Thursday, January 22, 2009

LOST 024: The Curious Case of Billy Pilgrim


I meant to write up a few predictions for this Season before last night's episode, and I wish I had, because I'd sure look smart now. Regardless, here's some initial thoughts about Season 5 in general, most of which I would have written before watching last night.

Basically, I suspect we're going to see far fewer character-specific episodes, and probably a lot less flashback/flashforward for those purposes. We're into linear story, so to speak. Everything up to the point that the Oceanic Six get off the island and the island moved is, in a way, setup. Now that we're past that, it's all forward momentum from here. So to me, the episode felt a lot more like a finale without a big cliffhanger, in that it followed all the characters pretty equally and was more given to extroverted, rather than introverted, character moments.

This aspect made it feel like a really tight episode of Heroes. Much more forward action. Less contemplation. (What doesn't make it like Heroes is that it doesn't blow enormous rhino dingleberries, by which I mean, it remains true to it's own internal logic, and it lets its characters remain themselves. Sorry, I just have to bash Heroes again. I can't help it. The disparity between the two is just so vast and obvious now.) It's not a bad thing, this tonal shift, at least not if done well. It's just what the story demands. If you look at the whole six season arc in total as a single big season, we've entered the part of the season where everything starts getting very hectic and suspenseful. I expect Season 5 to reveal a lot of things about the mysteries of the island, for the simple reason that Season 6 is, of course, going to be the climactic conclusion to the whole story. If that's going to work, we'll need a Season 5 that lets us understand exactly what the stakes are. To have a proper climax, we need to tee that climax up. We need to know exactly what the island is, and who these Others are, what the Dharma initiative was really doing, the nature of Jacob and the smokebeast and the whispers, what the numbers are, and why the existence of reality itself seems to rest on getting around eight or nine people back to that island.

On to the episode.

What's funny is that this new, more muscular, more linear, less flash-backy story of LOST takes place all over the place, timewise. The fact that our island buddies are jumping all over the island's timeline is yet another masterstroke of storytelling. Honestly, it's amazing. I can't say enough about how great what the writers and show creators are doing here is.

a) Form is now function. When this show started, we'd get flashbacks pretty much every episode. By the end of the third season, that had fractured into flashes forward, backward, and (occasionally) all over the place. Now, that is the actual state of affairs for many of our heroes. The time fracture of early episodes was not just a narrative device; it was foreshadowing. And that is SO COOL.

b) Flashbacks 2.0. Fact of the matter is, with this development, we don't need flashbacks to tie up loose ends. We certainly don't have any more backstory to explore with our main characters, but we do need backstory like crazy on the island itself. And now we have a story-integrated way of getting it. We can see Sawyer/Juliet/Locke, et al, observing and perhaps even taking part of some of the origins of the island's mysteries. How the Black Rock came to the island, when Dharma arrived, Rousseau in the early years, the arrival of Henry Gale . . . it's all on the table. Even without flashbacks, we'll be getting flashbacks.

c) Click. That's the sound of a lot of things that were once baffling starting to make a bit more sense. The whispers, the ghostly apparitions,the timelines that couldn't quite add up (how DID a one-prop plane from Nigeria land in the Pacific? Why don't the Others ever age?). The mysteries don't quite make sense yet, but you start to see how they could make sense. Take a mystery, any mystery, and you'll discover that it becomes intriguingly plausible when you have a bunch of characters time-hopping around a potentially mobile island. The Adam and Eve skeletons? Could very easily be Desmond and Penny or Jack and Kate or Kate and Sawyer or Mohinder and Parkman, pretty much anybody. Bigger Walt appearing to Locke in the Dharma-corpse pit? Could happen for sure. It seems much less far-fetched to entertain the theory that Locke and Jacob are one and the same.

d) Nobody Dies Forever. Rousseau? Alex? Ana Lucia? Libby? Mr. Eko? Charlie? Boone? Shannon? Michael? Jin? Goodwin? Ethan? Big Tom? Little Tom? Slappy Sue? Hank Bankerton? Uncle Boo? Getachew Ticklu? Any of these deceased characters and more are back in play. Personally, I am looking forward to figuring out what is going on with Libby. It seems more likely these days.

And MAN there are a lot of corpses.

I am also struck by just how few revelations there were in the last episode, even as things were being revealed. What I mean by that is, the things that were revealed were the sorts of things that you could predict based on what had come before. The story has been giving us all these answers all along, if we have been paying close attention. And we probably will still need to pay close attention, and think back with clear memories, to begin to guess what this episode "told" us. For example: Isn't it likely now that Richard Alpert visited young John Locke hoping that Locke would choose the compass? The fact that moving the island means that those on it keep moving uncontrollably around time is a surprise, but the time travel aspect is no shocker.

