Saturday, February 27, 2010


Day One.
Never a consideration.
He had a distaste
for the flash and the hype,
so he didn’t pay attention
as the round passed.

Day Two.
A fleeting fantasy.
Settling the issue in the top 50%
was a preposterous proposition.
Still, as the last few were selected
he began to fidget.

Day Three.
The consensus of his existence.
Everyone agreed on it,
so he accepted it as fact;
except, as the names were called,
his was not among them.

The Final Selection.
“Don’t worry, it’d be stupid not to pick you.”
They were stupid,
and he wondered why
until he found out
the scouting report read:

“All of the faculties,
none of the intangibles.”

The Midside: S6E05 Lighthouse

This week on Everwood, Andy, still dealing with the ramifications of a tragic family death, desperately tried to figure out how to connect with his son, Ephram, who snuck out of the house to audition for a prestigious music academy.

Wait, the characters’ names were Jack and David, and the show is called LOST? Never heard of it.

In all seriousness, for those of us that remember the show, this week’s flashsideways was extremely reminiscent of Everwood. Andy Brown, a talented New York neurosurgeon, moves his family to the small Colorado town of Everwood after the death of his wife. There he tries to reconnect with his piano prodigy son, Ephram. The show was actually very good in the first couple of seasons before, spoiler alert, they went with the pregnancy storyline.

There was no pregnancy in this week’s storyline, but there was a surprise birth. The fact that Jack P had a son named David is not only the most prominent difference between the flashsideways and the original timeline so far but also demonstrated an important concept philosophically. David’s actions represented a breaking of the cycle for Shepard men, standing in stark contrast to Jack in the original timeline.

The key to understanding the importance of David’s actions is in Hurley’s conversation with Jacob. There Jacob seemingly differentiated Hurley from Jack. Actually, I would argue, he pointed out how they are the same, but Hurley just wasn’t smart enough (he never has been) to understand how. We are smart enough, so that idea is what I will be focusing on this week:

Who is the bigger dupe, Jack or Hurley? The answer isn’t what you might first think.

(And no, this isn’t just because I hate Jack. I want him to get better, but every time he starts on the path, he ends up negating all his progress.)


The key to understanding Jack, O or P, is in what Jacob told Hurley at the end of the episode:
“Jack is here because he has to do something. He can’t be told what that is. He has to find it himself. Sometimes you can just hop in the back of someone’s cab and tell ‘em what they’re supposed to do. Other times, you have to let ‘em look out at the ocean for awhile.”
Despite all of his shortcomings, Jack has always been a man of science. He needs to see and understand things for himself before he believes them. Now, Jacob is attempting to use that quality against him, but we’ll talk about the morality of that action later. For the moment, it’s important to figure out why someone who thinks in a way that is so admirable, understanding the importance of your own perception, is so tragic, paralyzed by fear and thus unable to make a decision, or concept.

Jack P’s son David taught him, and us, this important lesson. Through a deft bit of writing, as always, Lindelof and Cuse led us to believe that David was the same as his father, a bitter angry mopey emo teenager who pouts and listens to music all the time, but really doesn’t accomplish anything. Through much of the flashsideways, it seemed as if they were showing him this way so we would feel bad for Jack. “Man, even in his flashsideways, Jack’s life is tragic. The guy just sucks.” However, we soon got the sense that something was lurking under the surface.

Perhaps the difference in Jack P’s life, in contrast to Jack O’s life, was his mother. In the scene in the office while looking for the will, she seemed much more sympathetic and understanding than she did in the original timeline. Here she was able to pinpoint what she saw as the basic error of Shepard men and communicate it to Jack P. Maybe she was able to do so throughout Jack P’s entire life. Maybe that’s how he was able to have a son and make the break through at the end of the episode. Except, for all her positivity in this episode, she still missed the point. The desired ability to communicate well comes from one place, and it took David teaching his father it to finally get Jack P to open up and do as his mother said.

(Side note: It’s interesting to note here the difference between the metaphors of the white rabbit and the lighthouse. With the former, you are following someone. With the latter, you are communicating with someone. This dichotomy gets a bit muddled in that Jack O is still following Jacob, but the point holds true for the episode. Jack P went from following his father to communicating with his son. He went from the white rabbit to the lighthouse.)

During the episode, I made a joke while Jack P was all angsty about his son’s disappearance through rebellious flight. I pointed out that he had the best juvenile delinquent kid ever. He didn’t sneak out of the house to get drunk or high or join a gang. He snuck out of the house to audition for a prestigious music academy. To a certain extent, for me, David’s actions are very surprising and, arguably, only possible in fiction. By rebelling through productivity, keeping his talent and goals to himself, David demonstrated a wisdom far beyond his years, a wisdom that most adults I know and meet don’t even have. Heck, I might not even have it (even though I intellectually understand it).

What David’s actions demonstrated is what Jack, P or O, has always lacked: Self-esteem. Someone who rebels through self destructive methods is only saying one thing: I don’t like myself. In contrast, David said the opposite: I love myself. We definitely see the parallels and similarities between him and his father with the way he approaches his gift. In their discussion following his performance, David chastises himself for missing a couple notes. Jack P responds that it sounded perfect to him. David’s perfectionism is parallel to Jack’s desire to fix everything. They both want something to be as good as it can be, and they want to use their talents to do so. The difference, however, is how they are motivated, which goes back to the self-esteem point.

David is motivated internally, whereas Jack is motivated externally. We can see this dichotomy best through Jack O. He doesn’t want to fix himself, he wants to fix everyone else and the world. Likewise, in this episode, he explains why he came back to the island. He was broken and thought the island could fix him. Nothing externally can ever fix you. You can only fix yourself. David, in his spirit of youth, understood this idea of being internally motivated. You can’t succeed at anything if you can’t take care of yourself. You can’t take care of yourself if you don’t have self-esteem and are externally motivated.

That fact is why Jack O, despite all his progress, is still a tragic figure and will probably have a tragic end in the series. It’s also why he’s arguably a worse dupe than Hurley. Presented with lots of information, rather than figure out what it means and how it fits into his plan, he destroys it and pontificates on how it affected him. In other words, he is completely focused on whatever the other person’s plan is. OK, so, Jacob was watching you, are you going to sit around and be mad about it or factor that information into the pursuit of your own agenda? Jack always chooses the former, which is why Jacob says he needs to let him stare out at the ocean. He knows that Jack isn’t thinking about himself right now. He’s thinking about the island and Jacob’s plan. Contrast this perspective with Sawyer who, last episode, “joined” the MiB because he wanted to know the answers and figure out what to do with them. In many ways, Jack is the worst kind of dupe. His external motivation makes him easy to push from place to place because he’s never asking, “What about me? What about Raven?”

Yes, that was a reference to the dark brooding pro-wrestling gimmick. But that comparison is exactly the point. Raven was dark and brooding because he was made to feel guilty for asking that question. Similarly, Jack has so little self-esteem that he has no ability to communicate or reason properly.

