Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Have an Inkling These Newbies Are Nifty!

So once again, LOST aired on Dad's birthday, and once again Ben's life hung in the balance and was ultimately spared by a castaway. But that's not really what Confirmed Dead is all about. Or is it?

I'm annoyed because I really wanted to watch this episode again, but my computer froze up a million times when I attempted it. So I'm just going to go ahead and write about it before the next episode comes along. Will it be as romantic as last year's Valentine's Day episode? Doubtful. Very doubtful. But I'm sure it will be great!

I loved The Beginning of the End. I have no real objections to Confirmed Dead, but it doesn't feel quite as emotionally satisfying. That, of course, is because the main point of the episode is to introduce us to five different characters. We don't know them yet. We don't care about them yet. So while it's all very interesting to get a glimpse of their backgrounds and try to figure out what they're up to, we're missing our time with the castaways. But what we got was great, especially with John's gang.

First, though, the newbies. Daniel Faraday seems to be the most prominent of the four. He's the one we kept seeing on the previews. He resembles Charlie a bit, though of course he's American. Is he as nefarious as Ben suggests? Though my instincts tell me that Ben isn't lying about the danger inherent in these newcomers, I'm not certain that these four individuals are bad people. Daniel certainly is a tad creepy in his evasiveness - and that gas mask was definitely not a good sign. But he strikes me as an intelligent, empathetic, extremely nervous individual, and I like him. I find his jittery I-just-downed-12-cups-of-coffee mannerisms endearing and reminiscent of Malcolm, my favorite character in Jurassic Park. His name clearly derives from Michael Faraday, a physicist known for his work with electromagnetism. What a natural thing for someone on special assignment on the island to study!

Miles Straum is the most abrasive of the four, the Ana-Lucia of this season. Although his "ghost whisperer" abilities seem to be genuine, he seems to be an opportunist, using his gift for his own gain more than to help others. He's certainly no Melinda Gordon. But he did give that lady half her money back, and he does seem to have cared at least a bit about Naomi. Incidentally, I think we were supposed to think that woman was Walt's grandma, and then we realized she wasn't - or was she? I wouldn't rule out the possibility that she has some connection to somebody on the show, but Walt was not the murdered young man haunting her. I do get the sense Miles did her a favor; I think her grandson was hanging around because he wanted the money disposed of, because with it in her house she was in danger. Anyway, Miles is my least favorite of the new folks, and I can't figure out if there's any significance to his name, but he's not a totally hopeless case. And with all the ghosts that have shown up on LOST, seems like he might come in very handy...

Charlotte Staples Lewis. How excited am I about her name? I squealed when Ben said it. C. S. Lewis has crashed on the island; now we just need to get Tolkien, and we can re-form the Inklings! Figuring out just how she relates to Lewis is tricky, however. By profession, she seems more like Indiana Jones. Of course, Lewis was fascinated by ancient civilizations and religions, so I guess archaeology goes well with his mindset, but my guess is that the link will have more to do with her role in the "man of science, man of faith" debate. Maybe landing on the island, she's a skeptic as to its truly unique properties, but John will play the Tolkien role and help convert her to the side of the faithful. There was even what seemed like a Tolkien reference in her plot thread, when she seemed to have been shot dead by Ben, only for John to discover that she was wearing a bullet-proof vest, like the Mithril coat that saved Frodo in Moria. In any case, I like her. She seems very personable, and the fact that she's English is a plus. As the only new gal in the bunch, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see romance bloom between her and someone. My money's on John. We'll see!

Frank Lapidus is fantastic, a blunt and funny character who seems to have some sort of personal connection to the downed pilot. As Frank is a pilot himself, maybe the two of them went to training together or met at some later point because of their shared experience. He doesn't come across as a polished individual at all. He's rough around the edges, and there's the sense that what you see is what you get - hence the "frank"? "Lapidus" has something to do with stone, and I can't quite make that out, unless it's related to the Black Rock. I'm sure it will become clearer. Out of the four, I'd say he's definitely the least likely to be hiding something. And, dare I say he reminds me a bit of Tom? Only his beard is real! I love his encounter with Mikhail's cow, and how totally discombobulated he was by it. But he's not all disoriented drunk. He knows 815's flight manifest backward and forward. He's clearly obsessed. What has him so intrigued? When he said he was supposed to be "flying" 815, did he mean piloting the plane? And why in the world are they so determined to find Ben?

Matthew Abaddon - I think that's how his name is spelled, and I don't feel like looking it up - is seriously creepy, though. He was very intimidating when he showed up in Hurley's flash forward and just as ominous in this episode. Though he may report to someone - I'm still pretty sure Charles Widmore is pulling the strings here or at least heavily involved - he's very high up in the food chain, and I'm pretty sure he's bad news. He wants to find the survivors of Flight 815, and he wants the rest of the world to think there are none. What does he want with our friends? It can't be good.

