Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Island's Call (Ireland's Call, Phil Coulter)

It's getting very close now to the time when LOST will return for his sixth and final season. The excitement is palpable. Here's a song to reflect that, to the tune of Phil Coulter's Ireland's Call.

The Island's Call

Island, Island

Year by year, we've watched, enraptured.
Now, it's come to the conclusion,
And a single question haunts every mind:
Can there be a decent resolution?

Island, Island,
You've mesmerized us all.
For one more season,
We'll heed the Island's call.

What's the day, and what's the hour
ABC will keep us gazing?
We don't mind LOST airing at 3 a.m.
If the last installments are amazing.

Island, Island,
You've mesmerized us all.
For one more season,
We'll heed the Island's call.

Did whatever happened happen?
Has the timeline been rebooted?
When our buddies boarded Flight 815,
Was it chance, or were they all recruited?

Island, Island,
You've mesmerized us all.
For one more season,
We'll heed the Island's call.

Island, Island,
You've mesmerized us all.
For one more season,
We'll heed the Island's call.
We'll heed the Island's call.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ben Linus Bobblehead Review

It's a shame Ben's not available on Amazon for me to link to; this one's a beaut, as you can see on Epinions. Actually, I would prefer something a little less bloody, but Ben always was a bit of a punching bag...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Season Five Review

LOST's fifth season is one of the most confusing, what with all the time travel and divided castaways, but it's also incredibly rewarding - especially once we finally get to meet Jacob!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Are You Sure This Is Where You Want to Be?"

House of the Rising Sun is one of the few episode titles that names a character in its title and one of even fewer to share its name with a song. A darn good one at that, and one I couldn't resist filking for a tribute to Jin's dad. But we don't meet Jin's dad yet in this episode. No, this is all about Sun, and the LOST writers really like to misdirect us with the perspectives of these two. By the time the fourth season rolled around, I was so used to getting an inaccurate picture of what was really happening with these two that I figured out their nasty little Ji Yeon trick long before it was revealed. This episode obscures as much as it reveals. But it's the first time that Sun and Jin feel like fully formed characters. Lowering that language barrier just a bit makes such a difference in our understanding of them and their ability to integrate with the group.

Once again, this episode beings with an opening eye. For a change, there is tranquility. Sun appreciatively smells a flower while Jin tries to catch fish. Jack and Kate squabble good-naturedly while Kate wonders about Jack's tattoos, which turns out to be one of the least compelling mysteries LOST has ever explored. Charlie's petty bitterness as he accuses them of "verbally copulating" is amusing. "You guys have an inside joke; how absolutely wonderful for you both," he sneers. At this early point, he may be jealous that Kate has chosen Jack over him; he likes Claire, but their relationship hasn't had much chance yet to develop.

This is a great episode for Charlie, a lead-in to his first centric episode. Mostly, we get a lot of him and John. "The great white hunter is on the move," he quips. That hunter is going to really get in Charlie's face here, trying to help him kick the drug habit, and to his credit, it's one of John's great Island successes. Charlie never does drugs again after this point, though he is sorely tempted. I love how John prefaces his heart-to-heart with "I know who you are and I know what you're lookin' for." We think he's going to say something about the heroin, but instead he confesses to being a fan of DriveShaft, which Charlie's been rather pathetically seeking since the plane crashed. But then he does launch into the drug talk and offers Charlie his guitar back if he'll clean up his act. It's a most appropriate exchange, since it was heroin that led to the band's ruination.

Of course, his line about knowing Charlie will get the guitar back because "I have faith" is a bit of a cop-out; he knows it because he sees the guitar hanging over his head. But he does have faith that Charlie can change. At the end of this scene, John tells Charlie, "Look up," which reminds me of "Lift up your eyes and look north," which is etched on Eko's stick and taken as sacred instruction by Locke, and Desmond's comment of "You have to lift it up" to Jack, which refers both to elevating his ankle and praying. I really like the John and Charlie heart-to-hearts. But both are present for perhaps the most horrifying scene in all of LOST. I refer, of course, to the moment when Charlie, he of the "irrational fear of bees", steps on an active bee hive. The stuff of nightmares? Absolutely. Shudder. And yet another brush with death for Charlie.

Sun looks very different in her flashback, extremely elegant and high-class; Jin looks humble and handsome, and though he doesn't come off too well in the latter part of the flashback, it's heartening to see how romantic their beginnings were, to know that at least at one point, they were genuinely in love. We finally get to see what a gorgeous smile Jin has. We also see the same scene from the last episode, when Jack argues with the airline employee, from Jin's perspective. LOST likes to show the same scenes multiple times, but they're almost always worth revisiting. It's interesting that Sun wanted to elope, but Jin didn't. By the fifth season, my inclination is to think of Sun as the more adventurous one, though since Jin had shunned his father, it isn't like he had any family to attend his wedding. The conversation they have regarding Sun's father mirrors Penny and Desmond's in Flashes Before Your Eyes. I'm still a little undecided as to whose father is worse, though I am inclined to think that Widmore's affection for his own daughter is deeper. It seems both have committed atrocities, and Sun is aware enough of her father's personality to be nervous about Jin agreeing to work for him.

It seems that everyone probably would have been better off if Walt hadn't found those handcuffs in the jungle. First it led to that ugliness between Sayid and Sawyer, and now they use to cuffs to chain up Jin, who's stuck with one cuff on his arm for the next month or so. Talk about unpleasant! Then again, who knows what would he might have done to Michael if he hadn't been restrained? The moment when Jin attacks Michael reminds me of Seth Rogen plowing into Paul Rudd in 40-Year-Old Virgin. But that was actually an act of friendship, and this is anything but, so it's interesting that such a rocky start could lead to Jin and Michael being such good buddies. Would it have happened if Jin had realized how chummy Michael and Sun were getting? Though it doesn't do much good at the time, I like the fact that Hurley tries to help by pointing out, "that Chinese dude's gonna get pretty crispy out here."

We meet Adam and Eve, so named by John, in this episode, one of those little Island mysteries for which I fully expect resolution in the sixth season. Jack says they died 40 or 50 years ago, though he could be off. It seems likely to be someone we know. Rose and Bernard would make some sense, especially with the black stone and white stone, though they're not situated particularly near the caves, and who would have buried them? Jacob, maybe? It seems likely that they had a little help from someone in achieving their cozy retirement. Everyone who stumbles upon Adam and Eve also knows about Rousseau, which means they know that there have been people on this Island in the recent past as well as the not-so-recent past. The first season only drops occasional hints about other inhabitants, with only two face-to-face meetings before the last episode. But it's becoming increasingly clear that the Island holds many secrets.

Seeing the skeletons first probably increases Kate's misgivings about moving to the caves. She doesn't want to hunker down for the rest of her life. Of course, it stands to reason that if she ever got back home, she would wind up in prison for the rest of her life, so given the choice, I'd think she would choose the Island, even if it is more dangerous. But Kate seems anxious to leave, to keep running somehow, even though she's found the perfect hiding place. She can't stand to stay in one spot for too long. There's a lot of tension among Charlie, Jack and Kate here. This seems to be the episode in which Charlie relinquishes his designs on her, but he does a lot of whining first. He's especially annoyed that Jack and Kate sprint off ahead of him after he steps on the hive, leaving him to be stung "hundreds of times".

Of course, he doesn't do much to ingratiate himself by making that dumb joke about Kate's chest size. ("I found your shirt." "It was full of bees." "I would have thought Cs, actually." Classy, Charlie.) Kate is clearly smitten with Jack, but he seems too married to his work, whether it's performing life-saving surgery or leading a ragtag group of castaways, to properly nurture a relationship. Her attempt to flirt with him while he tries to work out the logistics of living at the caves is painfully awkward. Jack has more important things on his mind. He could be more attentive, while she could be less self-involved. These two can't ever seem to find that perfect balance, at least not for any significant length of time.

Michael and Walt's relationship is slowly improving. One thing Michael has to learn is that Walt is a sponge. He hears and remembers everything, so if Michael says something, he'd better be ready to back it up. It's sad to realize that not only did Walt's mother separate him from his father, she never even told him about Michael. She really denied him a major part of his life. But now that they're together, it's time to try belatedly building that bond; Walt asking Michael when his birthday is shows that he is ready to give it a shot.

In these early episodes, when there's so much left to learn about the survivors, every episode contains pretty big revelations. Kate is a fugitive. John was in a wheelchair. And now, Sun speaks and understands English. We find that out 31 minutes in, and though at this point, nobody but Michael knows, it completely changes how we see her in relation to the castaways, while isolating Jin even further. Jack, John, Kate and Sayid all assume leaderly roles here, the latter leading to one of my all-time favorite Sawyer nicknames: Captain Falafel. Just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? We finally get to see musician Charlie playing his guitar, and as many of the survivors migrate toward the caves, everyone seems to be hunkering down for the long haul, trying to make this place feel like home. The Willie Nelson song on Hurley's CD that poses the question, "Are you sure this is where you want to be?" is one of my favorite uses of popular music in the series. I'd never heard this particular song before, but it's such a perfect fit for the situation. That's a question each castaway has to consider very carefully; it will make a big difference in the decisions they make from here on in.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"A Leader Can't Lead Until He Knows Where He's Going"

The final season of LOST is starting to loom, so I'm finally getting back to the grand re-watch I'd planned to have ongoing for months. White Rabbit is the first Jack-centric episode; it's also the first time we see a reference to Alice in Wonderland, though I was more reminded of Shore Leave, the episode of Star Trek in which everyone's thoughts spring to life on a strange planet. Of course, Alice in Wonderland came into play in that episode too. And while we're talking of rabbits, this is the episode when we see Sawyer reading Watership Down and he offers the helpful summary "It's about bunnies." The phrase "white rabbit" is uttered by John in conversation with Jack about 28 minutes into the episode.

