Weekend "Lost" study group: Dr. Nick tells all about Tuesday's episode, and points the way to next Tuesday….

“Oh Hurley; you’re such a Dahl, but Desmond’s a Peach”

By Nick Gorini
Wasn’t this week great? Just like old times, it reminded me of a typical episode from the first two seasons. A little death, a little love, a little action, a little science fiction, a little religion, and a few key ‘WTF’ moments (Listed with thoughts below). And to top it off, the promo for next week’s episode took the great Gene Wilder/Willy Wonka creepfest boat song and turned it into Black Flag B-Side (see here). Awesome.
Here are just a few of the “Wowza” moments this week:

Just when I got to liking Ilana, she blows up, Doc-Arzt style. That was quick and unceremonious, especially for all the work she had done. Will we ever know why she was in such rough condition when Jacob visited in the hospital? MAN, I hope they blow up Zoe next.

Hurley finds Ilana’s copy of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, chalk full of existential angst. Man, I feel bad for Ilana. Training for Jacob her whole life, carrying around Russian Downer-Lit for light reading, and then getting Blowed Up Real Good! For more good Blowed Up, see here.

Know what else Hurley found in Ilana’s tent? Jacob’s ashes! Hey, have I asked this yet? What the hell is the ash all about?

Hurley blowing up the Black Rock! Yeah!! Honestly, I was getting sick of dynamite. It’s time to move past firecrackers and guns. We’re playing a game for souls here.

So, we know that in order for people to reconnect with their island selves, they need to experience chaos, whether it be the good kind of chaos (intense love and passion) or the bad (extreme pain, physical emergency).

Oh my man, Desmond! You were great in every scene this week! And you and Smokey at the well? Best interplay of characters yet. “Why aren’t you afraid?” Smokey can’t figure it out, can he. He tried to get Desmond focused on the petty little mysteries of the island, but Desmond’s stuck in his little love shack.

The Whispers! The whispers are the souls that cannot move on spiritually, the souls still so consumed with guilt and self-loathing. Poor, poor Michael. This raises a few questions:

So the show creators say the island isn’t Purgatory, but souls being stuck on an island between Heaven and Hell? Sounds kinda like Purgatory to me.

During the first few seasons, the voices always appeared right before Smokey showed up, or right before the Others came trudging along the trail. Are these ghosts forces for good, or bad?

Does Smokey know about these ghosts?

Souls stuck on the island. Guess what? Isabella’s ghost appeared to Hurley, and so does…. JACOB!! Does this make Jacob a lost soul?! Hmmm…

And on that note, why is Alpert so, so bloodthirsty now? To be honest, I think it’s a plot device: the writers wanted to create tension and conflict for Hurley, and they needed a reason to split off a few characters (Miles, Ben and Alpert) who will show up again in a few episodes, ostensibly to save the day at a moment when all hope seems lost. Rang just a hair hollow for me.

Smokey whittling away at his stick while Sawyer fumes was an important scene, for a few key reasons. Much like all the characters, they run around, leading busy but meaningless lives. Working at something, doing some sort of activity, until that moment of clarity comes. It was almost as if Smokey was taunting Sawyer.

Desmond getting thrown down the well! Wow! The instant I saw the well, I knew Desmond would be back in The Hatch. A great scene, anyway.

Biggest. Shocker. Of the night: Sideways Desmond turning wheelchair-bound Locke into a hood ornament. I always feel terrible for Desmond (he’s been put through so much), but Holy Cow! Can Locke’s spirit take any more of a beating? So why did Desmond do this? There really are only three possibilities to consider:

1.  He knows Smokey takes over Locke’s body and that the only way to prevent Smokey from destroying everything is to kill Sideways Locke.

2. He knows that the only way to re-awaken Jack is to have him meet his polar opposite, Locke. And that most of our characters need to converge in one spot.

3.  He knows that Locke can be re-awakened in his possessed body, but that it takes some sort of cataclysmic event to re-adjoin Locke’s soul. Time will tell.

Wowzas, predictions and more follow this here jump….
These are not “Wowza” moments, but worth noting nonetheless:

Hello again, Dr. Pierre Chang! Nice cameo. Where’s Charlotte?

Hello again, Bruce Davison! Vaguely passive-aggressive Dr. Brooks is back!

