Thursday, March 26, 2009

"A 12-Year-Old Ben Linus Brought Me a Chicken Salad Sandwich. How Do You Think I'm Doing?"

I was hoping the title He's Our You would have some great mythological significance, something to do with Christian or John or Jacob or even Ben. Its use was more mundane than that, introducing a character who doesn't seem that likely to pop up again. Oldham carried himself in a really creepy manner, but when it came down to it, his interrogation wasn't actually all that brutal. He just strapped Sayid to a tree and let the truth serum do its work. Sawyer didn't seem to be getting any visceral satisfaction from seeing the roles reversed from his own interrogation early in season one. Part of his discomfort was fear that Sayid would reveal something damaging, but there was sympathy there too, and I was relieved to see him trying to help Sayid in various ways throughout the episode despite the misleading trailer. The whole interrogation scene started out so frightening, I was surprised to see it end on such a comical note. Sayid told the truth, and what good did it do Horace's crew? To the uninitiated, Sayid's story sounds just plain ridiculous - though there's still the matter of his knowledge of the hatches, which could prove problematic.

How exactly does Sayid know he's from the future? Nobody told him. I guess he knows enough about the Island to have deduced it, and maybe his experience with Desmond planted the nugget of the possibility of time travel in his mind. Ben only introduced himself by first name, but Sayid seemed to know immediately that he was Ben Linus. There wasn't much to dislike about 12-year-old Ben. He was soft-spoken and kind, and we learned that Roger was an even bigger jerk than he seemed in The Man Behind the Curtain. I knew he was verbally abusive, but I thought maybe that was as far as it went. Apparently knocking Ben around wasn't so uncommon; it was clear from the way Ben froze in the doorway upon seeing his father that he was downright scared of Roger. Of course, there was an ulterior motive behind Ben's compassion toward Sayid, but he came right out and said what it was, and can you really blame him for wanting to leave? I wonder, though, if Annie might have already been gone at this point, or if Ben was so miserable in every other aspect of his DHARMA life that he was willing to leave his best friend. Either way, I can't think of Ben and Annie without thinking of Snape and Lily. Maybe that's one reason I keep holding out hope for Ben...

Sayid flashbacks (or flash-forwards) have a degree of intensity and despair beyond those of just about any character. Each one reveals more dark deeds and often makes him more difficult to defend. This one certainly did. I have a tendency to think of him as a very conflicted character who is deeply disturbed when he resorts to violence and wants to atone for it; didn't his work with Build Our World seem a bit reminiscent of Eko building Yemi's church? Of course, that opening scene was so similar to the scene in The 23rd Psalm that it was hard not to look for Eko echoes throughout the episode. It wasn't clear at first which boy was Sayid; I think we were supposed to think it was the older boy, the one who got queasy about the thought of killing a chicken. That's what we wanted to believe of him - that he viewed killing with revulsion. But like Eko, Sayid strode right in and unflinchingly did the job to spare his brother the trauma. Like Eko, he was praised for it. Though this was not entirely a comparable situation - killing a chicken for dinner isn't the same as murdering a headmaster - both end with a man suggesting that a violent streak is an admirable trait.

Sayid's father did not come across as a very nice guy, so I wondered if seeing Roger interact with Ben had an especially strong impact on him. I thought that Sayid might see both fathers as driving forces behind their sons' behavior, and that maybe he could change the course of Ben's life by helping him to escape from DHARMA. Though I wasn't sure how he was going to manage that without an in with the Hostiles, I preferred it to the eerily likely idea of him trying to nip Ben in the bud by killing him. Penance or revenge? That seemed to be the fundamental debate at play here. Could Sayid admit his mistakes and be the bigger man? One of the most disturbing moments in the episode, I think, came when he killed the last guy on Ben's list, and he actually seemed bitterly disappointed that his days as a hit man were over. I guess it gave him a sense of purpose. But the chilling feeling I got from most of his violent post-Island encounters was that he actually relished this job, at least in the moment. If Further Instructions showed that John is not a killer (with the troubling, desperation-induced exception of Naomi), He's Our You demonstrated that Sayid is. It was his least sympathetic flashback yet. I also wonder if it may be his last...

