Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jughead Shows Yet Again That Outstanding Desmond Episodes Are a Constant

Ahhh, Desmond. I got the impression from the lovely little interview with Henry Ian Cusick in TV Guide that this week's episode would be Desmond-centric, and I sure was glad to see that the conclusion I'd drawn had been correct. The first scene was a bit baffling initially, and worrisome too, as we didn't know just when it took place. Penny looked like she was having a pretty tough time of it, and for a moment I worried that this was some point further in the future than we've seen yet, and that she might not pull through. But she did, thank goodness.

And isn't their son adorable? Especially in that fantastic sweater? He looks a little older than two to me, but I can buy it. Of course, I was immediately curious about the name of the lad, and we didn't get that until the end of the episode. I confess I was hoping for Charlie; what a fitting way to honor him, especially considering the fact that he facilitated Desmond and Penny's reunion. It wasn't until his name was spoken, however, that it occurred to me that the name could also be a tribute to Grandpa. That seems pretty unlikely, though, since Desmond loathes him and Penny doesn't seem too fond of him either. Still, perhaps it's no accident that these two characters who played such a crucial role in Desmond's life have the same first name. (Maybe, in an instance of supreme LOST weirdness, angelic Charlie winds up on the Island in the 30s or 40s and grows up to be a hothead who snaps his comrade's neck, tangles with Richard and, many years down the line, can honestly say, "I'm my own grandpa.")

I caught myself feeling sorry for Widmore again this week and wishing Desmond would at least tell him Penny was all right. I guess that announcement would have been unnecessary; Widmore knew the two of them had found each other, and if something had happened to her, he would have been able to read it in Desmond's face. I was surprised at how compliant he was. Desmond was pretty gutsy, just barging into his office and making demands. Then again, perhaps Desmond is just playing right into Widmore's hand... I can't really blame Des for not telling him about his grandson. If you want a guy to leave you alone, it's best not to reveal something that enticing. (And if Charles and Charlie are the same person, it's really best that they don't meet... :-P )

I don't think that Widmore knows Ben is in L.A., though you would think he'd know most of the Oceanic Six are there and would suspect that Ben would try to rendez-vous with them. Still, if he knew Ben was there, I can't imagine him sending Desmond off without an explicit warning. Yes, he told Desmond to keep Penny safe, but he didn't point out that Ben intends to murder her. Whatever their vices, I do believe that Ben and Widmore are both devoted to their daughters, despite the Alex and Penny's apparent distaste for them most of the time. It's frustrating to realize that Desmond is headed off to the worst possible place he could go (and I cringed every time the word "promise" escaped his lips, because you know he's going back to that island, and I hate for him to keep breaking his promises to Penny). It's also aggravating that after all that build-up, we probably won't actually get that meeting between Desmond and Daniel's mom for a couple of months. The fact that she's a recluse in L.A. fits with what we saw of Ms Hawking last week, and the pop-up indicated that her first name is Eloise. I'm sure the show never mentioned that before; in any case, it's a juicy tidbit, since that's the name of Daniel's maze-running rodent. (Would he have meant that as a tribute or as substitutionary satisfaction of matricidal urges? Hopefully the former!)

We saw the maze again today, and it's clear that Oxford really did frown upon those experiments of Daniel's. Just what happened to that girl he apparently abandoned after inflicting severe brain damage upon her? I'm guessing that she offered to be his test subject for a human trial of his time traveling tests. Maybe he finally got to the point at which Eloise's brain didn't explode, and he thought the time was ripe for a human guinea pig, but something went horribly wrong. Widmore financially providing for the victim reminds me of some of Lionel Luthor's pet projects on Smallville. His seemingly altruistic endeavors generally have ulterior motives. Maybe he paid Daniel off, promised to take care of her if Daniel would do some work for him. Or maybe Daniel just panicked and bolted.

Unanswered questions in Desmond's past and future... Why was he kicked out of the army? I keep thinking we'll find out, but none of the Desmond episodes have explained it so far. I'd also forgotten about Desmond almost becoming a doctor. Was that back before the monastery? Desmond told Widmore that he raised his brothers. Will we ever get to meet any of them? Finally, are Desmond and Penny married? Obviously it would've had to be a covert wedding, but surely it wouldn't have been impossible to find a priest who would marry them. On an unrelated note, I've noticed that Desmond and Charlie both always seem to be wearing scarves off the island. Is that a big thing in England? I don't recall that it was... But scarves become both of them quite well.

I really can't say that I missed the Oceanic Six and Ben this week. Not only did we get all that great stuff with Desmond and Daniel, John was thrown into the mix as well. And golly, it's a good thing he didn't shoot that upstart back at the army camp. I'd already been pondering whether he might be this season's Keamy; certainly he doesn't seem like a nice guy. But young Charles Widmore? If John had killed him, I'd think that would have ripped a giant hole in the space-time continuum. But how is it that there are no consequences to John knifing one guy and Widmore killing another? Are we supposed to think that only a select few people are of any real importance in the grand order of the world, and the rest are dispensable redshirts? Or were those guys who died like Charlie, destined to die anyway, and originally were killed in some sort of skirmish around the same time?