This is the first time we see one of the castaways as a youngster. Jack is a valiant kid, though he's not particularly strong. The scene with him standing up to the bully reminded me of Pay It Forward, with the conflict between safety and loyalty. While Christian stays detached, Jack gets very involved. He cares about people, and though he sometimes might be better off if he didn't, it's one of the traits I'd hate to see him lose - and season five Jack does seem to be veering away from that to some extent. The opening shot of young Jack mirrors the opening shot of the series; we seem to get a lot of Jack opening his eyes on this show, and he still has a long way to go in his enlightenment process.

I feel sorry for him here, since he's so exhausted and stressed out, but he frustrates me as well. Joanna's drowning is aggravating because it seems like Jack hindered rather than helped when he jumped into those waves. Could Boone have saved Joanna? He seemed to be floundering, but maybe he could have made it, or at least he could have gotten back to shore while Jack kept going. But it was a split-second decision on Jack's part, and he was doing the best he could. I like how it's Charlie who alerts Jack to the situation by informing him, "I don't swim!" I'm guessing Jack forgot that little nugget in the next three months...

Jack regrets that he never said a word to Joanna. How many others has he not spoken to? There are 40-some fuselage survivors at this point; are we to assume he's interacted with several others whom we haven't met or that he's stuck mostly to the core group of characters? What do these nondescript people do all day anyway? If I were an Oceanic 815 survivor, methinks I would be one of these Island wallflowers. But hopefully I'd be smart enough to stay out of the water.

This episode is as much about Christian as it is about Jack. In five seasons, he's been in 17 episodes and two mobisodes, even though he was dead before he landed on the Island. Or was he? We see here that Christian was a rather harsh man and that he had a drinking problem. He's a good doctor, but his interpersonal skills need some work. And Jack is supposed to fix him, just like he does with everyone else. I love it when his mother tells him to go fetch Christian, and Jack asks where he is, and she answers, "Australia". Gee, not asking too much here, are ya?

In this episode, is Christian a hallucination that Jack is having? Is he somehow resurrected, or a ghost? Or is he Esau, either shapeshifting into Christian's form or using his body like a puppet? Some strange things happen with him in this episode. It seems like he led Jack to falling off that cliff; was he trying to get him killed? Then again, it seems like he led him to water, so was he trying to help him survive? Seeing the empty coffin on the Island creates even more questions. Is there a chance that his body was never even in the coffin to begin with? What happened to it?

We start to see a division of loyalties in this episode. Charlie and Hurley trot along after Jack like a couple of eager puppy dogs. They want him to take charge, and though Hurley notes that he doesn't look so good, he can't understand why Jack isn't telling them what they ought to be doing. Of course, Jack does rally, thanks in part to John, who both saves his life after he tumbles off the cliff and strengthens his spirit, which is a bit ironic, since John becomes a shadow leader standing in opposition to Jack. "What if everything that happened here happened for a reason?" John asks, igniting the key debate between these two characters.

Boone, who's fed up with Jack's go-it-alone hero complex, will soon join forces with John. Which doesn't work out so well, but I can't really blame him for getting tired of Jack being dismissive toward him - though at least Jack sticks up for him here, and at a strained point in their relationship too. I do think that John has a knack for helping others on an individual level. But when it comes to leading a group, Jack is just especially gifted, whether he likes it or not. John knows that as well as anyone. And that "If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone" that Jack finally lets out 39 minutes into this episode is perhaps the best single-line summary of the show that the writers have given us.

A lot of great stuff in this episode isn't centered on Jack. We see Sun looking defeated and miserable and Jin insisting they keep to themselves. We get our first indication that Sawyer might not be as rough and uncultured as he looks. Walt makes a nuisance of himself with an endless string of questions, while Claire proves herself useful by sorting through clothes. She complains at one point that she can't find a hairbrush, which leads me to the question of why there don't seem to be any cameras on this plane. I would think almost everyone would have one. Claire reveals her interest in astrology and bonds with Kate, who is there for Aaron's birth and eventually decides to raise him. It's not a relationship that's focused on that much, but Kate's friendship with Claire is in some ways her most important relationship on the Island for how it will affect her future.

Along with Walt's inquisitiveness, we have his observational skills, as he's the one who alerts everyone to Claire fainting. Sayid shows how practical he is by noting that they shouldn't have left water all in one place. John seems to demonstrate his mysterious Island mojo when he says, "I know where to look" for water - though given what we see later, it's not so much a matter of "where" as "how". John has an interesting relationship with water; I always think of him in connection to rain because of his habit of knowing when it's coming and exuberantly accepting it when it does. It seems fitting that he's the one to bring water back to the others. There's something almost sacramental about it.

Charlie hangs out with Claire, which makes her feel better about herself and more comfortable while also suddenly giving him a sense of purpose. While Claire's Island experience improves, Sun's worsens when she and Jin trade their fish for Sawyer's water. Did Sawyer do it because he was hungry but lazy? After all, we see in season three that after several months on the Island he still hasn't bothered to figure out how to provide food for himself. Or did he do it to be covertly nice? Or to throw the rest of the survivors into a tizzy? Any of those possibilities seems likely. When Sayid interrogates Sun, Kate tells him that she doesn't speak English, but Sayid says she understands, which sets us up for the big revelation in the next episode.

Win One for the Reaper is introduced in this episode, in the scene in which Jack, surrounded by wreckage, finds water and the caves. It's one of the loveliest variations on the Life and Death theme, which you might say is the musical equivalent of "live together, die alone" - summing up LOST in a few notes. No matter how often I hear it, the melody does not lose any of its emotive power. If it doesn't turn up in the last episode, I will be sorely disappointed. By then, we ought to know exactly what the deal is with Christian and whether "the eye of the Island" is a "beautiful" as John claimed. Here's hoping Darlton focuses more on "live together" than "die alone"...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goodbye Mr. Linus (Goodbye Mrs. Durkin, Traditional)

It may be that we've seen the last of the LOST submarine, but here's a ditty that hearkens back to the first time we saw it, back in season three, to the tune of the Irish Rovers' Goodbye, Mrs. Durkin.

Goodbye, Mr. Linus

Both: Goodbye, Mr. Linus. We won't let you confine us.
We're tired of your head games. We're tired of your lies.
A wave to your grim domain and we're headed for the mainland.
Don't bother to object because we've said our last goodbyes.

Juliet: In Miami I was toiling to find out a way of foiling
Infertility that followed from the treatments Rachel tried.
My experiments succeeded, but I wish I hadn't heeded
All the flattery that Richard used to bring me to your side.

Both: So, it's goodbye, Mr. Linus. We won't let you confine us.
We're tired of your head games. We're tired of your lies.
A wave to your grim domain and we're headed for the mainland.
Don't bother to object because we've said our last goodbyes.

Juliet: Well, I've lost too many women, and my frazzled head is swimmin'.
I haven't helped at all here, so why should I remain?
I just want to see my sister. Do you know how I've missed her?
Do you realize that nothing's come from keeping me but pain?

So, it's goodbye, Mr. Linus. We won't let you confine us.
We're tired of your head games. We're tired of your lies.
A wave to your grim domain and we're headed for the mainland.
Don't bother to object because we've said our last goodbyes.

When Sayid came from the jungle with you, torture on his mind,
I saw you bent and bloody and I urged him to be kind.
But now I know your game, Ben, so I think it's quite shame then
That he didn't beat you senseless when he had the chance that day.

So, it's goodbye, Mr. Linus. We won't let you confine us.
We're tired of your head games. We're tired of your lies.
A wave to your grim domain and we're headed for the mainland.
Don't bother to object because we've said our last goodbyes.

Jack: You're a mad manipulator, but you'll yank my strings no more,
And when we board the sub, I won't glance backward toward the shore.
I'm sure that when I'm gone, then you will find another pawn, Ben,
But now I'm calling checkmate on the final game we'll play.

Both: So, it's goodbye, Mr. Linus. We won't let you confine us.
We're tired of your head games. We're tired of your lies.
A wave to your grim domain and we're headed for the mainland.
Don't bother to object because we've said our last goodbyes.

Goodbye Mrs. Durkin

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We Are Home (Take Me Home, Phil Coulter)

Listening to Celtic Thunder's new album, Take Me Home, gave me all sorts of fodder for filking. Here's a reflection by the speaking members of the Oceanic Six as they return to civilization, to the tune of the title track.