So Sayid really was on the plane independently of everyone else, and not because he wanted to return to the Island. He actually requested a later flight to avoid returning. There's still a possibility Ilana knew more than she was telling; for instance, how did she even know to arrest him in the first place? But Hurley didn't find out about the flight from Sayid. I imagine that's a story for a future flashback. I wonder if Sayid is now going to try to join the Hostiles or if he'll just strike out on his own and hope he doesn't run into anybody. At this point, I think he'd better watch his back for Smokey. The big question here, of course, is whether Sayid actually killed Ben. Frankly, I can't believe he succeeded. John looked pretty hopeless lying in that ditch in season three, too, but he made it out. The repercussions of Ben dying as a 12-year-old would just be staggering. It would completely change the castaways' experience. It would be rife with paradoxes. So I have to think that Ben will survive somehow. Maybe Richard will step in at this point and lend a hand before returning an embittered Ben to his people. In The Economist, Sayid snapped at Ben, "What do you know of friendship?" and Ben answered, "I know it's no use having friends you can't trust." Could he have been referring back to this very incident? I could certainly see how attempted murder by a guy who seemed like a friend could shatter your faith in humanity.

We didn't learn too much about the other DHARMA folks this time around, but I'm still finding Radzinsky's paranoia strangely endearing. Sawyer actually owes him one, since Sayid was about two seconds away from blowing his cover and it was only Radzinsky's exasperated interruption that cut him off. I had to laugh when Horace came into Sayid's cell, because Dad had just been saying how Horace kinda creeped him out, and I was defending him, and then he pulled out a pair of pliers. "Aw, man," I grumbled, halfway to admitting defeat, when I remembered Sayid's handcuffs. Suddenly Horace seemed pretty harmless again. He wasn't too keen on executing Sayid; Amy and Radzinsky had to pressure him into a vote. But he did seem prepared to carry out the sentence, or have somebody else carry it out, anyway. Just how does DHARMA handle those things? Has it ever happened before? Given the fact that the Truce is still in place, I'm thinking no. I suspect he'll feel a little relieved when he finds out Sayid has escaped.

I love that Hurley gets to be a DHARMA Chef. Kate and Jack just get stuck in jobs where they can be easily supervised; Hurley gets to do something he actually enjoys. He could have been a little more sensitive about Kate and Jack's feelings when discussing the Sawyer / Juliet development, but I guess he was so startled by Kate's cluelessness that his surprise overrode his empathy. Juliet and Kate continue to circle each other with pasted-on smiles; I can't imagine it will be long until the claws come out. First they were fighting over Jack, now it's Sawyer. I think Juliet's line about playing house was more pointedly about Kate breaking her and Sawyer up, and Sawyer changed the direction of the conversation. Obviously, she's worried. She may have even more reason to worry if Kate ever gets back to saying why she came back. It was funny to see Jack so laid-back. He seemed more bemused than bitter about his conversation with Sawyer. Maybe the new Jack doesn't mind taking a back seat so much. Perhaps he's glad to catch a break for a change and let somebody else do the worrying. Poor Jin really got the short end of the stick, though I'm relieved he just got knocked out; there was a horrified second there when I thought Sayid might actually kill him.

He's Our You was my least favorite episode so far this season, but I don't despise it as I do The Shape of Things to Come. It raises all sorts of intriguing questions, most pressing of which is whether Sayid just changed the future or set it in motion. And if the wound was fatal, should he actually be commended for killing Ben, even though he was just a kid at the time? The line from the season premiere about killing Hitler seems pretty apt here. With a title like Whatever Happened, Happened, you can bet that the next episode is going to address these issues, though probably not as much as we'd like. I hope it puts us back in touch with Daniel. I also hope it's a little more cheerful than this one was, but I'm not holding my breath...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Gonna Read (I Want to Live, John Denver)

I really enjoyed Namaste, the most recent episode of LOST, which reunited Sawyer and his pals with Jack, Hurley and Kate. Of course, the situation is much more complicated than Sawyer would have imagined three years earlier, or than Jack had anticipated. It will be interesting to see how these two work together in the episodes to come, but for now, Sawyer's got the upper hand. This reflection, to the tune of John Denver's I Want to Live, has Sawyer giving Jack his little end-of-the-episode talking-to, and then I imagine him muttering the bridge and last verse to himself after Jack leaves, admitting to himself that at this point, he's not all that thrilled that his long-lost friends have finally shown up....

I'm Gonna Read

There are leaders forged in crisis, and they dive into the fray.
There are leaders who ignore the risks ahead.
There are leaders who are pensive, leaders who delay
To be sure their fortunes won't get worse and their friends don't wind up dead.

