Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost, "Lighthouse": Classical composition

A review of tonight's "Lost" coming up just as soon as I lie to a samurai...
"Jack is here because he has to do something. He can't be told what that is. He's got to find it himself. Sometimes, you can just hop in the back of someone's cab and tell them what they're supposed to do. Other times, you have to let him look out at the ocean for a while." -Jacob
"Well, next time, how about you tell me everything upfront? I'm not big on secret plans." -Hurley
Midway through "Lighthouse," Hurley tells Jack, "This is cool, dude. Very old school." And I agree with him - just not in a good way. If last week's "The Substitute" evoked great past episodes like "Walkabout," "Orientation" and "The Brig," "Lighthouse" mainly reminded me of those pre-"Through the Looking Glass" episodes of the show where characters would wander around aimlessly for most of the running time and fail to ask any good questions when given the opportunity, only for things to be saved by a really good cliffhanger.

Here's the thing: I'm on record as saying I don't require answers to everything in this final season, so long as good stories are told. But in two out of these first four episodes, we've gotten no answers and flat stories.

I know there are certain storytelling devices you just have to accept when you watch "Lost," like the way characters rarely seem to share information or don't ask good questions, but it was easier to accept that in the show's earlier days, when we knew Lindelof and Cuse (who got script credit for this episode, the show's Number-iffic 108th) had to stall because they didn't know how long they'd have to stretch things out for. But the finish line isn't just set; it's in sight, and now it feels particularly stupid that Jack apparently doesn't know any more about what happened to Claire than what Dogen told him at the end of "What Kate Does," and maddening that the island's movers and shakers still feel the need to manipulate our heroes through misleading or purposely vague instructions.

Watching Jack smash the lighthouse's mirrors, and recognizing that this is exactly what Jacob must have intended when he told Hurley to bring Jack along, reminded me once again of Ben's overly-convoluted plan to get Jack into performing spinal surgery on him. Back in the middle of season 3, I asked Lindelof why Ben required such a ridiculous scheme when he could have walked up to the castaways' beach on, like, day 5 and offered them shelter and food (let alone a trip home on the Dharma sub) in exchange for some tumor removal. Lindelof countered that "that version is considerably less intriguing for a mystery show." The problem is that if that's the only reason things are vague and overly-complicated - if it doesn't come from the characters, or the needs of the story, but from an external need to maintain an air of mystery - then it doesn't work. It's obvious and distracting and irritating, especially this late in the game, when there's no damn excuse for it.

Yes, Jack Shephard can be a stubborn ass who doesn't always do or believe what he's told, but he's that way in part because of what's happened to him on Craphole Island. He came back to the island in a much calmer, accepting state of mind, and while that state of mind got all blown to hell when Faraday's plan failed to work (and killed Juliet), I have to believe that if Jacob's ghost stood next to Hurley and through him told Jack exactly what was going to happen and what he needed him to do to make things better, Jack might've listened. Would that have made for compelling drama? No, but if that's the case, tell a different story! Don't build an entire hour around our characters once again being led around by the nose, following some plan they don't much understand, getting vague promises of more information down the road. Because that damn sure isn't compelling drama.

Nor, for the most part, was the flash-sideways to Jack's life as every-fourth-weekend dad. As I've been saying for a couple of weeks, I think all the 2004 scenes may eventually play better on second viewing, after we find out what they really mean, but until that happens, they might as well be extended dream sequences - yet another thing we don't particularly need to be messing about with here in the final season.

Last week's Locke story at least worked as a kind of coda to the life of a character who's dead in the main timeline, and brought us back to a relationship we knew well from several previous episodes. Jack's relationship with son David, on the other hand, was brand-new, created from some previous marriage Jack had due to whatever circumstances are different in this timeline versus the one we know(*). So we were starting from scratch, and while Matthew Fox and Dylan Minnette were both quite good at portraying the unsteady father-son dynamic, it was a lot harder to invest in than seeing Locke reunited with Helen. I suppose you could look on it as something of a happy ending for alt-Jack (he finally bonds with his kid) just like Locke got last week, but if so, the payoff didn't feel as strong because it mostly came from new material (though Jack's daddy issues date back to the comparable episode from the first season), and because the character is still with us on the island in 2007, and it therefore felt less necessary.

