Dr. Nick's "Lost" Analysis: We Can't All Be the Candidate

By Nick Gorini
We can’t all be “Candidates”. We can’t all be heroes. Not all of us get to be special, or chosen. Many of us grow up and live entire lives believing, whether the evidence supports or not, that something big, something important, awaits.
Watching “Lost”, we want to be that strong-jawed, determined hero, like Jack. Or the too-cool-for-school loverboy hero, like Sawyer. Maybe we want to be the scary, not-to-be-messed-with baddass hero, like Sayid. Maybe we even want to be the universally loved and gentle hero, like Hurley.
As much as I wish I was like these guys, I’m not. If I was on “Lost”, I’d probably be unassuming Bernard, on a good day. On a bad day, I’d probably be more like the whiny, petty Frogurt. You remember – the guy that ended up with a fiery arrow in his mouth?
Unlike Jack, we can’t all have that smug satisfaction, being nominated to replace a nearly immortal, time traveling, all-knowing martyr.
And when we unchosen ones aspire to heroism, and try to do something big, or expect something important in our lives, it doesn’t always end up so well. Some of us who try get blowed up real good, or die for something a little smaller, like love.
The advice that I would’ve given to Sayid, Sun, Jin and even Lapidus: Save yourselves, and embrace your own mediocrity, like I do! Sure, you won’t be special, important, or even cool. But you may be able to sit on a tropical beach, feet in the warm water, nursing a delicious Dharma beer. Let the heroes figure it out, man.
Quick Sideways Recap:
So we begin with Jack telling Locke he’s a candidate for experimental back surgery. Locke steadfastly refuses, but at this stage, we don’t know why. We later find out, after Jack does some highly unethical, inappropriate detective work and Jack-style pushiness, that Locke was paralyzed trying to fly a small plane that crashed hard, making his dad, Anthony Cooper (Hey Coop! You must still be a bastard!)  a vegetable. The guilt and self-loathing that we’ve seen spilling out of both Smokey and sideways Locke is now clear.
This is what Terry O’Quinn has been showing us these past few episodes. His line readings as both characters have been tricky – this anger that Locke feels towards himself? It’s affecting Smokey, for sure.
Throughout the course of this, Jack meets Bernard, who shares the Oceanic flight experience, and steers Jack towards Cooper. Obviously, Bernard knows a LOT more than he’s letting on. I wonder: Bernard and Rose are married. Did they have their own Desmond moment together? Their love, and their serving as each other’s “Constants”, gave them full awareness of the island without any intervention on Desmond’s behalf?  What do you think about that?
On a side note, do you think Cooper is an actual vegetable? Could he be faking it? We know that Cooper, even in this sideways timeline, is still being hunted down by Sherriff Sawyer as a suspected con man. How will this storyline be resolved?
Later, we see that the timelines continue to converge, as Locke dreams about pushing buttons and other nonsense. Claire shows up, and after she and Jack share a reflection in a mirrored box willed to her by Christian Shepherd, she gets invited to crash at her bro’s pad. They also share their Oceanic flight moment. Oh, and most important, Jack doesn’t need Jacob’s help getting a candy bar out of the vending machine. Uh, that’s some real growth there, I guess. In this newer, better universe, even snack machines get a second chance to right their wrongs. Does this snack machine haunt the island like Michael, struggling to move on, consumed with the guilt of endless quarters taken with no candy given?
As we get to what is one of the best scenes of the evening, we see Jin behind Locke bringing flowers to Sun’s hospital room. See folks! They’re alright! Anyhow, I really liked the dialogue between Jack and Locke, and nearly all of those lines came from previous episodes, only now, they’re tinged with all this sad wisdom, and battered hope.

Your island recap, and way more, on the alt-entry after the jump. . .

