Thursday, March 11, 2010

LOST 045: The Principled Principal

Wow, I'm late this week on one of the better Season 6 episodes so far. Sorry about it, it couldn't be helped: I was digging my own grave.


L O S T

What do you know, a Ben Linus episode with nearly zero mindscrew. Ben's been stripped of his power, of his modest family, of his followers, and even of his belief in the island. Nothing left of him except all the wrong he's done. In much the same way, this episode was pared down to the Essence of Linus (one of the worst-selling fragrances ever, by the way): A man who, when it mattered, valued power more than love, and who now deeply regrets that choice. In Parallel Land, we see a Ben who, faced with a similar choice in a mundane setting, makes the correct choice, letting Principal McEvilcrap keep his school nurse-affair-having position, once he realizes that his power-grab will in effect doom his favorite student/protege to the worst thing in the entire universe, which is, of course, State College. Anyway, Dr. Linus does the right thing, squashes his dreams of high school administration, and then for some reason doesn't just put the screws to William Atherton (AKA the guy who is ALWAYS a dick in every role) as soon as the glowing letter of recommendation is written.

I'm mindful of the fact that there is a man, Charles Widmore, who believes that Ben's rise to island power was nothing short of theft, and I wonder . . . were the seeds of Alex's death sown in the moment of Widmore's defeat? In other words, did Island Ben have the same opportunity to let Widmore off the hook, knowing full well he was risking his daughter, and did he still grap the reins despite that? Widmore seemed to suggest as much on the dock before he was put on the Submarine of Shame after Ben voted him off the island. And recall that the reason that Widmore was being shown the door had to do with Ben's discovery of an illicit sexual affair on Widmore's part. How deep do these parallels go?

I think it is clear that Paralleloworld serves some sort of actual narrative plot function that has yet to be established; however, it's also clear that it is functioning as thematic commentary upon these characters. Thus far, I think I enjoyed Ben's trip to sideways world best.

Even better? The return of Charles Widmore in his submarine. My guess to his purposes? I think the evidence suggests that Widmore is the Nemesis' ride off the island. Widmore was the one who wanted to make sure that Locke got back to the island so that the "right side" won. Well, Locke got back to the island, after a fashion. And look what side appears to have won thus far. It was Widmore who sent the mercenaries who were the driving force behind the time shifts that made it all possible. I think it is Widmore who is working with the Nemesis. And why? Remember what the Nemesis, tempter that he is, offered Ben? He asked Ben to come with him because he needed somebody to be in charge of the island after he left. I don't think it's at all unlikely that he made the exact same offer to Widmore, who we know wants the island back badly.

Ben was going to take the Nemesis up on it, because when you're digging your own grave at gunpoint, you're low on what we in the Options business call "options." However, it looks like Ben has come through his crisis of faith with soul intact, or restored. Given the slightest opportunity to abandon the Sisterhood of the Traveling Nemesis, and really with no guarantee that Ilanya wouldn't be all "Psyche, dummy!" and shoot him as soon as he put his gun down and came back to Craphole Beach, he decided to drop the Heroes and stick with the Zeroes.

Think Widmore is the guy that Jacob said was coming to the island? I mean, obviously he was coming to the island, but was he the guy Jacob meant? Also, what has changed that Widmore can now get to the island?

Even if I'm wrong about Widmore's intentions, I am betting that he's going to give this plot a much-needed and swift kick in the Let's Get On With It, Already. To that, I say "kudos", and without further ado, I would like to segue into the Pringles Potato Chips® Let's Get On With It Island Character Motivation and Location Roll Call Round-Up, brought to you by Exxon.

Real Locke: Team Jacob, Mostly Dead. Under the beach, decomposing. Because he was sensible enough to not be buried with millions worth of diamonds, he has not had his dirt nap disturbed by Graverobber Miles, who wins the awesome continuity prize, as well as the thanks-for-reminding-us-of-characters-we-hated-but-loved-to-see-die prize.

Nemesis Locke: Team Nemesis, Rather Obviously. He can be anywhere on the island he chooses, at any time, or so it seems. This leads to the rather obvious question: Why doesn't he just kill everybody on the beach right away?

