Sunday, July 25, 2010

"This blog just may give you something you are looking for, but you have to give the blog something in return."

“House of the Rising Sun” is the first real look the viewer gets at Sun and Jin’s relationship on the island, interspersed with images of their life together before crashing. The Kwons’ relationship is an emotional roller-coaster when considered chronologically, but becomes even more disorienting when told from differing perspectives and time periods on the show. The biggest unresolved question about most characters who wind up dead by the end of the series is, what was their purpose on the show to begin with?

Sun and Jin are clumped together as characters so often in later seasons of the show, viewers often forget that they both have distinct story arcs. This episode belongs solely to Sun’s point of view, while “…In Translation,” later in the season, tells the same events from Jin’s perspective. It is necessary to view both characters and their journeys separately, considering why Jacob brought each of them for a life on the island.

Knowing the fate of their relationship, it is surprising to me how mean Jin comes off in this episode. We see him try to kill Michael with no hesitation, order Sun around on the beach, and witness from Sun’s perspective his violent jobs in the Paik Corporation. Solely considered from this standpoint, Jin seems like a pretty terrible guy. But we now know that Jin is just loyal and hard-working, even if it makes him a little stubborn.

It's easy to see why Sun could have been one of Jacob’s candidates; it seems like his only criterion was that the person be lonely, and Sun certainly fits this bill. In flashbacks, she and Jin build a relationship together just as quickly as that relationship begins to deteriorate. Jin spends more and more time at work, becoming less attentive to Sun’s feelings and their relationship. When communication between the two became almost completely irreconcilable, Sun learned English and literally began to speak a different language.

Sun makes plans to leave Jin, eventually using her knowledge of English so that she can move to America. Her planner tells her that she will not be able to bring any possessions with her and that, after awhile, her family will begin to suspect that she is dead. Oddly enough, these circumstances are very similar to the situation Sun faces once she arrives on the island.

Most of the episode is a commentary on how people from differing backgrounds and perspectives are able to live together. The most obvious example is Sun and Jin, who come from vastly different financial situations. Jin’s insecurity about his family’s modest background and Sun’s selfishness provide the main obstacles to their life together.

Michael and Jin are another source of conflict in the episode, as an intense hatred between the two develops. Michael shrugs off the conflict as simply black vs. Korean, but it isn’t that simple. Both men feel the need to protect loved ones on the island, Walt and Sun. This duty coupled with their similar sense of pride fuels a bitter rivalry. Jin and Michael will eventually develop a strong loyalty to one another, but only after this period of frustration and hatred.

The conflict between caves and beach gets its start in this episode, as Jack encourages everyone to move inland on the island for protection and easy access to the water. The rift this creates between the survivors is striking, displaying the differing goals among the survivors. Jack doesn’t realize it, but he’s instinctively drawn to remaining on the island from the beginning, with his choice of the caves as a place to live. His first priority is always to protect the other survivors, and he feels that this can best be accomplished at the caves. The whole question of caves or beach is really ridiculous anyway, as everyone has moved back onto the beach by the end of season 2.

Last, the discovery of the Adam and Eve skeletons at the grave—now revealed to be the Man in Black and his mother—merits some discussion. Even though Locke suggests the nicknames Adam and Eve, these two are not any kind of origin story for the island. The island has always existed, independent of the space and time around it, but these skeletons have no more permanence than the bodies of anyone else. They are just two more individuals who were stranded on the island and made a life there. The violent end of these two characters in “Across the Sea” doesn’t seem fitting, when one considers the peaceful feelings the skeletons illicit on their first discovery. I’m not sure that the characters of Allison Janney and the Man in Black were conceived all the way back in this episode, but it is comforting to know that the writers at least anticipated that duality would be a core theme of the show, suggested in the black and white stones.

Sun and Jin provide a good comparison against Jacob and his brother. Both are pairs of individuals who love each other greatly, but often find themselves in conflict. Just like Sun and Jin, Jacob and his brother grew up in completely different circumstances for much of their lives, but the two found some common ground as adults. Yet Sun and Jin end their relationship in loving embrace, while Jacob is ultimately murdered by his brother. The difference arose from the fact that Allison Janney only needed one candidate, and was forced to choose between the two boys as to whom she would trust with the island. If Jacob had been forced to choose between Sun and Jin as candidates, their destinies may also have ended in bitterness.

