"Lost" in Translation: He's a zombie and she's nuts.

They got the same greeting at David Geffen’s place…

So many stories, so many characters, multiple realities, intertwining crises. And maybe the one thing they all have in common is that no one is telling the truth, exactly. Particularly when they look you in the eye and swear to creation that everything they say is real.

And while it’s true that some people can, and do, tell a lie in pursuit of a moral end, the creation (or perpetuating) of a reality that is nothing but a hall of mirrors serves mostly to throw dirt in the air and turn everyone, good or bad, blind.

If the subject is “Lost,” which it is, I could be talking about anything now. About Sawyer reneging on his deal with MIB/Locke. About alt-Desmond tailing, and steering, alt-Claire to the meeting with the alt-Ilana, alt-Jack. About alt-Desmond’s bumper car exploits with altLocke. And on and on. About alt-Sayid’s murders of Keamey & friends; about Sayid’s non-murder of Desmond (if you don’t see the body….), and more.

But what’s really got me shaken up, after several weeks of thinking it was coming, is the news that the post-death Christian Shepard, seen so often in various stations and moods on the island, was always Smokey, animating yet another dead person’s body. Which implies that Smokey was the guy in “Jacob”‘s moveable jungle cabin; and the guy helping Locke push the wheel that sent the island spiraling back and forth in time; that Smokey was the one appearing to Jack in various places during his first L.A. sojourn….except, wait a minute. That COULDN’T have been Smokey, because that was in L.A., and guess who can’t travel over water?

So does that mean all those Smokey-seeming Christians weren’t Smokey after all?

At this pace “Lost” begins to resemble a kind of sci-fi version of Whack-A-Mole, where each successfully whacked plot twist only sends a dozen other rodents leaping out of the dirt.

I feel like Sawyer, the increasingly logical, and thus impatient, leader of the get-out-of-Dodge gang. He has no time for bullshit, and even less time for anyone still drifting through an existential crisis. See also his curt, and extremely accurate, dismissal of two longtime friends and compatriots: “Sayid’s a zombie, and Claire’s nuts.” Indeed. And when Hurley counters this with more movie logic — that Anakin Skywalker proves the perpetual possibility that anyone, even Claire, can cross back from the dark side, he is having none of it: “She lost her ticket when she tried to kill Kate.” Just so.

Like Sawyer, the logical part of my brain is getting irked by what it perceives as the intractability of this bottomless plot tangle. But the cooler part of me is still entranced by this ever-engaging, and always moving, collision of dramatic realism and dream-like surreality swirling just beneath the surface. The endless coincidences that make no literal sense, but score instantly in the viewer’s emotional understanding of the transcendent natures of the characters. Our inescapable suspicion that the more a person denies the existence of fate, the more he (or she, Mrs. Hawking) is actually trying to bend the direction of that mysterious, all-powerful force.

The more sure someone sounds, the less he actually seems to know for sure. The future is up for grabs. And when it comes to zombies and nuts, no one is beyond contention. Not the characters, not the producer/writers, not the viewers. Certainly not the ABC execs and their blood-red, ticking V’s. And don’t even ask about the “Lost” bloggers.

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: Go Cluck Yourself

Emotional eating, and proud of it, yo.

A very short analysis this time out, and late besides, due in part to ravenous wire-chewing squirrels (no, really, they totally cut off the Internet last night, the bastards) and the usual time/work constraints. Poor, poor, pitiful me, etc.

Ah, but “Lost.” Everybody Loves Hugo, which means a journey into the alternate life, and ever-deepening psyche of one Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes, whose happy-go-extremely-lucky alt-version in L.A. still has a bit of the spook in him, particularly when Libby shows up.

He’s puzzled at first, but intrigued, and then when she leans in for a smooch it all comes back. As Dr. Nick put it last week: Love is all you need.

But there’s a real yin-yang thing taking place between the alt-characters and their island-bound counterparts. For Hurley the consummation of his Libby fantasy seems to elevate his growing confidence a notch or three. He’s completely comfortable wielding power over Jack, for instance. And Jack is comfortable being wielded….though that look he gives not-Locke when they finally come face-to-face implies another set of feelings: the ones telling him that ultimately it’s all going to boil down to him going mano-a-mano with Smoke Boy, and whoever wins goes home with all the marbles.

