Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Talk to the Flocke: Reactions to the "Lost" Episode "The Substitute"

First off, can I get a hallelujah from the congregation?! Now that...THAT my friends, is an episode from the final season of "Lost." We got forward momentum, we got great performances, we got some answers (I think), and it was all handled in well-paced, well-conceived ways. If last week was a dud of an episode that earned a C-, this is a straight-up A for me. The best episode in the last 2 years, easy. It gave me the "Lost tingles," where you sit up and go "NO WAY!" It's my favorite part about the show and something it's been able to do from the beginning. Misstep forgiven, Season 6 is in full mother-truckin' effect, yo.

So much to discuss, so let's dive in.

Things I liked

Well, damn near everything, but let's start at the top.
  • Terry O'Quinn's performance: Sometimes, I feel bad for Terry. Before Michael Emerson got there, Locke was the shiz-nitty on the show. He was the only guy that got people's juices going. Now, Ben is the talk of the town, and Locke is a kind of afterthought. Eff that. O'Quinn proved with both a tender but never cheesy flash-sideways and his creepy but never mustache twirling evil island experience that he is still in the conversation for best actor on the best show on TV.
  • Richard being a pussy: How great was that, really? Mr. Mysterious. Mr. "I know things." Mr. "I'm immortal and wise." Mr. "OMG, PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!" It was the perfect thing needed to convince us of the power of the Man in Black. They may try to rope-a-dope us still and make it so that technically Flocke/MiB/Smokey is not an out-and-out bad guy, but he soooo is. And it was Richard that drove that point home for me.
  • Sawyer's not crying anymore: Dudes and dudettes, I like Josh Holloway. I really do. I think he's talented. I did not buy his crying crap in the last episode, and am MYSTIFIED at people who claim it was well done. His dialogue was crap and he did the whole "my eyes are crying but I'm stoic" face. It wasn't good, y'all. This episode, though, I at least see WHY they did what they did to Sawyer. Making him go through EPIC pain (twice, in fact, since they killed Juliet last season and again this one) was meant to show us that he was in a spot where he could be corrupted. He was on his way to being a leader, a hero almost...only to fall right back into the clutches of the Man in Black. Nice.
  • "He's recruiting:" It's my personal "Ethan's not on the manifest." It sent chills down my soul. Here's our war, folks. Here's our sides finally being drawn. Flocke has Sawyer (for now), he's "claimed" Sayid, and potentially Claire. I can't breathe I'm so excited for what's coming.
  • The final scene in the cave: It was pure perfection. We'll cover more of it in the "answers" section but...WOOO HOOO! Now THIS is "Lost!!!"
Things I didn't like

Not a whole lot really, but a few things:
  • Story switching: I don't need to spend a TON of time on every storyline, but touch them all in an episode so we don't forget about it. Show us the Claire scene at the end, go back to the temple for a flash...those things would be great.
  • Burial: I get the symbolism of "old Locke" being buried while "flash sideways" Locke is deciding to really live. I also didn't need ANOTHER scene of people getting buried...although Ben's eulogy did kind of rule, so it's no biggie.
  • Sun is useless: She hasn't done a thing of worth in 2 years. I thought she was on her way to being a vital character with the Widmore angle. Turns out, she's the new Walt/Claire. "Where's Jin? GIVE ME BACK MY HUSBAND!"
Character Stuff
  • Locke rules, either way: Although not as heartbreaking as some of his other flashes off-island, I loved the version of Locke we were given. I was against the idea that the flash-sideways represented something "good" for awhile there. But now we know that Locke isn't just getting married, he's coming to grips with himself and embracing life in a confident, realistic way in the flash-sideways. Just like we found out Kate is innocent (or may be innocent) in this new timeline, the concern on everyone's minds is "how are all of these things changed? Did blowing up the island really do all of this?" But for me, character wise, it's about weighing where they are better off. After this episode, I'm beginning to believe maybe they ARE better off not on the island.
  • Sawyer evolves: Actually, that's more like DE-volves. I love that we saw him go from selfish con man to begrudging leader to heroic family man back to selfish nihilist. I think he has one more act of redemption in him, but this was cool.
  • Richard pees a little: I loved this, as mentioned above. I think Richard is a little more fleshed out now that he's all cowardly lion.

