"Lost" in Translation: Don't Talk, Put Your Gun On My Shoulder

Sawyer and the army of the damned

Maybe the key moment this season came during “Dr. Linus,” when island Ben, while clawing through Sawyer’s old tent on the beach, came across a few of his literary leftovers, abandoned in the sand. Together they told the tale of one man’s divided soul: A copy of Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” (two boys, both brilliant in their own way, both inspired-slash-tormented by their fathers, both torn between fate and self-determinism, etc.) and a porn magazine for dudes who admire ladies with big butts. Ben, who hands positively drip with the blood of the innocents, was scandalized. “What some people will bring on a trip!” he sputtered.

Lately these words speak for “Lost” itself, which has edged away from the taut character studies of earlier seasons to focus almost entirely on the breakneck action side of its personality. What’s going to happen? How will the dual plotlines meld together? Where does the island get its power, what does it mean and where will it end?

All significant questions, to be sure. But unlike “The Sopranos,” which confounded some fans and infuriated others by edging away from an action-based conclusion in favor of a literal depiction of the spiritual black hole it had been tracing through the entire arc of the series (always obvious if you had ben paying attention, or had the patience to look back and think again) “Lost” is steering its astonishingly complex story toward a more traditional destination.

No surprise, perhaps. They’ve been promising it over and over again in every single teaser and in-house ad ABC has generated: THE TIME FOR ANSWERS IS HERE.

So, fine. I’m still fascinated; still caught up in the unraveling mysteries. But when it comes to getting out in front of how the alt-lives in L.A. contrast/compare/extend from the island lives; and when it comes to predicting how Widmore is or isn’t connected to Jacob and/or Smokey, that’s where you (and I) have to turn to the great Lostonian Nick Gorini. (Whose coming wrap-up of this episode, which he thoughtfully previewed for me in an email not 30 minutes ago, contains some real kick-ass revelations).

So when it comes to this “Recon” episode the English majors among us can only ponder Smokey’s seemingly heartfelt narrative about the ongoing damage he suffers at the hands of the “crazy mother” who apparently favored one brother (Jacob, obviously) over him. This brings us back to the Hebrews and the tale of Jacob and Esau…..who remind us again of Potok’s “The Chosen,” and his modern Hebrews, Danny and Reuven. In which book, Danny’s father — the chief rebbe — cut off his son emotionaly in order to teach him the value of kindness.

So much of “Lost” has pivoted from the broken relationships between parents and children – fathers and sons, mostly, but obviously moms play into the scenario, too. The island certainly evokes the original Eden, and the creation and fall of mankind. The island has its magical powers, and its deadly threats. Its inhabitants are capable of stepping past the boundaries of mortality, or else collapsing beneath the weight of their own flawed humanity. Or, on the third hand, riding the inherent humanity they posess towards emotional transcendence.

Deep into the final season we’ve already looped through so many versions of these stories, and explored the outer reaches of so many others, it’s easier to imagine how the action and paranormal aspects of the story will play out than it is to imagine where the emotional tale will take us. It’s safe to assume it won’t descend into Tony Soprano’s existential blackness. Not because the creators’ vision is that much brighter. But because a hit series, like poor old Richard Alpert, suffers its own kind of Jacob’s Touch of Eternal Life: the lights stay on, your mascara never runs, you can never truly off yourself, not ever. Talk about dual existences, talk about a blessing that becomes a curse.

"Lost" – It's all an allusion

Is this gonna be on the test?

By PETER AMES CARLIN and NICK GORINI

So a month into the final season we’re still made to wonder: What is “Lost” really about? Is it a show about philosophy? Is it a vast analogy about the wages and moral toll of imperialism? Or is it all, somehow, about the polar bear?

So many ideas, so many direct quotations, so many books turning up everywhere you look. But a lot of that stuff is pure Maguffin; a graduate school of red herrings.

So we here at PAC.com’s “Lost” central – including our shadowy leader, Guru Dev Nick Gorini, lit the candles and fired up the incense, took a dunk in the hot tub of wisdom and attained clarity. What follows are the REAL moral/intellectual/narrative headwaters of “Lost.”

