Sawyer and Rock

- tom moody 10-10-2006 5:52 am

Lost notes. A TV show set on an island littered with the derelict architecture of a failed utopian experiment--no way I'm not going to watch that.

Also-- I finally read Defoe's Robinson Crusoe a few years ago and I really love it. I like the Prisoner. I like Donnie Darko. I liked Tom Hanks' Castaway a lot, until the end when it refused to hammer home the conclusions about the emptiness of a modern middle class life that the rest of the movie was pointing to. (A deficiency J. Hoberman pointed out. He saw it as an inversion of Crusoe--in the Defoe story "modern industry" saves the protagonist's sanity; in the Zemeckis modern anomie can't be escaped, and is more pronounced when Hanks returns to civilization.) Lost continues in this vein, exploring the straitjackets of people's past lives in the flashbacks. The promise of a "new life on the island" in the first season is shaky because no one can shed their baggage; it's even shakier in the second because the place turns out not to be a pastoral wilderness but a failed Skinner maze.

- tom moody 10-10-2006 5:59 am

Somewhere (Wikipedia? I can't find it now) I read that the orientation film in The Swan station (AKA "The Hatch") incorporated footage from a Norwegian educational or training film and that when this became general knowledge, interest in the TV show jumped in Norway. Both orientation films (the 8 mm and the videocassette in The Pearl station) are great art direction--the whole "Biosphere," Walden II vibe is really funny to me. And of course I didn't notice that the man speaking to the camera has a different name in each film.

The season premiere introduces a new station--The Hydra, which is partly underwater. Having Jack be "broken in" in the "shark prep" chamber is brilliant. Or feels brilliant. I can't really say if it is brilliant because I have no idea what's going on.

A favorite line from last week: "I see you got yourself a fish biscuit."

Earlier favorite line: "People get conned every day, John. You needed a father figure and I needed a kidney."
- tom moody 10-10-2006 9:23 am

I thought that that was Steve Irwin squishing a crocodile with his bare hands, until I read the caption.


D and I tried to get through the first season, but only have time for nem Soprano's. I couldn't take it anymore after that crazy French lady kept electrocuting that one guy for no reason. Not that I'm squeamish about electrical torture, just overlong hammy scenes of French electrical torture.
- j in jc 10-11-2006 12:44 am

I'm trying to come up with something to say for this thread. I *love* Lost. Started watching just at the end of last season, and watched all the back episodes in just a few sittings. I couldn't stop. Still, I have no idea what is going on so it's hard for me to say much.

Sure there are some stupid things about the show, although I guess we'll all probably disagree about what is what. I thought the French woman was really interesting, for instance. I'm still hoping for a come back (or did she die?)

Mr. Eko is a cool character, and I am kind of partial to John Locke too although I will guess that most people probably don't like him.

I was a little disappointed at the 3rd season opener, but I'm keeping an open mind, and it's not changing my opinion of the show yet. Keeping them all locked up is making me want to kill all the Others, especially Ben, and I'm not as interested in the bluntness of that emotion compared to the more open ended psychedelic weirdness I was feeling in the past episodes. I'm sure it will keep moving though, so it's way to early to start worrying that it is falling off or anything like that.

Can't wait for the next episode.

Wikipedia has a great article that might be of use for this discussion.
- jim 10-11-2006 1:18 am

I'm going to duck out, in case I decide in 10 years that maybe Lost is worth watching.

Instead, I shall go listen to my collection of recently purchased Oasis records.
- j in jc 10-11-2006 1:26 am

I love the show too, and I'm constantly confusing it with real life.
- L.M. 10-11-2006 2:58 am

Good point about the 3rd season opener roiling vigilante emotions. But that's been building--I was pretty mad at Ethan Rom for kidnapping the pregnant woman and I may be the only person in the world who was bummed out when Michael shot Ana Lucia the cop. (Apparently she was an "unpopular character.")

