First off, before we get into it this week, I have to share this clip with you. I'm sure a lot of you have seen it, but I just found it a couple of days ago. It's the Orchid Station training video released last August as a teaser for Season Four:
For the past couple of days, the image of that rabbit appearing on a shelf and our multi-named scientist chum yelling to keep the other rabbit away from it well, it's been creeping me out. I almost don't care what it "means." It's enough that it's unsettling, because questions-and-answers aside, a lot of what makes Lost such a great show are those chilling, "What the hell?" moments.
If tonight's episode was a step down from the excellence of the previous three, it's because those moments were at a minimum. Yes, there was the big twist ending–the revelation that off-island-Kate is passing off Claire's now-toddler son Aaron as her own–but I can't really gauge the impact of that scene, because some jackass spoiled it in our comment section last week. (Allow my policy to be clear: Speculation and theorizing is fine, but if you have inside information, please don't post it here. If I see it, I'll delete it as fast as I can; but I'd rather you didn't spoil the show for me either.)
That said, I was a little disappointed with tonight's flash-forward for other reasons. To recap, here's what happened: Kate, now revealed as one of "The Oceanic 6," is standing trial for all the crimes she committed before coming to the island. Despite her international celebrity as one of history's most famous survivors, Kate's fate looks bleak. But then Jack enters the courtroom as a surprise character witness, testifying that: 1.) Of the eight–and only eight–people who survived the crash, Kate personally saved five of them, and nursed them back to health; 2.) Kate was completely honest with him about her fugitive past; and 3.) He is definitely not saying all this because he's still in love with her. So basically Jack's lying his stubble off.
This is all useful information to Lost fans, because now we know more about the big story that The Oceanic 6 had to concoct–even if we don't know why they had to concoct it. But I was expecting a little more from the premise of Kate on trial. As I'll get to more at the bottom of this post, I've been thinking a lot about Kate's role on this show over the past week, and I was hoping to have the nature of her character explored a little more in the back-and-forth between attorneys. As Kate's lawyer says, they'll win their case if they "make it about who you are." But that's always been the thing: Who is Kate?
But if Kate's off-island adventures were ultimately unsatisfying, she made up for it with her scheming back on the island. Kate's presence in Locke's camp raises some hard questions for Locke, namely, "Why in the world should anyone do what Locke tells them to do?" When Kate demands to see Miles, Locke refuses to tell her where he is, insisting that while his government is "not a dictatorship" it's "not a democracy" either. So what is it? Kate immediately tests Locke's limits by finding Miles on her own and striking a deal for him to get one minute of conversation with Ben in exchange for Miles telling her whether The Freighter Folk know all about what she did before coming to the island. The answer? Yes they do. And as for why Miles wants to talk to Ben? It's so he can extort exactly 3.2 million dollars from him. Why 3.2? Miles isn't telling. (Umm because it's "23" backwards?)
After all those violations of Locke-ian order, our non-dictator demands that Kate leave camp and return to the beach–which she agrees to do, but only because she apparently wants to. (Much to the chagrin of a horny Sawyer.) But what if she'd disobeyed? What would Locke have done? At the start of the episode, Locke brings Ben a nice breakfast of fried eggs and melon (plus a book, the title of which I didn't catch), and Ben taunts him because he knows Locke no longer knows where the cabin is or how to get in touch with Jacob. Ben's needling rattles Locke, who later confides in Sawyer that he's not sure he knows what he's doing. So at the end of the episode, to reassert himself, he places a live (?) grenade in Miles' mouth, because, "There's no point in having rules if there's not going to be consequences." As Ben says to him early on, Locke is "evolving." But towards what?
Meanwhile, there's much less going on at the other beach. One day after the helicopter bearing Sayid and Desmond has taken off, there's still no word from the freighter. Jack demands that Charlotte and Daniel–the latter of whom, we learn in a throwaway scene, has some kind of memory problem–use their magic phone to call The Voice Of Zöe Bell, who tells them that there's been no sign of the helicopter. Is she lying? Is the helicopter trapped in that crazy time warp? In an episode that was mainly about taking a moment to reflect on the situation at hand before resetting the game board again, the creators left us hanging. Or, to quote Ben again: "You're more lost than you ever were."