THEORY THE FIRST: “LOST” IS A METAPHOR FOR RISE AND FALL OF THE BEATLES

John Lennon is the Man in Black: A little bitter, more than a little sardonic, determined to escape the bonds of the utopia he helped create (to say nothing of the wide-eyed fans who reside there), he’s possessed of an explosive temper and, when you least expect it, deep sensitivity. When the MiB told Sawyer that Jacob and the other Island cultists were killing one another over nothing he was really saying: “Imagine there’s no countries/it isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion, too. . . “

Paul McCartney is Jacob: Handsome, charming, a trifle melancholy, deeply in love with his own illusion. Jacob/Paul is more than a little manipulative and never shy about picking a fight. Many people believe he’s dead, though his regular appearances – often looking far younger than you’d expect – argue against it. Convinced that ebony and ivory can live together in perfect harmony, but there sure are a lot of names scratched off his cave ceiling. . .

George Harrison is Sayid: Meditative, eastern, suffered at least one near-fatal attack before actually getting killed. Reincarnation important to both. George didn’t seem to return from the Other Side as quickly as Sayid. . . but something in the way he moves just might remind you of another lover.

Ringo Starr is Hurley
: The perpetual baby brother, mostly adorable and funny, but a surprisingly capable hit-maker. See also: “It Don’t Come Easy,” which Hurley discovered all too clearly when his lottery winnings seemed to spell nothing but doom. Later turns out to be far more intelligent and better-adjusted than anyone expected.

Stu Sutcliffe is Charlie: Artsy, sensitive, troubled, not quite able to stick with the band. Doomed to die young, but given immortality in the name of his legacy and the spiritual impact he had on those who would go on to greatar glory.

Pete Best is Ben: The very foundation of the rock-and-rhythm, the drummer is always a group’s secret leader. Until the group calls for a new drummer. Now Ben is in his own spiritual Liverpool, sentenced to a life of woulda, coulda, shouldas.

Yoko Ono is Kate: Beguiling, not always friendly, perfectly capable, and willing, to kick anyone’s ass at any moment. Just when she seems charming – that’s when you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Linda McCartney is Juliet: Blonde, smart, no evident musical ability, but a natural-born matriarch. Dies tragically young, leaving behind a shattered partner who rebounds quickly into another, extremely ill-considered new partnership.

Brian Epstein is Locke: A man of faith whose reach often exceeded his grasp. And yet his spirit was pure, his belief in his cause unwavering, and his success so astonishing as to be inarguable.  All this despite being shockingly ill-equipped for his role, and more afraid than anyone would guess. Died young under conditions so murky no one can say for sure if he committed suicide, died accidentally or was murdered.

Allen Klein is Charles Widmore: Shadowy, scary, will do anything and kill anyone in order to get what he wants. But even when he wins the battle, he always seems to lose the war.

THEORY THE SECOND: “LOST” IS A METAPHOR FOR THE GW BUSH WAR TEAM: 

After a cataclysmic event, a group of empowered surviviors gathers together to fight back, survive, solve life’s greater mysteries, and tackle the essential question of man’s nature. Was it fate or free will that led us into war? Both groups are/were lost in many ways. Let’s briefly break down some of the key players:

George Bush is Locke: After a life riddled with failure and endless daddy issues, finds himself in a position of great power. A man driven by faith who doesn’t spend much time using logic or thought to make decisions, the power goes to his head. Like Locke, Bush’s reputation is deader than a crab-riddled corpse.

Dick Cheney is Jack: The REAL power broker in the group, almost too coldly analytical, and unwilling to listen to anyone, even when the truth is staring him in the face. Convinced he can fix anything, and that anyone who doesn’t understand what he’s doing or where he’s coming from, he rarely tells anyone in the group what his motivations are. The only difference between Jack and Dick? Jack has a heart.

Saddam Hussein is Ben: Am I telling truth? Am I lying? Am I your ally? Am I your enemy? Sure, I do awful things, but you understand, it’s for good reasons. I may be a tyrant, but I provide you some stability. I sure love all this power. Oh, wait – are you getting sick of this game yet? Sorry, I’ll tell you truth about everything! Wait! Wait! Damn, too late. I’ve lost all my power…

Donald Rumsfeld is Smokey: More than ready to head to war, nearly salivates over it. He just wants to go home, if home means a world where Capitalist-based Christianity reigns in every nation. He’ll do anything to get home. He’s tired of the game of balanced diplomacy. A war needs to happen, and there has to be one winner.