We Are Home

Jack: At my dad's urgin',
I became a surgeon.
Now I can focus on perfecting my skill.

Kate: I should find a lawyer,
And thanks to Sawyer,
I have a request to fulfill.

Hurley: My mom is waiting,
And I've been debating.
I might be ready to let Dad try again.

Sun: I'll have this baby,
Then I think that maybe
I'll go and track down Ben.

Yes, we are home,
The place we never thought we would see.
Sun: I wish that Jin was here with me.
All: But we are home!

Sayid: Nadia, where are you?
I've come too far to
Disregard the romance that I have dreamed of for years.

Faced with this ending,
No use pretending
Our eyes have been free of tears.

All: Home.
Yes, we are home,
The place we never thought we would see.
Kate: I wish that Sawyer was with me.
All: But we are home!

Jack: We are home after months away.
Hurley: Now I wonder if we'll stay.

(Sun and Kate: Jin and Sawyer.)
Sayid: Yes, we are home.
(Jack and Hurley: Claire and Charlie.)
Kate: The press is making a mighty fuss
(Sayid: Who knew that only six of us would return?)
Hurley: We wish our friends
(Sun: I'm so lonely)
Hurley: Were here with us.
(Sun: And I'm yearning to be with him again.)
Jack: But we are home!

Jack: Home.
(Sun and Kate: Jin and Sawyer.)
Sayid: Yes, we are home.
(Jack and Hurley: Claire and Charlie.)
Kate: The press is making a mighty fuss
(Sayid: Who knew that only six of us would return?)
Hurley: We wish our friends
(Sun: I'm so lonely)
Hurley: Were here with us.
(Sun: And I'm yearning...)
Jack: But we are home!
All: We are home!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Penny Hume (Penny Lane, Paul McCartney)

Over the weekend, thousands of geeks converged in San Diego for the 2009 Comic-Con. Though I wasn't one of them, through the magic of eBay, I did manage to snag an official Ben Linus bobblehead, which captures the after-effects of his confrontation with Penny and Desmond in the fifth season. Here, then, to the tune of the Beatles' Penny Lane, is an ode to Penny, who's had to put up with an awful lot as Desmond's One True Love.

Penny Hume

Poor Penny Hume was separated from the one she loves.
He disappeared for years before the two were wed.
Though many others would have thought him dead,
She had faith instead.

In The Searcher she endeavored to discover him.
A chat with Charlie proved her hope was not in vain.
When she found him, nothing could restrain
Desmond's utter bliss.
What a kiss!

Penny Hume is Desmond's long-awaited wife.
She'd become the constant in his life,
The one who rescued him.

When Penny Hume and Desmond left the Oceanic Six,
They knew they'd have to have their wedding on the run.
In circumstances that were far from fun,
Penny bore a son.

Penny Hume has got a complicated life.
Ben is sowing seeds of strife.
He plots a mean attack

While Desmond steers his little family to Los Angeles
To meet the spooky mom of Daniel Faraday.
He doesn't mean to put her in harm's way,
But Ben plans to slay

Poor Penny Hume, whose father Widmore is a scallywag.
She doesn't want a jot to do with his affairs.
But avenging Benji doesn't care
That she's unaware.
So unfair!

Penny Hume is begging Ben to show some grace.
Then the boy named after Charlie Pace
Turns up and Ben relents.
Penny Hume is both a daughter and a wife,
But the role of mother saved her life.
Penny Hume.

Brother Desmond (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Paul McCartney)

Since I snatched Penny up from the Beatles' catalog, I figured Desmond deserved the same treatment. Here's a LOST ditty to the tune of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, mostly inspired by the episode Catch-22.

Brother Desmond

Desmond, you're a coward and you just can't face
Marriage to your Scottish sweetheart Ruth.
Fear and not devotion brought you to this place.
It's time that you let Brother Campbell know the truth.

You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.
You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.

Desmond, you will have to make a sacrifice
In your quest to prove you're not too scared.
You won't find the years of isolation nice,
But with this month of silence, now you're more prepared.

You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.
You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.

In a decade or so, you will make a dashing groom.
You will cheekily smile as the priest declares you
Desmond and Penny Hume.

Happ'ly ever after won't come easy, Des.
Though you'll sometimes wish your life would end,
Put your trust in Penny when she plainly says
She loves you in her note in Our Mutual Friend.

You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.
You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.

In a decade or so, you will make a dashing groom.
You will cheekily smile as the priest declares you
Desmond and Penny Hume.

Happ'ly ever after won't come easy, Des.
Many troubles wait around the bend.
Someday, though, she'll help you banish emptiness,
And you will sail away on Our Mutual Friend.

You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.
You're a drunk, not a monk, Brother Desmond!
God has other plans for you.

What are you running to?
Get ready to find out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Ring From My Hand (The Black Velvet Band, Traditional)

For a couple of seasons, one of the most enduring mysteries on LOST for me has been, "What will happen to Charlie's DS ring?" Ever since I found out that it was a precious family heirloom, I've been hoping that Liam would somehow end up with it, or at least someone would. The season finale opened a door, so here's hopin'! Here's a parody to the tune of the Irish Rovers' version of The Black Velvet Band.

The Ring From My Hand

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
But I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

In a neat little town called Manchester,
We worked out our signature sound,
And many a musical masterpiece
We wrote in that neat little town
Till drug addiction oppressed me
And messed up the life I had planned.
I was sure he'd resist that temptation, so
I slipped him the ring from my hand.

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
But I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

Well, we were in Finland one Christmas,
And Charlie was havin' a blast.
He had picked up a couple of groupies,
But I figured those flings wouldn't last.
Yeah, I knew he wanted a family;
Through him, the Pace line would expand.
It seemed fitting to give him the heirloom
That once sat on Great-granddad's hand.

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
But I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

One morning, I woke up a father.
I hadn't seen Megan arrive.
It was just the reason I needed
To clean up my act and survive.
I felt I had run out of options;
I hoped Charlie might understand.
When I sold off his precious piano,
I left him the ring on his hand.

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
But I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

Since Charlie was always my refuge,
A prince of a brother to me,
It appeared that the ring that provided our name
Was where it was destined to be.
But when Charlie crashed into the ocean,
Mum's legacy sank to the sand,
So I feel like I lost her again that day
And cringe at my unadorned hand.

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
But I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

His skills, they always surpassed mine.
He was clearly the king of the band.
Yes, I wish the ring that I gave him
Was still sitting safe on my hand.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Season Two Soundtrack Review

For such a violent season, the season two soundtrack is surprisingly tranquil.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm His Mother (Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall, Paul Simon)

Time for a little LOST again! Here's an Oceanic Six-era reflection by Kate to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall.

I'm His Mother

There's a secret that I keep
That's robbed me of my sleep
Since James kissed me and leaped from the chopper.
I won't need an appeal,
But I can't help but feel
I've been sentenced to conceal this mighty whopper.

So, I'll continue to continue to declare
We left nobody there
And Aaron isn't Claire's.
I'm his mother.

He seems so still and small,
Like a perfect china doll,
But soon he'll start to scrawl his name on paper.
As he learns to read and write,
Will questions come to light?
I may find myself contrite about my caper.

Still, I'll continue to continue to declare
We left nobody there
And Aaron isn't Claire's.
I'm his mother.

I don't deserve Jack's scorn.
We thought that Claire was gone.
I was there when he was born and must protect him.
I can guarantee
That it would shatter me
Should someone crack the mystery and come collect him!

So, I'll continue to continue to declare
We left nobody there
And Aaron isn't Claire's.
I'm his mother.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Don't Ever Tell Me What I Can't Do! Ever!"

From the beginning, John Locke has been one of the most intriguing characters on LOST, particularly since Walkabout. This single episode establishes so much essential information about the Island's Man of (apparently Misplaced) Faith: he knows his way around the jungle, he's handy with a knife, he and the Island have some sort of understanding, he used to be a belittled cubicle dweller, he was paralyzed when he boarded Flight 815. This last is, of course, the most tantalizing bit of all; for three seasons LOST kept us wondering exactly how he got into the wheelchair, and it's still something of a mystery how he got out of it. The Incident suggests Jacob, but given that Esau has been indirectly manipulating him since he was a baby, I wonder exactly at what point he started to get to John on the Island. Whatever the explanation for his returned mobility, in a show full of massive twists and turns, few moments can beat the wow factor of seeing John Locke wheeling through that office, yammering about "destiny" and bellowing, "Don't tell me what I can't do!"

There are hints, now that I watch it knowing what's to come. There's his "secret" admission to Walt that a miracle happened to him. There's the shot of him gazing incredulously at his wriggling toes, which is repeated twice in this episode, but then I just figured he was glad to be alive. Like Michael said, that anyone survived was a miracle. There's the fact that we never see him standing in his flashbacks, but then there was no reason for him to stand in those situations. Randy's obnoxious comments are more fitting now - and more insensitive. When John was flat on his back after the boar charged, it's now apparent that he was afraid the paralysis had returned, was afraid even to test and see whether that was the case. And of course, there was the wheelchair on the beach, the one John stares at as the episode concludes, willing it to burst into flames like the fuselage in front of which it sits. But John, sadly, is not done with wheelchairs yet...