I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink.
I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead.
I'm gonna think. I'm gonna read.

Did you know that Winston Churchill read a novel every night?
Have you heard he said it helped him think things through?
Would it kill you to say "thank you" for the stunt I pulled today?
Just go get some sleep. I'll spring Sayid by doin' what I do.

I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink.
I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead.
I'm gonna think. I'm gonna read.

We're the warden and the whisperer, the savior and the sire.
We're the motley crew who you guys left behind.
You're the doctor and the hugger and the half-forgotten one,
And you took so long to make it back, you've put us in a bind.

We've been waiting here with DHARMA, layin' low and blending in.
We've been waiting in a place that feels like home.
No more lean-tos. No more campfires. No more livin' off the land.
If you're gonna mess that up, Jack, then I wish you hadn't come.

I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink. I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead. I'm gonna think. I'm gonna read.
I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink. I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink. I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna read. I'm gonna drink. I'm gonna plan. I'm gonna think.
I'm gonna prove I'm fit to lead. I'm gonna think. I'm gonna read.
I'm gonna read.
I'm gonna read.

I Want to Live

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"I Heard Once Winston Churchill Read a Book Every Night, Even During the Blitz. He Said It Made Him Think Better..."

Namaste was one of those rare episodes that didn't begin with a "Previously on LOST". The beginning was a bit misleading, since we started out seeing something we'd already seen, but it quickly became apparent that we were getting another perspective. I love how the co-pilot recognized Hurley but failed to identify the other four members of the Oceanic Six. I guess Hurley stands out more... Frank is a heck of a pilot, and it's a good thing that he was in charge. I feel bad for the co-pilot, though. Death by tree? Almost as grotesque as death by Smokey. Nice to see Kate and Sawyer's time on the chain gang wasn't wasted. Without that runway, that landing would've been a lot more problematic... Despite his injuries, Frank leaped right into action on the ground, much like Jack. He definitely came across as a natural leader. I'm surprised he went with Sun, but I guess he felt especially responsible for her, given their previous association with each other. Good thing John showed up; otherwise, Ben might have stepped in to take charge of the crash survivors...

The first thing I noticed about Ben this episode was that he was in pretty good shape when the plane landed. It looked like he would be suffering yet another injury between that point and the point at which John sees him. So when Sun started stalking him, I thought she might have been planning to beat him up. What ultimately happened was eerily similar to Ben's last confrontation with John. Evidently she was just waiting for Ben to spill some vital information before whacking him with that paddle. Probably a smart thing to do. But pretty devious. The question remains... Just how much does Ben know? We now see that he met Sayid when he was just a teenager. Presumably he already would have known Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Daniel - and Jin, which would mean that his survival shouldn't have been a complete shock to him after all... And now, he'll likely be getting to know Jack, Kate and Hurley. So he's actually known these guys for a very long time, and perhaps they figure prominently into his development. The other big question here is why Sun is in 2007 when Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid landed in 1977. And how in the world are she and Jin going to reunite? Is a Jin 30 years older than her the best that she can hope for?

There were definitely some interesting things going on in the present-day segments, and Christian hanging out in the Barracks was certainly an odd development. That guy just shows up everywhere, doesn't he? Also, I wonder why, in their several days or weeks of living there, none of the season four Team John folks noticed that group picture from 1977. For that matter, why didn't Juliet; wasn't she in the picture too? Or did Ben deliberately keep them hidden? Or did that photograph not exist in their past? Anyway, having people land in two different time periods certainly complicates matters. But until we catch up with John, I'm finding myself more interested in 1977. And I think the rumblings about Caesar and Ilana being the new Nikki and Paolo just might not be so far off the mark. So far, they're really not grabbing me.

I loved the inevitable bear hug between Sawyer and Hurley and didn't mind that Sawyer gave him a nickname for the first time since mid-season three. It felt affectionate this time, especially immediately followed by "I missed you, too, Hugo." I also loved Hurley's impressed statement regarding Jin's English. And really, everything Hurley said in this episode, which was an acknowledgment of what a load of malarkey we're being asked to swallow here. Also, the first thought in Hurley's mind once he accepted their situation was concern for the other members of the DHARMA Initiative. Wasn't Sawyer going to stop the Purge? I would think that Sawyer would at least be planning ahead for an escape; surely he's not intending to stick around to get gassed in 15 years.

