know is true, so it’s confirmed that he can view the future. That ability is how he’s special. The end. Goodbye, Walt!

Btw, Ben is watching, because Ben is always watching.

Next we visit Hurley. All I have to say about this scene is I can see benefits of living in an insane asylum. You can act crazy and no one looks twice. Social conventions are out the window. Of course, that also means everyone you know will be crazy, but isn’t everyone crazy already?

Next, we randomly cut to Kate, and I have to ask, where is this Kate normally? I really liked this Kate. Was this permutation of her just a case of character being made subordinate to the story? They must have wanted a character to bring up the love issue so Locke could get closure on his relationship with Helen. That would explain why Kate was so touching and said this: "I think about you sometimes. I think about how desperate you were to stay on that island. And then I realized. It was all because you didn't love anybody."

I’m not sure how I feel about a sense of purpose filling a void for love in your life. The statement seems to privilege love over a sense of purpose. Shouldn’t you live your life for a sense of purpose and love will come from that? Or maybe I’m just saying that because I have a void of love in my life. Wait, that comment was kind of Emo. Strike it from the record. I already had my Emo episode a couple columns ago! Move along, nothing more to see here.

But seriously though, since when was Kate sane and rational and able to give advice to other people? Maybe it’s just because Locke is that crazy. Or maybe the writers were trying to juxtapose Sayid and Kate’s happiness to Hurley and Jack’s insanity, which we’ll get to in a second. First, we have to get to that closure.

Matthew Abaddon wheels Locke to Helen’s grave and they mourn. They also have an interesting exchange.

Abaddon: "Helen is where she's supposed to be. Sad as it is, her path led here. And your path, no matter what you did, no matter what you do, your path leads back to the island."
Locke: "You say that like it's all inevitable."

Is Abaddon’s line another example of fate or another example of manipulation? Locke has always wanted to believe in destiny, which has made him extremely pliable. Certain elements of this episode also fly in the face of the idea of fate, especially a fate intertwined with the island. The most notable is Sayid. However, if Abaddon is speaking the truth, then show is integrating determinism, which I’m not sure how I feel about. Of course, the smart response would be that all time travel stories must necessarily assume determinism for anything to make sense.

Then Ben shoots Abaddon, driving home Widmore’s murder point and ending any speculation about a possible LOST/Fringe crossover. Good. Fringe sucks. And Reddick’s character was so much better on LOST than on Fringe. His character on Fringe is useless. In fact, every character on Fringe is useless except the doctor and Olivia. Yes, I watch it even though it sucks.

Next it was time for Jack. Did Matthew Fox just decide it was time to start acting again this episode or was he was he just determined to outperform Terry O’Quinn? He was phenomenal in this scene, perhaps the best I’ve seen. Maybe he’s just really good at belligerent conflicted Jack, which is what this scene was all about. Well Jack, are you a man of science or a man of faith? Apparently he’s the latter because he bought a plane ticket from Sydney to Los Angeles, which would explain why he turned to drugs and alcohol and joined Ben. He was raised a man of science. It’s gotta be tough to have everything you based your life on be underminded.


That’s pronounced pilot, btw, not pilate, like the workout technique. What I’m referring to is Ben’s execution of Locke, turning him into the Jesus figure of the show. Which, btw, could Locke have looked anymore like Jesus standing on the table? I wonder how many times they had to reshoot the scene to make sure Terry O’Quinn was holding his hands correctly. Regardless, Ben was the judge, jury, and executioner in this scene, raising a couple interesting points.

Widmore said we could trust him because he didn’t try to kill Locke. Ben did kill Locke. Are the writers trying to tell us that Widmore is the good guy or is this all part of the epic twist that Ben is ultimately the good guy? I’m leaning towards the former (of course).

It’s interesting to consider what caused Ben to kill Locke. He started the scene not intent on killing him and then two major comments caused him to change: Locke mentioning the promise he made to Jin and the name drop of Eloise Hawking. The promise to Jin sent the wheels turning (in a brilliant acting job by Michael Emerson) and the name drop made Ben snap. Did Ben kill Locke because he no longer needed him and knew that Locke would be the leader of the island if he returned to it? Or did he kill him because he always had to die, so Ben just cut to the inevitable when he realized he didn’t need Locke to manipulate Sun? Either of the last two options I put forward make sense.

These scenes also featured two key quotes:

Ben: "No John, he used you. He waited 'till you showed up so that you could help him get to the island. Charles Widmore is the reason I moved the island. So that he could never find it again. To keep him away so that you could lead."

This quote can help us understand why Ben killed Locke. If he truly believes Locke was going to lead, he probably killed him to get him back to the island properly. However, Ben is almost always lying, so it’s tough to tell. We also hear Ben’s side of the story concerning Widmore being evil; and whereas Widmore provides a reason for Ben being evil, Ben just calls Widmore evil again. I’m always wary of that kind of argumentation.

Ben: "I'll miss you, John. I really will."

Ben turned and said this line after Locke was dead, meaning it’s possibly the only time we’ve gotten a look at the inner Benjamin Linus. Of course, he could somehow be aware this is a show and lying to the audience. But in all seriousness, the line shows he did like Locke, and killed him out of some purpose, not blood lust, which pretty much confirms what we all thought about Ben. He does some messed up things, but he feels like he is fighting for a higher purpose.


It’s been a long one this week, and I only have one thing left to add. Caesar’s story of Hurley and all disappearing with the flash means that the O5 (O6 minus Aaron) are time traveling with the rest of the 815 Survivors. The only question I have now is when we’ll see the rest of them on an in-depth level. I would venture that over the next few weeks we’ll get a Hurley, Sayid, and Kate episode. It may be awhile before Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, and Faraday become important to the story again. That sucks. And if you don’t agree with me then, well, you know what you can do:

Shut up, you’re wrong.