Sunday, February 25, 2007

>: 56 STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

Open with the happy young couple rowing back “home”, Kate feeling guilty in more ways than one. Old Carl (Karl?) mutters the most crucial bit from his indoctrination tape “God loved you as he loved Jacob”, reminding us to keep our eyes peeled for Jacob, the guy who wrote a list that Jack is not on, according to Danny in the last minutes of 3.6. Is he the Eyepatch Man? The Doctor who recruited Juliet? Ian McShane?
I’m continuing to dig Tom’s performance. They take Jack away down the hall and put Juliet in his room, and that look she gives him when they pass, well, it kind of makes me mistrust the whole enterprise again, beginning with her supposed Ben mutiny. We KNOW they play those mindgames and are all about the behavioral conditioning and studying. Ben said the next two weeks were going to be hell, was that all shot to pieces by Sun killing Colleen or are we still on track? Certainly seemed like Kate and Sawyer were manipulated into the sack.
And we get a new mannish creepy face.
And back with Jack on another island. ANOTHER Jack flashback? Better be good, I mutter. Enter Bai Ling, the freaky freak who Lucas cut from Episode III conspiring to form the Rebellion. We know they’re in Phuket, where Jack learned how to play poker, and we’re probably going to find out about those tattoos.
Got to laugh at Jack pushing the silverware button in the cage.
Meet Isabelle, suitably disturbing. The Sheriff, mm? Jack lies for Juliet.
Best scene of the week has to be Jack waking up to . . . the captured survivors! That was played to perfection. Aw, Cindy, we knew you’d be back. They’re here to Watch, huh? “It’s not that simple.” Welcome to the island, Cindy. The little girl wanting to know how Ana-Lucia was doing, followed by Jack’s reaction was priceless. It’s getting frustrating, being manipulated by those Others, yes.
Sawyer getting Carl to cowboy up was entertaining, though probably can’t lead to anything good. Also, incredibly frustrating for him to let more potential answers slip away into the night. I know we won't learn What and Why until it's time, but it's getting hard waiting.
And back with Ben, who’s got to survive the infected wound, if only because he’s turning in such solid performances. He orders Juliet to be marked. Ouch.
Nice of her to come back with the grilled cheese and toothpicks, though. So, Jack is clearly buying it. Which makes me wonder all the more. Elizabeth Mitchell is definitely playing a complex enough range of emotions across Juliet’s face at all times that she could be on anyone’s side. A big deal is that we have no idea what Ben was telling her on the table back in 3.7. That seems more important now.
Nice of Isabelle to translate the tattoo: He walks amongst us but is not one of us. But Jack says it’s what they say, not what they mean. Do they mean Stranger in a Strange Land? Or is the first line a direct quite from the Heinelen text?
A return to the all-score, no-dialogue outro we’ve come to know and love. Seemed a little forced the first time through, but more solid the second time, especially in light of not trusting that ol Juliet. Yeah, I think she is a’setting him up, for real and for true. What she’s setting him up FOR can be Big Unanswered Question #95.
No Easter eggs really this week, after all the Desmond madness last week. Juliet’s eight-point mark looks mostly like an upside-down Scientology cross, but surely they’re not going to go THERE, even if Ethan is Tom Cruise’s cousin in “real” life. The only other thing is it was Ash Wednesday. If they really are circling the web out to include non-LOST sources, like putting the Desmond/Penny stuff on Valentine’s Day or casting Finoula Flanagan from Amenabar's The Others as Ms. Hawking, you could sure draw a parallel, Juliet getting marked for her sin on the beginning of Lent. A stretch, yas, but this show gives you long arms. Just like Michael Jordan. #23.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

