Hello, Dr. Nick!: Nick Gorini busts into the temple of "Lost."

Too much stinkin’ thinkin’?

By NICK GORINI

Hatred is an ugly thing. Like many ugly things, it can be powerful, overwhelming, unsettling. It can dictate lives, instigate change, and even alter the course of history.

Self-hatred is, if possible, even uglier. Unlike regular old hatred, it is self-contained. Un-influenced from any positive outside force. Warped, destructively narcissistic, it is nourished only on what serves its purpose: To destroy its source.

The rub? That self-hatred is such a strong, singular force, it is almost unstoppable. It’s aim is small, contained. But oh, the havoc it wreaks. The Horror. The Horror.

Folks, welcome to the mind of Sayid! We sure like visiting Sayid, by far the ass-kickin’est of the bunch. But we wouldn’t want to live there.

Where’s Stuart Smalley when you need him? Look in the mirror and repeat after me, Sayid: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

TIMELINES (I MEAN, ARE WE EVEN THINKING IN THESE TERMS ANYMORE?)…

WHAT HAPPENED TO HALF OF SAYID’S SOUL:

We see freshly-scrubbed but more jheri-curled Sayid reluctantly stepping out of a cab to meet the woman/unattained ideal he seeks known as Nadia. Before she opens the door, we see Sayid’s reflection, but instead of seeing himself (like Jack, Kate and Locke before him), he looks straight past any self-reflection to the eyes of what he seeks.

Nadia greets him warmly, but before we can get the gist of their new alt-relationship, two cute kids come tromping up the lawn to greet “Uncle Sayid!”.

His wimpy, can’t-kill-a-chicken-but-can-try-and-take-credit-for-it brother Omer pops up before things get too mushy. Hey, Jealousy!

Sayid is back from a boring business trip in Australia “Translating oil deals”  (READ: Killing people, right? I think…). So, brother Omer ended up with Nadia, having kids, and running a dry-cleaning business. Even though we last saw Omer as a boy, we can see he’s still kind of an ass. He’s bossy and distant with Nadia, who clearly still wants a piece of Sayid, respectfully. Sayid’s got  boomerangs for the kids, and Nadia wants to know why he never responded to her letters…

By-the-way, this is Locke’s neighborhood they live in – I’m sure of it.

Later, we see Sayid asleep on the couch. When his brother goes to wake him, half-asleep Sayid nearly snaps him in two, which is further confirmation that “Translating oil Deals” is code for ‘I eat Chuck Norris for breakfast’.

Omer is urgent. He borrowed money from b-a-d people and needs his little bro Sayid to lay some smackdown. Sayid offers his money, but Omer says he needs Sayid to be the “Man I know you are.” He guilt-trips Sayid by dangling the responsibility and accountability of his wife and kids to help. However, unlike the original Sayid, who is more than willing to put morals aside in order to help others (he really has been by far the most unappreciated core member for all the violence, killing and sacrifice he’s been through), this time Sayid tells his brother that if he won’t accept money, than it’s on him to solve the problem. Sayid’s out of the killing biz.

The next morning, we see Sayid walking his niece and nephew (and we know that he longs for these children to be his) to the school bus, but the serenity is interrupted by a teary-Nadia. Omer has been mugged and brutally beaten. To the hospital, which is of course, Jack’s hospital. I guess Sayid and Jack exchanged glances for two seconds, which I missed, because I was writing the very freaking notes you are now reading.

Omer has a punctured lung, a broken this, a fractured that, but he’ll pull through. Sayid gets that ‘Sayid Look’, but our dear Nadia (she’s dear because she’s sweet, and we’ve watched her die and get tortured numerous times, poor girl) stops Sayid and asks him to watch the children. Be good, Sayid! Not only do I need you, but I need you to be the good man I know you are! The scene ends, but it tugs: Nadia, if only you’d been on the island with Sayid. You could’ve been Sayid’s Stuart Smalley!

follow the jump!

Back at the house, Sayid is gluing a big Chinese vase together (while I am sure this has some symbolic significance, I can’t figure it out and the internet chatter, including Doc Jensen, seems to be grasping at straws). In the course of a conversation between Sayid and Nadia, we learn that he ran away from her, and as she pursued him and he continued to pine for her (her kids even found some well-worn photos of her in Uncle’s bag), he pushed her away and towards Omer because Sayid didn’t feel worthy. He told Nadia that after twelve years of being a terrible man, he just doesn’t feel like he deserves her love (READ: or anyone else’s, for that matter).

