Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lost: Welcome to the wonderful world of not knowing what the hell is going on

"Lost" spoilers coming up just as soon as I thank Kate for giving that shout-out to "Lost" fandom at large...

You know what I love? Puzzle movies and TV shows where a revelation towards the end changes the way you viewed everything that happened before, but which makes sense in the context of what everyone did. You know what I hate? Puzzles where the big revelation doesn't make a damn bit of sense if you think about it for even a second, and Juliet's entire one-act play with Kate was definitely one of those.

Maybe she's telling the truth about being left behind and feeling betrayed and wanting desperately to bond with Kate, or maybe Ben deliberately left her behind to place a spy in the Lostaways camp. Doesn't matter. Under what circumstance is her whole recreation of "The Defiant Ones" by way of a "Dynasty" mud catfight supposed to accomplish her goal of getting closer to Kate and the others? She has a handcuff key. She knows where Jack and Sayid are. She's seen the damn monster before and knows that the sonic wall will repel it. Why play dumb when there's no upside to it, not when the truth is going to have to come out eventually, not when Kate and Sayid and the people back on the beach are already going to be disinclined to trust her? What's the value in pretending you've never encountered the monster before when you're going to hide behind your defenses a few minutes later, especially when you can probably gain far more street cred with Kate by saying upfront, "We don't know what that thing is, but we know it won't go past our wall, so let's run for it"?

Again, this gets back to Ben's whole convoluted scheme to trick Jack into performing surgery on him, when all he had to do way back when was not send his people to kidnap, kill, torture and otherwise mess with the Lostaways, and instead just show up on the beach and ask for Jack's help? When I presented the "Can you help a brother out?" scenario back at press tour, Lindelof laughed and said that, with all due respect, my version wouldn't be nearly as compelling. And I know I'm not a TV writer, but if the only rationale for a character's behavior is "Because then there wouldn't be a show," something's not working right, you know?

So, more pointless mind games in the A-story, a relatively wheel-spinning flashback (albeit one that gives Kim Dickens a paycheck, and I'm always on board with that) and an amusing beach subplot that fails to ask an obvious question: Why isn't Hurley the leader in Jack's absence? Everybody likes and trusts the guy, he understands their physical and emotional needs better than anyone else, and he's been in the loop enough on the hatch and The Others and all that wackiness that he can make informed decisions about everyone's safety. Is it just because he doesn't have a washboard stomach like Jack and Sawyer?

It's kind of a moot point, since Jack's on his way back to the beach, but I think the show could have gotten some interesting mileage out of showing what life under Hurley's common sense, selfless leadership would be like.

What did everybody else think?

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan, I interpreted Juliet's actions as those of a person who, over the course of the past three years, has been rendered incapable of interacting like a normal human being. She lied because that's what she's been bred to do.

Sean T. said...

Sorry, my name is Sean Collins.

BF said...

I agree that Sawyer wouldn't be my first choice for "leader". After all, this is the guy that (in show time), stole all the guns and all but declared war on everyone else a few weeks ago.

But I think Hurley doesn't want the job either. Hurley would rather be everybody's pal, and you can't be that if you have to make tough decisions (which is why he begged off the food rationing detail last year.)

I vote for Desmond! Putting a guy in charge who can see the future, just makes the most sense.

As for Kate's mom, she did indeed live up to her promise. After the episode, I popped in the Season I DVD and rewatched the end of Born to Run, where Kate visits Mom in the hospital. She does indeed cry for help after recognizing her daughter.

And please, would somebody explain how Lost-zilla hasn't figured out how to go OVER the sound barriers? If Kate, Sayid & Locke can shimmy over the gates on a tree branch, surely Old Smokey can hop over.

jim treacher said...

The second she said that, I was like, "There's Sepinwall's headline!"

I was going to call this episode "The Defiant C***s," but that would be rude The Scary Monster Games are now officially boring, and I'm not as interested in Juliet joining the beach party as apparently I'm supposed to be.

Dennis Wilson said...