>: 55 FLASHES BEFORE YOUR EYES

What a wonderful effort. Easily my favorite of the season thus far. When we came back from the commercial and it was still the flashback, I thought to myself, I hope this lasts all episode long. And I wasn’t disappointed. Great technique, too, embedding it in Desmond actually re-experiencing the events and trying to stop them. Nice call for Valentine’s day, too, seeing the pic of Desmond and Pen getting taken. Funny that it was a backdrop. This one sure adds a little more weight to her coming. What, has a week gone by since the season finale/EM anamoly? Can we expect her here pretty soon? A delicate event to write in, as her appearance could easily lead to rescue. And we can't have that.
Solid characterization for Brothah Hume. And clarification about the failsafe event. Damn, was I pumped when the flashback started out at the last season finale. I really thought he’d had a romp through time, but looks like he can just kind of hear things before they happen, wasn’t pulling a McFly hiding in the bushes when Locke gave his speech back in 3.3, and that’s a solid explanation for how he couldn’t predict Eko’s death. It comes and it goes.
Only hole left for him is what happened in the Royal Scots Guard. Cowardice of some sort, is all we know.
Charles Widmore had an interesting mural in his office, Namaste backwards and a picture of a polar bear roaring over some mountains. How could that be there? What does it all mean? What is the Big Picture? Gaaaah! Also, an upside-down Buddha, which Catherine pointed out might equal the mysterious four-toed statue from 2.23. There was also a Buddha in the brainwashing FryCarl’sMind tape last week. Wonder what the significance of Namaste backwards is, showing it was all a dream? Or that Widmore does not wish Hume peace and enlightenment? So many levels.
Also, sort of resembles the painting in Des’s flat. Did he do it? Did Pen? We still don’t know who did the 108 mural down in the hatch, but Desmond could certainly be the artist. (talking 108, too, glad I didn’t shatter our glasses toasting that when it showed up on Desmond’s clock, it was a close call)
Nobody in America was happier than I was to hear Mama Cass again, not once but twice. Love that song. Also, a nice touch with the microwave beeping the same tones as the Swan’s timer.
Finnoula Flanagan from (Hey!!!! cooldeal) the excellent Amenabar flick The Others was excellent as the woman who taught Desmond about the course-correction innate within the universe. Was her name Hawking?
Catherine was quick enough to immediately apply that Final Destination bit to Claire on the spot and I had to agree, yes, she is surely doomed and Charlie will be left to raise Aaron, etc, but fantastic spin at the end, the Wonderwall crooner himself was also on hand for all of Desmond’s efforts. (too, I did love that scene with Charlie singing in the street, even copped the improbable surely-scheduled rain from the island, great trick) (and actually, couple of interesting things about that scene: Charlie was in the part of Wonderwall with the lyric “Maaaaaaybe, you’re gonna be the who saaaaaaves me.” Interesting re: Desmond, knowing what we know by episode’s end + Charlie's middle name’s Hieronymous, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieronymus_Bosch and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieronymus_machine)

OTHER easter eggs:
-Hurley was reading a Nabokov I’ve yet to hit, Laughter in the Dark, surely the plot is more meta-commentary.
-Looked like the red paint covering Desmond (another fun trick) had the brand name of Future (or something else that begins with FUTU)
-The soccer stadium had banner ads from the following usual LOST suspects: Hanso Foundation, Oceanic Airlines, Apollo Candy Bards, Buddies Diapers (Charlie's Commercial), Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack (Hurley), plus a company with KRONOS in the name surely just indicating Desmond’s funtime, and Gannon Car Rentals (Sawyer was holding a brochure for same in line at the Ben Linus security check-in in Locke’s sweat lodge vision, whew!)

Recommended further reading: http://lost.cubit.net/viewArticle.php?id=187471

Friday, February 09, 2007

>: 54 NOT IN PORTLAND

Well, THAT is how you do it. That episode blew away the first six of the season. And it needed to. I dug the last couple, but the pace was plodding and more maddening than usual, maybe due to always-increasing expectations, but, man. At any rate, we got a power-packed one this time out.