Colin Powell is Jacob: Strong and reserved, a peaceful warrior, if you will. He tries to guide the group towards what is good, but ultimately, he is not in a position to affect choice. He can only show them ‘The Way’. Like Jacob, he can never go outright and just say what he wants. And like Jacob, he ends being symbolically sacrificed (his political career, that is).

Condoleeza Rice is Kate: Strong, smart, sexy and easily influences the men in her group. She isn’t above compromising some of her evident morals for people she loves, she’s torn between bad guys and good guys. Can she/we even tell the difference anymore?
George Tenet is Sayid: Both like to torture people, ALLEGEDLY, and are decidedly good at it. Can they elevate their morality and use their power for good? Doubtful…

John Ashcroft is Jin and Sun: Essentially good, but surrounded by a lot of destructive ideas, and an old-world view that limits personal growth. Resistant to change, but not incapable of it. C’mon, John – Let the Eagle Soar!


Ari Fleischer is Sawyer
: Strong, charming and sharp-tongued, he can speak for the group on many levels, and people really, really like him, even when he says or does some really dumb things.

"Lost" in Translation: What Kate Did Doesn't Matter.

Turn your head and cough!

This episode, titled “What Kate Does,” features a serious thematic revelation: Sayid, we learn, has an infection. A really bad one. LIke, it’s going to kill him bad. Here’s the worse news: Everyone else has it, too. And not just the people on the screen.

He was killed, then resurrected, seemingly none the worse for the mortal wounds he sported just hours/minutes ago. Everything about him seems normal. He looks the same, acts the same, knows everyone and re-engages where he (briefly) left off.

But he’s infected. There is, Guru whotk tells him, a “darkness” growing within him. “and once it reaches his heart, everything he once was will be gone.”

This revelation comes late in the episode, but it hardly seems surprising. Because what we’re really talking about — what we’ve seen repeatedly during the episode, throughout the entire history/ies of “Lost” and our own lives — is original sin. The seeds of darkness that exist in the foundations of everyone’s consciousness, growing (or not) according to the quirks of character, experience and, more grandly, fate.

Which brings us to the most fundamental questions of existence: Are we free to create, and re-create, ourselves? Or are we merely enacting our part of a story long since written by larger hands?

And this takes us back to this hour of “Lost,” the second episode in the series’ final arc, in which we are to learn, finally, What It All Means. Ooh, delicious! Only here’s a prediction: The final answer will (or should) be that there aren’t any real answers. Because the deeper you travel into your own soul, the more shadowy and deceptive it all becomes.

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow. But let’s follow the jump first.

And if this season of alternate existences and timelines seems to be proving, no amount of running or hiding or even leaping planes of existence is going to change anyone’s essential nature.

When Kate gets in a tough spot, her first, all-but-undeniable impulse is to hit the road. To do a geographic, as our 12-stepping friends will say.

Sawyer, meanwhile, can’t escape the externalized self-loathing (his anti-social impulse; the hair-trigger temper and guilt) he’s felt since witnessing the murder/suicide of his parents.

Jack’s compulsion for super-human status — the impulse to heal the sick, to save everyone in sight, to be the hero no matter what — plays out in his surgical practice at home. On the island it compels him to be an action hero. Trouble is he knows he’s only a mortal, just like everyone else. His decisions are far from infallible. He takes wild risk and other people suffer and die.

Claire, who shares Jack’s distant/screwed-up dad, both yearns for connection (to her son; to her friends; to anyone) but ends up wandering wild-eyed in the jungle. As the temple guru tells Jack, she’s already fallen to the same “infection” that will inevitably claim Sayid.

Back to Sayid, then. The guru and Lennon perform “tests” to see how profound his infection has become, and they amount entirely to the same tortures he once performed as a Republican Guard in Iraq. “Why are you doing this!?” he wails, as if he didn’t know. And maybe that’s exactly what reveals how far gone he is: That the blood on his own hands has seeped so deep into his own soul that he no longer remembers how it got there, or even realizes that it exists.

Also significant: the alt-timeline/off-island appearance of creepy villain Ethan Rom as a white-coated, seemingly sweet natured Dr. Goodspeed, who now tends to Claire’s false labor with warmth and kindness. Only why does this feel so unsettling? Are we responding to what we THINK we know about Ethan based on his Island self? Or does his essential creepiness flourish no matter where he is?

