Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Ab (Aeterno) Workout


I have the distinct feeling that I will be saying this again a time or two more before the series finale, but Ab Aeterno was the best episode LOST has presented to us in some 5 years. For all the people who have LOST hope and/or faith in the show this season (most commonly the result of not "getting" the alternate-reality storyline), Ab Aeterno embodied everything that is great and wonderful and mystical and mysterious about the people (and island) we've all come to love.

Think of how long we've been waiting to learn who Richard Alpert is, why he doesn't age, how long he's been on the island, and what his relationship to Jacob, Flocke and the Black Rock actually is??? Think of how many times you've banged your head against the proverbial wall and longed to know the secrets of Alpert.

Well, we were just treated to massive revelations about him, the island's history, Jacob, Flocke, etc. etc. Enjoy it. Soak it in. Be grateful and happy. Appreciate a show that has substance and suspense and masterful story-telling abilities. A key to happiness in life (and to enjoying its guilty a tv show that is clearly better than any other in the past 20 years) is the ability to revel in small victories. This episode was a victory. It was a reward for faithfully sticking with a show that, like any epic, has its more tedious and more compelling moments.

Enough on that.

"Ab Aeterno"brings us back to 1867, to the Canary Island of Tenerife, where Ricardo Alpert has rushed home to be with his sick and dying wife Isabella. Disease and sickness and physical suffering are common themes in LOST, as they sadly are in real life. Rose had cancer. Locke was paralyzed. Jack's ex-wife was in a tragic car accident. Rousseau's French expedition team was "sick" and each member needed to be put down like a lame horse. The noteworthy thing from this episode that ties into a larger them of LOST is in regards to how the main characters react to the physical suffering in their own life, and also, in the lives of those they love.

My main man Bernard couldn't deal with Rose's cancer and so he took them on a wild healing goose chase to Australia....which landed them on the island. Locke couldn't handle his paralysis and headed to the Land Down Under in order to prove to himself and others (or as Jin would say, "Udders...Udders") that he was still a full man in the figurative sense....which landed him on the island. Richard Ricardo couldn't accept his sick wife's TB-induced fate and ended up killing a doctor and stealing medicine...which landed him on the island.

The women in the lives of all three of these men (Rose-Bernard, Locke-Helen, and Richard-Isabella) were much more ready to accept the physical and emotional limitations of the situation that drove their men to rash action. The balance between accepting one's fate and fighting a losing battle to hold out hope is an often tenuous one, especially on LOST.

Richard promises Isabella that he will save her (Jack-style) and rushes off to murder the likely government-employed local doctor. It was in fact an accident, the murder, so let's just say "man-slaughter." He had brought with him the last of his money and the cross necklace that belonged to his beloved wife, but it was not enough to buy the medicine. I loved the line where Richard hands over the necklace and says, " have everything now." His devotion to his wife is commendable, but it is also his downfall ultimately. Devotion = obsession for Ricardo.

Richard is arrested for his crimes and we next find him in jail. He is reading the Bible (Luke 4...more on that later) when the prison's priest enters to hear his confession. Now was it just me, or did that priest seem a tad callous and insane in his interactions with Alpert? The man was confessing his sin, admitting he had literally killed the doctor, but that it was an accident, and the priest tells him that he's LOST and should just get used to the fact that he's got a one-way ticket to Hades. No Protestant or Catholic clergyman would have said such things to Richard. Then, before the execution, he sells him into indentured servitude in what appears to be some illegal racket the padre's running from the prison.

The man who bought Richard, Jonas Whitfield, was in the employment of one Magnus Hanso, the captain of the Black Rock. Hanso ought to be a familiar name to all of you, as it was his great grand-son, Alvar Hanso, who originally funded the DHARMA Initiative (as seen on the original orientation film back in season two). Whitfield loads Richard onto the slave ship and we next find Richard aboard the Black Rock in the middle of a raging, tsunami-like storm. The waves were so abnormally high that the ship crashed into the top of the Egyptian statue and ended up in the middle of the jungle (where we've seen it the past 5 seasons). As they were crashing, another slave next to Richard can be heard yelling "I see the devil...this island is guarded by the devil."

Dude, you have no idea.

This week's LOST-related tune? The End, by The Doors.

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land

Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

When Richard and the other slaves wake up and begin to give thanks to God for saving them from the storm, they are greeted by a disheveled and distraught Whitfield who informs them that Captain Hanso is dead, they're in the middle of a jungle, and that he's about to off each of them with a saber to the gut so they won't try and escape or kill him later. In an inverse way, this scenario echoed the story in the book of Acts where an earthquake destroys the prison that Saint Paul is being kept in, and the prison guard is so worried that he will be blamed for prisoners escaping that he wants to kill himself. Except instead of the prison guard wanting to kill himself, this prison guard actually killed prisoners. That is, until Black Smokey appeared from the foggy mists and did his thing.

The only one left, the only one spared from the shipwreck and the Smoke attack is Richard. This wasn't by mistake. Jacob brought him there for a purpose, and Smokey spared him for a purpose. Jacob was looking for a mediator between himself and the people he brought there as candidates. Smokey was looking for someone who would be easy to manipulate due to a traumatized emotional state (due to, oh I don't know, a recent tragic death of a loved one).

Speaking of said manipulation, Smokey allows Richard to fester in his own stink, sweat and sorrow in the hold of the ship for a number of days before he appears to him in the form of his deceased spouse. Isabella tells him that they are in hell and that El Diablo is on the prowl. She then promptly runs out of the ship towards the sound of that prowl and gets whipped away to the chagrin of her still-chained hubby. It was so obvious that Isabella in that scene was Smokey, although later, she does I believe actually appear to Hurley when he is communicating between her and Richard. It was a Sayid-like setup from the start with Smokey who was hoping to win the allegiance of Richard in his quest to kill Jacob and escape his island constraints.

Alpert initially takes the bait, but after a run-in with Jacob, switches teams. But Smokey doesn't seem all too upset. He lets Alpert know that the offer will always still be on the table for him to change teams and help him kill Jacob.

I'm going to talk more about the discussion/interaction between Jacob and Alpert, which was the most important part of the episode in terms of LOST mythology and lore, but enough can't be said for how moving and touching that scene with Richard, his dead wife, and Hurley the Interpreter. Richard has spent nearly 150 years of his unnatural life trying to make up for his past sins and beating himself up for what happened to his wife. He buried "her" (her necklace) when he first got to the island and made his mission making amends for his past sins. When Isabella visits him (with Hurley's help) she "absolves" Richard of his "sins." It's the thing he has been craving and needing for so long. If you remember, Richard said that the entire time he's been on the island he has avoided the Black Rock and now we learn he had also avoided his wife's "grave." In the last few weeks we've seen Richard deal with both skeletons in his very old (and probably musty) closet.

On to the meaty parts of Ab Aeterno...

