'Lost' Wednesdays: 'Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket'
I know that every "Lost" blogger in the world says this, but I absolutely have the best readers out there. You guys catch so much stuff that I miss, and the e-mails and comments you send me are always full of great food for thought. In fact, I daresay that we'll turn the second "Lost" Wednesday in a row over to your ideas, thoughts and theories.
Or, rather, we'll do that after I link you to these two posts New York magazine's culture blog Vulture made today, collecting two great YouTube finds. The first (also embedded above) shows Michael Emerson -- shifty ol' Ben Linus himself -- playing what appears to be a warden in an early '90s prison training video. It's always weird to see these actors turn up in other context, and even though Emerson is playing a friendly prison warden, it's hard not to read everything he does as sinister, making the whole thing seem that much funnier than it actually is. I'm also pretty taken with this video tribute to Hurley set to Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA." If you thought "Party in the USA" could never be used for good, I don't blame you, but the addition of Hurley somehow makes the whole thing palatable, and the footage from the show that's chosen is spot-on. Funny stuff, and video creator Sophie deserves a ton of credit.
If you haven't read it yet, Maria Elena Fernandez's interview with Hiroyuki Sanada is great, and the two get into some of the issues the show explored around Dogen in last night's episode. Here's hoping Sanada finds another role that lets him stick around a little longer and soon.
But let's move on to what you guys had to say. There was a lot to dissect in my inbox and in comments, but let's start with the e-mails I got.
Reader Susan Brettschneider wrote in taking rather an opposite point of view from me on the worth of the season. And while I, obviously, disagree with Susan, it's a point of view that's gaining a lot of steam on "Lost" discussion groups and in the mainstream. In fact, I heard a larger version of Susan's argument while listening to KROQ on my way to work this morning, so, clearly, there are people who have been thinking roughly the same.
"I am to the point of not watching the rest of the season. I don’t really care anymore. Fine they can pull strings, flashbacks, flash forwards, side swipes whatever. These are just tricks. The story would still be there if told without all these plot devices. If you have to show the hour before so that we understand your point and how this relates to season yada yada episode 2 do you think that maybe your storytelling is a little bit over the top?"
Again, I disagree, but I can see why people are growing impatient with the way that the story can seem to be stalling. Could the series probably wrap up with a one-hour episode where Jacob explains it all? Probably. But would that be dramatically satisfying? Probably not. I don't understand the complaint that we're not getting answers. I would say we're definitely getting some big answers this season, but they're of the sort where they're still raising almost as many questions as they're closing questions off. I'm along for the ride for the rest of the season, but I don't blame people if they're thinking about getting off the roller coaster, though I do think it would be a bit odd to hop off the train this close to the end.
Reader Michelle Tracy weighed in on my points about how there's not a hard and fast line between good and evil on the show:
"Remember when Keamy killed Ben's daughter and then Ben called the Smoke Monster? The Smoke Monster ended up killing Keamy and company. Why would he do that? Why would he help Ben and why wouldn't Jacob help? This distinction between good and evil is not black and white. ... Sayid represents what good and evil really (are); he can love while still being an assassin."
I've been laboring under the assumption that when Ben thought he was following the orders of Jacob, he was actually following the orders of the Smoke Monster (who was trapped in the cabin), but if he was actually following orders from Jacob (possibly passed through Richard as a conduit), it makes Jacob FAR more morally ambiguous. But we'll get to that in a moment.
And Brian Holbrook makes a point so good I wish I'd thought of it in playing off my idea that the characters need to learn to opt out of the battle between Jacob and the Smoke Monster:
"I think the biggest clue was Rose and Bernard in last season’s finale. They couldn’t care less about going on another adventure with Jack. They just wanted to be together and happy. I think all the 'castaways' need to learn what Rose and Bernard learned."
Yeah, I tend to agree. That scene with Rose and Bernard in last season's finale strikes me as a big, fat, honking clue about the ultimate direction this show is heading in. I think the characters are going to be forced to learn that maybe their biggest purpose is just to lead lives that make them happy. Thanks, Brian.
Now, on to your comments.
Gracie wonders if the whole alternate universe gambit signifies a way that the show could have Sawyer and Juliet still end up together, regardless of the fact that she's, y'know, dead. And, I have to admit, I have a friend who has a theory that the final time we see Sawyer will be in the alternate universe, where he's about to go have coffee with Juliet. I don't know if the show would be that sappy, but if any couple on this show has earned that sort of happy ending (other than Desmond and Penny and Jin and Sun), it's Sawyer and Juliet, I think. Overcoming death itself to save your love? That's good stuff.
Bill points out that the series is heading in a similar direction to "Babylon 5." Since that's one of the few sci-fi series I've never seen enough of to have an opinion on, I'll have to take his word for it, but his opinion seems pretty well thought out. I also like Matt Grommes' thoughts on how Jacob and the Man in Black may be two halves of the same person, split into personas that perfectly represent good or evil, free will or destiny, though I don't quite follow his leap to Jack and Locke ending up in the same dichotomy (at least, before Locke died). Maybe Jacob and the Man in Black are such base representations of certain philosophies because they're one person, trying to be reunited somehow. A fascinating theory.
Natalie offers a link to her review, which contains plenty of thoughts on the episode's biblical references, but she also points out that Sayid once claimed to have loved Shannon. Since I found that pairing fairly forced, I hope the show doesn't remember it as suddenly as Natalie forced me to.
This comment by Patrick Healey is so good that I don't really have anything to add to it:
"While I agree things aren't so black and white as Jacob is good, and MIB is evil...
"Anyone who goes in and commits slaughter like that is committing a very evil act. Pure and simple. So far we have not seen Jacob go anywhere near that extent. He has allowed others to die - but I doubt he wanted to. He may be thinking bigger picture here.
"I found your point about the deals that Jacob/MIBs make very intriguing - major food for thought there. Reshaped my view of the struggle in fact.
"So in the end, isn't Jacob then about sacrifice for what you care about, and MIB about do what you have to to get what you want? In which case this isn't about good/evil. It is more a philosophical approach on the human condition. Maybe Good/Evil aren't even relevant concepts anymore in a modern society. Maybe it comes down to Sacrifice and Selfishness."
That new duality is an interesting idea, and I hope the series examines it more.
But I like Laura's response to Patrick too:
"The Others were supposedly doing the work of Jacob, and they killed lots of people. The most obvious example was the Purge, where they killed all of the Dharma folks. They seem to have no problem killing someone. (When the Losties showed up at the temple, Dogen gave the order to kill them very casually, until he found out who they were.)"
As I argued last night, Jacob's not above seeing others die on his watch. He just doesn't typically want the blood directly on his hands. I side more with Laura's view of things, but I find Patrick's theory fascinating enough to keep it in mind.
--Todd VanDerWerff (follow me on Twitter at @tvoti)