Thursday, 12 February 2009

Time-travelling blog: 2005 - Lost s01e024 - Discussion - Artz and Craftiness

My head is still ringing from this final jungle-trekking, hatch-opening, character-exploding episode. We have a whole two-hours to muse over, so let's get straight to it.

We finally got to see the much-mentioned Black Rock, as the French Woman instructs the lostaways to march across the jungle to find the dynamite hidden within. It turns out it's an old boat, and not a rock at all, and it sits in the middle of the jungle. Quite how it got there is anyone's business. Either it dropped in from the sky, or the island itself moved somehow. I guess it's the vehicular equivalent of a Polar Bear in the jungle.

It turns out dynamite is a temperamental substance, a lesson that costs recently-introduced Artz his life. After seeming to become set up as a major character for the second season, the poor chap explodes all over Hurley, Jack and Kate. Whether this means we'll see other cast members knocked off so suddenly in future is the subject of much speculation. Despite being many viewers favourite, I'm pretty sure Locke will die early next series. He served his purpose being 'at one' with the island in this first series, but could we really endure another 24 episodes watching him turn slowly into some martyr?

Introducing characters in this show is always going to be tough. Surely Lost only exists as long as the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 do. If they try to introduce more characters in future seasons I'm sure the fans will be vocal in their anger. There's only so long they can promote background characters to regulars though, and it's not as if they're just going to have new folk rock out of the jungle every week.

The raft containing Sawyer, Walt and Michael sails out to sea, and for a moment I allow myself to think they'll find rescue. I'm aware that a second season has been commissioned already, but if Lost ended now I think it would stand as an almost perfect piece of television. Every character has gone through an emotional epiphany in these past twenty three episodes, and for them to return home changed people would be a wonderful sight to behold. Jack and Kate will probably get married, Charlie would re-release his album now he's escaped death, and Hurley will probably give them all a huge chunk of his millions! It would just have been a shame Boone didn't survive until the end of the series. Let's hope none of the other thirteen characters meet the same fate next series.

Instead of rescue the raft is met by a mysterious group of rag-tag bums on a boat. They are going to have to "take the boy", and whisk Walt off after blowing up the make-shift boat Michael had spent so long building, twice. Their small trawler chugs off out of sight, and the last we see of the our sea-bound suvivors is Michael yelling "Waaaaaaaaaaalllllttt". Quite who this group of people are is a mystery fans are obviously very excited about, and theories range from them being the much-hyped 'Others' to 'the 815 survivors but from the future'. Both these seem implausible though. Ethan was the leader of the Others, and had supernatural strength, whereas this bunch looked like they'd set off for a days crab-fishing. As for the idea of time-travel, I'm not sure even a show as rooted in fantasy would ever go fully sci-fi. Plus, I doubt Jack would could ever pull off a beard.

I do hope Michael survives though, as he's my favourite character. The others have family and other loved ones to get back to, but his devotion to his son is the most compelling storyline. If, as I said above, Locke takes a lesser role in the next season, I hope Michael steps up to become a challenger to Jack's 'hero' role.

On-land, after a convoluted idea to hide in it to avoid attack from these 'Others', Jack and Locke finally blow the lid off the hatch and stare down into the void. Rather than on any kind of revelation the first series of Lost ends with two men carrying torches shrinking away as our view falls slowly downwards. Fans are understandably a bit miffed. They've invested twenty four hours in this series, and at the moment the payout is as varied as anything that could possibly exist down a long tunnel. Theories therefore haven't changed from earlier in the series, and we'll just have to wait until September to see if any of them is even close.

Is the hatch a tunnel to the centre of the island, where a crazy old scientist is controlling everyone's mind? Is it the system of travel for the mysterious smoke monster? Is it a fallen space station, or an alien craft? Is it a Truman Show style window into the real world, and our survivors have just been partaking in an elaborate reality TV show? For all we know they'll just climb down on a rope and be greeted by some chap who's living there who doesn't know WW2 ended. Whatever it is, fans will be equally excited and annoyed I'm sure.

