Thursday, March 4, 2010

LOST 044: Apocalypse Why?

I'm so far down, I don't know where up is. Get ready, I'm going to rant about a program that I still enjoy quite a bit.


I must confess, I don't know what to think anymore. The Nemesis has just flipped Sayid like a gentrified house, got him to panic-attack a whole lot of Jacobians over to his side and then kill John and Yoko. That accomplished, he smokemonstered into the Jacobian holiest of holies, killed all the remaining Jacobians real good, and then walked out of the place with his now loyal army behind him. And Kate.

Sayid's traded in his "I'm a Murderer But My Conscience is Killing Me" expression for something more along the lines of "Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta." Infection? Embracing thug life? In any event, it looks bad for our remaining heroes, who appear to be a scattered crew composed of Sun, Miles, Ilanya (who?), Richard, Jack-if-interested, Hurley, Frank, Jin-if-alive, Kate-if-not-stupid and Maybe Sawyer. It looks worse than bad. It looks like the war is over before it even started. And some of our beloved characters have chosen the Bad Side.

And so what? What does it mean? What are the stakes? What happens if the Nemesis wins? What happens if Jacob loses? What's to be gained? What's to be . . . LOST?

See, right now, I should be saying something along the lines of "Oh NO, the Nemesis looks like he's pretty much won! Unless Jack can hit his unprotected exhaust port with his one remaining plasma missile, the Nemesis is going to . . . "


B) "Kill all the humans!"

C) "Greenlight Caddyshack 3!!"

D) "Assassinate the queen!"

E) "Recreate the "Thriller" video with all the dead characters!"

We don't know. It's sort of a problem. As a single episode, this one pretty much had it all: Lots of action, some strong acting and character development from Naveen Andrews/Sayid, story progress, murders, sword-fights, revenge, pirates, miracles, true love . .. it's one six-fingered man away from a tropical Princess Bride. But we don't know what it means. Up until now, that was OK, because savoring the mystery was kind of the point. Now, however, we are rapidly reaching the tipping point, where mystery is going to get in the way of the story. We may have already reached it, because I just don't feel connected like I should to the action of the past few episodes. What am I rooting for the heroes to accomplish? Why am I rooting for the heroes? Sayid and Claire are "infected." Should I be worried? I guess I should, because they're following the bad guy, but then again, a whole bunch of non-infected Jacobians are following him around, too. Are they now infected? How much do they know?

Meanwhile . . .

Where is Widmore?

Where is Hawking?

Where is Walt?

Where is Penny?

Where is Desmond? I don't mean Desmond Vista who appeared to Jack on the plane. I mean Desmond XP, the one we know already.

And why do I care about these Sideways characters, anyway? You know what I'm interested in? I'm interested in the main characters who are off the island in our 2007 reality, many of whom have a lot of 'splaining to do. I presume there is a reason for Sideways world. I think this will all be re-coded in a very compelling way. The idea that this is the epilogue-in-advance is growing, but I sure hope they don't do something that negates all we've seen. That would be pretty bad. Luckily, it doesn't feel like an epilogue. It feels like the same people with the same messy problems, with somewhat-to-significantly-changed circumstances. What it all feels like is disjointed and disconnected.

I'm starting to feel like that's the point.

I mentioned last week that I found it interesting and potentially significant that we were no longer seeing any 2007-era off-island action. "Potentially significant" in that the actual location of this moving Billy Pilgrim island of space/time wahooey . . . is up for grabs again. It could well be in our Sideways World right now.

But that doesn't change the fact that we still need to get some context in here, pronto, if this is going to be more than an intellectual exercise.

OK, now onto the episode itself.

* Just as the character of Locke contains a central question: "Is his faith well-placed or is he a sad dupe?", so the character of Sayid asks "Is he fundamentally good despite his often murderous and torturey actions?" The answer to Locke's question right now appears to be "total dupe" and the answer to Sayid's question appears to be "irredeemably bad." I can't imagine we're going to let them end in that way.

* I'd say that Dogan's got a pretty good handle on what "infection" means. Sayid appears to be wearing the crazypants. He's a killer, but until now he's never been happy about it. I'd say Dogan's got a worse handle on staying alive. See ya, Dogan. Wouldn't wanna be ya. You were a confusing character that never really made much sense. Were you the top boss of the Jacobians? Were you just the temple boss? What was your relationship to Ben? To Richard? Could you have explained things less? Does the Smoke B Gone ash lose power when you lose your life? I know the answer to that one. It's "yep." I don't know why, though. Maybe the ashes were the remains of all your other baseballs. Maybe Ilanya can use Jacob's ashes to similar effect.

