Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Talk to the Flocke: Reactions to the "Lost" Episode "What They Died For"

First off, did we really ever answer what they died for? Did I blink and miss it? I mean, I heard Jacob say "Come sit down and I'll tell you what they died for" right before they went to a commercial break that, I shit you not, was welcomed by a death scream by yours truly. That was like being woken up with an ice pick. So, I'm not even being sarcastic here, I need to know if I was so overwhelmed by the moment that I've been waiting for for at least 5 years (involving Jack...we'll get there) or so blown away by the fact that I was FULL-ON engaged with the flash sideways world for the first time that I totally blanked on "what they died for." You're going to need to remind me if I did. I must have suffered some kind of temporary amnesia that can only be rectified by reuniting me with a long-lost loved one as we may or may not be about to be electrocuted, provided there's a hairy-chested useless dude around to say something like "Looks like somebody remembered important happenings from last night's episode" while smirking.

In case you couldn't tell by my jaunty attitude and flippant remarks, last night's episode was a slam-dunk for me. It was hands down my favorite episode of the season, as for the first time from start to finish I really don't have a single complaint. I'm sure I'll think of one, because I'd hate to leave a whole column blank.

Before we dive in, two things: (1) They answered a key question that I'd been tossing around for awhile now with various people without really drawing our attention to it (YAY FOR RESTRAINT ON THE PART OF THE WRITERS). Remember how Jacob's "people" committed the purge? Well for a long time, I couldn't figure out how that would ever be warranted, how GENOCIDE could ever be supported by the "good guy." Well, we know now that the Dharma peeps were getting close to the island's heart light (thanks Neil Diamond) and had to be stopped. It's not the best way to do things, perhaps, but remember that they had specific places they were told they couldn't go. They past them and were killed, just like the nameless Mother protector of the island did to the people the Man in Black was with. Yay for answers! (2) A friend of mine sent me a link to a site that had nothing but clips of Claire yelling about her "BAHYBEE" and "CHARLEEE." You should go here and laugh a lot.

I'm still angry at Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for their attitude and decisions recently (Evangeline, show them my rage).

But this episode represented all that is "Lost" to me in a nutshell. People will disagree and tell me I'm exaggerating, but I mean this. Because of the work that it did bringing me back in for the finale, because of the moment it had with Jack, because it was perhaps the best paced episode in the show's history, I'm going to say it: This episode makes my top 5 all time for the show. Ya-boo baby, I loved it. So, let's get into some specifics and let me see if I can convince you of its greatness.

Things I liked
  • Jack the hero - Wow. I am man enough to tell you that I got seriously choked up during Jack's willingness to stand up and declare his commitment to the island. That last test, when he said "This is what I'm meant to do" and Jacob asked "Was that a question" and Jack shook his head no...wow. Without knowing it was a life sentence (really, a many-life sentence) to protect the island, Jack has come to know that he is meant for something great. For all the missteps that the show has taken at times, it has presented a meaningful character who has truly evolved as the show went on. Props to Matthew Fox and all the writers for really making a sincerely worthy flawed hero. I hope he gets an Emmy nomination for this one.
  • Jacob the vanishing - Now, I don't know the ins and outs of how and why Jacob needed to burn the last of the ash to be fully dead. My theory about the kid is that it was, in fact, Jacob as a young kid. He was, in fact, being resurrected to take over again. At least, that's how I read it. I understood that the boy was Jacob aging back to Jacob age again, and that had he not burned his ashes and picked a successor, he would have been doomed to come back again and again. In fact, I think he gambled. I think had the fire burned out, he would have been gone with no protector on the island. He knew the time was right to go and that Jack would step up. Thing is, unlike the Man in Black, he didn't want to simply die or go home for the sake of being freed, we found out that Jacob has been looking for penance for his mistake. Using the cork metaphor, Jacob went from being the island protector to being the guy charged with keeping a monster he created there. For a long time, I think we thought of those two tasks as one and the same. They aren't. I think the island needed protecting, but Jacob MADE IT so that there was an evil on that island by what he did to his brother. Now they need to kill the bastard so that both brothers can rest. Here's hoping we don't get a ghost version of the two of them standing there playing a game like Anakin and Yoda playing Dejarik.
  • Sideways the interesting - How was I suddenly captivated by the sideways? Oh, right, because I can watch Ben do anything...because it felt like things were happening...because DESMOND WAS THE MAN! Seriously, how could you not enjoy the exploits of Desmond the enlightened as he set things into motion. Plus, Ben got his face beat in again. Now that's a "Lost" theme I missed. I loved the way things finally came together, that Hurley was totally, 100% in-the-know now, and that Jack and Locke are going to have to go through this last part together. I love it. I will say that I'm pretty confused as to what Desmond's plan is. What does "let go" mean? It sure seems like he doesn't mean let go of the island timeline, as he's reminding them of it. Does that mean they have to let go of this sideways world? I'm fascinated now. This doesn't forgive them making these sideways stories boring as hell for months, but this is interesting at the right time.
  • Ben the killer - Oh, I loved Ben's redemption. For the record, I think he's still on the side of the angels in this. Nobody said that him accepting his place and wanting to help people meant he had to forgive Charles Widmore for indirectly murdering his daughter. I loved that we got Widmore's intent revealed. He WAS out for the island for the wrong reasons. Then Jacob said he had to help and he believed him. I buy that. I also buy that Ben can still be a good guy doing good things but had to kill Widmore for all he had done. Redemption doesn't mean you're a saint. I love nasty Ben and it was nice to see him one more time. I will say that flash sideways Ben reminded me that I need to follow Michael Emerson in whatever his next project is. I could watch him in a romantic comedy, I swear to you. I could watch him do anything. Those moments with Danielle were just great. Also, weird prediction, I think he's going to be a problem when it comes time to "let go" because he so deeply loves what's happening in that alternate reality.