John with a knife in hand is a formidable thing. A canteen was the only thing standing between a fatal blade and Hurley back in season three. Later that season, he knifed Naomi, and he came charging in again in season five to rescue Sawyer and Juliet from the '50s-era Others. In this episode, Sawyer is the one in uncomfortable proximity as the knife plunges into the other side of the two-person seat in which he's sitting; Jack's wry comment about John's aim - either really good or really bad - cracks me up. No wonder Sawyer doesn't think much of John's plan! Interesting, though, that Michael joins in, perhaps to atone for his surliness with John earlier. This allows Sun to be drawn more into the family's confidences as she agrees to babysit Walt, and her asthma remedy and decision to plant a garden are foreshadowed by her invention of toothpaste.

It's a shame that the warm glow of finding Vincent doesn't last very long. The episode basically begins with him barking his head off and annoying everyone - though it turns out he's just being a good guard dog, and all his racket alerts the castaways to two important pieces of information. There are boars on the island (which is blatantly Lord of the Flies), and they could be a source of food. And the rotting bodies in the fuselage are attracting dangerous animals, so it's time to do something about that. I find it interesting that throughout the series, Sayid is extremely concerned with the proper treatment of dead bodies. He objects heartily to the burning of the fuselage, with no regard for the religious beliefs of the victims; Jack, in exasperation, says, "We don't have time to sort out everybody's god," while Charlie quips, "Really? Because the last time I heard we were positively made of time." I think I have to side with Jack on this one, but it seems to reveal a certain lack of regard for religion in general, while Charlie's response, while flippant, may hint that he's more in line with Sayid, who later insists on bringing Naomi's body back to the freighter, who is on the Island in the first place because he needed to ensure that his friend received a proper burial, and who is seen praying on more than one occasion.

Jack also says, "Any bodies we bury are not gonna stay buried long." Oh, how true that seems to be! And it's not long after this that he starts seeing his father... That is, after his nearly episode-long conversation, or lack thereof, with Rose. They mostly just sit there together, quietly gazing out at the ocean, and though Boone sent Jack there to help Rose, I think it's Jack who actually gets the most out of the encounter. He really needs this opportunity for healing after his chaotic few days, really needs to spend some quiet time with someone who isn't looking to him to solve all her problems. I love her wryly letting Jack off the hook, telling him he doesn't have to keep his promise and stay with her until Bernard comes back from the bathroom! Her comment about Bernard's fingers swelling and her "always" wearing his wedding ring around her neck seems to suggest a slight inconsistency with S. O. S., which reveals that they're on their honeymoon; wouldn't this be the first time they've flown together, at least with a wedding ring? But I'd much rather have a minor inconsistency than no Rose and Bernard flashback.

Though in the beginning of season two, Hurley will tell Jack he has a crummy bedside manner, Rose compliments him now, but their reverie ends, once again, with Jack asserting his stubborn unwillingness to believe that anything unlikely could possibly be true. Rose is convinced that her husband is still alive; Jack says it's impossible. "They're probably thinking the same thing about us," is Rose's serene response, and that's our first strong hint that there may be other survivors we haven't encountered yet. Though Jack's take was more practical, I was inclined to believe Rose. Besides, this is immediately followed by Christian turning up in the jungle. Is Jack just cracking up? I'd say not, given that his appearance heralds John's arrival. But is it really Christian? Well, that's a very different matter...

Hurley plowing into Sawyer in Dave seemed so out of character that I completely forgot he and Sawyer had scuffled before, this time over the latter hoarding airplane peanuts. Hurley objects to Sawyer's selfishness, especially now that it's the last of the food. His annoyance with Sawyer continues, as he confides to Charlie on their fishing expedition that he's just glad to get away from that redneck. Oh, yeah, and the fuselage full of bodies. I love this scene because it allows Hurley and Charlie a chance to have a great time together as well as brush up on their survival skills. Their friendship is beginning to blossom. Meanwhile, there's just enough ill will between Hurley and Sawyer now to make the depth of their later friendship all the more powerful.

Shannon is pretty irritating in this episode once again, and I can't blame Boone for being frustrated with her. She sweet-talks Charlie into catching a fish for her, and he in turn gets Hurley to help, because he really doesn't know what he's doing. He devotes his day to catching that fish, and then once he presents it to her he comes to the realization that he has been used. I think this is the point at which he starts to lose romantic interest in Shannon - who showed no more interest in DriveShaft than anybody else has. It's a little pathetic the way he keeps bringing it up, but since that's the one thing in life he feels like he can be proud of, I guess it's pretty understandable. I do like the fact that he mentioned his grandfather to Shannon, and that he said, "God rest his soul," another indication of Charlie's Catholicism.

Although we don't see Claire for that much of the episode, in terms of defining her character, it's one of my favorites. She's the one who heads up the effort to glean as much information as possible about the deceased so she can give them a proper send-off; Jack doesn't want anything to do with it. As he will later state, he hates funerals. Claire is especially taken with Steve and Kristen, the couple who were planning their wedding. This convergence of a wedding and a funeral is significant for a show whose main musical theme is Life and Death, a show where bliss and tragedy always seem to accompany each other. In the midst of her recovery efforts, she finds Sayid's photos of Nadia and gives them to him, setting us up for his grand, tragic love story, and more immediately for Solitary.

While we don't see Hurley saying anything at the memorial service, my guess is that he does; I love that he is standing up there with her, apparently having planned the ceremony right alongside her, which makes perfect sense since he speaks at almost every funeral among the castaways that follows. Claire and Hurley have such a nice rapport, especially in these early episodes; I could almost see them getting together in the final season (assuming Charlie isn't zapped back into existence). I also love Sawyer showing his softer side by very awkwardly giving Claire some wallets he found while raiding the fuselage, much like he will later, on the advice of Hurley, give her a blanket, even more awkwardly.

Walkabout is one of the most significant episodes in all of LOST, mostly because of what it tells us about John, and in turn, the Island. And as much as I was disappointed to learn that John has been manipulated into thinking he is special for most of his life, the fact remains that when he landed on the Island, he could walk again. That's pretty special. How did it happen? Is Jacob responsible, or is it his nemesis? And do we really have to go through the last season without John Locke (and Terry O'Quinn as pseudo-Locke doesn't quite count) or is there any chance of seeing this incredibly intriguing character again?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kate "I've Got Trust Issues" Austen Gets a Clean Slate

Tabula Rasa is about a lot of things, but it's mostly about Kate. This is when we get the mug shot and we find out she was the one in handcuffs - about the same time as, some distance away from Jack and the marshal, Team Sayid opts to give sweet, innocent Kate the gun. Hurley, the second castaway to find out about her outlaw status, is especially jumpy around Kate, though he still shakes hands with her. He's polite enough, but it ought to be pretty obvious to her that something is up from his jittery eagerness to get away from her.

Interestingly, both of the names that come up in the flashback resurface later in the series. Do I think that's significant? Probably not. But Kate takes on the name Annie, which of course is the name of Ben's childhood sweetheart, and she works for a guy named Ray, which is also the name of Jack's grandpa. The significance is probably more that they were running out of names... I like Ray, despite the fact that he turns Kate in; maybe we should see his phony arm as foreshadowing of his deception. I guess she likes him, too; she's hurt by the betrayal, but that doesn't stop her from ensuring his safety and trying to make certain he gets the reward money (the numerically significant $23,000). I think he's a good guy for the most part. It's just a shame that Kate's trust issues had to be confirmed as valid in such a dramatic way.

No wonder she doesn't trust Jack with her secret, though once he finds out half the story, I'm not too surprised she wants to tell him exactly what happened. It might make her come off as more sympathetic. I was annoyed with him for insisting he didn't need to know; maybe he doesn't, but we do! But that's a story for another season... And his point about being able to start over is a good one - though I wonder how many "Island as Purgatory" rumors were fueled by Jack's "Three days ago we all died"! I like how we get a hint about Evangeline Lilly's nationality when Annie claims she's from Canada, and how in the flashback, Kate wears stripes, whereas in the present, she wears orange, both prisoner duds. The marshal tells her, "You don't look free to me"; the Island is a prison too. Also, this is the first time we hear Patsy Cline in a Kate flashback. Few of the characters have a musician so associated with them.

Sawyer and Kate are thrown into one another's company quite a bit here. Sawyer calls her Freckles for the first time, and there's lots of snarky interplay between them. The scene back at the beach is especially good, and you think that Sawyer is talking Kate into putting the marshal out of his misery, but she delegates the job to him. There's an interesting blend here of Sawyer's hostility and compassion, and foreshadowing of his own first flashback as we see that killing is not something that comes easy to him. He talks a big talk, but when it comes down to it he does it wrong, probably in part because he's conflicted to begin with, though he's horrified when he realizes that he's just made this poor guy suffer even more.