And why does Jack head "back to camp" at the end of the episode? Why not bring the crash survivors back to live in the now abandoned houses of the Others? Wouldn't they be more comfortable there than living on the beach?

Anonymous said...

Was this the first mention of a potential Sawyer, Jr.?

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, Kim Dickens showed up in Sawyer's prison flashback earlier this season having already given birth to said child, named Clementine.

M.Chavez said...

Juliet is damaged goods. Ben has taught everyone that the only way to insure you get what you want is you have to manipulate the other person into thinking you're not actually getting what you want. After three years, Juliet only knows how to do this (and she's probably seen it work every time Ben uses it), so she can't fight the urge.

I'm sorry I'm won't be hearing her lovely voice in Halo 3.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And Sean, I see what you're saying about Juliet having been corrupted by Ben's influence, but at the same time it feels too much like a plot contrivance to give the writers license to do anything.

Ben's plans don't make sense and are willfully deceptive to the characters and the audience? Of course! That's how he was raised to act! And it just so happens to fall right into our strategy of not explaining anything ever!

anon said...

Alan,

Much depends on who dropped Kate and Juliet in the woods while leaving Sayid and Jack back at camp. I can't see Juliet carrying Kate in order to carry out her ruse, and yet I also can't see why the Others would do it either, unless Juliet is supposed to be a mole.

That can explain why she lied about the key, and how she knows Jack and Sayid haven't been moved, but not why she'd lie about knowing how to stop the smoke monster. If the goal is to cozy up to Kate, why not save her life? That tends to generate gratitude.

I didn't like the Sawyer-can't-see-a-con-coming storyline until Hurley's speech. Too bad we can't see that play out over a few episodes, especially since Sun appears to be planning her revenge.

But I look forward to next week, because I'm hoping somebody now explains what the Others are doing to those children.

Anon

Kristin said...

Of course Juliet is a mole. The scene from last week when the dude hid in the bathroom proved as much. Did no one else sense that she was just as deceptive as Ben?

Jack is apparently very slow to learn about Ben's need to manipulate and how deep it runs, how complicated he can make things in order to get his own way in the end.

Hey, there was no mention of Locke! Does anyone have a theory why he happily went along with the Others and what finding his father in that closet might have been all about?

In all of Locke's flashbacks he never did anything that would be perceived of as 'bad.' He got dealt a crappy hand a lot of times, but he tried to do the right thing every time, only to get stomped on.

Who else in the group fits into this category? Hurley? Jin? Rose? Most of the other Lostaways have done something worthy of being banished to an island....

Alan Sepinwall said...

Jin used to beat people up for a living. (Though you may be confusing him with Sun; the name thing used to trip me up a lot.) Hurley was responsible (though it was an accident) for that fatal porch collapse, which could put him on the "bad" list.

And Rose? Who's this Rose you keep referring to?

John Coulter said...

why did Kate and Juliets gas-induced sleep wear off before Jack and Sayid's?

BF said...

Well, Locke did help those guys grow weed. And we got at least hint from his last flashback that he was scamming the government for disability checks.

Maybe we haven't seen Rose because Michael swang by the beach to pick her up in his new boat.

the2scoops said...

As much as I enjoyed Hurley and Sawyer's storyline, something occured to me. Why does Sawyer have so much trouble being liked, if he wants to be liked? HE'S A FRIGGING CON-MAN!!! He's supposed to know how to manipulate people and gain their trust! He should have befriended Claire and sold her swamp-side property in Florida if he wanted!

Dan Coyle said...

I tried with this episode, but I turned it off after 15 minutes. I hate Kate for personal reasons, and I can't stand the whole Kate/Jack/Sawyer/Juliet quadrangle the writers are trying to force down our throats. If everyone on the show was 15, lines like "Jack told you to leave because you broke his heart!" would make sense.

I do agree with Sean, however, about Juliet's behavior, manipulative for the sake of it.

But I'm shocked Lindelof actually explained Ben's behavior to Alan that way. Either that was a) a fakeout because he's got something planned, b) a brazen bit of honesty/stupidity, or c) A rather depressing admission of Lindelof's contempt for audience intelligence. I have a feeling it's c.