David is more mature than Jack O, crazy, huh?


The growth of Hurley in Season 6 is continuing how I thought it would. This episode is exactly why I didn’t think Sayid’s body had been taken over by Jacob. It would have killed this entire arc for Hurley. What’s interesting is he’s starting to resemble Hurley P that we saw in Locke’s flashsideways. He’s stepping up and becoming a calm and collected leader. This type of personality contrasts drastically with the Hurley we saw at the beginning of the series, passing out over the blood when holding Marshall Mars down and spelling bodies “b-o-d-y-s” to treat and spare Walt from the discomfort he was feeling.

The misspelling, though, reminds us of the most important character trait Hurley has: Not only is he uneducated, but he’s not too bright either. The evidence for this claim is apparent throughout the series. I also don’t mean to look down upon him for his level of intellect. I point it out because it explains the decisions he makes. Take how Hurley P dealt with Locke P in “The Substitute.” Locke P explained that he had just been fired, so what does Hurley P do? He offers Locke P help in finding a job, even giving a personal reference to Rose P, one of his employees, for him. While this action demonstrates the reason everyone loves Hurley--he has a positive sense of life--it also very clearly demonstrates his poor decisions making. Why would you help a man who was just fired from your company find a job? You wouldn’t. Why would you bad mouth a manager, Randy Nations, yet continue to employ him? Hurley, in either universe, simply doesn’t have the tools to be wise.

Enter Jacob, who understands how Hurley is, and even tells him to his face. Hurly simply doesn’t have the tools to properly deal with someone like Jacob. Instead, Jacob can get in the back of his cab and tell him what to do, tell him to go back to an insane island and carry a guitar case without knowing what’s in it or opening it to find out. If someone were to tell you that, what would you do? I know what I would do, and Hurley did the opposite. He did exactly as he was told without asking a single question. He even carried it through time, holding onto while living in Dharma times, driving around with it in the van, just in case (pun ftw). How can someone exert that kind of effort for instructions that he knows nothing about? I certainly couldn’t. Here, of course, is where people will enter an argument for faith, which is actually pertinent to the overall theme of LOST. Jacob is well on his way to acting like the Christian conception of God does.

Hurley, likewise, is acting like the Christian conception of a religious believer does. This turn for his character has arguably been foreshadowed since the character of his mother who was extremely religious and talked about Jesus often. Except, this turn is a bit strange as, up until this point, Hurley has seemingly gotten along, and often chosen to side with, Locke and Sawyer. As we’re beginning to see the drawing of the line in the sand that has been foreshadowed since Season 1, Hurley is straddling it more than any other character except perhaps Kate. Of course, his apparent siding with Jacob at this point is exactly why he could be seen as the ultimate dupe.

Continuing the theme from last week as faith being bad because it is necessarily anti-rational, Hurley is necessarily a dupe because he’s not using his mind. In fact, his lack of education and intellect makes him the ultimate dupe in many ways. He’s not often going to question what anyone says. He’s also not going to look too deeply into situations. True, listening allowed him to tell off Jackie Chan and get under the Asian master’s skin, but it wasn’t really his fortitude coming through; it was Jacob’s.

Despite all of this explanation, I don’t actually believe Hurley is a worse dupe than Jack. True, he should take more pride in himself, attempt to educate himself and maximize his intellect. True, he should attempt to rely on his own judgment rather than others. However, even though he doesn’t do those things, he understands that his choices ultimately aren’t his. In contrast, Jack works so hard at looking out at the ocean that he convinces himself that ideas other people give him, such as his father and Jacob, are his own. It’s worse when you have the ability and can somehow convince yourself that other peoples’ ideas are your own.

Does this differentiation between Hurley and Jack matter much for LOST? No, both are being duped by Jacob (which leads perfectly into my final section). However, it makes a difference to each of us in our own lives. It’s important to make sure that we’re actually thinking for ourselves and not convincing ourselves that other peoples’ ideas are our own.


Once again, I’d like to discuss the difference between MiB and Jacob, as I believe this episode places a finer point on the discussion of which is “light” and which is “dark.” The key here is what differentiates manipulation from non-manipulation. It’s clear that both Jacob and MiB have an agenda, though we are unclear what both of their agendas are. What’s more important is the information we have regarding their agendas and how we have it. Over the past two weeks we’ve been shown two competing methods for bringing people to your side. Not coincidentally, last episode was a Locke episode and this episode was a Jack episode.

Assuming he wasn’t lying, the MiB was up front with what he wanted and what was going on. He told Sawyer that what he wants is to leave the island and actually led him to and explained the cave to him. Furthermore, he was extremely up front with Richard. Consider the following excerpt from their conversation in “The Substitute:”
MiB: “Oh, Richard, I’m sorry. You mean, you’ve been doing everything he told you all this time, and he never said why? I would never have done that to you. I would never have kept you in the dark.”

Richard: “And what would you have done?”

MiB: “I would have treated you with respect. Come with me, and I promise I’ll tell you everything.”
If you are starting from the premise that the MiB is bad, then you are going to think that he is pulling one of the oldest religious tricks in the book: Purporting to have all the information in order to get you to follow him. If you are starting from the premise that the MiB is good, then you are going to think that he is doing as he said, showing you respect by telling you the truth. Which are you going to think when you don’t assume either premise? I can’t tell you what to think, but I can share my thoughts.

There are two major pieces of information. The troublesome bit of information is MiB’s tendency towards violence. He did attack Richard, kill Bram and company, and kill Eko and the Pilot. However, he did apologize to Richard for his attack, explaining why he did so, and only killed Bram and company when they attacked him first. The writers even pointed this out even further by having Sawyer point a gun at him but not fire it, insinuating that the MiB will not attack unless threatened. The positive bit of information is that the MiB has told people things that Jacob never has, most notably introducing the idea of candidates into the series (which is being treated as true by the writers through things such as the sign at David’s audition). So far, the MiB has been more of what he claimed to be than Jacob. He hasn’t even really badmouthed Jacob.

In contrast, Jacob has been very underhanded and deceptive about everything he’s done. He is, in every sense of the word, the ultimate social planner. Signified by his loom in “The Incident,” Jacob pulls everyone’s strings and pretends he is giving them free will and choice. Jacob is the ultimate meddler, and thus there is no way to see him as good. He subverts volitional consciousness, planning out other peoples’ lives for them. Unlike the MiB, he doesn’t treat people as equals, acting as if they are inferior by withholding information like a a parent. But if he is truly superior, why doesn’t he just do things himself? He doesn’t do things himself because he can’t, which means he isn’t superior.

What’s most interesting is how the definitions of these two characters closely resemble the traditional definitions of God and the Devil. Now consider the heavy use of mirror symbolism in this episode, and the use of the storytelling device of a parallel universe this season. Both of these things reflect but also invert the status quo. Likewise, I believe we are not only headed for an inversion of the Jacob/MiB dichotomy, but an inversion of our understanding of what is philosophically good and bad.


