Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lost: Billy Pilgrim goes to the movies

Spoilers for "Lost" coming up, but the short version is I'm pleased...

There? How hard was that? You devote your flashback to a relatively unexamined character, you pay off a mystery that you've been dropping clues about for only a few episodes (albeit ones that aired months ago, due to the hiatus), and you end with a cliffhanger that actually means something for both the audience and the characters. I would've liked more present-day island action, but beyond that, a vast improvement over "Not in Portland."

So, questions and other random thoughts:
  • Back when the show began, Lindelof used to say that everything that happened on the show could be explained by non-supernatural means, no doubt to give the writers options on their Grand Unified Theory. Now that they've definitively established Desmond as unstuck in time -- not to mention the physics-defying smoke monster -- I'm wondering at exactly what point the show abandoned that philosophy.
  • So who's Fionnula Flannagan supposed to be? A hallucination? A fellow (time) traveler? Sawyer's mom?
  • Given that the producers have said someone else is gonna die soon, and given Desmond's revelation about Charlie, will it be lame if they don't kill Charlie or lame if they do? I go with don't, largely because Charlie is the most insufferable person on the island this side of Jack, if not worse than Dr. God.
  • What's with all the movie references? You had Desmond throwing down his tie, Jack Foley-style; the man with two red shoes suffering the fate of one of the Wicked Witches; and Desmond trying to pull a Frank Sullivan by using a sporting event on a nearby TV to prove the existence of time travel.
  • Where this week's "Studio 60" beat you over the head with references to 1999, I like how this one was vague about how long ago Desmond and Penny's courtship took place, though I'm sure some music or soccer buff is going to tell me how bleeding obvious it is that she moved in with him in, like, 1997.
  • Speaking of which, people at several sites pointed out last week that, according to the show's chronology and Juliet's explanation of how long she's been on the island, she would have had to leave for "Portland" on or around 9/11. Hasn't Desmond also been on the island roughly the same length of time? And how icky would it be if the show goes there?
  • Because I didn't get my plasma TV until December, and because I got a screener of "Not in Portland" that I watched on my laptop in January, this was the first episode I've ever seen in HD, and the show -- particularly the beach scenes -- look amazing in high-def.
  • The promo amused me. The show used to try to pull in viewers by promising a death; now they've realized that promising answers is the better way to go.
What did everybody else think?

21 comments:

J said...

First really good episode for a long, long time.

And it made the solution to the show's problems look very simple: Find a story worth telling; tell it. This would have been fine even if they hadn't dropped the bit about Charlie at the end.

Nice, very Twilight Zone, some emotional oomph. Not sure is Cusick's not up to it or if the show wants to keep its brooding elsewhere, but I wish Desmond came across more wounded and mad than daft.

Kill Charley! And don't make it sappy. Let him die some sort of horrible, hobbity death. Maybe a sixty-foot tall (and four-toed) statue of Mary falls from the sky, squashes him.

Dan Jardine said...

If they kill Charlie, does that mean Evangeline's back on the market?

Dara said...

I'm one of those people who has enjoyed this season. I liked the first six episodes. I think that you can watch Lost based on how they build each episode and what you learn about the characters; things that they are very good at compared to most other shows. And I think they will show why they spent the time they did setting up the situations and character developments that emerged from those early episodes.
I believe that the showrunners were trying to work out in good faith the problem of only having 21 episodes to run over a nine month period after all the whining about repeats last year. Now we are living in the consequence of so many people complained loudly about the break and being strung along. Are these the episodes we would have been getting if people had been ok with the first six? Or have they been changed from the original concept of how this season was suppose to go to appease that vocal part of the audience and steam the worried about ratings bleed. It's any interesting situation.