The marshal becomes the first character to have some degree of resolution of past issues and then die, and ironically, Jack the savior is responsible for the first death that occurs among the castaways after the immediacy of the crash. At least, I read it as Jack doing something to end the marshal's life, though it isn't clear what, and of course he was a goner by then. Still, back on the mainland, I doubt Jack would have agreed to assisted suicide; he certainly was reluctant here, and only did it because Sawyer inadvertently made the situation so much worse. That conversation between them in the fuselage revealed so much about their personalities, and Sawyer encouraging Jack to forget the rules of civilization oddly comes into play at the end of the episode. Also, that suitcase blow to the head that knocked the marshal out reminds me of the toolbox that Jack took to the head in The Incident; I hope the doc comes out of it a little better!

Hurley spends this episode hovering around Jack, trying his best to be helpful, though uncomfortable with the marshal's condition and the revelation about Kate. I think my favorite Hurley scene in this episode is his conversation with Jack in which he postulates that the Smoke Monster is a dinosaur. Jack says it couldn't be a dinosaur because they're extinct; turns out it isn't, but it just goes to show how closed-minded Jack is. At this point, Jack has no inkling that this Island has been inhabited by humans before; what makes him so sure dinosaurs couldn't have survived here, and nobody knew about it? And anyway, that bird that calls Hurley's name looks like it could be prehistoric. Their chat reminds me of Xeno Lovegood calling Hermione "limited," and it comes up again and again, as early as the next episode when Jack insists that Rose's husband is dead because he simply can't imagine how anyone from the tail section could have survived.

Jack's furious "What did you do?" to Sawyer after he shoots the marshal reminds me of his reaction to John blowing up the submarine. John gets the last shot of the episode, an indication that the next episode will focus on him. Here, he's nothing but helpful, making a whistle to find Vincent and then showing Michael where to find the dog so he can take credit for returning him to Walt. I saw that scene at the very end of the episode when it actually aired, and it made me quite inclined to like John. All this after Michael has demonstrated such instant dislike for him. It seems he's simply jealous because Walt would rather spend time with "Mr. Locke" than him. I love the revelation that a miracle happened to John - another hint at what's to come in the next episode - and Michael's response that a miracle happened to everyone who survived the plane crash. And apparently the Island wants Michael to keep his promises; I always get a big chuckle out of him pledging to look for Vincent when it stops raining, only to see the deluge suddenly stop seconds later.

Of course, this leads to Michael's encounter with the shirtless Sun. She's too startled to say anything, while he yammers on, making a fool of himself before finally stumbling away. This moment sets up hints of a potential romance between Michael and Sun that are very nearly acted upon in the mobisode Buried Secrets. In both cases, Michael is looking for Vincent and stumbles upon something he shouldn't see, but in the second, he and Sun are moving in for a kiss when Vincent suddenly shows up. Awfully good timing! Sun and Michael could have made a good couple, but not at the expense of the Kwons' marriage. Sun's indulged in more than enough adultery already, methinks. Jin doesn't come off great in this episode either, at least in the beginning; Sun is busy looking through luggage trying to find their bags, and Jin tells her she's filthy and to go clean up. It seems really rude, but in part, he's probably feeling bad that she's exhausted and overworked and wants her to take it easy. The cleaning up isn't just about modesty or pride, it's about feeling refreshed. And when we see them together at the end of the episode, with Sun asleep, Jin is undeniably tender as he brushes her hair across her face.

The ending of the episode is wonderfully tranquil, with Hurley's song about washing one's troubles away playing on his Walkman as castaways make amends with one another. There's the Jin and Sun moment; the reconciliation between Michael and Walt as the boy joyfully runs to greet his father and Vincent; Boone handing Shannon her sunglasses and her gratefully accepting them; Sayid cheerfully tossing Sawyer a piece of fruit, prompting confusion from the latter; Charlie smiling as he sits near Claire and changes "FATE" to "LATE". Does this mean he thought the plane was fated to crash, and they were stuck, but now he's hopeful that rescue is merely late in arriving but will come soon? This was the first episode in which we see Charlie and Claire interact; maybe that blossoming friendship has cheered him up. For all concerned, it's a wonderfully uplifting way to end the episode. Sayid - who is really proactive in this episode, dividing the beach folks into groups and generally taking charge, showing he's as much a leader as Jack - says at the beginning that hope is a dangerous thing to lose. As the episode ends, it's clear that hope has not been lost.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Resurrected Man (Ordinary Man, Peter Hames)

Richard is one of the most fascinating characters on LOST, and season five gave us a lot to contemplate about him, particularly in the last couple of episodes. He strikes me as very wise and probably fairly benevolent, though not above resorting to violence in threatening situations. On the other hand, I was surprised to find how seldom he seemed in the know this season. So clearly he doesn't possess some kind of Island omniscience. I'm hoping for a full-blown Richard flashback episode or two next season, but until then I have to do a bit of guessing. Here I try to get into his head as he starts to grow suspicious of his supposed new leader, to the tune of Peter Hames' Ordinary Man.

Resurrected Man

"I'm a resurrected man, and I'm claiming my command.
I trust that's not a problem," murmured John.
Well, I reassured him but the misgivings within my gut
Were grumbling to me grimly, "It's a con."
Though he's told me that he's blessed, that he's different from the rest
And destined for a quest that Jacob planned,
My intuition knows beneath his princely clothes,
A serpent slithers softly through the sand.
Yes, I understand.

I've served my master well, and oh, the stories I could tell,
The miracles and intrigues I have known!
Yes, I have seen amazing things, but not the mightiest of kings
Cheated death to reclaim his flesh and bone.
Countless years have made me wise, and I have come to realize
That I've fallen a victim to John's trickery.
He dropped Jacob's name the first time he came,
And that's how he manipulated me
For half a century.

Crossing Earth seemed worth it to glimpse him at birth;
I'd saved the date he gave me in '54.
Infant, child and youth brought me closer to the truth;
I thought the boy was nothing but a bore.
How long could I wait to find the proof he was great?
I weathered Eloise and Charles and Ben
And I tried to hide my doubt this John had any clout.
I feared I would just be let down again.
When, Jacob, when?

I wish that I could banish this resurrected man;
He isn't the John I thought I knew.
We soon will pay the price for my heeding Jack's advice:
"I'd not give up on him if I were you."
It may be too late now to change our fate.
My duty to follow him is clear.
But I'm sure, as I grope for feeble strands of hope,
That Jacob's not the one who brought him here.
The end draws near.
The end draws near.
The end draws near.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thinking About Annie...

For me, one of the absolute most pressing mysteries in LOST for the past few seasons has been Annie, Ben's best friend in Dharmaville for an unspecified amount of time in his past. She was the second person to welcome Ben to the Island, the first being Horace. After the Purge, Ben walked among his fallen comrades and respectfully closed Horace's eyes. He seemed to be the only person in the Dharma Initiative for whom he had any real depth of feeling. We also saw him tuck the doll Annie had given him into his jumpsuit before he went off to kill his dad. That would seem to me an indication that Annie is gone - and I simply can't believe that Ben would have allowed her to be killed in the Purge, unless he really had no idea what was about to happen.

I've long insisted that Annie is an incredibly important character, but thus far, she has only been mentioned in The Man Behind the Curtain. If Ben is still treasuring her doll as late as 2004, it seems to me that she is still of great significance to him. But are we ever going to learn what happened to her? Where she went, and why? Whether she and Ben were still firm friends when she departed? I think she will have a major role to play in the sixth season, though I don't know if we will actually see her. I hope so.

But I was thinking the other day about Apollo bars, which stand among my favorite props in LOST, and how Annie welcomed him to the Island by handing him an Apollo bar, and it made me wonder if there might be a connection among the significant candy-bar-sharing moments the show has given us. There seem to be three: Annie gives Ben an Apollo bar, Hurley shares an Apollo bar with Ben and Jacob gives Jack an Apollo bar. And I suddenly got a wild and crazy idea. What if Annie is Jacob?

I think the chances of this being right are pretty slim, but I like to think about it anyway. After all, we know absolutely nothing of Annie's parentage. What if she is an independent entity, and she's in place in Dharma in the 70s specifically for the sake of guiding Ben along a righteous path? So far, Jacob has only ever appeared in the same form, whereas I get the impression that Esau is a shapeshifter who may not even have a true form that he can revert to at this point. But if Jacob could change his appearance too, this would show that he'd had a big hand in Ben's life at an important stage of his development but had kept his identity secret for reasons known only to him. At some point, Annie simply disappears, and no one knows why, but Ben retains the doll and keeps it close to him all of his life. As he remembers the dearest friend of his life, he unknowingly is demonstrating his loyalty to Jacob.

Which begs the question... Is there a flash of recognition when Ben looks into Jacob's eyes? Could "What about you?" have some kind of significance going back to a childhood conversation? My guess, if this totally off-the-wall theory has any credence to it, is that Ben, like Ellie, gets a slightly unsettled feeling just after doing the deed, but it isn't until after Jacob's death that the full reality of what he's done hits home - when he discovers, tucked into a corner of Jacob's cave, the doll in the likeness of himself.

This is probably completely ridiculous, but I'm getting so frustrated by a lack of answers on this front that I'm starting to entertain all sorts of wild ideas. And I like the thought of Jacob having this intimate relationship with Ben that Ben doesn't recognize as such. It seems more satisfying, anyway, than his having completely ignored him all his life, as he seems to have done.