Epic Quote of the week: David’s mini-Jack-face when listening to the speech his father giving him about having what it takes. Though not an actual quote, the hilarity of it makes me wonder if in the script it was written “David makes Jack-face” and/or they auditioned actors for the role of Jack’s son based upon how well they could emulate Matthew Fox.

The inversion idea I ended the LOSTology section with has been present throughout the series. Personally, I have been able to see it from the beginning because of how I live my life. Now, I understand it one a deeper level because I am more philosophically informed. Watch the new episodes with this idea, re-watch old episodes with this idea, but, most of all, I ask you to do one thing with the claim:

Think about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Midside: S6E04 The Substitute

…and every once in awhile an episode comes along that you just don’t know what to do with.

Except, that statement’s not true. I do know what to do with this episode: Rewatch it over and over again and celebrate it. The problem this episode presents is that it’s hard to conceptualize where to begin (and end) a discussion of it. Though only two characters were featured, the story was so content-heavy that I have to imagine everyone’s brain going into content overload the way mine is. After viewing the episode, my spool unspooled threads about Jacob, the MiB, Sawyer, Eko, Christian, Claire, the final scene of the series, and Walt. Yes, I even found a way to explain away the Walt storyline. Are all these threads suitable to share? No, not at all. Why do I mention them? To illustrate that we’re now at a point where any new information that is revealed will be backwards applicable on an absurd amount of levels--so many levels that it may be hard to distinguish which are important and which are frivolities as a result of our overexposure to this series.

This week, I will be focusing on four major ideas: The faith journey and John Locke (P), Sawyer’s apparent “turn” to the “dark side,” candidacy, and the morality of the MiB (and, by association, Jacob). Hopefully, I’ll pinpoint the really important issues and not inconsequential gibberish. (Although, sometimes the latter can be much more fun.)

Not to give Sarnoff any credit as a writer, but it all basically boils down to one line, said by Rose. (OK, so maybe this episode is the best Sarnoff has penned, and maybe it represents talent on her part that there’s a theme and it’s encapsulated in one line. I admit these things reluctantly.) While lecturing Locke, Rose said the following about her cancer and life:

"...I had a hard time accepting it, but eventually I got past the denial part and I got back to living whatever life I've got left."

Denial is evasion. Acceptance is living in accordance with reality. That choice (yes, evasion is a choice) is essentially what this episode was all about.


As we all could have, and probably should have, predicted, this episode showed John Locke becoming the opposite of what he is on the island: A man of self-esteem.

Wait, didn’t I just say that this episode was about evasion and acceptance? That choice doesn’t have anything to do with self-esteem. You’re stupid, Jay. I’m never reading your column ever again.

OK, done with your childish outburst? Good, then let me explain it to you, through the character of John Locke, his walkabout, and his catchphrase.

Locke’s walkabout is, and always had been, the embodiment of evasion for his character. Rather than planning to do something he could actually possibly do, he wished the world to be something else and acted accordingly. As we saw in "Walkabout" and this episode, this wishing ultimately led to his suffering, which we saw manifest in different ways. The initial version of his suffering was his screaming of, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do,” the ultimate evasion catchphrase. Like an insolent child rebelling against his parents’ rules, the yeller of the phrase is refusing to acknowledge that he is bound by the same laws as everyone else. In the case of Locke, he was refusing to acknowledge that being in a wheelchair meant he couldn’t do certain things. (And yes, the obvious necessary statement now is that the MiB is also evading reality by uttering the catchphrase as well. He is refusing to acknowledge the rules he is, apparently, forced to play by.)

The walkabout, in both universes, became the embodiment of his evasion. He knew if he could just go on it, it would prove that he could do what he wanted, that he wasn’t bound by the laws of reality. He set an impossible standard for himself by living outside of reality. He knew he could never live up to it because doing so made life easier for him, or so he believed. In actuality, it demonstrated a lack of self-esteem. Rather than live the best possible life he could, he dreamt the best possible life he couldn’t. And when he was actually given his walkabout, through a plane crash, he turned to the only explanation that he could: Faith.

Faith is the ultimate evasion. Sorry, religious people; check it at the entrance to the Midside. You’re more than welcome to pick it up when you leave, but when you’re here, you acknowledge the truth. Faith is the refusal to look for explanations. You don’t seek to understand the world, you seek to take from the world. Without any conception of the causal relationships that bond us, you exist within them, fulfilling your end automatically, not out of choice. You don’t think. You simple are. And the reason you act this way is almost always a lack of self-esteem.

Like Locke banging on the hatch asking to be told what to do next, with faith you refuse to think about what to do next because you don’t believe you can figure out what to do next. Since you can’t figure anything out, you pass the buck to something higher, whatever name you want to give it to, because there must be something higher that "understands" better than you. Here is the lack of self-esteem. You don’t believe you can understand. That statement is a profound, and often very difficult to understand, perspective on self esteem. It’s also why these types of people, like Locke, believe in ideas like destiny. If there is destiny, your life is out of your control. It doesn’t matter what you can’t do.

But all of this is Locke O. It doesn’t have anything to do with Locke P, does it?

It is important to discuss these matters because we must draw the distinction between the two characters to understand the point of the episode (and ultimately the point of LOST). I have argued over and over again that Locke O was the ultimate dupe of the universe. I have endorsed a negative view of the faith themes on the LOST. However, the debate is not as clear cut as I am saying it is, and Locke P’s story brings to light this issue.

Locke P’s journey in this episode was one of acceptance--of accepting his life the way it was and realizing he had the right to be, and the ability to be, happy. The story began as a parody of itself. The opening scene of the over-the-top tragic and self-hating Locke is one of the funniest moments of the series (and brilliantly acted by Terry O’Quinn, I might add). It let us know what they were going to be discussing: How does a man who hates himself this much continue to exist?

Except, we quickly learn that he doesn’t hate himself as much as Locke O did. He has people who care about him. Most notably, he hasn’t pushed Helen away, and they are engaged. Also, he seems to have some sort of a positive relationship with his father. No, this Locke seems to have some sort of self-esteem. He isn’t exactly Locke O, but how they are similar is extremely important.

The John Locke archetype is about the physical inadequacies that we all see in ourselves and can either hate ourselves for or accept as part of reality. With Locke, it is taken to the extreme, as he was given a disability. He was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk. It’s extreme because that’s what Romanticism does. It exaggerates certain themes in order to make a point. With Locke, we are meant to identify with him, to consider how we address our own physical inadequacies. Me? I’m a short guy. I’ll never play in the NBA. Do I tell Rose to not tell me what I can’t do? No, I ask her what my options are and work within them. And if I don’t like those options, I ask what I can do to change them. Are my choices limited by reality? Yes, but they aren’t destroyed.

This realization is the journey Locke P took. It is the exact opposite journey that Locke O took. One character is dead. The other is living and evidence suggests he will be happy (based on Rose’s quote). Surely we’ll see more of Locke P in Ben P’s episode. The dichotomy is drawn again. The flash sideways was about the problem with faith, but the island story seemed to be about having faith. As Ben O eulogized Locke O, he called Locke O a man of faith and a better man than he would ever be because of it. So, which is it?

