Tag Archives: Desmond

Lost – “316”

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“316”

February 18th, 2009

“We’re all convinced sooner or later, Jack.”

There is a point in “316” where Ben tells Jack the story of Thomas the Apostle, a man who is best known for doubting Jesus’ resurrection. What we take from Ben’s explanation is that Thomas was a brave man, who stood up for Jesus during his life and was unwilling to back away from threats against him. And yet, he isn’t known for that: he is known for not believing, for not welcoming Jesus back into this world under circumstances that he couldn’t grasp immediately. While he did eventually believe once he felt Jesus’ wounds with his own hands, that doubt has defined his existence.

In many ways, “316” is a study of Jack Shepherd’s willingness to believe, and whether or not fate and history will remember him as the person who rebuffed John Locke when he first came to Jack off the island or as the person who eventually became a believer and got on Ajira Airways Flight 316 in order to return to the island. The same pattern goes for the rest of the Oceanic Six: are the decisions they made, the sacrifices they take in order to go back to the island, enough to overcome the fact that they ignored Locke when he first came to them? They were all convinced, sooner or later, to return, but where they sit on that timeline could be very important to their futures.

What this week’s episode, scripted by Lost overlords Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, doesn’t do is give us the ability to answer these questions, presenting a labyrinth that is complex not because of some sort of twisted time warp but rather because we are still missing parts, human parts, of this story. While we got to see what brought Jack to the end of this episode, we do not yet understand the context of the letter he receives, or how the rest of the Oceanic Six resolves this conflict. These questions aren’t going to be solved by Mrs. Hawking spouting off techno-babble, but rather an investigation into these characters, their motivations, and the kinds of questions that have formed the foundation of the series since its opening.

Perhaps its fitting, then, that we begin this episode the same way we began the pilot, a close-up of Jack’s eye as he wakes up in a whole new world for the second time.

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Lost – “This Place is Death”

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“This Place is Death”

February 11th, 2009

Yesterday, I was reading a piece by Devin Faraci over at CHUD.com, wherein he laid out a laundry list of concerns over the trajectory of Lost’s fifth season. To summarize, Devin is arguing that the focus on time travel has them indulging themselves in the show’s science fiction elements, and that it is forgetting about its characters, losing its momentum, and diverting attention from where it should be placed. And, ostensibly, I believe that he is right about every one of these things; the only difference is that I feel the show is better for it.

“This Place is Death” is a reminder that this isn’t just an investigation of the island itself, but rather an investigation of the island and its relationship with these characters. It has given them things, such as a new set of legs, just as it has taken them away, and what we have here is the island beginning to assert its power over them. Charlotte is correct to remark that this island is one where death is prevalent, but we know it hasn’t always been this way: it gave Locke back his ability to walk, it cured Rose’s cancer, and it appears to have given Richard Alpert the ability to transcend the aging process entirely.

But now the island is off its axis, something has gone off-kilter. As the when of the island changes, the what changes with it: it affects different people to different degrees, its only consistency that it has turned against them all in at least some capacity. This episode is about one man’s plan to try to change this, and another man’s concern that if it proves unstoppable it might mean something terrible for the person about whom he cares the most. This, ultimately, is a character-driven story, one that focuses on a central relationship while reminding us that powers stronger than their love are operating here.

And with a single spin of the wheel, anything is possible.

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Lost – “Jughead”

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“Jughead”

January 28th, 2009

There are some who believe, and who boasted ahead of the episode airing, that “Jughead” is one of the strongest episodes in Lost’s five season run.

I’m inclined to disagree, although not out of malice towards the episode or its intentions.

I liked “Jughead,” a lot, but it felt like a much more purposeful attempt to confuse and overwhelm the viewer than some of the show’s past mythology episodes. There is no doubt that, compared to the premiere, this episode is far more revealing: the island’s pit stop in the 1950s introduces us to some key individuals and ideas which seem to fit together numerous pieces of our puzzle, whether it be Richard Alpert’s reasoning for entering into the life of John Locke or the various details that explain the current condition of Daniel Faraday.