Relations between Sawyer and Jack were a bit less cordial. All Sawyer got from him was a stiff handshake, and Jack was the only one of the three who really seemed to be questioning following Sawyer's lead when he told them to pose as recruits. I think Sawyer rather relished assigning Jack to the lowest rank in the DHARMA hierarchy. For once, Sawyer gets to boss Jack around, and it's an interesting change of pace. What I especially liked was their conversation near the end of the episode. It's strange to think of Sawyer as the thoughtful leader and Jack as the blindly impulsive one, but Sawyer has a point. Then again, in the early days after the crash, Jack didn't have a lot of time to contemplate things. He had to take immediate action, and he did what he thought was best for everyone. In the beginning, he did an excellent job and was critical to their survival. As time wore on, I think he was less successful. Sawyer's implication that Jack got a lot of people killed was rather cruel, but I thought his response to Jack's barb about him sitting around reading was brilliant. Sawyer really is much more intellectual than he at first appears, and it seems that, using a carefully reasoned approach, he has done great work with the DHARMA Initiative. Now let's just hope he can figure out some way to let Sayid off the hook. The previews don't look too promising...

I wish I could say I was shocked to see Radzinsky, but IMDb tipped me off about him a couple weeks ago, and TV Guide mentioned little Ben's story arc last month. Oh, well. I'm sure I would've been wondering about them anyway, especially Ben. Is there a rule that you have to be off-kilter to man the Flame? Or does working there make you crazy? Because Radzinsky seems almost as paranoid as Mikhail. It's interesting to learn that the Swan doesn't exist yet and that Radzinsky designed it, making his suicide all the more intriguing. Did he feel he'd made a big mistake in building it at all? Speaking of loonies, what happened to Daniel? Did he hop a sub to Portland? Sawyer's way of referring to him suggests that he's still alive, but I'm bummed that he's not with the DHARMA folks anymore. Still holding out hope, though, that Whatever Happened, Happened will be Daniel-centric. Just as teen Ben seems pretty harmless so far, infant Ethan holds no hint of the monster he will become. (Unless, of course, they're just faking us out, and he's not the Ethan we know at all. After all, where'd the name Rom come from? And why does he look about 40 when he should be in his mid-twenties?)

In the weeks to come, I think Radzinsky and Phil are both going to pose problems for our pals. They are too suspicious for the castaways' good. Ironically, while John was all gung-ho for the Oceanic Six to come back, it seems at this point that everybody would be better off if they'd stayed away, at least the 1977 folks. Still, it's better for us that they're back.

I feel bad for Hurley, so sick and tired of living a lie and finding himself thrust right into another one. (I wonder what his assignment is? I'm gunning for Gardener - that's what I got! Or given his fondness for cars, maybe Sawyer will make him a mechanic and put him under Juliet's wing.) Poor Jack comes back to find himself a prisoner in the Barracks again, with little control over what happens to him. And Kate, whose motivation for returning may have had a lot to do with Sawyer, gets to find out that he and Juliet are well on their way to a common law marriage. Meanwhile, Sawyer's position is threatened by their arrival, and Juliet clearly is nervous that Kate is going to mess up her relationship with Sawyer.

Sayid's in Ben's season-two position, except that some of his captors are on his side. I still think he's in for an ordeal, and given that ominous snippet on the previews, I wonder if he will try to kill Ben. It's hard to imagine Sayid killing a kid in cold blood, but when that kid grows up to become someone Sayid hates so much, it seems plausible. Maybe he'll attempt it, and Annie will come running up at the last minute and jump in front of him - but if Sayid is responsible for Annie's death, wouldn't Ben have done everything in his power to keep Sayid from returning to the Island? Of course, I'm hoping for a scenario in which Annie survives into adulthood and then gets off the Island. But if we're going to see teen Ben evolve from mild-mannered dork to future super-villain, I'm guessing Annie will be involved. Or might we discover altruistic motives behind all of Ben's reprehensible actions?

Hard to believe the season is already halfway over. How many more answers will we get in the next few episodes? Will we ever find out what happened to Rose, Bernard and Vincent? When will we see Desmond again? And is LOST going to blow my mind by putting John Denver or Simon and Garfunkel on the record player? Stranger things have happened!