(Not so coincidentally, this question is heavily tied up in the Jacob and MiB relationship. Who Ben thinks he didn’t have faith in was Jacob. Who he really didn’t have faith in was himself. So, in a way, didn’t Jacob actually cause Locke’s death. Welcome to left field.)


And among the anti-Sawyer fans there was much rejoicing. We have truly returned to the S1 dynamic when Sawyer seemed like the bad guy. I recently started watching S1 again (I’m an addict, I know). Now that I am more rational than when I first watched the series, I can intellectually understand why people disliked Sawyer at the beginning. However, the moment he begins to speak the truth, I find it difficult to believe anyone can honestly dislike him. This theme continued in this episode.

There is no arguing that Sawyer is in a dark personal place right now. Whereas Locke’s archetype is about physical inadequacies, Sawyer’s archetype is about a just universe. At the beginning of the series, he believed the universe was just, but reconciled his unhappiness with it by hating himself. It wasn’t that the universe sucked. He sucked. He wasn’t meant to be happy. He wasn’t allowed to be happy. Ironically, this happens to a lot of people with a positive sense of life. People who believe the universe is just but are unhappy themselves and blame themselves for some uncontrollable inadequacy. (Notice how this idea is similar to the faith idea, hmm.)

It took him five seasons, but Sawyer finally believed he was a good person and deserved happiness, and he did it the right way. He did it through thinking. He did it through understanding the universe. His character has always been very smart and understood that to exist in the world you must understand it. He took that belief to its logical conclusions in S5, lecturing Jack on its merits, living his life by it, and ultimately finding happiness.

The only problem is, the rug was pulled out from under his feet. His world was destroyed. He lost the love of his life (so far). He lost his job as sheriff. He lost the only home he ever had. Consequentially, he is now questioning his most fundamental premise: The nature of the universe. He said it in "What Kate Does." He’s going to let Jack suffer like he is. He believes the world is suffering. He doesn’t hate himself anymore, he hates the world.

Except, he doesn’t hate the world as much as he would like. He can’t. He’s Sawyer. He would like to evade. He was trying to in this episode, playing up the redneck stereotype, drunk off his ass, destroyed house, listening to angry music--but he can’t. When the opportunity presented itself to learn, to find out about how the world works, he had to try. If someone tells you that they have the secret to the universe, how can you not listen to their argument? You don’t have to agree with them, but how can you not hear them out?

It is important to contrast the way Sawyer acted in this episode with the way Richard Alpert acted, a deft little bit of writing (why am I praising Sarnoff so much?). For the first time, Richard looked weak. Like a child, he ran away, frightened. Confronted with his lack of knowledge as MiB told him there were things Jacob didn’t tell him, rather than ask, rather than try to learn, he ran into the jungle, ran into the Temple. Essentially, he evaded (hmm, faith = evasion, Temple = place of faith, interesting). By contrast, when Richard tried to get Sawyer to evade with him, Sawyer would have none of it. Rather than seek out safe shelter, Sawyer dared to risk his life, in so many ways, for the answers.

Did he get answers? We don’t know, but he got a whole boatload of information, and he did it by listening to Rose’s advice. He stopped denying what happened and got back to living whatever life he had left. Right now, one character, ONE, is trying to figure out the answers on LOST, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(Also, it’s extremely interesting how Locke and Sawyer’s plots are always intertwined. This episode really made me think of The Brig and how it should have been a Sawyer flashback. This episode could have easily been a Sawyer flashsideways as well.)


One of the most puzzling lines from "The Incident," was when Illana and Bram (RIP) discussed the possibility of Frank being a candidate. We had no idea for what. Now we have somewhat of an idea. Of course, we don’t know if MiB is telling the truth or not, but for the sake of understanding and enjoyment, let’s take his claims at face value for a moment.

The island exists (OK, we accept that premise. If you don’t, stop reading my stuff.) and needs to be protected (a much more tenuous claim). The way the island is protected is that one person is appointed to that job. We can extrapolate some other cognates from there. This selection process seems to be some sort of a contest, where a bunch of candidates are brought to the island and the last one standing (living?) is named as the protector. There also seems to be an opposite force on the island.

Except, wait, didn’t Rousseau call the smoke monster the island’s security system? Doesn’t a security system protect something? Could it be that both Jacob and MiB are assigned the task of protecting the island? Maybe that’s why they can’t kill each other. Their role is shared.

Tangent aside, we’re not exactly sure what makes someone a candidate. Locke, Hurley, Sayid, Jack, Sawyer, either Jin or Sun (or Ji Yeon). Interestingly, Jacob touched all these people, literally, at some point in their lives. Is that what makes them candidates, or did Jacob touch them because they’re candidates? And what about Kate? Jacob touched her, and she’s an important character in the series. How can she not be a candidate? What role does she play in the series then? (Hold onto that thought for a few paragraphs.)

Jacob’s touching brings into question the morality of Jacob and MiB. So far, we have been led to believe that Jacob is good. He is free will and humanity. In contrast, MiB is bad. He is determinism and anti-humanity, death. But, what if like with the Jack and Sawyer dynamic, the opposite of our initial impressions is actually true? Hear me out (and notice what I did there).

Besides Seth Norris and Mr. Eko, the only people MiB has killed is those people that have threatened him. I’m not attempting to avoid or ignore the Norris and Eko situations, but an entire column could be written on that issue, and I’ve yet to figure it out. If you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts. However, my point is, besides the two anomalies, the large body of evidence is that MiB does not kill senselessly or arbitrarily. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He seems to kill only out of self-protection. (Perhaps Eko was killed because his faith in the island, Jacob, was dangerous?)

In this same vein, MiB made the claim that Jacob is the evil one for all of his supposed manipulation of, well, everyone. Here is where the inversion of Jacob’s supposed representation of free will begins. In "The Incident," Jacob seemed to emphasize choice, especially when Ben killed him. However, now we realize that he did touch everyone and that touch seemed to control the path they were on. It is a reasonable idea that the flashsideways are the way the characters’ lives would have turned out had Jacob not touched them.

So here we have a more refined question as to the morality of LOST; we see two sides, but we don’t know which is light and dark. However, LOST is doing what it always does well, portraying both sides for what they actually are, and what they appear to be. If Jacob really does symbolize faith and the evasion it carries with it, it is extremely interesting how the writers have been able to make him appear good even though he is bad. Their talent cannot be understated.

If you notice, the Jacob and MiB relationship is starting to resemble another LOST relationship that I have already mentioned in this column, Jack and Sawyer. I won’t go into the details, but I will say this: In the past, I have argued that Kate is supposed to be symbolic of the viewer; who do you choose, Jack or Sawyer? The triangle has dragged on because the question still remains. Now I wonder if the triangle will ever end. Maybe it has dragged on because it’s the point of the series. Maybe the series will end with Sawyer telling Jack, “You have no idea how badly I want to kill you right now.”