STOP! Think about Sayid for a minute. Let’s just assume (and correctly assume, I theorize), that regardless of the damn timelines, everything that’s happened to Sayid has happened to one soul only. In that case, think: Sayid has held a dying woman he loves in his arms THREE times (Nadia twice, Shannon once), he’s physically tortured people he loves, been tortured by people he trusts, killed on behalf of numerous folk demanding it, punished for trying to alter fate (even in a very ugly, shocking instance, by shooting pre-teen Ben), heck he even had to become a turncoat for the CIA, causing the death of a close friend. Oh yeah, and he died. How does Jacob/Smokey/God/Fate/Who Knows What repay him? By having his eternal beloved marry and procreate with his dead-beat brother while he wallows in a violent self-pity. Nice.

I digress. At some point, a group of bad men (including Omar, from the original timeline!) picks Sayid up to take him to an undisclosed location (remember how Dick Cheney used to hang out in an “undisclosed location?” It was Wyoming, people! His home state! Duh! Jacksonhole, to be exact.).

The undisclosed location turns out to be the same restaurant kitchen that Naomi recruited Miles at a few years back. The “Boss” is cooking eggs with his back to Sayid and offers him eggs, in a variety of choices (poached, scrambled, etc.). Again, the eggs must have a symbolic meaning, but the internet chatter is grasping at straws. Even Doc Jensen, usually lethally correct in his insight, can’t quite out-think his way of scrambled symbolic mess…

Anyway, when the boss turns around, we see it’s the awesome bad-ass Keamy! Keamy, the bastard mercenary who killed Ben’s daughter! Keamy, one of the best TV villains of the past five years, vaguely threatening Sayid with talk of debts, loans, violence and breakfast. Welcome back, Keamy! I look forward to you chewing the scenery for a few episodes! You are a concrete, classic bad guy in the old-school mode, and [BAM! WHAP!! POW! KAZAAM!!!!]

Sayid manages to kill the thugs with only Keamy standing – Sayid’s pointing a loaded gun at surrendering Keamy. Keamy calmly offers a clean slate, tells Sayid the debt is gone (which by the way, I get the feeling his brother lied about repaying the debt in full, because everyone who’s manipulated Sayid to kill LIED.). Sayid kills Keamy in cold blood. Damn! Goodbye, Keamy.

On the one hand, are they telling us Sayid’s heart is cold and ruthless? Maybe. But couldn’t Sayid have figured that this violent jerk would only come back bigger and badder for Nadia and the kids? On my end, the jury is still out. Sayid wants to be good, and yes he does have some choices. But nearly all the time, he is manipulated or forced into a situation where he has to become That Bad Man. The Horror.

Either way, before we can all sit down and debate the outcome, we hear beating inside the cooler at the restaurant. Sayid rushes in, and we find a beaten, bound and gagged…. Jin!!!! Nice surprise, writers! Nice! I guess when the thwarted smuggler Jin go
t arrested at the airport, he ended up not quite making it to the police station.

Sayid yanks the duct tape off his mouth, but there is a language barrier. They don’t understand each other, yet. The scene ends!

OUR ORIGINAL CREW, AND SAYID’S OTHER HALF, EXPERIENCE THIS:

Sayid busts in on Dogen, demanding answers about his torture and his dandy torture machines (again, this is further proof that isn’t our old Sayid. Old Sayid wouldn’t bother with this. He knows this world all too well.). Dogen tells him about the Good/Evil scale and that for Sayid, it tipped the wrong way. I like that Dogen flat out says, ‘Sayid, it really would be best if you were dead.’

In spite of Sayid telling Dogen that, ‘You don’t know me, I am a good man,’ they bust out in one kick-ass, kung-fu action scene that amazingly leaves most of the set intact. Maybe they intend to use it again? Again, 4-5 episodes ago, Sayid was telling everyone how bad he was, and that he was going to Hell. Now he thinks he’s a good man? This isn’t our Sayid…

Anyhow, Dogen gets the upper hand and is about to kill Sayid, but that damn baseball he and Jack paw at falls on the floor and rolls odd-like. Dogen stops, and tells Sayid to leave and never return. When Sayid ventures outside and talks to Miles, Miles reiterates that no one knows what brought Sayid back to life. ‘You were dead for 2 hours. Whatever brought you back, it wasn’t these people.’

Outside the temple, Smokey and Kate look at the temple, from just outside the line of ash. The ash! The ash! Tell us what the damn ash IS ALREADY!!!