Monday, March 9, 2009

That's the Island (That's a Woman, Phil Coulter)

In so many ways, LOST is about Jack, the first character we met in the series premiere. From the beginning, he assumed a leadership role and showed great skill in rallying most of the castaways and convincing them to work together for survival. He thrived in that environment, but he never enjoyed it and was always focused on leaving. Post-Island, he seems to have a change of heart.

My last reflection was a gently regretful soliloquy to the tune of Mountains of Mourne, as sung by Keith Harkin of Celtic Thunder. Both songs deal with a man confessing to the woman he loves that the place he was so determined to get to doesn't feel as fulfilling as the place he left. I started writing it before the season started, and then The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham helped me finish it.

It also helped me realize I wanted a whole song dealing exclusively with the extended Jack-John showdown, and That's a Woman, the Celtic Thunder duet between Ryan Kelly and Paul Byrom, seemed an ideal vehicle. John, like Paul, is hopelessly smitten, but in this case the object of his affections is the Island rather than a woman. He's a total sap when it comes to the Island, while Jack is vitriolic, laying on the Sawyerish snark as he details the reasons he detests the Island. This duet takes their debate from their first days on the Island up until their second arrival.

That's the Island

Season One

John: Island, such a heavenly haven.
Don't be craven.
Now we can make a new start.
Explore it.
Learn to adore it
Before it
Gives you the chance to depart.

Jack: A torturous trap where we happened to crash.
Better take it from me, that's the Island.
I'm mired in a mess like a medic on M*A*S*H.
We were not meant to be on the Island.
My boozy dad's body was bound for L.A.,
Not meant to be on the Island.
He ought to be deep in dirt by today,
Not staring and scaring my senses away
On the Island, on the Island.

Season Two

Jack: A den of abductions and dread and deceit.
Take it from me, that's the Island.
Full of murderous men we don't want to meet.
Take it from me, that's the Island.
Who's to say hatches are better than huts
On this mysterious Island?
Pushing the button's the work of a putz.
You sob, "It's our job!" but I think you've gone nuts
On the Island, on the Island.

John: Perfect and pure, that's the Island.
Miracle cure, that's the Island.
Driving us all to be daring,
Strange as the secrets it's sharing.
When you look in the eye of the Island

Jack: Look in its eye and you'll probably die!
That's the Island!

John: And ponder the "why" of the Island

Jack: John, it doesn't mean squat! There's no purpose or plot
On the Island!

John: You're purging your past
And you're special at last.

Both: The enigmas are vast
On the Island!

Season Three

John: Island, in need of protection.
My defection
Gave me the knowledge I need.
Don't cater
To the folks from the freighter.
They're traitors
Waiting to watch our world bleed.

Jack: Bait all the natives and blow 'em to bits,
That's how we exit the Island.
Hike up the hill 'cause the phone's on the fritz,
That's how we exit the Island.
Take a trek to the tower to turn off Rousseau,
That's how we exit the Island.
With Charlie in charge down below,
He'll let us know when all systems are go
On the Island, on the Island.

Season Four

Jack: It took a little more time than I planned.
Now we can exit the Island.
Do I have to put up with your silly last stand?
I'm ready to exit the Island.
You stay in your leafy botanical lodge,
Lavishing love on the Island.
Go in there and pick out a handsome corsage;
We'll hop on the chopper and get outta Dodge.
So long, Island, so long, Island!

Season Five

Jack: Look at my aimless and miserable state.
I think I'm missing the Island.
I'm dour and drunk and rejected by Kate.
I think I'm missing the Island.
Gotta find another plane
To get me back to the Island.
I'm trusting Ben. Am I insane?
I hear your voice inside my brain:
"What an Island!" What an Island...

Memory of John: Perfect and pure, that's the Island.

Jack: I'm perfectly keen to take Flight Three-Sixteen
To the Island.

Memory of John: Miracle cure, that's the Island.

Jack: You cured my doubts; too bad you're on the outs
With the Island.

Memory of John: Driving us all to be daring...

Jack: Thanks to your dare, I'm in the air.
To the Island!

Memory of John: Strange as the secrets it's sharing.

Both: When you look in the eye of the Island
And ponder the "why" of the Island,
You're purging your past
And you're special at last.

Jack: Now the die has been cast.

Both: To the Island!

Jack: Sure as I'm Jack, it's great to be back!

Both: What an island!