Epic Quote of the week: “This is the weirdest funeral I’ve ever been to,” Frank. You have to enjoy his style of humor by filling the “normal guy” role on the show.

I’m quite satisfied with a lot of the ideas I’ve written here. You don’t have to agree with them, but they are important to consider when trying to understand not only LOST but life. I only ask that you do one thing:

Think about it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Midside: S6E03 What Kate Does

I haven’t even seen the episode again and am writing my introduction. Why? Because I don’t need a stinkin’ rewatch to know I was impressed! (Yes, those eight of you who are following my Twitter probably recognize those two sentences. The rest of you should start following me now. NOW.) Nearing the end of this final hiatus, I began noticing Lindelof and Cuse making the bold claim that S6 would be most similar to S1 in tone. The first time I read it, I scoffed. The second time I read it, I dismissed it as a coy marketing ploy to increase viewership. The third time I read it, I was annoyed that I had to keep hearing the audacious claim. I have to admit though, I was eventually worn down.

Through the repetition, I decided to give this season a chance to recreate the magic of the first. Why wouldn’t I want it to? S1 was the ultimate game changer for me. It told a story in a way that was not only novel and precise for television but storytelling in general. It simultaneously gave me a passion to experience and a passion to aspire to. The depth of organization and detail in both character and mythology can’t be over praised. Not only was each episode self contained in its parallelism (flashback vs. island story), but it was a smaller piece in the overarching story of (seemingly) random people surviving a plane crash together. Those 25 episodes will never be matched.

"LA X" piqued my interested. It went pretty much how I expected. The first episode was centered on all the characters with the plane landing just as the Pilot was centered on all the characters with the plane crashing. However, I was still skeptical. S2 captured some of the magic of S1, but the flashbacks bordered on tedious at times--unnecessary bits jammed in there because the formula demanded it. Many people definitely were rightly critical about S3, where the formula led to such awful flashbacks as "Stranger in a Strange Land." Why wouldn’t I be skeptical about the flash sideways being the same way? What if the writers created them merely as a way to keep the formula alive for one final season? Thankfully, after our latest go around, it seems as if they didn’t.

Sometimes the best way to get to know someone is to learn who they aren’t. In other words, A is A, so it’s necessarily not B. By standing A side-by-side with B, you can see what makes each what it is. Take, for instance, two football players; let’s say wide receivers. You can say they both have great hands and run great routes, but it’s not until you compare their play side-by-side that you realize they each do unique things that make their hands or route running great. In other words, if we take Kate O (original) and compare here with Kate P (parallel, not to be confused with Perry--please, never to be confused with Perry), we’re going to learn things about Kate O that we never did before. (Are you down with O v P? Yeah, you know me.) And that comparison is exactly what this week’s episode achieved.

The difficulty with such an analysis though is that it requires us to consider the character from several different angles. One angle is the most obvious: The one we see on screen, S6 Kate O vs. Kate P. The rest of the angles are permutations of Sx Kate O on-island or Sx Kate O Flashback or S4 Kate O Flashforward vs. Kate P. Heck, if we wanted to, we could even hypothesize Kate P--e.g., what if (the parallel plane crashed) with any of the Kate Os?

(Ok, seriously, I’m going to stop writing that paragraph because it makes me feel like a dirty, dirty Star Wars nerds. However, I do think some respect must be paid to Star Wars here. In a way, the multitude of inane hypothetical questions Star Wars fanboys debate is a surely inspiration on the flashes technique of LOST and, most apparently, an inspiration of the flash sideways. We all know Lindelof is a huge Star Wars nerd. Oh, you didn’t? Well, now you do.)

…and since I’ve made all these comparisons to S1, my column will finally return to its original format (Intro, Flash/Character, Other Characters, Mythology, Conclusion). There is one subtle difference, however. Since we no longer have flashbacks, I can’t reference the epic Highlander series in my section title. Instead, I will reference the kind-of epic, but widely recognized, parallel universe television show Sliders. Now, onto the unveiling of the section name and the remainder of the column (and the rewatch for me--not to ruin your suspension of disbelief that I wrote this column all in one sitting)!


Everyone has always thought the problem with Kate is that she runs. She’s immature and fearful so, rather than facing the tough facts of life, she evades by physically removing herself from an equation. Kill someone? Run away. Your mother hates you? Run away. Married Nathan Fillion? Run away. In certain ways, this character trait allows Kate to symbolize a large number of women in America, especially young/immature women. I’m referring to those girls (yes, I would call them more girls than women--consider that word usage before you get huffy at me) who allow their insecurities and low self esteem to control them.

What makes this representation so infuriating is that, in the very beginning, Kate seemed to be a strong female character. She could go toe to toe with Jack, Sawyer, and Sayid. In the beginning, it could’ve been argued that she was the center of the show. Now, she bounces around like a pinball, not mindless, but directionless. We have no idea why Kate does "what Kate does." (Get the episode title now?)

The bigger issue with Kate has always been that she doesn’t have any values. She has nothing she pursues and desires. Every moment merely seems to be nothing more than an excuse to survive until the next moment. She has no foresight. She has no hindsight. My mom’s sick? I’ll go to the hospital, even though she said she never wanted to see me again. Jack is hanging out with Juliet? I’ll lick this spoon even though it makes me seem like I would enjoy Twilight. Sawyer wants to have sex? OK, even though I don’t really want to pursue a relationship. It is an odd kind of hedonism. Kate wanders around the world, the island, the supermarket looking for her next fix. It’s why she always finds herself helping Jack’s plans fail more quickly by getting captured or something equally reckless.

Kate P seemed different however. Rather than simply continuing to run, when faced with a choice, she actually addressed it and made a value based decision. She didn’t have to go back and help Claire, but she did. The reason for this choice may be mythologically based (more on this later), but the decision remains the same. Rather than run and ignore the rest of the world, she went back, got Claire, and helped her with her pregnancy.

Kate O has seemingly found her direction as well and it likewise seems to focus on Claire. I’m not exactly sure what this want-to-help Claire says about Kate--both Kates. What values does it demonstrate? There seems to be something about children. And now eight feminists just got mad. “A woman shouldn’t be defined by childbirth.” If you’re so concerned about being oppressed, go be a fan of Sun, who left her kid in Korea when she went back to a mystical island. Ignoring the crazies, I’m not sure if the value she's protecting is children specifically or family in general. When Kate O met her childhood sweetheart, Tom, again, she seemed to envy his family. Returning to the Nathan Fillion episode, her greatest fear seems to be that she’s not good enough for a family. (Interesting how these self esteem issues keep popping up, no?)

(BTW: Am I the only one wondering where Kate P got the $200 to pay to have her handcuffs removed, especially if she didn’t rob Claire P?)