I like Locke, too, but he's trying my patience. When he got down on bended knee to propose in the middle of a fight with his girlfriend--pathetic. I know it was a flashback, but...

The scriptwriters may lose me if they're winging it too much. Apparently "Henry Gale" was made into Ben because audiences liked him as a villain, and Mr. Eko's switch from building a church to pushing buttons was awfully random. Maybe that was the point.

The fact that I don't have a clue what's going to happen is good. I suppose I keep thinking we're going to learn some salient fact that makes the Others not as evil as they seem to be.

- tom moody 10-11-2006 4:49 am

I was also bummed about Anna Lucia being shot. Maybe she was an unpopular character, but thats only because she threw a monkey wrench into the jack-kate-sawyer triumverate of romance/pain that the masses enjoy. That dui probably didn't help much either.

- jmb (guest) 10-11-2006 5:24 am

I missed that she had a DUI.
As for the triumvirat, I think I like Jack's father more than Jack, even though he's fucked up.
But I do like Sawyer. The "nickname of the week" makes me laugh--he's like a funny version of Bush. Chachi, Kato, Freckles, Mr. Clean--what next?

- tom moody 10-11-2006 5:52 am

Season 3, episode 2:

"My name is Benjamin Linus (Torwald)"
--another bone to the geeks

I think it's OK now to unambiguously hate Juliet.
- tom moody 10-12-2006 7:03 am

Season 3, Episode 3

John Locke gets more pathetic with every flashback. His adventures fucking up while getting his head together at the Humboldt County hempune were priceless. We still don't know how he got in the wheelchair. I'm guessing the Island is finally going to wise him up and turn him into the leader he's capable of being, but God knows I have no basis for that guess.

Season 3, Episode 4

The Others are looking more and more like a thinly veiled version of what Gilliard calls "the space religion"--the belief system of Travolta, Cruise, et al. Benjamin Linus (Torwald) and the other Others keep calling themselves the "good guys," while practicing torture and doing heavy psych trips on people. They claim to be egalitarian but Linus still lords it over everybody.

I'm still waiting for some further reference to the colossal statue of a four-toed warrior's foot that Sayid & Co. saw on the other side of the Island.

- tom moody 10-27-2006 1:16 am

I heard an episode of NPR's "To the best of our knowledge" in which someone described Lost as being like a game. Levels, easter eggs, etc. are part of both. The easter eggs in Lost are the backstory flashbacks. The hatch represents a transition to a new level of the game.

I've never seen Lost, so I don't know how well this comparison holds up.
- mark 10-27-2006 2:11 am

Well, there is a game version of Lost, and a lot of Wikipedia backstory/sidebar info comes from there. I don't take it too seriously.

The flashbacks aren't really easter eggs, they're the guts of the show.

They are rooted in some kind of consensus reality narrative about each character (his/her life before the plane crashed on the Island), whereas the goings-on on the Island are extraordinary and fantastic, but still bear some relationship to all those back stories.

It's not a game structure--more Pulp Fiction-like scrambling the narrative sequence. The difference with typical TV dramas is long narrative arcs, spread out over many episodes. If these don't resolve I will just be pissed, because I don't have time for dungeons and dragons makin' shit up as you go along and then starting a new game.

The Hatch is now imploded so that theory doesn't work.
- tom moody 10-27-2006 2:26 am

Season 3, Episode 5 (spoilers)

They're killing off all the tailies! (What Hurley called survivors from the back half of the plane.)

Ana Lucia, Hurley's girlfriend, and now Mr. Eko!

I'm not referring to the Others but the writers. Why do they hate the tailies?

I admit I was a little tired of Eko's struggles with Catholicism, but this was harsh.

I am still not abandoning my Tempest theory, which I haven't mentioned before. The smoke monster is definitely Caliban.

I thought the leader of the Others was going to be Prospero, but Ben Linus (Torwald) is doing an increasingly miserable job of being the prince, or L Ron H, for that matter.