Quick Island Recap:
You know, not that much happened. I mean Jack wakes up in a boat, talks to Sayid, gets threatened by Locke; Sawyer, Kate and gang go back to the polar bear cages, Widmore can’t get his generators working…. Let’s see, anything else?
Oh yeah, that kid from Kate and Allie got killed by Smokey. I knew that would be the big heart breaker. Oh yeah, Jin, Sun, Sayid and probably Lapidus got killed, too. But on a related sad note, Zoe didn’t get killed. Which brings me to this week’s STUPID AWARD: Smokey, you did a LOT of damage this week. Killed well-loved, and loving, people. But couldn’t you have just gotten rid of Zoe? Invited her to the sub? Something… Well, Smokey wins this week’s stupid award for not killing Zoe.
By the way, Zoe, Sally Jesse Raphael called – she wants her glasses back.
We also found out that according to the powerful but petty power players like Widmore and Smokey, Kate is now superfluous. However, if she is expendable, WHY DID JACOB PAY HER A VISIT? She’s sneaking under the radar for an important reason.
So, Smokey and Jack bust our folks outta the cages, and we see Smokey kill some more folks and find explosives on the plane. He removes the explosives (not to save lives, but to use the C4 he knew would be there for more nefarious purposes), and steers our crew to the sub. The entire time, Jack is naively protesting leaving the island. And I think somewhere deep down, he knows Smokey doesn’t want Jack to stay.
Smokey also anticipates Sawyer’s con, and everything begins to fall into its proper place.
After some gun battle, and some moving of chess pieces (you knew Smokey was waiting to get shoved into the water by Jack), all of our folks make it into the sub, minus Claire (poor Krazy Klaire, never picked for any reindeer games).
Kate’s been shot, and as the submarine descends, Jack asks for some bandages from his backpack… Which was switcheroo’d by Smokey to have all the explosives and a timer.
Jack has the right idea! Don’t touch the bomb. It won’t go off, because Smokey can’t kill a candidate, right? But Sawyer, rightfully wary about the whole endeavor, wrongfully yanks the wires out, causing the timer to go into hyperdrive.
Sayid saves the day for nearly everyone by telling Jack he’s the candidate and that Desmond lives, takes the bomb and runs to the other end of the sub. Kaboom! Sayid goes out, Arzt-style! Confusion and flooding ensues. Lapidus gets one last Bruce Willis line before taking a header from an imploding steel door, Sawyer gets bonked in the head, and Sun is pinned against a wall. Crap!!
Jack is back in season one mode, saving Kate, Hurley and an unconscious Sawyer (boy, he’s going to HATE himself when he wakes up), but can’t save Sun (hopeless) or Jin (his choice).
Well, I choked up. That was a brutal way to go. But kind of beautiful, too. And similar to Charlie’s demise. Only, as much as that one hurt, this one hurt a lot more. I think we can safely say that Smokey is a 100%, genuine meany-weenie. He is not getting invited to next year’s luau..
Our remaining heroes make it shore, and they all break down. Thank you, writers, for not giving us a speech where one wouldn’t do it justice. Hurley and Jack channel what we’re feeling about the whole thing.
So, the question now becomes about how these four react. They can’t really kill Smokey, can they? And will their hearts be eaten al
ive with darkness? Will they warp into twisted killers like Krazy Klaire and Sayid? I bet Sawyer could easily head down this road now. We shall see…
Thoughts about the deaths of our beloved Sayid, Sun, Jin and (apparent though not confirmed death) Lapidus:
Show runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have been taking some flack this week for killing most of the ethnically diverse characters in one swell foop (Sayid = Middle Eastern. Jin & Sun = Korean. Lapidus = Sasquatch).
I can understand the criticism, but I would counter with this: In our modern age, Cuse and Lindelof would’ve known that this could be a controversial choice, but the story dictated it. Three of these characters had simply, naturally, reached the end of their storylines (one could even argue that Sayid’s was over-extended). It was, in fact, a BRAVER choice to bring these storylines to a close and risk the wrath of the politically correct.
SAYID: Remember that Sayid originally was going to be a suicide bomber in Sydney, but backed out at the last minute? Well, I guess he got his wish, huh? Seriously, though, I am sad his ending was so abrupt and quickly overtaken with the heartbreaking deaths of Jin and Sun. But let’s face it; Sayid was nothing if not a man of action. For him to make a quick decision to sacrifice himself for his friends was an apt way to go. He’d already died, for crikey’s sake! That he died saving most of his friends’ lives, and gave Jack his confirmation that he indeed was the candidate?
“Because it’s you.” Concise. Clear. It was the right thing to say, and the right way to go. And I’m sure in two weeks, when we see our crew again, we’ll get some onscreen acknowledgement of the end of a beloved character.
Bon voyage, original flavor Sayid! Without a doubt, you were one of the coolest, most memorable television heroes ever. While you didn’t get quite as much nooky as Sawyer, you finished a strong second in that department. Far and away, you kicked more butt in hand-to-hand combat than anyone else on the show, and took your fair share of hits as well. You had a big heart, and a tortured soul. Your self-loathing was acute, but your capacity to love others and aspirations to live honorably surpassed most others. Still never bought an Iraqi Red Guard torturer falling in love with a spoiled rich brat from Los Angeles, but what the hell. Glad you might get a chance with Nadia in the sideways universe.
