Thursday, 8 May 2008

Lost - Something Nice Back Home

For the first time since starting this Lost-recapping side project I find myself with very little to say. I mentioned this to Canyon this morning and she said that she had had a similar experience to mine, that upon going over this episode with a colleague she found she could barely remember any of it. While going through to find screencaps I got to the part where Jack asked Kate if she would marry him and was shocked to find I had forgotten it had happened. Surely this was a big event, but as soon as it had happened it fled from my mind.

I think I know why Canyon was less likely to recall the episode; she hates Jack. To her (with apologies for speaking for her), he's whiny, he cries, he has no backbone, he looks doofy, and his bottomless islandy sadness and infinite father issues bore her to tears. Many times she has cried, "Oh shut up!" while he has his 19,000th nervous breakdown, or exhorted him to man up (I'm paraphrasing here). Even now we've switched to flashforwards she remains unswayed, especially as it seems the depression we saw him suffer in the season three finale is borne of pretty much the same failings he had prior to crashing on the island, except now with added drug addiction and booziness problems, as well as rageaholism.

For all its emotional sturm and drang, hardly any questions were answered, and I'm not sure we know wnough about his breakdown to link his Beginning of the End denial with his Through The Looking Glass suicidal despair. The episode didn't show why he wants to get back to the island so badly, but then that's the same with Hurley, I guess. The apparition of Charlie told him he had to go back, but there seems to be no internal reason he should want to Though it's obvious he has definitely gone a little crazy in the hospital he has exiled himself to, thinking that the Oceanic Six are dead and in hell, his need to go back has yet to be shown as a compulsion. Same with Jack.

I wonder if their reasons are more to do with their ever-present mental problems than any influence the island might have on them. So far Kate has expressed no interest in going back, and as we're not yet being told what's up with Jin, we don't know if Sun wants to go back to the island. If she did, it's fair to say we'll know right away that Jin is alive. I'm beginning to think Hurley and Jack are just (wait for it) lost in the outside world and only want to go back because they feel better off there. Or because of the time-travelling. Who knows?

To be honest, there was very little Lost arcana to pick over this week. Other than the twin appearances by the mysterious Christian Shephard not much else happened. That's not to say it was actually a bad episode. There was a lot to like, which I'll get to in a moment. It was just a little slack, especially after the fireworks of The Shape of Things to Come. I'm not going to bitch about that, though. If we treat Lost like a novel, it has to have ebbs and flows, and the fact that the cast, crew, and showrunners manage to control that modulation of pace when outside influences jeopardise the shoot is incredible. Even so, it was not the best, and I'm concerned that the writing team of Kitsis and Horowitz have been responsible for this and Ji Yeon, which I was also no crazy about.

That said, there was stuff to admire. This week saw the return of ace director Stephen Williams and ace cinematographer Cort Fey on photography duties, who lit the episode beautifully. Not just the gorgoeus vistas of the island, but also with regards to Jack. Obviously we see his bleak journey once more, and as ever, he is shot in shadow for almost the entire episode. Even on the beach, the shadows of the trees play across him as he stumbles around, while everyone else seems to be lit uniformly.

Throughout the episode, while many are lit starkly, with light and dark present on their faces...

...Jack is shot with a muted uniform darkness across his whole face.

While everyone else straddles the line between light and dark, Jack is slowly being swallowed whole. In the saddest moments of the episode, in the hospital visiting Hurley, his darkness either contrasts against the background...

...or he finally shares the murkiness with his similarly depressed friend Hurley.

By the end of the episode, popping pills, boozing it up, and alienating Kate and Aaron, he has been swallowed whole. From here on out it's Foghat beards, obsessive flying, and the now famous scene of him screaming about going back to the island. Poor bastard.

Yes, while Canyon remains immune to the charms of Foxy, I am, as I've said before, consistently impressed. Having a main character be such a basket case is one of the boldest moves of the show, when the norm is a sprinkling of angst over a smooth, creamy heroism topping. Even a notorious, pained anti-hero like House gets to save the day almost every week. Jack, on the other hand, barely gets to get anything right nowadays.

This feeds into one of the show's main themes; the battle between free will and determinism, which is of paramount importance to a control freak like Jack. Even during surgery he tries to take over, only to be overruled by Juliet and anaesthetised by Bernard (in a moment hugely reminiscent of Paul Bettany operating on himself in Master and Commander).

In the flashforward he is trying to do his job, but is interrupted by the beeping of a smoke alarm (which is an echo of the disruption his survival mission endured during the Swan-bound season two). He can do something about that, though, and removes the battery. (Love the lighting here.)

However, even a tiny success like that is marred by the sudden appearance of Christian, reminding Jack that he is still being toyed with by fate, or ghosts, or sentient islands like in Giant X-Men #1, or space aliens from outer space, or about a million other possibilities that will eventually fall away like flakes of skin from a heavily sunburnt forehead. [Ouch!]

Again this tends to suggest I might be on the right track with the Sirens of Titan theory I expounded upon in my previous Lost post, that Jack is on a course that can only end in disaster and can do nothing about it. So, does he want to get back to the island to use its time-warping qualities to change everything? I must say, if the theory is right, there are some satisfying stories to be told about shaping the narrative that we currently know by seeing how their pasts are manipulated by either the island or "Time agents" like Ms. Hawking, but what would be even better than that is seeing the old flashbacks distorted by crazed miserabilists like Jack using the island's time-travelling properties to go back into the past to improve their lot in life, thus ruining the space/time continuum. I doubt we're going to get anything so crazy as that, but it would be cool. I can imagine there is already a big fanfic community telling exactly those stories already.

