Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Talk to the Flocke: Reactions to the "Lost" episode "The Last Recruit"

What an odd, odd episode. While it was unspooling in front of me, I liked it. I liked it a lot. Then some moments started to sink in. I started discussing them with my brain trust. Then, suddenly, I didn't like some of this episode. Basically, the parts that worked, worked well; the parts that didn't...boy did they piss me off.

Because it doesn't fit directly into my preset categories, let's take a minute to discuss the storytelling choices that are being made.

Do not fool yourselves into thinking that making this show is an easy job. I am about to embark on my first endeavor to plot a single script, and I'm fairly intimidated (okay, reaaaaallly intimidated). I cannot imagine juggling a billion characters, pacing out a concept based on the scheduling whims of a network, and trying to resolve tons of mysteries that you likely only created because you had to keep going. I get it. It's hard. The creators and writers of this show, along with the directors, have done nothing more than create the single most brilliant television program I've ever seen. I have tons of respect and admiration for every artist involved.

That said...

The pace is a joke right now. With only 5 hours of the show left (3 new episodes and a 2-hour finale), you have another "moving pieces into place" episode?!?!?! The argument from some of the creators that "some of the mysteries are intentionally going to be left for the audience to consider" is total horseshit. We all know that, right? They either don't have an answer for them or the answer would be so convoluted or unacceptable that they're bailing on that particular mystery. Instead, they're stalling by moving characters around. Don't tell me we needed another episode in the flash sideways where characters slowly met one another. You could have EASILY had all of the characters at the hospital at one time and used this "watch people slowly move into position" time to explain some of the little questions that would make your audience happy. I get that the creators have earned the right to do whatever they want. By and large, I've loved what they've done with the place. Still, this is our show, too. To see time being wasted on Claire meeting Jack in the sideways (or on Claire in general), on Kate and Sawyer feeling each other out again, on Sayid going home to tell Nadia he's leaving AGAIN...it's horseshit. On the island, it's the same story. You bring everyone together to split them apart again? You couldn't have conceived of a way to get Jack to go to Locke's camp without having to bring everyone together and then split everyone apart again? It's not good use of time no matter how you cut it, and for the creators to callously say that it is really irks me. Just admit that it's hard to accomplish things and leave it at that.

Once again, it's a testimony to my love of this show that I care deeply enough to probe every issue with the attention aliens pay to rural citizens' anuses. I'm not giving up on it. I am, in fact, going to deal with the choices made to leave some mysteries alone. I am so excited at the prospect of the final episodes that I'm crestfallen next week isn't a new episode. I just wish they'd have figured out how to better use their time.

Anyway, enough of that. Let's get to the meat and potatoes. Here are my reactions to the "Lost" episode "The Last Recruit."

