He's Back! Dr. Nick gets all analytico-reducto with "Lost"'s 'The Package.'

Look at the package on that guy…

By Nick Gorini

Hello there. Many apologies for not posting last week in regards to the epic ‘Ab Aeterno’, which according to internet chatter, has already become one of the most beloved Lost episodes all time.
I did have my reasons for not posting: Spring Break, travel, willfully ignoring things like television, email, phones, and the like. But I must confess: I’m still trying to figure out the Alpert episode! I’ve watched it twice, and I fear I may be over-analyzing myself into a perplexed, Doc Jensen-like Rubicon.
So much has been written about the damn thing, that in order to just fill-up that gaping hole in my heart, I will just post a few vexing thoughts about it before I move on to talking about Kwon’s Package…
In regards to ‘Ab Aeterno’:

1.   As we expected, it is tragedy that drove Alpert to the island. It’s what has driven all of our major characters. But the man who purchased Alpert as a ship’s slave was working for a man named Hanso. The Hanso family eventually went on to create the Dharma Initiative. Does this mean that the Hanso’s have always been knowledgeable about the island and it’s powers? Was Alpert purchased specifically for that intent?

2.   Alpert’s back-story? Powerful, tragic, and engrossing. I’m also intrigued and trying to understand why he wasn’t offered absolution from the priest in prison. Penance takes time, he was told, and he didn’t have that. Was this an example of a cruel priest perhaps symbolizing the cruelty of the power players on the island? Was it that Alpert didn’t seem so sincere in his guilt, much like Eko was? Or did the priest know where Alpert was ultimately headed? I don’t know…

3.   Some people think Alpert was talking to his wife’s ghost, while others think even the sincere moments were held with Smokey as an apparition. Why did she wait until Alpert called out to Smokey to show up? When the scene cut to Smokey in the distance, why did he look unsurprised at the moment? I don’t know…

4.   Richard the prisoner was really into Luke 4:1-27. But what is the purpose? Alpert wasn’t on a 40-day fast in the desert, and he doesn’t seem to have a demon inside him needing to be cast out. So, folks, why is this passage important?

5.   Smokey? Exactly as I expected him to be. Jacob? That threw me for a loop. Seeing him beat the living daylights out of Alpert shocked me – this isn’t the way we’ve been watching him behave before (or since, if we’re talking linearly timeline on the show). And the fact that it’s ALPERT’S suggestion to become consigliore instead of the other way around? Also odd. This Jacob doubts. This Jacob uses physical force. This Jacob doesn’t seem to operate with the bigger picture in mind. And this Jacob gloats. All of these things… I’m still trying to figure out what it means.

6.   And on that note: “Bring back my wife!” Can’t do that. “Give me absolution!” Can’t do that, either. “Give me immortality!” Oh! Yeah, I can do THAT! Folks, what does this mean? I don’t know…

7.   [Imagined scene from the writer’s room]: Well crap, we still gotta explain the damn slave ship and that freaking four-toed statue! HEY! I know – let’s just crash ‘em into each other! Yeah! HA HA! It’s like we’re telling the audience to stop asking about this stupid crap and focus on the characters, or something!

8.   Lastly, I give myself the delayed Stupid Award from last week, because I didn’t post anything, and because I still can’t figure this freakin’ episode out…
ENOUGH! Onto The Package…just hit the jump….
Rather than give a blow-by-blow account, let’s just touch on the highlights, shall we?
Our ‘other’ Jin and Sun don’t speak English (my bad – when we last saw them at the airport, I was convinced Sun wasn’t speaking English because she WANTED Jin to get busted). Also, while Jin works for Mr. Paik, he’s not married to Sun. They are kicking boots, however. In not so secret.
Odd that Sun seems so much more self-assured, and openly self-indulgent, in this timeline. And this Jin is still a bit of an ass, but not as mean as Jin originally was before the island redeemed him. Also odd that this time around, running away from Mean Old Man Paik was news to him. And, odd that Sun got her moment of reflection in a mirror (like Jack, Locke, Ben, Kate, etc.) but I didn’t notice Jin getting one, unless I missed something.
Sun’s Dad (like nearly all dads on this show) is still a Big-time jerk – in fact, he’s such a jerk that he has Jin personally deliver the $25,000 smackers to pay (the awesome villain) Keamy to kill him! As mean as it is to have someone killed, this is even meaner. Wow.
And Omar’s there again, too. No wait! It’s Patchy! Awesome. I missed the old, died-4-5-times-before-he-really-died-Patchy. Well, he died again (along with Keamy and Omar) but not before he got to speak Korean, and not before he got his eye shot out (“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”).