Anyway, I digress. Yet again I want to praise Foxy and his brave choices, such as his attempts to stop sobbing after seeing Christian in the hospital waiting room...

...and the look of doubt on his face after proposing to Kate.

I'm sure that doubt has a lot to do with his general fear of fucking everything up (and his weird fear of Aaron, perhaps rooted in his father issues), but it's notable that at the start of the episode he was having a Proust moment while staring at a razor...

...which meant nothing until we saw Juliet shaving his stomach prior to hacking out his appendix. Oh, if only that appendix was filled with his troubles!

So what does this mean? He regrets not being with Juliet? Or was it just a wistful moment, a memory of the road not taken? This will probably be one of the many questions posed by the show that never gets answered. I wouldn't expect Cuselof to worry about that when they've got more important things to show us, such as WTF Jacob is, though hopefully tonight will reveal more on that subject (and yes, I'm shaking with anticipation), as well as a lot of backstory for Locke. We're talking about childhood, if this cast list is anything to go by, though no sight of Kevin Tighe as Anthony Cooper, sadly. Hopefully this episode will allow us all to re-bond with that other great Lostie failure after all of his knife-throwing, rabbit-eviscerating, grenade-happy craziness at the start of the season.

Right, with time a-running out for me (as usual), here are the random moments that affected me throughout. Most importantly, yay Rose! I was worried that she was never going to come back, but here she is, mouthing off at CS Lewis (and where is the hairstylist on the island? This is definitely a new look for her).

I must admit, my antipathy toward Charlotte waned a little this week, firstly because her response to Rose's remark was priceless...

...and secondly because her affection for Faraday goes a long way to humanising her.

If she liked him, she's doing something right. And yes, I take back a lot of the carping I directed at Jeremy Davies, who has been great on this show, though seriously, he really did wreck Solaris and nothing is going to change that. My slowly changing opinion of CS was also prodded by her confrontation with a scary Jin, who made her promise to save Sun if possible, using her affection for Faraday as the lever. She stood her ground against him, but as he passed, her terror flashed across her face. I felt really bad for her right then. Good work, Rebecca Mader. I might end up slightly liking CS Lewis after all.

Two things struck me about Faraday this week. One, which isn't much of a stretch, is that he admits to conducting animal autopsies in the past, which is standard for many scientists though surely not physicists. It's not a big reveal for us; we know about the rats and the pink laser, after all, but didn't Juliet think it was a bit odd?

Two, he goes to the medical station with CS, Jin and Sun, and comments on the power being on. But wasn't the Tempest station the power source for the whole island? They didn't shut the place down, as shown by the fact that the lights were still on at the end of The Other Woman. I don't know what the hell he was talking about here. But, as with Rose's query about the significance of Jack's illness flaring up just before he is to leave the island, it's obviously meant to be something we're pondering. So I'll ponder it.

Remember I said I loved Stephen Williams and Cort Fey's visuals? Check it out.

Lovely. Their wide shots were great, from the exodus from the Barracks (which looks like it takes place in the same area where the polar bear first attacked the Losties)... Miles ogling Claire (and thus feeding the suspicion that she is already dead somehow)... Sawyer hunting Claire down once she has disappeared with Christian. OMG Sawyer's so heroic!

I also liked how they framed Christian's appearance through the flame. It was a wonderfully creepy moment, and echoed Hurley's comments about hell.

I also liked how we got to see Claire's tearful response to the discovery of Rousseau...

..echoed later in the episode with Kate's response to Jack's drug-addled, jealous fury.

Of course, his anger over Kate's "infidelity" was silly, and that's even taking his ambiguous wistfulness at the start of the episode out of the equation. Besides, who can resist Sawyer when he's being all heroic and sad upon seeing Karl's corpse?

Of course, that wasn't the only corpse there. I guess I can stop hoping for the Rousseau flashback about now, right? ::pouts::

Still, this episode did feature a return appearance by a very harassed Frank, who saved Sawyer, Claire and Aaron. Yay Frank! That made me very happy.

However, what the fuck is this? Smokey is a pretty shit monster if he can't even kill a bunch of soldiers.

A couple of sprains and some blood. Pitiful. I honestly thought the jungle would have been painted red with mercenary guts, but obviously not. This really pissed me off. Still, it does mean one thing. The odious Keamy is still around, and hopefully his demise will be shown onscreen, preferably at the hands of badass Ben.

Ooooh, I love to hate you, Keamy. On the opposite end of the like/dislike scale, poor Juliet had a rough day. The first time we see her is in a POV shot as Jack wakes up, possibly the first shot of this kind in the history of the show.

At that point perhaps Juliet was feeling good about her relationship with Jack, but as he proceeded to collapse a lot and start to let slip his desire for Kate to stay around, Juliet attempts to resolve the situation by telling Kate all about their kiss right after saving his life with the emergency appendectomy, thus breaking Kate's heart.

Then, just to be extra-vengeful, she reveals that she knows Jack is awake, ensuring he can't get off the hook for his fickleness. At this point Juliet is side on, as she attempts to extricate herself from Jack's uncertain clutches.

Perhaps there is a theory out there that none of the Losties are that old, that somehow their young minds are trapped inside their adult bodies. At times they sure act like children. Maybe that's another key to the mysteries of the show, that these psychological problems are all rooted in the fact that, just as no babies can leave the womb on the island, no one can move beyond their ridiculous childish personality failings. Oooh, I need to think about this one a bit more. Considering the wait I might have for the next episode, Cabin Fever, I might have plenty of time to do it.

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