Speaking of, it’s time for THE STUPID AWARD: Claire becomes our first two-time winner. Why? Your boss, Smokey, wants into the Temple. He can’t because of the damn stupid ash. You know, Claire, that line of ash at your feet? The ash you could kick a path through in about two seconds, allowing Smokey in? Stupid. I’d say stupid Smokey, but he’s got all sorts of weird rules to this game – maybe the include telling someone to kick damn dumb ash out of the way.

Anyhow, Smokey tells Claire to go in and get Dogen to come out. Claire seems almost like herself, unsure of why she has to do this, and if she should. But Smokey assures her that this is the only way to get her son back (Hmm… Smokey as Ben, Claire as Michael?). Claire asks if Smokey intends to hurt the people inside.

“Only the ones who don’t listen.” Nice. On the one hand, we want to say that he’s going to hurt the people who won’t follow his orders. But really, what’s being said, is that some people may die, but those aren’t necessarily the ones who will be “Hurt”. Sayid can’t listen to Nadia’s pleading to be a better man, and he can’t listen to his conscience, and he can’t listen to the good that’s inside of him. Who’s really hurting?

Claire saunters into the temple with her ultimatum, and gets tossed into a pit, while Dogen decides that he’s going to talk Sayid into heading out to the jungle with an old knife and kill Smokey (like the knife that Ben used on Jacob). Sayid is of course reluctant, having been nearly murdered by Dogen twice, but hey, what the hell, right? Dogen does what everyone does to Sayid – guilt-trip a good man into being a bad one. If any dude ever deserved a break on this show, it’s gotta be Sayid.

Kate wanders in, oblivious to all of this, and Miles lets her know that her hot, crazy blonde friend Claire is back. Miles also rubs it in Kate’s face that Sawer rejected her and sent her packing. Kate finds Claire (humming the tune Catch a Falling Star) in her pit and immediately fesses to taking Aaron. Kate tells a visibly pissed Claire that she came back to the island to reunite Claire with Aaron, to rescue her.

“I’m not the one needing rescuing,” Claire replies.

Meanwhile, in the jungle, Sayid encounters Smokey and with no hesitation plows the dagger deep into Smokey’s chest. Unlike Jacob, who bled to death, Smokey yanks the knife out of his unwounded ribcage and says, “Now why’d you go and do that?”

In his continued quest at appearing to be the great communicator, Smokey tells Sayid that Dogen knew this thing wouldn’t work – it was a suicide mission (aha! Just like all the suicided missions Ben sent Sayid on in hopes that he would die, and not go back in time and shoot him in the chest. Oh, the cyclical nature of this rich irony!). Rather than kill Sayid, Smokey tells him that he can give Sayid anything he wants (even when Sayid says the only thing he ever wanted died in his arms. Ahh!!!). Sayid buys it, and heads back to the Temple, ostensibly to follow his new leader’s marching orders.

Sayid heads back, and tells everyone at the temple that Jacob’s dead, the game’s over, and they can be free. Free to leave the temple at sundown, or be killed by Smokey. What a choice, huh?

Lennon runs around telling everyone to be calm, but most of the others, including hippy flight attendant doesn’t buy it, and motivates many people to leave, including those two kids no one cares about. Miles tells Sayid to get packing, but Sayid says he’s got to return something to Dogen. Uh-oh!

Dogen is lounging, muddy pool-side, looking at his baseball, when Sayid pops up. Sayid asks why he was sent on a suicide mission when Dogen had the murderous opportunity in his own hands. Dogen explains that he was business man in Tokyo who got drunk one night, picked up his son from baseball practice, and caused a horrific accident. He thought his son would die, but Jacob showed up at the hospital and offered to save Dogen’s sons’ life in return for a life of service on the island.

Dogen does seem tired of his service, and misses his son. Another difficult father-son relationship! I’m no Fred MacMurray, but I feel like flying to the island with a baseball mitt and playing catch with all these wounded, fatherless folks… If you build it, I will come! <— Classic TV show and Movie reference, in one sentence! Take that, Doc Jensen!

It’s sundown, and before Dogen and Sayid can hug it out like Ari Gold, Sayid violently drowns Dogen in the resurrection gravy (so wait, does this make Dogen really dead?). When Lennon comes in starts shouting at Sayid, his throat is slashed and the body is also dumped in the soup. So wait, does this also mean that both of these guys are really dead?