Ultimately all these scenes about parents and children, fundamental health and sickness, the balance of light and dark and how difficult it can be to tell the difference, boils down to the foundations of existence:  Where we came from, who made us, and how we can (or can’t) will ourselves into becoming something else.

They called the episode “What Kate Does.” And maybe what this means is that whatever Kate does can’t really make a difference. No matter how fast and far she runs, when she arrives she’s still going to be Kate.

Nick's "Lost" Re-cap: episode 2 – You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

By NICK GORINI

“I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on
Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind.”

– Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

Too obvious a reference? Maybe. But you know that an episode of Lost centering on Kate is going to have to mention ‘Running’ more than a few times to restate what her issues are.

“I’m thinkin’ about runnin’, Kate.” Sawyer says it in the first few minutes of this episode, and we know he’s voicing Kate’s constant thought stream – in whatever timeline she happens to be trotting through. If they can be this obvious, by golly, I will, too.

If this was a Sawyer-centric episode, I’d probably be quoting that touching Van Halen ballad, ‘Runnin’ (NOT running) With the Devil’. As a matter of fact, that song may be quite apropos in coming episodes – more on that later this week.

THE ‘SIDE’ TIMELINE (aka, what used to be called the NEW timeline, before the producers let us know in a post-premiere interview that this was the wrong way of thinking):

Picking up right where last week left off, Kate has commandeered a very pregnant Claire’s cab using the Marshall’s gun (question: in real life, do cops really lose their guns so easily? Happens a lot on TV.). Before getting ten feet, we nearly plow over the good Doc Arzt, who gets to do a pretty decent Rizzo impression (“I’m walking here! I’m walking here!”).

The cab soldiers on, but not before Kate locks eyes on Jack. They instantly share a deja vu moment, letting us know that Jack isn’t the only Lostie becoming aware of alternate realities.

The cab driver bolts from the cab, followed shortly by sad-looking Claire, kicked to the curb without her purse and luggage. Kate pulls into an auto chop shop and implausibly, the friendly mechanic helps her lose the handcuffs with for a couple hundred bucks. I wonder how many escaped felons and convicts wish they’d bumped into this guy.

If you were wondering where you’d seen him before, the actor’s name is Jeff Korber and he was on ‘China Beach’, and ‘Sons of Anarchy’. I scrambled on the interweb to find him because I was convinced he was on an early ‘Lost’ episode. I was wrong, proving that this show will make me chase shadows in broad daylight.

Kate goes into a back room to change and finds Claire’s picture and baby stuff, triggering guilty pangs, and possibly some hormones. She also gets the strong sense that she’s seen this before. Obviously, the universe wants her, Aaron and Claire to be intertwined, no matter how much she runs.

Kate drives back and finds Claire right where she left her, on the side of the road, waiting for destiny, or maybe just a bus, to pick her up. In another implausible moment, Kate, who minutes earlier held a gun to Claire’s head, manages to convince Claire to hop BACK in the cab for a ride to Brentwood, to stay with the family who will be adopting her unborn baby. You see, the were supposed to pick her up at the airport, but got their days mixed up and… WAIT! WAIT A MINUTE.

Follow the jump for more….

Now, last week, I accused Kate of extreme stupidity for hanging out in baggage claim after beating a G-man senseless and stealing his gun. Well, I think Claire just topped her. Not only that, but Brentwood? Really? OJ Simpson’s old stomping grounds? Uh, no thanks.

Faster than you can say “The Juice is loose”, Kate and Claire pull up to the Adopterers, uh Adopters, house. Kate thinks this isn’t going to work, but Claire’s clearly in denial. Crikey, she let an murderous criminal drive her there in a stolen cab. Lots of denial. To cap this denial, Claire asks said criminal to accompany her to the doorstep of this couple’s home.

At the door, a weeping, broken woman opens up and apologizes profusely. Her husband just left her and she can’t take care of a baby on her own. She meant to call Claire, but I guess phone calls to Australia might be too rich for her blood. On cue, Claire collapses with contractions. (Note: for you writers out there, try writing an alliterative sentence that includes words like “cue”, “collapses” and “contractions”. It’s good, clean fun).