When Richard finds Jacob (and his fists) on the beach, he is still convinced that Jacob is the devil. He is also certain that he is dead, and already in hell. So what does Jacob do to convince him otherwise? He baptizes him in the water. How many times does he dunk him under the cresting waves? Four. Four? Cuatro.

Wonder if there's any religious metaphors or allusions in that act...

Something that stood out was Jacob's reaction to Richard's recounting of his time on the island thus far. Namely, that Smokey was now recruiting castaways to try and kill him (Jacob). Jacob seemed incredulous at that news. So were these two not always going after each other? Jacob said that the Man in Black/Smokey believes that any person can be corrupted because it is in their nature, so he (Jacob) brings people there to prove that this is not the case. Actually, let me just show you his exact words:

Jacob: ''Think of this wine for what you keep calling hell. There are many other names for it, too. Malevolence. Evil. Darkness. And here it is, swirling around in the bottle, unable to get out because if it did, it would spread. The cork is this island. And it's the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs. That man who sent you to kill me thinks that everyone is corruptible because it's in their very nature to sin. I bring people here to prove him wrong. And when they get here, their past doesn't matter.''

Man, there's a lot to unpack here. I'm not going to get to it all this week, but fret not, we've got 8 or 9 episodes left to delve further into these themes by the time all is said in done in LOST land.

Richard wants to know why Jacob doesn't get more personally involved and Jacob says he wants the people he brings to the island to help themselves and figure more out on their own. Richard doesn't like the sound of that and suggests that if Jacob doesn't get involved, "he will" (Flocke). So then and there Richard gets eternal life (or until someone not named Jack is willing to light the dynamite's fuse) and becomes the middle-man between Jacob and those he calls to the island's shores for the little moral play he's concocted. Or maybe not concocted himself, but has been tasked to oversee.

The whole concept of the "candidates" obviously points to the fact that Jacob has not always been, nor always will be, the island's protector. He also seems to have many answers, but not all of them. By no means do I think that he is God and Flocke is Lucifer, but just as the angels in heaven don't know all of God's secrets, Jacob is an ambassador for the good guys. I see his role (and Flocke's) as being one more of appointed front-line defenders of each "side's" interest. The island is the cork in the bottle keeping hell from spewing forth on earth. At that convergence of energies and interests there are two men who have been selected to battle. Think of a David and Goliath situation. Not necessarily so much in the "big guy losing to little under-dog" sense, but more in the "the Philistines and Israelites did battle by proxy through two men, one representing each side" sense.

Jacob has power, and has access to off-island things and people, but he is not all-powerful. He can't cleanse Richard of his sins. He can see people all around the world through his magical peeping-scope in the Lighthouse. He can touch people and give them eternal life. But he can be stabbed (unlike Flocke). It almost seems like Flocke is more powerful than Jacob, but I think the better way to put it is that Flocke has different powers than Jacob.

We saw Jacob come to visit Ilana in the hospital last season, and this week we got a fuller view of what that conversation entailed. He told her he had 6 people to protect, that she had been preparing her whole life for this moment, and that after reaching the island and taking Jack, Hurley, etc. to the Temple, she was to find Richard who would know what to do.

Preparing her whole life for this? Is Ilana someone special herself, or just another recruit (like Dogen) of Jacob's? How much does she know about what is going on? She seems to have a deep, unwavering faith in Jacob and their mission, something we've seen even Richard lose.

But despite Jacob's promise that Richard would know what to do, Alpert insists he doesn't and that is when he heads off to find his wife's necklace and attempt to switch sides. We've covered much of that already.

Random Thoughts/Theories:
-Richard was reading in Luke 4 when the priest came in for his rejected confession. Among the many important things that happen in that chapter is the devil's attempt to tempt Christ to sin while he was in the desert for 40 days. Satan tempted Jesus by promising him power, offering him food, and encouraging him to put God to the test. Sound familiar?

-The dagger that Smokey gives to Richard is eerily similar to the one Dogen gave to Sayid to kill Flocke/Smokey earlier this season. Smokey's story to Richard, about having to stab "the devil", is basically the same thing Dogen told Sayid. So what gives? Was Dogen really bad and working for Flocke? That wouldn't make much sense. More likely, Dogen knew that Sayid wouldn't be able to kill Flocke and had sent him out there on a suicide mission. But then again, if Dogen knew that Sayid wouldn't be able to kill him, he would also probably know that Flocke would be able to con Sayid into joining his side. Maybe Dogen was an "inside man" who Flocke had no use for any longer and had Sayid drown him for him (and now Sayid is the new Dogen). Hard to follow that line of reasoning? Ya, me too.

-I've been asked a number of times in the past month whether I think Jacob or Flocke is the "good" one. As I've reflected on that question a few things have come to mind. First, this show has undeniable religious undertones. Greek Mythology. Egyptian polytheism. And most notably: Judeo-Christian, Old/New Testament theology and morality tales. So in a weird way I have approached analyzing which of the two main protagonists is "good" the same way I've come to certain conclusions about my own faith and who God is. In contemplating the word "good", especially as it pertains to good vs. evil in the biblical, moral, spiritual sense, I know that my definition of good and God's are not always the same.

I've come to what I consider to be a reasonable, rational conclusion about the seeming disparity between God's goodness and what I consider to be good: if I knew all the answers, I'd be God (or the person I thought was God would be exposed as a sham/impostor). The writers of LOST are blatantly influenced by the Bible and have interwoven complex themes of faith, trust, hope and belief into their story. So in trying in to the head of a LOST writer, and assuming that they are utilizing the Jewish-Christian religious tradition and understanding of God as some sort of basis for their unfolding drama on the island, I would say that Jacob is good...but perhaps not in the same way the characters (or even we the viewers) might think.

Few examples to explain what I mean. When asked by Ben "What about me?" at the end of last season, Jacob responds: "What about you?" The island and all the events going on around him were never all about Ben. He had selfish motives (i.e. power-hungry) for wanting to be a leader and felt scorned when he wasn't treated like a real leader by Jacob. God wants us to love Him because He first loved us. God wants us to serve Him for His glory, not our own. By our very nature as created beings we are subject to "rules" that are outside of our control, and what God asks for us is not a blind faith, one devoid of thought or rationality, but a child-like one that has at its center a love for Him as a child loves his or her parent even after they've been punished for not playing nice with their brother or sister. Jacob wanted Ben to be a servant-leader.

Jacob wanted Ben to stop thinking of how to grab more and more power and control, but to appreciate the privilege of being on a beautiful, magical island. Ben had been shown great and wondrous things, yet his heart was still hard and selfish. THAT was his problem and Jacob wasn't going to reward him for being a self-centered, manipulating putz his whole life. That didn't make Jacob evil or wrong, and in fact, I would say that made him good (if we're assuming that it is a good thing to be a nice person who doesn't let their daughter get capped in the cranium to keep their power).