(*) And between Jack having a kid and a different ex-wife (or, at least, having married Sarah at a much younger age) and Locke being on great terms with Anthony Cooper, it's clear that this timeline's changes go much deeper than the island being sunk and Others like Ben and Dogen being on the mainland. I also have to wonder if Jack ever had his appendix out in either timeline, or if the scar he was so puzzled by came from something on the island, and is being explained away by whatever force created this other timeline.

So of the three stories in the "Lighthouse," the only one that kept me engaged throughout was Jin's nightmarish stint at Claire's tent, with its creepy homemade baby doll in the cradle Locke built and the variety of deadly tools and surgical instruments. Turning Claire into a second-generation version of Rousseau is an intriguing direction(**) and a nice turn of events for Emilie de Ravin, who didn't exactly have the most dynamic character to play for the first four seasons. The sense of dread and insanity in that tent was palpable, and I enjoyed watching Daniel Dae Kim portray Jin's dawning acceptance of who and what his friend had become, and how desperately he needs to get away from her.

(**)Though it does leave me wondering if, like the post-"Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" Locke for most of season 5, we saw a character we knew die, for all intents and purposes, a while back without realizing it. Did Claire (at least as we knew her) really die when the mercenaries attacked New Otherton? After Christian's ghost came for her? Or is this more Claire than Smokey is Locke?

The return of Smokey (or insert your own fake nickname here)means things can only get better next week. And they'd better. I didn't want to believe the complaints of the last two weeks that Team Darlton was under some sort of obligation to write the series differently because we're in the final season. But I see it now, and I'm starting to get impatient waiting for things to either get in gear, or just get more entertaining. 'Cause when Terry O'Quinn and/or Josh Hollway aren't around, things are dragging - far more than they should at this stage in the series' lifespan.

Some other thoughts:

• Sayid's accent remains decidedly more British post-resurrection. I have to assume this is deliberate, and not just Naveen Andrews getting a little sloppy, because sooner or later someone would correct him.

One of my Twitter followers compared Jack's pep talk to David to the scene where Casey tells his son he'll always be proud of him, from the "Sports Night" season 1 finale. If you've seen said episode, you'll likely agree.

• With this season's episodes deliberately following the structure of season one's (a group premiere, then a Kate episode, then Locke, then Jack, etc.), it made sense of Jack to return to the caves he first discovered in that season's comparable "White Rabbit." The cave is also where Jack and Kate (in the next episode, "House of the Rising Sun") found the Adam and Eve skeletons, and here Hurley again gets to play the voice of the fans in suggesting the corpses might be two Oceanic 815 passengers sent far back in time.

• Hurley's time travel comments, by the way, for some reason made me think of the kayak shootout from last season when Sawyer and company kept skipping through eras. Is that the only bit of time travel from that season that never got entirely explained (i.e., we never found out who was in the other boat)? And, if so, do you think we'll ever find out the answer, or is that one of those minor loose threads we just have to accept won't get tied up?

What did everybody else think?

224 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 224 of 224
JakeTheFatMan said...

I think the 2007-timeline will join up with the begining of the alt-timeline and be read as an epilogue to the characters.

Mark Russell said...

About halfway through this episode, when Jack lost his "son", I was really hoping that his son had simply disappeared, and it was the first signs that this new reality was unstable. Then it turned into just another touchy-feely episode, with little point.

I would have been more letdown, but that anticlimax was immediately followed by a great cliffhanger.

Paul Worthington said...

schmoker: good points, especially about Kate.

Anonymous said...

Emilie deRavin is a pretty terrible actress. The way she scrunches her tiny little face is disturbing. She was painful to watch and I don't have overall faith in Carlton and Cuse for entrusting such heavy-duty stuff to her. There could have been an effective way to utilize her without compromising (IMO damaging) the story.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant Lindelof and Cuse, ofcourse.

Anonymous said...

Seems like Claire's Aussie accent has faded too.

Allison DeWitt said...

Isn't his reaction a little selfish? We see the Korean temple where Sun and Jin get married and Jack bypasses that. So he sees the source of his daddy issues and anger issues and that gives him the right to smash Jacob's mirrors to pieces? Sure, I saw from Jacob's reaction that he expected Jack to smash the mirrors, but why? Where is Jack going at this point?



I wish I could channel the mind of the writers...seriously!

Selfish? Maybe. But I'm not at all sure that's the intention of the writers. I think it represented change and break from his past.