Another example: Ben is working with Miss Hawking, the lady who convinced Desmond to stick to the "break up with Penny" script, and who was featured in a photo on the desk of Desmond's monestary leader. Crazy, right? But not really a surprise to me. Yeah, sure, I'm not the only one who has speculated about that, but it's nice to see the lines of division taking shape. The Time Keepers (my name for them) has Ben, The Others, and Mittelos. Widmore has Dharma, Marvin Candle, and their fine collection of brutal mercenaries and their pit full of dead guys.

Random Thoughts

* Am I the only person who thought Ben was lying when he said "I guess we'll never know" to Jack? No? Good deal. That's right, I am predicting that Ben is lying. I M so Smrt. In any even, Ben's non-answer when he was asked if Locke was really dead was a classic. I like the dynamic those two have. Jack does the right thing for all the wrong reasons, and Ben does the wrong thing for all the right reasons.

* So who sicced the firm of Threatening, Threatening, Intrusive & Smug on Kate and Aaron? Has to be somebody with funds and knowledge that Kate ain't that baby mama, and somebody who wanted Kate to be disturbed and paranoid. Ben might have done it, as it would certainly give Kate one of the few motivations imagineable for wanting to leave her crib and go back to the island. Jack might have done it, because let's face it, Jack's a jerk. But I think it was Sun, setting Kate up to slay Ben. She was too quick to encourage Kate to kill, and to drop the heavy "remember when you killed my husband that time?" guilt trip. And it was just too convenient that she showed up just as Kate went on the lam.

* The "Angry Whopper" is the dumbest thing I have ever seen, and I watch Heroes.

* Who knew that Frogurt could burn?

* English soldiers threatening to chop Juliet's hand? I'm guessing more Widmore mercs, probably the next batch that's coming. Flaming arrows? I'm guessing the extras from the cast of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

* OK, I didn't notice this, I read it on a board, but it is a really good point. Remember when Locke loses use of his legs near the one prop way back in Season 1? It's why Boone has to climb up there. Well . . . he loses use of his legs right at the spot where Ethan shoots him in this episode. It's almost like his legs remember. Perhaps Locke is a bit more attuned to the waves of time than most.

* The Others don't seem to time travel with the rest of the island inhabitants. Don't know what to do with that info, except to say that Locke sure was a bust as a leader, wasn't he?

* Charlotte's getting time sick. Do the Oceanic Six and friends have to go back to be The Constants for those still on the island?

* "The rules don't apply to you," Faraday told Desmond. Are those rules the same rules as The Rules, the ones Ben claims Widmore broke/changed when he allowed Alex to be shot? And who else might the rules not apply to? Walt, for instance?

* Faraday is working on Candle's orchid dig. Is that "unstuck in time" Faraday or is that "he's secretly been on the island before" Faraday? Or perhaps TGIFaraday? I Can't Believe It's Not Faraday? Time will tell.

* "Maybe if you ate more comfort food, you wouldn't have to go around shooting dudes." Gold.

* "Throwing a hot pocket at Ben Linus" should either be a song title or a euphemism for a deviant sex act. I'm voting for the latter, and am willing to take suggestions.

* Faraday's mother, the one in Oxford . . . Mrs. Hawking?

* There was far too much: "And what if we do/don't?" / "Then GOD HELP US ALL." in this set of episodes. Seriously, that's like the laziest line you can write to signal impending doom. Do better, LOST writers. And get Marvin Candle to stop over-emoting.

* Who is Marvin Candle's baby? Come on, that's coming back. That's not just random baby. That's BABY WITH A PURPOSE.

* Is Claire dead? Can we get a final ruling on that one?

* Ben, if an innocent man would rather be falsely accused of triple homicide than take you up on your offer to help said man's friends, and that decision could be seen as a RATIONAL one? . . . you may have some interpersonal issues that require professional counseling, my brother.

* Am I the only person who noticed that when Richard found Locke, fixed his leg and brought him the compass, he was acting like Ben, and that the voice was Michael Emerson's voice dubbed over? Probably not, but I'd swear that was the case. What does THAT mean?

Seventy hours, the clock is ticking, ticktock ticktock.



Mike Maloney said...

"English soldiers threatening to chop Juliet's hand? I'm guessing more Widmore mercs, probably the next batch that's coming. Flaming arrows? I'm guessing the extras from the cast of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."

I told a friend of mine that the hand chopping and flaming arrows were straight out of Robin Hood.

Anyways, people I talked to speculated that Candle's baby is Miles, although I don't think they have any evidence for that aside from them both being of Asian decent. However, I never really understood why he was on the team anyways, aside from the fact he can find ghosts? So maybe there's something to that.