Hello again, Libby! Thanks for waking up Hurley! And thanks for the assist, Desmond!

All this time, we’ve thought Sideways Hurley had it made. But again, as we see, the same issues follow our characters around, at least until they’re resolved internally. Did anybody else find it ironic that Alpert was pissed at Hurley for lying about Jacob’s presence? Seems a little hypocritical.

Officially, all potential candidates other than Jin are at one camp. Though, as claimed by next week’s episode, there is still, ‘The Last Recruit.’.

Desmond’s order number at Cluck’s? 42! Ha! Will these numbers never stop!?

Hurley wondered why Libby’s ghost never paid him a visit, whether in spirit form or channeling Whoopi Goldberg. But she was an innocent on the island – she never had an ugly choice to make that haunted her for the rest of her, um eternity?.. So other than Michael, which ghosts do we think are still stuck on the island?

This week, Doc Jensen does a good job of mostly staying on task with his literary references. He mostly sticks to Dostoevsky (with a dash of Kierkegaard) and his importance to this season of Lost. Doc feels that the show is firmly calling itself out as existentialist, and that key concepts, such as “the idea that reflection creates opportunity.” Doc also says that perhaps the island’s power is that it creates consciousness for these characters, and the chaos that puts all of these people in peril is what helps them elevate to their higher consciousness. It’s a good read, if you’ve got at least an hour to spare.

On that ‘Chaos’ note, I once had a boss who, in the midst of some personal/professional upheaval, told me with such an air of authority that it etched in my brain, “Out of chaos, there is always opportunity.” I loved that quote, and I think of it often. It helps push me through some of the worst times in my life. Of course, that boss was fired and divorced shortly after telling me that, so I guess it’s all perspective…

The boy ghost who visited Smokey again seems to have aged. I’m not sure who/what this kid is, but I think it senses when Smokey has a desire to break “The Rules”, and shows up to ref the fight (“Hey! I want a good, clean fight! Know hitting below the belt, no biting, and no killing of candidates!”).

Did you notice that Miles didn’t know who “Michael” was? That’s because when they were hanging out on the freighter, his name was “Kevin”. But Miles knew Michael was a liar, so why didn’t he know his real name?

Jack sure seemed serene when talking to Hurley, but did you catch the look on his face when he saw Smokey? Can Jack continue to take a backseat to Hurley/Jacob/The Island, or is he going to have one last burst of potentially destructive decisiveness?

I do understand that this was a Hurley episode, but it sure felt like what took place with Desmond and Locke/Smokey overshadowed e
verything else.

I also wish Michael had gotten a little more closure – there was some, but why didn’t he get a chance to confront/freak out Ben? Why didn’t he get to reunite with his son? Why didn’t he mention murdering Ana Lucia (who will also be reappearing soon)? Michael, you may have been a little grating at times, but you were ultimately underserved by the storyline. And bottom line: you provided the show with one of the most shocking moments ever. Have we really seen the last of you?

And damn Desmond! Why does the island want to keep you buried underground? Why must you be held down? It’s a bum deal. But Smokey knew he couldn’t kill you, so he put you somewhere to avoid removing fear from anyone else. That’s Desmond’s real power, see? Smokey represents fear and negativity, and that’s how he holds power over others. With Desmond showing up oozing love, confidence, and bravery, well, that just won’t do. Have a swim in the drink, Brutha!

Another key moment of irony: In the original timeline, Ben murders Locke. In this new sideways timeline, it is Ben who rushes to Locke’s side to save him! I also liked that Ben’s really growing into his hero role – he’s right to question a single man parked across the street watching school children.

You did notice how quickly Desmond responded when asked if he had a child and what his name was. Sideways Desmond seems to know more than Island Desmond. How much he knows, we don’t know…

Stupid Award: It was tough this week, because nobody really did anything truly stupid. Except for Ilana. So, for violently setting down a bag of 300-year-old dynamite to make a point and then blowing up? Ilana, you get this week’s Stupid Award.
Anything to tell you about next week?

At least one more KEY character from the past will be showing up soon. Someone who was a regular cast member.

Jack and Smokey have a pow-wow. And, even if he didn’t have specific guidance from Jacob, Hurley did the right thing this week. You’ll see.

Do you think Miles, Ben and Alpert increased their odds of survival by not heading to Smokey’s camp?