Someone mentioned the difference between Sawyer and Jack, with Jack breaking the mirrors. All I can add is...Sawyer murdered two people over his Daddy issues, so all in all..it was a pretty mild reaction.

Alden said...

(This season, I've been enjoying the flashsideways much more than the island story, either this season or anything from 4-5. I'm a character guy.)

A while back, I'm pretty sure I realised what Jack's purpose in the show is, and that's helped me really begin to find him fascinating. He's the anti-white-knight, the figure at the centre of every blockbuster movie - the handsome white guy who swoops in and takes charge and saves everyone. Only it turns out that the figure Hollywood idolises, the type of figure Jack's been pushed to be his whole life, is completely useless in real life.

Though it was pretty heavy-handed, this episode took Jack two ways. On the island, Jack realised that the role he had been pushed towards his whole life, the heroic surgeon leader, was slowly destroying him. It made him miserable, and always would. Meanwhile, in the flashsideways, Jack was finally able to exorcise the issues his father buried in him -- you must be the best to deserve love. Jack rejected that, deciding that it was alright to be happy and mediocre or happy and imperfect.

Which makes so much in light of the other flashsideways, in which sideways-Kate finds truth in trusting and connecting with another human being, and Locke comes to peace with his lack of a grand destiny. The Sideways are the most satisfying things to me because they show the characters finally overcoming the things that destroy them in the on-island show - Kate's constant distrust, Locke's desperation to be special and Jack's assumption that he must be the leader.

That makes it especially interesting in light of how these characters are overcoming or beginning to see these issues on-island. Here, Kate finally abandoned her love triangle and Jack saw the damage being the leader was doing to him (if not, yet, the damage dealt to those around him).

I've been long done with obsessing over the mythology (though I see the fun in it), but the character stuff is becoming interesting, finally, for me after 2-3 years of living off of very, very little in that way. Seeing the (intended) flaws in the leads has greatly enhanced both Lost and Big Love for me.

Allison DeWitt said...

Isn't his reaction a little selfish? We see the Korean temple where Sun and Jin get married and Jack bypasses that. So he sees the source of his daddy issues and anger issues and that gives him the right to smash Jacob's mirrors to pieces? Sure, I saw from Jacob's reaction that he expected Jack to smash the mirrors, but why? Where is Jack going at this point?

I could almost swear I responded to this but don't see it. Anyway...technically, I'd say yes, maybe it's a selfish reaction.
But I'll doubt that was the intention of the writers. I think it was a way to show Jack breaking away from his past...and coincedentially, bringing change to the island.

As for the "whys" and "wheres" I only wish I could channel one of the great Lost writers and tell you!

Someone mentioned the different way Sawyer reacted as opposed to Jack. I'd say...Sawyer murdered two people due to his Daddy Issues. So all in all, Jack's reaction was pretty mild.

Allison said...

Damn, NOW I see the first post.

My apologies. I'd delete one if I could figure out how to do that.

Rodolpho said...

Well I'd like to agree with everyone above but I just can't.
What got my attention the most was when Jacbo told hurley that jack was meant to do something since ever and on that moment he was being manipulated again, what makes me wonder who's the really boss beyond the curtain?
Are we going to find out it in the short run?
I Can't calm myself down, sit and wait.
It's kinda I-dont-know-what-to-expect-from-now-on season, because getting knowed that the end it's just on the corner the producers keep writting down new stories.
BUT, HOWEVER, ANYWAY, THOUGH, I think it's been done so well because a couple of times I got myself thinking: where the heck is that all going to ?
And now I just think: they know its path since ever, and they can't put it all at once, they have to make us wonder.
I remember now when I watched the last third season episode and when I saw jack screaming it out: "We've to go back", my father, astonished by the way, just said: It's not all about watching, it's about wondering and creating your own happy ending.
I gotta say you guys I was very worryed with that, because I thought: Gosh, where do I really want it all to go to?
Cuz' even if we say: I want'em to get off the island, we'll imediatelly wonder: isn't it the main point? i mean, they've to be there, they're supposed to do all they've done through this 5 season before. And everything they've been through has a meaning, i think they were supposed to be there to learn 2 things:

1) You can't change your past;
2) You gotta change your future;

and they've learned it so well, or woow, some of'em have.. LOL.

I'm very excited about this season.

But a thing I've learned on this week-episode is:

"You will never find out what weren't looking it for".