To the hospital! Where we have an awesome reveal: Ethan Rom, the very first Lost villain, is back! And is still a doctor that wants to help Claire have her baby! Only this time, without the kidnapping, violence and attempted murder of Charlie. This Alternate Ethan is a really nice guy, with good bedside manner, and with his original last name: Goodspeed! Horace’s son, remember? In this side universe, his family got off the island, and because the island sunk, they never came back! He never had to work for Ben, and infiltrate the plane crash survivors, and never had to die. It was good to see Ethan again, and even in the original timeline, he had moments of real tenderness with Claire. It was an early example of this show forcing us to think beyond Heroes and Villains.

After some timeline-parallel discussion/re-discussion between Claire and Ethan, Claire decides that, even though she can have the baby now, she wants to wait until it comes naturally. Then, in a great scene pulling us back into our memories of before, the baby appears to flat-line, throwing Claire into a panic where she shouts, “Is Aaron okay!?” Kate has ANOTHER deja vu moment. That name… That name…

The healthy heartbeat is quickly found, Ethan reassuringly tells Claire, “Aaron will be a handful”, and Kate and Claire hold hands tightly, both knowing there is some transcendental connection of some kind.

Later, detectives check in on Claire, asking her of Kate’s whereabouts. Claire plays dumb while Kate hides. After they leave, Claire tries to get Kate to confess her sins, but Kate plays cryptic – guess we’ll figure out what she’s guilty of in a future episode. They exchange grateful thank-yous’, Claire willingly parts with her credit car, and on her way out, Kate encourages Claire to keep Aaron.

I like that we’re seeing the juxtaposition of both Kate and Jack doing good things in one timeline, succeeding where they failed before, while the original Kate and Jack are miserable, convinced that their plans have crumbled at their feet. How this plays out will be very interesting.

THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:

The episode began right here, with John Lennon racing to his boss George Harrison to let him know that Sayid’s alive! Dude! It worked! Only, again, Miles is quietly looking askew at all of this. Everyone seems mystified, but happy. Everyone, that is, but Sawyer. He reminds Kate that Sayid is a torturer who shoots at children. Guess we can kiss Sunny Sawyer g’bye for awhile, if not possibly for good. This is also when Sawyer lets Kate know he’s thinking of escape.

Our beloved crew is dragged outside to face The Beatle doppelgangers – with John, George, and Jack looking a little like Paul, we now have dopey, dazed Sayid looking sorta like Ringo. Hey! The Fab Four is back!

Miles gets a few good zingers in at Hurley’s expense (too few lines – Miles is the most under-utilized character on the show), and we see that Sayid’s wound is nearly healed. He thanks Jack for saving – which Jack didn’t do. It was the coffee pot Sayid swam in that did the trick. Why doesn’t he remember? And why are all the Temple folks so unhappy that his guy’s walking and talking?

Of course, the temple folks want to take Sayid away to “talk” and don’t want to tell anyone why. Jack echoes us, the audience, by saying, “I get the feeling you won’t tell us anything.”

Jack steps in to prevent them from dragging Sayid off, and a fight ensues. Sawyer sues the diversion to grab a gun, tell everyone he’s leaving. The leader of the Temple tells Sawyer he needs to stay. At first, this is a firm order. But he becomes more pleading, gently t
elling Sawyer, “Please – you have to stay.” But surly Sawyer says ‘See ya’, and reprimands Kate, in front of everyone, to not follow him! A public diss! Awww, Snap!

Sawyer’s outta there. Lennon declares that they have to have Sawyer return, and Kate quickly says she can get him back because she “Can be very convincing when I want to.” Jin quickly volunteers to join her, although I’m not so sure Jin plans on coming back to the Temple. After three years, he’s finally back in the timeline where his wife is. He’s got some stuff to do, man.

Off they go, with a couple of Temple people, who actually DO turn out to be more of our official ‘Others’ in tow. This leaves physically restrained Jack with no choice but to watch Sayid get hauled off for an ‘interview’ and a ‘check-up’ by our friendly Temple leaders. Kate and Jack get a warm moment to almost embrace, before agreeing to take care of each other’s friends and to be careful.

In the other official ‘Old Lost Character Cameo’, we get actor Rob McElhenney, star of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, and one of the others who ate the butt end of Kate’s rifle three years earlier in an old episode of Lost. Remember him? Ah, well. Probably not, but it counts as a return character, nonetheless.