Other notions:

1. That awkward bit of exposition Michael provided about the whispers (they’re the souls locked in island purgatory) worked on a narrative level, but still felt like a bit of a punt to me. I’d imagined they were, at least, the voices of time travelers, of the spirits who were simply visiting that time/place/realm but not really OF the t/p/r. That’s what I thought, anyway. And what does the purgatory answer imply about where the rest of the story is headed?

2. Not-Locke tossing Desmond into the well, and alt-Desmond running his sleek sedan right over an unsuspecting alt-Locke were obviously mirror actions, which I’d guess have something to do with the perp’s desire to drag their victim closer to the yin of their yang (or vice versa), and give them the flash of insight/connection experienced by Charlie when he was choking to death, drowning to death or otherwise having some edge-of-existence revelation. The coming attractions flashes were extremely intent on making sure we knew they weren’t dead, at any rate.

3. You know what this season lacks so far? The unexpected, yet absolutely perfect use of some obscure rock/pop oldie none of us have even thought of in decades. C’mon, dudes.

4. Here’s a prediction, stemming in part from my bitching about the whispers revelation: Gird yourself for some serious Hate about the “Lost” finale, no matter where it goes. Particularly if it goes the way I want to, with an emphasis on the dream-reality-as-deeper-truth aspects of the series. Just a prediction.

"Lost" in Translation – Child is the Father to the Man

Mama said knock you out!

Talk about feeling lost: parents never really know what’s going on with, or what they’ve done to, their own kids until it’s too late to do anything about it. I just listened to a song by Okkervil River, “Savannah Smiles,” that captures the feeling. Tune is “Savannah Smiles,” the narrator a divorced dad contemplating what he’d just learned by (accidentally) reading a page of his teenaged daughter’s diary. In that moment he realizes he can’t reconcile the smiling photos he keeps on his wall with the feelings she records by hand.

“Is she someone I don’t know at all? Is she someone I betrayed?”

So back to “Lost,” and another haunting episode describing the emotional discord haunting its characters: the disconnections between parents and children; the terrors of a failed parent; the scars borne by lost and confused children. Particularly when they become parents themselves, and realize how their wounds now define the unhappy relationships they have formed with their own children.

“Just cannot believe, could do that to a child,” the song continues, far beyond the point where feelings trump words. “A child, a child.”

It’s easy to forget how crucial the emotional side of the saga has been; how easy it is to get so caught up in the action we barely notice how we keep coming back to these particular headwaters. It’s the one undertow that never, ever loses its grip.

“Lighthouse” was a Jack-centric episode, toggling between Island Jack in 2007 and alterna-Jack in Los Angeles, 2004. Island Jack, we recall, lives in a jungle of his father’s creation. We’ve always known how fraught/broken the relationship between Christian and Jack Shephard has been. It is Jack’s most primal experience: of loving and fearing his dad; the tangled strands of admiration and resentment; the love and the hatred; the need to be nurtured, and to destroy. Jack was bringing his (alcoholic) dad’s body home from Australia when he stepped onto Oceanic #815, and when the plane crashed the impact seemed to revive Christian’s soul: He kept reappearing, silently, only to lead Jack further into the depths of a literal/figurative jungle that presented far more questions than answers.

As the series continued it seemed that Christian had some connection to Jacob. He appeared in Jacob’s stead. He delivered (or claimed to deliver) Jacob’s instructions. But now that Jacob has stepped in himself, in both real and spectral forms, the connections between the Island’s Good Father and Jack’s bad daddy have grown murkier. Is there a reason why Christian and Jacob have never been seen together? And if the Man in Black has the power to animate the bodies of the dead, doesn’t it make sense that Jacob would, too? Has he been walking in Christian’s burial suit for all these years?

What seems clear now is that Jacob plays the role of Father of Fathers. From his perch on the Island – and in that groovy, previously-unseen lighthouse – he has been keeping track of his charges, monitoring their lives and stepping in when it seems they need a gentle push to keep them moving in the right direction.

Jacob’s vision of a right direction, anyway, which opens up an interesting can of worms: For all his clear-eyed, seemingly warm-hearted affection for the Losties, has Jacob’s presence enriched their lives, or simply made them much, much worse?