Maybe that Lighthouse were there since ever, but as jack was told, they haven't seen because they werent looking for.
Someone once told me the asnwer for all the lost misteries were on the Pilot. I didn't believe at all, bu what if ??
What if it's true? Why didn't we know the answers for all of our own questions? (what changes from person to person, because I look it by my view, having my own experiences through lost reviews).
I gotta tell you what: maybe it was always there, but we didn't know (and still don't)what we ought to look for...


See ya next week then.

Follow me:
@rodolphocuenca

Rodolpho said...

Well I'd like to agree with everyone above but I just can't.
What got my attention the most was when Jacbo told hurley that jack was meant to do something since ever and on that moment he was being manipulated again, what makes me wonder who's the really boss beyond the curtain?
Are we going to find out it in the short run?
I Can't calm myself down, sit and wait.
It's kinda I-dont-know-what-to-expect-from-now-on season, because getting knowed that the end it's just on the corner the producers keep writting down new stories.
BUT, HOWEVER, ANYWAY, THOUGH, I think it's been done so well because a couple of times I got myself thinking: where the heck is that all going to ?
And now I just think: they know its path since ever, and they can't put it all at once, they have to make us wonder.
I remember now when I watched the last third season episode and when I saw jack screaming it out: "We've to go back", my father, astonished by the way, just said: It's not all about watching, it's about wondering and creating your own happy ending.
I gotta say you guys I was very worryed with that, because I thought: Gosh, where do I really want it all to go to?
Cuz' even if we say: I want'em to get off the island, we'll imediatelly wonder: isn't it the main point? i mean, they've to be there, they're supposed to do all they've done through this 5 season before. And everything they've been through has a meaning, i think they were supposed to be there to learn 2 things:

1) You can't change your past;
2) You gotta change your future;

and they've learned it so well, or woow, some of'em have.. LOL.

I'm very excited about this season.

But a thing I've learned on this week-episode is:

"You will never find out what you weren't looking for".

Maybe that Lighthouse were there since ever, but as jack was told, they haven't seen because they weren't looking for.
Someone once told me the asnwer for all the lost misteries were on the Pilot. I didn't believe at all, but what if ??
What if it's true? Why didn't we know the answers for all of our own questions? (what changes from person to person, because I look it by my view, having my own experiences through lost reviews).
I gotta tell you what: maybe it was always there, but we didn't know (and still don't)what we ought to look for...


See ya next week then.

Follow me:
@rodolphocuenca

Dimitris said...

i don't if it's already mentioned but somebody in another forum noticed something else about the significance of 108 which could be very interesting:


Posted By aatlae 1 February 26, 2010 11:16:02 AM
4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42 = 108 am i the only one that noticed this?

mark said...

"We know Kate is a candidate and Jacob touched her as a child but there's been no mention of her as such."

What with Kate's name not being specifically pointed out in the cave, and what with her visions of the horse, maybe we're supposed to see her as a dark horse candidate.

Groan.

Mark Madel said...

Has anyone posted the theory (likely - but I couldn't find where) that EVERY time someone has seen a dead/imaginary person (aside from seeing Jacob himself), it has been a manifestation of Smokey (e.g. Locke, Christian, Ben's Mom, Eko's brother, Hurley's friend Dave, etc)? Perhaps it's his only way to manipulate humans.

One thing this might mean is that Ben has been erroneously following HIS orders all these years - not Jacobs (remember: Ben could summon Smokey to attack the boat mercenaries). This would tend to indicate that Smokey is evil since Ben has committed quite a few atrocities (e.g. the gassing of the Dharma folk, the use of Sayid as assassin to kill many, the killing of Locke, the shooting of Desmond, etc, etc). This might also indicate that Widmore is aligned with Jacob.

Dano said...

"Has anyone posted the theory (likely - but I couldn't find where) that EVERY time someone has seen a dead/imaginary person (aside from seeing Jacob himself), it has been a manifestation of Smokey (e.g. Locke, Christian, Ben's Mom, Eko's brother, Hurley's friend Dave, etc)?"

I wonder if there is a difference between characters like Yemi (Eko's brother), Alex, and Locke who have a corpse somewhere on the island and people having visions of Walt (who never died) and Christian (whose body has never been found- a fact that they went out of their way to mention again). Also, Claire recognizes a distinction between her dad and her friend. Although, I guess that could be explained by the fact that Smokey is now stuck with Locke's form and so he's showed up to her as two different people.