Saying that, I think both the last two eps were fantastic and give viewers plenty of things that can be more readily applied to the bigger mysteries and themes of the show. And they were both tense emotional rides that remind what Lost does at its best. This episode however is kind of a conundrum because up until now I have viewed the flashbacks as the only reliable narration that was being offered in the show. Desmond's flashback, if indeed it can be considered one, can not be considered reliable in the same way. And it almost struck me as a tip of the hat to the structure of the show being told in flashback form. Instead of being inposed from outside these being generated from Desmond himself. But if they are, are they then his perspective and his conclusions and can't be relied on?

kevbo nobo said...

Listen: Desmond David Hume is unstuck in time.

Great title, Alan; a buch of us folks, of a certain age, were yelling "Slaughterhouse Five" during this very good ep.

BF said...

Okay, I'll be the music geek. "Wonderwall", which Charlie was singing on the streetcorner, was released in 1995. But that means that Driveshaft went from not being formed to "one hit wonder trying to make a comeback" in less than 9 years. That's something of a tight squeeze.

I'll also play Continuity Cop and ask how come it took so long for Desmond to recognize Jack at the beginning of last season. As I recall, it wasn't until the 3rd episode after Desmond ran off and Jack tracked him into the jungle. Yet he can pick out Charlie while simply passing him on the streetcorner.

Bonus observation: are Jack's tatoos "one of the most intriguing mysteries of the island"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

BF, I don't think he was unstuck in time when he met Jack in the stadium. I think Desmond's timeline plays out as follows:

-Lives his life: dumps Penny, enlists in the military, goes to jail, goes sailing on Libby's yacht

-Crashes on Craphole Island, kills Kelvin, spends three years pushing the button

-Runs around the island for a few weeks, tries to sail home, gets in the middle of the hatch implosion

-Is sent back in time to the period when Penny moved in with him, stays there until he gets smacked upside the head with a cricket bat

-Jumps back, naked, to the island, where he now suffers precognitive flashes, most of them relating to the universe's understandable need to murder Charlie

So Charlie's the only Lostie he ran into during his brief time jaunt. He met Jack the first time around.

dez said...

I liked this ep a lot, especially the reveal about Charlie. Maybe Charlie will intentionally OD to save Desmond some grief (although if I were Charlie, I'd stick to Desmond like glue).

I was actually a little bummed to see that we're back to the Others next week. I mean, I want that storyline wrapped up quickly so we can get back to the people on the beach, but I was hoping for a slightly longer break from it. Ah, might as well get it over with!

Kristin said...

This episode really made me think about last week's show. Did Juliet somehow 'remember' that her ex got hit by the bus when she said that off-handedly in the meeting with the "Portland" guy? Is she also stuck in some kind of repeating time loop? Are the flashbacks we've been seeing really flashforwards as everyone repeats their lives after the hatch implosion?

I don't think Desmond is the only one who has experienced this.

This was a GREAT episode. Hailing back to the way I felt about the show the first season-and-a-half. And they really got me with the fact it was Charlie he was trying to save rather than Claire. Can't wait for next week!

Grimoald said...

I'm a Brit, and with regards to the whole 'Soccer' thing, the teams were made up. Plus it didn't make any sense, because teams never play 2 days in a row, so how could the same team lose one night and then claw back a draw the night after.

Toby said...

It obviously wasn't planned this way, but 'Criminal Minds' on CBS primed me to think of the 'Slaughterhouse Five' comparison by having two of their characters talk about the book in the previous hour.

And as far as icky connections to real world events, the 'Lost' timeline is getting closer to the 2004 tsunami that occurred on the day after Christmas. I wonder if there'll be any kind of acknowledgement of it with sea surges or something similar?

Anonymous said...

They also spelled "honor" wrong on the army poster. The Brits spell it "honour." I also noticed the Underground sign said "public subway" next to it. I've never noticed those words there before, but maybe I was scrutinizing the show more than I do real life!

Andrew Dignan said...

Okay, now it's my turn to play musical geek: The Sarah McLachlan song playing in Desmond's apartment is from '97, so the events of last night's episode had to have taken place between then and 2001 (as his past also includes time in the military and prison) I'm leaning towards much closer to the earlier date.