Jack: Team Jacob, Maybe Sort Of. Jack's and Hurley and Richard's return to the beach, accompanied by the requisite strings and slo-mo embraces of old friends who thought they'd never see each other again, was such a visceral stylistic return to Season 1 that it raised my spirits. Meanwhile, Jack has gone crazy, and not just regular crazy, either. Locke crazy. The man of science is now perfectly willing to sit around by a lit stick of Black Rock Dynamite on nothing but faith in the island/Jacob. I'm very interested in Jack, his headspace, and what he's going to do. Last time I felt this way about Jack, he decided to blow up an atomic bomb. At this point, Jack clearly doesn't give a rip. He's thug life personified. Nemesis might want to watch out.

Black Rock Dynamite: Bringing you high-quality plot development (and fresh Artz meat) since 2004!

Sawyer: Team Nemesis, Maybe Sort Of. Last we saw the Artist Formerly Known as Lafleur, he was getting his Hell Yes on for the Nemesis down in Jacob's alleged cave of numbers. But you know our man Sawyer. When it matters, he doesn't sell out his friends, even the ones who are his enemies. And he can run a long con with the best of them. Let's say that Sawyer is probably over at Hydra Station like Locke-ness said, but let's not be too sure of either his location or his loyalties.

Sayid: Team Nemesis, Mostly Crazy. Over at the Hydra. I don't like this. I like my Sayid like I like my politicians: morally good and deeply conflicted about his actions.

Ben: Team Jacob, Finally. I've already covered Ben, but can we just talk about how amazing Michael Emerson is? He really can sell Ben to me every damn episode, even though he's lied 100 times before. Anyway, Ben has chosen his side for good, I think, and I'm proud of him. Ben's on the beach, and he's already dug his grave for his eventual heroic martyrdom. I also love Ben for doing exactly the kind of half-assed grave digging that I'd be doing given the circumstances.

Jin: Team Sun, Limping. Jin was noticeably missing from the temple attack, though really with that game leg he'd have just held up Crazy Claire from all that crazy. Location unknown, but smart money is that he's been shipped UPS to the Hydra. Jin's a true neutral, but he's not going to be down with any program that attacks a group that includes Sun.

Hurley: Team Jacob . . . and Team Cheese Curds. Hurley's become the key, as the only link to the island guardian who really is Team Jacob's only remaining hope. Also, he has a healthy respect for dynamite.

Kate: Team Kate, As Always. She'll be at the Hydra, too, if Claire hasn't already starting to make her rub the lotion on herself, or she'll get the hose again. It seems unlikely that Kate will align with the Nemesis, but on the other hand he's persuasive, and he's got Sawyer for now. Time will tell.

Claire: Team Nemesis, Crooning Softly To Her Skeleton Baby. Whoo mama. She's not right.

Ilanya: Team Jacob, Stoically Doomed. So, she's protecting the candidates. Great. Good luck with guns vs. smokemonster, Ilayna. Hopefully Jacob's ashes make a wide circle.

Miles: Team Diamonds, Blingity Blingity. Miles, hilarious as always, needled Ben during his dig of shame, but then he diamonded the diamonds. It doesn't diamond, though; Diamond's diamonds are all that diamonds. Diamond? Sorry, Diamond is a little distracted. Miles is on the beach. Put him down as Team Jacob, but not all that zealous about it.

Richard: Team Jacob, Suicidally Doubtful. Right after Jesus was murdered, his disciples totally lost it, certain that their lives were a waste and that they'd be dead in a week or so. I don't know how many times Richard denied Jacob this episode, but it might have been three. Then again, imagine working on a project for 300 years and then having the budget pulled. Richard basically was on page 93 of his term paper when his hard drive died, so we can forgive him for getting a little Twilight Fan on us for an episode. However, if LOST kills him before we get his flashback, I will rage. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you," and "It's a long story" do not cut it any more. Richard is on the beach. Hopefully he can catch a few rays and chill out.

Sun: Team Wide-Eyed Stare. She's thinking of having a line next episode. Good luck to her! Sun's on the beach, so let's say she's another of those TJBDKI (Team Jacob But Doesn't Know It).

Frank: Team Curmudgeon. On the beach. TJBDKI. Good for grizzled rumination.