This is all assuming, too, that Jacob is a Good Guy, which is not at all set in stone at this point. If he is as good as he seems, then I see a sixth season with many Lewis parallels, with Ben as Edmund/Puzzle, Esau as the White Witch/Shift, Jacob as Aslan, Jack as Peter, perhaps Juliet as Susan... Anyway, in this scenario, Jacob is Very Good, and he allowed himself to be killed, knowing of a Deeper Magic that will make everything right again, and counting on Jack and his friends to fight the good fight on his behalf.

There's also the Jacob is Bad scenario, which strikes me as smacking more of Pullman, with Esau winding up the hero for overthrowing this powerful figure and freeing everyone to live purely as they please with no interference from Jacob. In this scenario, we are meant to see Jacob as cold and manipulative at worst, ineffective and weak at best. Evidence for a Jacob is Bad reading: He brings people to the Island knowing that there's a good chance they will destroy each other. He lets Kate off the hook for her crime, so while he tells her not to do it again, his actions help ensure she will. He helps Sawyer become a vigilante by helping him finish his letter. Rather than saving Sayid, he actually causes Nadia to die in the car crash, since she is walking more slowly as she waits for her husband to join her. A negative interpretation is possible in every Jacob scene, I think, which is very frustrating, and the reversal of the colors at the end of the episode could be an indication that in the case of Jacob and Esau, who were wearing opposite-colored shirts in the opening scene, White is bad and Black is good.

I sincerely hope that is not the case, because I think it's setting us up for a really depressing ending espousing a distressing world view. Of course, there are many other conjectures we could make about Jacob that don't fit neatly into either camp. For instance, "God loves you as he loved Jacob" seems to suggest that Jacob is some sort of fallen angel a la Lucifer; clearly Jacob is still alive, so why the past tense? In which case, Jacob being evil doesn't necessarily carry with it any kind of anti-Christian sentiment. It would seem that this makes the castaways the good guys, and I prefer this scenario a bit, but it still leaves a bad taste.

So I'm sticking with Jacob is the Good Guy, and the sharing of an Apollo bar is an act that is almost holy. I think of Harry Potter here and the use of chocolate as a tool in counteracting the effects of Dementors. The Apollo bars are powerful symbols of friendship and faith in the face of despair. And the fact that Hurley shares one is so fitting, as I suspect that of everyone on Flight 815, his connection to Jacob is the strongest.

Of course, there's also the very big question of where Jack and the gang will end up and how that relates to the Jacob saga. Do they get zapped to 2007 and join right in the battle that will be shaping up between Esau and those still loyal to Jacob? Do they end up in 2004 and crash on the Island again, or in 2004 and land safely but still end up on the Island via Ajira 316? Do they get zapped back to the points at which Jacob touched them? Do they retain their memories of everything that has happened since 815 crashed? Do they stay in 1977 and bring about the rest of the events in the Island's backstory that have yet to happen? This is a really important issue, and I have no idea what will happen, though I hope that in any case, they do not lose their memories. I hope they can keep the progress they've made and the knowledge of the friendships they've forged, and this will be instrumental in helping them to ultimately win this war that Charles was talking about, the war in which he may very well be on the wrong side.

I hope that Jacob is a good guy, and I hope the good guys win.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Guys... Where Are We?"

Ah, that's the question, isn't it? Not only where in location - aside from hopelessly lost anywhere within a thousand-mile radius of where search parties are looking - but what kind of place is this? Part 1 introduced the Smoke Monster. Now, with Pilot: Part 2, we can add to that polar bears and creepy messages from a French woman playing on a loop for 16 years. Yeah, there's definitely something a little off about this place.

The weather Charlie so cheerfully described as apocalyptic has desisted, and Jack and Kate return to the beach while the rocker yammers his complaints and tells Kate he was "getting sick" when she found him in the bathroom minutes earlier. It's a cover-up, but his malaise is genuine, and when Kate assures him he's not a coward, he, like Desmond, recalls a miserable moment, and certainly not one to be proud of. He looks an agitated mess as he taps his fingers. (I notice he's wearing headphones; what happened to his walkman, I wonder? Or are those official plane headphones?) Oh, and Charlie nearly gets creamed by a heavy rolling object. The universe starts bashing him before the plane is even on the ground!

Shannon lies uselessly on the beach in the pose captured in plastic for posterity. Lucky everyone. Boone scolds her for being a spoiled brat and walks away. Claire tries to make nice with Shannon, and Her Majesty deigns to talk to her, briefly. Claire is worried about the baby. Meanwhile, Sun is trying to convince a Walt-seeking Michael that she doesn't understand a word he's saying and Jin is looking up from his fishing to demand that she keep her blouse fully buttoned, especially in the presence of another man. This is when he really starts coming off as a controlling jerk.

Walt wanders around the jungle on his own looking for Vincent, leash in hand. Bad idea. Michael definitely thinks so, and the handcuffs Walt found make him nervous. Walt should've left them in the jungle; they immediately start causing problems. Sayid already has our sympathies somewhat, while Sawyer is a wild card who looks like a renegade. This scene serves as our first real introduction to Sawyer, and he's really making a nuisance of himself. I thought Lord of the Flies: Jack is Ralph (good guy), Sawyer is Jack (bad guy). Or at least they want us to think so. But I suspected that Sawyer would turn out to be decent underneath all the bluster.

He seemed too obvious an antagonist, a prejudiced redneck who pounces upon Sayid as soon as he learns there were handcuffs on the plane. Racial profiling, or submerging a guilty conscience? Sawyer deserved to be in handcuffs as much as Kate did. (Oh, and I wonder what untranslated vitriolic insult Sayid spit at him?) Sawyer continues to launch unfounded accusations at Sayid until Hurley intervenes: "Hey, we're all in this together, man. Let's treat each other with a little respect." My love for him is forever assured, and Sawyer tells him to shut up and spits out his first nickname, the ever-so-clever "Lardo". But before the year is out, Sawyer will come to take the advice of the first victim of his name-calling tendencies. (And then "Whatever you say, Doc; you're the hero" to an objecting Jack. You will be too, James! You will be too!)

Boone, rather late to the party as usual, asks, "You guys found the cockpit?" I guess there wasn't time to discuss it before Jack broke up the fistfight, but the question now feels very out of place. Hurley vents against Sawyer and bonds with Sayid. Slightly unsettled by the revelation that he's consorting with "the enemy", but that war's over and Sayid has done nothing but treat him decently thus far. So they're friends, and this was my first great moment of hope for building bridges with those perceived as "others". If everybody had Hurley's disposition, methinks there would be a lot more people standing as of season five.

Kate stares out at the ocean while stripping off her outer garments; Sun attempts to convey a message with only gestures and inflection going for her. Sayid and Kate make a good team and ought to buddy up more often. Oh, and "how high" to the tallest point on the Island? Pretty darn high. Up... Up... Up. Kate, I'm afraid you've got a bit of a journey ahead of you. But first she has to check on Jack, stuck watching over a hopeless case in unsanitary conditions. Again she doesn't take no for an answer, insisting on her hike with Sayid, but Jack does offer advice much like Jenny's in Forrest Gump. At the first hint of danger... run.

Jin slaps Sun on the wrist. Sun looks so submissive and miserable, though we see her defiant streak for the first time as she unbuttons her top button. Meanwhile, Jin offers Hurley food, which means he's not all bad after all, and not entirely following his own advice about the Kwons sticking to themselves. Hurley is cordial to Jin but won't go so far as to honor him by accepting his gift of strange, unappetizing food. Oh, well. He tried. And tastes will become considerably less refined as time goes on. Hey, Jin, suddenly being raised by a fisherman doesn't seem so bad, does it?

Walt has Hurley's comic book, and Michael wonders if it's because his son is some kind of bilingual super-genius. Conversation attempt one fails. And then he utters the line no kid ever wants to hear when his pet goes missing: "Oh, I'll buy you another one." Yeesh, Michael. I know you're out of the parenting loop, but come on. Charlie's still unattractively focused on drugs. Hurley, too, is thinking about drugs, but of a very different kind, as he's been recruited by Jack to find some prescription medicine to set up a little Island pharmacy. Boone's exhausted from his efforts, and it's finally starting to sink in for Shannon that this is for real. And she shows remorse for her past bratty actions. But instantly, she and Boone are bickering again. Watching it now, Boone is reminding me of Paolo physically restraining Nikki as she tries to join an expedition. I like Sayid's little "I'm not getting involved in this" half-smile behind his hand as he listens to them verbally claw each other. It's a shame there couldn't be more moments of genuine tranquility between them.

Sawyer sits in a chunk of wreckage and reads his note, brow wrinkled in dismay as he watches Team Sayid shove off. Knowing what the letter is about, the hurt in his eyes is searing. Cue first Sawyer-Kate dialogue, with that great Han Solo-like "I'm a complex guy, sweetheart!" And cue the epic "walking" music, which is used so heavily, and enjoyably, in The Incident. We're really getting a sense of the Island's scope. Are these guys really properly equipped for such dangerous climbing? Slight whiff of Cliffs of Insanity here. And they're slightly insane for attempting it.