Consider that alterna-Jack in L.A. – the Jack who never went to the island and seems untouched by Jacob’s presence – is actively breaking the cycles of dysfunction that “broke” him (as the other Jack tells Hurley on the island). So while his relationship with his own teenaged son (who didn’t even exist until now) bears the marks of his own disconnection from Christian, Jack is growing and changing on his own. He comes to terms with his own feelings for his dad, admits his failings as a father and these revelations lead him to reconnect with his own son.

We’ve seen this again and again in the alterna-Losties in Los Angeles: From Locke to Hurley and now to Jack, the bonds between fathers and sons seem far more functional than it is in their island alter-egos. And now that Jacob presents himself as a kind of father-in-general. . . . God the father. . . what are we to make of how screwed up the Jacob-influenced Losties are? Why are the Jacob-free characters so much more able to control, and find satisfaction, in their lives?

Back on Jacob’s island virtually every paternal/maternal relationship is a disaster. Most vivid case in point: Crazy jungle Claire and her insane pursuit for Aaron, who she saw last when she abandoned him on a log and wandered off into the jungle, presumably in the grip of the Man in Black, or some other wicked force. Now she’s basically Rousseau 2.0, wild-eyed and dangerous, stalking the jungle for a lost child. She has no idea where the kid is, but her free-wheeling desperation to reconnect has turned her psychotic. She’ll kill any and everyone she encounters, always in the name of her lost child, but actually because her maternal instincts have been subsumed, and poisoned, by the island’s darker forces.

So is the dark force the Man in Black, or is Jacob fostering the darkness too? Consider how he manipulates Hurley into leading Jack to the lighthouse, seemingly to help guide someone else to the island. Only, when Jack realizes that the lighthouse is actually Jacob’s monitoring station – that the mirrors are what have given Jacob the power to see into their lives – he smashes the whole works to smithereens. A fact Jacob takes with surprising aplomb. In fact, it was the plan all along:

“It’s the only way for him to understand how important he is,” Jacob tells Hurley. “Jack is here to do something. He can’t be told what it is, he has to find it himself.”

This is Jacob’s version of paternal guidance. Whether his lighthouse is leading him – and everyone else – to a safe harbor or onto the rocks still isn’t clear.

Hello, Dr. Nick! – The "Substitute" teacher connects the dots and leads us to. . .Jacob's Ladder

By NICK GORINI

I love puzzles. Sudokus, crosswords, word jumbles, even those maddening 5000-piece jigsaw puzzles picturing some blurry German castle. There’s something about the List-maker, the Completist in me. I appreciate the structure that can be built from what at first appears to be senseless and chaotic.

My favorite moment when putting a puzzle together isn’t starting the task, and it isn’t completing it, either. When solving a puzzle, the moment I get my “runner’s high”, when I get those little knots in my stomach, is when I can see the solution appearing before me. I’m not done yet, and I may have a long way to go, but that instant when I can forecast how the pieces come together, and I start moving very, very quickly to the finish line – that’s my favorite moment.

And that’s the feeling I had watching this week’s episode of Lost.

“And I’ve been Locked out, and I’ve been Locked in. But I always seem to come back again.”

What is about the Locke episodes that are almost always so adept at combining all the disparate elements of this show into a most magical elixir? A pinch of action, a teaspoon of mystery, one cup of mythology and whole pile of character development. The perfect cocktail – do you prefer your Locke shaken, like the Locke of old? Or perhaps you like your Locke stirred, like the winding, whirling-dervish of a devil now inhabiting our dearly-departed hero?

THE SIDE TIMELINE:
We open on the serene, bland suburbs that Locke serviced in one of his many previous job forays (looked an awful lot like Nadia’s old neighborhood, didn’t it?). Locke as Job continues, as he struggles getting out of his handicap van, tries to go all Evel Knieval popping a wheelie off the platform, and lands face first in his lawn. Before he can get too pissed, the sprinklers come on, drenching him in shame… Er, no wait: this isn’t quite the same Locke. Sure he’s prideful and stubborn, but this time he laughs. Laughs out loud at his predicament. I am sure it is laughter twinged with some level of pain, but here’s a guy who’s coping.