Bring on September.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Lost s05e04 - Discussion - Udder udders

This episode involved a lot of setting-up, moving characters around to be in the right place for future events. There's a lot to ponder and speculate over though, so I'll get straight to it.

On-island the survivors decide they're going to race back to the beach to ride the Zodiac dinghy around the coast so that Locke can kill himself travelling in time at The Orchid. Quite how they're so sure the little boat will still be there when time itself is falling apart around them I'm not sure. Apparently objects they had with them when Benry Gale moved that giant icy wagon-wheel around are travelling too, meaning that a gun, it's limited ammo, some hairspray and half a sandwich are also getting a whirlwind tour of the history of the island. Why didn't the camp move? What would happen if you held Richard Eyeliner's hand when the flash of light struck? Would you yank that from his never-aging arm and take it with you to 1988? What if Daniel would have followed through on his mother's assumption that he fancied her and made a move? If the sky turned white during would he literally have snogged her prim little face off?

On a more serious note, but still musing on the ludicrous idea that anyone could ever travel in time, how come Cindy isn't travelling along with the other survivors? Just to refresh the memories of those who don't browse Lostpedia as diligently as myself, she's the 815 stewardess who crashed in the tail section, was abducted by Others and was last seen staring at Jack in a cage. Her affiliation is now with that group, and not our plane-crash based 'Losties'. This might explain why Juliet is time-travelling whilst other Others aren't, since she officially joined their camp at the end of season three.

Locke spots Desmond's light, signifying that time-wise an angry season one him is sitting on top of the hatch banging his fists in anger. So rather than see another perspective on an already perfect scene, (and my personal favourite of the whole series) instead we get an all very convenient re-play of Kate helping her future adopted son being born. Sawyer watches on longingly, and a million female fans stop the fast-forwarding they've been doing since episode one where he took his top off. Lit by candlelight he's almost tearful, looking but not able to touch, like he's a customer at a particularly niche stripclub: 'Watch women pulling objects from each other's vaginas in a jungle'. Hang on, the next 'flash' is to 1988 right? Who's to say he doesn't steal Aaron, take his top off again and become the original Athena Poster man?

Later, he confesses to Juliet how affected he was by the whole ordeal. Although refreshingly frank for a show where none of the characters seem to discuss the amazing events that happen to each other, why are characters waiting until now to do so? Was Jack not equally shocked when he saw his father in the woods, both emotionally and because he's dead? Or when Jack met Desmond, a man he recognised from ten years previous whilst running up and down stairs at a stadium. Perhaps I've answered my own question there. Jack is a dick, and should be considered seperate to any theory about the show.

Off-island Jack is still being a dick, albeit one who's understandably in need of a drink. Quite how he's coping with keeping things together without falling back to his very recent ways I do not know. Amid the resuscitation and custody battles, I keep expecting him to turn to camera like in Airplane, saying "I chose the wrong day to give up prescription drugs and alcohol". He seems fine though, and sets off investigating who's trying to claim custody of Claire's toddler Aaron. I can't have been alone in assuming it was Ben all along. Claire's mother doesn't have the acting abilities to have more than a guest role, and we haven't seen that chap from The Wire at all this season. It all ends with everyone apart from Hurley at some docks, where the actors all stand around smugly realising their show is looking increasingly like an episode of 24.

On-island the survivors finally make it to camp, only to find that it's been ransacked. They find a bottle of a drink that they linger on far too long for it's name not to have some significance, and then head off on their 'outriggers' (canoes). Once at sea, a mysterious group behind them paddling on their own giant canoe starts shooting at them. This scene is mysteriously devoid of any real clues as to deduce who their attackers are, which leads to me to believe this is a significant new plot thread that the characters are just stumbling through. Like the sea-billies on the boat in season one we're only given a glimpse of these people, but they'll become hugely important in the large-scale story of Lost. There's a whole website about Ajira Airways for fuck's sake, so we know this is going to be big.

