Friday, May 22, 2009
LOST 039: Old Country For No Men
It was a very good episode. I liked it very much.
L O S T
OK, not too much more than another 10,000 words to say about the Light/Dark Jacob mythology, since I've covered that pretty extensively already. Suffice it to say that, once again, I am incredibly impressed by the command the show creators have over the story. In two hours, they told a frenetic, engaging, action-packed tale, and at the same time answered a LOT of questions. I've taken off my speculation hat, but let's just run down the things we now know beyond doubt.
1) There are only two factions. It was getting cluttered, wasn't it? You had the Branch Dharmidians, Radical Richard and the Hostiles, Widmore's Crusaders, Eloise Hawking and LampPostials, The Shadow of the Statue Crew, Lostaways, Tailies, Ghosts, Muppet Babies, Autobots, Decepticons, Cylons, Superfriends, Chuck Norris, Ghostbusters, the REAL Ghostbusters, C.O.B.R.A, and Gummi Bears. It was the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.
Now? There are two factions. Those who are with Jacob, and those who are with his enemy. We may not know who is on which side. Hell, THEY may not know which side they are on. Locke at least thought he was Jacobian and was being played. However, I think we can semi-safely put Richard, the Other extras (in fact, I'll just call this group the Jacobians now), and the Shadow of the Statuians with Jacob. Eloise? Widmore? Well. Let's just say this. They were leaders of the Jacobians at one point, which means, ostensibly, that they had access to Jacob and/or a Ben-like level of worship for him. I'd say for that reason alone Dark Jacob would have been trying to corrupt them. Let's set them aside for now.
2) The idea that humans can make choices that allow them to progress appears to be the main bone of contention between the Jacobs, and is perhaps the big question of the show itself.
This augers well for the idea that the bomb changed something.
3) Whatever the Dark Jacob's "loophole" is exactly, it involves getting access to Jacob, which requires the ability to impersonate a dead man who would be seen as the Jacobian's leader, and also another person who is willing to kill Jacob.
I believe that most of the mysterious events we've seen, including time travel, the ghosts, the freighter, the island moving, the Oceanic Six, and the return to the island, have involved Dark Jacob's attempts to set up this loophole.
I think that the way many of these characters have made peace with their demons is Jacob's influence in some way.
I think Locke is dead and Locke was duped. I also think that Locke truly is special to the island and that we'll see Locke again? Why? Simple economics. The story has invested too much of itself into Locke to allow it to end this way. Let's just say he has become far too compelling to fail.
4) Jacob has been involved in the lives of the people he wants to come to the island. I think we can safely say that he's been orchestrating it all along, behind the scenes. This to me is a pretty strong explanation for the strange coincidences we've been noticing throughout the story's run. It also explains the Others, if not the details. These are people who have come to be part of what Jacob is doing. For whatever reason, they have been given knowledge about what is going on here, and they want in. Perhaps whenever a new group is drawn to the island, there is this period of hostility and indoctrination. This may explain why the Jacobians don't just crush Dharma, even though they have tunnels leading right into their homes.
This would say rather dark things about the eventual total Dharma purge (though, since Ethan was Dharma, I guess it may not have been a total purge). I would say that it seems like something that would have been orchestrated by Dark Jacob.
5) We know the bomb goes off, whatever that might mean. Because of it, there is almost no way on earth to predict what will happen next.
So let me make some predictions.
These predictions are more general than the "here's specifically where the main plot is going" stuff I've seen elsewhere. I think any prediction made on that front will probably be proved wrong. However, here are some things I think based on story. Because in many ways, the story is like the island. It demands certain things. There are specific rules. And, if we think about what the demands of the story are, we can pin a few things down, sort of.
1) Everybody will be reunited in the same time-frame. We have a whole lot a freaking mythology to cover. There really isn't much point in spending a few precious episodes getting everybody on the same time line.
Plus, then Sun can transition to being frantic about reuniting with Jin, to being frantic about reuiniting with the child she totally left behind without a second thought.
2) Nobody can be assumed dead. Not Locke. Not Jacob. Not even Juliet. Let's face it, she was sitting on top of an atomic blast, and that does usually kill a person. But Desmond was on top of something or other that looked quite similar, in the exact same place and it basically just Hawkinged him through his own Einstein and back on the beach again. More on this in a bit.
That said, I don't think we'll be seeing much of the actress playing Juliet next year, but I wouldn't completely rule out a brief but vital appearance.
I also am worried about Sayid. Very, very worried.
As for Locke, I think we've already seen Jacob bring him back from the dead once.
As for Jacob . . . well, he just seemed to sure of things. He had an ace up his sleeve, no doubt. I strongly suspect that dead is not dead for that dude.
