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!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bad Twin (Tie-In Novel) Review

Gary Troup, the first character whose demise we saw on LOST, wrote Bad Twin.  Darlton said getting sucked into a turbine was just punishment.  It wasn't that bad, but I doubt Sawyer would have been as riveted if he hadn't been so hard up for reading material.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009 Calendar Review

Spend 2009 with the cast of LOST.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the Wait Begins...

Only one more time of being between seasons of LOST. I heard that they planned to do an Alternate Reality Game last year, other than Dharma Wants You, in the fall, but they had to axe it because of the economic meltdown. I'm hoping they can manage something this year. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to go through and write about all the episodes I watched before I started watching live, and recapping. Which is totally silly, especially now that most of the questions posed by those episodes have been answered, but we'll see how it goes. It'll give me something to do and satisfy my obsessive sensibilities. I also got Bad Twin out of the library; my hopes aren't too high for that one, but Sawyer seemed to find it moderately entertaining...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"It Only Ends Once. Anything That Happens Before That Is Just Progress."

Wow. "Cataclysmic conclusions," indeed! This was some episode. If not for that one horribly disheartening scene, I might be prepared to call it my favorite finale. On the whole, The Incident delivered for me in a big way. In preparing for the finale, this time I decided to make bingo cards, with each square listing something that could happen in the finale. As I was watching, I kept thinking, "Oh, I should've put that!" - "fish," "fistfight," "familiar character played by new actor," etc. Out of 120 predictions that were on my cards (several of them contradictory), about 30 were correct, by some interpretation anyway. Big stuff like Sawyer saving Jack's life; small stuff like the appearance of an Apollo bar. Several of the items were things that couldn't be conclusively determined by the end of the episode; silly me to think we might actually get an answer or two as to where we were headed next! And several - "Jacob does not exist," "Hurley meets Liam" - were wildly off the mark.

I made 5 cards, and each had a different prediction regarding Jacob. Technically, none of them was correct - and, oddly enough, none of them was "Jacob dies." I mean, the most startling assertion from the last episode, aside from Richard saying he saw everyone die - a statement that didn't gain any clarity in this episode - was John admitting he planned to kill Jacob. But for one, while I thought that Jacob probably did exist, I found it hard to think of him as an entity who could be killed - and if he could, I convinced myself that Richard or Ben would put a stop to it. Probably the closest I came to a right answer on that one was the grossly inaccurate "Jacob is John" - by which I mean anti-Jacob (henceforth to be called, for convenience's sake, Esau), who was apparently posing as Jacob in The Man Behind the Curtain, is New John. Old John, alas, really is dead, and a season later, I guess it's time I mourned him properly. Unless he and everybody else who's died is zapped back into life by the hydrogen bomb...

But let's talk about Jacob, because I've been itching to find out about this guy ever since Ben mentioned "Him" in season two, back when he was still posing as Henry. The more hints were dropped, the more anxious I was to get some answers. But I was also afraid that if we saw Jacob as a flesh and blood person, it would detract from his mystique. Somehow... It didn't. And any doubts I had as to Jacob's benevolence were wiped from my mind almost immediately. I never thought that tonight would be a Jacob flashback. I never thought that we'd see him off the Island (unless he and John or Christian were the same person). And I can't say I expected to fall so utterly in love with him. Doc Jensen has maintained for much of this season that five is analogous to two, and to some extent Jacob's flashbacks are a reflection of that. They completely immerse us in an important character only briefly touched on before. I didn't fall in love with Desmond until Live Together, Die Alone; it's probably still my favorite finale.

If anything bugs me about Jacob - aside from his interaction with Ben, which I'll get to later - it's the way he talks. Jacob and Esau are sitting on the beach in the 1800s, watching the Black Rock head their way. They've obviously been on the Island for a very long time even before that. Yet they both talk like modern Americans. There is nothing in their accent or lexicon to suggest antiquity. I can maybe buy him adapting with the times. But why is he talking that way two hundred years ago? Oh, and I bopped over to Lostpedia last night trying to find out the name of the actor who played Jacob, as IMDb doesn't list him at all, even under a character pseudonym, and discovered that what Jacob was filleting in the first scene was a red herring. What does this mean? It would seem that the show is leading us astray about something, but what? Could it mean Esau's physical appearance, perhaps? Though I don't know that I really expected to see him again in that form. Jacob looks the same year after year, but as soon as I realized he had a nemesis, I figured we might have met him before and not realized it. (The red herring could also be our impression of Jacob as Ultimate Good Guy. After all, Esau accuses Jacob of just causing strife in trying again and again to prove... that people are good, or redeemable, or something of that nature. You could argue... But no. I won't make that leap. I'm sufficiently convinced Jacob truly is good and will be very annoyed if the show turns that on its head. Or maybe the fact that it's a red herring being cooked on a black rock is significant. Like we've been thinking the Black Rock is a lot more important than it is? Or that's not really the Black Rock sailing toward the beach? Or maybe it's just a fish that happens to be red.)

Throughout the series, I've tended to think of Jacob, the Smoke Monster and the Island apparitions as different aspects of the same being. But now it appears that the apparitions are a manifestation of Esau. I'm not sure if Smokey is too, or if he's a separate being, a "security system" as they say. But I don't think he's Jacob, and I'm not at all sure he's a "good guy," if he can be called a guy. If Smokey is Esau, what were the reasons for his past actions? Did he appear as "beautiful" to John because he recognized that he was the key to his grand "loophole"? Was the killing of Eko less about the refusal to repent and more about him realizing that he couldn't manipulate Eko as he did John? Did he spare Ben just so Ben would do his dirty work? It seems that, like Ben and Charles, Jacob and Esau are incapable of killing each other. So a willing murderer was needed. And all of this episode leads me to the conclusion that John really was not very "special" at all, that his delusions of grandeur - fed by Richard, informed by John, who was in turn informed by Richard who was manipulated by Esau - simply made him the ideal candidate to set up as a ruler. By the time that touching conversation between Jack and Richard occurred, in which Jack rather surprisingly told Richard, who was expressing his doubts about John's "special"-ness, "I wouldn't give up on him," I was thinking, "Well... Maybe you should." Real John wouldn't want to kill Jacob. And that exchange in which pseudo-John implied to Richard that he intended to kill the survivors of Ajira 316? Terrifying. That's not the John I know and love. Baldie may be a little unhinged, but he's certainly not genocidal.