In the final flashback of the episode, Sun makes a conscious decision not to leave Jin, as she had originally planned. Even though he provides gifts of increasing grandeur throughout the episode to her, it is a simple flower which provokes her to remain loyal to him. My interpretation of this scene is that Jacob may not have considered the great love between these two individuals (or any two individuals) as an obstacle to someone fulfilling the role of island protector. Neither is able to take Jacob's place because both of their lives are completely defined by their love for one another.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"A rat will always lead you to its blog"

Jack’s first flashback episode sets up his struggle for leadership, so is especially relevant following "The End," an episode when this struggle is finally resolved. For the first time in the series, viewers realize that Jack is a vulnerable character who doubts himself.

As a child, Jack steps into a fight when his best friend is getting beat up on the playground. Christian, Jack’s father, later comments that Jack wasn’t being hurt in the struggle, so he never should have tried to save his friend. It’s not always possible to win the fight, according to Christian Shephard, so it’s ultimately best just to be able to wash one’s hands of any blame at the end of the day. Jack apparently takes this lesson to heart, because he repeats many of his father’s sentiments on the island as an adult.

Jack’s first instinct has always been to help others, into the water to save a drowning woman the same way he jumped up on the playground. But when Jack steps back and considers the situation, he just gets too scared of the consequences of being a leader. The drowning woman ends up dying in the water when Jack decides to save Boone first, so Jack just shuts down altogether. When the water in the camp begins to run out, Jack refuses to make a decision about what should be done.

Locke tells Jack later in the episode that a leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going. Jack clearly doesn’t know where he’s going yet, as he spends most of the episode stumbling through the jungle looking for his dead father. Jack is literally lost. It's not until Jack finds out his purpose on the island--as one of Jacob's candidates--that he becomes a truly effective leader.

Jack’s attempt to save a drowning woman and the search for water are the two primary plotlines in the episode, continuing the heavy use of water as a symbol for renewal in the series. Jack is the one who finds the water at the end of the episode, allowing the rest of the survivors to drink of it and also experience change on the island. He does not leave the camp looking for water, but stumbles onto it by accident. Similarly, he stumbles into his position of leadership on the island accidentally, but his commitment will be tested many more times throughout the series.

The water is a sign of change (or stagnation) among other characters, as well. Michael tells Walt not to drink ocean water at the beginning of the episode. He hopes that Walt will not be on the island long enough for it to make a lasting imprint on his son; the desire to give Walt a life free of the island’s grip will define most of Michael’s decisions until he and Walt leave it.

Jin tells Sun that she looks dehydrated, but Sun responds that she does not need water, unwilling to change on the island and come clean to her husband. She eventually thanks Jin for providing her with water, to which he comments that this is a husband’s duty. It is only with Jin’s help that Sun is ever able to achieve meaningful change in her life, even though she constantly seeks independence from him.

Charlie’s encounters with the water also say a great deal about his character. Charlie seems like a coward to many, but is a brave and selfless individual when it comes to protecting those to whom he is the closest. The bond he forms with Claire in the first few episodes is enough to convince him that she is worth protecting, and he goes to great lengths in this episode to provide Claire with water. Even though Claire acknowledges that she is a time bomb of responsibility and risk, Charlie already cares about her.

He is afraid to take a plunge into the water to help a nameless survivor in the beginning of the episode, instead seeking Jack's help. The only times he eventually swims in the series are in attempts to save Claire. In “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” Desmond saves Claire because Charlie would have attempted to do so himself, at great personal risk. Eventually, he agrees to dive into the water and give his own life in “Through the Looking Glass,” also in the hope of providing rescue for Claire. Charlie is a character who feels intense attachment to those he cares about, and Claire is the first character for whom this attachment is evident.

Running concurrently to this search for water is Jack’s search for his father in the jungle, which we now know is a manifestation of the smoke monster. The smoke monster appears to be able to take the form of anyone who has died, whether or not their body is located on the island. When it manifests itself as John Locke, it does not inhabit Locke's body physically, only taking his form as a separate entity. For this reason, it can be assumed that Christian’s body is still somewhere; it was probably flung from the coffin as the plane crashed, explaining the white tennis hanging from a tree in "Pilot."