Before we can ponder, Smokey rushes into the temple and starts killing folk left and right. It’s a slaughterhouse for sure.

Kate reaches Claire in her pit, but has to hide there while Smokey shoots around chomping on Others appetizers. Miles tries to hold a pounding door shut, but Ilana, Ben, Sun and Lapidus bust through, demanding answers. As Smokey screams around the corner, the group enters a secret passage. Miles lets Sun know that Jin was at the temple earlier. Damn! I just missed him!

Ben tracks down Sayid and tells him they have to get going. Instead of killing Ben, which you would think Sayid would do, being on a roll and all, he just tells a terrified Ben that, ‘It’s too late for me’.

Finally, we see Smokey and his new crew of followers walking through a bloody battlefield, in slow-motion, with a off-key version of Catch a Falling Star (again) playing in the background. Rain starts to fall, with Krazy Claire and a creepy Sayid joining the crew. Kate follows them out and Smokey gives her one hell of a scary look. I think he knows she’s not one of his recruits. And she realizes that she accidentally hitched her ride to the wrong truck. Oops! What’s next?

THOUGHTS ON TOO MUCH INFORMATION, COMMENTS AND WHAT’S NEXT!

I swear I won’t back-pat myself too much, honest! But last week, I mentioned that Locke will be resurrected. This week, Doc Jensen announced it, in much the same manner that I did. We both mentioned Rebirth via Jack, and then threw a hammer down in a short paragraph (meant to illicit gasps and shocks, him from his 100,000 + readers, me from, well, you?) that Locke will be resurrected. You could read Doc Jensen this week, but I gotta admit, it wasn’t a very
strong one – it was the first time I felt he was forcing too many other books and literary references that weren’t of any necessity whatsoever. So, a call to arms:

Stop! Stop! Doc Jensen, and whomever. I don’t care how much you read! This is not six-degrees of separation! Please stick to what sticks! This week, your column told us to listen to The Supersuckers, read a random online essay about aboriginal boomerang mythology, write like David Foster Wallace, pay close attention to ‘Ode To A Grecian Urn’ (you know, Sayid fixing the Chinese vase), read up on Mayan egg-eating, watch Apocalypse Now (okay, I was on the same track, so let’s just count this one as a draw)… In the greatest stretch, you even threw down a dare to read  Krzysztof Kieslowski! Dude, I love your stuff, but the reason a peacock is so beautiful is because it doesn’t ALWAYS flaunt its feathers. Ease up.

Next week is a lot about Ben. I am so excited, because I have always closely followed and aligned with what I considered the Lost Holy Trinity of most-complex characters: Jack, Locke, and Ben. If these three guys had their own Lost show, I wouldn’t stop watching. The promos hint that we will watch Ben’s demise – I hope that isn’t the case, because Ben always adds something special, even in his weakened state. But if he does go, Bon Voyage, my friend. You were one of the greatest characters ever brought to television. Yessir..
Ben as a teacher will make a Napoleon-in-exile analogy to his class, obviously meant to describe both himself and Smokey. Will we also see Ben make some sort of (big) sacrifice to make up for all misdeeds?

Also, next week, there should be a key exchange between Jack, Hurley and Alpert. It will pave the way for the Alpert-centric episode coming up, which I think will be pretty much awesome.

I really liked both exchanges between Sayid and Dogen. Two weary soldiers doing dirty work for causes too muddled and mysterious to identify. Much like the exchanges between Kurtz and Willard in Apocalypse Now. I like that they both agreed that Jacob drives a hard bargain. Hey, no one ever said that doing the right thing was easy! Is everyone on the island just another version of the Biblical Job?

Fall, but dont’ fall back! I fired a response to someone not too long ago, suggesting that they think of the show as falling inwards. Well, that’s what it’s doing, man! Symbolically, they’re tying so many loose ends together in each episode, it’s incredible. Example: Sayid’s killing of Dogen and Lennon was an exact mirror of Michael’s killing of Libby and Ana Lucia. Underground (Temple, Hatch), done to free a captive man (Ben, Smokey), as part of a bargain to see a loved one again (Walt, Nadia). Both done after what seems to be a bonding confession (Ana Lucia talks about how tired she is of the violence, while Dogen talks about how tired he is of the tough choices and missing his family), with an initially decent gesture (Michael offers to take the loaded gun from Ana Lucia, Sayid offers to stay at the Temple to help Dogen). Also, the first kills are cold and deliberate (Michael shoots Ana Lucia directly in the chest, and Sayid deliberately drowns Dogen), while the second killing seems almost incidental, as in being in the wrong place at the wrong time (Libby walks in on Michael killing, while Lennon walks in on Sayid killing).