Then Peg Bundy comes hopping out of the house! I mean, Helen comes hopping out of the house! She’s back! Locke’s lost love (truly lost – if you remember that upon returning to the island, he was told she had died of a brain tumor) is living with him. This is great for two reasons: We’re happy for our beloved Locke, but we’re also happy because this romance was real – well-written and well-played. Helen and Locke, who originally met in an anger management class, seemed like real people, meeting in a real place, having a real relationship, on a show that can also indulge in some extreme existential fantasy.

Well, turns out they’re getting married. She even suggests they elope, and that dear old Daddy Locke should come along. WHAA? Can I get a HUHH? So who or what crippled Locke? Time will tell. I did dig that Helen’s shirt said something about Kharma on it, I believe. Also of note – Locke lies to Helen when asked about his trip. This Locke is a better man than the original, but not without flaws. Like all of us, dark impulses nibble away at our corners.

They have a brief discussion about his airport encounter with the friendly spinal surgeon, and how destiny may be telling him it’s time for a visit. Locke downplays the encounter, and we move on.

Back at Locke’s office cubical, we get a glimpse of a happy, less-follicularly-challenged Locke and his dear old bastard, I mean dad. Still not buying it – maybe this jerk just hasn’t sucked out his illegitimate son’s kidney yet.

Fate’s pain, isn’t it? I mean, here’s new Locke, still wheelchair-bound, and still working for that petty tyrant Randy. Still considered a nerd for playing Axis and Allies on his lunch break (“Hey Colonel!”), Randy paws at mousy Locke like fat, lazy cat until goes in for the kill. He knows Locke went on his thwarted Australian walkabout on the company dime. You’re fired, dude. Side note: Side timeline = No Abbadon. So, who convinced Locke to go on this trip?

Locke wheels himself and his box of belongings (including a polar bear statue, if memory serves) out to the parking lot, but there’s a problem. Prideful Locke doesn’t use handicap parking because he doesn’t have to and thus, his van is wedged against an obnoxious yellow hummer owned by Locke’s boss, Hurley! Aha! Now, as much as I like Hurley, I don’t like big, gas-guzzling hummers. So I now like Hurley a little less. Just a little. I bet he still eats hot pockets.

Follow the jump to get to gym class and then Jacob’s Ladder…

After some arguing, Locke tells Hurley he’s been fired. Hurley gives Locke the number for a temp agency he owns and reassures Locke in a Jacob-like manner (Hmmm) that everything is going to be okay. Give them a call, dude. I’ll set you up with a job.

At the temp agency, Locke is at first interviewed by another familiar face – the psychic Hurley visited back in Season 3. Man, Hurley will hire ANYBODY. Anyhow, after a few goofy questions, Locke asks to speak to a supervisor, and.. walks… Rose!

Lovely Rose. She tries to steer Locke to jobs that suit someone in his condition, but Locke’s pride and anger swell, and he demands a job managing a construction site. He wants to prove he can do anything. When Rose calmly tries to set him straight, telling him to focus on something “realistic”, Locke growls at her: “What do you know about ‘Realistic’?”

BIG SIDE NOTE: Last week, the Stupid Award went to Claire for hopping in a stolen cab with a gun-wielding felon. The week before, Kate got the Stupid Award by waiting for her luggage in baggage claim after beating her federal escort senseless. This week, the Stupid Award goes to Locke for trying to tell an African American woman that she doesn’t understand suffering or repression. So, SO STUPID. Not John Mayer Stupid, but pretty close.

Rose outdoes Locke by telling him about her terminal cancer (remember, the island was the only thing keeping her alive). She tells Locke that she has slowly learned to accept what life gives her, to live the life you have and enjoy it. Good job, Rose!

The next day, we hear Locke’s alarm go off (sounded an awful lot like the hatch. Hmm….), and we watch Locke struggle through his morning routine. He calls Jack’s office, but hangs up before he can make an appointment. Helen nudges gently, and this new and improved Locke tells Helen the truth. He’s been fired, the lost luggage that just arrived is a bunch of knives from his Crocodile Dundee daydreams, etc. It actually ends up being a great speech, because we see what hurts Locke the most: He feels emasculated, and bitter that he can’t walk his future wife down the aisle. He tells Helen to not spend his life with him waiting for a miracle, because miracles don’t happen.