In “The Last Recruit,” the Lockeness Monster tells Jack that he appeared as Christian so that he could guide Jack to water. He is trying to gain Jack’s trust, but this simply is not true. The Man in Black, as Christian, leads Jack to fall down a hill in the jungle and eventually almost off of a cliff. Even though the smoke monster is not able to kill Jacob’s candidates directly, this is his first attempt to do so indirectly. Rather than scan Jack and try to use him as a pawn in the struggle for the island, the Man in Black instead attempts to cause Jack’s death. Unlike Locke, who is blinded by his faith in the island, Jack is unable to be so easily manipulated. How fitting that Jack is eventually the one who kills the smoke monster by throwing him off a cliff.

The episode culminates in Jack’s famous “live together, die alone” speech, an awe-inspiring moment in which he puts a lot of survivors at ease. This guy is pretty cool.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Don't tell me what I can't blog!"

John Locke’s first flashback episode, “Walkabout,” sets up many of the motifs which are associated with this character throughout the series. Here are my thoughts, organized thematically this time:


In its sixth season, LOST mostly came down to the struggle between Jacob and his black-clad nemesis. John Locke is a character used by both sides in this battle: the smoke monster takes Locke’s form and initiates the killing of Jacob, while Jacob uses John’s relentless faith as a tool to push Jack into his role as island protector. Because he has close ties to both sides of the battle, Locke is the perfect character to represent this duality so early in the show.

While none of the other main characters have lasting visible injuries from the crash, Locke has one very noticeable scar. A cut across his right eye is not only present in this episode, but remains on John’s face for the duration of the series. This cut draws attention to John’s two eyes, both windows into different sides of his character. At the time of the crash, John is arguably the most emotionally scarred of the main characters. He’s had his kidney stolen and been pushed out of a window by his father, he’s been left by Helen, and he’s been turned down from his Walkabout adventure in Sydney. Even though the island heals John and allows him a new, happier life, John’s scar is a visible reminder that he still carries the weight from past events. Even thought John’s the original man of faith on the island, he can’t help but be a little scared of what the island has in store for him, and the scar is a manifestation of this emotional burden.

When Locke first pulls out his knives, Jack comments that he either has “very good aim or very bad aim.” This is another sign that Locke is destined to become part of the larger struggle between “good” and “bad” on the island, personified later through white and black. Locke is probably the biggest supporter of Jacob’s side among the 815 survivors, commenting that everyone was brought to the island for a reason, pretty much the slogan of Team Jacob. But at the same time, he’s intrigued by the smoke monster.

This is the first episode in which a survivor has a close-up encounter with the monster. John Locke stares it down in the jungle, later describing what he saw as a very beautiful bright light. The light to which he is referring was probably the flashing of the smoke monster, as it scanned Locke to read his past. The monster approaches Locke the first of all the survivors, formulating the plan which will go into effect much later, with Locke's manipulation and death.

The roles Jack and Locke play in this episode offer foreshadowing of the roles they will ultimately play as successors to Jacob and the smoke monster, respectively. In this episode, Jack is asked by Claire to read a memorial service for those who have died on the plane, but he instead focuses on the characters still alive on the island. He advocates the burning of bodies in the fuselage, a practice the Others have also adopted (presumably) to prevent the smoke monster from taking their form. He is a calm and removed leader in this episode; rather than leading the memorial service himself or forcing Rose to eat or drink food, Jack takes a more hands-off approach as leader. This kind of leadership has Jacob written all over it.

On the other hand, Locke really shows his smoke monster-ish tendencies, going on his own walkabout through the jungle to hunt boar. More than anything, the smoke monster wishes to be free of the expectations of his mother, hoping to physically leave the island. Locke desires a similar freedom from the restrictions of his physical condition, saying again and again “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Just like smokie, John just wants to be free.


John Locke is a big fan of playing games. He plays some kind of geeky board game with his coworker in the box company and insists on being called Colonel during their phone conversations during flashbacks. Games are Locke’s way of removing himself from the pain and misfortune of the real world; by escaping into a game, Locke can have his own simulated world with low stakes, rather than run the risk of being hurt.

To Jacob and his nemesis, the island is one big game, where both players can bring pieces to the island to be manipulated. Even though John Locke actually ends up on the losing side, he’s enjoyed just being a part of the game by the end of the series. In the final church scene, John forgives Ben for his murder and sits alone, contented with the wins and losses he endured throughout his life.