This one’s for you, Sayid (apologies to Neil Sedaka):
 JIN and SUN: After getting an unceremonious reunion last week, I’m so glad these two got the full weight of this week’s episode. Think about how much these two went through, just to die in each other’s arms.
Now, I’m sure a lot of folks might be a little peeved that Jin chose to stay, and not try and make it back to raise Ji Yeon on his own (which, by the way, would’ve been a great, bittersweet story arc), but c’mon, man. Give them a break. Ji Yeon’s got bazillionaire grandparents to take care of everything, right?
I will miss these characters terribly. For at least four seasons, their storyline had depth, pathos, and real growth. The journey Jin went on (from mistrusting bully to loyal romantic) happened at the right pace, with the right catalysts. And for a long time, Sun was the most complex female character, until Juliet came along.
I did feel that, in the midst of all the show mythology and the vast amount of story territory to cover, Jin and Sun got lost in the shuffle this past season, which was a real shame. The show had poised both of them to go to some interesting places (Jin on his solo journeying through time on the island, and Sun becoming a somewhat malevolent, vengeance-seeking off-island force striking deals with Widmore to kill Ben). But, this week, they got the closure they deserved. And if you’re a big Jin fan, keep an eye for him to be back on series television in the fall, when the remake of ‘Hawaii 5-0’ premieres.
Lapidus: Lastly, I’m sorry that Jeff Fahey didn’t get more to do with this role. Did you get the feeling that the producers got their hands on a decent character actor, created a compelling character, then just found no place to fit him in? He was like an NBA all-star riding the Celtics bench. Still talented, still capable of big minutes, but stuck on an overloaded team.
Perhaps, in the end, he was too similar to Sawyer: tough, gruff, sarcastic, acerbic, hairy, prone to unbuttoned dress shirts, but with decently capped teeth. All this time, we thought he was safe because he was a pilot. Whoops. However, if I were Locke, I would’ve kept you around. You can land helicopters, jets and planes in any adverse conditions, including time travel. Locke, apparently, is such a lousy pilot, you’d book a flight on the Hindenburg before hopping in his ride.
What we talk about when we talk about love, er, lost:
A few weeks back, I told you that (at least for me), Lost is about The Survival of Love. Not just love on it’s own terms, but love that is challenged, love that is wounded, compromised, hurt but ultimately rises above all crises and evolves to become the love that comes from the deepest place.
That resonated with me when Jin and Sun overcame every obstacle and beat The Man In Black. They died, but their love endures. Nothing took that away.
But at times, we all know that love requires great sacrifice. Sometimes, the price can be too dear. Which brings to me this:
I think as an audience, we know the unspoken notion that most of our remaining characters, the ones still alive in the original timeline, are going to have to die. Yes, yes, Sideways timeline folks have their own things going on, but our surviving heroes are going to be left with one choice: Stay on the island forever, or die. These deaths will complete the arc for that individual to move onto this ultimately better life we’re seeing. A couple people will live, to replace whoever needs replacing on the island, but that’s it.
Once these conflicted characters embrace that struggle, growth and love, the love survives, but they won’t. That is, except for the few replacement players (maybe Jack and ..?), for whom embracing that love means to live as an eternal martyr enabling all other love to survive.
Something will happen to that original timeline to close it off. Or, a more compelling question might be that when Jughead detonated (or may not have), did it obliterate the outside world in our original timeline? That the Ji Yeon and the Aaron we’ve seen, and know live back on the mainland, no longer exist? That, except for the folks that were on the island and those already on their way to island via Widmore’s sub, that timeline effectively ended?
Only three episodes left! But, over four-and-half hours of programming, and lots of ground to cover!
·         Ben, Miles and Alpert are probably back at Dharmaville rounding up all remaining weapons, grenades, etc. You won’t see them next week, but they’ll be back for the final two episodes.
·         But wait a minute: Remember last season when Sawyer, Juliet and others were paddling on a boat, went through a time flash, and suddenly found themselves being pursued by another boat with three characters whom ended up shooting at our heroes? And that Juliet returned fire, hitting one of those shady folks? And the, shortly thereafter, Sawyer, Juliet and crew time-flashed back to their original timeline? It remains an unsolved show mystery, so I ask you: Who do you think those three people were? Why do you think they would be shooting at heroes? To prevent them from ultimately detonating Jughead, or create some wrinkle in the timeline in a well-meaning attempt to th
wart Smokey, perhaps? And who do you think took a bullet?