This leaves me with Alvar Hanso or the de Groots, who funded all the biosphere architecture on the Island, and who are still a mystery.

Based on tonight's episode, the smoke monster appears to be gnostic deity (or deus ex machina)--fickle, untrustworthy. He finessed Eko into a non-confession of his sins, then killed his ass. To Locke he appeared as a "beautiful white light."

Meanwhile, back at The Hydra, Juliet does her Bob Dylan flashcard impression for Jack. Is she still playing him? Didn't Sawyer say she was a stone cold machine?
- tom moody 11-02-2006 8:03 am

My Lonely Lost Thread...

I tune out endless discussions at w*rk by other people talking with religious fervor about the Sopranos and Deadwood, but no one watches Lost. In fact, they look at me like I'm touched when I ask if anyone's watching it.

The only non-anime TV show I've watched regularly since childhood and it's my usual monologue.


So, spoilers, spoilers.

The three month cliffhanger has Jack the MD operating on Ben the psycho Others leader. He slices open his kidney, giving Ben an hour to live and asks to talk to Kate by walkie talkie. The Others patch him through. He tells her to escape and call him within an hour with a private story that only they know.

The show ends with Kate screaming "No no I won't leave you" without telling Jack that she just learned from Sawyer that the Others' Island is like Alcatraz and there's nowhere to escape to.

It doesn't make sense, and not in a good way.

Meanwhile, Locke has seen yet *another* sign--this time something written on the late Mr. Eko's stick about facing up and looking north.

Also a good bit of the episode is devoted to establishing that Kate will not be a good mate for Sawyer (with whom she sleeps in this episode) *or* Jack the kindly doctor. Turns out she is a serial monogamist who's probable only real love is the marshall who's single mindedly pursuing her. Another good line, though: "I don't do taco night" uttered to the man she's just married and slipped a mickey to.

The show resumes in February. What kind of business strategy is a three month hiatus?

- tom moody 11-09-2006 7:43 am

Also, gratuitous teaser of the week: "Jack wasn't even on (Other) Jacob's list!"

b_flic and his roommates from NJ have had it. From IMDb comments:

Well they just LOST 3 viewers last night - my roommates and I are DONE! The Jack/Kate/Sawyer storyline is lame and has ALWAYS been lame. To focus on it for 4 out of 6 episodes is lame. Cliffhanger? Will Sawyer die? Who cares! Kill 'em all. Kate isn't EVEN hot anymore now that she's a cry-baby looking for love. Oh, and Sawyer con-man with a heart. Both characters have lost their teeth, and Jack is still annoying. Send them all home. Kill them. I don't care, just get rid of that storyline.

We'll come back when we return to Lock, Charlie, Hurley, Desmond, Sun, et al... the smoke monster's MUCH more interesting. What about Dharma. They all had Dharma scrubs! Has anyone forgotten about this.

- tom moody 11-13-2006 4:42 am

Salon's Heather Havrilesky reflects on Season 3 thus far:

And then there's ABC's "Lost" (9 p.m. Wednesdays), the show that wallows in the loserly status of its characters more than any other. Through those dreary flashbacks week after week, we learn that each of the lovely, sad characters stranded on that lovely, sad island has an incredibly tragic background, usually due to some major missteps or bad decisions he or she made along the way. Indeed, each time we return to any particular character's story, we learn that he's an even bigger loser than we originally thought he was.

Kate (Evangeline Lilly) didn't just kill her father, she also left her one true love shortly after marrying him. Not only that, she drugged her poor husband before she told him she was leaving -- for his own good, of course, so that he wouldn't lose his job as a cop when he refused to give her up -- which made the whole depressing, pathetic thing all the more depressing and pathetic. Meanwhile, Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) couldn't simply have gotten his priest brother killed. No, he also had to go back to his brother's church, interfere in the situation there, get a random villager killed and eventually ruin the church that his brother had built. Upon returning to his (comparatively) happy existence on the island, Eko scampered through the jungle and was summarily executed by the mysterious big black cloud that we hadn't seen for months.