Where We're Destined to Be (Mountains of Mourne, Traditional)

Here's Jack to Kate in the season three finale, to the tune of Celtic Thunder's version of Mountains of Mourne.

Where We're Destined to Be

Oh, Kate, California's a wonderful sight,
The civilization we craved since that flight.
We don't have to forage for something to eat,
And our houses have lighting and plumbing and heat.
We thought that we needed those things to be whole,
So we made getting back here out ultimate goal.
Oh, but now, three years later, I'm starting to see
That the Island's the place where we're destined to be.

There's beautiful people who we left behind,
Powerful purposes all intertwined.
How could we leave them when we've always known
That we live together or we die alone?
I'm grieving and guilty and losing my grip
And praying for just one more ill-fated trip.
It's a fortunate fact that I'm flying for free
Till I land on the isle where we're destined to be.

You remember old John, that unstoppable force?
Well, he told me that we were important, of course.
I snarled and I sneered as he went on the attack.
"They all need us," he begged me. "We have to go back."
Oh, I was so sure and so stubborn so long,
I couldn't admit that I'd got it all wrong.
For the sake of our friends, won't you team up with me
And return to the isle where we're destined to be?

For the sake of our friends, won't you team up with me
And return to the isle where we're destined to be?

Mr. Eko (Desperado, Glenn Frey / Don Henley)

I started writing this back in December during my family's Christmas travels. I had Ryan Kelly's rendition of Desperado firmly lodged in my head, and I thought I should try to take advantage of it. A couple years back, I saw a YouTube video in which somebody had set a series of Sawyer clips to the Eagles' version of the song, and ever since I'm always thought of Sawyer when I've heard it. So to avoid being a copycat, I consciously avoided writing about him and instead began to think about what other LOST characters the song could describe. I started my search by trying to come up with a character whose name or nickname had four syllables, and when I stumbled on Mr. Eko, I knew I'd found a winner.

I ended up setting the song aside for a couple of months, only picking it up again a few days into Lent, at which time it felt particularly meaningful. The Cost of Living is still one of my least favorite LOST episodes; it's befuddling and tragic, but I think it has some interesting things to say about the value of repentance. Eko seemed to turn over a new leaf when he came to the Island, but he couldn't bring himself to express any regret for the evil deeds that marked his previous life, instead claiming that he had no choice. A bit odd that Smokey singled him out like that; maybe we just have to chalk some of it up to needing to get Eko off the show, since Adewale wanted out. But I wish that confrontation had gone differently...

Mr. Eko

Mr. Eko, why don't you drop your defenses?
Confess the offenses that weigh you down.
You've had a hard life, but you must listen to Yemi,
Who drives you to demonstrate humility now.

You were never a repentant boy.
A Robin Hood, a rebel,
You stooped to ugly means to reach your noble ends.
But you can't go on pretending
That your plank is just a pebble.
True forgiveness comes to those who make amends.

Mr. Eko, don't you discern any danger?
Surrounded by strangers, your sins seem long gone.
But evil, oh evil has a habit of haunting.
The terror that's taunting you won't die with the dawn.

Have you kept a count of your heinous crimes?
You've seemed so full of remorse sometimes,
With silence stretching on for forty days.
Oh, but why deny you had free will
When you killed before you changed your wicked ways?

Mr. Eko, why don't you drop your defenses?
Expunge your expenses. Strengthen your state.
It may be painful, but you can paint a new morning.
But if you disregard the warning...
But if you disregard the warning, you've sealed your own fate.
Your own fate...

Yesterdayland (Yesterday's Men, Phil Coulter)

I've heard very mixed reactions to LaFleur, but I thought it was a wonderful episode that brought us up to speed with Camp Sawyer and gave him his first centric episode since the disturbing Every Man for Himself way back in the beginning of season three. Things were pretty crummy for him then, so it was nice to see him actually fairly serene and settled in his DHARMA life here. Sawyer's one of my favorite characters to write about because he's just so fun, and he has some pretty distinct traits that make it easier to try slipping into his head for a while. Here's what amounts to a recap of LaFleur, ballad-style, to the tune of Yesterday's Men, a seething reflection on sudden job loss sung by George Donaldson of Celtic Thunder. The growly tone fits Sawyer well, but instead of feeling cast aside, Sawyer is at last starting to find a respectable place in the world.