Things I liked
  • Hail the conquering hero - Jack is clearly on the last leg of his heroic evolution. Having gone from flawed "I WILL FIX YOU" man to desperate "WE HAVE TO GO BACK" weirdo beardo to this calm, resolved figure who goes so far as to ASK HURLEY if it's okay if he talks to Locke, Jack is proving himself to be different. When he jumped off the boat, I wasn't surprised. The hero must tend to the last quest solo. Them's the breaks. For everyone who has tried to focus more on the minor characters, remember that Jack is the center of the show and always has been.
  • Boom goes the airstrikes - It's nice to see a ramping up of action. Seeing as how we've been dealing with ghosts and monsters for so long, we have to feel some threat of physical danger if we're going to have a suspenseful ending. Already that's going to be tough because we don't know what world is "real" and whether or not these characters can really "die," but having explosions and guns everywhere is a nice way to prompt us to consider the potential for death and destruction.
  • Flocke vs Jack - We'll get to how much I hated what was said between the two in a minute, but the dynamic between these actors is fire. Seriously, the eyes they give one another, the crackle in their voices...the little things like the way Jack refused to sit across or even stand near Flocke, he just crouched with his rifle in his hand...just awesome. We're seeing the good guy versus the bad guy, and it's sweet as hell that they meet over and over again.
  • It's him - It's been awhile (as in about 3-4 episodes) since someone said something that chilled my spine. When Sun rolled over and saw Locke and yelled "it's him," I peed a little. I think we'll get some stalled cop-out answer where she knows him from someplace in the sideways world, but I hope not. I hope we flat out get the crossover through John Locke. Does anybody else get the feeling like with as much as Flocke was mocking John Locke's role and faith that we're going to see him proved right? That every time he called him a "sucker" or "stupid" it only increased the chances that somehow Locke still has a heroic role to play in all of this?
Things I didn't like
  • Ladies and gentlemen, the worst line of dialogue in "Lost" history - "Looks like someone got her voice back." Way to shit on a moment that has taken more than 2 years to come. Seriously, it's been more than 2 years since we've waited for Sun and Jin to FINALLY reunite. They travel across time, battle death and demons, and never give up hope of finding their love...and we get 2 seconds of them hugging, a throwaway line about how they'll never be apart again (IN ENGLISH mind you), and we get slapped in the face with the wet piece of crap line of dialogue like "Looks like someone got her voice back." And THAT was the reason she lost her voice? From a writing standpoint, THAT was the idea?! Wow. Epic. Epic. Epic. Fail.
  • Nobody killed Claire - It was right there. She had them at gunpoint! She was threatening them! Finally, we had a moment when she could have been offed legitimately, thus achieving my greatest "Lost" dream! WHY DID NO ONE SHOOT HER?!?!!
  • Desmond's in the well...still - He's not dead. Nobody think he's dead. You don't kill off a fan favorite character who you built up as a huge player in the climax of the season to kill him offscreen. He's alive. I'll go a step further. He's alive and out of the well. Sayid didn't just not kill him, I think he freed him. Were it not for the great acting of both men in that scene, I would have started laughing. Why is Sayid the killing machine even listening to Desmond? He has no feelings anymore! Laughable really.
  • Christian is the MiB? Say what now? - Nope. I don't buy it. I refuse to accept this. It's not just because I've wanted so badly for the character of Christian to mean something. It's not because I personally have had a stake in how this goes. It's that it doesn't work. Why would the Man in Black have posed as Christian and said and done the things he said and did? Why tell Locke "say hi to my son for me?" Why tell Michael "you can go now?" Here are the big questions: How can this be possible when we know that the MiB can't leave the island and yet HE APPEARED ON THE FREIGHTER? How can this be possible if we were told that the MiB was "trapped in Locke's body" yet at the same time the MiB was walking around as Flocke, Christian showed up to talk to Lapidus and Sun? I could go on and on and on. There are two choices and two choices only: (1) Flocke is lying or (2) the writers biffed this one up. I pray for 1.
Answers

  • Christian = MiB - See above.

That's it. That's all we got. Nobody said or did anything revealing beyond that.

Reflections

  • Hope springs eternal - I do like the Jack storyline. Him going from "The Last Recruit" in this episode to "The Candidate" in the next is promising. I have faith that we're going to at least have a satisfying conclusion to things like "who is the next Jacob," "what are the rules," "who is that boy on the island," and "what's the point of all this." It's just that those are mostly THIS season's questions. It's like everything that got brought up in seasons 2-5 don't matter. Season 1 and season 6 have all the meat. It proves that they really only had 2 seasons thought out, as they've kind of hinted at from the beginning. Still, I've had such a great time that if they make THOSE answers satisfying, I probably will accept it.
  • Jacob come back - Where'd he go? We should see more of him soon, I hope.
  • Sayid's return - I thought we lost him, but I think he's going to do what I thought Sawyer was going to do. I think Sayid will die in some redemptive fashion, shocking the MiB and proving Jacob right: men can be good.

Overall, I'd give this episode another B. It had a B+ until I thought about the Christian stuff more. Man does that piss me off. With no new episode next week, I'll probably only spend one day really writing about "Lost." That's okay. My hands hurt from all the typing.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Andrew said...