It did occur to me back when John came back to life that he could be like Christian, Yemi, Boone and all of the other dead people who have popped up on the Island, memories intact. But John seemed so much more substantial than any of them, who we have only seen for moments at a time, and usually in strange, shadowy circumstances. We saw him eating fruit, for one, and savoring it with intense sensual satisfaction - rather, come to think of it, like Nicholas Cage's character in City of Angels. Did something happen to allow Esau to take a more permanent form this time? Then again, Esau must also have been Alex, so if he could change forms so quickly, maybe John's form wasn't any different. And Alex did beat Ben up. What, I wonder, made Jacob abandon the cabin, and when was the line of ash around it broken? It would seem that Jacob himself was never trapped; he's been coming and going freely for years. Was Esau imprisoned in there like the witch in the tree in The Magician's Nephew? How, then, was he released? Anyway, I was troubled but not entirely shocked when John's body tumbled out of the crate that Ilana and her cronies had been carrying around like the Ark of the Covenant. My first, mundane thought upon contemplating the crate at the beginning of the episode was that it contained weaponry of some kind. My second was that it was a body - though what happened to John's coffin? When I saw it again at the end, I pretty much figured that it was either Jacob's body or it was John's. The one consolation here is that we're probably still going to have Terry O'Quinn on the show for the bulk of next season. Except he's evil now, and our dear John is gone for good.

Charles wanted John to go back to the Island, but he said that John wouldn't have to die. So did he intend for John to be back on the Island, fighting the good fight, or was Charles an agent of Esau? What about Eloise? Did she have any inkling of what she was unleashing by sending John's body back? It really does seem now that the warnings that seemed to be about Aaron - "You're not supposed to raise him," "Don't you dare bring him back" - applied to John. But heads-up, PB&J; if you've got a crucial message to get across, it's best not to be so cryptic.

So I said I was going to talk about Jacob, and so far I've done little but discuss his nemesis. Jacob... Yeah, he had me hook, line and sinker. I was mostly there at the end of the first scene, which was so gloriously picturesque and mythic and had that epic score, my second-favorite music of the episode, which hinted at the time period much better than the dialogue did. But once he turned up again in Kate's flashback, I was completely sold. And how great was Kate's flashback? The most ineffective encounter, perhaps, but sweet and playful and just thoroughly enjoyable. My first comment was, "This looks like Iowa," so I got a kick out of the confirmation in the license plate. My second, upon seeing the toy plane, was "This is Kate and Tom." We'd never seen kid Kate before, aside from that photo in Sam Austen's wallet, and I thought she was terrific, though it was the adorable, frail-looking Tom I was especially taken with. I loved Kate's doleful glances after she was caught red-handed - and how hilarious is it that she stole a New Kids on the Block lunchbox? I feel like I was the only girl in my elementary school not to be obsessed with them during their heyday - and her grateful reaction to Jacob, whose nose tap was so wonderfully tender. Didn't exactly sway her from a life of crime, though, did it? As the episode emphasized by immediately cutting to her in handcuffs on the sub... Anyway, this was when I knew the episode would be Jacob-centric, and in a way reminiscent of the hundredth episode of Desperate Housewives, a show I don't watch much but boy, did they nail that one. The similarity was coincidental, though, I'm sure. And in this case, nobody knew just who it was they were interacting with except Ilana - but several of the others had a feeling it was someone pretty special.

Perhaps the most puzzling of Jacob's flashbacks was Sawyer's. He offered comfort to Sawyer... and he gave him the pen with which to write his note. The note that served as a constant reminder of his thirst for vengeance. It was Sawyer's uncle, not Jacob, who warned him not to spend his life obsessing over the past - but maybe Jacob facilitated that conversation. Sawyer would have finished the letter later, anyway; giving him the pen drew his uncle's attention to what he was doing and prompted a conversation that would have great resonance years later. Realizing that Sawyer could have undone his parents' death, or at least tried, I found myself surprised he didn't attempt it. But Sawyer didn't want to reboot. If he'd succeeded, what a different life he would have led! And he almost certainly wouldn't have been on that plane.

Ever since Ilana abducted Frank, I've been mighty suspicious of her. She was pretty scary in Sayid's flashback too. I pretty much figured she was one of the bad guys and was building an army against our friends. And Frank's point about the good guys not generally identifying themselves as such seemed a fair one. But once I saw that Jacob had specifically enlisted her help, I trusted her. One might say this was the most illuminating flashback - aside from the opening scene, of course. (Oh, and I think I owe Caesar an apology. I liked him at first, then he went rummaging for guns and I became suspicious. But it's looking like he really did die from that gunshot wound, and he really was just trying to help. Poor guy.) Questions: What happened to Ilana that she was all wrapped up in bandages? How did she know about Peter Avelino? By the way, he is listed in the IMDb credits, so are we supposed to figure that he was the one driving the car that ran over Nadia? That would be odd since it was someone Ben told Sayid to kill, but not the one he claimed was responsible for her death. I've been kinda figuring Ben had no idea who killed Nadia. But it can't be just coincidence that one of the guys on his hit list actually did kill her. Anyway, perhaps the most compelling question is, How do Ilana and Jacob know each other? And if she's so much in Jacob's inner circle, why don't she and Richard know one another? We don't know the exact timing of this flashback, but it must have been fairly recent. Jacob knew trouble was coming. I wonder if that means he wanted Sayid back on the Island; it would seem that perhaps she apprehended him on Jacob's command. The Sayid flashback was the most depressing; Jacob saved his life, but he had to watch his wife get mowed down. Who would want to kill Nadia, and why? And was Jacob really doing Sayid a favor when he's been completely miserable ever since, save a brief stint in Build Our World? I found myself wishing he'd stopped Nadia instead, but if the driver really was after Nadia, I don't suppose that would have done any good. But how sad... And I found myself thinking of Forrest Gump and Bubba's last words as she begged Sayid to take her home.