Jacob in this episode dunks Richard back into the water those four times to wake up him and give him a kick in the pants. He doesn't reveal himself to people like Jack, but shows him enough so that Jack will be drawn back to him. Flocke meanwhile always treats everyone he's trying to get to join his side very nice and slyly (like a certain serpent in a certain garden). Flocke promises "turkish delight" while Jacob seeks out those who will follow him, even if they don't know every detail of the Who? What? Where? Why?

All of this is to say that I think Jacob is the good one. Not that he is God, but that he is representing the goodness of God against the evil, manipulating, lying wickedness of Satan (a.k.a. The Deceiver).

-Flocke poured out the glass of Whiskey that Sawyer offered him in Othersville earlier this season, and the other night smashed the flask of wine Jacob had given him. Jacob was seen eating a fish last year, which he offered to Smokey/Flocke, and Flocke turned a piece of fish down as well. Kind of like the cursed pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean, maybe Flocke is also cursed and wants to get off the island to eat a hamburger?

-Richard is told by his dead wife Isabella that he must stop Flocke from leaving the island or, as Hurley put it, "We all go to hell." So is Richard the new leader? Is he the one tasked with stopping (or killing) Flocke? Or was his wife speaking in more general in, "You guys all need to do this or the earth's in trouble"? I ask that because Jacob said to Hurley earlier this season that Jack was brought back for a purpose. Maybe the doctor who is obsessed with saving lives will be tasked to end one (Flocke's).

-"Ab Aeterno" means "from eternity" which fits perfectly in with the eternal life granted to Richard, but also I think points to just how long this island and cosmic battle has been going on.

-In the Vulgate (Catholic) Bible, Psalm 8:23 reads: "Ab aeterno ordita sum et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret." or, in English, "I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth."

-Flocke said that Jacob "stole my humanity." So it is really Jacob's fault Flocke is there, or like Cain and Abel in Genesis, is Flocke simply jealous and mis-directing his anger at someone who really doesn't have control over him?

-When Richard is talking to Jacob on the beach, he asks him what is inside his statue home. Jacob responds with: "No one can come in unless they're invited." John 6:44 reads: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."

-Hurley has really come into his own as of late. Jacob has used him in special ways. He was seeing people like Charlie and Mr. Ekko while in the mental institution, and now on the island he's being used by people like Isabella and dead-Jacob to coordinate important activities. I still won't forgive him for that lame episode where he drove around in the VW bus (or the cannonball scene).

Okay, that's all for now. Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Swing away,

John Locke's Pants

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Total Recon


This is the first time I've done two Pants posts in one week, but I wanted to get us relatively caught up by digging into the Sawyer-centric episode "Recon" that aired last Tuesday night. But because I'm in somewhat of a hurry and very busy with class and other writing projects there'll be no song with lyrics that illuminate contextual themes in LOST this week (and this will be a tad shorter than usual).

So jumping right in to the episode, we take a gander at the off-island, alternate-reality hi-jinx of one Detective James Ford of the Los Angeles Police Department. Things open in typical Sawyer fashion with Sawyer's shirt being off in a hotel room with a sultry babe and an open suitcase of fash (fake cash). But this time we're treated to a REAL surprise...Sawyer's the good guy, still conning, but now for the greater good of the people of the state of California. I did think it weird that the chick he was with, Ava, pulled a gun on him so quickly, but apparently her husband was wanted for other various, nefarious activities so she probably walked around packin' heat anyway.

All it took was a name-drop from the past..."LaFleur"...and our boy Miles (Sawyer's cop-buddy partner) comes swooping in with a SWAT team. And while Sawyer was telling the truth to this woman Ava, and does seem to be a fairly decent cop, he is still a liar in many respects. He failed to mention to Miles that he wasn't really in Palm Springs in vacation the previous week, but in fact had traveled to Sydney to find the man (Anthony Cooper) who ruined his life. He seems to have been using his resources as a cop to track down the real Sawyer, which seems to me to be something the police force would frown upon. Not that the things the government oversees ever fall prey to the seductive allure of abuse of power or anything....

Moving on, Miles sets up his partner with everyone's favorite British red-head: C.S. Lewis. Charlotte was last seen croaking on the island. Actually, she was technically last seen as a grade schooler on the island back in the 1970's when Faraday creepily wept over her by the DHARMA swing-set.

Charlotte tells Sawyer that she is an archeologist, which matches up with her original character's profession, but this Charlotte seems different to me. First off, did anyone else get the feeling that Miles had purposely set Charlotte up with Sawyer because Miles and her are still working for Widmore (or someone similar)?

Think about it: Charlotte seemed to know exactly what she was looking for in that IKEA drawer of Sawyer's. Like she had been sent on a mission. Sayid-style. Not to kill per se, but to gather intel and report back to someone. If Charlotte is still an archeologist in this alternate-reality, then she probably still went to the island for a time, like we learned last week in Ben's episode that he and his father had. My money is on the fact that Charlotte and Miles are in cohoots with bigger, more powerful forces and have been using Sawyer to get information.

When Sawyer catches Charlotte rummaging through "the whites" in his IKEA drawer he kicks her to the curb in a huff. She does her best job to act like she wasn't really looking at anything, but the look on her face makes it clear that she knew she was caught and wanted to do what she could to keep Sawyer from digging deeper into why she was really looking at his top-secret folder. Later, as only a hillbilly could, he feels guilty after watching Little House on the Prairie and brings a sunflower and six-pack of cheap beer in hopes to win Charlotte's heart back. No dice, bro.

Sawyer's inability to let go of the past, and the anger he has accrued over the decades as a result, have made him nearly unlovable. Not because he doesn't have anything to offer a woman or friend, but because he hates himself so much that he doesn't think he's worthy of love.

Things off-island/alternate-reality end with Kate crashing into the car that Sawyer and Miles are driving around in. Sawyer hunts her down and is pleased to see the same babe he bumped into on the Oceanic Flight a few days earlier. I appreciated the symbolism of Kate, fugitive on the run as usual, forcing/crashing herself back into Sawyer's life in a very literal way. Those two can't seem to (or don't want to) escape each other's life.

All-in-all, I thought the Sawyer off-island stuff was fairly interesting. I did not see him being a cop coming. Well played, writers of LOST.


On the island, things are heating up and we're well on our way to a climatic confrontation between Flocke and Jacob (with a little Ben vs. Widmore tossed in for good measure). Sawyer has an important role to play in all of this, and in this episode he is sent on a recon mission to discover what the people on the Hydra Station island are up to.

Before he is given that mission we see him and Jin talking strategy over in Claire's shanty town abode. Jin says he will not leave without Sun, and Sawyer, exposing the soft-spot he has for damsels in distress, promises he will do whatever it takes to help those two crazy Koreans link back up. I foresee that requiring Sawyer to sacrifice something big (like himself) to see that those two end up together.