I was pretty positive on last night’s episode, some extra thoughts:
Good
– Having all of the characters in the same location really helped make this episode feel ‘big’.
– Take away Desmond’s ability to say Brotha and he just seems like another misunderstood stalker (Penny, Claire).

Whah?
– It now appears the Answers are going to be given by what I’m calling a Splainin’ Sidebar. Apparently, only one character gets answers to mysteries and only through pure exposition.
– Sun-Jin reunion was given an odd tension by will they or won’t they be fried by the gate. I don’t know that that moment needed the extra oomph.
– Who is Jack’s son’s Mom?!?! It is so mysterious! Ten bucks says it’s Christian. Twenty says it’s Bai Ling.
– Missiles are just odd on this show. Not bad, just out of place. Missiles?
– Is it just me or did the Desmond well seem a lot deeper last week? I’ve been trapped in Kiddie pools before and it’s pretty serious, but still.

April 21, 2010  
Blogger jason said...

Christian also appeared to Jack in season 5 off island in his hospital after a smoke alarm went off and got Jack's attention. epic fail indeed. The smoke alarm was a gigantic clue to who Christian really was but now doesn't add up with Smokey's nature/limitations. Any mistakes written after they chose the show's end date is inexcusable.

I also agree that they're trying to at least tie up season one stuff before the show is over, although I wonder if they're even going to bother with Walt.

WHAHH?
-another season 6 mystery: how did the sideIsland get submerged?

-The rockets didn't bother me--felt it was a nice callback to Faraday's rocket tests from season 4.

-isn't sideDesmond feeling an awful lot like off-island Jacob at this point? Except less touchy and more smiley? Or Richard, perhaps?

-When sideLocke told Ben in the ambulance that he "WAS suppose to marry Helen" I wondered if this line wasn't suppose to be a tell. It could be taken for face value-that he's near death and thinks his situation is hopeless--or that he's original timeline Locke commenting on this fact about the sideways world, or a combination of the two.

--Will someone need to take over for Jacob if they destroy MiB?

--Maybe Jack's ex is Libby? She's never picks up her phone because she's too busy with the crazy? Not likely, but Hurley needs to find his way to the hospital or the police station soon.

-the well thing bothered me too. what was the point of demonstrating how deep it was last week if that wasn't true?

-Is it kinda assumed Ben, Richard and Miles are off doing something awesome which will ultimately get them killed?

As much as I love this show, I'm gonna be kinda pissed with they don't tie up the season 2-5 Dharma stuff. That's all I want. Naming the food drop in season 2, how Dharma found the island, and who runs Dharma in present day (someone put Kelvin in there before Desmond showed up.)

April 21, 2010  
Blogger jason said...

Christian also appeared to Jack in season 5 off island in his hospital after a smoke alarm went off and got Jack's attention. epic fail indeed. The smoke alarm was a gigantic clue to who Christian really was but now doesn't add up with Smokey's nature/limitations. Any mistakes written after they chose the show's end date is inexcusable.

I also agree that they're trying to at least tie up season one stuff before the show is over, although I wonder if they're even going to bother with Walt.

WHAHH?
-another season 6 mystery: how did the sideIsland get submerged?

-The rockets didn't bother me--felt it was a nice callback to Faraday's rocket tests from season 4.

-isn't sideDesmond feeling an awful lot like off-island Jacob at this point? Except less touchy and more smiley? Or Richard, perhaps?

-When sideLocke told Ben in the ambulance that he "WAS suppose to marry Helen" I wondered if this line wasn't suppose to be a tell. It could be taken for face value-that he's near death and thinks his situation is hopeless--or that he's original timeline Locke commenting on this fact about the sideways world, or a combination of the two.

--Will someone need to take over for Jacob if they destroy MiB?

--Maybe Jack's ex is Libby? She's never picks up her phone because she's too busy with the crazy? Not likely, but Hurley needs to find his way to the hospital or the police station soon.

-the well thing bothered me too. what was the point of demonstrating how deep it was last week if that wasn't true?

-Is it kinda assumed Ben, Richard and Miles are off doing something awesome which will ultimately get them killed?