After the wedding tip-off, I did a lot of contemplating as to whose wedding we might see in this episode. I considered Sun and Jin, but I didn't find it likely, since we've already seen the events immediately surrounding their wedding. Still, the scene didn't feel stale. I loved the vows, and Jin's seemed especially appropriate given what would befall them later. And I loved Jacob's gentle and astute blessing, and Jin's being so impressed with his command of Korean. Jacob, it appears, it a polyglot extraordinaire. Of course, he's apparently had centuries (millennia?) to pursue the study of languages. This was the most romantic flashback. The shortest was John's; Jacob barely said anything at all. But there were a couple of very interesting things about it. First, John looked dead; I don't know if Jacob resurrected him or if he merely brought him out of unconsciousness, but either way, it seems likely that John wouldn't have survived without Jacob's intervention. Was Jacob also responsible for the healing of his legs once 815 crashed? In healing / resurrecting John, did Jacob know he was paving the way for Esau's re-emergence? Was he setting the ultimate showdown into motion? A glance at the cover of the Flannery O'Connor book he was reading tells me yes. A dove being pierced by an arrow... That's pretty powerful imagery there. I think Jacob expected to be killed.

Jack's was the first flashback of the second hour. When I saw him in surgery, I said, "Oh, I bet we're going to see the counting to five thing!" So I was glad when we did. When he told Kate the story, he didn't acknowledge anyone calming him down; he implied that he collected himself on his own. I figured at first that Jacob would be the one advising Jack to count to five, but when it was Christian, and when we saw nothing but Christian throughout the scene and its continuation, I started to think that maybe Christian really was Esau, and all of the flashbacks for the second hour would involve him. Thankfully, that wasn't the case; I'm pretty sure that Christian really was just Christian when he was alive, and, for all his faults, wasn't such a bad guy. How do we explain Jack seeing Christian off-Island last season, though? Hurley, via Charlie, told him someone was coming; does that mean Christian wasn't Esau? It seems likely that he can't go off the Island, for one thing. But then does that mean Jack was really seeing his father? Or was Christian a hallucination, and Charlie referring to someone else? Of all the encounters, the Jack-Jacob encounter seemed the least significant. All he did was give him a candy bar (I was excited to see Apollo, and now I want to try a Humdinger) and say, "Maybe all it needed was a little push." But I guess that was his way of telling Jack that his dad was trying to help. And maybe a bit of foreshadowing about the "little push" needed for the bomb? Though of course that involved Juliet, not Jack. Juliet, whose flashback felt completely jarring. It's a shame, because it was a well-done scene and helped us understand her motivations in the present. But unless they really want to draw attention to the fact that Juliet wasn't visited by Jacob, it was completely out of place. Now, maybe they did. Maybe that will play heavily somehow into season six. Maybe it has to do with Juliet making a conscious, grand self-sacrificial gesture without having been touched by Jacob. Or something. But if there's no special significance there, then it should have been left out or altered because it just seemed really strange as it was.

Once I realized that this was, essentially, a Jacob-centric episode, my hopes for a Hurley-Liam meet-up dimmed considerably, though I still held out a bit of hope. Alas, no Liam. Nonetheless, I loved the Hurley scene. For one, it ran incredibly parallel to the Desmond prison release scene in the season two finale, with Hurley getting his personal effects back from a guard who seemed rather annoyed with him and getting into a car, in which sat a man with a gift and some life-changing advice. Hurley was surprised in his meeting with Jacob, but he didn't freak out like he did with John and Abaddon. Instead, Jacob seemed to have a calming effect upon him. Indeed, Jacob came bearing news that Hurley, far from being cursed and crazy, had been blessed with a very special gift and was needed back on the Island. Hurley wasn't nuts, he just convinced himself he was, and his state of being took a downward spiral. Jacob snapped him out of it. There was such warmth and affection flowing from Jacob to Hurley in that scene, no wonder he decided to take that flight after all. Hurley's connection with the Island has always seemed very strong indeed, and it seems very fitting that Jacob would specifically recruit him like that. Also... Maybe that really is the guitar that Charlie had on the Island. Did he leave it with Hurley just because of the thing about recreating the conditions of the original flight, or was there another reason? Or maybe there's no guitar in there at all. Could there be something else inside of mysterious significance?

We got a lot of Jacob flashbacks. There were notable omissions, however. Richard. I've maintained for quite some time that he probably came from the Black Rock, and when the ship showed up on the horizon in the beginning, I was thinking, "Oooh, here comes Richard!" But now that we know that Jacob and Esau had been on the Island for ages, it makes me wonder if Richard has been around even longer than the Black Rock. Still, that scene seemed to suggest that they were the only two on the Island. Maybe among everyone on that ship, Richard displayed an unusual wisdom, fortitude and grace, prompting Jacob to appoint him his deputy. Surely we'll delve more into Richard's past later. I'm over my initial bus accident-inspired suspicions and can't help but feel I really like the guy. The other major omission was Ben. I felt sure that just before Ben had to decide once and for all if he was going to kill Jacob, we would see a flashback indicating that Jacob had made some sort of extraordinary impact upon Ben without his knowing it. It could be, of course, that Jacob healed Ben after he was shot - though I have an uneasy feeling that isn't the case. Ben had already encountered Esau, I presume, in the form of his mother. And I'm guessing it was Esau who healed him, and that's why the consequences were so unfortunate. Richard says you don't go to Jacob, and anyway Jacob resides near the statue, not in the temple. Smokey's in the temple. But why would Jacob's right-hand man consort with the enemy? And is this why Jacob has been ignoring Ben all these years? Is Ben somehow off-limits, Esau having staked his claim on him?