Locke and his band of former Others get back from the Temple and a few interesting things take place. First, Claire tries to strangle Kate, seemingly out of nowhere. We know she threatened to kill Kate if she found out that the story about taking Aaron off the island was true...which it was...and she did. That freaks Kate out, understandably, but more interesting to me personally was the way in which Flocke handled Claire after she flipped out.

It was shocking to see Flocke slap Claire around and berate her because it had seemed like the two of them were close. Claire kept calling him "my friend" and always had a smile on her face earlier this season when talking about him. Yet he treats her like crap. He lies to her, manipulates her, and now even physically harms her, but she seems to still love him. This made me think of the hold that "the ring" had on people in the Lord of the Rings. They loved the very thing that was making them more and more evil, and were largely blinded by the negative affects their relationship to this evil thing was causing. Insert Smoke Monster for Ring in this analogy. He lures people in with promises of happiness he can't provide access to, and to keep his power he has to convince those he influences that there are other people trying to keep them from that happiness. Sounds like he should run for president.

The pit-in-your-stomach, what-is-happening-next feeling came in this episode from Sawyer's time on the Hydra Island. Promising Flocke that he will scout things out on the smaller, adjacent island in return for safe passage "off this rock", Sawyer does a little recon...and a lot of conning. When he gets over to Hydra he comes across a purge-like pile of dead bodies. A woman can be seen darting through the trees and after giving chase, James gets her song and dance about picking up firewood one day and the rest of the Ajira Flight 316 dropping like flies. Being the con-man that he is, Sawyer sniffs out her bogus tale and she calls out her legit band of Widmore Warriors who have been lurking in the shadows.

But before I move on...what gives with all the dead bodies from the Ajira flight? Did Smokey kill them? We know he can travel across the islands because he came over there to claim the shape of Locke's body last season; so was it him? Did Widmore get rid of them? I'm suspecting that Flocke murdered them, but Widmore did dig up a bunch of bodies and stage a fake Oceanic 815 crash on the bottom of the ocean. We're still not totally sure what his angle in all of this is.

We do know Sawyer's angle, and that is the one which is always pointing back to Sawyer. He cons Widmore into thinking that he's going to bring Flocke on a silver platter to the Hydra Island, and he convinces Flocke that he has his best interest in mind when he tells him Widmore's schemes. Those schemes include the building of another sonic fence to keep Flocke out...or more likely, to keep Flocke locked up after luring him into a trap.

I'd love to know how Widmore found the island, but he did, and for now, that's the important point. In the sub he is packing some serious heat, which necessitated a secret room on the submarine (with presumably powerful/nuclear weapons in it). Another Jughead-like blast in our future? Or maybe he's got someone locked up in there who the Smoke Monster cares about and he's waiting to use it as a trump card?

Widmore makes his deal with Sawyer, but seems to not fully trust him (and with good reason). It'll be interesting to see what Widmore's real plans are, and how far to Widmore or Flocke's side Sawyer really is. You can only sit on the fence so long on this island before push turns to shove and you're forced to choose this day whom you shall serve. As Bob Dylan put it: "You've gotta serve somebody."

The episode ends on the island with Sawyer and Kate planning the great escape on our favorite submarine. Poetic justice that they'll be attempting to escape on the sub that they were on at the end of last season and chose to get off of.

I told you this one would be short, so I'll close out with...

Random Thoughts/Theories:

- If you've never seen the movie Sawyer references when attempting to explain why he became a cop, Bullitt, then you are a lesser form of the person you could be. Okay, it's not that good, but it is the cop movie that all other cop movies have tried to mimic for 40 years. Here's the famous car-chase scene from the flick:

-Did you all catch the Charlie's brother Liam sighting in the police station? Are we going to get a Charlie-centric, alternate-reality story? Do we even want one? Answer: not if that Brit is still wearing pinky rings.

- Miles said his dad is working in a museum. That is the infamous Dr. Pierre Chang from the DHARMA orientation videos we last saw in the Season Five finale getting trapped under some scaffolding as "the incident" was taking place. If he works at a museum, and Charlotte is an archeologist who was introduced to Sawyer by Miles, wouldn't it stand to reason that this is yet more evidence that my theory that Charlotte and Miles are employed by larger, sinister (or perhaps not so sinister) forces? Think about it, but don't get crushed under the weight of my logic.

- Remember the little blonde kid running through the jungle in the Locke-centric episode earlier this season, The Substitute? I have a feeling that we're gonna see him again very soon and that he will turn out to be either Aaron...or Smoke Monster himself when he was a little kid. Not sure why I think that, but I like the way it rolls off my fingers.

- Flocke is reminding me more and more of the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I've said this before, but everything he promises is like the Turkish Delight she promises to Edmund. It's a "chasing after the wind" situation. He deals in anger, bitterness, and resentment. He stokes the rage that already burns inside people like Claire and Sayid. I can't imagine how they would turn the tables on us and make Jacob (and his "side") the bad guys. So until proven otherwise, I'm gonna start fully assuming Flocke is the evil he has been described as by numerous characters.

- The chick Sawyer bumps in to on the Hydra Island is named Zoe. This is another C.S. Lewis reference, for those who care, specifically alluding to his discussion in Mere Christianity of the "zoe" (spiritual life) and "bios" (natural life). Perhaps this is a signal from the writers that she is on the side of "good" (with Widmore and presumably Jacob, who told Hurley and Jack that "someone was coming"). She says "thank God" when Sawyer tells her that there are in fact people still alive on the main island. Could this be because what we've heard about Flocke already (namely, that he wants to kill every living thing on the island) is actually true, and he intends to eventually kill everyone?

- There were some noteworthy literary references in this episode. The novel Watership Down was on a table in Sawyer's house. Here's how Wikipedia summarizes the book:

Watership Down is a novel by Richard Adams and was published in 1972. It is often seen as a social commentary done using a group of rabbits as the main characters, and chronicling their search for a new place to live after they narrowly escape the poisoning and excavation of their warren by men.

In the course of their search for a new warren, they encounter a supposed utopia, where the rabbits are nurtured and fed into apathy by the local farmer. However the newcomers come to realize that this strange warren is a trap, as the farmer has set snares all around the area.

Later in the book the group finds a suitable place to settle down, but require does (female rabbits) to continue their society. They approach Efrafra, a nearby warren run under the iron fist of a Chief Rabbit, and after capture and a protracted battle, survive to start their own warren.

Do you really need me to explain why the writers would allude to this story? Also on his table was one of my favorite books growing up, A Wrinkle In Time. Here's a brief synopsis of that wonderful tale:

The story is about two children, accompanied by a friend, who search through space and time for their father. It involves an evil (known as The Black Thing) that is expanding through the universe, "tesseracts" and multiple dimensions, culminating in a happy ending. The character of Charles Wallace is a psychic child.