It’s not until the sixth season that we see the Man in Black enter John’s body as a substitute and observe John as a substitute teacher in the afterlife, but substitution is a theme which has always been associated with Locke’s character in a number of ways. In this episode, John talks on the phone to “Helen,” who seems to be just a replacement for his former love. He calls and pays to speak to this “Helen,” hoping to build a real relationship with her and persuade her to come to Australia with him. In his mind, John builds up the illusion that “Helen” can serve as a substitute of his real love. The island itself is also a substitute for Locke, serving as the next-best-thing to his authentic Australian walkabout.


Locke's body is eventually brought back to the island buried, an action which presumably allows the smoke monster to manifest itself in Locke's form. The survivors' decision to burn the bodies in the fuselage, rather than bury them, is a coincidental act which may prevent the smoke monster from using these bodies as a weapon. Jack comments that any bodies they bury will not stay buried for long, a comment which takes on additional meaning when we see the smoke monster take Christian's form later in the episode.

Aside from the action going on with John Locke hunting boar, there are some touching moments among the other survivors, most notably Charlie and Hurley. Shannon uses Charlie to try and catch fish for her, distracting him from attempts to use drugs in the jungle. Again, it's evident that the only thing Charlie needs to stay clean from drugs is meaningful human contact. His adorable friendship with Hurley has its start in this episode, as the two attempt to fish together. In contrast to John, who seems to be at his happiest on his own, Charlie thrives in his relationships with others. Besides, even if she's kind of rude to him, Shannon's pretty hot.

I’d also like to begin a new segment in these posts, quite simply titled “Kate Screws Up.” I’ll be keeping track of everything Kate messes up throughout the series, beginning with dropping Sayid’s transceiver in this episode. Sayid is pretty angry when she returns the broken equipment to him, and rightly so. He spent days perfecting the wiring in what might be the survivors’ only hope of rescue. Kate dropped it out of a tree.

Friday, July 2, 2010

"You perforated his blog. It'll take hours to read out"

Here are my thoughts on "Tabula Rasa":

After Boone, Shannon, Sayid, Kate, Charlie, and Sawyer make camp for the night, the group decides to keep the French transmission a secret. Sayid comments that it would be a dangerous thing for the other survivors to lose their hope. This is another ironic line when one considers the path Sayid's character eventually follows. After Nadia’s death, Sayid has nothing left to live for. And we see later on just how dangerous Sayid is without this hope: he becomes all the more vulnerable to the temptations of the Man in Black.

Back at camp, the Marshal wakes up looking for Kate and comments that “she’s dangerous.” Besides providing some suspense for the viewer, this remark seems like a bit of an exaggeration. She killed a few people, sure, but most of the main characters on the show can say the same thing. The Marshal's not referring to physical danger, however. Kate's dangerous because she is manipulative; she can make pretty much anyone on the island (especially Jack and Sawyer) do whatever she wants. She seems innocent enough, but is capable of actions which are quite cold.

In flashbacks, Kate is found sleeping in a barn by Ray Mullen, an Australian farmer. She tells Ray that she likes to walk and likes farms, giving a clear indication of the character's motives. Kate consistently desires one thing: freedom. Ray agrees to employ Kate as a farmhand for a fair wage, and she discovers he has a prosthetic right arm when she goes to shake his hand. We’ve seen two other cases of prosthetic limbs on the show: Pierre Chang (Miles’s Dharma dad and that guy from the orientation videos) had a prosthetic arm in the video for The Swan station, and Montand lost his arm when pulled under the temple by the smoke monster.

It’s striking how often circumstances repeat themselves on Lost, whether on or off the island. The Man in Black eventually acknowledges this repetition in “The Incident,” when he comments that humans corrupt and destroy the island's natural properties every time Jacob summons them to the island. Misfortune has a cyclical nature according to the show, with the same tragic events playing out over and over again. Even though we see the end to Jack’s story on the island, it can be assumed that Hurley continues to bring people to the island, looking for an eventual replacement for himself. In this manner, it certainly seems that repetition of human circumstances will continue.

As soon as the A-team arrives back at camp, Kate betrays the trust of the rest of the group immediately by walking up to Jack and telling him everything they heard on the transceiver. Her actions seem like a sign of loyalty to Jack, but she doesn't find the time to admit that she was on the flight with the Marshal.