I loved most of this episode, but I hated the Ben-Jacob confrontation. Oh, it was powerful, and Michael Emerson was particularly compelling, but I was so frustrated with Jacob for evidently having refused to acknowledge Ben all his life, or, if the impression was false, for not showing Ben he was mistaken. I wanted an explanation for Jacob's distance or evidence of his involvement. I got neither. There was something very Job-like about all this talk of patience, and the sense of Ben being a devoted (albeit sadly substandard) servant with misery heaped on him for no known reason. I can't blame Ben for being frustrated. But I was furious with him. As Jacob said, he had a choice. And I so wanted it to be the right one. I'd managed to convince myself that we were building toward Ben's great redemption by way of refusing to kill Jacob. It was clear from his staggered response at the end of the last episode and his misery in this one that he didn't want to do it, but that he also had all of these bitter emotions swirling around inside of him. There, too, it took just a little push - Esau's wheedling (and I think things might have gone quite differently if Ben had realized this wasn't John) and Jacob's lack of response - for something major to happen. Majorly bad in this case, and which Ben completely brought upon himself by killing John. I am sorely unversed in Latin, but Lostpedia informs me that the translation for Richard's response to Ilana's riddle was “He who will protect/save us all.” And now Ben went and killed him. Nice. Going. Ugh. I don't think it's going to take him very long to realize he's made a massive mistake. But now that he's made his irrevocably awful decision, has he lost any shot at redemption? Did he ever have one? If Jacob's death was necessary for a final season apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and evil, was this heinous crime actually ultimately a good thing? Ugh. I don't know. I just know that I spent the whole episode longing to give Jacob a bear hug, and this scene made me feel like Lucy witnessing Aslan's execution. Ben, you have let me down. (Unless, in my desperation to make Ben Snape, I entertain the possibility that Ben has been acting completely ingenuine; that he knew John was Esau; that he has been in communion with Jacob all along and has been using his supreme lying skills to play us all for fools; that Jacob asked him to kill him, knowing the ultimate battle for Good could be won through the efforts of Jack and company. And the one lie we know he told in this episode, that he was a Pisces, was his subtle tip-off that he was a disciple of fish-filleting Jacob, a fish in the sand for Jacob-loving viewers. Oh, yeah. I think I like that far-out theory better. And after all, it isn't as though Jacob offered any kind of significant resistance...)

So let's move from my least favorite scene of the finale to my favorite. Rose. And. Bernard. (!!!) So... yeah, I was really excited to see them again. I was fairly convinced they'd died out in the jungle (or in the caves); I figured surely they would've turned up by now otherwise. I wasn't terribly optimistic. But there was still that shred of hope... I loved Sawyer's exuberance as he embraced Vincent and ruffled his fur, and then that familiar voice... Well, it wasn't the warmest of welcomes, was it? But once they took Sawyer, Kate and Juliet back to their humble abode (which they, apparently, built themselves), it was all pretty cordial, and I'm not sure I could imagine a better way for them to have been integrated into the episode. It was a stunning oasis in the midst of mass chaos. The score throughout this scene was gorgeous - and had definitely better be on the soundtrack. One of my favorite pieces of LOST music ever. (I was surprised at the total lack of diegetic music in this episode. And yeah, I totally just learned that word from consulting Lostpedia as I wrote my review of the first soundtrack. But if this is our last week in the seventies, it might have been nice to give the ol' record player one more spin. Oh, well. Speaking of the score, I found myself really digging the recurring walking music with Team 2007.) I loved the quiet retirement Rose and Bernard built for each other, their calm contentment with their lot in life, their gentle words of advice with Bernard's hint of "live together, die alone," their willingness to offer the needed information despite their Bombadilian detachment. I loved that they shared this life with Vincent. I loved Rose's derisive comment about everyone always finding new ways to kill each other. I loved the fact that Sawyer and Jin had searched for them diligently. I loved Bernard asking them in for tea, which felt especially wistful because this may well be the last time they meet. I even loved Bernard's scraggly beard. It was just a perfect scene. And while I very much hope to see them again, I could possibly be all right with us leaving them here, with this being our last impression of them. For this, Damon and Carlton, thank you, thank you, thank you. And hopefully Whoopi is satisfied as well...

And my second-favorite scene: Sun discovering Charlie's ring. Almost made up for the lack of Liam. I've been waiting and waiting for someone to find that thing, but Sun was the last person I would have expected. Of course, it made a convenient segue into her wedding flashback, but more than that, I think it was powerful that it was her because it symbolizes a move from vengeance to forgiveness. I really wasn't a fan of Black Widow Sun and was glad to see that aspect of her dissipate once she learned Jin was alive. Charlie wronged Sun pretty badly, so finding that ring and gazing on it with fondness signals that she has forgiven Charlie, and if she's moved on from that then she can move on from other things too. (Although I'm really worried about Sawyer. I've loved his character arc through the last couple of seasons, and if Juliet is indeed dead, I feel like he could be in for a massive regression yet again, which I would really hate to see. As far as revenge goes, though, who would he go after? I don't see who he could legitimately blame, except maybe Jack, and Sawyer made the decision to go after him.) Anyway, I'm thrilled that Sun has the ring now, and I'm guessing next season she will have an opportunity to present it to Claire. And maybe Hurley will give her the guitar as well. The Hurley-Jacob scene is probably my third-favorite. And that opening scene was really cool.