We all saw the look Smokey gave to Kate. It wasn’t good. Kate, who I just KNOW is poised for something big, needs to get the hell out of there!

I sure hope Sun and Jin get a good episode. They’re always well done, moving, thoughtful and evocative. They’ve gotten the short-shift for some time now.

So, here’s a shocker theory I have for you: In this ‘other’ world, Locke’s dad is a nice guy. If this is REALLY the case, Locke’s dead was never a criminal, never a grifter. Never ruined Sawyer’s life. I repeat: NEVER RUINED SAWYER’S LIFE! Prediction: Sawyer is not a criminal. Oh yes, he’s still cool and a ladies’ man, but he’s not a criminal. And he’ll take Juliet out on a date (maybe pissing off who is maybe her maybe ex-husband and maybe father of her maybe son, Jack).

If you like redheads, then congratulations! Snowboarder Shaun White just killed at the Olympics. Also, congratulations! Charlotte will be back real soon.

Again, I tell you: evil is champagne (ever drank too much champagne? I rest my case.). Evil is champagne, and the island is the cork.

I’ve got other thoughts to impart, and I could go all Doc-Jensen-like, randomly picking books off my shelf and assigning Lost-related meaning to them, but you know what? We are a third of the way through the final season! One-third! Just as Jesse Ventura didn’t “Have time to bleed” in Predator (you know Michael WISHED he had directed that), we don’t have time to plow through someone else’s English-Lit-Student-Loan-Justifications.

This is it folks! Hold on, because plenty more characters are going to die, plenty more are coming back, and some crazy stuff is coming so, so soon.

Thanks for reading and watching

Nick Gorini

"Lost" in Translation: "I always do what I say."

Definitely not a sunny-side-up kind of guy.

Mercenary, mobster, whatever, Martin Keamey has got the real evil flowing in his veins. During his island days a couple of seasons back he tromped the underbrush like a squared-away psychotic. Killed everything in sight. Murdered a terrified little girl while her father watched. Blew up the boat and crew that had delivered him, as a kind of backwards gratuity. (he had other reasons too, but still)  Q’uest que ce? Run, run, run away.

So no surprise that parallel Keamey, now a gleeful mobster in Los Angeles, has his goons deliver parallel Sayid to some kind of spotless industrial kitchen, where he greets him warmly, offers to make him eggs any way he likes, with toast. Sayid refuses, so Keamey shrugs and eats alone, promising to murder his guest’s brother, sister-in-law, children and dog (implied) if he doesn’t see to brother’s ongoing debt payments. So this isn’t going well at all for Sayid, particularly since he already turned down brother’s earlier plea that he mete out some two-fisted justice to these same thugs in order to avoid this very eventuality. Parallel Sayid said no way – he’s a different man now, no longer close to the Iraqi Republican Guard torturer he once was, hey, didn’t he set up his brother with his own beloved Nadia? For whom he still visibly, painfully, yearns?

The point: Parallel Sayid has kicked the darkness. He doesn’t do evil shit anymore, not for any reason, not even to protect his loved ones.

But may be he really doesn’t like eggs? Sayid certainly didn’t want to be threatened by Keamey and friends, he’s got this survival impulse like no other. And so whiz-bang-boom, suddenly things go quickly sideways for Keamey: Sayid thumps one mobster, snatches his gun and kills the other guy while said other guy accientally drills mobster #1. Keamey, no longer hungry, seems to kneel: Slow down! Let’s just forget about this, okay? Debt forgiven. Life goes on. We’ll just forget about this, okay?

Sayid: “I can’t.”

Kablammo.

So that’s it for Keamey, again, and that’s interesting enough ’til this muffled thumping comes from a walk-in freezer, in which alterna-Jin is inexplicably tied up and walk-in-freezing. WTF?  A real bad-ass would just drill this mystery Korean and get on with his far-less-complex life. But you just know he’s going to rescue this stranger, and give him his freedom.

Thus the essential conflict in Sayid’s soul: He’s extremely good at violence, and has used it against legions and legions of people, not always in the service of the most moral ideals. But Sayid is a moral person at heart. Or at least he really, reallly wants to be: He knows right from wrong, he yearns to save the innocent. It’s just that life keeps throwing him Keameys. When bad people come to town the good ones turn to Sayid and ask him, pretty please, to do some righteous ass-kicking.

