Thursday, 14 February 2008

Lost: Confirmed Dead

Taking a cue from Masticator, it seems right to post about last week's incredible episode of Lost on the day that the next episode is aired. It's even more right to praise that episode following the great news that that pesky strike is over and more Lost is being promised. Unfortunately it's not the full season fans were hoping for, with only five more until the end of the season, but the good news is that we will get those missing three at some point in the future. They might not fit into the season schedule, from the way Carlton Cuse was talking in that interview. Whatever. More Lost is fine by me.

Especially if it's of the quality of Confirmed Dead, which might not be my favourite ever episode, but is still one of the best and most shocking hours yet. All of my Reasons To Love Lost were present and correct, especially the WTF quotient. Most amazing of all is Miles' ghostbusting abilities, which for a moment made me think the show had gone too far before I realised that even though Cuse and Lindelof have stressed that everything in the show has a scientific explanation, the show has plenty of instances of what could be seen to be hauntings. If there are scientific island-based explanations for the "hauntings" we've seen so far (visitations by dead people, Jacob's appearance, the mysterious whispers), then there might be one for the haunting that Miles investigated. Whatever the secret here is, it's not breaking the rules of the show, and it leads to some amazing story possibilities.

One other great ??? moment came when Daniel Faraday, the nervy physicist played by an almost tolerable Jeremy Davies, comments that the light doesn't scatter right (AICN's Herc seems to have really loved the comment). It seemed apt, as this week director Stephen Williams pushed the show into even more glorious visual territory than before (and it looked pretty amazing even then), and that's kind of the direction I want to approach Confirmed Dead.

From the FX-heavy opener, beginning underwater before moving into the air, to the litany of revelations and plot twists in the final act, the episode barely paused for breath. While previous seasons spent weeks setting up plot threads, this week we were introduced to four new characters, and given a peek into their lives. I liked all of them instantly, even Faraday, but with special mention to the wonderfully snarky Miles, filling in for the now tortured Sawyer as island bitchking.

As you can see from that photo, the castaways now have a helicopter to play with, though whether it will be able to move around freely is debatable (as I ranted last week, helicopters don't do so well above the island). Note also that Stephen Williams was using the island vistas to great effect, though his most incredible work came early on in the episode, his director of photography Cort Fey capturing an incredible image of Locke pondering his future on the island.

Williams has been responsible for some of the best episodes yet (Adrift, Enter 77, Not In Portland), and Fey was the camera hero who photographed The Man Behind The Curtain. Confirmed Dead represents their best work on the show, possibly of their entire careers, with beautifully crisp images throughout. As I mentioned earlier, Faraday's comment seemed to resonate throughout the episode, with the recurring red light motif, introduced this episode in several ways, most notably the flashing transponders attached to the rescuers.

It reminds me of the repeated instances of red lights appearing throughout Grant Morrison's Invisibles, showing up as a warning to the protagonists that they are not to proceed any further. Eventually the green light appears and humanity moves onto a higher level of consciousness, and one wonders if a similar thing is going to happen here.

Miles' exorcism featured another unusual lighting moment as he sat in the murdered boys room and the camera dollied towards him. Light sneaks in through a gap in the curtains above him, and a spectrum of colour flashes over his face as he talks to the boy's ghost. With the comments about light later in the episode it seems fair to see it as being an intentional choice on Williams and Fey's part, and reminded me of the soul effect from Wes Craven's underrated horror thriller The Serpent And The Rainbow. (Whenever Cathy Tyson and Bill Pullman shatter a jar containing a zombie's soul, a rainbow of light rushes upwards).

I also liked that even in this dark room the light could burst in. Most of the episode was set during daytime, with only the first few scenes with Kate, Jack and Faraday in darkness, which meant that this episode glowed with colour and life. The only major exception to that was Naomi's meeting with Matthew Abaddon (another chilling performance from Lance "Intensity" Reddick, and yes, I always refer to him that way). The grays and blacks of that scene were in direct contrast to the palette employed elsewhere in the episode.

Okay, enough about the magnificent lighting. Some new mysteries were introduced that have been picked apart already, and there's not much I can add to them. Who is Ben's boat mole? I took his comment literally and thought he was referring to Minkowski and Zoe Bell, that it was one of them, but apparently it also applies to the four rescuers we have already met. Many think it might be Michael, but would he ever be Ben's cohort? He might have done Ben's dirty work before, to protect Walt, but I doubt he'd do it again.

And what about the polar bear skeleton? I'm a bit concerned that my adamant pronouncements that the bears were being experimented upon by Dharma to make them thrive in warmer climes might have been wrong, and that they were actually test subjects in a time-travel experiment. How will I be able to maintain the moral highground when haters bitch about the polar bear question not getting answered? I'll look like a bigger fool than usual.

My favourite OMG moments, however, were the little character moments toward the end of the episode. When Lapidus asks Juliet her name I gasped, realising that the earlier reveal of his job as an Oceanic pilot was timed perfectly to get the maximum oomph from his deduction that she was not one of the survivors. Still reeling from that elegant shocker (and bless writing gods Drew Goddard and Brian K. Vaughan for their excellent work), I was floored by Miles' revelation that they were on the island to find Ben. Is he the world's most secret wanted man? The ongoing revelations that there is this secret history of the world being slowly uncovered delights me.

Even better was Ben, who not only is dealing with the galling knowledge that Hurley is also in Jacob's good graces, but is also getting the tar kicked out of him on an even more regular basis than before. What's shocking for us is that his terror in the previous season may have actually just been more lies, which makes the events of the final episode yet more ambiguous. More fodder for the haters, but manna for us. Nothing is ever as it seems. Only time will resolve this one, and possibly a lot of dead bodies. And was his act of shooting Miss CS Lewis an act of survival? Or is she the mole and he was just leading everyone away from that assumption? Oh, happy confusion.

Other thoughts from this episode: Who is the lady living with Faraday? We don't see her face, and I didn't catch her voice.

Is Miles' landing site the same place Desmond accidentally killed Kelvin? And if so, what is the significance? Because there is always significance. Honest.

How happy am I to see Jeff Fahey in something again? I know he's been teaching kids in Afghanistan or something equally noble when he's not appearing in direct-to-DVD movies, but with this role and his recent show-stealing performance in Planet Terror, it's like the promise he showed in his early career (What?! I liked him in Lawnmower Man) might yet be realised.

How long is Sawyer going to last if he keeps beating up Ben? He spent most of this episode knocking him about, and if Ben gets to the Barracks and manages to escape, could my hero get iced? I'm worried about him. His personality has changed drastically since killing the original Sawyer, and I'm worried this is a prelude to a horrible death.

How many easter eggs were in this one scene? Number fifteen? Battle Royale? (Kids stuck on an island and forced to kill to survive?) If I was able to "ENHANCE" that shot like in the police movies, who knows what I would find.

Ben's admission that he didn't know what Smokey is was a genius touch. Again, the showrunners talk to their fans, referencing their frustration and joking about it.

One final thought: the awesome Naveen Andrews sure is grumpy. Here is an interview with UK's Metro newspaper, and he sure seems miffed about everything. Except for the quality of season four. Something I can agree with him on. Enjoy tonight's episode, lucky US Lost fans! I can't wait.

1 comment:

Santanico said...

Jesus, he even manages to moan about working in Hawaii. Well, at least he had fun working on Grindhouse, though I imagine you'd have to be completely incapable of joy not to.

And, yes! Somebody else noticed the Battle Royale snippet! Cute in-joke, or something more?