I wasn't all that surprised to see Sayid get injured, but the shooter was a bit of a shock. Of course, it made perfect sense; Sayid shoots Ben, so Roger shoots Sayid. And all Sayid really accomplished by attempting to kill Ben was potentially getting himself killed. It's nice that he still managed to be helpful after that, but he seems to be on his last legs. Unless time resets and his injuries are rendered moot. It really was important to have him on board at this stage of the game, though; I don't think Jack could have made much sense of Daniel's instructions. That is, if it turns out to be a good thing that they detonated the bomb. Which it might well not be. Phil definitively kicked the bucket, in one of the single grossest moment LOST has given us. The guy was a pain, but yecch. Radzinsky, it seems, lives to terrorize another day - and if this has set history into motion instead of changing it, no wonder he offed himself, realizing what his mad scientist ambitions wrought upon the world. I don't think he's exactly a bad guy, just a powder keg, and a real inconvenience right at the moment. We saw how Dr. Chang mangled his arm - and Miles' heroic efforts to save him. And wasn't that the first time he called him "Dad"? Anyway, it was a terrific moment for a character who really got the short end of the stick last season but has been building toward greatness this season. And oh, how I loved Richard taking action, knocking Eloise out to save her from herself in the biggest show of aggression we've seen from him, mirrored later by his extreme agitation but frustrating inaction in response to pseudo-John's plan to take Ben with him to see Jacob.

This was a rough episode for Sawyer. There he was, on his way to domestic bliss with Juliet, when Kate had to come along and mess everything up by insisting they go stop John - though of course, they ultimately ended up helping him instead, even after Sawyer and Jack had that whopping fistfight in which each seemed equally likely to kill the other, except I was sure they wouldn't let it come to that. If Sawyer had a problem with Old Jack, he's got an even bigger issue with New Jack, and I thought his baring his soul to Jack about his parents, in a bit of a reversal of telling him about his encounter with Christian back in season one, was a cathartic moment. But despite his reservations, he still went to the trouble of busting in on the Swan site and saving Jack's life. I'm glad he took it pretty easy on the sub captain, and that the captain was pretty compliant. Shooting the radio was a decent way to cut off communications without hurting anybody. He seemed stunned and mystified to see Rose and Bernard. Thrilled, but pretty bewildered that they'd chosen to evade him for years. And not long later, absolutely gutted that Juliet has decided that it's best they never meet at all. (And really, even after Sawyer explicitly reminded him that Kate would wind up in prison if his plan worked, shame on Jack for his sulky "I can't have Kate so let's erase the last three years" stance.) Then, of course, trying so valiantly to save Juliet (who I really think he does love as much as he insists, even to the exclusion of Kate) in a scene that reminded me a lot of Sam and Frodo in the Cracks of Doom in Return of the King, but ended much differently. Talk about anguish, much like Sun watching Jin apparently die in season four... Though for Juliet, it was a moment that very much mirrored Desmond's heroic season two decision to "blow the dam", especially when she manually detonated the bomb, causing the entire screen to go white, with the black LOST in a striking inversion of the norm. Which makes me wonder how much of the next season is going to show things being the opposite of what we're used to... And whether Juliet, like Desmond, will emerge miraculously unscathed early in season six.

Other season finale parallels... Electromagnetic catastrophe a la season two, with metallic objects flying everywhere (and poor Jack getting knocked flat by a toolbox - ouch!). Hurley saving the day in his Dharma van a la season three. This time, he was taking instructions from Jack in a panic as he tried to make a clean getaway. Hurley driving the VW and Hurley post-prison release were practically all we got of him here; not nearly as much as I'd hoped, but what was there was fantastic. Frank freed from bondage a la season four (though he hasn't managed to do much with his freedom so far). Not much Frank here, but I loved his caustic "Terrific!" in reaction to seeing John's body (I was starting to think we were going to have to wait until season six to look inside that box ourselves) and objecting to the torching of the cabin (which was a good point, and made me wish we'd seen them extinguish the flames before they left). Also, what is he a candidate for? Leadership of an anti-Esau faction? As in the other finales, some crucial element of the season blew up. Third season finale to make some reference to Moses. First not to include Walt; first since one not to include Penny or Desmond. First one not to include somebody drinking alcohol - though Sun asked Richard if he had alcohol, and he replied, "I wish!" Four-toed statue a la season two was back with a vengeance. Ben says it's been just a foot for as long as he's been on the Island. If that's true (and Ben sort of seems too exhausted to lie in this episode, though I liked his dry assertion of "I lied. It's what I do."), I wonder what happened to it? Since Jughead, I've been kinda thinking the hydrogen bomb blew it apart. Maybe it wasn't the first or last bomb tested on the Island...

What didn't we see? The Humes. Not at all. But I'm worried that if the future changed, their idyllic life together may evaporate. No Charles, which surprised me a bit. Again no reference whatsoever to Annie, and she's now replaced Rose and Bernard at the top of the Characters-You-Better-Not-Have-Forgotten list. A reference to Horace, but he didn't turn up, nor did Amy and Ethan. Presumably they remained on the Island with him, though you'd think he would want to evacuate them. I suppose they could have left and come back. Or, of course, the future changed and they left, never to return, and Ethan never grew up to torment innocent Islanders. No Liam, Kelvin, Brother Campbell, Henry Gale or other minor character I postulated might pop up in some enlightening capacity. We did see Kate's Tom, Nadia and Rachel, and those were great scenes, but they didn't reveal any deeper connections. And, of course, no definitive idea of what's coming next season. Did Jack and his gang negate history or create it? Or something in between? Eight months is a long time to wait for this basic answer. If I have to venture a guess, I suppose I'll say that the '77 group ends up in 2007 just because it sure would be nice to have everybody in the same time period again, and in the same place.

So where does this leave us? At the conclusion of The Incident, Phil is dead, as, presumably, are several redshirts thanks to the O.K. Corral-style shootouts, while Sayid and Juliet seem on the verge of death, though that could be negated if Daniel's plan works properly. Rose, Bernard and Vincent are alive. Jacob exists and is benevolent but is dying. In flames. (But could that be a phoenix reference?) John is dead. Sigh. Pseudo-John is evil Esau, who seems likely to be responsible for the Island apparitions, and possibly Smokey. Ilana and Bram are on Jacob's side, and even though they knocked him out, they seem to like Frank. Richard will likely be a force to contend with (and presumably he and his group are the "they" Jacob refers to). Maybe he and Sun will team up. He's gotta be kicking himself that he let Esau pull the wool over his eyes. Ben is a villain and a victim, and I have no idea what he's going to do with himself now. Will Esau still want him for his stooge? Will self-preserving Ben accept the job? If time-zapping occurs, I imagine Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Miles, Jin and Hurley will all wind up in the future. But we really have no clue which of Daniel's assertions is true. Can you change history or not? Confusing. Maddening. Chilling. But on the whole, I'd say The Incident was exceptional.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"I'm Starting to Think John Locke is Gonna Be Trouble. "

So we've come to another finale. Unlike last year, it's a two-parter rather than a three-parter, but Follow the Leader functioned much as the first part would, with a multi-centric story that gets all the players into their proper places for the big showdowns. The main groups are John and the gang in the future and Jack and the gang in the past, but there are also the small factions that include Sawyer and Hurley. Four distinct groups, all of them trying to decide who to follow.