This new Locke is braver than the old Locke, not because he’s fearless. He’s braver because he opened up, and told Helen about his fear. There’s hope for our dear friend yet. They embrace, and we know they’re closer for it.

The next day, we see that Locke has his new temp job. He’s coaching a girls high-school basketball and substitute teaching – Biology! He’s a man of science, now! Teaching female reproduction (aha – I was wondering when the show would get back to Bad dads, and dying moms. Soon, it will be here).

In the teacher’s lounge, we get out biggest reveal: Ben, who got off the island as a child, is now pretending to be C3PO, getting all fussy with R2D2 (or an empty coffee pot, I wasn’t sure). Ben teaches European history, of course. I knew this was coming, and they played this meeting beautifully. I sure hope for this new Ben gets to have the daughter he was robbed of in our old timeline. We shall see.


THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:

Our first POV (
that’s Point of View) shot through Smokey’s eyes! Nice!! We experience Smokey flying through the forest, checking on sulky Sawyer, and then back to the forest, where Smokey goes back to Locke-mode, grabs a machete and frees Alpert from a hanging makeup bag. ‘Okay Richard, time to talk.’ If it isn’t regarding eyeliner application tips, my guess is that they’re going to talk about the island, and Jacob, and other cool stuff.

Yup. Alpert seems to be more in the dark about what’s going on then we realized. Locke apologizes for the beating and explains that taking Locke’s form was the only way to get to Jacob. Alpert doesn’t understand what this guy’s talking about when he mentions Locke being one of the “Candidates”. I guess Alpert needs a voter registration card or something.

Smokey makes a point to let Alpert know that he would never be coy or keep people in the dark about the big plans, like Jacob did. “I’d treat you with respect.”  He asks Alpert to come with him, but Albert’s reply?

“Never.” And the way he says it, so calmly, you know he means it. Alpert knows what side he’s on, and he accepts whatever this fate provides for him. Smokey sees something over Alpert’s shoulder that spooks him, something Alpert can’t see, and leaves.

We cut to Ilana and Ben beneath the 4-toed statue. Ben, out of habit, or instinct, still lies about killing Jacob. Ilana knows about as much about everything as we do – but she does know something about the damn ash, and grabs Jacob’s from the fire, and puts it in her empty Crown Royal bag. Bottom’s up!

Back at Dharmaville, we see Sawyer drinkin’ whiskey and listening to the Stooges play Smokey’s theme song, ‘Search and Destroy’. A raw scream of a tune about a ‘Forgotten Boy’ who’s looking for some soul salvation. A perfect tune for both Sawyer and Locke, who pops in to say hello. unfazed, Sawyer says, “I thought you were dead.” Smokey’s response: “I am.” Sawyer isn’t bat an eye, and what we’re about to get is yet another awesome Locke and Sawer adventure.

You know, it’s funny – I talk about the best pairings of characters on the show (Locke and Jack, Locke and Ben, Locke and Sawyer, etc.). I finally see the pattern. Terry O’Quinn is just that good of an actor, and Locke is just that good of a character.

Anyway, there’s great stuff here. Watch Smokey as Locke get a nice taste of booze that he hasn’t had in God knows how long. I think Smokey may become too accustomed to his human form. We saw him on the beach last year enjoy the Hell out of a mango. Even Smokey in some way is losing his purity by being a flawed human: His purity of mission, of purpose, of strongly representing the dark in contrast to the light. I’m telling you, Locke’s gone in this timeline, but he’s not really gone. No sir. More on that in a bit.

So Sawyer tells Locke to get out of his house. Locke initially tries to entice ‘The NEW Substitute’ to come with him, because he can answer the biggest questions. Sawyer knows this isn’t the real Locke, though. Mostly because Smokey seems confused at Sawyer’s responses. But, Sawyer agrees to come with him – but first, he has to put on some pants..

Back at the statue, the show really wants us to know this other Locke ain’t getting up anytime soon. His skin is taut, yellow and has crabs crawling on it. Lapidus makes a point of explaining how “Ripe” the body smells. Ilana grabs this new fun foursome (herself, Ben, Sun, Lapidus), and starts heading towards the temple to find Jin! With a short detour to bury Locke, at Sun’s request.