Eric said...

It's now obvious that Juliet is a mole. Sayid thinks she is, and he's the one who's always right about that kind of thing.

And I agree with dennis. Shouldn't they be bringing everyone from the beach to the Other's compound, so they can live in houses, and use electricity, and have a sonic fence to protect themselves from the Smoke Monster? Way better shelter than the Rape Caves.

Kristin said...

Jin, yes, I know which one I am talking about. Remember at one point, Jin did NOT do what the boss told him to do...actually 2 times. The first time, he was supposed to kill the businessman in the man's house in front of his family. He chose to defy the boss--did he really have much choice here? He's married to the boss's daughter and was sort of forced into his job in order to stay with her.

Also, he was supposed to kill Sun's lover, but walked away from that as well.

Hurley never intentionally harmed anyone, unlike Sawyer, Kate, Sayid, etc.

Sawyer was not forced into conning people. Kate was not forced to kill her stepfather. Just as the two last week...they were con artists as well.

Locke was getting benefits for clinical depression. I don't think that counts as scamming the government. I've known people to legally be on SSI for less....Plus, the only reason he was rejected from the program was because he didn't go to therapy. He wanted his father to love him. That's his biggest crime. And he was rejected, hurt, etc. again and again.

Anyway, if my reasoning is not working for you, then why is Locke okay in the Other's eyes, but Kate is not?

J said...

You know what? I had a long day, and I didn't think once during this episode. Okay, once. Long enough to decide that the B story with Sawyer was total crap.

But for the most part I didn't think. And my reaction? "Ooo, MONSTER."

I like monster. ROAR, addingmachinenoises, ROAR.

Alan Sepinwall said...

J, I love lamp.

Cheesesteak said...

Are you just saying that because it's right there, Alan?

Have you killed someone with a trident lately?

Sorry. Back OT, can we just admit that Sayid is the man and he's the one who should be the leader at this point? He doesn't go off on existential crises just because he can (which I'm beginning to feel is the case with Locke and Jack). And he's hella smarter than either of them when it comes to spotting a trap.

At least I didn't yell at the TV like I did last week. All I came up with while Sawyer held Claire's baby was, "And his heart grew three sizes."

Mr. Bad Example said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Bad Example said...

Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Now, honest question: Is it wrong that during the whole Juliet-and-Kate-cuffed together I felt... you know... kinda... erm... inspired?

Dan Coyle said...

Alan: Where'd you get a grenade?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Now, I'll be real impressed if we can start turning this into a "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy" quoteathon. I'll start:

"Cannibalism. Invented by the Japanese in 1800s. The eating of flesh, for the sustension of life!"

What? Just me?

Bobman said...

why did Kate and Juliets gas-induced sleep wear off before Jack and Sayid's?

This is at least ONE thing that's explainable - Kate and Juliet were dragged out into the woods, and therefore had fresh air surrounding them for a while, while Jack and Sayid were left in the gas-infested air, meaning they probably got a "higher dose" for a longer period.

Cheesesteak said...

"Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident."

Cheesesteak said...

And not to be childish or anything, Alan, but you started it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, I know I started it, Cheesesteak. I'm just trying to find out if I can steer it over to the sequel (or whatever you call "Wake Up").

jim treacher said...

I call "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy" baloney. (In terms of being made up of discarded bits, not in terms of being a lot of hooey. Althought that too, a little.)

Cheesesteak said...

Actually, I would argue that its spritual sequel is 40 Year Old Virgin. With Carrell, Rudd and even Seth Rogen (all in both movies) and getting to have more screen time without Ferrell, I think all told, 40 YOV was the full fruition of the awesomeness of grown men as children.