·         I still want to know who/what was Christian’s ghost off-island, and I want to know when Smokey will figure out there’s an alternate universe. I want to know why Christian is still playing such a prominent role, and has yet to be shown. Now, on another side note, I finally think I know what all that ash is! In fact, I’m almost positive I know what the ash is. And I think next week, I will get my answer!
·         You won’t see Desmond next week, but he will be in the final two episodes as well.
·         As a matter of fact, island Bernard and Rose might go all Lassie on a certain someone stuck in a well. On that note, after watching the scene between dentist Bernard and doctor Jack, don’t you get the feeling that Bernard and Rose know something that the rest of us don’t?
·         So, from the original/prominent cast members, who’s left that we haven’t seen in the sideways timeline? Shannon, Abbadon, Eko, Mr. Friendly, Ana Lucia, Juliet, Rousseau, Christian, Walt, and Michael (I know – we saw Michael’s ghost, but I don’t think that quite counts). There are others, but that covers the main folks. How many of those do you think we’ll see again by show’s end?
·         ABC released a couple of promos for next week’s episode. In one promo, we see two women – one is pregnant, presumably with someone or something important. The other woman is Alison Janney (West Wing). My theory is that either she fulfilled the original Jacob role, or the original Smokey role. We just don’t know yet.
·         On an even more interesting note: I’m not sure this show is quite done with time travel. I can’t say for sure whether the time flashes may still occur, but there may be some residual effects from past time flashes we saw in other episodes. Just something to keep in mind…
·         NOTE: THIS IS A REPEAT BULLET FROM THE LAST POST, BUT I’M ADDING TO IT, FOR GOOD REASON. This might have been a “Blooper”, but I think it was intentional: Jack and Locke’s fireside conversation was at night. But when they walked back, it was in daylight. Long conversation, or clunky symbolism? Guess what, people – That was not blooper, and that was no clunky symbolism. Time is speeding up on the island. I repeat, TIME IS SPEEDING UP ON THE ISLAND! Remember Faraday’s experiment with the small rocket launched from the ship? Back then, the time difference between the island and off-island was 3 minutes. Well, if Faraday were still alive and conducting the same experiment, what do you think would be different? And why? I think I know why. I think the cork is out of the bottle. I think time on the island is rapidly going down the drain. Like a blackhole, sucking up all energy, time, space, love and hope. The anti-matter isn’t coming out; it’s sucking everything in.
·         Want to hear something else kinda crazy? Remember two seasons ago when the storyline hinted strongly at reincarnation? Well, that theory quieted down somewhat, as people thought the reincarnation was of the more symbolic variety – Locke wasn’t really reborn, but reanimated by someone/something else. BUT, there have been a few hints of reincarnation popping up again this year. The biggest one that came to my attention is that Ilana originally refers Richard Alpert as “Ricardus” – NOT Richard, and not Ricardo. Ricardus is the original Latin version of the name. Alpert corrected her and said he was indeed Richard. Could Richard have been Ricardus in another life, serving the same purpose on the island?
Want to get even crazier?
This week’s crazy (but not too crazy) theory:
Last night, as I’m gathering intel to write my post, I was visiting various online Lost forums, trawling for good theories or some decent info. There’s this guy who’s gaining momentum and support on a theory he developed at the end of season 5 that Aaron is the key to everything. All of this stuff is a time-loop to help give birth to Aaron, who is the ultimate antidote to Smokey. Aaron is the actual timeline deviation that Jacob or someone else created to prevent Smokey from destroying mankind. And Smokey has spent all this time trying to prevent Aaron from being born, even going so far as to weave an alternate timeline to help make that occur. This guy also thinks that ‘The Others’ are all people who were raised on the island, or brought the island and trained to do whatever it takes to ensure that Aaron is born.
I could go on for pages, but suffice to say, this guy’s theory is compelling because he goes through each season with supporting evidence. I did say a few posts back that Aaron is such an important biblical name – “Exalted” and “Enlightened” are the Hebrew translations. Aaron is Moses’ older brother, high priest of the Israelites, etc.
Oh, and the candidates? They never were candidates to replace Jacob (that was speculation on Smokey’s part). They were candidates to help (Jack/Christian) “Shepherd” the birth/resurrection of Aaron.
To quote Keanu: Whoa.
My co-worker started watching ‘Lost’ for the first time, and just gave his opinion of the first episode. Its fascinating watching someone begin ‘the journey’. I’m temped to encourage to him to watch the finale in a few weeks, then go back and pick up wherever he left off. I mean, wouldn’t it be interesting to talk to someone who discovered these episodes out of order?
Is ‘Lost’ like a figure eight, storytelling in an infinite form? Not quite a Keanu-worthy, thought, but compelling nonetheless.
Folks, there’s so much more to cover and so little time left. But isn’t it a lot of fun?
Thanks for reading and for watching