Well, the scene wasn't pretty when Red up and died,
Though she vanished before we came 'round.
We found poor Mr. Wizard lookin' frazzled and fried
As he mumbled and gazed at the ground.
Now our leader was lost and our course was unclear.
There was nothin' to do but go find out the year.

Good day to the nosebleeds, confusion and headaches.
Aloha to Locke, and with luck, he won't flake.
Since the time-skipping stopped when he slammed on the brake,
We're livin' in Yesterdayland.
Namaste! We're livin' in Yesterdayland.

So to give us our bearings, we made for the shore
Till we noticed a gal in distress.
Then we thwarted her murder by killing once more -
As if we all needed more stress!
While we walked to her village, I thought she seemed tense.
Then she thanked us by knockin' us out with her fence.

Good day to the nosebleeds, confusion and headaches.
Aloha to Locke, and with luck, he won't flake.
Since the time-skipping stopped when he slammed on the brake,
We're livin' in Yesterdayland.
Namaste! We're livin' in Yesterdayland.

Well, I hobnobbed with Horace, the head DHARMA geek,
Who I fed an elaborate lie,
And I bought his respect and a couple of weeks
By appeasing that Eyeliner Guy.
Till Baldie comes bargin' back in with his knife,
I imagine that I could get used to this life.

Good day to the nosebleeds, confusion and headaches.
Aloha to Locke, and with luck, he won't flake.
Since the time-skipping stopped when he slammed on the brake,
We're livin' in Yesterdayland.
Namaste! We're livin' in Yesterdayland.

Now we're firmly entrenched, and my friends call me Jim.
We're as happy as hippies can be.
Bruce Lee is a nuisance, but I put up with him,
And the boss is dependent on me.
Now Chewie is chatty and Juliet's mine.
I'm thinkin' the Seventies suit us just fine.

Good day to the nosebleeds, confusion and headaches.
Aloha to Locke, and with luck, he won't flake.
Since the time-skipping stopped when he slammed on the brake,
We're livin' in Yesterdayland.
Namaste! We're livin' in Yesterdayland. (repeat)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"The Record is Spinning Again, and We're Just Not on the Song We Wanna Be On."

What an eloquent line from Daniel, who otherwise barely managed a coherent word all night. I thought Jeremy Davies was brilliant in that scene when Sawyer and the gang first returned to him, and he was just a babbling basketcase trying to fight his fated future. If he fails to warn Charlotte, will that change anything? Anyway, I just wanted to give him a great big hug. Deflated, defeated, despairing... and then Charlotte appeared, a glowing vision of doomed innocence like the little girl in the red dress from Schindler's List. It's so sad that she died just moments before John stopped the skipping; would she have made a full recovery, or was she already too far gone?

And what was up with her body pulling a Jedi trick and vanishing on Daniel? Does that explain other disappearances of corpses, like Christian and Yemi - and does it mean adult Charlotte is going to show up again? Could that be why Richard took Paul's body - to strengthen his numbers? Anyway, if this was 1974 as Sawyer said, Charlotte and Ben are much closer to the same age than I'd figured. I'm not sure we've gotten a definitive birth year for him, but I've been pinning it at around 1961. Lostpedia just says "early sixties". I'd forgotten all about Ben's little laundry list of Charlotte stats back in Confirmed Dead; he said she was born in 1979, but she was the girl Daniel saw, that can't be right. And I have no clue who her parents are in the grand scheme of things.

How excited was I to see Horace, and to realize that he's now going to be a major character?? What a guy. As of the landing of Jack, Kate and Hurley, he's still got another good 15 years left in him, so if they're really stuck in this time, we ought to be getting to know Horace pretty well. While he seemed fairly high up back when he brought the Linuses to the Island - after all, he had the authority to issue an invitation - I never pictured him as being in charge. Was he at that point, or did it happen later? If Ben was born in 1961, I figure he came to the Island around 1971. Every time we saw him in that episode, and in Cabin Fever, Horace had fairly short hair, so the extreme hair length caught me by surprise. Did he kinda let himself go in the wake of a traumatic event - say, the tragic death of his wife? Because Olivia Goodspeed was nowhere to be seen. I now have to presume that Amy is "the missus" to whom Horace referred in the dream. He was building the cabin for her. How did it become Jacob's hideout?