Ah, the return of another Midside staple. I feel like I’m getting back in touch with an old friend who’s changed or visiting my hometown with a new perspective but still wanting to stay. Well, except, I can’t actually really stand more than a week in my hometown. Details, details. To remind the old readers (all 4 of them) and to help the new readers (all 2 of them), this section focuses on the non-flash characters that had (major) minor events in character progression. Most often, I focus on the characters that interest me the most (Jack, Sawyer, Ben, etc). Not surprisingly, I’m going to discuss two of those parenthetical characters this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re at the beginning of the sixth season and LOST still manages to achieve firsts. Much to your and my dismay, we have finally witnessed the first successful Jack Plan™. Characterized by his brazen stubbornness and stupidity, the reason it worked is tied up with the mythology of the show (for some reason his life must be protected). Still, I must give credit where credit’s due, and swallowing the poison pill in order to learn it was a poison pill was a ballsy move. Sure, it got Jackie Chan, as my friend William referred to him, to beat him up again (which is something none of us will complain about), but it also got him to shoot straight, tell him the truth, insert another metaphor here.

(For those of you keeping track, William has earned himself a mention in both columns so far this season. The rest of you need to step up your game.)

More importantly, we’re finally starting to see some positive outcomes of the change Jack made last season. No longer is he the leader (as Miles informed us, Hurley is). He is more confident in his ideas. To a certain extent, these two changes are intimately intertwined. Jack is much more self-motivated. What I mean is that when coming up with and going through with ideas he is primarily motivated by his wants and feelings. In contrast, he was almost always concerned with everyone else first (ex: “We have to go back” not “I have to go back”). That improper focus caused him to put too much pressure on himself. He thought he was responsible for things he was not responsible for, and he learned that he wasn’t the hard way. It destroyed his life. Why do you think his conversation with Jackie Chan was so intense? Jackie explained his use of Japanese as a rhetorical tool to maintain distance between himself and his followers. Jack never had that distance, the key to being a leader and staying self-motivated. How is such a seeming contradiction possible? It’s all about understanding that being a leader fits into your plan, not their plan. Jack always thought being a leader fit into their plan and not his plan. That belief is the reason he felt obligated. That belief is the reason his life fell apart.

Seeing him on an upward arc makes it difficult to maintain my prediction that he will give himself for the good of everyone else. I don’t like altruism. I don’t like people living for other people. I want people to be happy. I want them to live for themselves. Yes, I even want Jack to be happy (as much as you can want a fictional character to be happy, anyway). The reason I rip on him relentlessly is because, so far in this series, he’s been like the kid with the helmet ramming his head into the wall--before his mother bought him the helmet. He constantly has a headache and is bleeding (or, in non-metaphor terms, crying and making Jack faces). Despite these things, he waited until S5 to make a change. Likewise, everyone else continued to allow him to make the same mistakes over and over again. Don’t get me wrong. I hold everyone else accountable for encouraging Jack too. Basically, Jack is the Peyton Manning of LOST. I’m intrigued to see if he will continue on this upward arc and ultimately find success or if he will truly follow the Peyton path by seeming to overcome himself, making the Super Bowl, and throwing a classic interception under pressure to lose the game (or, in non-metaphor terms, hatching a Jack Plan that epically fails).

On the other side of the coin, almost literally, we’re witnessing Sawyer on a downward arc. It’s sort of ironic, as the story of the series has been the inverse (Jack down and Sawyer up), yet appropriate, as this season is supposed to be most like S1 (when Jack was at his strongest and Sawyer was at his weakest). Man, I wrote those words and can’t help but admire Lindelof and Cuse more and more. The pure level of organization and structure is astounding. Wait, where were we again? Ah yes, Sawyer.

Say what you may, but I’ll admit to crying during my rewatch of this episode. I’m specifically referring to the dock scene with Sawyer and Kate. His speech (which, BTW, was amazingly acted by Josh Hollow--props, dude) is a microcosm of his character (and why I identify with him). Likewise, you could almost see Hugh Laurie tagging himself in and delivering the speech as House. “But I think some of us are meant to be alone.” Welcome back to my theory about the Randian arc of his character. In his moment of deepest pain, he falls back upon his deepest fear, that the world is a lonely and dark place.

The Randian romantic hero does not believe the world is a lonely and cold place. He has a positive sense of life, seeing the world, and life, as good. Sawyer, however, is not the Randian romantic hero. Rather, he is the Randian everyman, dealing with an emphasized version of the key struggle to human nature. Like Jack, he is in a battle for self esteem. Contrasted with Jack, he feels guilt for having and expressing self esteem. Asking someone to stay on an island with you is an expression of self esteem. You’re bold enough to express what you want to her even though you know her greatest desire is to get off the island. Likewise, subsequently falling in love with her, and rising to a position of power while doing so, is a huge expression of self esteem. The crisis Sawyer is facing right now is whether it is proper to express that self esteem or not. Ultimately, he blames Juliet’s death on his audacity to ask her to stay when the real mistake (and his as well) was her decision to help Jack with the Jughead plan. Why does he make such an error in reasoning? Because he’s not reasoning. He’s falling back on old evasions. He ironically forgot what he told Jack in "The Incident": What’s done is done.

I like the direction these two characters are going. Knowing the ultimate payoff is coming only makes me more excited.


Ah, yes, the return of the mythological section where I ponder random tidbits, big and small, and try to jam them into some sort of overarching theory. If you read my "LA X" column, you know that I’ll be focusing comparing the two universes to determine which is better. I haven’t yet rectified that comparison with the MiB/Jacob dynamic, but I will; I will. This week, I’d like to continue with the comparison and then drop a knowledge bomb on you.

The number of parallels integrated by the writers between this season and the previous seasons, both narratively and visually, is astounding. Last week, I joking assigned you to look for them, Where’s Waldo style. This week, I hope you took my challenge more seriously than even I did. This episode was basically one long in-joke between the writers and us (especially when I started talking about the joke that S7 will be the zombie season and Hurley then asked Sayid if he’s a zombie. How do they know exactly what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it? Don’t answer that question. I know how.).

The first super mega obvious parallel was Ethan being Claire’s doctor. Because of it, you knew she wasn’t going to deliver because you knew he had to inject her with something. Although, Ethan living in LA makes me wonder about the locale. The only other time we saw him off the island was in Miami where Juliet lived. Knowing he was born on the island, I have to wonder if the only reason he was in Miami was to monitor Juliet. Why, in the parallel universe, where for the moment we’ll assume he was still born on the island, would he live in LA? Coincidence? Are we once again erring towards determinism? Or is the sci-fi nerd in me that is trying to break out right? Is there something special about LA; is it some sort of hot spot? Probably not. It’s probably just part of the free will vs. determinism debate we always come back to.

The other two obvious parallels are Kate P finding the whale she gave to Aaron in Claire P’s bag, and Claire P yelling out the name Aaron during her time in the hospital. These could simply be parallels, but they also continue a theme that began in "LA X." Something about them seems to hint at these characters remembering the other universe and then using that knowledge to improve their lives in their universe. I’m sure we’ll learn more about this idea, so it’s something to watch.

