Ride, captain, ride
On your mystery ship
Be amazed at the friends
You’ve got there on your trip
Ride, captain, ride
On your mystery ship
Be aware of the things
Others just might have missed
-The Blues Image
In a recent interview, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse indicated that some storylines that fans are clamoring for them to return to—like Libby’s mysterious appearance at Santa Rosa—don’t necessarily interest them. Which makes me wonder: What if, when all is said in done by the end of May 2010, we don’t get all the answers we’re looking for? Might that not be better in some ways? I for one hope that Darlton don’t leave Libby hanging, but do we really need, say, a Black Rock flashback? Given how the Rousseau flashback turned out to be a big chunk of rehash, I’m wondering if maybe we don’t already know just about all we need to with some of this island mythology. Save the rest for the prequel novels and videogames.
Tonight’s episode, for example, was so tightly written, shot and acted—really a tour de force on all three counts—and part of what made it so good was that the Lost writers kept the story moving forward at a fairly zippy clip, while parceling out answers to some of the questions we fans might be interested in. Some minor, some major. Like:
How Did Ajira 316 Land?
Okay, I can’t argue that this is an essential question. I mean we did see the plane on the Hydra runway a few episodes ago, so we probably could’ve extrapolated. But the actual sequence was very exciting to watch, and a great way to jump-start the episode. Plus we got to see Lapidus in action, and learned that his co-pilot was speared by a branch—the trees on these islands do not like pilots—and I personally discovered something I was curious about… that Caesar and Ilana don’t already know each other. (Some of you were already certain of that, but I wasn’t, so I was glad to get that confirmed.)
How Did The Reunion Go?
Jumping “Thirty Years Earlier,” we finally got the big reunion scene that was truncated at the end of “LaFleur,” and for me it ranked up there with the classic Lost reunions. We got Hugo’s genuine enthusiasm at seeing James alive, as well as his delight at discovering that Jin’s English is now “awesome.” We got James’ twinge of sorrow at learning that—as far the people I will now call the A3 know—Locke is dead. I thought all those early scenes between the A3 and my new hero Jim LaFleur were handled economically but satisfyingly. He told them what they needed to know; they told him what he needed to know; Jack didn’t act like an incredulous prick; and Hurley made sure that everyone realized that The Purge is coming. (“I ain’t here to play Nostradamus,” LaFleur mumbles, but with an undertone that says he understands the stakes.)
Meanwhile, Kate’s generally dazed reaction to everything made any scene involving her automatically tense. (When LaFleur refers to The Hostiles and then reminds a confused Kate that they’re the same as The Others, he sounds a little frustrated, as if saying, “Get back up to speed, Freckles.”) Then when the A3 were back at the Dharma barracks, waiting to be processed, Kate’s inability to answer questions about who she was or why she was there put everyone in jeopardy. I have to wonder if Juliet left Kate’s name off the revised Dharma sub manifest on purpose, just so she could swoop in, save the day, and let Kate know that who's in charge.
And speaking of the "who's in charge" game, Jack and LaFleur got a little of their old friction back, as Jack criticized LaFleur for “just reading a book” when there’s strategizing to do, and LaFleur answered back that he reads so he can think (just like Churchill!). A very interesting dynamic there. LaFleur’s enjoying being in charge, and to an extent, Jack’s enjoying being a follower (and being a “workman”). But how long can this arrangement last, before Jack starts asserting himself? (And what kind of job did Hugo get?)
What Happened To Sayid?
Separated from the A3, he entered the Dharma compound unwittingly, and is being treated as a Hostile, until LaFleur can think of a better plan. Knowing Sayid, he’s bound to resent this more than a little (though he’s probably used to it). Sayid also received a sandwich from young Ben, who—if I have my chronology right—has already had some contact with The Hostiles. He could be an unexpected ally. (But then, Ben often is.)
Who Is Amy’s Baby?
Why, it’s poor, doomed Ethan! The man who will later join The Others, along with fellow Dharma Kid, Ben Linus. (Therein lies a tale, surely.) We also learn that Ethan’s mother Amy is in charge of the sub-passenger orientation, but that in her absence, a grumbly Pierre Chang can handle things.
Who Is Radzinsky?
Some pissy Dharma dude, apparently. More in the CC&CAT section (and more in the weeks to come, surely.)
What’s Up With Daniel?
Sorry. No data, beyond a cryptic remark from LaFleur about Daniel’s “interesting ideas” on time-manipulation, and an indication that while he’s “here” he may not exactly be here.
Who Took The Outriggers?
In a clever moment of misdirection, it appears that the all-grown-up, 2007 Ben Linus is going to join Sun on a journey across the water to the main island. (We also see him remove his cast… was he never hurt, or did the island heal him?) But just when we're all readying a whole batch of questions about how Ben got from hanging with Sun to laying in the infirmary, awaiting a confrontation with the resurrected Locke, Sun clocked him on the back of the head with an oar and took off with Frank to the Dharma/Others’ suddenly very dilapidated barracks, where they meet Christian Shepherd. Our ever-helpful Ghost Dad shows Sun a picture of Jin back in 1977, and indicates that she’s got some time-traveling to do. (Meanwhile, we still haven’t gotten to the point where Locke confronts Ben. And when will we, I wonder? Next week is reportedly a Sayid episode, followed by a Kate. I wonder if we’ll see 2007 again anytime soon.)
