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Lost – “Namaste”

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“Namaste”

March 18th, 2009

At the very beginning of Lost’s first season, orientation was a common relationship for all of our characters: all of them had their own baggage, their own identities, but all of them had in common that struggle to reorient their lives in such a way as to fit into this new island structure. We see Jack trying to associate his pre-island struggles with his father and with medicine with his new role as a leader, to uneven success, just as we see Kate come to terms with her crimes and her culpability in the wake of what is essentially a fresh start. Even if some people oriented themselves faster than others, or more successfully than others, everyone had to start at that basic point.

But in “Namaste,” that balance is entirely skewed – if the term means “I bow to you,” then many amongst the show’s cast have no idea who, or what, to bow to anymore. There are three sets of people on the island in these two different time periods: one set who has been there for three years and has become part of the culture (Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Jin), one that has been there before but finds this new territory disturbing regardless of the time period (the Oceanic Six, Frank, Ben), and those who are experiencing it all for the first time (Caesar and the group left back by the Hydra). The problem is that, for the first group, they are part of the culture: they went through orientation, they saw the videos, and now they are integral parts of the structure of this island and its history. Everyone else, meanwhile, is starting anew, but for some of these characters you can’t just stop yourself from recognizing a new captive as an old friend, or reacting when you first see an old lover for the first time.

This isn’t a mind-blowing episode of Lost in terms of major revelations, but it fills in some key gaps that we hadn’t quite pieced together in the last few episodes, and draws attention to our central conflict. The show is purposefully trying to reboot itself in the middle of a season, knowing full well that it’s impossible – that impossibility is embodied by the characters, the characters who are either trapped separated by decades from the people they came to see or those trapped in the distant past with no clue as to their mission. Just as they can’t forget about the past, pretend like nothing happened, neither can I, and this kind of narrative disconnect in fact sends us back to these characters, and even back to past events in previous seasons, to get a real sense of what has changed.

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Season Finale – Lost – “There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

“There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3”

May 29th, 2008

“Who the frak is Jeremy Bentham?”

[In case this 4700 word review wasn’t enough, here’s more post-podcast thoughts about the Lost finale! Was the finale spoiled by the one which preceded it, dooming it from the very beginning? Well, no, but it’s a valid argument.]

This is the question that pervades the conclusion to Lost’s fourth season, one that I asked myself the second the name was uttered. Now, I presumed that this (like most Lost names) had special meaning, but resisted the urge to head off to my computer to use Wikpedia to find out which philosopher or some other profession the show was using to describe this intriguing character who, as the finale unfolds, we learn was in the casket we saw a season ago.

And, well, I didn’t even have to wait until I returned to my computer: someone who was only in the TV lounge to watch a show proceeding Lost knew the story, and immediately it clicked: it wasn’t his ideas that made him an ideal choice, but rather his legacy.

From Wikipedia:

As requested in his will, [Jeremy Bentham’s] body was preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet, termed his “Auto-icon”. Originally kept by his disciple Dr. Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. The Auto-icon is kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the College. For the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, the Auto-icon was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where he was listed as “present but not voting”. Tradition holds that if the council’s vote on any motion is tied, the auto-icon always breaks the tie by voting in favour of the motion.

In an episode full of light bulb moments, pieces falling into place as we knew they had to, this was the biggest: a realization that, in kind with the words of the characters standing beside the casket, there was life after death for its occupant. Death is strange on the island, we know this: whether it’s Christian, Claire or Charlie, it is clear that dying is not final in this world.

And there is nothing final about this finale; while we turn the corner on one chapter of the lives of our castaways, the series has simultaneously created a whole new set of mysteries, a whole new structural question (perhaps even rivaling our post-season three confusion), and certainly more than enough dramatic potential for the final two seasons to resonate just as strongly as this one.

To be frank, this is no “Through the Looking Glass;” its moving pieces were smaller, and its scale (even considering Locke’s mission from Jacob) are in no way going to create something to that level. However, the episode fulfills that finale’s potential, paying off storylines both emotional and adventurous, and providing more than enough fodder for Lost fans to continue salivating for the final 34.

In the meantime, let’s salivate over this one.

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Lost – “There’s No Place Like Home, Part One”

“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”

May 15th, 2008

It’s not often you see a three-hour, two part finale, but it was clear at this point that Lost needed it – there’s a lot of pieces to put into place for the show at this point, and the really intriguing thing is that we, as the audience, know what the end result is: we know which of these people leave the island, so “There No Place Like Home” is a lesson in how this season’s new set of questions has worked so well.

And no, we don’t get much of the way of answers this time around: as is the nature of any hour before the finale kicks in, there really isn’t much here that progressed the plot in any way. We never got to see inside the Orchid, we didn’t see anyone die or officially be rescued, and even the flashforwards were less informative than they were situational. That’s not to say that the hour wasn’t entertaining, but it was just a lot of the things that needed to be done and over with before the finale can kick into gear.

So, if we look at it as an episode, probably somewhat uneventful – as a first act to the finale as a whole, it’s a great piece of setup work.

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