When they first cut to Mrs. Hawking, I assumed it was Faraday's mother; however, was Ben talking to her at Oxford? Wasn't he in LA, and wasn't he supposed to pick up Jack in six hours? So he had to have been talking to her in California. But when is Desmond looking for her Faraday's mom? Now, or three years ago? And isn't it odd that questions like that don't seem out of place when talking about LOST?

I like the Locke/leg comparisons, nice catch.

I still think that clip of Faraday is something that happens in the future (Well, for the survivors, even though it's in the know what I mean).

1Queens Up1 said...

Excellent job Goat, some thoughts:

These could be just writer goofs or whatnot but two things stood out:

British guy yelling to cut off Julia's hand...he was wearing an American vintage WW2 outfit, yet hes British?

The prop plane...didnt someone parachute out of the plane when we first saw it in Eko's episode? The plane we saw was flying way too close for anyone to parachute out like we saw in this past episode.

Ms Hawking was the same lady who was talking to Desmond when he was looking for a ring for Penny and she dissuaded him from marrying her. Oh yeah then she reveled she could see the future when the guy with the red shoes got crushed, this is also when he learned about "time has a way of course-correcting". Interesting follow-up to this Desmond issue...we have seen 2 different ways that Desmond had a "final" goodbye with Penny. When he left for the race he said goodbye, but then in Desmond's time-travelling episode we see him say goodbye before joining the RAS. Thoughts?

Sorry if im long winded but i loved the episodes! Heres some thoughts:
Blatantly obvious that when they bring Locke back to the island he will be ressurected of sorts.

Think the time-shifts sorta solve the puzzle on why Jack's dad is seen appearing out of thin air every now and then? He was also in a casket on the plane when they crashed, strengthens the above thought I think.

timpramas said...

Charlotte is the baby. Last season's finale contained the nugget that her trip aboard the vessel allowed her to "return" to the island. Miles the psychic had a conversation with her where he revealed he knew this about her. Charlotte has talked to Daniel about having vague memories of her mother and wanting to learn more about her parents. She did not want to leave with Daniel on the boat to get back to the vessel. The baby did not appear to have Asian features, Charlotte doesn't, so if she isn't the biological daughter, did the Changs/Candles adopt her because women die on the island if they try to give birth there?

By the way, your Lost posts are consistently outstanding!

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I like that Charlotte is the baby idea, I put my dough on that one.

I also like the thought that it mightve been Sun who sicced the lawyers on Kate and Aaron. She is up to something bad that we don't know yet, and it all seemed a little too convenient for her to be there just then.

Jin's going to be alive in the end btw. They hinted at that I thought in the recap episode.

Julius_Goat said...

Hoy, 100% absolutely yes on Jin. I didn't think he was alive, but then during the pre-show, Cruse in interview basically spilled it without meaning to. He described Sun as going back to the world "believing her husband to be dead."

Well, I was believing that, too, until he phrased it like that. So either Cruse was doing something very sly (possible) or else he slipped and Jin's alive.

1Queens Up1 said...

Jin is credited as a regular in the credits on both episodes...just a thought.

SilverVW said...

There might be a link between Threatening, Threatening, Intrusive & Smug and Clair when we first get to know her in Australia.

She was going to fly to LA to have her baby and give it up for adoption to a person/group. Remember her Aussie physic? He was setting up the adoption for her.

Tmo said...

Is is because the rules don't apply to Walt that he doesn't have to go back with the O6?

My vote for dead brought back to life: Mr. Eko

My vote for not bringing back to life: The annoying git who got the first arrow in his chest (Neal, was it?). Did anyone else know/hope as soon as he opened his mouth that he was going to die?

If the hand chopping mercs were from the WWII era, does that mean Widmore's been searching for the island for over 60 years? Is he ageless?

timpramas said...

There never was a person/group in LA waiting to adopt Claire's baby. The Australian psychic made that up to get Claire on flight 815knowing about the crash (because he is psychic) to make sure no one else but Claire raised Aaron. Claire had dicussed giving the babu up for adoption in Australia and the psychcic told her bad things would happen if anyone else raised Aaron.

I assume by the end of the series we will know what those bad things.

Sun told Kate that whoever the client is that the "attorneys" represented weren't interested in exposing the "lie" (that Aaron is Kate's kid and that no other passengers survived the plane crash). Could be Sun, Ben or Widmore behind the desire to take a blood test.

Could the paternity just be a cover story and in fact the attorneys want the blood test to see if there is something that akes Aaron special or different perhaps like Walt?

Why doesn't Walt also have to return to the island? Or Sun's baby who was in utero at the time Sun left?