Did the writers bring the black cloud back, along with the polar bear, simply to save face in light of criticisms that both elements of the island were central to the first few episodes of the show, then disappeared when the writers wandered into the more fruitful and interesting territory of the Dharma Initiative and the Others? Probably. But more important, why kill off Eko? Did they decide to kill him off in the Great Hatch Explosion of Season 2, but then reconsider, since, as long as they were executing the guy, they might as well squeeze a little bit more drama and sadness out of his story before they were through?

Sometimes it feels like Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Kate and Jack (Matthew Fox) aren't the only ones being tortured around here. Remember the occasional hand-holdy, strummy-music scenes at the end of some of the lighter episodes from Seasons 1 and 2? Where have all the flowers gone?

Apparently J.J. Abrams is getting a little bit more involved in "Lost" this season after not really having a hand in things since early in the first season. If that's the case, then it's clear that Abrams has a real hunger for hardship and melancholia, given the way the third season is going so far.

And someone on staff clearly hates Jack's character and wants to make him into the whipping boy for the whole island. Just as Nate of "Six Feet Under," with his whiny, self-involved musings and selfish maneuvers, suffered a slow unraveling and untimely death in the final season of the show, so does Jack seem to be painted in increasingly merciless tones and made to endure exactly those conditions that are the least bearable for a control freak like himself. In addition to being a workaholic who loves/hates his drunky daddy, in addition to being left by his wife out of the blue, we learned this season that Jack became hopeless and angry and obsessive and paranoid in the wake of his wife's departure. Since he blamed his dad for everything crappy in his life, he actually started to suspect that his wife and his dad are having an affair. As if that weren't depressing enough, Jack woke up to the relative peace and comfort of his slimy underground prison cell, only to discover that his singular hope for happiness, his love for Kate, had been snatched out of his hands by that dirty hillbilly Sawyer. This was a torturous twist for tight-assed Jack: Not only did perky Kate not love him, but she was in love with a total loser -- a vastly inferior, unkempt, unpredictable specimen whom no reasonable woman would choose over a winner like Jack. (That's how Jack sees it, anyway.)

Poor Jack. His particular flavor of loserdom is that he overestimates his own control over the world, overestimates his charms, overestimates his logic and his instincts under pressure and vastly underestimates everyone around him. In other words, Jack is the ultimate ugly American. For all of his skills and obvious strengths, he has a superiority complex, a certainty that he deserves to win, without fail, that's destined to keep him angry and lonely and out of touch indefinitely.

- tom moody 11-19-2006 8:40 am

More Havrilesky. I can't say I disagree with any of this much. I want to know why the Others think they're on the side of right, but the season is at loose ends, and I missed the Feb 7 episode with Juliet because I "forgot":

Speaking of a marathon exercise in disappointment, why is it that "Lost" (9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC) either feels like a revelation or a massive waste of time depending on a) your mood and b) the episode in question? I don't think I've ever felt quite as wishy-washy toward a show as I have toward "Lost." One week I can't wait to see what happens next; the next week all of the empty suspense feels like a maze that leads to a bunch of dead ends.

The third season in general has been a disappointment, so far, compared to the second. For weeks on end, all we got was Kate and Sawyer, lollygagging about in their respective cages. What was the point? Somehow their interest in each other bores me, too -- they're too similar. There's not enough tension there. Meanwhile, Jack (Matthew Fox) has been so annoying this season, and yet so utterly pitiable. Let's see: He stalked his ex-wife, he was paranoid enough to think she was seeing his father, he was a baby about Kate (Evangeline Lily) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) hooking up, he's done nothing but pout and whine lately, and then suddenly he manipulates the Others into letting Kate and Sawyer escape? It doesn't quite add up. Plus, do we really buy the notion that he would make Kate promise that she wouldn't come back for him? I know that's the kind of valiant generosity that you see in movies and TV shows all the time, but one of the great things about "Lost" is that it doesn't fall prey to such unrealistically selfless turns. Just look at Michael's brutal maneuvers to get his son back. I understand that Michael (Harold Perrineau) and Jack are completely different, but so far, while Jack may be the titular leader of the survivors, prone to small bouts of heroism, flashbacks indicate that he's a self-serving control freak.

