Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"He Walks Among Us, Yet He Is Not One of Us..."

A day may come when I will blog, ever so belatedly, about American Idol. But this is not that day. My time is short, and I have more important things to discuss.
Does it make me a bad person if I'm less engaged when the show is about Jack? I mean, now that we're at the point when it being about Jack most likely means it's not about anyone else... We still got Sawyer and Kate in this episode, and that was fun, though it's rather sad to see their relationship turn sour so quickly, much as I enjoy their verbal sparring. But then theirs must of necessity be a rocky romance, with two such forceful, tormented powers at play. While I admire Kate's spirit, I think in this case Sawyer is right to hold back on saving Jack. They need reinforcements. They need Locke. (And Ben needs Jack...)

But I'll get to them later. To Jack, because he's definitely the main focus of the episode. The flashback was weird. It took me until about two-thirds in to really connect with the action there. Unless I missed an offhand reference, either in this episode or in some show long ago, there doesn't seem to be any kind of a time stamp on this flashback, which makes it harder to put into context. We have no idea where this fits into Jack's timeline or even why he's in this remote community, though I'm guessing it's some sort of Peace Corps-like position, except that he doesn't seem to be there with anyone else.

The tattoo stuff was interesting, but it made me frustrated again at Jack's stubbornness. Why was it so important to him to have her give him the tattoo? He didn't even know what she was up to before; now he suddenly needs to be in on this secret of hers in a very physical way. When he practically forced her hand, it seemed to me to show considerable disrespect for her people's customs and culture. If she says this is only for them, maybe he should listen.

She tells him one thing and makes the tattoo say another. Well, not exactly another; the two statements are complementary. Still, what she speaks is for Jack's benefit, while what she writes is what must be written, the undeniable truth. The irony: Jack is the Other. In one sense it means he is set apart because he is such a born leader; he's marked for greatness whether he wants it or not. But it foreshadows his current position with the Others. Now he is the odd one out, the only one in their company who has not been assimilated to any degree. How long can he resist? Juliet is marked too, for different but ultimately comparable reasons. She is an outcast. Now she and Jack must help each other. And their position is so vulnerable, she might just prove herself worthy of his trust, simply because without him she is totally unprotected. And because he saved her life.

Jack saved two lives today: Juliet's and Ben's. Maybe neither counts; he only saved Ben to the extent that he agreed not to withhold treatment if he would release Juliet, and Juliet was only in danger of being executed because of his threats against Ben the first time around, which ultimately led to the deadly confrontation on the beach. I admit I felt a little stab to my heart when Ben said, "We had an excellent surgeon. His name was Ethan." Ethan was, of course, a cold-blooded killer, but he also had the capacity to save people. And he seemed like such a nice guy when he wasn't attacking Charlie, Claire and Scott (or was it Steve?).
Tom. Let's talk about him, because he's still my favorite Other aside from Ben (who I've finally decided to call Ben rather than Henry, though I'm half-tempted now to switch to Captain Bunny-Killer). Half the show he seemed pretty congenial; the other half he was rather aggressive. He just about blew a gasket when Jack showed up at the hearing. I like the moment early in the episode when he asks Jack in a wounded tone, "What kind of people do you think we are?" And I really think Tom doesn't see their way of life as uncivilized, though I think he sometimes disagrees with the methods of some of his fellow Others. (What do they call themselves? Anything other than "the good guys"?) He raises a good point, and what this show is really becoming about more than anything: "You're in a glass house, Jack; how 'bout I give you some stones?" Jack's people have done some pretty unsavory things too. They seem to have much purer motivations than the Others; they seem to be better people; but we just don't know enough about these people to condemn them. We've entered the season of penitence with Ash Wednesday. Time for castaways and Others alike to do some genuine reflecting on their sins and what they might do to make amends...

That Isabella... Creepy. Kinda like the jewelry lady with Dezzy. She weirds me out. We didn't get much time with Cindy and the kids, certainly not enough to get any indication of how they've been spending their time since their abduction. They seem unharmed, though. Alex appears to be a nice gal, though she seems pretty mad at Jack for saving her father, which is a shame. Why must everyone on this show have daddy issues? I like Karl. Poor pathetic guy. I think he and Sawyer will probably have more to do with each other. It was sweet to see him being all mentorly, though of course he denied any tenderness toward Karl to Kate. But Sawyer cares. He wants to help this kid. I think he will. I loved the shot at the end of Karl star-gazing, and it panning across the sky and landing on Alex, doing the same thing. As Libbie astutely pointed out, very Somewhere Out There.

Poor Ben. He really was a mess tonight. His back... icky. But he's still got his sense of humor, even as he's muttering under the weight of all that discomfort. He and Jack are such fun to observe in conversation. I noticed the resigned way he banged his head against the pillow when he saw the hateful glance Alex shot him from the doorway. Ben loves his daughter, even if that's the only person he loves, even if she doesn't love him back. It's something. And I thought it was sweet when they were shipping out that Tom was standing there holding an umbrella over him. Maybe Ben ordered it, but it strikes me more as something Tom would have thought of on his own, out of consideration. Why am I so determined to like this guy? I'm almost getting a Sam vibe from him - though the real Sam status goes to Hurley, who's back with a vengeance next week, to my delight.

Boy, was Sawyer a pistol in this episode. I should've kept a count, but he must've spouted off at least half a dozen nicknames, which is impressive since we couldn't have seen him for more than a third of the episode. Probably more like a quarter. The aforementioned nickname for Ben took the cake for me, but I also dug Bobby (Brady). Karl quoted that "God loves you, as he loved Jacob" thing that we saw flashed on the screen, so it really must be important. Who is Jacob?

Sawyer has Kate pegged. She's feeling guilty for essentially choosing Sawyer over Jack, though at the time she thought it was probably Sawyer's last night alive so there was a certain lack of commitment attached to it. Certainly she hoped to save him, but at that point it seemed she was out of options. Now she has survivor's guilt and guilt over jilting Jack by default. She "cheated" on him - though they weren't technically in a relationship - and then didn't even save his life. It's a lot to juggle with. Seems the pendulum is already swinging toward Jack and Kate again. (Don't kiss him, Kate! He's your brother! And Ben is your father!!) Oh dear. The hour of loopiness has arrived.

I'm sure I haven't said all I want to about this episode, but I have to get up early, so I'll wrap things up. Thoughts about next week's episode... Is it just me, or did Charlie shave? Is he thinking a new look will put him off the Universe's radar? (Universe: Darn it, I was gonna kill Charlie today, but I just couldn't find him anywhere. Say, who is that hottie with the freshly shaved face? And where did he get a razor?) Anyway, the more important tidbit is this: Vincent! Boy, I missed you, buddy. And it looks like our favorite four-legged cast member will play a key role in this episode, too. Can Walt's dog help make up for Michael's indiscretions? Hmmmm... Sounds kinda scapegoatish. Don't want that. But the point is, I'm glad to see Vincent. Now if we could just get a word or two indicating that Rose and Bernard still exist...

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