Briefly, here are some theories about where the survivors are, and who their attackers were:
-They're the older Oceanic 6, who've just re-crashed on the island on a flight from India. They're shooting at Sawyer, Juliet et al because they don't recognise them and think they've stolen their boat.
-It's the exact same boat only slightly in the future. They are shooting at themselves. Theory falls down on the difference in their canoes. Our chaps' one is a double, whilst theirs is a single.
-The crash is an alternative Oceanic 815. Because events in the past have been changed, the flight Sawyer and Locke boarded never crashes. This one from India does, and so it's passengers assume everyone on the canoe to be 'Others'.

The bigger issue that none of these theories seem to mention though is where did all the the canoes come from?

This all pales into insignificance compared with the first major character-related 'reveal' of the new series. After a further flash the survivors are greeted by an almighty storm, and paddle ashore. Our attention is suddenly turned to a small group of people on a circular raft, who appear to be speaking French. They spot something just out of reach, a figure on a piece of debris. Pulling him closer whilst facedown, (so as to delay seeing his face until the music kicks in,) we see that the man is Jin, who's been un-knowingly time travelling for the past few days. His rescuers are of course a lovely 1988 round faced Danielle and her team of scientist explorers, and it seems after four years of spouting mental stories from her little island shack we're finally going to see her backstory.

The details of her past, or that which we know about it, are quite sketchy. We know that her crew got the 'sickness', and that a chap called Montand lost his arm. Then apparently they all started killing each other. But this was way back in season one, where the details of the island's past and mythology hadn't been thought through yet. Since then we've got Purges and Incidents, Hostiles and Hatches coming out of our ears, and it was never quite sure how Danielle's vague story fitted in between them. More confusing was her relationship to Benry Gale, who seemed to be the father of her daughter Alex. In season four, before watching her get a bullet in the head, Ben confesses that he 'stole' Alex as a baby from an 'insane French woman', excusing the writers for some elements of the contradicting plot. Her story might be false, or elaborated. Whichever, it'll be interesting to see how they weave it into the rest of the island events. Are the whispers she hears in the woods our time-travelling survivors? Are our hero's somehow involved in Alex's kidnapping?

It was a nice comic touch to have Jin land on a beach again, not speaking the language of those around him. After finally learning enough English to discuss bomb defusal in season four, he's time travelled back to season two thematically. His understandable confusion, and from the way Montand was acting a bit agro toward him, leads me to think we're going to find the reason for the frenchman's arm falling off by the end of the next episode.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lost s05e03 - Discussion - Lock, Stock and a funeral

I think we can call them 'flash-middle-backs', these leaps back to three years previous that make up the third narrative timeline in season five of Lost. The gap between 2005's rescue and 2007's imminent returning excursion is being filled in much the way Flashbacks did for all characters' lives pre-crash. So now we get to see that Desmond knocked that Penny up pretty sharpish on his return, and that the island's magnetism hasn't harmed his plentiful scottish seed. Cue plenty of 'I love you Penny's, and a happy audience. As I've said before, Desmond has become the stable heart of the show. Where others have dabbled in prescription medication or become a hired mercenary, he's still just trying to be 'a great man'.

Desmond sets sail to Oxford via London, as obviously it's a suburb of the city. He parks his boat on the Thames, and before you can say 'cor blimey Mary Poppins' he's amongst the worst English accents television has to offer. What is it with Lost and the British? It seems an intelligently constructed show, but does no-one British live in Hawaii at all to give them some advice? If you use the word 'honour' in a poster for the Scottish army, there's a 'u' in it for fucks sake. Pubs don't look like 'Irish' pubs in the US, and certainly don't have Union Flags draped over the walls unless it's good old BNP meeting-place. Desmond does suffer from National stereotyping in that being scottish he's earthy, honest and a drunk, but certainly isn't written as shamelessly hammy as the people he encounters, who appear to be either cockneys or horribly toitey posh people. I hate to reciprocate in stereotypes, but are American scriptwriters and casting agents' entire knowledge of the UK based on watching Richard Curtis and Guy Richie films?