As for Desmond's time traveling, I had a different take on the episode's flashbacks. As I wrote about in my (shameless plug alert) article over at the House Next Door, I think Desmond has conjured a Tony Soprano-like test dream to justify not only his time spent on the island but the rampant insecurity that pushed his beloved Penny away years earlier. I think Desmond nails it on the head when he calls Fionnula Flannagan's character his subconscious, but not in the way he accuses her of being. He needs to be reminded of how "important" he is for "saving the world" and that allows him to live with being a shmuck. Afterall, he rationalizes, if he doesn’t break Penny’s heart “now” she’ll only die with the rest of the world in the “future.”

My take anyway.

Christy said...

I began my happy dance 15 minutes into the broadcast. Delighted to be free of the others.

Did we know earlier that Desmond's name was Desmond David Hume? David Hume being the Scottish philosopher influenced by John Locke and with an interesting take on free will and determinism. I'm finding this show much more enjoyable if I don't invest too fully in the subtexts because I know Abrams will disappoint, but it is so hard when they keep throwing books and philosophers into the mix. Argh!

Lelon said...

There is no way we'll be lucky enough to see Charlie gone. Desmond will learn Sci-Fi Time Travel Law #347, the only way to use your future knowledge of someones death to prevent said death is to take that person's place and sacrifice yourself. Its only a matter of time before we say bye-bye to Desmond.

Kevin said...

Alan,

The timeline you laid out is how it appeared in the show but I think there's more to it. Desmond mentioned that he was trying to save Charlie's life when he rescued Claire from the water and when he put up the lightning rod near her house. That means that this is at least Desmond's third time living this moment on the island, as there were two previous times when the reality was that Charlie died. It seems like there's another point in the future that will cause Desmond to go back to his previous life and relive the time when lightning struck and when Claire goes for a swim.

I thought it was interesting that the song 1990s Charlie was singing in England was Wonderwall, with the lyrics "Maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me."

dez said...

If you're right, Kevin, would this make the whole show really about Desmond's life? Because that would be awesome!

Christy, I don't think we learned Desmond's full name until the "catch-up" ep from last week.

Ossie's Dream said...

It seemed to me some of the the outdoor scenes in London were filmed in a studio, hence the "public subway" sign at the tube station. The football match appeared to be a Barcelona and Real Madrid game...though it was impossible to make out the players and thus determine what season it was from.

Though none of this really matters that much, does it?

BF said...

I don't think we learned Desmond's full name until the "catch-up" ep from last week.

I could have sworn we heard it while Dez was being dishonorably discharged from prison last year in "Live Together, Die Alone".

jim treacher said...

"Okay, I'll be the music geek. 'Wonderwall', which Charlie was singing on the streetcorner, was released in 1995. But that means that Driveshaft went from not being formed to 'one hit wonder trying to make a comeback' in less than 9 years. That's something of a tight squeeze."

In England?? A band plays 3 shows and they're on the cover of the NME. By the 5th show they've suffered the inevitable backlash and are working on their comeback later that evening. Bands are like mayflies over there.

"Desmond mentioned that he was trying to save Charlie's life when he rescued Claire from the water and when he put up the lightning rod near her house. That means that this is at least Desmond's third time living this moment on the island, as there were two previous times when the reality was that Charlie died."

No, it means that every time Desmond has a precognitive vision of Charlie dying and saves him, the universe "course-corrects" and tries to kill Charlie again. Desmond saves him again, the universe tries again, and so on. There have been two "accidents" so far, and Desmond has stopped them both. Otherwise, how would anybody else remember the previous near-miss?

Dark Tyler said...

Okay, I'm gonna go all geek here, but this episode calls for it. :)

What if the hatch explosion made Desmond go all Dr. Manhattan from "Watchmen", living/observing his whole life simultaneously?

Also, remember that horrid episode where Hurley thought that maybe the whole show is inside his head? Well, now it could as well be inside Desmond's head, as an elaborate justification of his cowardice, or something.

Any way. Best episode since I don't even remember when.

jim treacher said...

What was horrid about it?