Abandoning the Oceanic Six entirely, the episode is all about trying to piece things together in ways that seem at first unorthodox but then, over time, become more focused if not more clear. My reservations about placing the episode into the show’s upper echelon is that it, as an entity, did not feel like a story in its own right: while we approached some major revelations for Daniel Faraday in particular, the episode never felt like it really had time to apply those to his character and demonstrate those effects.

But no one can claim that there are not now some much larger questions, and certainly the fog is beginning to clear on, at the very least, a few very important things. So that makes “Jughead” an entertaining and momentum-building episode for the show, if not the television revelation that some had sold it as.

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Season Premiere: Lost – “Because You Left / The Lie”

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“Because You Left / The Lie”

January 21st, 2009

Going into tonight’s two-hour premiere for Lost’s second season, I was unsure. Not about the show, really, so much as unsure about my own ability to get back into a Lost frame of mind. I’m only a few days out from the mindfrak that was the BSG premiere, and to enter into a similar level of complexity so soon was something that didn’t feel normal. I love this show with all my heart, through the slow periods and the various leaps through time, but there is a point where you wonder how many more twists and turns you can take.

But from the moment that Marvin Candle puts a record on and heads to the Orchid station to investigate a new discovery, it becomes very clear that there is never a time where a Lost frame of mind feels overbearing. What makes “Because You Left” and “The Lie” so effective is that they are operating are on a whole new plane: what was once a simple construct of present and past, and then present and future, has been eternally complicated by a whirlwind tour through what we’ve experienced, what we know, and what could happen in the future. Before, we were the ones who were traveling through time, but hearkening back to Season Four’s pivotal “The Constant” the show has unstuck its characters in time and we’re just along for the ride.

The result has us perhaps the most confused we’ve ever been, but it makes sense: our characters are just as confused, just as at the whim of the island and whatever crazy sense of time, space and fate this show is holding going into its fifth and penultimate season. This two-hour season premiere, more than the flashforwards or the Oceanic Six before it, has this world in a constant state of change that has fundamentally altered our sense of the show’s direction. If Season Four was drawing the line from Point A, the island, to Point B, the rescue of the Oceanic Six, then now we’re drawing a line between points constantly moving, evolving as we watch into something we haven’t come close to understanding.

We’ve gone from knowing what happens and wondering how the show will take us there to slowly discovering what needs to happen and growing increasingly doubtful that it’s an achievable goal considering the variables involved. The sheer uncertainty of this premiere is exactly what the show needed to put me into a Lost frame of mind: I don’t understand you, Lost, but at the end of the day I will always believe you.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Lost – “The Constant”

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“The Constant”

Season Four, Episode Five

Airdate: February 28th, 2008

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, or watched Lost’s fourth season, that “The Constant” makes it into Cultural Learnings’ 2008 Television Time Capsule. The story of Desmond Hume’s altered state, trapped between his time on the island and a period years earlier shortly after his breakup with Penny, the episode is the very definition of what made the fourth season of Lost one of its best.

The reason is found in the episode’s seamless integration of heavy science fiction subjects (radiation-driven time travel) with the show’s most powerful love story. Ever since his flashes began, Desmond has been the character most often directly involved with the science fiction, and on some shows such characters feel like tools, less characters than tools of exposition. But at the same time, Desmond unrequited love with Penny has been one of the show’s most enduring storylines.

The two storylines meet in near perfect harmony in “The Constant.” They each alter one another in the right way: the element of time travel is made more understandable when their relationship is caught in between it, while their relationship, although already compelling, becomes even more remarkable when it is able to transcend both space and time.

While there may be some disagreement about whether or not the show’s finale delivered on the season’s promise, I don’t feel as if anyone could argue that its most emotional moment called back not to Jack and Kate’s flashforward but rather this episode’s pivotal moment, the phone call that will go down as one of the show’s most powerful sequences.

YouTube: The Phone Call

And, as a result, “The Constant” shall enter the Time Capsule as a sign that Lost has continued to evolve: always a science fiction show driven by its characters, those two parts of its identity had never been in such stunning partnership before this episode. As we prepare for the show’s fifth season (which starts January 21st on ABC), I have perhaps an unreasonable confidence that this is the benchmark towards which Lindelof and Cuse will again strive.

Let’s hope I’m right.

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[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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