I predicted we'd get plenty of Richard, Eloise and Charles in this episode. We certainly got a fair amount, especially of Richard; if anybody could be considered the centric character, it was him. One might argue that the scenes of Jack and Kate in the Others' camp function as flashbacks for Future Richard. Of course, he's more of an observer than a participant in both times, but I still found it fascinating to get so much of him at once. What I've really been gunning for with Richard is a flashback that takes us back a couple hundred years or so, but I'm making no complaints about what we got.

Richard seemed much more prominent in the future storyline. In the past, he was just bemusedly going along with Eloise's plan, even though I don't think he especially approved. I wonder if he will end up trying to stop her. As usual, he was wonderfully understated; my favorite of his '77 lines was "This man walked into camp and put a gun to my head, and Eloise... reacted." Yes, that's one word for it... In 2007, he was much more central to the action, and I was quite amused by his utter bewilderment from the moment John arrived. I always think of Richard as a guy who knows exactly what's going on, but clearly he was completely befuddled here. Granted, he was also confused in Jughead, but this was even more pronounced. And just like in Jughead, we saw a scene that seemed to point to Richard being mysteriously all-knowing, when actually it merely was the result of John's orchestrations.

When he turned up in Because You Left, it certainly seemed to me that he knew what he was doing. He didn't seem surprised to see John, and he was there to guide him along his proper path. Except that Richard didn't know what he was saying. And he couldn't have given John any more explanation than he did because all he was doing was following a script. I have to give him credit for his composure under such short notice and strange circumstances, but it's a tad disillusioning to realize that so many of the Others' expectations of John originate with John himself. Maybe Richard is starting to put two and two together, to realize that John is just a guy who happened to be caught up in a weird time-space anomaly that allowed him to be a master manipulator. Except John is still special. How else could he have known how to find Richard, or exactly when they would need to arrive at the beechcraft? But Richard immediately sensed something off about John, and when the President of the John Locke Fan Club looks about ready to relinquish his position, well, that's disconcerting. If Richard doesn't trust John, it seems likely that we shouldn't either. It seems he's not entirely the same person.

I love the fact that Richard was building a ship in a bottle, and that he was wearing glasses at the time, too. It was odd seeing him with those spectacles. If Richard's got time for such painstaking leisure activities, it would seem that the Others have been enjoying a fairly peaceful existence lately. John stomping into camp with a boar on his back... Well, even if he is the rightful leader, it spells major change, which is most likely unwelcome at this point. And speaking of unwelcome, how about "I remember these people. I remember meeting them very clearly, because... I watched them all die." Um... What?? So things are looking pretty bleak for our time-jumping castaway friends. Is Richard telling the truth? Could he be telling what he thinks is the truth, but something else actually happened? If they're really going to detonate the bomb, it seems like it would kill everybody on the Island, and probably destroy the Island too - including Eloise, Charles, Ben, Horace, Ethan, Radzinsky, Roger and Richard, unless he's impervious to that sort of damage. All of those people survive well into the future - unless they do succeed in detonating the bomb, and it changes things. But if they're changing the past just by being there, Richard shouldn't remember them, should he? Ugh... I'm so confused! But I sure hope that we're not about to see Jack, Kate, Hurley and Jin get blown to smithereens.

The previews seem to be indicating that Sawyer and Kate end up back on the Island, and I would assume that Juliet does too, unless it comes down to some sort of ultimatum where Sawyer has to decide to sail off into the sunset with Juliet or go save the day with Kate. While I want to see Sawyer in hero mode, I'd hate for him to ditch Juliet; I'm guessing all three of them will end up back on the Island. How inconvenient, though, for Kate to show up. That look on Juliet's face when Kate arrived... And I love how Sawyer's eyes just flicked ever so slightly upwards to indicate his annoyance that this was going to be more complicated than he'd thought. I also liked his Back to the Future II-esque plans to amass a fortune based on future knowledge. Not a bad idea! I wonder, though, if that might have something to do with Widmore's riches? Though I can't imagine Daniel cluttering up his journal with that kind of information. I wonder if we're going to get any kind of a glimpse of his time in Ann Arbor in this episode. I know we're finding out how Hurley got on the plane, which suggests a Hurley-centric episode, but perhaps it will be multi-centric. Frankly, Hurley seems an odd choice for the focal point of the finale when at this point, he's barely involved in what's going on.

Far too little of Hurley in Follow the Leader, but he earned the biggest belly laugh LOST has given me in a while with that interrogation from Dr. Chang. Good call from the doc; his previous interaction with Hurley must've tipped him off that this isn't a guy too skilled at skullduggery. But gosh, Hurley, you're 30 years old. How hard is it to subtract 30 from 77? And after being so worried about what would happen if somebody asked who was president, maybe you should have researched that matter - and don't even get me started on the Korean War... (I loved Jin's reaction to that one.) Anyway, something tells me Hurley didn't ace too many history tests. Or math. But we really needed that almost purely comical moment in the middle of such an intense, action-packed episode. I also liked Hurley's objection to the idea of heading off into the jungle without rescuing Sawyer and Juliet and his empathy for Miles as they witnessed Dr. Chang's forceful evacuation of his family. That was just as powerful as Miles seeing his father reading to him when he was an infant, and now that they are in full acknowledgement of their relationship to each other, that should make for a very interesting dynamic.