LOST is a hybrid of some of the best stories of the last 200 years, and there will never be another show quite like it. The other book is a dark and twisted one entitled Lancelot.

Alright, we're caught up now to the Richard episode from last night, Ab Aeterno, and I'll have something on that this weekend and we'll be primed and ready for the "exciting" Sun and Jin-focused episode on March 30th.

As always, leave some of your thoughts and theories below in the "Comments" section.

Stay out of the deep end.

-Flocke's Darker Pants

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Life and Times of Dr. Linus


We're already seven weeks into the final season of the greatest show in the history of humans, and I don't like how fast it's all going by. This week's episode, Dr. Linus, was one of those hours of LOST where you feel like next to nothing is happening while you watch it; but by the time all is said and done, some tremendously important and fascinating things have taken place.

This week's song that ties in to the episode we saw? A little number from Old Blue Eyes called "A Man Alone":

In me you see a man alone
Held by the habit of being on his own

A man who listens to the trembling of the trees

With sentimental ease

In me you see a man alone

Behind the wall he's learned to call his home

A man who still goes walking in the rain
Expecting love again.

A man not lonely
Except when the dark comes on

A man learning to live with
Memories of midnights
That fell apart at dawn

In me you see a man alone

Drinking up Sundays and spending them alone
A man who knows love is seldom what it seems

Only other people's dreams.

In the off-island alternate reality of 2004 we find Ben Linus as an over-qualified high school History teacher with a doctorate. He is a kinder, gentler Ben Linus. He is a man alone in a world that doesn't appreciate him, that doesn't understand his potential. He has sacrificed a lot, we're told by his ailing father Roger Linus. Presumably that sacrifice includes the need to take care of that same ailing father. Worst of all, he has to put up with the insufferable Dr. Arzt (who was much more enjoyable when he was all blown up back at the Black Rock in season one).

Things open in the off-island saga with Linus teaching his students about Napoleon's exile on the island of Elba. This past summer I read two fantastic books on Napoleon and the British general Wellington who defeated him at (or actually near) Waterloo. One was simply called Napoleon and Wellington, written by Andrew Roberts. Much has been written in the past 200 years about Napoleon, his temperament, his psyche, his motivations, his successes, and of course his failures, so I'm not trying to break any new ground in my analysis of why the writers might have put a Napoleon reference in this particular episode (about this particular character).

As Dr. Benjamin Linus so succinctly puts it to his students, Napoleon's greatest test was the loss of his power. This came at the hands of the British general Wellington. Napoleon was in many ways a confident man, but did everything he could to publicly disparage the reputation and talents of Wellington. He couldn't stand other people having power, or even coming close to the respect and control he commanded.

Ben is much the same way. Or I should say, the Ben we have known since Season 3 is that way. He did what he could to get Charles Widmore booted from the island. He hated that Goodwin was the object of Juliet's affection and sent him off on what turned out to be a suicide mission (at the hands of Anna Lucia). And most of all, he loathed John Locke for being "special". In that compelling scene is last season's finale, Ben lets all of his penned-up pettiness and jealousy out as he was berating (and then stabbing) Jacob.

Another comparison between the Old Ben and Bonaparte was injected into the episode when Dr. Linus mentions Elba. Napoleon was exiled twice, the first time to the island of Elba. While in that initial exile, Napoleon plotted his return to power. He had every intention of returning to France and continuing his single-minded quest to rule Europe (and then the world). Sound familiar? Ben left the island, but had every intention of returning. I still kind of think that he was never actually told to leave the island, like he said was Jacob's punishment for disobedience. Perhaps, like Napoleon, he saw that he was in trouble, decided to go and re-group and lull his enemies into thinking he was no longer a threat, while all along was plotting his return to power.

But this New Ben, and even by the end of the episode, the Old Ben, is different. (Or so we think.) Off-island, alternate-reality Ben, is a hard-working History teacher, caring son, and considerate mentor to Alex Rousseau. There is the principal at his school who mistreats and under-appreciates him, similar to how Ben felt Jacob had treated him on the island, but when given the chance to do what he does best (i.e. manipulate people for a power grab) Ben takes the high road and chooses Alex over his own ambitions.

Those ambitions to take over the school by blackmailing the principal for his sexual indiscretions (the same crime Charles Widmore was ousted by Ben for) were stoked by the wheelchair-bound John Locke (who, as we saw in an earlier episode) is the substitute teacher at Ben's high school.

I especially liked the scene between Ben and his dad Roger where Ben was gassing his father...but this time with life-saving oxygen instead of poisonous fumes during the Purge. In that same ironic light, did you pick up on the "formaldehyde" reference by Dr. Arzt (who is dead in the original time-line)? As Ben and his father chat around the frozen dinner table, we learn that Roger and his son Benjamin had still traveled to the island to be a part of the DHARMA Initiative. Something, oh I don't know, it was submerged to the bottom of the ocean...and the pair of them left, to the eternal regret of Roger Linus. I loved to see the relationship between Ben and his dad was different in this alternate reality. By leaving the island Ben missed being turned into a monster, and he and his dad developed a healthy, normal friendship.

The rest of the off-island happenings were fairly self-explanatory, although very interesting and engaging. I liked seeing a different Ben, and am excited to see where the writers are taking us with this alternate-reality set of characters.

So on to the juicy on-island, original time-line stuff:

Let's take the Jack/Hurley bumping into Richard Alpert first. The two of them are met in the jungle by a visibly disturbed Richard who beckons them to follow him to the Black Rock. Richard was "touched" by Jacob and cannot grow old, and because he has lost his faith in Jacob and Jacob's plan for island salvation, he is ready to end his own life. But, of course, he cannot take his own life (as we saw Michael have trouble with back in Season Four), and so looks to either Jack or Hurley to light the fuse of dynamite that will blast him into oblivion.

And here we witnessed what I propose to be one of the most compelling scenes in LOST lore. Jack v. Richard. An awkward staring match between the former Man of Science and the island's un-changing guru who has recently LOST his faith. Jack calls Richard's bluff and lights the fuse. Although Jack initally flipped out when he learned that Jacob had been watching him his whole life, after a cool-down session on the rocky bluff over-looking the ocean, he came to his senses and realized that despite his confusion and anger, what any rational person must do in his situation is accept things as they are and deal with them. Jack tells Richard that although he isn't sure what is going on, he knows that a man like Jacob would not go to such great lengths only to let him die in the hold of a slave ship in the middle of a magical jungle.

And he was right.

Jack came to the island to be "fixed" after a life-time of trying to fix other people. What he's finally realizing is that in order to be helped, one must be helpless. One must be humbled and broken and willing to ask for (and receive) the help. Jack has reached his breaking point internally, and as is so often the case in life, it is only when we stop trying to control everything ourselves can we see the truth: we can't do this (life) on our own. When we stop trying to explain away the incredible things in life and in this world, we realize that it all is pretty incredible. Jack has ceded his fight against the obvious, and I think, has become a true Man of Faith.