For most of “Lost” Sayid served as a human animation of the US’s war against Iraq and (arguably) every armed conflict any self-described moral society has entered. We all know war is essentially brutal and ugly. Once you unleash the darkness you can never keep it from destroying the innocents.  And yet we do it again and again, cloaked in vibrant red, white and blue, with spotless white hats and the true conviction that God is on our side.

You aleady know the contradictions at work here: Can anyone use darkness in pursuit of justice? And once you do it once, is it ever possible to scrub the blood from beneath your ragged fingernails?

One of the most compelling things about “Lost” is that it doesn’t seem to know for sure. It’s a dramatic thriller that certainly wields the catalytic thrill of redemptive violence. But it also understands and makes (painfully) clear that the true toll of those battles can’t really be known or understood. Because even the victors lose something when they take out their antagonists. You kill a piece of your own soul when you extinguish someone else’s. And as Island Sayid — already pegged by Guru Donen as unredeemably evil — lost all grasp on his moral compass, eventually opening the gates of the temple to the true embodiment of evil (NotLocke/Smokey, Crazy Claire and probably worse) he really did believe he was acting as a liberator: Saving the innocents, killing their leader and his aide-de-camp (Lennon, whose round glasses and center-parted hair were clearly intended to evoke the peace-singing Beatle whose own divided heart was pierced by another psycho killer).

“I always do what I say,” NotLocke/Smokey promised crazy Claire. So does the USA, we like to believe. We storm in, kill the leaders, burn the villages and wait for the terified locals to shower us with flowers and thanks. And when they don’t — often because they’re too busy suffering the consequences of our redemptive violence — we shrug, declare victory and forget about it. It’s morning in America: Time for eggs, toast and a long, hot shower.

As if you could scrub the shadows from your soul. As if you really were light and verity, free of even a wisp of darkness.

I quote again from my song of the moment, Kasey Anderson’s beautiful, cihlilng “I Was a Photograph.”: “I was numb back then/I ain’t even numb no more.” 

"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: Of Mice and Smoke Monsters

 I don’t think he’s gonna pull through…

When I was in 4th grade the rock group Three Dog Night had this huge hit with “Black and White,” which found a maddeningly tuneful way to reduce the world’s racial/social conflicts, the very headwaters all the non-tea tax-caused wars in world history, into a child’s singalong:

The ink is black/the page is white/together we learn to read and write…

Even as a 10-year-old I could sense that this was far too simplistic an analysis; that it offered limp platitudes rather than tough moral choices; that it might inspire Paul McCartney, ten years hence, to rewrite it and score an even bigger hit out of the arguably more dreadful, “Ebony and Ivory.

Only what I didn’t foresee was that 20 years after that, “Lost” would take up the same issue (albeit not in racial terms) and present a far more complex and entirely compelling version of the age old manichean struggle: White v black; community v independence; fate v self-determination; good v evil.

No matter where you look, it’s the same story: Stark distinctions; impossible choices; because you can never really tell what is good and what is bad, and why certain acts that seem like unalloyed evil might, in fact, be truly just and even merciful.

So when Sawyer, in seemingly idle talk with the NotLocke/Smoke Monster/Man in Black during a jungle stroll starts musing on John Steinbeck’s “Of MIce and Men, sit up and take notice. And realize that what what you’re about to see in the cave they’re heading for tells you as much about “Lost”‘s core themes as it does about the relevance of the notorious numbers and a glimmer of a hint about why the Losties were ever drawn to the island, and then all but forced to remain there.

All from the Man in Black/Smokey perspective. Which, as it turns out, makes some sense.

Central plot reveals: 

Jacob, who long since won the role of Island caretaker/boss/spiritual headwaters, chose/nurtured each Lostie in their pre-island lives, somehow pushing/compelling them to the point where they would all be on that Oceanic #815.

Each number was a signifier for an individual Lostie. If they signified something more profound (a top forty?) we don’t know yet.

Argument for greater significance: Jacob was cultivating each Lostie as a potential substitute/replacement for him when he either retired, went on vacation, or got stabbed to death and then shoved into a campfire.

Someone brought an Iggy Pop record to the Island.

The non-island/alternative “Losties,” left to their own devices in the good old US of A, seem far more successful, less angry and (to coin a phrase) fucked up than their Island-bound alter-egos. Hurley is a successful businessman; Locke, albeit wheelchair bound, is in a warm relationship with Helen and, by the end of this episode, finding new meaning as a substitute (!!!!!) teacher; Ben, also a teacher, satisfies his bossy nature by kvetching about other teachers’ unwillingness to start a new pot of coffee even when they finish the old one; etc. etc.