The woman Daniel seems to have left comatosed, and presumably drifting in time, is named Theresa. Is this the same Theresa that was Boon's nanny during the 90s, who died going up and down the stairs? He might have only briefly mentioned that back in season one, but as I've said previously this season is aimed purely at the eagle-eyed nerd. If nationality and hair colour are significant hints at character backstory I'm sure their actual names are moreso.

On-island the survivors are mistaken for the US army-men who have apparently confronted the 'native' islanders recently whilst trying to carry out Hydrogen bomb tests. This explains why their rifles and knives have been knocking about on the island since season two. Goodwin's knife was 'US army standard', back when we gave a fuck about the tail section survivors. It also explains pretty much all of that season's 'hatch' plot in a couple of lines of dialogue. The bomb dangling precariously on string must be buried as it has a leak. It will best be contained behind concrete and underground, and be released periodically every 108 minutes to the music of Mama Cass.

It'd be funny if during these 'flashbacks' they try to explain away other long-standing mysteries of the show very quickly and dismissively. Imagine if we stumble upon the primitive 'hostile' colony that communicates between tribes using smoke signals. Daniel Faraday Quantum Leaps into the scene and drops something scientific into the fire. Explosions occur, and he creates the smoke monster!

I'm being cynical of course, which is inappropriate for Desmond episodes because he's by far the most genuine and lovely character in the show. When watching this installment I was chopping onions at the time, which explains the odd 'time-displacement' occurrence that happened near the end of the episode where my eyes began producing water. Whilst arguing with Penny, Des reveals that he named his child Charlie after our favourite Hobbit Martyr. He died so that everyone else could survive, let us not forget. However, part of the premonition that lead to his death involved Claire getting on a helicopter too. Desmond not only carries guilt, but the knowledge that his involvement in this story is far from over.

On the island Locke is once again taking matters into his own hands, marching into mini-Otherville to demand to speak to the never-aging Richard Eyeliner. Just as he said himself in the future, Dicky doesn't remember Locke at all. He needs more convincing of Locke's leadership skills than the old 'Your future self told me' line. Locke tells him to go and witness his own birth in two years, and hands over the compass future-Rich gave to him. This means the compass is officially stuck in a time loop! Richard will keep it for the whole fifty years before handing it to Locke again, soon after which he'll hand it back again. Whatever that things made of it too doesn't age. Perhaps it's ability to last forever will at some point lead to an explanation about Alpert.

The chap called Jones is indeed a young Widmore, as predicted last week. He's a very angry young man who's not afraid of snapping a comrade's neck for the good of Otherdom. This also gives an explanation as to why Locke couldn't shoot him, if we are to believe their time-travelling adventures can never interfere and alter things they know to happen in the future. Locke doesn't say anything to Widmore of significance about his future though, perhaps because the news he has to endure fifteen years playing playing Jim Robinson before getting a decent acting role will cause him to snap his own neck.

The origin of more familiar characters are revealed when Daniel gets escorted off to the bomb site by an austere tight-lipped English-accented Other. She says he looks familiar and comments on his continual stares in her direction. Turns out Daniel's not demonstrating his lack of commitment to his just-revealed love Charlotte, and that it's a family resemblance he's checking the girl out for. She's his mother, the one-day Ring lady and basement-dwelling scientist friend of Ben. This being Lost, I'd hazard a guess that his father is somewhere on-island currently too. My money is on him being Widmore, for the following reason.

All three 'freightees' were born on the island. Miles was indeed the baby in Chang's crib in the first episode, and Charlotte stated she was in the season four finale. Seeing as in 2004 no-one's able to live through pregnancy on-island I'd guess these characters were the last babies that did. Their significance is the same reason the Oceanic Six must return to the island, as there must be some rules in the universe about not being able to 'create' life on an island that moves in time. Anything that's created has to stay within the crazy little world of the island, and so these three must return.

Charlotte's got a nosebleed now though, which doesn't look good. She's just been told by Daniel that he's very much in love with her, which is normally indicative that her plot loose-ends are being tied up and she's ready to be being bumped off.