Oh, and by the way, in case you missed the previews for the episode coming up on March's a Richard Alpert back-story.

Now we turn to the occurrences at the Beach Camp with Sun, Lapidus, Ilana, and Ben....

Miles rats Ben out for having offed Jacob. Ilana is pissed, but bides her time until she can devise a plan to punish Ben for his crime of passion. Her plan entails tying Ben up to a tree and making him dig his own grave.

More coming later...I'm stuck in an airport but wanted to post something today. I'll finish things up tonight.

-JL's Pants


I told you there'd be more. It took me two planes and 8 hours, but I finally got home from Miami, FL where I was attending a conference on economic issues, hosted by the Acton Institute. But back to the LOST parsing...

So Ilana ties Ben up and tells him that Jacob was the closest thing she's ever had to a father. Really? The closest thing? Said it's a bummer, lady.

Who in the world is this Jacob character, really? And why can he leave the island and play the father-figure role to crazy chicks, while Flocke is stuck 'illin on the island? Did whoever it was who set "the rules" between these two island entities give separate-but-equally-cool powers to each of them?

But for now, what is important is that Ben lied to Ilana about killing Jacob...Miles spills the psychic beans that it was really Ben who did the saber thrusting what did in old Jacob...Ilana lures Ben into thinking he's free and clear....Ilana then shows Ben he is not free and clear and is now tied to a tree, digging his own island grave....and eventually the tempter himself, Flocke, appears on the scene to entice Ben into making a break for it with him.

Ben waits for the worst possible time when Ilana is looking right at him, and commences the lamest jail break since Nicholas Martin sneaked out of the house to see "Night of the Bloodfreaks 4" in McGee and Me:

The just don't make marginally-average, poorly-acted, substitute-for-any-real-Sunday-School-curriculum videos like they used to...

But Ben runs all the same, as he had reached his breaking point. The man who showed no remorse or fear in order to retain power on the island was reduced to begging the ever-sarcastic Miles for quarter. As he was begging for his life to Miles, Ben did mention something fairly interesting: a network of people and resources back in the real world that he would have at his disposal should Miles help him escape. Now obviously the cynic in me assumes Ben is partially (or fully) lying, but we do know that there are Others-related people back on the mainland...we just don't know who is working with who, who is good and who is bad...and whether or not any of those people Ben is talking about want anything to do with him.

The scene between Ben and Ilana was powerful and very well-done, especially juxtaposed with Ben's redemptive story back in the alternate-reality storyline. Ilana sees and hears in Ben a hurt, broken man who is forever scarred by the decision he made to let Alex get clipped in the cranium in Season Four. I felt like for the first time we saw the real Ben Linus.

He had the chance to kill Ilana, something we know he has few moral equivocations about doing, but he chooses to bear his soul to her because he knows the alternative (going to Flocke on the Hydra Station island) will end in his destruction. Sharing his pain to a relative stranger like Ilana is the act of a desperate man, but not desperate merely in the sense that he is trying to avoid pain, but more in the sense that he's already chalk-full of pain and looking to unload that burden. Ben just wants to be forgiven.

He wants to be accepted.

He wants to be normal.

His childhood was taken from him. His innocence was LOST on an insane island full of black clouds of smoke and yurt-dwelling nut-jobs who run around barefoot and kidnap people identified by their names being written on parchments of papyrus leaves handed down from a mostly-invisible deity named after the father of the nation of Israel.

I think Ilana saw and sensed the genuine pain in his plea for her to stop trying to off him.

I loved how described what happened to end the Ben-Ilana emotional encounter in the jungle:

Ben has lowered his rifle, and he asks to be allowed to leave. Ilana asks where he'll go, and Ben says he will go to Locke. She asks Ben why, and he responds that Locke is the only one who will accept him into his group. Ilana reveals that she is willing to accept him into her group, much to Ben's surprise. She then picks up her rifle and heads back to the beach. Ben stares in shock after Ilana for a second, then follows her.

Ben made so many enemies and burned so many bridges that the only one left who will have him is evil incarnate walking around in the form of the man he himself strangled to death in a seedy motel in Los Angeles. Ilana offers Ben grace and forgiveness because he hit rock bottom and was finally ready to accept those things.

The very end of the episode shows a Charles Widmore-led submarine emerging from the murky depths and because I am just writing this blog-post now (nearly two weeks after "Dr. Linus" first aired), we know that Widmore lands and sets up shop on the Hydra Station island. (More on this later this week when I post the review of "Recon").

I LOVE where things are heading. The "war" is coming.

Random Thoughts/Theories:

-Ben and Lapidus have an interesting conversation about destiny and fate in Sawyer's old tent on the beach. Lapidus remarked to Ben that he was supposed to be on the original Oceanic 815 flight and wonders aloud how different his life might have been. Ben, as only Ben can, sarcastically reminds him that the island still got him in the end. A consistent theme throughout the show, and across the spectrum of characters, is just that: an acceptance of their fate. This isn't to be confused with an apathy towards what actually happens in one's life. Failing to accept his situation is what drove Jack to make the mistakes he made along the way...and eventually he ended up back on the island looking to be fixed.

- It was a poignant camera shot we were treated to as Jack, Hurley, and Richard approached the beach and Sun ran to embrace them. There was the six "normal" people in the middle, with Ben apart from the group on the right, and Richard apart from the group on the left. Ben and Richard both had a spiritual awakening in this episode, but are both still on the outside looking in as far as the castaways (and Ilana) are concerned.

- Speaking of Sun on the beach...Ilana broke the news to her that either her or her husband (or both...think: Adam and Eve in the caves) have been chosen as candidates. Sun (and 10 million viewers) wanted more info from Ilana about what being the candidate all entails. No dice.

- Here is Doc Jensen's review at Entertainment I haven't been able to read his stuff for a few weeks, but his columns are always top-notch LOST commentary.

-We got a long-awaited Nikki and Paulo call-back this week! How what I would say if those two dopes weren't the worst thing ever perpetrated on the LOST-viewing audience apart from Claire's mom's acting "skills." Miles talked to the dead star-crossed lovers and found out they had a stash of diamonds buried with them.

- My theory from more than a season ago, that Richard Alpert came on the Black Rock originally, was finally confirmed in this episode and I want an "atta boy". Please. It's all I have.

- Richard said Jacob touched him, and that it was that act that made him "special." Is that why they made such a point of showing Jacob touch Sayid, Hurley, the Kwon's (what, no love for Bpo-Bpo), Kate, Sawyer, and Locke in the Season Finale last year? Is his magic caress the thing that separates the candidates from the Yemi's?