Could it be that Widmore was tapped to be the leader of the Others? He said it was his island and would be again; maybe he was in charge at some point between 1954 and 1971, which as I figure it is around the time that Richard first appeared to Ben. Or maybe he was supposed to be, but something interfered. I'm back to thinking that Richard is probably tied to the Black Rock somehow and has achieved some sort of immortality. It would seem that his job is to serve as leader when the Others are between leaders; maybe once he finds someone who is able to prove himself worthy of the job, he can move on. Certainly it seems that Ben was a mistake; the ball was in his court when he saw the plane crashing, and he could have made everyone's lives so much easier by forming an alliance with the castaways then and there instead of waiting around until his folks and the 815ers had wiped half of each other out. Richard seems like a wise, level-headed leader, but he can also be ruthless. He killed those guys from the army (and then apparently stole their clothes). He seems to have been responsible for the death of Juliet's ex-husband, and I get the sense that he's the one who orchestrated the Purge. So he's not any less violent than Ben; he just seems more capable of making reasoned decisions, and he doesn't spend so much time lying and trying to manipulate people.

Daniel is good at thinking on his feet. It was impressive how quickly he managed to formulate a strategy for getting out of their situation alive, and uncanny how he actually managed to hit upon the soldiers' reason for being there. Unless he already knew about it, which given his knowledge of the island wouldn't be that surprising. Still, well done. And Richard seemed convinced by Daniel's declaration of love for Charlotte. It reminded me of The Princess Bride, when Inigo swore on the soul of his father that Wesley would reach the top of the Cliffs of Insanity alive. I'm worried about Charlotte, though. Desmond never was in that bad of physical shape. He was close, but not that far gone. Daniel had better hurry up and find her an anchor. Charlotte hasn't had nearly enough to do yet, and I shall be very disappointed if they just kill off C. S. Lewis without even giving us a compelling reason for her name.

I loved the meeting between John and Richard, though it seems to be leading to a circular direction: Richard thinks John is special because John told him he told him he was special. He was at the hospital for John's birth because John told him to show up. (Maybe he can leave the Island and return at will as long as he's not the current leader?) He wanted John to pick up the compass when he visited him as a five-year-old because the compass was what John gave him to prove he had spoken with him in the future. By that same token, perhaps Widmore got involved with Daniel because he knew Daniel would wind up on the Island. And Daniel wound up on the Island because Widmore got involved with him.

When I saw that the title of this episode was Jughead, I wondered if that was a military term; I knew Jarhead was, and I was hoping this episode might shed some light on Desmond's army experience. If I'd bothered to Wikipedia it beforehand, maybe I would have guessed that the title didn't have anything to do with Desmond, at least not directly. Maybe, as Dad postulates, the H-bomb is responsible for some of the Island's bizarre properties. It's certainly an ominous sight.

I can't keep track of how many redshirts have bitten the dust since the show started, but there can't be many survivors of 815 left. The only ones we know about for sure are Sawyer and John, and I presume that Rose, Bernard and Vincent are all right, though I have no idea where they wound up. Are they headed to the creek too? And did the survivors who wound up with the Others start time traveling, or did they become immune as part of their Otherization? It was kind of nice to see Daniel, Charlotte and Miles together for a good chunk of the episode, and I liked Daniel's rebuffing of Miles for his bad attitude, as well as Miles' sulky reaction to Daniel's lack of concern for him upon their reunion.

I dig Sawyer's initiative in rescuing "the geek," and I thought his exasperation with Daniel for telling Other Girl that they were from the future was a hoot. (Also, I've watched The Lie three times now, and that scowl on Sawyer's face at the beginning of the scene that ends in Neil getting shot with a flaming arrow cracks me up every time. He has every reason to scowl, of course; but man, if looks could kill!) I was surprised that he did it, but sometimes honesty is the best policy! These people all seem so violent, her included, but I guess they have a right to be edgy when people are trying to blow up their island. She reminds me of Bonnie from the Looking Glass. Pretty tough cookie. But she might turn out not to be so bad. If we bump into her again. If she said what her name was, I didn't catch it. Could she be somebody we know? IMDb calls her Ellie; is that short for Eloise? That would explain Daniel's shock of recognition. If Charles Widmore is on the island in 1954, why not Eloise Hawking? Speaking of which, I recognized the woman who was checking records for Desmond, and after consulting IMDb, I see that she was the gate attendant at Sydney Airport - the one Hurley picked up, I think. The names are different, but I can't imagine they would cast the same actor in a completely different role unless they're just trying to mess with our heads. Which... they probably would do. Maybe she's just a red herring...

The more I contemplate this episode, the more interesting I find it. I think it's dropping all sorts of fantastic clues. I'm guessing that we won't see Desmond again for at least an episode or two, but I don't mind; he's worth the wait. It looks like next week will focus on Kate, along with the island folks. It would be really helpful if Daniel could figure out when they're going to jump, and to where. But it seems his top priority right now is trying to save Charlotte's life. The next episode is The Little Prince. Maybe we'll see Kate reading it to Aaron or happen upon the book in some other way. Within the world of the show, perhaps Aaron is the prince, or maybe young Charles Widmore - though I'm not sure what time they've jumped to. Could refer to John, too. Whoever it is, I'm guessing it will be mythologically significant. Meanwhile, Jughead has given me plenty to chew on!

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