Dogan: Team Corpse, Floating Tranquilly. Then again, you never ever know.

Widmore: Submar-team. Here he comes.

Missing In Action: Desmond, Penny, Hawking. Unless Widmore has them tied up in the next room on that sub.

So here we are. The Nemesis wants to go home. He's said he wants to get off the island, but I think what he wants to do is end reality so he doesn't have to keep playing out this timeloop again and again and again. He wants entropy. He wants uncreation. He wants it over. For some reason, Jacob acts as counterpoint. Both creatures can or (probably) must take on human form.

I think I am starting to see the final scene.

Here it is:

_____________________

[Clay water jugs sit in the corner of a room on a stone floor. A spinning wheel spins coarse threads. The spindle is fed industriously by hand, as a rope sandal-shod foot works the pedal. It is a man sitting working the spinning wheel; he wears dark pants and a white shirt and sits alone in a large cavernous room supported by several large columns several feet in diameter. Fire crackles in a large round pit at the center of the room. The far wall is decorated with a faded painting of the winged Egyptian goddess Isis. Up from his wheel, the spinner uses a primitive loom to weave his coarse threads into a tapestry. He uses long-bladed knife to ever so carefully push the threads together. The man is bald, with a faded vertical scar over the right eye. His tapestry depicts a pair of wings outstretched from an encircled Eye of Horus, and what appear to be seventeen long arms emanating like rays out from the eye. Across the top is emblazoned a Greek-lettered motto, ΘΞΟΙ ΤΟΣΑ ΔΟΙΞΝ ΟΣΑΦΡΞΣΙ ΣΗΣΙ ΜΞΝΟΙΝΑΖ. The fire pit burns brightly to ash.]

[Outside, on a sun-drenched shore, the tide comes in on some rocks that form a pool near the shore. The man, LOCKE, wades into the pool, clothes and all, and reaches down inside to pull up a hand-made fish trap, sort of an inverted cone of bundled reeds. The man inspects it to note his catch. He climbs the beach and empties the trap onto a rock in the sand. A beautiful golden fish comes out. The man filets the fish with the same long-bladed knife from before, and sets the filets onto a rock that hangs like a balcony over a beach fire. A short time later, he removes a cooked filet from the rock using his knife and places the filet into a shiny green broad leaf. He plunges his knife into the sand and sits against a log on the beach to enjoy his breakfast, looking out onto the sea, where a several-masted sailing vessel slowly approaches the Island on the horizon. As the blond man eats, a gray-haired man, CHARLES, approaches. CHARLES, similarly, wears clothing that looks to be hand-made--a dark blue shirt tied close with a belt of rope.]

CHARLES: Morning.

LOCKE: Mornin'.

CHARLES: Mind if I join you?

LOCKE: [Shaking his head] Please. Want some fish?

CHARLES: Thank you. I just ate.

[CHARLES sits down not far away.]

LOCKE: I take it you're here 'cause of the ship.

CHARLES: I am. How did they find the Island?

LOCKE: You'll have to ask 'em when they get here.

CHARLES: I don't have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?

LOCKE: You are wrong.

CHARLES: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.

LOCKE: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

[CHARLES stares at his compatriot.]

CHARLES: Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?

LOCKE: Yes.

CHARLES: One of these days, sooner or later... I'm going to find a loophole, my friend.

LOCKE: Well, when you do, I'll be right here.

CHARLES: Always nice talking to you, John.

LOCKE: Nice talking to you, too.

[The Man in Black stands up and walks away. Planted just near and towering above the beach spot where Locke has made his breakfast is the four-toed statue of Taweret.]



L O S T

4 comments:

Mike Maloney said...

A buddy of mine and I were talking before the season started about how awesome it would be if the show ended that way. I still think it would be greatness. Not sure about Locke and Widmore, though. Still, it would make for a kick ass ending.

Emily said...

This was a delicious episode. Thank goodness for Ben. He's so much more interesting than Kate. I absolutely can see your theoretical ending happening after this ep.

Also, funny side note: wasn't Arzt a doctor? Did you know that the German word for doctor is "Arzt"?

Anonymous said...

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Constructive criticism?

Bayne_S said...

I think it will end with a man sitting backwards on a horse