-I must direct everyone to EW writer Jeff Jensen's interview with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, which went up this morning as part of Jensen's weekly Lost preview. The most alarming part of the conversation is when "Darlton"–the duo's groupthink name–confesses that the bracelet we saw last week on both Naomi and Elsa's wrists was only meant to be an echo in Sayid's memory, not evidence of a connection between the two women. But now, after the fans have speculated wildly about what the bracelet might mean, they're thinking about coming up with a reason why the two women have the same taste in accessories. Lost's skeptics can take this as evidence that the show's guiding hands are now–and have always been–making stuff up on the fly. I think it's just proof that they're more concerned with the broad arc of where the show is going, and that the little details they come up with as-needed, just to keep us playing the speculation game. When all is said and done, there's no way they're going to be able to provide answers for everything fans are wondering about, lest we have more episodes like "Jack's Tattoos." But in general, I'm confident they know where we're going to end up 44 episodes from now. (Did I count that right?)
-Kate comes to Sawyer with her hair wet. Which means she showered. Which means Sawyer has every reason to expect they'll be having sex. And yet they don't. Man, that's just not right.
-I know the name of my next album: Dharma Box Wine
-After it was revealed that Frank's helicopter had disappeared, my wife said, "Ooooh. They're off in the warp zone. They're ducking into flower-pipes and collecting gold coins." I love my wife.
-Tonight's best Hurley quote, said to Kate after she got him to reveal Miles' location: "You just totally Scooby-Doo-ed me, didn't you?"
Clues, coincidences and crazy-ass theories:
-Echoes of the past: The opening shot of the episode is of Locke's eye, which is a fairly typical episode-opening image on Lost. In the same sequence, Locke brings food to Ben in his cell, which is also, as Ben points out, very familiar. Déjà vu is kind of a motif on this show, huh?
-As Kate's entering the courtroom off the island, in the crowd outside, a bearded man fills the frame and yells, "Where is " what? Who? I rewound my DVR and played it again, but I still couldn't make it out.
-We now know that if Kate takes Jack up on his offer to go back to the island, she'll be in big trouble with the law, because as part of her plea deal to avoid jail time, she's on probation. One lingering question though: Why is it so important to Kate that Jack see Aaron before she'll agree to go on a date with him? Is it just about him owning up to what they did to get off the island, or is it something more? (To be honest, it would be enough for me if her demand was just a character test, because that's always been a big part of what this show is: An examination of how to do the right thing when you don't know what the rules are.)
-Hurley's movie choices are Xanadu and Satan's Doom. Just a joke, or significant?
-So why "Eggtown?" Because Locke brings Ben eggs?
Flashbackin' Season One, Eps. 1-2:
-The problem with the headlong rush of Lost this season--and our usual hunger for answers-answers-answers--is that it's easy to forget what we already know: about these characters, the island, and what Lost is supposed to be about. So last weekend I picked up all three Lost DVD sets, and I've started rewatching the complete series. I'm not going to blog the episodes in full, but I'm going to try to watch four or five a week–although this week I only made it through the 3 hours of Season One featurettes and the two-part pilot–and make a few notes in this space about what I notice.
-First off, I'd forgotten how quiet the show was in the early going. Almost no music. Not much happening aside from some rustling trees and mysterious roars. Instead: a lot more about who the castaways are and what brought them to this point. Which is partly why I wanted to go back–to get a second look at how we first met everybody, and to see how much their original introductions connect to how they're portrayed now. The biggest change I've seen so far is the character of Kate, who was more of a likable hero-type–and conveniently in her underwear a lot–than the shrill double-dealer she'd become. So my eyes lit up when it seemed like tonight's episode was going to be about judging Kate, and my heart sunk a little when the episode backed away from a full accounting.
-I confess that it's hard to work up much interest in the stories of Shannon and Boone, knowing that they won't be around for the long haul. I hope they ultimately end up playing a bigger role in the off-island story, so their mini-dramasof Season One and Two won't seem like mere filler. (Although I suspect I'll find quite a lot of filler as I move through these first three seasons.)
-Relatively speaking, Season One is lighter on the meta-mythology than what came later, but in addition to the first impressions of "the monster," the two-part "Pilot" (still a clever title, by the way) introduces two major elements of the island mystery: the polar bear that Sawyer guns down, and Rousseau's dreadful broadcast in which she warns that everyone in her landing party is dead. We've since gotten more hints about the polar bears–they keep popping up–but the nature of Rousseau's history with the island remains a major gap in the Lost backstory. We know a little, but as of yet, her real loyalty, how much she knows about the island, and the tale of her relationship with Ben are all too foggy, given how much time the characters have had to ask her about it.
-Two pieces of thematic development in "Pilot." First, Jack tells a long story to Kate about how to "let the fear in," in order to control it. We haven't heard the last of this concept, I'm sure. Second, Locke's explanation of backgammon to Walt: "Two players, two sides. One is light and one is dark." That's Lost in a nutshell, yes? The only problem is that we still don't know what the sides are. Or which one is dark.