"Whatever happened, happened." This has been Daniel's stance all along, and it's the name of an upcoming episode; I wonder if we're going to find out that he's wrong about not being able to change the past. (Maybe that will be a Daniel-centric episode; oh, I hope so!) Sawyer killing those Others and saving Amy would certainly be a big alteration if that was the case. Heck, it looked like she was a goner, so if this is an alternate track, the son she birthed never should have existed. Could the Island's baby curse have something to do with that? Anyway, it's pretty wild to see the castaways so firmly entrenched in the Dharma Initiative. Daniel's the only one we don't see in the future, but we know he's been hanging out at the Orchid, so I'm not too worried about him. Who I am worried about are Rose and Bernard. And Vincent. After three years, there is nothing to indicate that Sawyer's folks have ever seen them again. All I can think is that they wound up with the Others, but they don't seem big on taking in walk-ins...

Richard seemed pretty leaderly both when he met Ben and when he came to talk to Horace, but maybe he's just serving as the PR guy. He's certainly a lot more calm and conciliatory than Charles. He's got better people skills. Are we to gather from his words to Horace that Richard didn't turn the fence off, he just walked right through the barrier? Might that say something about the nature of the Hostiles, or at least Richard? He doesn't age; is he really even alive? And while Horace's hair was longer this time around, Richard's was shorter, and he looked generally much more clean-cut. Was his shaggy, dirty appearance a costume a la Mr. Friendly, one he cast off because he found Horace a leader he could reason with and respect? It didn't save him from death by mustard gas, but Horace seemed generally well-liked, and even Ben appeared just a touch distraught over his death. Horace was sort of like a godfather to him, and it seems he was the only member of the compound Ben really cared about, which again begs the question of what happened to Annie. Probably the most palatable option is that her parents hopped a sub back to the mainland and she went with them, never to be seen again. But I suspect something a little more dramatic.

Richard does not appear to be all-knowing. He was confused by John's presence in the 50s, and Sawyer's recollection of those events seemed to shake him up. I liked how Sawyer just sidled up to him like they were old buddies, no trace of fear. The thing is, I do think Richard is a pretty reasonable person. But this Island conflict is pretty messy. I wonder if Richard's memory of Sawyer having killed those men factored into his decision to suggest that John delegate his dad-killing duty. Not that it would have needed to; Sawyer had racked up a bit of a body count by then anyway.

I wasn't thrilled to see Sawyer killing again, but under the circumstances, I can excuse it. He was in heroic mode for the whole episode, even as he resisted the idea of being in charge. It was strange to see him in such a clear, and rather mundane, position of authority with the DI. He looked downright domestic, whether it was helping Horace through his hangover or coming home with a flower for Juliet. He saved Amy in both time frames, and he was altogether likable. I thought his heart-to-heart with Horace was terrific, and clearly foreshadowing; that look on his face when Kate stepped out of the van showed what we all figured: Sawyer is so not over Kate. Not when she's back in his presence. It's easier to be over someone you think you'll never see again. I kept thinking that when the plane landed, only a few days would have passed for the castaways on the Island. I figured it would be current-day, with the Island's skipping just making them land there briefly. I didn't realize that it really would be three full years for Sawyer and company. (I loved the first transition to "Three Years Later", right after Sawyer told Juliet he was going to wait for John as long as it took...) A lot has changed in that time. And we're probably about to have a really complicated Jack-Kate-Sawyer-Juliet quadrangle. Maybe the four of them are gonna turn into a bunch of swingers. It is the 70s, after all...

What's with Sawyer's choice of name? It's funny, because for the first time, he's actually encouraging people to call him by his real first name, but why the flowery last name? Did he have the Orchid on the brain? By the way, seeing the statue was fantastic. Too bad it was only there for a few minutes. I want to know what the deal is with that thing. How far back in the past were they, anyway? I wonder, too, when the Dharma Initiative built those sonic fences. Juliet sure didn't do a great job of sounding like a clueless newbie when they came upon the gate, but I'm glad she was looking out for Daniel. The relationship that has developed between her and Sawyer seems so sweet and sincere, I really kinda hate for Kate and Jack to come in and muddle things.

It's been three weeks since we last saw Sawyer and company, and that felt like a long time. LaFleur was a welcome return to old friends. Right now, they don't seem too badly off. But throw the returning heroes into the mix, and it looks like things could get a little messy - not to mention that they're gonna have to get far away from there before the Purge. Unless they can prevent it. But that might just rip the space-time continuum to shreds...