The deep end analysis, from God to mice, comes in the jump….

But what does all of this mean in a larger, philosophical sense, which we can’t even pretend to ignore given how perpetually the “Lost” creators come back to the whole question of philosophy, literature and etc.

Community vs. individuality; fate vs. self-determination, and the elusive nature of both. Consider how Jacob represents the essence of community – the “either we live together or we die alone” ideal. To him the only thing that truly matters is the island, a kind of headwaters of communal life, which must be protected and perpetuated at all costs. The individual lives of the Losties mean nothing in comparison (consider that Jacob’s touch all but guaranteed lives of darkness and dysfunction for the Losties, often to the point of psychotic-caliber chilliness; e.g., he distracted Sayid at the precise moment his beloved Nadia was headed into the path of the truck that killed her.) The irony here is that by attempting to take control of their fates (Locke on his walkabout; Jack taking control of his father’s body; Clare’s attempt to remove her child from her life) the Losties were actually surrendering to their Jacob-ascribed fate.

Oh, but that’s the larger purpose, you say. That’s fate and meaning and a universe whose seemingly random events are actually part of a real and meaningful pattern described by a supreme being in front of whom we can only kneel. See also: world religion and/or Grateful Dead fans.

But what if the God in question – and his entire sense of meaning – is totally wack? This is where NotLocke/MiB/etc slaps all of us pretty hard in the kisser, as he tells Sawyer near the end of the hour:

“You’ve got three choices. You can do nothing and see how all this plays out, and possibly your name will get crossed out. (e.g., you’ll be killed). Second option: you can accept the job, become the new Jacob, and protect the island.”

Sawyer: “From what?”

Not Locke/MiB: “From nothing. That’s the joke. There’s nothing to protect it from. It’s just a damn island. It will be perfectly fine without jacob or you or anyone else whose lives he wasted. The third choice is that we just go. Get the hell off this island and keep going, and not look back.”

In other words: Die together or live apart.

MiB/Smokey/NotLocke, in other words, is something of an existentialist. What matters is his own safety/comfort/imediate surroundings. Beyond that it’s all superstition and self-delusion. Consider NotLocke’s outrage at the mystery jungle boy (seemingly a vision of the yonger Jacob)’s assertion that he could NOT bring the rules: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” Sound familiar? And wasn’t it interesting to see how peaceful the alterna-Locke back in the USA appeared when he finally did resign himself to what he couldn’t do?

So maybe there’s a certain amount to be said to taking what you’ve been handed and finding a way to make the best of it. To understand that there is power in acceptance. That it can be pointless to struggle. That when the lynch mob is headed your way (ala Steinbeck) the only righteous thing you can do is shoot your best friend in the back of the head and get the hell out of Dodge.

Hello, Dr. Nick! – Nick Gorini's latest pre-episode "Lost" post. . . and this one is amazing.

By NICK GORINI
 
Now that we’ve had nearly a week to sit with our Kate-centric episode, it’s time to gear up for what will be a more revelatory-what-the-heck-is-going-on episode, titled, ‘The Substitute.’ Although all episodes of this show are a must-see (minus a few that spent way too much time in bear cages), this week’s will be especially important. More on that in a minute. First:
 
A FEW SCRAPS I MISSED:

In the first episode, I initially failed to notice Desmond’s wedding ring in his little 30-second plane ride. Well, remember that he threw Penny’s engagement ring in the water way back when that nice/sinister Old-Lady Faraday told him his love was doomed and he couldn’t change fate. Now we have a married Desmond, presumably to Penny. And an episode later, we have a broken Sawyer tossing his Juliet’s engagement ring in the water. Coincidence? Well, of course not.

Also in that first episode, I didn’t notice Sayid’s new passport: Iranian. Not sure how relevant this is… Yet.

Last week, Sawyer tossed that ring from the submarine dock. The submarine dock? Wasn’t that blown up by Locke awhile ago? Well, looks like it’s been rebuilt. And I imagine we’ll be seeing the submarine again, too. Could that be a piece of the timeline convergence puzzle?

Just as Kate was meant to be part of Claire and Aaron’s lives, so too was Ethan. And for all the bad stuff Ethan did  back in Season One, I think we can speculate that Ethan was meant to save Aaron’s life – in both timelines.