I did feel sorry for Eloise in this episode. In a way, it was Ana Lucia all over again, only even worse this time since she realized that she'd killed her own son. Almost as soon as she'd done it, she wished she hadn't. Look before you shoot, Ellie! Charles, meanwhile, seemed fairly clueless; it seems like they've got joint leadership but Ellie is really the one in charge. Interesting that Charles, like Richard, recognized Daniel at once, though he couldn't put his finger on why. From that one scene in which they shared an obscured conversation, it seemed that Ellie might have been pregnant; what other "condition" would Charles have been referring to, especially when he later put his hand to her abdomen? But that really does make Daniel exceedingly young. I guess I can buy it since he's such a super-genius, but I certainly would have figured him for older than 30. It also makes me wonder if Ellie leaves because she is unable to give birth on the Island, because the baby problems start after the Incident. But how would she know until it was too late? Would Daniel have mentioned something about that in his journal?

Jack and Sawyer both took awful beatings here. Cavalry Charles knocked Jack around before Ellie clued him in that it would probably be a good idea to listen to him, and Radzinsky just went psycho on Sawyer - though I noticed that even he seemed taken aback by Phil's solution of beating up Juliet to get Sawyer to talk. Radzinsky's caused trouble before, but he really messed things up this time. I liked that Horace at least tried to stop him, though his efforts were fairly feeble. I'm not sure what Horace could have done at that point, though, to maintain control. I was relieved when I re-watched The Variable and realized that Hurley wasn't inside with Sawyer when Radzinsky charged in; I figured that he would probably turn up at some point with a daring rescue attempt. Though that didn't end up happening, I wonder if Team Sawyer and Team Hurley will reunite tonight.

I say Team Hurley, but Miles really is the one who seems to be in charge of that little group. There were all sorts of authority figures running around and replacing each other. Chang took charge of evacuating the Island. Sawyer lost his leadership, and Radzinsky took over for Horace. Charles and Ellie debated whether to follow Daniel's instructions; Sayid followed Jack, while Kate didn't. John came busting back into the Other encampment declaring himself leader, while Richard and Ben contemplated undermining him. Oh, and unseen Jacob, potentially the grandest leader of them all, now has to watch his back, since John's on his way to kill him. If he even exists.

If Richard's surprise at John's behavior was curious, Ben's incredulity at the end of the episode was absolutely jarring. Of course, there's always the question of whether his reactions are genuine, but they sure seemed real to me. When John admitted that he'd simply manipulated Sun and had no real intention of reuniting her with Jin, I could see Ben thinking, "Wow! You're a lot more like me than I thought!" And when John announced his intention to kill Jacob... Well, whatever Ben was expecting, it wasn't that. He looked utterly floored. So what's John up to? There is the possibility that John does not believe that Jacob actually is real. His only experience with Jacob was hearing him whisper, "Help me," and he suspected that was only Ben messing around with him. So maybe by "kill" Jacob, he means kill the idea of Jacob, though since presumably only Richard and Ben have any idea of where Jacob is located, it seems like it would be hard to conclusively prove to the rest that he doesn't exist just because he isn't at the cabin. There's also the possibility that he's lying to Ben, perhaps to test his loyalty. But if he really believes Jacob is real (and I'm inclined to think he is), what is his motivation? Does he want to kill Jacob so he will now be top dog? Or so the Others will no longer be forced to take orders from this mysterious man in the mountains? Or because Jacob wants him to? It seems like Jacob is trapped in a strange state of semi-existence; maybe by killing him, John would actually be freeing him. At any rate, the Man Behind the Curtain parallels were quite apparent here. Richard wasn't any more anxious to take John to see Jacob than Ben was. Yes, John was being a twerp again, though not a whiny, temper-tantrum throwing twerp. A calm I'm-in-charge-now-so-you-have-to-do-what-I-tell-you-to twerp. But what is it about his asking to go see Jacob that makes Richard and Ben so nervous? (I also loved Ben's heavy-emphasis-on-the-wh "What?" when Locke accused him of never having seen Jacob...)

Jack is reminding me more and more of season two Locke. Season two ended with Locke, surrounded by the ruins of his brilliant idea, confessing shakily, "I was wrong." What happens if Jack is wrong? Sayid, who evidently has just been wandering around in the jungle for the past couple of days, is willing to help Jack because he feels he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the plan works, Nadia's alive, and Sayid and Ben never meet. If the plan fails, his miserable life is over. But it's not that simple for Kate. For one thing, if time resets itself so that their plane lands safely in L.A., she's got a lifetime in a federal penitentiary ahead of her; without the sympathy generated by Jack's testimony and her mother's change of heart, I can't see her getting off. More immediately than that, though, it seems she's thinking about all that she and her newfound friends have been through and not wanting to simply erase all that and to return to a life in which none of them meet. Not to mention the fact that Daniel's plan sounds completely nuts and I don't think she's at all convinced it will work. Jack, meanwhile, isn't willing to think of the good that has come out of their experience. He believes he's come back for a purpose, and what greater purpose than to save the lives of everyone on that plane? That's hundreds of people who would be alive again if the plane crash could be made not to happen. Of course, he doesn't seem all that worried about the people on the Island now; if he saves the Oceanic 815 passengers but blows up half the Dharma Initiative and all of the Others, isn't it all a bit of a wash?