Backgammon! Games, and black and white (or, as John says, "one is light, one is dark.") So important to John's character. And Walt is the first character he really connects with. "You're havin' a bad month," John says. We could certainly say the same about John. He takes that commonality and Walt's curiosity and uses it as a bonding and mentoring moment. Walt is the first of many he tries to guide, and the most receptive. (John also is the first character to make a Biblical reference, saying the game is "older than Jesus Christ," coupled with the first reference to an ancient civilization. John cites Mesopotamia, not Egypt, as the birthplace of backgammon, but it's in the ballpark. The Christian references have been sprinkled through the show all along, while hieroglyphics first turned up in season two, with Egypt finally coming to the forefront in parts of season five.) Walt is a captive audience and kindred spirit, so in addition to a little history lesson, he also gets to learn John's secret two episodes before we do.

Claire writes in her diary, which feels extra significant now that we see Daniel, like her, had to rely on his own journal to recall past events. Claire doesn't hold out against Jin's offer as long as Hurley does. She's too sweet to refuse him, and I like Jin's gentle concern for her, and that he gets to feel the baby kick, even if the intimacy of that moment freaks him out. I think part of his discomfort has to do with cultural norms and part may have to do with it triggering his disappointment that he and Sun can't have a family. But I think there's also a sense of wonder there, and it seems very fitting that Jin then gets to help with Aaron's delivery. Little does he know that Sun will be in Claire's position in mere months - or that he won't be there to see it. This experience, then, feels like a gift.

Sayid and Sawyer scuffle again, Shannon freaks out again and Sawyer makes his first contribution the his fellow casataways' wellbeing... by shooting something. And the killings begin! But seriously, that polar bear was on the attack. So well done, Sawyer! Even if it doesn't exactly endear you to anyone... Still, I wish he would've run out of ammunition post-bear and never found the other guns. Blech. Speaking of which, Hurley is "not so good around blood." I knew he was gonna pass out. It had to happen. And it was soooo inconvenient. How is it that the members of the I Pass Out Around Blood Club keep winding up as Jack's surgical assistants?

It's odd to see Charlie flirting with Kate, then switching to Shannon, in these early episodes. According to Greatest Hits, he and Claire have met by now, but obviously he doesn't only have eyes for her. His attempts to win over Shannon throughout this trek are amusing and rather pathetic. (Shannon: Polar bears don't live in the jungle. Charlie: Spot on!) We see Sawyer's frustration in being miscategorized; people have already made judgments about him, and while they're not wholly undeserved, there's a lot more to this guy than meets the eye. Kate's gun con is cunning, and one she's used before, though we don't see it until late in the season. "I don't know how to use a gun!" Ah, Kate. We thought you were so sweet and innocent... Flashback again, and all of our illusions about Freckles are shattered. Who would've guessed her story would be so Catch Me If You Can?

Shannon helps out in a big way by translating Danielle's message, effectively killing the euphoria that preceded the translation. Already starting to get tired of the Shannon-Boone and Sawyer-Sayid sniping. The gravity of this new information shuts them all up, once they take a minute to stop and think about what math whiz Sayid is saying. IMDb says this aired on a different night; I thought it was a two-hour premiere. Certainly the episodes go together. Part one establishes the basic problem, part two clues us in that this might not be quite standard stranded-on-an-island fare. The polar bear is even a Dharma nod, though we won't know that for a long time. Did they have a backstory for this poor creature? A reason he was here? Or did that come later? Just one of many questions. But again, the big question the episode left us with was the most prominent line from the previews, Charlie's simple but haunting, "Guys... Where are we?"

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Look Back.... Meet the Castaways!

So I decided to go ahead and have a re-watching spree, starting with the cinematic Pilot: Part 1 (a generic title that is unusually fitting). It's odd to watch it so soon after listening to the season one soundtrack and to realize how integral that score is to the first episode. In the first ten minutes, it's overpowering, particularly up until the seventh minute or so, when Claire nearly gets taken out by the airplane wing. Those first six minutes are profoundly disorienting. First Jack wakes in the jungle, and then we see Vincent. Second character of the series. Yay, Vincent! All that music, very little talking, hard to tell who's who or what's going on...

I remember exactly when I watched this for the first time. It was February 4, 2006; it was the day before the Superbowl, which makes the date easy to recall. It was a total couch potato kind of day. Mom and I started it off by watching Corpse Bride, which we'd rented, then going to see Rent at the dollar theater with Libbie. We proceeded to Wendy's for lunch, called home and ascertained that Nathan was in a bad mood, but for whatever reason decided to continue our fun at my house. On the menu: LOST. "I got it from the library," Libbie told me. "Do you want to give a shot?" Did I! I'd only been waiting a year and a half to watch the show; goodness knows what took me so long, or how much longer still it would have taken if Libbie hadn't given me that Jacob-like "little push". It helped, of course, that Dan had spent the past year assuring both of us that it was the best thing on television. "Nathan, don't you want to watch this with us?" I prodded as he sulked in the corner. "You know you do..." He harrumphed and turned away. But by the end of the episode he was hooked, bad mood forgotten, and by the end of the disc Mom and Dad returned from a grocery shopping excursion, flung into the show full throttle. They would have to be filled in on the Pilot later.

I went into it with higher expectations that I can ever recall having for a show, which made me nervous. I figured I would most likely wind up disappointed, that it could never turn out to be as fantastic as I thought it would be. That, I suspect, was part of the reason for my delay. In the meantime, I'd been stalwartly avoiding almost any information about the show, though I caught a few things here and there, which were enough to give me a general idea about who a few of the characters were. I was most interested in Charlie, though I realized - largely from the seemingly endless barrage of promos for The Moth - that he was a darker character than Merry, and I wondered if I would even like him. I found sage wilderness man John Locke fascinating, particularly from the the aforementioned preview and the one actual moment of the show that I accidentally watched, when he finishes whittling a whistle and hands it to Michael as a Vincent-finding tool. By this scene, then, I also knew there was a boy and his dad and a dog. Dan filled me in on sweet, pregnant Claire, an early favorite of his, back when she had more to do. Oh, and I knew there was a fat guy, and I wasn't sure exactly what his role was on the show, but I was hoping he would be benevolent. I watched him especially carefully during the first episode.

So Jack comes crashing out of the jungle in a half-run after pulling out his little bottle of alcohol. On the beach, all is pristine and silent... and then a scream. We are introduced to Shannon, the third character, though we hear her long before we see her. And suddenly that little bottle seems like Lucy Pevensie's healing potion, with Jack, like her, trying to attend to all of the wounded at once. In all the panic, we manage to meet most of our core 15. Charlie is next, stumbling about in a daze; he narrowly misses Gary's fate, and moments later almost gets hit with a massive piece of falling plane. The Island, it seems, was always out to get him. Then there's Jin, bellowing in Korean, looking for his wife, who we don't meet until later. Of all the characters, they were the only two who I couldn't connect with at first; they just seemed too separate from everything that was happening, and the language barrier cemented the difference. For long stretches of time, I forgot they even existed. Seconds later, we get the first name on the show, and it's one we're not likely to forget. Essentially the first articulate line of the season is "WAAAAALLLLTTTT!"; it's also the last.

Jack starts ordering people around, and the first to leap to the ready is John. What a joy to be able to lug away a heavy piece of equipment, when moments before he couldn't walk! We don't know that now, of course; that revelation at the end of the fourth episode serves as the first massive "Oh my gosh!" moment of the show. If you weren't hooked before then, that had to do it. But no sooner is Redshirt With the Mangled Leg liberated from the wreckage than we hear Claire's piercing screams and see that she is Very Pregnant, and Jack's got somebody else to run off and rescue. While he converses with Claire, we watch John try to save Gary with a shouted warning, to no avail, and Boone attempt to perform CPR on a prone Rose. Jack's not the only hero here. But he's certainly the dominant one, and he now pulls a dazed Hurley aside and puts Claire in his care. Hurley looks sick to his stomach at the prospect of being responsible for a woman who could go into labor at any moment, but he complies - and it's thanks to him and his stellar interpersonal skills that Our Hero finally, about six minutes in, becomes Jack. "Hey, what's your name?" Hurley calls. Thanks, dude, for clearing that up.

Poor Boone. Jack shoves him aside, and then he runs off to get a pen for a tracheotomy, returning only two minutes later, but it feels like about two hours, especially after Jack's cross-beach sprint to stop Claire from getting pulverized. When Boone shows up midway into Jack's post-panic solitude - after not just Jack but a "spry" and protective Hurley have saved Claire's life - with a fistful of pens, it's so pathetic there's nothing to do but laugh. Which Jack does, but he also gently expresses gratitude for the effort. And ten minutes in, we meet Kate, and her brilliant first line is "What?" This is Jack's first intimate introduction, away from all of the madness of the beach. So Jack and Kate have a special connection from the get-go. (If I'd watched this when it first aired, I think I would have recognized Kate at once from the LiveLinks commercials that played about a hundred times a night in the fall of 2004. That might have worried me...)

