Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Thought for a second that it was Ilana floating there in the sea and was worried that all of a sudden we were going to be spending crucial time this close to the end getting to know a character who we’ve spent little time with and, let’s be honest, barely care about.

“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.” Man, I guess that’s too long for an episode title, but that kind of sums it all up, doesn’t it?

But let’s try. They’re speaking Latin. That’s clearly why the Others still learn it, but what else does that tell us? This is taking place just on the other side of the BC/AD cutoff? And and, if you anagram that, you get c bad. See bad!!!! Moving on . . .

“It’s coming” reminds us of the whole “He’s coming” motif they’ve been using to talk about the Monster this entire season and certainly suggests that Lil’ Titus Welliver is on the way.

But “His name is Jacob” instead hearkens right back to Ben’s birth in 3.20, and in case we weren’t already right there and freaked out about it, again they got us with that same trick from the third season, when I was just so positive that the finale was going to be the Ben-centric that just blew the doors off everything, but instead they dropped that penpenultimate, so much crazier to get it sooner than expected/hoped for. Same thing this time, figured there was no way the finale wouldn’t be all about either Jacob or his brother (retroactively revised from “nemesis”), but of course that’s way too much story, I mean that’s as much Secret Origin of the Island as we’re going to get (which of course turns out more to be Secret Origin of This Particular Conflict But We’re Really Not Ever Going To Tell You Shit About Or Explicitly Lay It Out For Y’all About This Here Island, Because Really, How Could We? And Would You Want Us To?) and yikes, some parenthethicals really make a go of that center stage charge, thought expressed though, I think. This is like that time at the end of the third season. Back then, Bearded Jack shambled out of nowhere at us. Oh, let the finale be a Bearded Desmond-centric.

I always feel mild amusement during these kinds of episodes when the cast just gets abandoned (or ten-day vacations, your mileage may vary). Those names we know so well, more than a dozen season regulars going by. “Not going to see you this week. Or you. You take the night off. You be sure and call a cab if you go out drinking. Not you tonight. You sleep late . . .”

Unbelievable that we get The Reason in the first quarter of the episode. Un— I mean, I really can’t even let myself loose about it here at this moment, because we’d be three thousand words deep and it would be two in the morning and I would still need to write about most of the episode. Have to write about most of the episode.

She says that key phrase, and anyone who’s been on pins and needles since Locke first uttered those words back in October 2004 falls off the couch leaning forward, thinking surely that means we’ll get it by end of episode. But then they just go ahead and drop it all right there. Quite possibly as much of a reveal as we’re going to get. I think folks who are complaining that they burned one of these last episodes on folks who we barely know don’t realize that this was IT, like, as much of an answer about anything as we’re likely to get. There are a couple more incredible reveals tonight, but this is the big one, right here. The light underneath the island.

Part of Crazy Mother’s speech while she’s walking the boys out to the cave leading to the light (“they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt, and it always ends the same”) even doped-up felons will recall that the Monster in Black quoted back at Jacob in their first scene together on the beach at the top of 5.16.

The kid actors do a pretty fantastic job showing up here and running with it. I mean, nothing against Allison Janey or that lady who played Claudia, they both killed it as well (ooh, especially phantom Madonna Claudia, that was the real deal), but it seems especially daunting to be like 13 and show up SO late in this particular situation and pretty much live up to seasons worth of viewer expectations. The Kid in Black is a little bit better than Jacob, though, seemed to me, definitely has a kind of Atreyu thing going on. Of course he’s got to say, “Follow me,” to Jacob when trying to get him to run away.

Jacob drops the RAGE, though, pretty much out of nowhere. So basically what’s been motivating the axis around which this entire narrative has rotated is basically little brother jealousy of the firstborn? Did not see that coming.