3) Some viewers are going to HATE the ending. In fact, I'll say that if you didn't like Season 5, you may well hate the series ending. I think that for some, Season 5 was about needless convolution. For others, it was all about answers. In fact, it was almost exclusively answers. I'm in the latter camp. Yes, I still have questions. But they are different questions. This isn't some X-Files scenario where I'm still wondering what was in the hatch, or if the guy they captured is an Other or is really a balloonist named Henry Gale. Almost every question I had going into Season 5 has been cleared up to one extent or another, or has been put into a context that allows me to see that we are driving toward an answer.
Bottom line? This is a show that trusts its audience to an unprecedented degree. We are never going to have somebody just sit down and tell us, "OK, so here's the whole story." But we WILL get almost everything answered, if we put in the work. However, it will be answered in the same way that questions have been answered up to this point; by inference. And there will still be questions. Other questions. Questions to keep us arguing long after the show is over. If you don't like that, that doesn't make you dumb, or unsophisticated, it just means you have different taste. But it does mean that you probably won't like the way this show wraps up.
Here my friends, is how LOST gives you answers. They just show the story, and in the story allow you to make the necessary connections. It is (to my taste) by far a preferable way to tell stories, especially when compared to having some character named Barnabus Pontificator Expositioncakes appear with a few heavy pages of dialogue. (Exhibit 1: The Matrix Sequels).
For example, with the information we've received over the last five seasons, we can make any number of very strong guesses that clear up a lot more of the mystery for us.
For example, given the fact that we know Dark Jacob can impersonate one dead guy (Locke), it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that he can impersonate other dead people.
Then, just think about the appearance of any of the "ghosts", what they've said, what they did. See if any of those appearances don't in some way further Dark Jacob's goals. The ghosts have served to either make Ben feel bitter and alienated, or were the impetus for the island moving and the time jumps.
It's not overtly stated, but I think you can pretty strongly assume that the ghosts and other odd apparitions have been explained. They are Dark Jacob. At least most of them definitely were. There are a few instances where the ghosts seemed to have a neutral or even helpful effect. Perhaps those were something else. Perhaps they were Jacob. However, if the ghosts are not Dark Jacob, then they were some other entity, appearing as dead people, and basically making the plan of some other entity who can also impersonate the dead happen. It seems logical to say that the ghosts were Dark Jacob. If nothing more is ever said about Christian et al, I think we can safely assume this.
Also, it has been noted long before this that the ghosts seem to have the black smoke either appear before them or after them. It has been speculated (not incorrectly, I think) that the black smoke is the ghosts. I think we can assume with a high degree of confidence going forward that Dark Jacob is the black smoke.
Now, all of these are assumptions, but they really fit well. In fact, they fit so well that I think it can be considered the answer until we're given further info. By that I mean, if they never explain the smoke monster further, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on how the smoke monster fits into the story anyway. I'd like more, I think we'll get more, but if that's all we get, it can suffice.
Let's take another example, and this time let's make it something that has always bugged me.
They killed Libby off with a big mystery still hanging. To wit: Why was she in the same psyche ward as Hurley, anyway???
Then, after she was dead and in the ground, she returned in the season finale, in a Desmond flashback, to give Desmond the boat that took him to the island. Just out of the blue, boat for Desmond. Desmond gets a boat from a stranger. Who is Libby.
And then, the show's creators informed us that there was nothing left to say about Libby. To which I replied, "the hell there isn't." It seemed like almost willful ignorance on their part, as though they were baiting us. I mean, obviously there were HUGE unanswered questions about her. How could they say they thought her tale was told? But now? I've realized that Libby has pretty much been explained, if you stop and think about what you know, and then make the logical inferrence. She just hasn't been explained in laborious detail, with her own one-hour long flashback, but we still have it.
Eloise Hawking is part of a group that is dedicated to maintaining the timeline, perhaps the timeline in general, but certainly the particular part of the timeline in which Desmond and the Oceanics take their various paths to the island. This in and of itself might give us certain hints about what the nuke really did, since the last time we saw her she was dedicated to preventing that timeline, but nevertheless, that's what Eloise is up to. Furthermore, she's assisted by operatives (like the butcher who stored Locke's body for Ben) who seem to live and work among everyday people.
We also know that Eloise was the leader of the Jacobians.
We also know that there were Jacobians off-island, who made sure that they were on the Ajira 316 flight.
We also know that Eloise has equipment that allows her to predict the location of the island, and to know when a airline flight is likely to cross paths with the island.
We also know that one of the Tailies was "kidnapped" by the Jacobians that were on-island.
Thus, it's not impossible to infer that Oceanic 815 may have had some Jacobians onboard.
And we know that Libby showed up and gave Des a boat that was fated to bear him to the island. Thus preserving the timeline.
Do I need to fill in the dotted line for you?
Libby was a ____________.
D. I hate this show, they are just making stuff up.
THIS CONCLUDES THE TEST. PLEASE PUT YOUR PENCIL DOWN AND WAIT QUIETLY.