So Sun AND Locke will be heading to the ER at the same time. Jack better be scrubbed up and ready to operate. And what do you think will happen when all these folks, er, candidates, end up in the same hospital room?

I encourage you very closely watch Locke and Smokey over the next two episodes. Why? Terry O’Quinn’s giving us all sorts of clues in his performance, but we’ve got to pay attention.

Yes, I know I’ve mentioned it each week, but get ready: Ilana blowing up was like a mozzarella stick at TGI Fridays. The rest of fried hero platter will be arriving shortly. More ice tea?
Thanks for reading and watching!

P.S. when we get to what I will call the Bye Week (that is, the week of April 27, when Lost will rerun Ab Aeterno), I’ll provide you with what I hope is a succinct essay about what this show is trying to tell us, and why.

"Lost" in Translation: Reason to believe in the ridiculous

Ben and Sun: Some people really weren’t meant to be together

My kid has been watching “Lost” with me this year, and so when we got off one plane at LAX last week, and made our way into the international arrivals terminal enroute to another flight, he took a look around and said: “I guess this is when our flash-sideways lives begin.” Made me laugh out loud. And it also reminded me of one my favorite aspects of the series: Its ability to both acknowledge, and make light of how absurd some of its central premises are.

Perhaps the best in these moments came in this episode, “The Package,” when Sawyer confronted NotLocke/Smoke Monster in the midst of NL/SM’s preparations to rustle up a boat for his and Sayid’s trip to the Hydra island.

Sawyer: ” “Why don’t you just turn  your ass into black smoke and fly over there?”

NotLocke: “I can’t do that, James. If I could do you think I’d still be here?”

Sawyer: “Of course not.” (pause) “‘Cause That’d be ridiculous.”

Just because you can turn yourself into black smoke, among other things, and fly hither and yon and destroy everything in sight….well, obviously that doesn’t mean you can cross bodies of water to do it. I mean, duh.

But then again, what isn’t absurd in the realm of faith and hope and philosophy? It’s one thing to have dueling light/dark characters who clearly standi in for God and Satan. But to invest them with similar supernatural abilities — and the same fundamental questions on the very essence of good and evil – is the sort of highwire act you should never see in popular media. That’s Salman Rushdie territory, and last time I checked a significant percentage of the world’s population was still intent on killing him.

Maybe the consistent (and consistently angrifying) notion is that life itself is ridiculous. That grace itself — e.g., the living tomato Jack pulls out of Sun’s dead garden — is a non-sequitur, just as tragedy — e.g., alterna-Sun catching a stray bullet in the restaurant kitchen shootout, just after sinister-but-doomed Keamy told Jin ” that “some people aren’t meant to be together.”

Looked like a serious gutshot, in fact, and so the last we saw was Jin carrying her off to get help, which he may or may not find in time. Just as Island Sun has to resist Not-Locke’s invitation to take her to her still-long-lost Island husband because she just doesn’t trust the Smoke Monster inside of him.

What this all adding up to, Jin-and-Sun-wise, is an-fixable destiny of being kept apart. Just as Widmore – scheming away on the Hydra, with Tina Fey at the head of his recon group – must live tragically without his daughter…..who we now assume is tragically without Desmond, the poor Scots bastard, who has been dragged back to the island for reasons unknown.

So maybe this is the final answer at the heart of “Lost”‘s mythology: Shit happens. And then, if you’ve been touched by Jacob, you don’t die.

Another ridiculous notion: Smokey’s sense of moral righteousness, even after slaughtering the innocents in the temple: They had their chance to come with him and they didn’t take it, he tells Sun. “Those people were confused. They had been lied to.” Even the devil has God on his side.

Ridiculous notion #2: The truth, and how to tell it. Ben Linus lied about everything virtually all of the time, but once he made a promise to someone, he prided himself on keeping his word. Smokey seems to roll exactly the same way, and we heard echoes of the same my-word-is-bond business from Jacob and Widmore. Does this mean that the moral poles of humanity maintain their honor even when their acolytes don’t?

The world is devolving. War is afoot. The purest rivers are running dark, the cork may pop and darkness may poison the world. But even a dead garden can cough up a sweet, cherry-red tomato. The spark of life goes on. And like faith, life and (to a lesser extent) “Lost,” that’s either beautiful or ridiculous. Or both.