It wasn’t until the Kid in Black’s whole “We don’t belong here” bit that I realized that here at the end, at the foundation of the story, we discover an inversion of Season One’s big picture, in which the flashbacks revealed, one by one, that the survivors’ lives had carried them along to various crossroads whose common element was this sort of quiet desperate seething unhappiness, a discontentment with the status quo that they had established for themselves (or, maybe even more often, fallen into, looming ruts they had failed to dodge). But everyone gets a new life on this island. Everyone, despite their disparate pasts and languages and nationalities, after that first week or so, they just seemed to belong, you know? There. On the Island.

It’s a masterstroke here, right at the end, recasting the Monster as protagonist and making him the one person who doesn’t belong here, who wants to get away from this paradise and wallow around in the filth of civilization, even though he agrees that the people it spawns are, in fact, Bad. The thing is, I’m just about rooting for him. If he managed to take out all of these folks I’ve spent all this time caring about, loving damn it, as insane as that would be, there’s no way that I would cry foul. It would make perfect sense*.

We’ll double-check Saturday during the pilot rerun, but I could swear the way they frame that sunset shot, when Crazy Mama comes out to talk to Jacob sitting on the beach, that looks pretty close to that shot of Locke in the same position at the end of the titles, what’s on-screen for Abrams’s director credit.

The dagger that gets magnetized to the well in such dramatic fashion. That’s what kills Jacob, yeah?

EVERYTHING DIES was my pick for title of the week, just going by what I thought would make it, but when the Man in Black said “The light underneath the Island,” a couple of minutes later, that was certainly what I was pulling for. Upon fourth viewing, A WHEEL sounds about right. The thing about going with ACROSS THE SEA, if they’d just made it BEYOND instead of ACROSS, it would mean almost the same thing, but then we’d get to lock up with Shannon singing Bobby Darin in French to Sayid at the end of 1.12, which still kills me every time.

His reaction when she burns all the people up (recalling Uncle Owen & Aunt Beru) is all of a sudden the best acting we’ve seen from Welliver at any time in any role, the camera does that revolving thing it’s been doing ever since the third episode ended up on Locke and right before we go to break, his face embodies rage personified. Very well done and scary as hell.

Wow, but then we come back with Jacob saying, “Storm comin’.” Really?!?!? This was not the time to invoke Faulkner on the porch cliché. “Yup. I spect so.” I am stunned that this line made it through, so anachronistic, totally took me out of it. Which maybe is why it seemed beyond blatant that from the dialogue and the way they were looking at each other (those puppy-dog eyes, oh Jacob!), clearly no way those two were ever going to see each other again in this plane of existence.

That was a pretty unintentionally hilarious death, almost like a Southpark thing. “Thank you,” and croak.

I was so busy expecting her get taken out while holding the rocks that I completely forgot about that being an Adam & Eve trapdoor. So, while of course we all knew that Jacob was going to drag him over to the cave and throw him in and turn him into Our Monster in Black, maybe the most shocking thing about this entire episode was when it just cuts to the middle of 1.07, Jack and Kate just sitting there. I almost always can’t stand it when they circle back around like that, I mean, of course I appreciate the craft of the trick, but when a new episode starts with a scene from last week that I’ve already watched three or four times, it drives me nuts. This was not that. This was fascinating and in HD and I wanted it to go on and on.

That’s the thing about this Entertainment, it will take you around in circles. Every time, for all time. Here we are at the end, right on the verge of finale, and they trapdoor that little bit in and I think, Oh yes, keep going, let’s just follow this thread right down here for a little while. Did Charlie ask Locke for his dope a third time? What happened next, how was that first Sawyer flashback?