* I have some more questions for you, Dogan. Why did you send somebody you understood to be evil to kill somebody you understand to be evil? Why did you send him with a murder weapon you knew would be ineffective? Why did you let somebody you wanted out of your camp back into your camp to sow discord? Why did you converse with him over by your drowning pool? Oh, wait. You were a corporate banker. We know what happened to the banks. Never mind. Nice hiring there, Jacob. Alcoholic banker. Well done. You might want to have a word with your HR department.

* So what infects you, anyway? It's not Sayid's Lazarus trick, which, as Miles pointed out, surprised the Jacobians as much as anybody. Dogan said "If he starts talking it's already too late." Is it just the Nemesis' serpent tongue that infects? If so, the list of the infected is long indeed.

* If Sayid was drowned in the pool, and Sayid came back to life . . . what happens to Dogan?

* Kate? Claire's going to kill you. With her teeth. Enjoy.

* You know what the serpent told Eve? He told Eve that God was holding out on her, keeping knowledge for her, lying to her. He promised her knowledge. Full disclosure. Let me hear my Garden of Eden peeps. Holla.

* I loved Ben's slow back-away from Crazy Sayid.

* I don't have much to say about Sideways Sayid. He's still a bad-ass. I don't know what anything he did means to the larger story.

* Give me Alpert flashback, or give me death.



Mike Maloney said...

Thanks for reminding me about Caddyshack II, asshole.

Dogen letting Sayid back into the Temple doesn't make much sense to me, but I think the Nemesis was right when he said that Dogen sent him out there so that the Nemesis would kill him. As for stabbing him before he talks, I just assumed that wasn't literally before he has a chance to talk and was more Dogen wanting Sayid to stab him before the Nemesis had time to talk and manipulate. Good intention, poor execution.

HighOnPoker said...

Goat, I think you are missing a few key points:

1. Dogan told Sayid not to let Flocke say a word before he killed him. Well, Flocke did say a word, something like, Hi Sayid. Then Sayid killed him. Ergo, I think Sayid could've killed Flocke, but he hesitated for a second and once Flocke gets a word out, he is in your head, making him unkillable (with the knife). I don't think Dogan was just sending Sayid out to be killed. Flocke too advantage of the situation.

2. Dogan gave a lot of info. He explained how he was manipulated by Jacob to come to the island and do a job. That job is protecting the temple, most likely. He was an everyday Joe before this happened. That lets us know that while he is bestowed with power and seems to be in charge, he was originally just a normal guy.

3. Miles said that Sayid was not revived by the pool. Miles sees dead people. My guess is that someone or something else brought Sayid back to life. Perhaps it was ghost Jacob even, which means his life has a purpose.

4. That said, I think the episode made clear that Sayid is more evil than good. That explained whey Dogan tortured him, as Dogan explained. When he was found to be more evil than good, Dogan tried to have him killed, but eventually let him go because Dogan doesn't personally kill. This would support the Sayid-Flocke setup, but I distinctly remember Flocke speaking first, so my guess is that he sent a bad man (Sayid) to off a worse man (Flocke), but was not setting Sayid up.

5. One critique, though, about Kate, naturally. Why the hell didn't Claire kill her when she had the chance. Claire is crazy and knows that Kate took her baby and raised her! Remember the psychic, "Don't let anyone else raise your baby!" So, shouldn't Claire be enraged and destroy Kate once she gets the chance?

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

I totally thought Dogen was just sending Sayid out to be killed, and figured that the whole stabby stabby would tick Flocke off enough to do the deed. I don't see how Flocke saying two words to Sayid would act to make that whole knife-stabbing-his-heart thing work any less well.

My question is whether or not Jacob knew all along that this all would happen, Flocke coming to the temple and all.

Dan said...

Has anyone considered the possiblity that (in old-school Lost fashion) the "infection" is not real, but just an elaborate psych-out? OK, someone appears at the temple under questionable circumstances (wandering the jungle, bleeding out, whatever), so the suspicious temple folk as a matter of policy apply electric shocks and hot pokers. Then the magic machine tells them the color of said person's soul.

So now imagine that you're Sayid and you wake up from a bad dream, and some medieval acupuncturist tells you that it's too late, your life's quest for redemption is over--you've already gone over to the dark side, the magic electric crankshaft told him so. After hearing a thing like that, when you face choices of whether to do evil or to do good, don't you think that such a diagnosis could affect your decisions?

In other words, what if whoever gave the temple folk this procedure for determining whether someone is "infected" or not was really just pulling a fast one on them? What if this stuff came from the Nemesis (or Jacob, if he's not so pure after all), and is really just a clever, nonmystical way of getting the temple dupes to do some of his dirty work and soften up poor suckers like Sayid and Claire? So that when he does get a chance to talk to them, they'll be more receptive?

I bring this up mainly because I hate the idea of any kind of magical sickness that can turn good people bad in the interest of advancing the story. Lost has always been about fate, destiny, and the nature of choice, but it's also just as strongly about deception and manipulation. I'd rather the "sickness" be another mind-job than just the irrestible pull of the Dark Side (against which our otherwise strong characters are powerless).