"Lost" in Translation: Cry Me a River, "Lost" Maniacs

Don’t leave the island without it!

As the end of “Lost” approaches every previously-accepted point of the show’s fact, history and fancy seem to pirouette, somersault and get blown to smithereens.

Sayid – dead. Sun and Jin – dead. Lapidus – vanished and presumed….well, your guess is as good as mine. Hurley – weeping uncontrollably. Alt-Locke – revealed as the loving son of a vegged-out Anthony Cooper, wracked by guilt because he crashed the plane that not only shattered his own spine, but destroyed the life of his beloved old man. Leaving the bald boy so wrought by guilt he won’t even consider Alt-Jack’s offer of a near-surefire cure for his paralysis.

Did I mention that this post might include some spoilers from last night’s episode? Maybe I should have noted that earlier.

Questions are answered, stories resolved. Satisfying or not, an ending always means the foreclosing of options. The collapse of some possibilities in favor of others. Which leads just as inevitably to disappointment and outrage. It’s like the show’s creators have pillaged your imagination, kicking apart your dreams and contradicting your own sense of logic and reality.

No surprise then to turn on the Twitter this morning and see some of my favorite tweeters (James Poniewozik; Tim Carvell) already engaged in a what-if-the-ending sucks-does-it-wreck-the-whole-series exchange.

Which reminds me of why I think series conclusions, particularly in long serialized shows full of myth and mystery, will always be roundly loathed. And why the final answers to “Lost” shouldn’t matter that much to anyone, anyway. . . .

1. The show’s mythology is just that: a groovy overlay of narrative to draw viewers from episode to episode. OMG, the island is capable of anything – polar bears; meandering spirits; antagonists behind every palm tree; monsters, instant healing and more. The easiest question – what the hell are these things and where did they come from? – is way less important than the realization that it’s nothing more (or less) than an animation of our own internal consciousness. I’m not sure what you think about at 3:15 a.m. when you can’t sleep and your skin seems to chafe against your bones, but when I close my eyes it’s all monsters, torches and the ghost of every disaster I ever created, accidentally or not.