Jack eventually reveals to Kate that he’s seen the mug shot, but does not allow her to tell him about her crime. Instead, Jack tells Kate that every person is allowed to start a new life on the island. He tries to persuade Kate--and persuade himself--that people can let go of their past lives on the island. But more than anyone, it's Jack who struggles to forget his past actions and let go of his obsessions.

Another torrential downpour strikes the island during “Tabula Rasa,” and it’s interesting that Kate and the Marshal are the only two characters seen harbored from the rain. These two characters are continuing to play the roles that they did before their arrival on the island, rather than being washed away by the rain. Kate might get time to change later on, but the Marshal isn't so lucky. The Marshal is obsessive and violent until his death. Named for the Roman god of war, Mars, the Marshal is a static character who is never granted time to atone for his past actions. Jack even says later in the episode that “he needs water,” but it’s already too late.

In flashback, Kate tells Ray Mullen that she has to leave the farm because she’s “got trust issues.” I don’t believe that Kate is leaving the farm because she is afraid of being caught for her crime—her willingness to stay an extra night shows that she actually trusts Ray. Instead, Kate’s trust issues stem from her inability to trust herself. Whenever she stays with someone for too long, she ends up hurting him in the end. She’s afraid of attachment to others because she fears what will happen when the truth about her identity comes out.

Michael’s relationship with Walt begins to suffer in this episode for a similar reason: Michael pulls away because he fears his own inability. Locke told Walt in “Pilot” that a miracle had happened to him on the island. This worries Michael because he isn’t able to comprehend miracles, choosing instead to remain firmly grounded in the real world.

Michael assures Walt that he will find Vincent, Walt’s dog, as soon as the storm subsides. Almost immediately, with a look of stubborn concentration from Walt, the rain abruptly stops. Many speculated that Walt’s “special” abilities allowed him to stop the rain, and that Walt’s reading a comic book about polar bears similarly led to the appearance of a polar bear on the island. I don’t think there’s any denying that something supernatural is at work here, but I think it's more about the island's power than Walt's power. In season three, Ben Linus tells John Locke about a magic box on the island, in which anything John wants could instantly appear. The island will give you whatever you want, but only if you are willing to embrace and have faith in its power. Locke and Walt are the two people with the most supernatural encounters on the island. Locke experiences the ability to instantly walk and Walt is a child; both are more willing than others to embrace the mysterious.

By the end of the episode, Locke manages to perform an actual miracle by finding Vincent in the jungle. Locke allows Michael to return to the dog to Walt, but this doesn’t put Michael anymore at ease. Because he is unable to understand and embrace the magical properties of the island, Michael feels unable to connect with Walt on the same level that Locke does.

As the storm rages on, Jack enters the dark fuselage to search for medicine among the bodies. He finds Sawyer looting the bodies, leading a conversation that highlights the early differences among these characters. Sawyer comments that he is “trick-or-treating,” while Jack is working for the good of the group. Sawyer is the first of many characters to remind Jack that civilization is gone and that he should instead be living “in the wild.”

By insisting that the rules of the real world do not apply to characters on the island, Sawyer places himself firmly outside of the games played on the island. This is interesting language, especially considering the rules which apparently govern the Man in Black's and Jacob's struggle on the island. Throughout the entirety of the show, Sawyer is playing his own game separate from everyone else. When Sawyer eventually chooses the camp of the Lockeness monster in season six, he constantly refuses to express complete loyalty to either side. His priority is to get himself and a few people he cares about off the island, allowing some characters to escape the fate-controlled game of the island’s manipulative caretakers.

Sawyer attempts to kill the Marshal, but his failure in doing so forces Jack to violate his own moral code and kill him himself. Even though she doesn't pull the trigger, Kate kills the Marshal indirectly by allowing Sawyer to do so. She proves here that she is no different while on the island, still trying to run away from her crimes rather than acknowledge them and accept consequences. During Jack’s and Kate’s talk at the end of the episode, both are wearing white shirts, a visual signifier of the clean slate that the episode’s title refers to. What both characters fail to realize, however, is that a clean slate is useless unless they are able to recognize and atone for their past actions.

In flashback, Kate is ultimately apprehended while being driven to the train station by Ray Mullen. If she had left the farm by foot, trusting herself rather than someone else, she probably wouldn’t have been caught. She takes extra time to pull Ray Mullen out of his burning truck, and this allows the Marshal to catch up with her. Kate is most likely to escape the law by remaining independent, but she cares too much about other people to be able to do so.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Kate, there's a certain gargantuan quality about this blog."