- Hurley asked Richard if, in light of his inability to age, he was a cyborg. If, as some suggest, this is an allusion to The Terminator series, then I am happy. The first Terminator is one of the best action/science fiction movies of all-time. In that first installment the cyborg (a young, buxom Arnold) comes back in time to kill the mother of the man who will one day lead the revolt against the cyborgs. In T 2: Judgment Day, Arnold returns as the same cyborg who must now protect John Connor, and eventually is willing to sacrifice himself to end the future human-cyborg war. Is this a foreshadowing of what will happen to Richard? Will he make some grand gesture and sacrifice himself for the salvation of these castaway strangers?

- As a student of all things political, I couldn't pass up making a comment about the Machiavelli reference. Here's how LOSTpedia describes its usage in the episode:

Principal Reynolds compares Ben to this 16th century diplomat and political philosopher, known for his cunning and deceitful manipulations. The Prince, his best known work, describes ways that a ruler can control his people. He recommends, among other things, that the prince should be a public figure above reproach, whilst privately acting amorally to achieve his goals. He also notes that sometimes good outcomes happen even though evil deeds are performed

That's all I got for now. Sorry this one took so long to post. I'll have Recon-related material this week and then try and get caught up next weekend. This upcoming episode on Tuesday night is entitled "Ab Aeterno" which is Latin for....something...but looks to be quite a doozy. Richard's story finally told!

See you in the funny papers.


My Apologies

On behalf of all of us here at John Locke's Pants, I want to apologize for not posting anything last week for Dr. Linus. I do have something almost complete for that episode and should have my thoughts on Recon ready soon as well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Sun Goes Down On Sayid


I see it around me
I see it in everything
I could be so much more than this

I said my goodbyes
this is my sundown

I'm gonna be so much more than this

With one hand high
you'll show them your progress
you'll take your time
but no one cares

I need you to show me the way from crazy
I wanna be so much more than this

-This Is My Sundown (Jimmy Eat World)

Are you liking these songs that relate to LOST episodes as much as I am recalling them from memory? Good. I knew you would.

I was so happy to learn that this week's Sayid-centric tale, Sundown, had nothing to do with Sun. Well, I guess if we want to play Two Degrees of Sun Kwon, Sayid did bump into a bound-and-gagged Jin in the kitchen of a mobster's restaurant. (That mobster being Keamy of The Boat People from Season 4). But this was Sayid's story through-and-through. The troubled Iraqi seems unable to escape his troubled past, both on and off the island.

Another thing he can't seem to escape is a troubled relationship with his Iraqi dame Nadia. The episode started in the alternate-reality world where Oceanic Flight 815 landed safely at LAX and Sayid hopped a cab to what turned out to be his brother Omer's home in suburban Los Angeles. Omer, the brother who Sayid had to kill a chicken for when they were children, is married to Nadia, the woman Sayid feels he does not deserve. Yet again Omer needs Sayid the Chicken Strangler to strangle the chicken named Keamy who is picking on (extorting) poor Iraqi immigrant entrepreneurs who just want to expand their dry cleaning businesses. I wonder what the ACLU would have to say about this?

So Omer is scared and in need of Sayid's help, and Nadia is sad and in need of Sayid's affection. Quite a situation we got here.

As I watched the episode unfold, and saw the off-island Sayid reject his brother's requests to put a hurtin' on his extort-ers, I thought we were witnessing a brand new Sayid. A changed man. A man who would be able to make a fresh, new start. But as I thought more about (and saw the end scenes where he killed the bad guys), nothing has changed with this alternate Sayid. He said he was traveling the world as a translator for oil contracts, and had pushed Nadia into the arms of his own brother. Guilt is his middle name. But he's not even serious about dealing with his guilt. Last year we saw Sayid trying to escape his guilt by building houses in the Dominican Republic. This time he's globe-trotting. Banging a hammer and living abroad won't fix anything. Just like shooting everyone Ben Linus tells you to shoot won't bring back your dead wife. My point with all of this is simply to reinforce just how messed up Sayid is. The change he needs isn't of scenery, but of heart.

The whole off-island, alternate reality story-line is still largely a mystery to me (and I assume you as well), so I don't have a ton of theories or thoughts on the larger meaning of what went down in Los Angeles this week. It was cool that they brought Keamy back, and he's still the unsavory character we remembered him to be. What complicates things is who he had in his freezer: Jin. Jin and Sun were flying to Los Angeles so that Jin could deliver a watch on behalf of Sun's dad, Mr. Paik. The question then becomes, "Was Keamy the person the original watch was going to? Or is this new alternate reality changed that as well?" I also wonder if we won't find out in the near future that Keamy is working for someone...someone named Charles Widmore, just as he was in Season 4.

But the heart of this episode, and the place where some real theorizing and parsing can take place, is on the island...where the original Sayid has been resurrected from the dead for a purpose.

Sayid confronts Dogen The Drunk Driver in his inner lair and demands some answers as to why he was tortured and then almost murdered. Dogen fills him in on the fact that every man has a scale upon which good and evil are balanced. This, philosophically speaking, is often referred to as dualism. Sayid's scales, like the one Flocke took a white rock off of in Jacob's cliff-cave a few episodes back, have tipped towards the dark side. But were they tipped before he was shot, died, and rose again? Or was this reincarnation of his next to the dirty Temple pool what made him poison-worthy?

Which brings me to an aside on Claire...I think she died in Season 4 when Keamy and the Boat Mercanaries (which included Omar, the guy who made Sayid get in the car to go see Keamy in this week's episode) blew up the Othersville yurt she was sleeping in. If you remember, Sawyer went to get here, the house was hit with a rocket launcher, and she was found under a pile of rubble. Soon after that she wandered off in the middle of the night with Flocke (who was posing as Christian Shepard back in those days), never to be seen again...until she lured Jin into one of her bear-traps in the jungle 3 years later. If Sayid was raised from the dead by Flocke for the purposes of helping him do whatever it is he's doing now that the Temple's been pillaged, perhaps Claire was as well. Maybe she died from that rocket launcher and was resurrected like Sayid to be one of Flocke's disciples.

Getting back to Sayid and Dogen awkwardly fighting...

Wow, was that fight scene one fight scene too long or what? I mean I enjoy poorly coordinated stunts as much as the next blogger, but that was brutal (and dragged on brutally long).

The end result of the superfulous tussle is Sayid's temporary banishment, which lasts all of about 4 minutes. That is because Claire and Flocke are at that moment standing outside of the Temple (outside of a circle of ash), agreeing that Claire will go inside and give Dogen the message that Flocke wants to speak with him. The circle of ash is the same kind that was around "Jacob's" cabin in Season 3, and that Bram put around himself in Jacob's lair when Flocke killed him and his friends in this season's premiere episode. But later, when Flocke crashes the Temple party, has the circle of ash been broken? What was really keeping him out? Was it Jacob?