Finally, the knowledge bomb is in regards to Claire’s sonogram. The date on it was 10/22/04. Did the flight in the parallel universe take place a month later? Was it a production error? I hope it’s the former. I’ve read the latter. Apparently, one of the staff writers who frequents the internet, so not Lindelof or Cuse, said it was an error. If it really was that big of an error, wouldn’t Lindelof and Cuse have said something, too? Likewise, it’s a pretty awful error. How can you work on LOST, in any position, and not know the date of the original crash (which is the date of the show’s premiere). The only other time I remember something similar occurring is with the obituary Jack had in "Through the Looking Glass." You had to try hard to read that one, though. This date was very obvious (unless you had a Prestige Subaru logo over it like we did. I’m glad I can rewatch.)

(BTW: Has anyone notice how often I’ve used “likewise” in this column?)


Even though Freddy Adu has indeed bid us adieu--now playing in Europe--he will forever live on in my cheap pun. And that’s pretty much all I have to say in this week’s conclusion.

Epic Quote of the week: “We’ll be in the food court,” Miles

Oh, also be sure to check out Jimmy Fallon’s LOST parody titled LATE. The first episode is up. It’s probably the funniest thing he’s ever done. He does a great job parodying Jack. The Sawyer character is pretty funny as well. (I also love the beard joke. It’s very clever.)

Oh, and, screw it, the old catchphrase remains, and if you still hate it, well then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why would you do this?

Here's a video from a recent New Found Glory show in Houston, TX.

Watch it now.

Watched it? Good.

Sidestepping the question of why you would punch anyone in the balls (besides in self defense or in an attempt to imitate the Three Ninjas "light up the eyes" routine), why would you go to a show and punch the lead singer in the balls? Don't you like the band? Is that how you show appreciation? I'd hate to be that dude's friend.

I'm not trying to complain, that would be useless, or explain what was going on in that guy's head, that would be fruitless. All I'm saying is, New Found Glory shows are pretty mild. If that stuff happens there, what does it say about us?

(To prove how hypocritical I am though, I hope someone knocked that kid out.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Midside: S6E01+02 LA X

(This column will be cross posted on CulturEsponse for the rest of this final season. You should be following that blog already anyway!)

The difficulty I have with any season premiere is the openness it necessitates of content. As opposed to a season finale, philosophical concepts are hard to discuss because the metaphysical point of the storylines isn’t clear yet. The arcs are all open ended, if they’ve even really begun at all. Sayid, for instance, didn’t really have an arc in this episode. Yes, things happened to him, but that’s the point. Things happened to him. He didn’t make any decisions. Even in the parallel universe, all he did was kick a door down. It wasn’t a tough or agonizing choice or anything.

Oh, my bad, yes, we’re dealing with a parallel universe. No, we’re not calling it an alternate universe (Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse explain why they don’t want to use that term here), so I’m sticking to a parallel universe. Well, don’t take that clause out of context. I can imagine someone reading it and being like, “Jayemel’s going to a parallel universe?” Yes, it’s how I’m going to get into the minds of the characters this season. I’m going to experience what they are.

In all seriousness, LOST is attempting what, I don’t believe, any science fiction show has before, using both time travel and parallel universes as major plot devices in one show. The key word I used is major. Many other science fiction shows have had episodes featuring both devices. Star Trek is known for falling back on them for one shot episodes. In fact, one of my favorite episodes of the Next Generation is when Worf finds himself jumping between universes, and we see all the different directions his life could’ve gone if he and other people had made different decisions. It’s an interesting mental exercise to consider the other possible outcomes of our lives.

That idea is what I expect the question of this season to be, “How do you know this life is the best possible version of your life?” In a way, it is similar to last season’s question of “How do you come to terms with the bad directions your life has gone?”, but it is subtly different. Last season focused on regret for past choices. I expect this season to focus on fear of current choices. Sure, you can come to terms with yesterday, whatever happened, happened, but doing so doesn’t make today any less intimidating. Every choice is a commitment, a value judgment, a statement saying “this is better than that.”

For the purposes of Season 6 of LOST, this and that have been quantified in the original universe and the new universe. Lindelof and Cuse are working off of an extremely simplified version of the theory that every choice you face creates a number of parallel universes where every possible outcome of your choice exists. Rather, they created a universe with rules that necessitated a parallel universe because of free will. Daniel Faraday was right both times. Whatever happened, happened, but humans are the variables because they have free will. If you travel back in time, you can make all sorts of minor changes as long as they don’t harm the overall integrity of the timeline; however, if you make a major change, such as setting off a nuclear bomb, something must be done with consequences of that action, because they both happened and didn’t happen at the same time. That contradiction must be rectified, so existence creates a parallel universe. In other words, his nuclear bomb plan worked and it didn’t work. Both reset and parallel universe theorists were right at the same time. Ha, take that, LOST fandom. Lindelof and Cuse are still one step ahead of us. (Although, I’m sure someone out there had this same idea. It’s way too logical for someone not to have thought of it…and apparently that person is my friend William, who just attempted to gloat to me about thinking something I did right before I made him read the above paragraph.)


Last night my roommate asked me if I thought the lives of the people in the parallel universe would be worse than the lives of the people in the original universe (so that we would realize “our” universe is better). I replied, “Quite the opposite. I expect their lives to be exponentially better.” I expect Jack to fix Locke. I expect Kate to end up raising Aaron happily. I expect Sun and Jin to stay in America and fall madly in love beyond the reach of Sun’s father. I expect Hurley and Sawyer to become business partners or Sawyer to somehow protect Hurley from losing his money (because I don’t think Sawyer is a con man in this universe). These predictions aren’t many, and may very well be wrong, but they’re simply basic thoughts on how the parallel universe will go better.

Why do I think the new universe will be superior to the old? Hold on, don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I think the new universe will have better immediate and individual outcomes, but overall, it will be worse. Essentially, the reason we’ll see how good life could’ve gone for everyone is to contrast it with how poor everyone’s life seems to be going in the original universe, but then twist us by revealing that life in the original universe may actually be better because of some broader truth that is positive in the original universe and negative in the new universe (this reveal may actually be the series finale).

Before I go into what I believe the broader truth is, let’s delve into the minor differences between the characters. As mentioned in the article I linked to above, the archetypes are the same. However, there may be minor differences in the characters, and we’ve already seen them. Two are immediately obvious. First, Shannon decided to stay in Australia rather than return with Boone. This difference doesn’t seem to require much analysis, but hopefully its depth will grow in coming episodes.

In contrast, the second immediately obvious difference is Hurley believing he’s the luckiest guy in the world. This belief, however, may be exactly in line with the way I see the season going. Whereas the new Hurley believes he has good luck, and our Hurley believes he has bad luck, we will probably find by the end of the season that they’re both wrong, and the opposite of what they each believe is true. Jacob even said so much to Hurley in "The Incident" when he told him his talking to dead people could be considered as a good thing.