Directed by the masterful J.J. Abrams, the 2004 Lost Pilot episode was the most expensive pilot in television history and stands as a real gem upon rewatching six years later. Here are my thoughts after the finale:

The story of Lost is ultimately the story of Jack Shephard and his adventures on the island. Sure, there are other characters and many mysteries and a lot of peripheral plotlines, but the show can neatly be summed up with Jack. Lost begins with Jack waking up in the jungle and ends with him dying in exactly the same place.

It’s interesting to consider that Jack was originally going to be killed at the end of the Pilot—and also funny to consider that he was going to be played by Michael Keaton. Sorry if there are any fans of Keaton's, but it just wouldn't have worked for me. Matthew Fox is perfect for the role of Jack for one simple reason: his ability to cry. Foxy (as he is apparently called by castmates) can effortlessly tear up, and does so in over two-thirds of the episodes of the series. I just can’t see the same guy who played Beetlejuice handling such a sensitive role. Kate was originally supposed to become the reluctant leader of the survivors, but I can't imagine what would have happened to the survivors if this had been the case. We ended up with Jack as the protagonist, and I’m certainly glad we did.

Two words describe Jack as he wakes up in the jungle and quickly makes his way to the wreckage: heroic and scared. By the time Jack reaches the series finale, he's still acting heroically, he's just no longer scared of his own destiny.

Jack’s complete transformation from this doubtful reluctance by the end of the series provides an interesting contrast to John Locke’s demeanor upon waking up on the island. John wakes up from the crash and realizes he can walk for the first time in three years, reaching his own fulfillment immediately after the crash. On the survivors' second day on the island, a sudden rainstorm moves in, and all the survivors except John seek cover. Instead, he embraces the rain, enjoying a little giggle as it falls around him.

Throughout Lost, water has been a symbol of purification and redemption, washing away the past experiences of the characters. By embracing the rain, John is the first character to achieve his destiny on the island, starting a new life free from past restrictions. So what is John’s destiny? His purpose on the island is to guide Jack toward fulfillment, serving as a catalyst for his transformation. It’s not until “The End” that Jack achieves this fulfillment, finally embracing his fate on the island. As the water slowly begins to flow over him after he re-plugs the Light of the island, Jack begins to laugh, taking obvious glee. John's embrace of the rain all the way back in the Pilot mirrors this moment perfectly.

After Jack wakes up scared in the jungle, he begins to run toward the crash. As Jack runs through the jungle, his path is marked by a white tennis shoe which had been on Christian Shephard's body. Jack is guided unknowingly by the white shoe, marking his path ahead to fulfill his destiny of island leadership. The shoe probably wasn’t planted by Jacob himself, but it’s nice symbolism of Jacob’s silent and unnoticed pushes of our main characters toward the island.

Jack looks pretty awesome running around and tending to the injured, seriously in his element. But really, why does everyone else look so completely confused? I’m a big believer in the competency of humankind, but these other survivors seem pretty worthless. To be fair, Boone does try to help out a bit, most notably performing CPR on Rose. While Shannon is nearby screaming incessantly for Boone, he is not worried at all about finding her. He is focused on helping those around him; he’s completely selfless. It’s just kind of sad to see how much Boone sucks at helping people, especially when compared to Jack Shephard. Even the name Jack Shephard screams leader. Boone Carlyle? Not so much. Boone later tries to make himself sound like a badass by telling John that he runs a COMPANY! A huge wedding company! Boone just needs to accept the fact that he's kind of lame, definitely not leader material. Jack later leaves him in charge of the injured as he, Kate, and Charlie head out to the cockpit. But really, he’s just a crappy fill-in for Jack. His heart is in the right place, but this just makes his early demise that much more pathetic. Also, I’d like to note what a touching moment it is to see Jack drop everything to help his pregnant half-sister Claire.

At the time of the crash, each of the survivors is literally separated from everyone else. Even those on the plane who knew each other beforehand all seem to have been separated. The most obvious example is Rose and Bernard, who are literally on separate sides of the island. Shannon is also seen calling for Boone, Michael for Walt, and Jin for Sun. All three of these couples should have been sitting right next to each other, and I'm unsure how they ended up in different locations. Literally here, it is the island that unites these individuals, allowing them to come together and truly unite with each other for the first time in their relationship. Even though pretty much everyone dies by the end of the show, they're all with someone they care about. Maybe not in physical proximity, but emotionally.