I’ve bumped this episode’s grade down half-a-notch because there was nothing particularly ingenious about it, structurally, nor was there much overwhelming about it from a thematic or emotional level. It was just an hour of very good storytelling—about as basic as Lost has ever gotten. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
-No “previously on” tonight. Huh.
-As I mentioned above, this was an atypical Lost, structurally. You could call it another Jin/Sun episode, since the cutting between times always occurred when those characters were in the bridging scenes. Or maybe it was more an island/island episode: Between 1977 and 2007; between Hydra and “Craphole.” In fact, in the last cut to Sun, there’s a really nice pan across from island to island—a reminder of that Lost-ian duality I always obsess over.
-While I’m handing out kudos for great shots, let me give a big round of applause to Lost’s MVP director Jack Bender for multiple indelible images in “Namaste.” I loved the lens flares as Ben tore through the jungle. And the long shot of the A3 waiting on rocks, separated from each other and flanked by mountains. And the spooky moment of the door blowing open at the Dharma barracks while Christian spoke to Sun and Frank. And—most of all—that great shot of Jack leaving LaFleur’s house while Kate looked on from a front porch just up a small hill. Very nicely choreographed.
-I also thought the acting was better than usual in “Namaste,” especially given that some of the show’s weaker links were involved. I’m going to give my Star Of The Week award to Elizabeth Mitchell, for a number of reasons: The easy shift from shock to dismay when Juliet learned she was holding Baby Ethan in her arms. The helpful-but-tentative reactions to Kate and Jack. And—I know this will sound strange—the casual way she told LaFleur his Bulldogs sweatshirt was “in the laundry.” Maybe the writers (Paul Zbyszewski and Brian K. Vaughan!) deserve the most credit for that moment, but that line and the way Mitchell delivered it said as much about those two characters’ lives together—and how familiar and caring they are with each other—than a dozen big speeches. (Though I’m sure that before our Dharma Time is done, we’ll get one of those speeches, too.)
-A couple of really great Ben moments tonight too, so well-played by Michael Emerson. Like the terse, rat-like way he answers, “How would I know?” when he’s asked where Sun's seatmates disappeared to. And even better: The tossed-off, “Hello, Frank” when he, Lapidus and Sun are by the boat. That’s such a Ben-y line delivery. Emerson plays the character like the co-worker you can’t stand, but have to be nice to because he sits in the cubicle right next to yours.
-Lastly, a nod of appreciation to Naveen Andrews for his many telling reaction shots, as Sayid kept seeing people he know in places he wouldn’t have expected. Looking forward to the Sayid showcase next week.
-They got hamburgers; they got punch. I mentioned in the comments two weeks ago that “LaFleur” is an episode I’d like to live in. I could live in “Namaste” too… so long as it’s not the part with the older Ben in it.
-How much do I love Captain Frank Lapidus? Words cannot express. For that matter how much am I loving this show right now? Well, I’ve got a couple thousand words here to express that.
Clues, coincidences and crazy-ass theories:
-Maybe it’s because I just watched the Watchmen: Tales Of The Black Freighter DVD and I know Lindelof is a huge Watchmen freak, but I’m wondering now if The Black Rock is in any way a nod to The Black Freighter.
-How did the Dharma barracks get so trashed? I know that the Freighter Commandoes blew some of them up, but did something else happen over the past three years? Or are we not quite in the time we think we are? Remember: Way back in “The Little Prince,” Sawyer and company came back to a beach camp that was far more run down than it should’ve been. (Or maybe I’m overthinking this. I guess three years of neglect can do a number on man-made structures.)
-So Radzinsky was building a model of The Swan (which to me didn’t look anything like The Swan). And we know he’ll be locked in there with Kelvin Inman at some point, before blowing his brains out. I’m going to assume that Radzinsky locks himself in The Swan before The Purge, and that he’s afraid to come out either because he thinks there’s still toxic gas around, or because he doesn’t know if The Hostiles are aware he’s there. As for his secret Blast Door Map, my guess is that he thinks that if The Hostiles are aware of him, they’re watching him from the monitoring station, and so he’s keeping his map of Dharma secrets and history invisible to their cameras. Will we see all that? Won’t kill me if we don’t. If it works for the story, fine, but if not, again—save it for the prequel novels and videogames.
-You guys caught this last time out and I didn’t, but watching “LaFleur” again, I was kind of haunted by Daniel repeating “I’m not going to tell her” over and over, as though trying to will himself to prevent Charlotte's prediction from coming true. I can’t wait for that scene, honestly. That one I do want to see.