When Dogen is later murdered by Sayid in the same pool of water Dogen had Sayid drowned in, Lennon says to Sayid "He was the only thing keeping him out." So was it Dogen who had the power to keep Flocke out? It must have been because Dogen is the one Sayid was sent in to kill, and the one Claire was sent in to lure out.

What then was the purpose of waiting until Sundown to infiltrate the Temple? Just for show? Is there something in "the rules" about the time of day (or cover of night) that Flocke has to adhere to?

Sayid went out to kill Flocke for Dogen originally, and did in fact stab him, despite it being after Flocke had talked. It was later apparent that Dogen sent Sayid out there hoping Flocke would kill him, and it was at this point that our favorite Iraqi had had just about enough of the New Others and decided to accept the alluring terms of Flocke's deal: You kill Dogen, get me in the Temple...and I bring back Nadia.

Raise your hand if you think Sayid's being conned? Even if Nadia does reappear for him, she'll be nothing more than the Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: a farce. Flocke's promise of having "whatever it is you want" is as empty as Christian Shepard's casket. And I think Sayid knows it. He's simply too far gone to care any more. The years of torturing, the years of running, the loss of his beloved Nadia (in the real world) have culminated with a Sayid who no longer wishes to fight the dark side of his nature. He's a defeated, broken man, and Flocke knows it.

By the way, if for some reason you were thinking that Dogen's warning to plunge the dagger into Flocke's heart before he spoke meant anything (or was true), you're wrong. It was another con on the most con-ridden island this side of Cuba.

Sayid is sent back to kill Dogen and warn the New Others that at "sundown" Smokey Flocke is going to raise hell in the Temple and kill all those who try to remain.

Meanwhile, a contingent among the New Others, led by the stewardess Cindy, decide to take Flockey Smoker at his word and remove themselves from the premises. Flocke does his thing (in one of the cooler scenes in LOST's history) and wreaks havoc in Temple, leaving bodies, hopes, and dreams strewn about the decimated landscape. I LOVED the shot of Kate hanging on the rope ladder with Creeper Claire in the Silence of the Lambs pit as the Smoke Monster went zooming by overhead.

He re-takes the form of Flocke and leads the New New Others, along with Kate, Claire, and Sayid, off into the jungle...allegedly to "leave the island." Flocke insists he will only kill those who won't listen to him, and that this new group of people who came out of the Temple before sundown is safe, but somehow I highly doubt that. If the numbers we saw at the Lighthouse mean that all of those people are "candidates", then everyone on that island needs to be killed. (That is of course assuming that Flocke has to whack each of the candidates to be totally free.)

The mischievously devious smiles that Claire and Sayid had on their faces when coming out of the Temple were priceless. That is actually tough acting to convey a complete turnaround in character with nothing more than slow motion, knowing glances. Another priceless look, from the king of priceless looks, was Ben's when he tried to convince Sayid to follow them out of the Temple through Hurley's secret tunnel. It was "too late" for Sayid. He'd already sold his soul to the Tasmanian devil who was at that moment pile-driving helpless New Others on to the jungle floor.

So we are left with two different groups heading out into the jungle for two very different purposes. Ilana, Lapidus, Ben, Miles, and Sun are off to find Jack, Hurley, and Sawyer. Flocke, Sayid, Claire and the rest of the New Others are supposedly going to "leave" the island. (Perhaps in body bags, but not in actuality.) I think both groups are actually heading to the Lighthouse and Flocke is going to try and meet up with whoever it is that is coming to the island (like Jacob told Hurley last week).

Random Thoughts/Theories:

-The Temple massacre had a "purge-like" feel to it. A clean sweep of those who stand in opposition to Flocke. The original purge was Ben's idea, and also was a clean sweep of the Dharma peeps who did not care about Ben or give him the respect he thought he deserved.

-In the on-going debate as to who is good and who is bad on the island between Jacob and Smokey the Monster, another piece of evidence was thrown our way this week. Before Claire went into the Temple, she asked Flocke if he was going to hurt the people inside. Flocke responded with "Only the ones who won't listen." It would be a hard sell to convince me that this is the statement/actions of a "good" being. Flocke is child-like in his pettiness and scorn. We keep hearing that he wants to kill every living thing on the island.

-The promise Flocke made to Sayid (that he could see Nadia again) echoes the talk of some "magical box" that Ben tried to sell John Locke on back in Season 3. It also made me think of two events that fit into the bigger mystery of who Jacob is and what he has been doing on the island all this time. Ben also promised Juliet that her sister could be cured of cancer if she would stay and continue to try and help Others get preggers. Jacob, we found out this week, made a similar promise to Dogen about his son. How in the world can the guy cure cancer? He's gotta be an angel, right?

-Cindy the Aussie Stewardess, among others of the New Others, were convinced by Sayid's sales pitch as to why they should leave with Flocke. Sayid, speaking for Flocke, said something to the effect of, "If Jacob's dead then you are free and don't need to be here any longer." They bought this. Why? Was everything riding on Jacob?

-Assuming that the Others were recruited by Jacob, did all he have to say to them is, "I'm looking for candidates to replace me as the island's aren't one of's probably this spinal surgeon or wheel-chair bound bald guy with daddy issues or this fat chicken-loving's a whole thing...but would you mind wearing weird island garb and and whispering in the jungle and being extra spooky and mysterious for a number of years? Oh, and btw, if I get stabbed by my enemy, this entire plan is shot to H, so keep that in mind."

-All the talk of scales and "good vs. evil" in Sayid's nature ties in to the statue on the island. The statue is a representation of the Egyptian God Anubis, who is referenced in The Book of the Dead. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

A writing of Egyptian origin that described their belief of the afterlife and the trials that awaited the deceased. One of the trials, conducted by the jackal-headed god Anubis, involved weighing the deceased’s heart on the scale of Maat, counterbalanced by the feather of Truth. Only if the heart was lighter than the feather (i.e. not weighed down with evil) could the soul move to the reward of the afterlife. In this episode, Dogen explains to Sayid that every man has a scale and that his (Sayid’s) scale is "tipped the wrong way."

-I wondered what the symbol Ilana and Hurley both used to find an escape tunnel out of the Temple meant, and it is something called the Shen Ring. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Shen Ring is almost always carried by the god Horus (sounds like Horace). The Shen ring is an ancient Egyptian symbol of eternity and protection. In ancient Egypt, the Shen Ring also represents dual concepts of time; the cyclic line of periodicity and lineal time (into infinity).

-How many times does "Catch A Falling Star" have to be sung on LOST before we take more notice of it. Either the writers/director just love it, or its lyrics have a deeper meaning for the show (or clue to what it all means...or at least what Claire's story is all about). I will have more theories on this next week.

That's the blog this week, folks. For more commentary, here's Doc Jensen's LOST column at Entertainment Weekly's website.

Next week's episode is entitled "Dr. Linus" and we all know what that means.

Until then,

John Locke's Fake Pants