Big ones, as far as I'm concerned. We'll deal with the questions they bring up in the "Reflections" segment.
  • The numbers: I know there are fancier explanations that have happened off-the-show, but as far as I'm concerned, they answered that mystery for the TV audiences last night. The numbers are the people we've come to know as being "on Jacob's list." That's the point of the show (we'll get to that in a minute). Locke = 4, Reyes = 8, Ford = 15, Jarrah = 16, Shepherd = 23, and Kwon = 42. There's your answer. Why do the numbers have power? Because those PEOPLE have power. They're "the candidates."
  • The Candidates/The Rules: Okay, so we know that the Man in Black wants to go home. We know now that he can't go without the man in white, who is charged with being the protector of the island. Jacob was the man in white. He refused to leave. So the Man in Black killed him and looked to replace him with one of the candidates he COULD convince to leave. In this case, Sawyer. This is the show. The two semi-immortal figures, Jacob and MiB, have been trying to bring candidates to the island to replace themselves in order to leave. Jacob insists that the person who takes over for him be dedicated to protecting the island (likely, Locke would have been a good choice, which is why MiB killed him). They feud over the replacements for centuries until the MiB has enough and kills him. Awesome, awesome stuff.

Here's where things get awesome:

First up, props to smart friends and loved ones:
  • My wife rules: She instantly yelled out, "NO KATE!" She's right. Each number corresponds to a "candidate." Kate's name isn't on that list. Whoa.
  • My cousin rules: His theory is interesting too. James claims that the cave isn't shared by Jacob but is solely the property of the Man in Black. Would that make the list on the wall candidates, or a hit list with dead names scratched out. Remember, Richard said "he wants to kill you and everyone you love." Interesting.
  • Hurley?: My friend Ben (not the psychotic killer who happens to be a European History teacher) and his wife, Lori, believe that Hurley may be taking on a Jacob-like role in the Flash-sideways. Might this suggest HE is the actual "candidate" to replace Jacob? I love this idea. We always argue "Jack's the leader" or "Locke will lead" or even "Ben will do it." What about Hurley? More than comic relief indeed.
  • Aaron?: Was the boy on the island that Flocke and Sawyer saw Jacob? Or...was it Aaron, the replacement for Jacob. Yeah, this show may actually come together. Follow this: Jacob wants to find a replacement candidate. He wants his people, the others, to have babies. Man in Black doesn't want this. He wants to pick his own replacement for Jacob that he can manipulate. He does something scientific or magical to prevent Jacob's people from having babies. Fine, so Jacob starts looking for candidates in the real world, off-island. Enter Aaron, who if he is "raised by ANOTHER (as in the Man in Black)" will be evil. Cool?!
  • Threat: The Man in Black insists that there is no threat to the island, but we know there is. Sure, it could be a volcano or something, but what if the threat is ALWAYS a person. A different person in every time period, but in this one, we know him as Widmore. Betrayed and cast out, he wants to destroy the island, not protect it?! This whole show can actually come together. I can't believe it.
I know you know how much this rules if you've taken the time to read all of this. I just want to watch the show every minute of every day. I can't WAIT for next week, although be prepared for a slower episode. That's just how they roll. I hope I'm surprised though. What a good week! Share your thoughts however you desire, but share them dammit!

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Blogger Smooth J. said...

One of my favorite parts of the episode was in the cave when Flocke retrieved the white stone from the scale and tossed it into the ocean. Seriously, Flocke CANNOT be good. I like him - but he's one evil SOB.

February 17, 2010  
Anonymous Aaron B. said...

Barry was thinking that the Kwon had to be Jin, then all of the "candidates" would be male. I'd like to take another look and see if some of the names we don't focus on are the survivors but still crossed off.

February 17, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dude, did that bird just say my name? According to DVD subtitles, the answer is yes for both appearances of the Hurley bird. Hmmm.

Also, I like the idea that Kwon is for Ji Yeon. Lost Babies!

Great reactions!

February 17, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great thoughts about Hurley...we've already seen him in sideways world as a confident, compassionate leader as well as modest (re: sitting in coach in LA X)

My coworker pointed out that the character focuses of each episode this season has followed the order of season one so far. If they keep it up, that means a Charlie flashback in three weeks. Could they substitute him for a Richard flashback? Another non-s1 character?

Why do you think that Flocke can't leave the island without Jacob/Jacob's replacement? Do you think the idea of two people manning the swan hatch was a big metaphor for Jacob/MiB all along?

Thanks for the great post!

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

First off, good point on the island misogyny, Aaron; thanks for the love and Hurleybird reminder, Heather; and really interesting points, Anon. I think the Charlie episode slot will be filled by Richard...or Ben. I think the metaphor about the Swan hatch is brilliant. Someone pointed out that Desmond's "riddle" about the "snowman" mirrored the "riddle" about the shadow of the statue. Looking for a replacement may have been a big theme all along. Now, as to WHY I think Flocke can't leave alone...I don't know who set up the rules but I bet the rules are designed that way so that no one side can decide to abandon the island entirely on their own. Meaning, if there's a "good" reason to leave, bad will want to stay, creating a balance and vice versa. I also wonder if this isn't just another way to trap them there, knowing good and evil won't agree.

February 18, 2010  

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