As much as I love this show, I'm gonna be kinda pissed with they don't tie up the season 2-5 Dharma stuff. That's all I want. Naming the food drop in season 2, how Dharma found the island, and who runs Dharma in present day (someone put Kelvin in there before Desmond showed up.)

April 21, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

Agree on all fronts with both of you smart boys.

Andrew
– Dead on about the Answers. It seems like the ones that the writers care about us knowing they want us to know FOR SURE. Which is why people are asking direct questions for the first time in 6 years.
– Sun and Jin's reunion may go down as the single worst moment on the show for me. Even worse than Nikki and Paolo. You wait 2 years for that?
– Juliet is obviously David's mom. She's the only option remaining.

Jason

-We will find out about the submerged island. I have no idea what that explanation may be, though.

- I don't get Jacob or Richard vibes from Desmond. Maybe a little Richard vibe, but not much. Mostly, he's just acting like he always has. Charmingly weird.

- I think you're right about the Helen comment. I swear to you, they're bringing O.G. Locke back in the hiznouse.

- Will someone need to take over for Jacob if they destroy MiB? - Good question. I think that's the easy out. How do you destroy evil? If it could be done, why wouldn't it be done already? Metaphorically, don't we need it? How do we know good if we don't know bad?

-Well be big, well be small. Well be f**king stupid. One of the major characters is trapped in a well. That's almost as dumb as having a major character bump her head and forget English, only to remember it upon seeing her true love.

- Jason, Dharma's done baby. I know it sucks. It pisses me off too, but it's done. It's pretty obvious that was footnote material that they used to pad their main story. They had a core concept then developed Dharma as filler when the show took off. They just never realized it would be a bigger hit than their main idea. Sad panda.

April 21, 2010  
Anonymous Andrew said...

-I’m not particularly sure what MiB’s plan with Desmond was, prior to Widmore’s offensive, or why it was suddenly important to have Sayid kill him in the preview for next week-last week.

-siJack’s Ex possibilities based on their call back value: Bia Ling, real world Ex, Shannon, Russo, Ana Lucia, Tina Fey-ke (Widmore’s 2nd in command).

-Is anyone from the Temple intact? Prediction: Lupedus will take 100% of Widmore’s remaining bullets, missles, lightening.

April 21, 2010  
Anonymous Andrew said...

-I’m not particularly sure what MiB’s plan with Desmond was, prior to Widmore’s offensive, or why it was suddenly important to have Sayid kill him in the preview for next week-last week.

-siJack’s Ex possibilities based on their call back value: Bia Ling, real world Ex, Shannon, Russo, Ana Lucia, Tina Fey-ke (Widmore’s 2nd in command).

-Is anyone from the Temple intact? Prediction: Lupedus will take 100% of Widmore’s remaining bullets, missiles, lightening.

April 21, 2010  
Blogger jason said...

"One of the major characters is trapped in a well. That's almost as dumb as having a major character bump her head and forget English"
-awesome.

Desmond: Guess I meant how in side-world he's doing the Jacob thing, showing up lending a hand to force fate.

Dharma: Last year I had unrealistically high hopes for the episode "The Variable," thinking it would be the perfect time to answer a ton of Dharma questions (Faraday off island in the 70s) leading up to the season finale. As wrong as I was I'm not sure why that didn't happen at some point if they chose to drop that thread.

Andrew: I'm pretty sure the temple folk are toast. That whole story arc smells like polar bear cages now.

April 21, 2010  
Anonymous Aaron B said...

I'm a fan of the whole Smokey being Christian thing, I thought it awhile back and it still makes sense to me. I really like that we can look back and see the MiB's manipulation and hand in events from the 4th episode in.

As for Michael seeing smokey-the freighter didn't move with the island but Michael's soul sure did. If this is purgatory and these souls can't move on, it'd make sense that both Michael and Smokey could return that limited space to the island.

As for Jack and Christian/smoke detector, I can't even remember that part- but perhaps Jack was so delusional and messed up (bearded-ness) that it wasn't really the MiB but an actual hallucination of his dead father telling him what he felt deep down.

April 22, 2010  

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