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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lost: Through The Looking Glass

First off - I've got some wicked head cold/fever ... so if go off rambling incoherently about like penguins or something ... that's the fever.

So in a word? Anti-climatic. It's not that I thought it was a bad episode. Actually in a lot of ways the episode was a lot of fun. There were lots of good twists to it (even if the trailer had managed to spoil about half of them). There were some truly great scenes as well - like Hurley saving the day with the DHARMA van. Or Desmond going all Rambo on Mikhail (who ... just ... won't ... die). Charlie's death was poignant and fair to his character.

I just wish some key parts weren't so confounding. Like how Jin, Bernard and Sayid survive. Let's face it - that was complete theater so that the writers didn't have to kill off three characters at once and off screen. Ben had already given the order to kill anyone who got in the raiding party's way. He already ordered the deaths of of his own people. So why fake the execution?

But for me the worst part is just what a letdown Jack's "flashforward" turned out to be. OK, sure, it was a huge shock to find out that at some point in the future at least he and Kate (and possibly several, several others) escape the island. And yeah, its interesting that this goal that he worked so hard for somehow, in some inexplicable way (which I assume they'll be explaining in the next two seasons), was a mistake.

Still - we kinda got robbed of that moment. And there's all this time we spend with Jack in future repeatedly laying down the fact that he's an unhappy drug-addled loser. Now instead of wondering if he'll make it off and wondering how and if he'll survive or anything - well we're just left with this explanation of why he shouldn't have.

And here's what so frustrating about that - I'm not sure there is any good reason why he shouldn't already know. I'm convinced that the Island's other secret power is make everyone a poor communicator. Don't say what you mean, lie and obfuscate.

Look - Ben makes one last ditch effort to keep Jack from phoning home. First he apparently lies through his teeth as Naomi's bunch clearly didn't kill them all off. Second he resorts to fear tactics. Wow, what a genius Ben is - maybe in this final moment of defeat it would be time to try to ... I dunno tell a little truth?

If you're about to lose your precious island forever ... isn't it about time to try a different tactic? Especially since the previous two is what brought Jack to slaughter most of your raiding party?

Or how about Locke? This must be one of the bigger letdowns in terms of surprise entrances. Sure, it was interesting to see adolescent Walt bring him from the pit ... but follows doesn't really add up. First Locke manages to run like hell to catch up to a location he wasn't previously aware of, kills a complete stranger by throwing a knife in her back just because she was holding a phone ... and then lets Jack dial out anyway with only the following phrase to try and stop him:

"You're not supposed to do this."

Or whatever it what was. Seriously? That's the best you can do? How about, oh I dunno:

"I've seen Walt. And he has something to tell you."

Gee, that would stop Jack for a moment or two. He knows Walt is supposed to be off the island and obviously wouldn't believe in this "manifestation" crap ... but maybe if he had a sitdown with "Walt" he would.

So the twist of Jack's future was a big disappointment to me - because I can't blame Jack. Jack is just us, after all, he's just like the viewer. He is stuck on a crazy island with people who, instead of defending it, spend their time frightening, killing and lying to others. Not to mention polar bears and what might be an invisible dinosaur. Ben held Jack captive for days and simply played with his head. Ben's had many chances to fix the situation and only let things get worse. Ben has had way more control over the situation than Jack.

Ben lets them off the island - not Jack.

Now granted, I'm assuming a lot here. I'm assuming the rescue takes place shortly after Jack's call. I'm assuming that Jack isn't provided new information and new chances or new choices. There's some evidence that is false - because he tells Kate in the future that he is tired of lying. Lying about what? Did he agree to a cover story if the "bad guys" let him off the island?

Maybe. However right now it seems like keeping all the secrets is the biggest factor to the Lostie's rescue. The conflict between them and the Others started with Ethan and only got worse from there.

Or from a more deconstructionist point of view - it's the writer's own need to keep the mysteries unfolding slowly that is working against the island itself.


jvm said...

As I've said before, shows like this need a full reset occasionally. This is the full reset. (For the X-Files, by comparison, I would have had Mulder realize that there are some things that need to be secret and have him switch sides and work against Scully and Doggett. That is, he becomes Cancer Man. I digress...)

And I think that we can view the flash forward in the same vein as Desmond's flashes. He sees a potential future but has managed to change it at least a few times. I suspect the same will be true for Jack and Kate. More than suspect. I feel confident that it will be the case.

I enjoyed every minute that I saw (missed the first five). Seeing Ben finally get the crap beat out of him was sweet.

Josh said...

I'm not sure we can put Jack's flashforward into the same camp as Desmond's premonitions. We have nothing in the plot to suggest Jack would see the future, nothing in this story to assume he is even acknowledging these same scenes that the viewer is seeing and nothing to suggest they could be altered even without Jack's knowledge.

I would like to this to be true, don't get me wrong, but the writing suggests more strongly that they're setting up a "OK, no we've removed you worrying about this thing - so let's focus on what happens in between" scenario.

And I did find a lot of the episode very enjoyable - but this main part of it felt like a cheap twist at some expense to me.

Michael Birk said...

I would agree that one of the most frustrating aspects is their refusal, or inability, to talk to each other about what's been going on! That just doesn't make sense and drives me nuts!

And I groaned loudly when Jack kissed Juliette, and even louder when he shortly thereafter told Kate that he loves her! Okay ...

And can someone explain why, once the water pressure equalized, Charlie didn't even try to swim out of the newly-opened portal? I know he believed in his deadly fate, but still ...

Who do you think was in the coffin? (Or did I just miss that fact?) Based on Kate's reaction at the end ("why would I go to the funeral"), I was thinking it might be Ben.

jvm said...

Sorry, my point was that the future is mutable. We have seen a possible future, but as Desmond has demonstrated, even if you know how things could turn out one way, you can still change them.

It's not that this was a premonition -- it's that the future can be changed, even if you've seen a glimpse of it. We have glimpsed a future, and now it is up to Jack, et al. to change it. They will find out shortly that they need to undo what they did.

Just to be painfully clear: Jack called for help, and the future we saw is the result. They can still change the future, and the result we saw may never come to pass. Some event in the first hour of the premiere in Spring 2008 will make it clear that they should have listened to Ben.

Josh said...

Yeah the Juliet kiss/Kate love speech was confusing at best. Especially since it seems like we've missed out on some Juliet/Jack conversation.

And yeah, I think Charlie's death was avoidable. He also could have escaped that portion and sealed it off in time, I think. But he was in a fatalistic mood and they had spent a lot of time setting it up. I grant it would have been at least hard for him to escape, so maybe he just accepted his fate.

I really wish they had cleared up who was in the coffin. I'm assuming they might be covering their bets? Dunno. It also felt like a huge tease. I would guess either someone like Ben that Kate naturally hated or Sawyer that she could have easily fallen out with before getting home.

And yeah - I agree the future might be mutable. It's just that right now the best evidence, imo, that it will be mutable is that it seems unlikely that the writers will let the lead protaganist end up this way. It's a pretty sad footnote.

Course the other possibility is that there is a portion of storyline where Jack does return to the island. I'd prefer to see the future changed though.

It's just that with what have right now, we've got a crappy outcome for a character which doesn't really appear to be his fault - it's just the fault of the insanity (and partly shoddy writing) of the writing.

Josh said...

The Lost And Gone Forever blog had an interesting suggestion - that the new seasons will take place in the "future" and the flashbacks will go back to days on the island:

There is some merit to this. It would speak directly to the question now in the forefront - why not leave the island? It would also help alleviate that the backstories were starting to get stale and overworked this season.

Josh said...

Sorry, link