Back to the graveyard to Losties, Ilana explains that once Smokey picks his portal person, that’s who he’s going to be. He can’t hop from body to body. A little bit of a cop-out by the writing staff, but I’ll accept it.

As they bury Locke, guess who delivers the eulogy? Ben! Ha! “John Locke was a believer. A much better man I will ever be. And I’m sorry I killed him.” Nice! And Lapidus remarks under his breath how damn weird all this stuff is.

Meanwhile, Locke and Sawer are on their walkabout. Arguing until a Blonde kid pops up that both can see. Locke chases him deep in the forest but falls. Why not go all Smokey on this kid? Maybe he’s losing some of his ethereal powers the longer he inhabits Locke? Hmm… The kid pops back up and tells Smokey that “You can’t kill him. You know the rules.” Do they mean Sawyer, or somebody else?

Well, the next line(s) is pivotal: Smokey shouts to the kid: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” He repeats it for emphasis. This was Locke’s line for years. NOT SMOKEY’S. So, that leaves us with two options here: Some piece of Locke still exists in Smokey, and is indirectly infecting or influencing him. Or, even more intriguing, has some part of Smokey been inside of Locke all this time? Was Smokey slowly whittling into Locke’s brain all those years prior to arriving at the island? Double hmm….

Sawyer, left behind gets approached by Alpert, wide-eyed and full of warning about Smokey’s “Search and destroy” mission. Alpert runs off before Smokey sees him, and Sawyer plays dumb.

Later, Sawyer spins a tale about Steinbeck (Smokey doesn’t know him: “After my time,” he says), and compares the two of them to Lenny and George in ‘Of Mice and Men’. Sawyer doesn’t want promises of tending rabbits whilst meeting buckshot in the head, so he pulls a gun on Smokey and threatens to shoot.

Two conmen trying to outdo each other. Smokey tells Sawyer that he could shoot, but he’d just be killing someone who was once a man himself, who knew love and loss, who get trapped on the island, and that it would be such a shame to quit now, when the answers are so close. Sawyer is persuaded and puts the gun away.

Does anybody think that this game Jacob and Smokey play has a rule tied to free will? That neither one is allowed to kill a candidate, and that they can’t kill each other, but through the manipulation of frail humans, these candidates can do the dirty work for each other, because it is through their choosing to do so? That’s why Ben had to be the one to kill Jacob. That’s why Smokey is recruiting Sawyer to be his next killer (or maybe replace him as the Smokey on the island so he can be free of the game?). And maybe Sayid is Jacob’s new substitute assassin of some kind? Just thinking out loud here…

Sorry. Onto creepy rope ladders going down a ocean cliff, to a mysterious cave. Sawyer advises Smokey to go down these ladders first because, “You already died.” Of course, the ladder breaks with Sawyer on it, and Smokey saves Sawyer just in time. Was this planned?

Into the cave, where we find a desk and a scale, with black rock on one side, white rock on the other. Smokey tosses the white rock into the ocean, calling it an “Inside joke.” That guy is a sore loser, AND a sore winner, isn’t he..

Here’s the big deal, right? Names of all our characters, with corresponding numbers (THE NUMBERS!!) next to their names. Many of the names are crossed out. But most of close characters are not. Sayid’s and Hurley’s are in plain view, not yet crossed out. Smokey explains Jacob’s game to Sawyer, and we see flashbacks from MOST of Jacob’s early visits to others. Not Ilana’s, or Kate’s…

It gets heavier: Smokey tells Sawyer that all these choices he thought were his own were just the grand manipulations of Jacob to bring him and these others to the island. You and a few of the others are just being auditioned as candidates to replace Jacob! Presumably because Jacob knew he’d be gutted and turned into duraflame log.

Smokey explains that Sawyer has three choices: He can do nothing, and get his name crossed off as a candidate. He can become the new Jacob and protect the island, although according to Smokey, there’s nothing to protect. The island’s fine – it’s just some big cosmic joke being played on all of us, and we don’t have to play the game being forced on us anymore (somebody is angry at their dad, I think.) It’s almost as if Smokey was saying ‘Fate’ and ‘Destiny’ do indeed exist, but that as humans, we have the capacity to cho
ose it, or ignore it and “Go Rogue”, Sarah-Palin style.