I wonder if we will get to see Young Ben again tonight, and Roger. That strikes me as somewhat likely, since whatever the case may be, I suspect we'll be done with the seventies after tonight. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get some hint of Annie in there somewhere too. (Could be that she and her parent(s) hopped aboard the sub, and after it was well out of sight Ben found out and was devastated. That's a nice non-lethal possibility. Though if Sawyer, Kate and Juliet end up back on the Island, does that mean the rest of the sub passengers to too?) I also am anxious to see what has become of Bernard and Rose, and I sure hope it has nothing to do with a pair of opposite-colored stones sitting in a cave. It seems that we may finally see Jacob tonight, too, and maybe Christian since they appear to be tightly linked. Or maybe Christian is Jacob, or rather Jacob has been making use of Christian's body since he washed up on the Island. I suspect that we won't see Claire, Walt or the Humes, but I'd certainly be glad to be wrong about that. Unless the finale lands Desmond or Penny in mortal danger. And I'm still gunning for Liam to turn up in a Hurley flashback, for them to share a pleasant afternoon of reminisces and for Liam to give Hurley an old guitar of Charlie's. I wonder, too, if Hurley might also catch a glimpse of Jacob tonight, since he's the only other character we know of who seems to have a special connection with him. I assume they'll wind up in the jungle, and maybe Hurley will come upon the cabin again and Jacob will give him some inkling of what he ought to be doing. Might we see the Hurley bird again too?

We've been promised a wedding tonight. Up until The Variable, I figured the most likely candidates were Sawyer and Juliet. But it looks like they wind up back on the Island, and with everyone in imminent danger of being obliterated, it seems like a really lousy time to get married. Besides, who would perform the ceremony? So I'm leaning away from Sawyer and Juliet now, unless we're getting flash-forwards again. Or unless Sawyer and Juliet did get married at some point in the last three years and no one bothered to tell us. They're not wearing wedding rings, but they'd be hard to come by on the Island anyway; maybe they didn't bother with the ornamentation. So I think if we see a Sawyer-Juliet wedding, it will be a flashback. Who else could it be? Maybe Rose and Bernard. If this episode focused on them as well, I'd be thrilled; it could flash back to their wedding, maybe revealing something unusual there, and then let us know what the heck they've been doing for three years. Or, if Desmond and Penny turn out to be in this episode (I don't see how they could get to the Island so quickly, but we could see them en route, and then see them just vanish if Jack successfully alters time), we flash back to their wedding. I'm having a hard time picturing a really revelatory wedding scenario, unless it takes place in the future, or at least future in relation to 1977. I don't know for certain if Charles or Eloise ever married, though I imagine Eloise must have since she and Daniel have different last names. A glimpse of a wedding involving either would probably be eye-opening. Or we could jump way into the future and see a wedding between Ji Yeon and Aaron, or possibly Charlie. It's an awfully open-ended clue, as we have no idea when or where the wedding takes place or who is involved.

I don't see how Daniel's plan can work as he laid it out. Quite apart from the fact that it seems crazy, I can't imagine how the show will proceed if its characters are completely scattered and mostly unaware of each other's existence. If the plan works the way he intends, perhaps Richard will still be on the Island in 2004, but it seems like he'll have the place to himself, and watching ageless Alpert construct ships in a bottle for hours doesn't make for riveting television. For ages, Doc Jensen has been postulating that season six will mirror season one - that we'll see Oceanic 815 crash again, and the survivors will start again from scratch, but some of the details will be different. Much as I'd love to see Charlie again, I'm not sure how this would work. What could happen that would change the 2004 present enough to have different passengers on the plane but still have Desmond fail to push that button at exactly the right time? Might we see Kelvin again and discover that he, too, was operating on long-held information - that Radzinsky, maybe, tipped him off, and that Kelvin ripped his suit deliberately and left at just the moment when he did so Desmond would follow him so the plane would crash? Or maybe the rebooting idea will fail altogether but somehow the castaways will get zapped back to 2007 at the end of the episode. There are so many possibilities...

There's also the matter of which characters will be leaving us in this episode. Assuming the two characters alluded to are not Daniel and Caesar, we've still got at least one major death coming. How major depends on how major you consider Daniel to be; Damon said one major and one semi-major. If Daniel's only semi-major, then Caesar's certainly off the table. Besides, we don't really know that Ben killed him. Major, then, would probably be restricted to Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Jin, Juliet, Desmond, John, Sun or Ben. Am I forgetting anyone? Arzt died in the season one finale. Desmond and Eko looked like goners in season two's, but Kelvin's was the only death we witnessed aside from the nameless Other. Season three's was a bloodbath, with about 15 deaths, the most significant of which was Charlie's. Season four's deprived us of Michael, along with a bunch of mercenaries and freighter red-shirts. Jin seemed likely to be dead, too, and John was in the coffin, but neither of those lasted. Anyway, Damon's hint aside, from past history, I think we can count on losing at least someone. After all the trouble they've been through, I don't think it will be Jin or Sun. They wouldn't dare kill off Hurley; we'd be lost without his comic relief, and if the furor over Charlie was intense, I think Hurley would inspire twice as much fury. After all, there are quite a few people who couldn't stand Charlie, but I've never heard those kind of complaints about the Island's teddy bear. Sayid's turned into such a basketcase lately that I might have to pin him as the most likely guy. It's hard to know what to do with him anymore. If not him, then I'm probably most worried about Kate or Juliet. Or maybe Ben will make some sort of grand sacrificial gesture in the future and thus finally prove himself "one of the good guys". Hey, it could happen... Not likely, but slightly possible, and if he could redeem himself it would almost be worth losing him. I'm also really worried about Rose and Bernard, and Jorge's evasive response to Whoopi's agitated question about them on The View just now did little to reassure me, but I must think positive.

Michael Emerson, on the same show, promised "cataclysmic conclusions". Oh, and new characters, which is intriguing. He said to expect lots of surprises, and he said there will be casualties. Oh, and Jorge said he doesn't want the series to end with a dream or a reboot. Is he trying to throw us off the scent? Of course, ending season six with a reboot isn't quite the same as ending season five with a reboot, but the consequences would be similar. Only if it happened now, we'd get to see what happens next. We'd better not end with an abrupt Sopranos-style fade to black, that's for sure. I suspect that no matter what the ending is, some will love it and some will hate it. I hope I'll be in the former category. And I wish Tinseltown would air the series finale there so we could see it in all its theatrical glory. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's hoping for one doozy of an episode that doesn't leave me too depressed but give me plenty to contemplate over the next eight months.