To restate, Jacob wanted Sayid or whatever is possessing Sayid to get beyond the Temple’s protective barriers. So all so far is going according to plan. But here’s the catch: remember how unsurprised Dogen was that Jack didn’t give Sayid the poison pill? Well that was part of the plan. What wasn’t part of the plan was Jack popping the pill in his mouth. Further proof that Jack is the new variable.
In a recent interview, show producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof wanted to reassert that the main question they want all of us to ask: ‘Is humanity essentially good or essentially evil?’ Yes, this is stating the obvious, but it’s a good compass for us viewer’s to hold onto when we get too caught up in all the side stuff that occurs.

Peter’s last post astutely mentions that the ‘infection’ that some characters appear to be succumbing to is really a metaphor for the Original Sin. As you will see in upcoming episodes, this infection can come in various forms. More on how this relates to the next episode in a little bit.

In another recent interview, Michael Emerson, who plays Ben, had what was probably the best quote about this final season’s story-telling conceit: In regards to the two timelines, “The dimensions of time and space are… Porous.”

In a weekend conversation with a friend, he stated that he dearly loved the show, but was surprised that the impending game is becoming so blatantly Biblical. I agree, although I am finding as many parallels if not more in another Christian writer’s primary work: C.S. Lewis and his ‘Chronicals of Narnia.’ I skimmed through my beaten, beloved books and found Jack, Kate, Locke, Jacob, Esau and even Ben in lots of of characters. It was a fun exercise, and made me look forward to reading them with my seven-year-old.

How does he do it? No one knows. . .Follow the jump for even more. . .


DOGEN IT, I THINK I KNOW YOU:
 
Dogen is the calm badass running the temple. So who is this guy? Almost every character’s name means something, and he is no exception. He’s named after Dogen Zenji, a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher who was around in the 1200’s. Just a cursory look at his history has so many ‘Lost’ parallels, it proves that the show researchers do their homework:

Dogen’s most revered Buddhist writing was a book called Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma. Dharma, people! Dharma!

Dogen’s mother may have died when he was seven. We know this show loves to give characters with dead or absent mommies. Locke, Sawyer, Ben, all lost their mothers at a young age. And to a lesser extent, you have characters like Kate and Jack, who have complex, complicated relationships with distant mothers or mother figures.

Dogen was a searcher, and pushed past the original doctrines and Buddhist teachings to find deeper meanings and answers. What he found wasn’t always to his liking. In particular, he questioned the idea that you could truly ‘Find Enlightenment’. Perhaps it existed in us all along, and what was the true necessity of engaging in spiritual practice? This concept was tied to the idea of “Original Enlightenment”, the idea that nature already gave us this knowledge. Fate vs. Free Will, anyone?

At some point he became disillusioned with the politics tied to his faith and left Japan to study in China. Further frustrated with not finding satisfying answers, he even refused something called “Dharma Transmission” from a teacher. So, reluctant student, searching for answers. Locke and Jack, anyone?
 
It only gets deeper from there. If you’re curious, Google the guy. There are many more parallels to be drawn. The question with this show is, where do you draw the line? I’m going to watch Dogen a little more now, but won’t draw any conclusions about his true significance yet.
 
I used to think Abbadon (remember him?) was going to become a key character in the show’s mythology, given the religious significance of who Abbadon was and how cryptic all his Locke visits were. Then he was quickly gunned down against the trunk of a car after a day of driving Locke around like Miss Daisy.
 
THE SUBSTITUTE, OR ‘WAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?’

Next week’s episode is called ‘The Substitute’ and will focus on Locke. We’re going to see what alternate-timeline Locke is up to, and needless to say, his life still mostly sucks. However, as I alluded last week, some unlikely faces may be popping up in his timeline.
In the original timeline, we’re going to see The Man In Black-as Locke pull the same recruiting spiel on Sawyer that Ben pulled on Locke (Parallels! Parallels!).

We’re also going to see Alpert come to from his bonk on the head and warn Sun, Lapidus and the others that this is a very bad man who will kill all of them.

I was hoping that the ‘War’ everyone had been talking about all these years was going to be of the more symbolic type, taking place inside each character as they wrestle with those darned inner demons. But nope! This show likes to spell it out, so we have the Fake Locke, infected Sayid, infected Claire and what looks to me like a successful job interview with Sawyer to join the dark side.
 
How will all this play out? Stay tuned…
 
Thanks for reading and watching
 
Nick Gorini