The last choice Smokey gives Sawyer is to reject all this game-playing B.S. and help him get off the island, to which Sawyer replies, “Hell yes.” To which I say, either Sawyer’s audition for Smokey went well, or, and I’m close to banking on this, Sawyer thinks he’s such a good con man that he can con the devil himself.

QUESTIONS, FORECASTS, AND THOUGHTS ABOUT THEM DARN BOOKS:

Ash! ASH! ASH! What is up with the damn ash, already?! Considering what week it is/was, I expected Ilana to indulge in Ash Wednesday with Jacob’s remains, but I digress…

Why TWO rope ladders to get down that cliff? That was symbolism with some kind of intent, but I’m still scratching my head. And yes, that was (Ahem) Jacob’s Ladder…

While I don’t think who got what number scrawled on the wall is important, I didn’t see Kate’s name up there. Believe me – I looked.
Oh! Oh! Oh! Before I forget! Doc Jensen pointed this out, so credit goes to his highness! Locke’s getting married, right? Boone’s family owns a wedding planning/catering business, right? More criss-crossing to come!

Next week’s episode is called “The Lighthouse.” Yes, feel free to apply all direct religious symbolism at this one, because it will fit. Anyhow, expect plenty of screentime for Jack and Hurley. And more ass-kicking from Claire. Also, let me prep you with a question: Aaron got off the island with Kate. Think Claire knows that? If she doesn’t yet, how do you think she’ll react when Kate tells her? Lastly, one of my favorite nice guy red shirts returns.

More bad guys coming back soon! Even one rotten scumbag, who killed so-and-so’s daughter, will return in a couple weeks. No word on whether he’s a ghost, still a jerk, or a, uh, ghost jerk.

Again, many more familiar faces from the past will be popping up. Remember me mentioning someone unlikely popping up in Locke’s new world? Turned out to be Ben, right? Well, expect more unexpected, jarring pairings in the side timeline.

Don’t think that tearing up Jack’s business card will prevent fate, destiny or Jacob from ensuring that these two guys end up together, maybe even in an operating room.

So, the show has made a point to let us know that while the coping skills of our heroes might be improved in this side timeline, they are still the same people, chased by the same inner demons (except for Hurley. Hmm…). It’s all about how they deal and grow. Even the side characters are the same: Locke’s boss Randy has always been a petty jerk. With that said, why do I have trouble, extreme trouble, believing Locke’s dad is a decent guy?

Peter and I had an interesting ‘discussion’ about Steinbeck, and other literary references thrust into the inner workings of the show, sometimes with great success, and at other times too forced to feel natural. I wanted to crack some jokes about The Ghost of Tom Joad wandering around the island (hey, Christian Shepherd looks a little like Henry Fonda, so it works for me). I admit I sometimes get the sense that somebody on the show wants us to know that the Master’s in English Lit they got at Berkeley isn’t going to waste writing for television. We get the idea! You’re well-read! Can we just enjoy the freaking show?! BUT, I think taking that glib approach only denies you, the viewer, an even richer and more rewarding experience.

Why do they reference all these dang books, then? Well, for fun, sure. To show off their smarty-smart pants, yes. To defend this television show as being more important, more meaningful than nearly all the other dreck dripping out of our media portals – absolutely. I think they also want to teach us that these stories, these moral fables, are ancient. They’re immortal, and they’re ingrained in our existence and societal evolution. If they want to remind me that by pointing towards the Bible, Steinbeck, or even the primal sounds of Iggy Pop and The Stooges, I’m totally down with it. Give me more to puzzle, please!

One last thing to mention: For diehard fans, I encourage you to go to EW’s website and read Doc Jensen’s recap. I know, I know – even more verbose than my postings. But he really grasped what happened this week better than any other Lost blogger and even has some really KOOKY theories (examples: Smokey is either Cain or Abel, and the ghost boy that appeared in front of Smokey? He says it’s young Sawyer… Huh? Doc also says Alpert is probably Smokey’s son… HUH?!)

Thanks for reading and for watching