Most of all, I don't like the fact that, after last season's explosive finale, we've been forced to bide our time for months now, breaking up rocks with Sawyer and Kate or watching Jack being grilled by Juliet, with her endless flow of wry, crooked smiles. I can't think of a character on the show that I find less interesting than Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), and the first episode back after winter break didn't exactly help. Flashbacks on this show typically reveal not just important aspects of a person's character, but also how their particular archetype fits into the fabric of life on the island. Juliet's flashback was more plot-driven than character-driven, and not particularly soulful. Yes, we're shown that she's prone to being manipulated by authority figures, either her ex-husband or the company that sent her to the island or Ben, the leader of the Others. But her story didn't really reveal her character that well. She was trying to help cure her sick sister, her sister got pregnant, her ex-husband was a sadistic control freak, she teamed up with a sadistic control freak of an organization to replace her bad husband... Did any of this stuff add up?

I feel like I understand the strengths and weaknesses of most of the other characters, thanks to their flashbacks. Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) is lazy and addiction-prone, Kate is commitment-phobic, Locke (Terry O'Quinn) is idealistic to a fault. But who the hell is Juliet, and how does her self-possessed behavior in the dungeon parse with the whimpering, fearful woman we saw in those flashbacks? And worst of all, despite all of the holes in her back story, it didn't make me want to find out any more about her.

Jack's latest flashback was even less compelling. This is how it went: Jack's in Thailand on vacation, he meets a sexy Thai woman, they sleep together for a month, he asks what she does for a living and she won't tell. So he follows her to work one night; it's a tattoo parlor. He says to her, "That was your big secret?" (We're thinking the same thing.) She responds, "I am not a tattoo artist. I'm able to see who people are! And I mark them!" Jack says, "So tell me who I am!" Sexy Lady looks scared, then Jack throws her against a wall for no reason and makes her give him a tattoo that we later find out means, "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." Jack is the son of God? Or is Sexy Lady having a laugh? At the end of the flashback, Sexy Lady has a bunch of men beat the crap out of Jack, just to keep things nice and dark.

This week's episode is at least a little lighter, plus Sawyer and Kate finally get back to the beach with everyone else. Still, Hurley's (Jorge Garcia) flashback is just as clunky and obvious as Jack's and Juliet's were. Weren't flashbacks more nuanced and subtle and intriguing last season? And why is everyone on the beach getting straight to the point suddenly? "I'm cursed!" "Desmond said I was going to die!" "I want you to apologize!" The dialogue lacks any mystery, but it still looks like we're going to have to wait until the end of the third season to get even the slightest clue about what happened at the end of the second season.

As if admitting defeat, the creators of "Lost" are already discussing a way to end the series. All I can say is, this inflatable Santa better learn to do more than smile and wave soon, or we're pulling out a BB gun and putting the damn thing out of its misery.

- tom moody 2-26-2007 12:38 am

Goddamit, the one episode I miss has a Clockwork Orange fascist Buddhist brainwashing scene! I caught it on YouTube (backwards)--so beautiful. I am now back in full swing with the series, laughing my ass off at the skeleton of the Dharma "Work Man" and anxiously awaiting to learn why the Others are so damn bad. As I already said (repeatedly, looking back at this thread), I believe the authors intend them as not so veiled stand-ins for the space religion that has so gripped Hollywood.
- tom moody 3-12-2007 7:17 am

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