After the intensity of the crash itself, Jack ventures to the outskirts of the jungle to patch himself up. He's not ready to embrace his role as leader, remaining around everyone else. Kate is the only person Jack is truly comfortable with from the beginning. She puts him at ease when fixing up his injury, even though she’s pretty scared of being a leader herself. This scene serves as more than a chance to see Matthew Fox topless. It’s also our first look at Jack’s vulnerability, and it’s significant that his injuries here mirror exactly the stab wound he receives in “The End” from the Lockeness Monster.

Jack chooses to have his injury sewn up with “standard black” thread, some subtle black/white symbolism. The black thread is the easiest and simplest choice for Jack, and choosing black over white becomes an easy choice for many of the other survivors in season 6. The Lockeness Monster promises Nadia to Sayid and Aaron to Claire. Instead of dealing with their own grief and abandonment, these characters fall victim to smokey's "infection." These easy options sound enticing at first, but later become much more complex as each character must face the consequences of aligning with the evil Lockeness Monster. Jack’s choice doesn’t get much more complex than choosing black thread, though. So maybe all this symbolism is just in my head.

After the crash, we meet Charlie Pace, wandering around the burning wreckage in some kind of confused daze. He's pretty disoriented and doesn't seem to have any idea what's going on. This is probably because he was doing heroin when the plane crashed, and it ultimately takes Sayid to pull Charlie from this zombie-like trance, giving him a task around camp. This is ironic, since Sayid will reach a similarly melancholy and emotionless state later on in the series. charlie also wrote “FATE” on some weird little finger-warmers in the Pilot, a cynical commentary on the hopeless situation of the survivors. He feels guilty and believes that fate has brought him here as punishment for his misdeeds.

I also feel like season six of Lost provides some serious perspective from which to view Sun and Jin’s relationship, as outlined in the Pilot. Jin says a few things that are of particular note here. He tells Sun not to worry about the other survivors, instead focusing only each other. Ultimately, in “The Candidate,” it’s Jin who refuses to worry about the other survivors as he and Sun face their impending deaths. Jin actually has the ability to escape the submarine with Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sawyer, but instead chooses to remain with Sun, ignoring the fates of everyone else.

It is also significant that Jin tells Sun not to leave his sight, encouraging her to remain physically with him during their time on the island. As we will see throughout the series, this physical proximity is not enough to ensure an emotional connection between the two. Sun hides her ability to speak English, her plan to leave Jin, and her affair with Jae Lee. Jin hides a violent career at her father’s company and his humble family’s beginnings. It is not until “Ji Yeon” in season four that Jin finally learns of Sun’s affair and forgives her for it, uniting the two emotionally for the first time in the show. But it is in the same episode that the viewer realizes that Sun and Jin are separated after she leaves the island, now separated by time. At first they were figuratively apart, refusing to reveal secrets to each other on the island. Later they are physically apart, finally dying so soon after being reunited. Their death scene together is so powerful because we see just how much the two characters want to be together now, even if it means death.

After these and a few more introductions to the other principal characters in the saga of Lost, we return to Jack and Kate sitting around a fire discussing the crash. When Jack mentions that he’s taken a couple of flying lessons, I remember really wishing we’d eventually get a flashback episode with Jack learning to fly a plane, which would have at least been more relevant than the origin of Jack's tatoos. Instead, this line is never mentioned again throughout the show, but it exists to show us what a grounded guy Jack is. He's a straightforward guy who likes to feel the earth under his feet. A little later we find out that Jack hasn’t heard of Driveshaft, apparently a pretty well-known band. Even the geyser John Locke is a huge fan of Driveshaft. Jack is a guy so intensely focused on his surgeries and his obsessive relationships with ex-wife Sarah and father Christian that he hasn’t even heard of the band. He’s really a man grounded in his own world.

