"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.

"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.

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.” 

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

By NICK GORINI

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

– Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the jump for more….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ORIGINAL TIMELINE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Temple leader answers: “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again for reading, and for watching.