2. Ordinarily I kick the crap out of anyone who tries to tell me that the journey matters more than the destination (consider every airline flight you’ve ever suffered) but in “Lost”‘s case, it’s actually true. No matter how the show ends what I (and you?) will remember through the years will almost certainly be the revelations about the characters’ origins: the headwaters of guilt, grief and anger that put them on the island in the first place. Why and how they’re “lost” on the island can’t come close to competing with the revelation that they were all spiritually “lost” even before they got there. Because eventually 3:15 a.m. comes calling for all of us, and isn’t it awful how you can by safe in bed in your comfy 1st World home and still see nothing but jungle, torches, bears and whispering spirits?

3. Consider Locke, in new Smokey form and original alt-Locke recipe, and his perpetually fraught relationship with air travel. Even his hollowed out shell can’t seem to get off the ground, now that you mention it. I’m hesitant to toss in a reference to Icarus right here, but no matter how you slice him he sure does want to get closer to the sun. And when he falls (from Oceanic 815; from his daddy’s apartment window; from his own airplane with daddy in the co-pilot’s chair) he smacks the earth pretty hard. Too bad Smokey-Locke’s only apparent way off the island is yet another airplane, eh? Situations change, but the essential character and flaws of a human soul hold true. (see also: the endless blackness of Tony Soprano’s soul, as animated so brilliantly by the wonderful, yet despised, cut to black at the end of “The Sopranos”‘s finale).

4. Notice when the about-to-be-blowed-up Sayid told Jack that he is “it”? If that’s not a clue about the essential roles control and heroics (no matter the cost) play at the heart of his character – even when he’s determined to move past them – then I’ll have something else to feel awful about the next time 3:15 a.m. rolls around.

5. No amount of C-4 can liquify the impact Sayid made when we realized – at the height of the Iraq war, you’ll recall – how his story was such an evocative micro-portrait of the amorality of war, and the way larger powers play so fast and loose with the lives and spirits residing under their influence. On a human level the paradoxes seem endless. Sayid, after all, was made into an Iraqi torturer despite his conscience. And even when his warring was done his conscience dictated that he take up torturing again to restore justice somewhere else. How could he reconcile these two irreconcilable facets of his character? He couldn’t, so eventually his only option was to go boom.

6. Also on the go-boom list: “Lost” itself. But no matter how things end on May 23rd the real story has already been told. If you really watched the show I hope and trust it was because you could sense how the show had seen into you. That’s the series’ significance, that’s what matters. May 23rd could add another layer of magic, or maybe it’ll be just one more in a chain of way-more-engaging-than-usual primetime TV. Seems like a no-lose to me, particularly since the real battle for your tv-watching soul was fought and won way back in season 1.

Hello, Dr. Nick!: Deep "Lost" Analysis – Still Smokeyin'

Dave’s not here!

By Nick Gorini
In a break from form, I feel the need to start off this post by issuing this week’s Stupid Award to yours truly. Why? Well, I spent last week telling everyone and their brother that ‘The Last Recruit,’ this week’s episode of ‘Lost’, was going to possible be an absolute bloodbath of Eli Roth-like proportions.
My Intel and my Spidey Sense were WAY off.
Consider this my formal mea culpa: For getting caught up in being the first with the gossip scoop, for paying more attention to what the internets were saying (I mean, they never lie, right?) and less to the pulse of the story, for not being diligent in my fact-checking, and for being gullible, I have won this week’s Stupid Award!
Was I confused, living in an alternate timeline? Was I manipulated and swayed by the Smoke Monster? Did Jacob steer me in this misguided direction to teach me a larger lesson? Was it because the episode cryptically appeared on the date of 4/20, Man?
I bring up 4/20 for a couple of reasons: The Losties crashed on a tropical island, looking much like Hawaii. Tropical islands (like Hawaii) are typically known for growing certain types of plants that have a known, enthusiastic following. Let’s put it this way – I imagine Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson might even have vacation homes near Hydra Station (hydroponics is a popular topic of discussion with this subculture).
With this information in mind, I ask you, why the hell didn’t Jacob try having a toke with Smokey? His name is Smokey, after all. Why didn’t Smokey try growing some weed in a quiet, fern-covered patch of his back yard, next to the chicken coop? While I don’t believe in any chemical cure-all (this is Lost – resolution has to come from within), can you imagine how different our storyline would be if Smokey had the occasional, well, smoke?
For all his troubles and eternal enslavement, all Jacob offered Smokey was half a carafe of table wine (back in Alpert’s episode). I’d be pissed, too. Give me something a little stronger. Of course, you don’t have to be Catholic to know that what Jacob offered Smokey wasn’t really wine; it was something much stronger. Smokey knew that, too, which is why he smashed that sacrament and faith into shards littering the hallowed ground.
Perhaps that’s what Jacob wanted for Smokey. To not ply himself with narcotic, to not be complacent and trapped. After all, ‘It only ends once. Everything before that is progress.’ Maybe Jacob wants this escalation, maybe Jacob needs this chaos to help save Smokey. To help save his soul. To help Smokey embrace his destiny. Wonder what that could be?…
By the way, have I mentioned that I still haven’t stopped thinking about ‘Ab Aeterno’?
This week’s Aye, Caramba! moments…and more….after the jump:

Locke and Ben in the ambulance on the way to the ER. Locke is awake, alert and remembers his penning wedding to Peg Bundy, er, Helen. He’s still in there, folks.

Sun recognizing Locke on the way into the hospital. But maybe she remembered Terry O’Quinn from ‘The Stepfather’. He was real creepy in that one, too.

In what seemed a weak stretch, Kate threatens overly-flirtatious Sawyer with the knowledge that he went to Australia for nebulous reasons. Didn’t buy that logic, but I did believe her when she said she didn’t kill anyone. Wonder what the real story is.

Of course Miles and Sawyer are the cops to catch Sayid. Nice touch, tripping Sayid with a garden hose to capture him. However, the real Sayid would’ve been able to snap Sawyer’s neck like a matchstick.

Desmond ‘bumping’ into Claire and getting her to a lawyer’s office (“Hi, Ilana! Glad to see you in one piece!). Question: Did Desmond know that Claire and Jack were going to meet at that moment, or was that an event that Desmond had no previous knowledge of, but once it happened, got affirmation that his puzzle pieces are coming together?

The brief exchange between Nadia and Sayid set the stage nicely for one of the best scenes of the evening: Sayid and Desmond at the well. Can Desmond’s reminder of love redeem our favorite undead assassin? Well, if Ben can suddenly be a good guy, why not?
Ohhh! Ohhh! Zoe has missiles now!! WOW!! Somebody please kill off Zoe now. Bland acting, tepid character, bad lines… What’s not to hate?

I like that the show handled the two separate Claire/Jack meetings with some strange, unresolved awkwardness. If the show had tried to handle either situation with some cheesy score in the background, and smiles, it would’ve been too fake, too unearned. Jack’s shock at the law office, and Claire’s barely contained bitterness on the island were the right notes to play.

The baby is fine! The baby is fine! Yes, it would’ve been really brave of the creators to go way dark, have Jin and Sun’s baby not survive the shooting. But that might have been just too heavy. Not only that, but I don’t think it would’ve worked for what the show is trying to tell us. Lost isn’t about punishing innocents/innocence. Everyone other than Walt arrived on that island with some intense inner baggage – even that smug dog, Vincent (wonder if his flashback would’ve revealed a life spent peeing on carpets, terrorizing neighbor cats and NOT fetching balls).

We knew Jack and Locke would meet on an operating table, but it was a nice touch to have it via a mirror reflecting Locke’s face at (or into) Jack’s consciousness.

So Smokey pretended to be Christian (MOST of the time – see bullet point below for some continuity issues with that statement). Oddly, I felt that Smokey was about 95% honest with Jack in their fireside chat. Right up until the end about all of the candidates needing to go back. He’s just rounding them up to make an easier kill. I also liked that look Jack had when Smokey was speaking ill of Locke – I swear Jack wanted to slap him.

Pay attention alert! As a side note, have you noticed how virulent Smokey’s hatred is whenever he speaks of Locke now? These little speeches sound an awful lot like someone beating up on themselves. It sounds more like self-disgust and shame to me.

Sawyer has some good moments this week, and momentarily, he grabbed pole position when he rounded up most of the troops to stage a coup. And he knew that Kate would force his hand in bringing Claire along.