By the way, he’s still pissed at Kate and lets her know. I think he may officially be the most sarcastic ‘Other’ next to Ben. He spends the next few minutes just slamming on Kate, while his sidekick, a seemingly nice fellow named Justin just wants to be everybody’s friend. He even prevents Kate from stepping into what looks like an old Rousseau booby trap. Speaking of, when Rousseau is mentioned, Justin starts to answer that she’s been dead for years – couldn’t be one of her traps. But he doesn’t get to talk much, because this sarcastic guy won’t shut up. And everytime Jin starts asking questions about the Ajira Airlines flight Sun was on, sarcastic guy starts flapping his jaws again. I think he needs to drink a tall glass of what The Rock calls, “Shut-up Juice,” and I think Kate is fixing to serve it.

Bam! She did it, and she and Jin use the booby trap to knock out nice-guy Justin, who probably deserves a much great fate than being another island Red Shirt. When Jin looks around asks Kate, “What are you doing?” She replies, as you guessed, “I’m escaping.” Oh, Kate. Don’t you know you can’t do that here?

Back at the Temple, Sayid is getting another taste of his own medicine, strapped to a toture board much like he did in his past, and much like Rousseau did to him in the first season. Now, not only does he get mildly electrocuted and branded with a hot fire poker – the Temple leader blows dust all over him! The nerve!

Very curiously, and worth mentioning, Sayid seems to be unfamiliar with all this going on. Shocked and in tears, weeping. Remember when Rousseau tortured him? He knew the second he woke up in her cave what was going to happen. He didn’t want it to happen, but he was fairly resigned to the process, having experience as a professional torturer and all. I mention this because this not the same Sayid. Something is significantly different.

Post-torture, Lennon walks in and apologizes for “The test. It was necessary.” But Sayid, the good news is “You passed!” As he’s dragged back to the root beer pool, Lennon looks at his boss and says, “I just lied to him, didn’t I.”

The Temple leader answers: “Yes.”

Back at the spa, Sayid tells Jack all about this fun test, leading Jack to stomp off to the leader’s botany lab (we’re going to learn what those plants are REAL soon), to question their testing methodology. Lennon and his pal seem to be treating Jack with respect and talk to him as an equal, but they tell him that Sayid is “Sick” and “Infected”. Lennon does get in a great line about Jack not seeming to be the kinda guy with a sense of humor, which is about as accurate of a one-sentence description you can get of that guy.

They give him a pill to administer to Sayid, because the patient has to take it willingly in order to work. It will ‘heal the sickness’, but they adamantly refuse to tell Jack what’s in the pill, Jack says he won’t give anything to Sayid unless he knows what it is.

But the Temple leader must have read Jack’s file. He subtly reminds Jack of all the people that have been hurt or killed helping him in his cause (the manner in which he is told would indicate that both of these men have led many people down a similar path): ‘There have been others who have been hurt or died helping you. This is your redemption. This medicine, your friend needs it.’ Jack takes the pill back with him.

This temple leader is similar to Ben in many ways. We quickly see he can manipulate emotions as well as Ben can, but he seems cooler, more distant in his approach. How long has he led these people? I bet we already know someone very close to him, but I’m keeping that idea under wraps for now.

While Jack’s gone, we get more great lines from Miles and Hurley. First, our guys are quizzing Sayid on the afterlife: Any white light? Any angels? Nope. Sayid ony remembers being shot, and waking up.

Hurley, to Sayid: “You’re not a zombie, are you?”

Sayid: “No Hurley. I am not a zombie.”

Jack arrives and asks to speak with Sayid alone. Hurley likes that idea, because he when he’s involved, he always ends up being forced to do something he hates. As they leave, Miles gives us THE best line of the episode:

“We’ll be in the food court if you need us.” Please, please give Miles some more to do or say, Producers!

Jack, being an open communicator, shows Sayid the pill and tells him that they want him to take it. Sayid asks Jack his opinion, to which Jack replies, ‘I’m not the one who saved you – they did. I don’t know what to do. But I won’t try to make you do anything you don’t want to.’ Sayid lets Jack know where he stands: ‘I don’t care that they save me. It’s who I trust that matters. You want me to take that pill, I will.’