Aside from that, Ben being aligned with Jacob makes a lot of sense and reconciles the problem of Jacob being the good one but asking for all the terrible things to be done.

Though I suppose you could reconcile that with a view of Jacob as a sort of Old Testament/Hebrew God figure too.

Dano said...

I meant Ben being aligned with Smokey.

Matt said...

I wonder if in the alternate universe, Jack's ex-wife dies and he and his piano prodigy son move to a small town in Colorado in an effort to reconnect.

Pandyora said...

I agree with Alan: the problems with this season have nothing to do with the characters; they are completely structural. Until the relevance of the alt-verse to the main storyline is explained, it all plays like a big distraction.

I also have to agree with belinda: Jack is insufferable not because he is a shallow character, but because he is such a forehead slapping idiot. Jack has a list of names of all the people that matter to Jacob, as well as a set of kick ass magic mirrors that can give you additional information about their identities. And instead he decides to go "JACK SMASH!" all over the place then brood on a cliff.

One also gets the feeling that Jack's evidence-destorying temper tantrum has more to do with Cuse and Lindelof's need to stretch out the "mystery" than Jack's character arc or emotional development.

Tricia said...

My 12-year-old daughter commented immediately that David's audition piece was the same that Daniel Faraday played last season. Just found this link, and she's right:

http://www.mahalo.com/answers/from-twitter/does-anyone-know-th-piano-piece-that-daniel-faraday-played-in-last-nights-episode-of-lost

Also, I'm pretty sure that the number on the front of Jack's ex-wife's house was 23.

Not sure what to make of either of these things, but getting a kick out of looking for clues.

debbie said...

Over at Zap2it, the writer there is making a case that Claire died in S4. I went back and watched the episode where Keamy & Co. firebombed New Otherton. And if you didn't know about the MIB's soul-claiming experience, it looked really cheesy the way Claire came out and was all "I'm okay, just a little whoosie," after the whole house exploded. So maybe someone will go back to N.O. and find Claire's body, just like we've seen Locke's and Alex's.
But I agree with Dano's post that there has to be something different about Christian since his body went missing. I wonder what?
Also, what does it mean that Sayid isn't dead (as in his body isn't lying around somewhere), but according to the Others, has been claimed?
So since Claire is clearly with Team Black and she originally went with Christian, I guess that means Christian is on Team Black as well. And he's the one who told Locke that he has to move the island and die, right? So Locke's really been following MIB's orders. Was MIB's plan to kill all the time travelers (which probably would've happened if Locke didn't turn the donkey wheel himself)? If so, can we really believe what Richard warned Sawyer, that the MIB wants everyone on the island dead? And if so, why? Is he just pure evil? That concerns me. If Lost turns out to be an ol' battle of good and evil story, I'll seriously be heartbroken.

Pete said...

Regarding the part about how writers create mystery for the sake of mystery and perhaps they should tell a story, a friend sent me this analogy he heard in an interview:

"I read this review for a John Cena move called 12 rounds where they talk about needlessly complicated plot devices that reminded me of your email from a few days ago. The joke in the review is that the guy says if you want to take a pee, do you put a shot glass on ground, climb up a ladder, aim it into the shotglass, pick up the glass, take it to your neighbor's house, scale the roof, break in teh window and pour it into the toilet? No. You just go to the nearest bathroom and take a fucking piss."

Anonymous said...

In the vast majority of people, the appendix is in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. But Jack's scar was on his left side.

Josh W said...

Greetings from a timeline of watching the series 2 years late.

My lord, the dialogue, it was so bad.

Not only does this episode plod unconvincingly, no-one but Hurley talks like themselves. All the recaps are ham fisted, the revelations suck, japanese guy talks english to hurley, chats in public to jack in english, like he's just given up on that translator thing rather than bringing jack into the leader club.

Write out the motivation for each character in this scene, then see what they say. They are exactly the same:

"My dad pressured me, I don't want you to be pressured, because I love you"

or they are banal and unreasonable.

"I almost shot you"
"Yes you did, come with us."
"No, she's not invited."
"Ok bye, go back into the place you escaped from, I don't care why you decided to come back, or how sawyer is"

It's just absurd.

«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 224 of 224   Newer› Newest»