    I really could go on and on here. I could go on about how much I loved the frantic pace of the episode, how it spelled out exactly what it is they need to do from here on the island (they have to kill Smokey), how Sawyer apologized, how Kate grabbed Jack's hand while stitching her up and leaned her head on Sawyer's shoulder a scene later, how Jacob reminded everyone to stop bitching about their lives being mucked up since they were crap, how he explained Kate's name on the wall being crossed out (don't bitch, it was a great explanation). I could go on and on and on. This was in some ways The Empire Strikes Back episode of "Lost" to me. The show had to put the worst case scenario forward (only instead of being captured in carbonite, their friends were dead), it had to set up the stage for the final conflict, and it had to move briskly as the middle piece. It was damn near perfect.

Things I didn't like

  • I thought Richard deserved better. Widmore didn't, but Richard did. They could have at least showed his body.
Answers
  • Jack is the new island protector - To all of you who said Jack wouldn't be the choice: Nanny. Nanny. Boo. Boo. It may be obvious, but it was also earned. There are some out there saying he may not STAY the protector for long. You may be right. I just want it on record that he was "the one."
  • The boy is Jacob - We DEFINITELY know that now.
  • Widmore's intent - He was good, then he was bad, then he was good again. Now he's dead. Sadface.
  • Desmond ain't killin - How he knew Locke wouldn't DIE when he ran him over, I'll never know. But we can now confirm he wasn't trying to kill Locke but help him "let go."
  • Kate's name - She was a candidate! She was only crossed off because she was a mother.
  • Chosen for a reason - Presumably everyone brought to the island was brought there as a potential replacement, but only one stuck. They were all chosen because their lives were flawed but they had great promise. I like this.

There may be more, but I don't remember. Help a brother out.

Reflections
Killing in the name of - Hey, you know what would have helped our heroes out...if Jacob mentioned how they could kill the MiB (oh, AND HIS FRIGGIN' NAME). I like that this is the plan, but I have no idea how it will be achieved. My gut says that all they can really do is try to send the MiB into the cave one more time, but I'm not sure that will work. Other than that, who knows yo.
Jack the mighty - "Now you're like me." Whoa. Are we going to see Jack zapping around in the past touching people? Are we going to see him with crazy powers on the island now? He can make people live forever...is he going to touch Kate? I know I would touch Kate. Yes, I meant that exactly how it sounded.
Sideways convergence - I could not be more excited to see where Desmond's plan leads. Also, I can't wait until we see him on the island again. Where is he? He's the "fail safe?" Will he explode then? I'm guessing that him being "immune to electromagnetism" means that when Smokey goes Smokey he can't hurt Desmond. I like this. I can't wait to see this play out.

Okay, so I give the episode an A. A straight-up awesome A. Now for some housekeeping. I'll be back on Friday to this subject, giving predictions for the end of "Lost." Then, on Monday, I'll be wrapping things up. We'll revisit this from time to time, it's not going to end here. Let's just all rejoice in the fact that this finale seems to be poised to deliver exactly what I wanted. I honestly can't remember a ton of questions I still want addressed, so they've hidden that well. I mean, other than the whole "why, God, why do you think it's cool to hide the Man in Black's name" question. Anyway. Get to discussin' folks, time is short!

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I re-watched the episode again yesterday, and noted that in both the Sideways and Island timelines, someone told Jack they were, essentially, ready to get out of their chair. Jacob is stepping down from this "throne" as Island Protector, and Locke wants out of his wheelchair.

Also, any theories as to what Jack's recurrent bloody neck wounds mean? If memory serves, he is the only one to have had such wounds when he looks in the mirror- everyone else has just stared at themselves, right? Think it means that something is just "wrong" and that Jack doesn't belong in that Sideways world?

May 20, 2010  

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