Julius_Goat said...

@HOP 1. Maybe so. 2. He did tell us all these things, I just don't know what that implies that helps us. 3. Could be. 4. I don't feel that it is clear that Sayid is more evil than good. However, that is the clear implication of this week's ep. Unless, you know, zombie/spirit possession/infection, and that's not Sayid at all. But none of those things really matter to me all that much, as the larger question of "why does it matter?"

@Hoy, Yeah, I'm pretty sure Jacob knew. He basically said as much to Hurley at the lighthouse, and said it was "too late," the implication being that The Lighthouse and Sundown were occurring simultaneously. So Jack's smashing the mirrors as Smokey is smashing the templars.

@Dan -- I like the theory, and it certainly would be thematically relevant. But I think the Whats and Hows are starting to be weakened without any clear Why. The mysteries are just as chewy as always -- they're just not as juicy right now.

I expect it to turn around. This may well be a necessary evil to the way they need to reveal the story.

STeelerJosh said...

"Kate? Claire's going to kill you. With her teeth. Enjoy."

"Give me Alpert flashback, or give me death."

Great stuff as always, Goat.

I think you nailed the lack of caring that I also seem to be experiencing for this season. In previous seasons I cared about something, someone, etc. because it was obvious. I wanted to find out just as much as the Losties did if they would get off the island. I wanted to know what would happen if they stopped pressing the button. I wanted to hate Ben. I wanted to know why, "We have to go back, Kate!"

This season? I want to see how it all makes sense and I don't think the writers have given us much to go on yet. There have been some interesting reveals but the big picture is still so murky and it seems that just as many questions have been introduced as have been addressed. I expect the writers to turn it around soon and I still look forward to every Tuesday night. There just has yet to be that Eureka moment of an epsiode that flips me on my head and reminds me why I have tortured myself with this series the past 6 years.

Bayne_S said...

At some point the writers did mushrooms and hallucinated some plot twists that they can not explain while in a normal state.

They are scrambling to come up with any solution to tie this all together.

Gunslinger said...

Totally agree with everything, goat. While I've really been enjoying this season, I was so emotionally invested in Ben vs. Widmore (and Desmond and Penny) before the end of last season, I really hope their part isn't just quickly connected into this new bigger battle of good vs evil without much story.

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

FWIW I have not been this into Lost for a couple of seasons. Season 5 was pretty much stoopid but this season has been as good as the best days of Lost imo.

Lillian2611 said...

A couple of things regarding Dogen:
1. Wikipedia explains the Zen Buddhist teacher Dogen wrote something called the Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, so I think it's reasonable to assume that's why the character had the name he did. Dogen was the true guardian of Jacob, unlike my beloved Ben, who mistakenly served the Nemesis (or tried to - he may never have really seen/heard him).

2. I read an interview or something that said Hiroyuki Sanada was hired without even a line reading. I couldn't figure out why until I learned he was in The Last Samurai (I've never watched the whole thing). Dogen, as a temple guardian, was the last obstacle for the Nemesis; he was the last warrior.

I could be reaching there - I probably am - but it makes a little bit of sense.

Also, I think he didn't kill Sayid himself because he couldn't. I think part of his deal with Jacob was that he could never kill ... or his son would die. He was about to slice Sayid's throat when the ball fell and reminded him of the arrangement.
Again, that's just a guess, of course.

I think I'm also feeling the same disconnect you are, Goat. For me, I know it's because the show is in a very dark, sad place. So many of the LOSTies are gone: Charlie, Sayid, Claire, Locke, hell, I even got *really* attached to Dogen (yes, he's cute - whatever :P). And I think Sawyer is soon to follow; he's probably on a mission for the Nemesis right now, hunting Jack down for a battle to the finish.

The show used to be about the mystery. Now it's about real survival and it's not challenging in the same way. It's "The Stand" after the two camps have settled, when the good guys head off to slay the devil ... and to their doom.

I still maintain, however, that *neither* Jacob nor the Nemesis are completely good or completely evil. I think they each have a point of view, those points of view are oppositional, and so far Jacob's been winning because the Nemesis didn't have the tools to get what he wanted (off the Island). Like Locke - who wanted to stay - and Jack - who wanted to leave. Except now, irony of ironies, that Locke has been taken over by the one who wanted to leave and Jack is going to be the hero for the one who wants to stay.

I believe the Sideways reflect what life would have been like for our LOSTies without the influence of Jacob. The Lighthouse shows the moment when Jacob entered their lives, I believe.

Finally, the finest piece of acting I've seen in a long time came when Michael Emerson managed to show fear as he backed away from Sayid. Impressive beyond words. That's why Ben is my beloved. Haha.