Another interesting tidbit is that the female TSA representative called Sun Ms. Paik and not Mrs. Kwon. Earlier on the plane, Sun seemed to be playing with her wedding ring, but it’s very difficult to actually determine if she or Jin are wearing wedding rings, even with DVR/Tivo. In the same vein, while the watch is easy to remember (Jin ended up giving it to Michael), all that money Jin had was never revealed before. It is, of course, possible we were just never shown it in our universe; however, that would seem to be a big hint about where the Jin and Sun flashsideways episode will focus.

Other differences between the characters were cosmetic. Charlie had a buzzcut. Jack’s hair was long, and he had a cut on his neck (Was the cut from the Incident? Did he know he had it or was he surprised at the sight of it?). Sawyer’s facial hair was longer than when they originally crashed on the island. Do these changes represent anything other than actors growing other and changing their style (Charlie’s hair is probably more representative of Dominic Monhagan than Charlie)? We’ll see in coming weeks.

Other characters were conspicuous by their absence. Though we were shown Frogurt, which I thought was a nice little touch, we didn’t have Michael, Walt, or any of the true Tailies (Ana Lucia, Libby, Mr. Eko, Nathan), well, unless you count Cindy. Odds are Michael and Walt weren’t shown because of how old Malcolm David Kelley is now, but I have to wonder if they weren’t on the parallel plane. Likewise, they probably didn’t show the true Tailies because they were attempting to parallel the plane exiting montage in Exodus, in which they weren’t included. Will these characters be included in the rest of the season? I’ve heard rumors, and I certainly hope so (especially Eko), but we shall see.


The crux of the question of the superiority of one universe over the other hinges on one element for me: The island. We’ve already been shown that in the new universe, the island is submerged. Since in the submerged sequence Dharma Village was already built and Ezra J. Sharkington was swimming around, the most logical conclusion is that the Jughead explosion submerged the island. What is difficult to logically consider is what the effects of the submersion of the island are. It is important to consider these effects, though, because I believe they will be why the new universe ultimately turns out to be worse.

To work backwards from an idea I have, I believe the submersion of the island released The Black Smoke/MiB/Flocke/Jacob’s Nemesis/The Monster (if we want to resort to name calling) into the rest of the world. The reason I believe so hinges on two details: The ash circles and its (his?) explanation of what he wants to Ben.

From this episode, especially, we are led to believe that ash in a circle provides some sort of protection against The Black Smoke. It would seem that it can’t cross the ash. However, what if it just can’t cross circles, because they are completely enclosed and have no break, and the ash is just a quick and easy way to protect yourself? What would be easier to carry around to create an instant circle, a hula hoop? This circle idea explains and is supported by the Dharma sonic fence. The sonic fence enclosed Dharma in a circle (ok, so the circle’s are geometrically imperfect) when operational. Many people wondered why The Black Smoke didn’t simply go over the fence. Well, if it can’t cross circles, then we have our answer.

This circle idea interacts with The Black Smoke’s explanation to Ben to show us an interesting possibility. It told Ben that what it wanted was to go home. That answer raises two questions. Where is home? Why can’t it go home? The former question is nearly impossible to evidence, as we have little knowledge of the identity of The Black Smoke. The latter question, however, has two possible answers. First, Jacob could’ve been preventing it from leaving, and now that Jacob is dead, it’s free and wants to exact it’s vengeance on Jacob’s allies before leaving. Second, the island is completely enclosed by water in a circular fashion, so it can’t leave. If the circle theory is true, the latter explanation makes a lot of sense.

Thus, if the island is The Black Smoke’s circular prison, then it is free in the new universe where the island is submerged. Assuming The Black Smoke is actually evil (I mean, it does kill people. Although, besides Mr. Eko, it only seems to kill people that directly attack it, which is corroborated by Richard Alpert yelling very loudly not to shoot it.) a universe where it is free to destroy the rest of the world is far worse than any other universe. However, I still wouldn’t be surprised if, at the end of it all, we’re twisted one more time and Jacob turns out to be the bad one.

Although, a major hole in the circle theory is regarding the actual Others. Why didn’t they build a moat around the Temple, or another more permanent protection method so that they didn’t need to do the ash circle like they did? Did they trust Jacob would always protect them? Did they build the wall, and when it failed said, “Ah, screw it”? And I called them the actual Others because they are the more savage others we saw in Season Two (and as I theorized back then that there were two groups). They are also the source of the whispers, as we heard them when they captured Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Jin in the wall. Ben/Widmore/Hawkin’s Others seem to be an offshoot of the actual Others, kind of a group of recruited people from organizations that find their way to the island, perhaps a group of quasi-Others to see if you’re worthy enough to be an actual Other.


As always, there are many more questions and possibilities to explore, but I examined the ones I felt were the most relevant. The other major one is the possibility of travel between the two universes. Three characters presented possible evidence for this idea: Charlie, Juliet, and Desmond. Charlie’s line of “I was supposed to die” could be interpreted as him having knowledge of the other universe or as him simply wanting to commit suicide. Likewise, Juliet’s gibberish about going to get coffee when she was about to die could be interpreted as her slipping between universes or as random neurons firing in her brains as she died (“Tell Merrill to swing away.”). The former is given more credence when you consider that she went from saying it didn’t work when she was alive to it worked after she died (thanks to translation from Miles). Finally, the rules don’t apply to Desmond, as Farraday told him, and Lindelof and Cuse were playing with that idea by having him on the plane sitting next to Jack and then seemingly vanish. Was he actually on the plane or was he flashing between parallel universes? Was "Flashes Before Your Eyes" a flash to the past or a parallel universe? I’m sure we’ll get these answers in weeks to come.

Now, onto random topics!

Challenge of the Week: Loyal readers, I impart upon you a Where’s Waldo-esque quest. Watch the episode again and see how many of the parallels to the Pilot and Season One you can identify. There were quite a few I notice, and probably more I missed. It was clever writing, which I’m sure will continue. (Also, isn’t it neat that Lindelof and Cuse essentially get to write a new show with the same characters within their already existing show? Think about it.)

Epic Win of the Week: (Tie) 1. Sawyer kicks Jack into a pit while yelling, “You were wrong!” If only that happened every time Jack was wrong (which would be every episode, multiple times every episode). 2. Jack thinks attacking the ancient Chinese guy is smart and gets Kung Fued to the face. I mean, really, Jack? Come on!

Quote of the Week: “What happened?” A clever line, as Sayid asked at the end of the episode what we were all thinking. (Also, is Jacob now inhabiting Sayid’s body? I doubt it, as it would destroy the awesome storyline they developed for Hurley where he talks to dead Jacob, but it’s possible).

Thanks for reading this week. See you after the next episode.

(Insert clever-yet-to-be-determined catchphrase here. Any suggestions?)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Doppelganger Week?

I signed onto Facebook a few minutes ago to send a friend a message. Apparently it's Doppelganger Week, which means you post a picture of a celebrity you look like as your profile picture. I applaud the use of the word "doppelganger," but deplaud (new word) the idea of defining yourself through someone else. Yes yes, it's all in good fun, but still, something about it rubs me the wrong way.