And the next thing we see is Sawyer. Which also seems very appropriate. Jack. Kate. Sawyer. And he's sitting there, all stubbly and brooding, with his shockingly short hair and his bad-boy 'tude. "Yeah, I'm gonna sit here and light up a cigarette even though I'm a few feet away from an exploding plane. Who wants to try stopping me?" Just wait until Part 2; Charlie will! Fat chance, buddy. And already, Hurley is making himself useful by gathering food, while John and Claire gaze out at the ocean in wonder. And nearly 13 minutes in, we meet Sayid. In front of a massive fire. He, too, is being helpful; it's a signal fire, and he delegates Charlie to help. (And now the names have started flying fast and furious; we know Sayid , too, and will soon know many others. It helps a lot that nearly everyone has to make introductions to each other.) Anyway, while Sayid's initiative shows his leadership potential, this first shot of him against a blazing backdrop could also be seen as foreshadowing at this late date. Did the writers know how thoroughly Sayid was going to crash and burn?

Poignant shot of Rose kissing Bernard's wedding ring, and then we're back to Jack and Kate and the charming "I might throw up on you." (I feel like somebody else said that, much later in the series, but I can't remember who... Hurley maybe?) And now it's the counting to five story - without any reference to his father. In light of that new knowledge, I see Jack indulging in some denial here, making believe he's a bit stronger than he is on his own. But then he's also convincing Kate to be the best she can be. For now, he's here to help others; the being willing to accept unsolicited help part can come a little later.

Fifteen minutes in, and we've switched to night under a dazzling star-spangled sky. Charlie writes FATE on the cloths on his fingers. More foreshadowing? Sayid wonders why no one's come yet; throughout most of the first season, he is the primary force in the Let's Get Off the Island plans. He's highly motivated - impending reunion with his long-lost love, and wanting to make his best buddy's death worth something - and highly qualified. Next shot - Shannon. Painting her toenails. Is this foreshadowing of their relationship? I never liked that much; why couldn't they just be friends? How could Sayid forget Nadia so quickly? Or give up on getting back to her so quickly? It didn't gel for me. And Shannon is hardly endearing here. She's obnoxious; Boone is at least trying to help, albeit generally failing.

Hurley offers Claire food, asks how she's feeling and even gives her an extra portion; he's really her first friend on the Island, so it's sweet to see him returning to that role in Charlie's absence, starting with Greatest Hits. Not that he and Claire stopped being friends, of course (and I love how he advises Sawyer to endear himself to her by offering her blankets in Left Behind), but he took more of a backseat. Seventeen minutes in, we finally meet Walt - looking so young! - and he rejects nearly-beardless Michael's conversation attempts. He mopes. These two have as many issues as Shannon and Boone. As do Sun, seen here at last, and Jin who, understandably, says, "You must not leave my sight." The kind of separation they endured on the beach would be terrifying. But not knowing Jin yet, he soon comes across as demanding and cold, and it takes most of the first season to get an inkling of what a good guy he actually is.

Meet the Marshall, loaded with shrapnel, and the first indication that Kate knows him, though she spares us the details. "I was sitting next to him." I love Jack's leaf-plane. I'd forgotten he took flying lessons. "Wasn't for me," he said. Could Jack have been a Frank? Might we learn that Frank dabbled in med school? Nah... probably not. But who knows? Oh, and Kate sees smoke. And suddenly, the jungle starts going bonkers, and everyone sits up and takes notice. The best assessment? "That was weird, right?" Yes, indeed, Charlie. The silliest? "Is that Vincent?" Yeah, kid. That's your dog flattening the trees like a herd of elephants. Several people stand up and band together. Our core group, for the most part. "Terrific," says Charlie. (Just what Frank says when he sees John in the box...) Twenty-one minutes in. BOMP. Black. First flashback!

Hiya, Cindy Chandler! Way to flirt with Jack, and Jack, way to tip us off as to your problems with alcohol. Charlie running down the aisle, Jack and Rose bonding. I'm with Rose; I've "never been a very good flier." First mention of Bernard, though her moment on the beach with the ring was a clue that she had a husband, and he was probably on the plane from the reverent, distressed way she was treating the symbol of their bond. John, behind her, looks mildly startled but mostly unbothered. Shaking plane! Flying luggage! Oxygen masks!

And 24 minutes in, we're back to the beach, another day, everyone clustered around talking about the jungle weirdness. Rose recognizes the noise (because it sounds like a grocery scanner?). Kate insists on joining Jack on his quest; first indication that this gal isn't going to simply take no for an answer. She wants to get her hands dirty. She's not even deterred by having to take shoes off of a dead body, though she looks about ready to cry the whole time. And right around minute 25, here comes John in his white shirt with the blue checkered pattern, sporting an enormous scar above and below his right eye and slowly flashing the Fruit Smile. Charming or demonic? Kate seems to vote deranged, and John, abashed, retracts his gesture.

Charlie wants sunblock, which makes me laugh because Diane Sawyer was just harping about how a third of the people in the US don't use sunblock, and I was thinking that the folks on LOST must all be getting skin cancer from prolonged exposure to the sun with nothing to combat it. After the first few days, anyway; Shannon has some at the moment, and in her first helpful gesture, she agrees to share some with Charlie. And Hurley hilariously tries to shield young Walt from grim reality by spelling out "bodies". Incorrectly. (Judging by Some Like It Hoth, he didn't put his three years off the Island to good use by brushing up on his spelling skills.)

Jack puts Boone in charge of the wounded; nice of him, again, to prop others up. Of course, he does need to have somebody playing doctor in his absence, and with his lifeguard experience, Boone is the likeliest candidate. Sayid seems to perk up at the word "transceiver". Jittery Charlie just wants to get back to the cockpit. There are drugs to be had! And 27 minutes in, he's flirting with Kate and trying to impress her with the fact that he's in Drive Shaft. It works, somewhat; Kate's friend Beth (never mentioned again, I don't think?) is a huge fan, and Kate's at least heard the song. But Jack is not impressed, and rather like Desmond in Catch-22 and Daniel in Because You Left, he's all about cutting the chit-chat and getting on the with journey.

While Charlie tries to convince Kate that Drive Shaft is, not was, Vincent stares after them. Knowing he was recently given orders by Christian (Esau?), it sort of makes me wonder what he's up to... Which makes it seem especially fitting to see John next, sitting on the beach, still trying to comprehend his situation. Certainly with no inkling of the long, strange road that will follow. And right after that, sudden rainstorm! Everyone else panics and runs for cover, but he sits, simply calmly at first, then in sheer exuberance, grinning and raising his arms to the sky in gratitude right around minute 29 in the second Iconic John Locke Expression of the series. Sun and Jin are conspicuously together, as are Michael and Walt, though Sun doesn't look thrilled and neither does Walt. And Hurley's still worrying about dead bodies. He's very uncomfortable with corpses, just as he will be freaked out about the whole "I See Dead People" thing later.

Jack says, "Well, let's do this" as they prepare to enter the cockpit; didn't Eloise say that, too, when she welcomed the castaways to her creepy abode? It's time for answers. The plane's a mess, but it's in better shape than the pilot, who like Eko manages to survive a horrific situation only to be killed by Smokey. Getting to the pilot is treacherous, an upward climb in an unstable structure. Charlie's scared out of his wits but still worrying about his drugs. And feeling insignificant. Much like the poor pilot, who at least manages to relay some very important information before he gets splattered across the treetops: They're way off course. A thousand miles. Help is not coming anytime soon; they have no idea where to look.

"Where's Charlie?" Makes me chuckle because I saw a musical by that name in London. The guy spent half the play doing the Mrs. Doubtfire thing; Charlie certainly isn't cross-dressing, but he is engaged in deception. Then again, who isn't? Aaaand note to pilot: Why are you sticking your head out the window when there's a man-mangling monster outside??? Scary running-from-monster music. Muddy and slippery; why must it be raining during this pursuit? Charlie falls and gets tangled in the bracken, Jack goes back to free him. Third time Charlie almost kicks it in the Pilot alone. Kate, isolated and terrified, doesn't seem to care what happened to Charlie but screams for Jack, then tries his counting-to-five trick. And then Charlie shows up out of nowhere, and instead of being relieved, she assaults him with "Where's Jack?" Poor Charlie. Oh, and Kate tells an incredulous Charlie, "We have to go back (for him)."

Can you imagine how this would have played out if they'd stuck to their original plan and killed Jack off here? If Smokey had gotten him like he got the pilot? Grotesque! (I so didn't need to see what precisely befell Seth Norris.) Smokey, for the most part, has left the castaways alone. Why? And why did he pick on the poor pilot and chase Jack, Kate and Charlie through the jungle What did they in particular do to offend him? Or is it just that they're the first intruders he sees? Still not too clear on this. Also, is he somehow unable to visit the beach? We've never seen him there, have we? He seems restricted to a certain area... Charlie gets the last line of Part 1, and it's a question, just like in the second part. "Guys... Where are we?" is much more iconic. "Guys... How does something like that happen?" is certainly pertinent, however - though the more pressing question now is why. Black screen! BOMP! And in white lettering... LOST. What a beginning!