What about Libby in the psyche ward? In this case, I don't think we have quite such a clear picture, but we have enough. Libby in the same ward as Hurley is a rather large coincidence, but there have been literally dozens of similar ones between various characters. Most of them haven't been played up as a huge end-of-show reveal, so it was probably sloppy on the writer's parts to give that coincidence so much more weight than (say) Sawyer meeting Jack's dad at the bar, or Jack operating on Shannon's dad, or Eko visiting Claire's psychic (another likely Jacobian).
But we've seen Jacob in the lives of these people now. We know that their lives have been orchestrated by him in some ways, though we don't know the exact mechanics of it. That, I think, is going to be our explanation for the coincidences. That's good enough for me, and I hope it's good enough for you -- because if it isn't? You are probably going to be disappointed.
So, it's show-don't-tell storytelling. Double shot of ambiguity. It's great. I love it. Even if you don't, I hope you agree that at least it's preferable to a Locke-flashback that is all about how he came to be Nadia's housing inspector. Or, you know, the origin of Jack's tattoos. That's where it would be if they were still doing the same show we loved in Season 1. Let's not forget what this show nearly became, and shudder.
HEY LOOK! RANDOM BULLET POINTS!
* I've gone on long enough about stuff I loved. Here's something that I just hated. Jack. Specifically, Jack's stated motivation for setting off the bomb. He was willing to erase 3-4 years of everybody's life, progress made, love experienced, children born, all because Kate didn't wuv him no mo? That's sick. What's worse, it isn't even Jackian. Jack is a great character, in that he started as a superhero and gradually got revealed for somebody with a deeply destructive messiah complex. He was at his most likeable this season, as he surrendered to fate and seemed to have gotten over that, but it was still compelling to see him fall into the same "Me Jack Me Hero Savior" trap as before, and decide that his destiny was to exercise his free will. Perfectly nonsensical. Perfectly Jack. But to do it all for a chance at a girl he never had chemestry with? Whatevs, show. I only accept this as something he'd tell Sawyer because he thought that's what Sawyer would understand, as opposed to his REAL motivation. Sadly, there's no hint that this was the case, and to pretend otherwise is wishful thinking. Happily, Sawyer kicked Jack in the testicles for being such an idiot.
* Juliet's motivation for backing Jack was pretty dumb too. They didn't have as strong a ready-made good motivation for her actions as they did for Jack's, but they could have done better than to introduce the eleventh hour parental divorce-back. Silly. And good on Sawyer for proving her wrong.
* Speaking of bad motivation, given that Jack's reasoning was screwy, and given that Eloise is now trying to preserve the timeline she was meant to destroy . . . and given that Desmond's turning the key on the failsafe created something that looked semi-nuclear . . . I just get the sense that the nuke was always a part of the Incident. It's just a feeling. Also, to follow this line of thought, the failsafe key Desmond turned was very clearly refered to as a Big Reset, so . . . might that event, way back in Season 2, be the reboot event? Remember, we have some strong indications that we are dealing with some kind of time loop here. If something is breaking time, it follows that it is occuring outside of time itself, and if that is the case, it really doesn't matter at what point within perceived time the reset event occurs, it would permeate throughout time.
That would mean, though, that a reset would not have been possible without the detonation. Thus, destiny has been served. It sort of fits.
By the way, my wife has to put up with this stuff all the time. Pity her.
* Sawyer may have been this Season's MVP. Holloway's performance as he tried to save Juliet was shattering. Seriously amazing work.
* I still want to know why Sun didn't travel back. In the clip show, Lindeloff said it was because they hadn't perfectly re-created the flight, but that just doesn't wash for me. Did Sun re-create it more perfectly, somehow? In what way? That whole thing could use some explaining. I think we're going to lose it, though.
* Do you think ANY of the Jacobian leaders ever got to meet Jacob? I wonder . . . One wonders, when one considers just how instrumental both Eloise and Widmore were in getting Locke to the island in the first place, and then in getting his corpse back to the island, just which team they are batting for.
* What do you think led Ben to set up Jacobian camp in Dharmaville? Might Dark Jacob have done it, knowing that it would lead to Jacob ostracizing Ben? While we're at it, who could have seen this character arc coming for Ben? The man with all the answers is forced to admit he was pretending the whole time. I feel for the guy, which I didn't think was possible. Delicious again, LOST.
* The statue has been confirmed by ABC as being that of Taweret, Egyptian goddess of fertility. You think the bomb destroyed the statue? You think maybe that explains the childbirth problem? Maybe, maybe . . .
* You know what's cool? With the Jacob vs. Dark Jacob scenes, we now have information that none of the characters have. For the first time, we know more than Ben. And, given that we know almost nothing, Ben really was in the dark, wasn't he.
OK, folks. I'm done. It is going to be a loooong nine months.
L O S T