Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Lost" reflections: "I never should've left that Island"

The Season 5 premiere of ABC's "Lost" marked the point in which the show officially embraced its bizarre side, with even the most educated viewers having difficulty keeping track of exactly what year it's supposed to be from one scene to the next. After taking three pages' worth of notes, reading multiple online reviews and staring deeply into a campfire for nearly three hours, the same theme keeps coming back up -- not surprisingly, it's the exact same theme we discussed in this space last spring.

"If we can't live together, we're doing to die alone."

You saw it in nearly every case in last week's death retrospective: with a few exceptions, every character on the show who has died, died alone. The one major character who managed to get away -- Michael -- eventually had to return to the Island, in order to die. And now we see the Oceanic 6, who must either return to the Island they worked so hard to escape, or die alone, and accept the fates of their survivor brethren, who did the same. Maybe it doesn't make sense, but that's where we are.

With apologies to Peter King, I once again present 10 Things I Think I Think about "Lost."
-- I think the central conflict on the show now remains between Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus. That much we know.
What we don't know is which of them is on the right side. Or if either of them is. Ben, ever since revealing his true identity as Chief Other, has insisted "we're the good guys." But are they really? Do good guys kill innocent survivors, without remorse? Do good guys terrorize innocent people for no good reason? And why would an entire ship of people come to slaughter an Island populated by good guys?
On the other hand, we know Charles Widmore isn't the greatest person, either. We know he was obsessed enough with capturing Ben to send a team of soldiers to get him, then "torch the Island." And he's obviously up to something, possibly with Mr. Paik.
So which side is the side actually occupied by the good guys? Is there even such a thing?
-- I think no one in this story is being entirely honest about anything, with the exception of poor Hurley. The only truly noble character among them, Hurley can't even live up to his promise not to help Sayid when his friend needs it, even throwing in the unintentional comedy of buying an "I Heart Shih Tzus" t-shirt that's miraculously his size (and by the way: why does Sawyer get to walk around for an entire episode without a shirt, but Hurley doesn't even get the courtesy of changing shirts on camera? No justice, I say). Whether Hurley -- oafish though he may be -- and his honesty will cause more grief than is necessary remains to be seen.
-- I think I have very little understanding of the "skipping record" time facet described by Daniel Faraday early in the first hour. Worth questioning is Faraday's own role in the whole thing. We know, for example, that he was around for that opening scene when the DHARMA Initiative was busy drilling below the Orchid station. And we know from an earlier episode that he's experienced the same disembodied behavior experienced by Desmond during Season 4 (he referred to Desmond as "miraculously gifted"). Also worth questioning: if Faraday met Desmond in a time prior to the crash, why didn't Desmond recognize him farther along in the timeline?
-- I think I enjoy watching "Lost" bring back dead characters, if only because it gives those actors -- That Guy who played Ethan and That Chick who played Ana Lucia -- a chance to weasel an extra paycheck or two out of the deal.
Another interesting point: nearly every character who has died during the show's run has made at least one appearance since then. And most of them keep appearing to Hurley. For whatever that's worth.
-- I think the time-traveling Island may explain something about how Ben knows everything about everyone he meets.
-- I think the people who visited Kate claiming to be lawyers were not really. Real lawyers wouldn't have played the cloak-and-dagger "my clients wish to remain anonymous" gag, and real lawyers would have contacted Kate's attorneys (and you know she has them due to her ongoing legal battles) before visiting her at her house.
-- I think I did not recognize the woman at the end of the second hour, who was also the hooded figure pondering complicated math on a chalkboard earlier in the episode (math is not my strong suit). The face belongs, apparently, to a Ms. Hawking, who may or may not be Daniel Faraday's mother. If she is, for the record, that means Penny Widmore is in danger -- remember, Desmond received instructions to contact Daniel Faraday's mother, and Ben has already sworn to Charles Widmore "I'm going to kill your daughter."
-- I think I have little explanation for why The Others don't leap with the Island the way the survivors do. I'm sure there's an explanation, I just can't think of it.
-- I think John Locke may have to die somehow to get off the Island and convince the survivors to come home. Although it's confusing as to how he's going to do that, recall that every dead survivors has re-appeared in some fashion.
-- I think the death of Neil Frogurt was one of the funniest dark moments in the history of the show.

-- I think (and this is item 11) the closing line of the first scene in episode 1, and the closing line of the final scene in episode 2, were exactly the same.
"God help us all."


More depth and obfuscation coming next week.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I think I think that the writers are unlikely to ever be able to wrap up all the loose ends and answer the questions they've raised, because I think I think they don't remember them all. In the immortal words of Guy Fleegman (aka Crewman Number Six) I ask them "Did you guys ever WATCH this show?"