A lot gets written about Jack and Kate, Kate and Sawyer, Locke and Ben, Locke and Jack, etc. But over five years, Sayid and Jack have developed quite a bond. While they may have disagreed at times, they usually respected each other’s approach to things, and more often than not, had each other’s backs. To see these beaten, bowed but unbroken men leveling with each other in what they both seem to know is an approaching endpoint, it reminds us that the bonds formed by these people who have been through so much continue to endure. It’s good stuff.

Back in the jungle, Jin argues with Kate about abandoning everyone back at the Temple. He also pointedly asks her as she turns to run: “What do you believe in?” He’s got love on the brain, and he’ll find Sun if it kills him. I hope it doesn’t, and I hope we see more off good-guy Jin, who I really like, than bad-guy Jin, who well, like I said last week, is a jack-ass.

Kate knows where Sawyer is, of course. He’s back in the old Dharma suburbs, in his old yellow house, tearing up the floorboards to get a shoe box out, while wiping dirty tears off his face. He hears Kate watching him from the other room – he cocks his pistol and orders her out of the shadows. Speaking of, I think I’ve seen more than a hundred shots of Sawyer cocking a pistol, with that badass look on his face. They just LOVE that shot on this show. If Josh Holloway can’t carve out some sort of action-star career out of this, I’ll eat one of my many hats.

Kate and Sawyer end up on the old submarine dock, talking about regrets and the island. She admits she came back to find Claire (though finding Sawyer was a fringe benefit, I am sure), and reunite Aaron with his mother. But Kate feels horrible because she showed up and messed up everything Sawyer and Juliet had.

But Sawyer has his own guilt. Remember that last year, Juliet was going to hop on the 1977 submarine and head back ‘home’, or whatever may have been out there. But Sawyer feels horrible because he convinced her to stay so he wouldn’t be alone. ‘I killed her’. He throws the wedd
ing ring he was going give her into the water and tells Kate to get lost (pun not intended). Kate’s in tears.

Back at the Temple, Jack goes to speak to the leader, whom we find out is named Dogen. Dogen is throwing around the same baseball that Jack had when he was imprisoned by the Others back in Season..2, or 3? Jack asks Dogen why he doesn’t use his mastery of English with his own people, and Dogen explains that being “separate” from his people helps him be a better leader, especially when he has to make unpopular choices. Hmmm… I thought Dogen was supposed to mirror Ben in some ways, but perhaps he’s serving as a mirror to Jack as well.

Anyhow, he tells Jack that he was ‘brought’ to the island, same as Jack, many years ago. But enough about me Jack, did you give your friend the pill? No? Why not? You need to trust me.

But Jack says he doesn’t trust himself anymore, so how could he trust anybody else? Awesomely, in a flash of old Jack, he decides he’ll find out what this pill is, and suddenly pops it in his mouth. Well, that sure shocks Dogen, and he quickly pulls off what can best be described as Kung Fu Heimlich, beating the pill out of Jack before he swallows it. No surprise – when Jack asks what it is, Dogen simply says, “Poison”. So this is the treatment for the sickness we’ve seen ‘infect’ various people on the island through the years. And I thought those were just cute little Bonsai plants Dogen was tending to. Apparently Dogen is President of the island chapter of the Hemlock Society.

Lennon runs in, also shocked: He tried to swallow it? Jack sits back down for tea with these fine fellows, while they explain to him that they believe Sayid has been “Claimed”. Claimed by what? “There’s a darkness growing inside him”. Once that darkness reaches Sayid’s heart, they say, he will be gone forever. When Jack questions there belief, they counter with the shocker that they’ve seen this before: “It happened to your sister!” Oh, what has happened to our sweet, junkie-dating, felon-abetting Claire?

Last scene, we see the two jungle-bound Others, Justin and the sarcastic guy, catching Jin as he was heading back to the Temple. Sarcastic guy beats and Jin and debates killing him, while poor Justin just wants to get back to the Temple. Jin runs away and (only with this show can I type this with a straight face) he steps into a bear trap. Sarcastic guy is just about to kill Jin when Bam! Bam! He’s shot down. Then poor Justin, who wasn’t doing a damn thing, gets shot down, too. Sorry, dude, you’re this week’s Red Shirt.

Jin looks up, and of course, it’s Claire who did the shooting! Looking kinda grunged out and more than a little nuts.

Yeah, Kate’s still running. But looks like she’s got to run back and save her friends again.