Desmond at the well, waiting to baptize Sayid and make him a born-again loverboy. I really liked that Desmond’s approach wasn’t to refute anything Smokey promised Sayid. “What will you tell her.” Yet another great Desmond Hume scene. And no, Sayid didn’t shoot him. But did he simply walk away, or does Desmond have to wait for Lassie to come back with help?

It seems obvious that Smokey wanted Sawyer and crew to get on the boat and make it over to Widmore island. In fact, Smokey seemed awfully happy to have Jack to himself.

And don’t worry, Jack. I don’t think you really killed Juliet. After all, you two seem to have raised a fine young boy.

We finally get Jin and Sun’s reunion! The only bummer is that what should’ve been a pretty significant show moment, was overshadowed by the necessity to end on a cliffhanger and propel the plot. That was a shame.
A little trivia from a trivial mind:

Smokey really didn’t know why Sun lost her voice. That is an important point to remember.

There’s certain evidence here that Smokey has no idea about the alternate timeline. This is also extremely important (“Here come da Resurrection!”)

To a certain extent, I think as an audience,
we’ve assumed that we know as much as Desmond, but that definitely isn’t the case. Desmond knows a little more; probably not the whole enchilada, but more than we do.

Speaking of Desmond, his sailboat sure seems to be in pretty good shape after all this time. And stocked with canned goods?
Those silly writers are still messing around with those numbers! I got this bit of trivia from Lostpedia: “The first flash was John Locke’s (candidate #4); the third flash was Saywer’s (candidate #15), the fourth flash was Sayid’s (candidate #16), the fifth flash was Jack’s (candidate #23) and the last flashback was Jin and Sun’s (candidate(s) #42.” What are we counting up to, guys?

Someone tell me why Sawyer, who has used Star Wars references in his insults throughout the show, didn’t know who the hell Anakin Skywalker was? Crikey, he even used a Burt Reynold’s reference to insult Lapidus – he obviously knows his pop-culture.

This might have been a “Blooper”, but I think it was intentional: Jack and Locke’s fireside conversation was at night. But when they walked back, it was in daylight. Long conversation, or clunky symbolism?

Claire and Desmond’s elevator number? 15.

This episode had more character juxtapositions than any previous episode. You had Jack taking orders from Sawyer, Widmore conning Sawyer, Jack’s son David giving Jack the pre-surgery pep-talk and affection Christian never gave him, helpful sideways Ben not knowing much about Locke, Smokey calling Locke a “sucker” juxtaposed with Ben calling Locke a “Believer” in a previous episode, Zoe giving Smokey a sundown deadline (just like Smokey did at the Temple), Jack saving Locke’s life at the ER vs. Smokey saving Jack’s life on the beach, Locke greeting Jack with “Nice day for a swim” – which is what Sawyer said to Juliet in the same situation, and lastly, that great boat scene with Jack and Sawyer. Jack being Locke, Sawyer being Jack, then Jack being Sawyer by jumping off the boat (like Sawyer jumping out of the chopper).

Peter mentioned this in his post – who impersonated Christian Shepherd off-island? Smokey claimed to have impersonated Christian, but Jack saw him off-island. Was it Jacob? Was it Smokey? Or by golly, was it actually Christian?
What’s on the road. A head?

I mentioned this last week, but at least one more KEY character from the past will be showing up soon. Someone who was a regular cast member. Someone “Special”.

There are still some unexplored places on this island. We will see some of these places before we’re through.
As speculated, we will soon be getting Smokey’s back story. Perhaps we’ll meet his mom, of whom he speaks quite fondly. I wonder what family photo day was like?

 “Comb your hair! Sit up straight, mister! You made a mess of those pants when you got all smoke-monstery! Stop killing the photographer! I can’t take you anywhere, young man! Why can’t you be more like your brother Jacob?”

I’m also keeping this bullet point from last week and using it again, because I think some people aren’t quite catching it: I encourage you, no, I implore you, to 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.

I ask you: Are you prepared for an ending that may not meet your needs? One that may not give you all the answers to the petty island mysteries? Or more interestingly, are you rooting for a dark, emotionally complicated ending, or hoping for a resolved, happier one? Something to think about.
Thanks for reading and watching!

"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.