The bad part of this episode? No Rose, Bernard, Sun, Jin or Desmond. Everything was Jack and Kate, soon joined by Sayid and Juliet, who make a great team - and I love their conversation on the beach, and John, Ben, Hurley, Sawyer and Claire. What I find really interesting is the fact that Claire sticks up for Ben when John is about to kill him. So does Alex, which I was very happy about; she really does care about him, even though he isn't her biological father, even though he's done so many crummy things. He's still her dad. And like her, I was very worried that Ben might wind up dead in this episode, despite John's initial graciousness toward him and consideration for Alex.

But Claire... I thought that in the aftermath of Charlie's death, she might well react the way Shannon did, by lashing out against whoever she deemed responsible. I figured she'd be really mad at Desmond, though she wouldn't likely go as far as asking someone to kill him. Ben, however, is another story. Ben ordered Mikhail to kill Charlie. Maybe she doesn't know that. Hurley didn't give her all the gory details then and there, and maybe he never elaborated. But if there's anybody there she really has a right to be furious with, it's Ben. Yet she urges John to show him mercy. Is it because of Charlie's message? Or because of her pure heart? I suspect it's the latter, since she also suggested checking on whoever set off the flare. Whatever the reason, though, I found it strangely refreshing. She and Hurley have both suffered a searing loss, but instead of seeking revenge, which is Sawyer's M.O., they continue to build bridges.

John and Ben are both very interested in the fact that Hurley found Jacob's cabin. Ben is startled, clearly not pleased. John's reaction is less clear, but he reminds me of Gandalf when Bilbo lies about how he escaped from Gollum's clutches. It's obvious he isn't buying Hurley's story, but for the time being, he's content just to let it slide. No doubt, though, he will be grilling Hurley about the encounter before too long. Though I still don't approve of John knifing Naomi in the back, I loved him in this episode. The reprisal of his John-Locke-in-a-Rainstorm exhilaration seemed like another baptism, a new chance at a fresh start on the island And his weather-predicting skills continue to be exemplary. I thought his little trick of sending Vincent out with the transponder was pretty clever, and I love that my favorite four-legged cast member had something of significance to do in this episode.

The episode began with the scan of the ocean, and it was very much like the end of Find815, but though the Christiane I was mentioned, there was no trace of Sam. I hope we get to see him at some point! I'm sad that three brilliant episodes have been sacrificed because of the writers' strike, but maybe this season will somehow be even better without them. Challenge sometimes makes us stronger, forces us to explore avenues we might not have considered before. I'm sure LOST's writers can come up with something amazing.


Beth said...

Great title for the post! :-)

And boy, am I glad you can keep these characters straight. Having missed major parts of season 3, I'm still struggling to keep the "others" straight in my mind, and with the new guys and gals showing up on the island, I'm swimming in deep water.

I love the names and your guesses as to what each means. I think I squealed too over "Charlotte Staples Lewis" -- the Staples made the reference so obvious. She's my favorite of the bunch so far -- I'm also very intrigued to know that Dharma's polar bears showed up in other parts of the globe.

You seem to have a greater affection for Ben than I have. I really need to catch up on season 3 and see his flashback episode. Dana clued me in on some of the pertinent parts, but I don't think I'm piecing them together too well. The major thing that stood out to me was that Ben grew up, completely grew up, on the island. (And his father was the Dharma *janitor*? Did I hear that right?) Such insularity doesn't bode well for Ben's mental stability, I don't think. He has creeped me out since he was Henry, and he still often does. I just don't trust him, even when I have moments I feel sorry for him. He's such a manipulator (and sower of discord) that I never even trust myself when I do feel sorry for him. And after last night's episode, I'm more confused than ever...though I'm jumping ahead of myself.

I really don't get what the writers are doing with the flash forwards, but will save my gripes/concerns/ questions for when you post about last night's episode. :-)

Erin said...

I just realized that I *haven't* been posting my blogs here in - eep - a month! Sorry about that; I just saw your comment today! I'm so behind...

I *shouldn't* have affection for Ben. I know I shouldn't. And somehow I can't help it. He's a villain, all right. I think there's a spark of decency in there somewhere, but it's pretty encrusted. He sure is a fascinating character, though, and he's led such a miserable life I do feel sorry for him, even though he's brought so much misery upon others...

I haven't seen much similarity to C. S. Lewis so far; I'm hoping they do something with the character that reflects the name at least a little!

Sorry to have been away so long; I'll put my other ones up right now!