What other awesomeness did we get in this timeline? Oh man, I loved that cruel, conflicted speech Keamy gave a clueless Jin in the walk-in cooler. When Jin mistakenly thanked Keamy for his “kindness”, Keamy seemed sad and excited about what he was about to do. Almost like he was playing some sort of evil role that he wasn’t entirely buying into. It was great.
Hat tip to Doc Jensen at EW this week, for explaining a most-awesome juxtaposition: While Keamy is messing with Jin’s mind in the enclosed walk-in cooler in one timeline, Jin’s tied up in Dharma psychological torture Room 23 in the other. Doc reminds us that the last time we saw Room 23 was when Karl was being tortured in it – tortured by Ben for dating his daughter Alex! So, Paik = Ben, Jin = Karl, and Sun = Alex. Jensen also reminds us – who killed Karl and Alex? Keamy and Omar!! WHOA!!!!!
Well, we already know what happens next. We also see Sayid reluctantly hand Jin a box cutter to free himself. Gee, thanks for saving me, I guess.. Honestly, for a second, I thought Sayid was going to shoot Jin. This new Soul-less Sayid creeps me out, man. Thankfully he takes off.
Before this side of events ends, we have to have a tragic cliffhanger, one that will force the involvement of yet another character (like say, a surgeon). So, sadly, we see a pregnant Sun getting shot in the stomach, with Jin frantically carrying her to the hospital.
For what it’s worth, I have to say that I always liked the Jin/Sun storyline. The love story seems genuine, the passion real, and the growth and redemption well earned. While I don’t consider myself THAT much of a softie, I’ll be a little pissed if these two don’t get to live happily ever after in some capacity.
Some great stuff happened on this side of the storyline, too. Opening with some night goggle vision was intriguing, for sure. Smokey’s cryptic statements to Sayid’s lack of feeling (“That may be for the best”) and to Claire’s remaining streaks of bloodlust and jealousy (when it comes to killing Kate – once she’s gathered all the other candidates I can have killed, “Whatever happens, happens.” ß A former quote from Faraday, which I know is only going to feed fodder for Doc Jensen’s crazy-ass ‘Faraday is Smokey’ theory) were great examples of Smokey’s power plays.

"Mad Men" #8: "You Be Me For a While, I'll Be You…"

I’m having trouble doing the photo/design thing this morning. Which is both annoying and conceptual: Because I’m not really a photo/design person, and every time I perform that function I’m faking it (see also: my inability to wrap type around the photos) and getting away with something (barely).

Which brings us back to “Mad Men” 8: a subtle fantasia, with virtually everyone playing out a new, unfamiliar role, pretending to be who they’re not, and still trying to parse the potential consequences.

This is deep psycho-narrative “Mad Men,” nearly as deep as you can get. Particularly when you notice how much the characters reveal about themselves when they slip (frightfully easily, or not) into their own feigned realities.

Betty moving awkwardly into her new career as a local pol/activist. Only her first significant victory turns out to be centered on something else entirely – or something not so now, which is to say her icy blonde good looks. Gov Rockefeller’s man, Henry Francis, swoops in, official papers in hand, but this is a quid-pro-quo, and when Betty won’t deliver the quo, the quid evaporates. So back to role #1, with a first stop at the beauty parlor for an all-new look for Don.

Follow the jump for more. . .

Pete Campbell, meanwhile, finds himself alone in the city for a weekend. Drinks with the boys (he’s buying!), then a fortuitous run-in with the tearful au pair next door, a Gertrude of Germany, who has dress problems she can’t solve, but Pete can, with the sort of dispatch a rich young man can create in the big city. Off to Bonwit Teller where he runs into. . . .Joan Holloway, unhappily (and yet with the same super-smart ability) solving her customer’s problem while revealing no small amount of dismay over her new non-Sterling-Cooper station in life.

Don has been summoned to Italy to be with his new friend Connie Hilton, accompanied (at the last minute) by Betty, with her new ‘do and an out-of-left-field ability to speak perfect, conversational Italian. Mama mia! A romantic two-night getaway, which becomes particularly enjoyable for Don when he meets Betty in a cafe, only to find her being hit upon by two randy young Italianos. She bats them around cat-and-mice-like, and Don picks up on the game instantly, sitting a table away and pretending to be a stranger. The Italianos are aggrieved, but helpless: Their young American target falls instantly for her handsome countrymen, and goes right back to his room. Their room, actually, but the Italianos didn’t know that.

Back in Ossining the long-suffering Carla plays Mama Draper, while Sally plays sexually-agressive grown-up lady, smooching neighbor child Ernie on the cheek, just in time to be observed, and taken to little brotherly task, by the roundly (if mysteriously) despised young Bobby Draper, who interprets her sister’s activities as being similar to any couple who might be sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Sally takes immediate and violent exception to this description, and fraternal violence occurs. Carla breaks it up, freaked out both by Sally’s extreme moods and (unstated) how odd it is for a young american girl to be quite so aggressive about anything. (something’ happening here/what it is ain’t exactly clear….)

Back on the upper east side, Pete hands Gertrude her new dress, grandly, but to no real effect. A few drinks later he comes back in search of his just desserts. Provided, it seems, but not happily. Caught out later by his neighbor, he attempts to fib his way out of the mess (“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”) then fesses up, mostly to himself. Sad and humiliated, he greets the returning Trudy with an expression of dismay, guilt and sorrow that he won’t explain, except to plead, mysteriously, “I don’t want you taking any trips without me.”

Which leaves us with a quandary: Is Pete Campbell, so unable to be anything other than himself, the most inherently moral of our “Mad Men” characters? If so, why does he seem like such a jerk so much of the time? Could there possibly be something enlightened about the boy?

Who among our Sterling Cooper friends is really the most guilty of dressing sharp but feeling (and acting) dull?