As to that effect, "Oh she's dating some pot dealer which is a stupid horrible decision, but hey - that's her journey. If she wants to be a fucking immature bitch and blow everybody... But that's love, man

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Juliet thing is implausible, but not any more so (and in fact, much less so, I think) than all the Losties intersecting prior to coming to the island (tonight, our latest example: Cassidy and Kate). I continue to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride, and I still consider Lost one of the better shows on network TV (which is, sadly, the only kind of TV I can get until non-network shows come out on DVD and I can rent them at Netflix).

Anonymous said...

Alan, your criticisms are totally valid, but at the same time I still enjoy this show immensely. Little moments like Juliet flipping Kate on her back when Kate tried to attack... and the great Sawyer/Hurley interactions, and just watching the very purty Desmond do, well, anything. This season isn't irking me as badly as 24 is, which I have basically stopped watching, but Lost is still must watch TV for me.

Anonymous said...

I'd definitely say Jin is on the "good person" list right now. He may have beat up people for a tim, but have we ever seen him kill someone? I feel that if we've yet to see someone kill another person, they are good. Locke, Jin, Rose, Bernard... maybe even Claire. They are right now the only good main characters I can possibly think of.

Anonymous said...

Alan:

"And Sean, I see what you're saying about Juliet having been corrupted by Ben's influence, but at the same time it feels too much like a plot contrivance to give the writers license to do anything."

Well, isn't that kind of the whole show? The power of the monster and/or island to manifest people's innermost desires and/or fears, the backstory segments that enable the writers to put some surprising "this changes everything" twist on established characters on a regular basis...the whole shebang is an exercise in creating reasons for the rules of realism not to apply. To me, at least, that's been apparent from the get-go, which is why it's so strange to me to read people taking the show to task for it now. It's like people complaining next Monday that [i]The Sopranos[/i] is losing them because it's about the mafia.

--Sean

jim treacher said...

No, because we've known The Sopranos is about the Mafia since the first episode. I still don't know what the hell Lost is about. Other than an excuse to get jerked around every week, which is getting old.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Russo?

Dan Coyle said...

I say Jin is a good person. He's just got a monstrous dark side that Sun's father helped unleash.

Anonymous said...

"No, because we've known The Sopranos is about the Mafia since the first episode. I still don't know what the hell Lost is about. Other than an excuse to get jerked around every week, which is getting old."

But we've known that Lost is about not knowing what the hell it's about since the first episode too, Jim.

--Sean

Taleena said...

Ah Lost! I have stopped watching the show with an engaged brain, I have stopped trying to figure things out. I fast forward all love triangle scenes and just enjoy the fabulous eye candy of Sayid, Jin and Desmond.

Sure they Losties could move to the barracks and enjoy houses and beds and safeties, but then they would not have the satisfaction of living in palm huts they built with their own hands. Does it make sense? no. If it were I, I would move them to the barracks, crash another plane and have the Losties become the Others and end the series.

Susan said...

anonymous - about the "good list." Sure, some of those people may not have killed the way Kate and Sawyer did, but nearly all of them feel responsible for the death of another person, whether they are or not. Claire put her mother in a coma that's pretty likely to end in death. Sun's affair led to her boyfriend jumping to his death. And Locke told his father that his to-be-stepson was suspicious of him, leading to the son's death.

swingbeat said...

What I really can't stand about this show is that no one is pointing at the big pink elephant in the room.

WHAT THE HECK ARE THE OTHERS DOING ON THE ISLAND?

Right now all the Lostaways are acting as if they don't care what the Others are doing. What's their experiment? why are they kidnapping people? What does Jack know?

There are multiple times when Jack/Kate/Sawyer had close contact with an Other - for example with Alex's boyfriend they could have gleaned some info while talking. Or with Kate, she could have asked Juliet for info (not that she would have told the truth). But right now the writers are having the characters just _not care_ about this situation. Sayid (underused this season, I think) could certainly use some of his persuasive abilities :).

Instead, this show has "lost" a lot of credibility with me - seems like the producers are making things up as they go along, as long as the advertising dollars come in.

The Philosophical Mother said...

What I can't figure out is how come the Others can't forgive Kate for what she did, but they have no problem forgiving Locke for killing one of their own.

This doesn't seem to make sense to me.