Now it’s time to talk a little more about the Lockeness Monster’s appearances and motivations in the pilot. Soon after Kate motions to Jack where she saw smoke in the jungle from the cockpit, the monster appears in the jungle making noises for the first time. All the survivors are shown around camp concerned with the monster’s arrival, most notably John Locke. Smokie knocks down a bunch of trees and growls a lot, then comes back the next day and does the same thing. So what is the monster trying to do here? Maybe it's attempting to cause chaos, sparking disunion among the survivors. Or maybe it’s just angry that all these people are camped out on the beach. Smokie is not a big fan of humankind; he believes that everyone who comes to the island corrupts and destroys, rather than bringing anything good. Maybe the monster just doesn’t want the survivors venturing out into the jungle and looking for the Source, concerned that they will find the light and take it before he does. Probably the monster’s motivations are a combination of all three of these.

Later on the monster kills Matt Parkman, the pilot of Oceanic Flight 815, pulling him from the cockpit. Besides setting a pretty grim tone for the rest of the series, Parkman's death must be viewed considering everything we know about the smoke monster now. Clearly, Parkman was not one of Jacob’s candidates (otherwise, the monster couldn’t just kill him). Parkman's destiny was to bring 40+ Candidates to the island, and his success in doing this probably frustrates the smoke monster a great deal. Or the murder could just be more scare tactics, removing the survivors’ most likely candidate for a leader. Or the monster could just crave human flesh. But I think the first is the most likely.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss something that Charlie said after he, Jack, and Kate were fleeing from the monster. Jack pulled up Charlie from the ground, and Charlie later comments that “We were dead, I was. And then Jack came back and he pulled me up.” This, of course, foreshadows the events of “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues,” in which Jack resuscitates Charlie from near the point of death after Ethan hangs him in a tree. Most significantly, now, however, is the foreshadowing of the flash-sideways afterlife in the final season of the show. Jack is the one who ultimately pulls everyone up at the end of the show. It is only after he remembers his life and death on the island that everyone is able to move on to a better place.

Jack, Kate, and Charlie return to camp during a confrontation between Sawyer and Sayid, in which Sawyer uses his first nickname in the show, calling Hurley "Lardo." As commonplace as these nicknames have become by the end of the show, it’s kind of funny to see how absolutely irate people were about this when it first happened. Sure, it’s a little bit mean. Run a Google Image search on “Lardo” and you’ll see what I mean. Hurley looked pretty upset about Sawyer’s remark. Someone in the crowd even yells “whoa” after Sawyer’s invocation, creating a pretty awkward silence. I thought it was kind of funny.

Despite Sawyer’s opposition, Sayid takes the transceiver and attempts to fix it, ultimately determining that he needs a power source. How about the virtually limitless supply of energy under the island? By the time the survivors discover Rousseau’s distress call on the transceiver at the end of the episode, they are understandably pretty concerned. The monster is pretty much the scariest thing imaginable to them right now, as it killed the pilot and all the members of Rousseau’s team and can also throw trees around pretty well. Little do the survivors know that the monster isn’t actually a threat at all: it has no authority to kill them as Candidates.

Finally, it’s definitely necessary to comment on John Locke’s epic discussion of backgammon in the pilot episode, easily the largest sign of things to come in the sixth season of the show.

I don’t think it’s necessary for me to point out that the two black and white sides in backgammon are symbolic of Jacob and his brother. John Locke comments that backgammon is older than Jesus Christ himself, hunting that the island and are greater in scope even than the religions of the world. Human attempts to understand the spiritual world through religion will always be futile, much as human attempts to understand the island through science just lead to more questions. The island is something deeper than humans can comprehend.

John Locke loves to play games, but ultimately his character was just a pawn in a larger game at work. He was a hugely significant piece in the game, but still just ended up getting played. The Man in Black calculates that Locke’s death will allow him to kill Jacob, but completely fails to take into account that Locke’s death might have ramifications beyond this, pushing Jack to his fated role of island protector.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Just as John Locke felt depressed and empty as he boarded Oceanic Flight 815 and set off for Los Angeles, I too am deeply saddened by my current predicament. LOST has ended, and I have nothing left to fill my life.

I have enjoyed the journey of the last six years, but it has sadly come to an end. Fortunately, I still have my annual rewatch to look forward to in the coming months. In this blog, I will try to catch some subtle references and new perspectives in a show as richly and delicately written as LOST. I will be watching each episode of the series over again and posting my feelings about the show. With many mysteries ended ambiguously, this is sure to be a fruitful discussion.

I invite you to please join me on this adventure.

Namaste, and good luck.