But we must dial back in to where we are. Stepping back from all the pixie dust wonder, I should point out that this final reveal (oh, and meant to at least mention how cool it is that the Man in Black built the wheels, makes perfect sense, locks up so well) doesn’t line up with one bit from 1.07, I’m positive that Jack said that, according to their clothes, Adam & Eve had been there around 50 years or so, which is of course way off by like 1950 years, give or take a couple of centuries. This can totally be No-Prized away, though, by saying that Jack was still out of his mind from the crash and first six and a half episodes (and, hey, who’s going to argue that he ever actually recovered?) and certainly not in the right frame of mind to be carbon-dating corpses’ articles of clothing with those dilating baby browns. Or that the Island just preserved the bodies to a remarkable degree. Not a continuity-shattering gaffe, but it does make me doubt the extent to which Lindelof and crew have been able to pin the tale on the donkey of these last beats, more than I have up until now. It’s well established that writing those corpses in the cave so early in the series was the equivalent of The Babe calling his shot, all this time, the Revelation of Adam & Eve was going to, in no uncertain terms, show that these guys have been in charge and on top of all this madness ever since J.J. and his new buddy Damon got together one weekend six years ago and charted this insanity out in the first place. In 2007, Lindelof was screaming this shit out at Comic-Con. I believe that he was intoxicated. And don’t get me wrong. I love that those bodies are who they are. But I find it hard to believe that, back in 2004, they were standing there behind the cameras, or really, across the Pacific, but the week that 1.07 aired and Locke dubbed those bodies Adam & Eve, it just seems unlikely that Lindelof even back then was like, “Adam is the Monster, Eve is the Monster’s Crazy Mama, and the triangle is rounded out by Jacob, who is protecting this Island and will ultimately be revealed as the force maneuvering the Others, with whom we’ll spend the next couple of seasons dancing.” And the reason I feel that way is because Jack gets that line about the bodies being only fifty years old. Maybe they were deliberately tricking us, just lying to us, knowing the truth even then, but maybe it got changed, maybe it used to be Jack and Kate back hanging out with Alpert’s crew in 1954, or Charles and Ellie. I don’t know.

I don’t want this to be over. Much more than I need it to be.

*Here, though, yeah, we might as fall in. The insane thing about the elasticity of this show is that there really are probably like eight ways that this could all piece together at the end and make perfect narrative sense. Just because this scattershot enthymemetic fractal way they’ve gone about it this entire time, well, there’re just a lot of holes, right? So many ways that it could all be brought together to make different shifts of sense. But how is going to end? What’s the last shot, you want to know? Well, I mean, it’s got to be Jack’s eye, right? The pupil dilating. If you want this to be a circle, which I do, or a series of recurring permutations, which you know, same thing, but, especially given all the apparent and professed love for King in general and DARK TOWER in particular, and STAR WARS too, The Circle Is Now Complete, the only way I can see this ending is back there, Jack in the forest, opening up those miraculous mirrors of his so that we can see the island, too. The question is which Jack? What are the circumstances? I mean, they already pulled this trick back in, what 5.06? >: 316. Kind of gave themselves an out, doing it then, it’s okay if we don’t actually wind up there now, but I just always thought this show would somehow end up with that eye. And you know, that’s what they showed after the credits of the fifth season finale, some title like ALL WILL BE REVEALED and that first shot of Jack’s eye. I want it to be Other Jack’s eye, LA Jack from over in the parallel stream**, but then of course, in that timeline, the Island is at the bottom of the ocean.

**And hey, too, how well is that settling now, the entire flash-sideways conceit of this season? If the argument is that those scenes are filler and don’t matter, then I will try not to attack the person making the argument, but instead calmly point out that it’s brilliant and the only trick that works, this doesn’t have to be some kind of linear thing all of a sudden, and what else were they going to do, talk about writing yourself into a corner, can’t do flashforwards now because it’s not like you can repeat that Season Four trick of showing who’s standing after the last shot, because it’s very possible, likely even, that none of them will be, and flashbacks at this point? Beyond anticlimactic. That cat or hamster that Kate or Hurley had in the third grade? Not really where we need to be right now. These flash-sideways matter because they define character on an even more objective level than if we were just staying on-Island, because we see how people with a set of characteristics that have been well established for us act and react in entirely different circumstances, and the truth bleeds through, some behave exactly as we expected, others veer off in the opposite direction, but I would never do that to you, Island Faithful, I bow to you, as always, and send you peace.


Oh, and meant to definitively call it: The series finale will be a Desmond-centric. Maybe just scattershot all hands on deck madness, but I'm pulling for Brothah.


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