Nice open with Juliet on the beach, suspected it was a flashback, but anything was possible. Confirmed by the always-creepy presence of William Mapother as Ethan. Good trick with the crappy hallway lighting, I was sure we were in the Staff station, the last place we saw that. And cue Calamity Jane from Deadwood as Juliet’s sister. That’s the second cast member in 6 episodes! We need Swearingen as Desmond’s Captain in the Scots Guard whenever we finally find out what he got kicked out for, though come to think of it, I guess I’d rather his next –centric episode focus on whatever time travelingesque thing happened to him post-failsafe and pre-nude in the jungle. Figured Juliet was shooting Jane up with the numbers vaccine. Not so. Great reveal on being in Miami, though, of course we’ve got to have an Oceanic plane flying into the shot. And a copy of Carrie was on the nightstand, guess both sisters are as down with Sai King as the writers. Cool yin-yang clock too, the duality keeps a’coming.

And back to the not-very-sterile operating room. Juliet immediately reverses the tables on Jack and leaves him standing there with his scalpel in one hand and his manhood in another (hmm, more of a disturbing image than I intended). A buddy I watched it with pointed out that this would’ve been a better cliffhanger than we got and I agree, a lot less forced than the dramatic “Run, Kate!” even though of course that was kind of cool because that’s what she does, she runs.

I’m enjoying the way MC Gainey’s portraying Tom, pretty much the opposite of the dude we were dying to find out about throughout Season 2. He’s the best argument that the Others really are the Good Guys, as he seems a decent enough sort.

Got to love Ben talking to Juliet upside down with the mute button on. Wonder if anyone read his lips, surely SOMEone has.

Great for Sawyer to reference the Star Wars Wookie homage right after they did it. He came up with three nicknames for Alex in like four minutes of screentime, a personal best.

That film in Room 23…..man, those people don’t mess around. Wonder how long the loop was. There’s a flash of the old Alvar Hanso shot from the orientation tape and the last image we see as Sawyer’s lugging Carl out is the shot of Gerald Degroot when the tape was listing parapsychology as one of the six aspects of the Dharma Initiative. Namaste, Gerald! Also, saw the "God loved you as much as he loved Jacob" bit, remember we're supposed to be looking for Jacob, that's the name Danny said at the end of last episode, "Shephard's not even ON Jacob's list." Who's Jacob? Eyepatch Man? What list? The Questions continue.

At first, thought Julie was stealing the numbers vaccine from the hospital and that THAT had something to do with pregnancy, but this is thankfully not the case. The company that recruited her somewhat aggressively, Mittelos Co, is an anagram for Lost Time. Also, Thomas Mittelwerk is the COO and #2 guy at the Hanso Foundation. Online information leads us to believe that he’s taken over through a coup or something. But make no mistake, Ethan’s involvement at the end all but confirms that Mittelwerk/Hanso and maybe their board (also featuring Charles Widmore and Anthony Cooper, Locke’s pop) are most likely the “they” wreathed in shadow who Ben probably answers to.

Jane’s pregnant. The test is of course from Widmore Labs, the third one we’ve seen, after Sun on the island and Kate in flashback. Everything happens for a reason!

There was an Apollo Candy bar ad on the side of the bus that plowed into Doc Edmund (which I saw coming from a mile away, or at least from down the block). Those are the fictitious bars that the HF funds and had stocked in the Swan’s pantry (Kate took four in 2.1 or 2.3)

Thought Sawyer might finally buy it, then they gave us the Kate fakeout, then Juliet just capped Danny. Craziness.

The only way Ben is really Alex’s father is if he went to the mainland and got Rousseau knocked up, think she told Sayid or Hurley that she was six months pregnant when she landed on the island sixteen years ago (how she managed to land and not be four or eight months pregnant is quite beyond me). Most likely, they just told Alex her ma died in childbirth and that Ben’s her pop, a lie. (Ben lies.)

Great bit at the end there, Juliet’s only been here three+ years and Ben told her he’d finally let her go. The look on Jack’s face says it all. Can’t wait to see what will happen next. And next. And next. 15 more continuous weeks of power, I think they’re just getting warmed up and it’s really going to go down here this spring.

Namaste, island faithful. I bow to you.