Folks, I intend to post my other two categories, ‘Questions to add to the pile’ and ‘What to keep in mind for next week’ in a couple of days. Suffice to say, the internet chatter is going nuts about the next week’s episode. Why? It’s called ‘The Substitute’ and will show us what “Side Universe” Locke is up to these days. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that this episode is supposed to throw in some real shockers about this other timeline that should give you a real kick in the pants.

Thanks again for reading, and for watching.

"Lost in Translation": Season Premiere – Neither Here Nor There, But Sorta Both

Guess who’s coming to dinner! Now, guess who else is coming!

“I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”

Ah, it’s Locke, with his Colonel Kurtz head, his crinkle-eyed smile, his jungle-stained summer-wear. And now, his unsettling ability to become a (THE) smoke monster, complete with deadly coal-black smoke legs that can blast everyone and anything in sight into smithereens.

Who isn’t Locke at all, of course, but some other being entirely. Jacob’s evil brother? His rival? His Esau? Something has subsumed Locke — who is, to be fair, dead — and now it’s unclear who or why and who’s on his side, and what his side (his goal?) IS, exactly.

Welcome to the new, and final, season of “Lost.” And we’ll get to that in a moment, but not before we admit that this is not an unfamiliar story. No, it’s the essential story of mankind (womynkind, too), all of us splayed between the contradictary natures within our own divided souls. It’s hard to get truly lost these days, what with Mapquest and handheld GPS devices. Until you look inside yourself, of course, at which point the (moral) compass spins crazily and true north vanishes altogether. Gaze within and you’re thousands of miles away from any rescue party. No man is an island, John Donne said. If only because those internal islands are so full of monsters and spirits and unsettling memories and whispering voices that sometimes you want them to vanish altogether. Either that, or go back in time so you can un-do all the mistakes you made along the way.

For all you fans out there obsessing over the “Lost” mythology (including part of me, of course) let’s just put that down for a moment and realize that it’s THIS other story — the internal one; the psychological one; the overgrown wilds of the psyche one — that resides most closely to the heart of the series.

The rest of it, the wildly-imagined and crazy-baffling stuff, is the grooviest window dressing in the history of popular American entertainment. It’s the submarine; the Oceanic flight; the portal in the desert. But where you’re headed, really, is deep, deep inside.

Still, the storytelling/question-answering went on at warp speed, too. To wit:

1. Juliet-in-1977 did indeed set off the nuke-u-lar bomb intended to blow up the island’s gravitational core and thus make it impossible for Oceanic 815 to crash in 2004.

2. Which is why our next view of the gang on the original plane shows them clean, scrubbed and entirely airborne to L.A.. And yet still lost in the depths of their own pre-existing mistakes and anxieties. Also, they’re drawn together for reasons they don’t comprehend, though it appears that Jack (whose neck is still stained with Sayid-from-1977’s blood) feels some kind of connection. And is puzzled by it.

3. But guess what, the bomb only kind of worked. Or maybe it worked in an altogether unexpected way, because the islanders who were on the island at the time are ALSO still on the island. Though now it’s unclear WHEN they’re there, because all the island threads seem to be converging, no matter what year they were taking place in before.

4. The Locke who emerged from his own coffin last year is definitely not Locke. In fact, he’s NotLocke, who appears to be the black-shirted brother/twin/rival to the fair-skinned, white-shirted Jacob, who is/was the personifcation of the Island’s purest spirit, right up until NotLocke maneuevered Ben into stabbing Jacob in the heart and shoving him into a fire.

5. At least one Dharma skeleton wants you to know that it’s time to refresh your reading of Soren Kierkegaard.

So more struggles and more conflicts. Only now they seem even deeper and more irreconcilable than ever. Consider how the latest group of Others are pinned down in some kind of ancient temple, complete with hieroglyphics and magical springs and what seems to be the very heart of their faith/existence. Whose very existence, at this moment, is up for grabs.

Everything in sight is at odds with everything else: the divided souls (and now dueling existences) of the Oceanic Losties; the literally divergent bodies and souls; the endless, seemingly fruitless quest for some rock-solid logic and reason.

No answers, but hints everywhere. (the real) Locke in LAX, hearing that his new friend Dr. Jack, is trying to locate his father’s body: “How could they know where he is? They didn’t lose your father, they just lost his body.”

Or maybe this is the quote of the week, from the just-resurrected Sayid; “Oh my God. What happened?”