Thursday, March 19, 2009

episode: lost, "namaste" (5.9)

Some quick thoughts on this week's Lost episode, "Namaste."

• Interesting role reversal with Sayid, eh? In Season 1, Sayid interrogated Sawyer about Shannon's asthma inhaler (which he didn't have) and did some excruciating things to Sawyer's fingernails, and here, Sawyer gets to play Pretend Interrogator. Of course, Sayid's not in any real danger with Sawyer, but the irony was not lost on the viewers. Also, Sayid interrogated Ben (as Henry Gale) at the Swan back in Season 2, and now Ben has come to offer Sayid (as prisoner) a sandwich. (Was the "I didn't use mustard" line some sort of code from the Others? Surely Ben has already interacted with the Others at this point.)

• For those of you worried about Sawyer being a victim of the Purge, it doesn't happen until 1992. I don't think death by genocide is a real concern of his, and I can understand why he dismisses Hurley's paranoia about the event -- it doesn't happen for another fifteen or so years.

• Sawyer's always been the leading type, but we needed to get rid of the "reactionary" leaders like Jack, Locke, Sayid, Ana Lucia, and Ben in order for him to come to front of the line. I don't think this is an existential character development (as in, Sawyer burns his letter to the real Sawyer, the man who killed his family, and then takes a new name, James LeFlour, as a way of reinventing a new alias for a new life of redemption). I think it's much less interesting than that, but just as satisfying. As Sawyer tells Jack, he's a thinker. Thinkers don't order other people to do "what's best right now." They think ahead in long-term planning.

• Speaking of Sawyer, how amazing was it that Sawyer didn't use Kate or violence as a means of insulting Jack? Those are both barbaric and primal means of competition that work on a two-dimensional level of a now fully fleshed out three-dimensional character. Calling Jack reactionary cuts a lot deeper than perhaps Sawyer even realizes. Jack likes to fix things (as we all know too well by now), and not only did people die because of Jack's reactionary decisions, but Jack lost Kate and his job to alcoholism, and as a doctor, he always took it personally when he couldn't save people. Calling Jack "reactionary" was spot on. And the self-professed comparison of Sawyer to Winston Churchill, who played the ever-important role of a wartime Prime Minister, was especially profound. This scene was the best part of the episode, mostly because it showed Sawyer's layers. He's not just a brute. I always thought it was contradictory that this one-note character made so many cultural and historical references, and even though he read during a lot of his time on the island, I never understood -- until now -- how these things were interrelated. He was a vengeful character, but only when it came to finding and killing Sawyer*. Now he doesn't have a reason to be angry, and he's settled quite nicely into a domestic space with Juliet.

* Now that he has moved on from Vengeful Sawyer to Domestic LaFleur, should we start calling him Jim now? "Sawyer" just doesn't seem to fit anymore.

• In relation to this scene, I think Jack is only momentarily accepting Sawyer's position as the one who's calling the shots. I think that next week, "Reactionary Jack" will do something to undermine Sawyer's well-thought out plan, and Kate will join because she, too, is reactionary... oh, and because she likes to screw things up. (Quick mention: I appreciated how little screen time Ms. Austin had this week.)

• On that note, I always thought that out of the original love triangle -- Jack, Kate, Sawyer -- that Sawyer would be the one to die. His archetype called for it. The bruting, hypermasculine character sacrifices himself for the woman he loves, and the greatest selfless sacrifice one can make is to die on their behalf. But after realizing that (1) Sawyer already made this sacrifice by jumping out of the helicopter so that Kate can be rescued and that (2) he also redeemed himself by settling down with Juliet, perhaps it is Jack who is the archetype slated to die. Jack definitely needs a moment of redemption. I think he's starting to realize how much he's screwed everything up...

• We finally meet Radzinsky! Here's a quick refresher on Radzinsky... we first learned about him in a Desmond flashback where Kelvin explains the procedure of entering the code into the Swan station's computer. Radzinsky used to be Kelvin's partner, that is, before Radzinsky shot himself in the head (and left a big ol' blood stain on the ceiling). So not only did Radzinsky live in Kelvin (though I'm still uncertain if they were under lockdown because of "the sickness" -- what information did these guys have in the Swan, which was obviously in operation after The Purge?), but he was also the architect behind building the Swan. While living with Kelvin in the Swan, he was able to figure out how to mimic lockdown procedure and began creating the blast door map, which he worked on with the aid of his photographic memory. Radzinsky was also the one responsible for editing the Swan orientation video, and we later find out (in the Arrow station, I believe) what was edited out of the video. Eko finds the missing film strip, and Locke then splices the frames back together. This new clip reveals that the computer should only be used for inputting the code and not for contacting the outside world. Why Radzinsky took it out (and how it ended up at the Arrow station, and why the computer's only function is for inputting the code, and why the code needs to be entered at all*) is still unexplained.

* I thought that perhaps entering the code had something to do with the burial of Jughead so close to the electro-magnetic center of the island, but Jughead was buried in the 50s or 60s and the Swan wasn't built until the late 70s. Were people "entering a code" somewhere else on the island previous to the Swan station, or did something happen in the 70s that required the task of entering the code?

• On the note of Radzinsky, Alan Sepinwall notes, "He had been Kelvin's partner at The Swan before Desmond, and painted the map of all the Dharma stations on the blast doors. Assuming that one of The Others didn't assume Radzinsky's name after the purge, then The Swan was still technically under Dharma control in the 21st century, which might help explain why Dharma planes were still doing supply drops after the Oceanic 815 crash." I had been wondering about those drops, and this makes a lot of sense. But again, why were Radzinsky and Kelvin out of the communication loop from the rest of Dharma? Or did Radzinsky know about the Purge (and that's why he shot himself) and made up a story about a "sickness"?

• Where is Faraday? I don't think he's dead. My guess is that he found a way to travel back to the current era -- I mean, our Losties have to make it back to 2009 somehow -- but I am curious, judging by Sawyer's reaction to Faraday's whereabouts, did Faraday still try to alter the future (re: Charlotte)? Even with the time-is-a-record theory, we know that Faraday still tries to convince child-Charlotte to leave the island. But I'm wondering if he goes even further than that, if he somehow physically removes Charlotte from her situation? Knowing that Charlotte searches for the island because she remembered it and wanted to prove her mother wrong, does this alter how Faraday interacts with Charlotte's mother?

• Annoyance of the week: Still, nobody's talking to one another. A simple "Locke said he'd bring you back" isn't a sufficient exchange for Sawyer understanding how Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid return to the freaking 70s. Nobody wonders why or how they're in the 70s, and Jack isn't curious as to why Sawyer and Juliet stayed on the island for the past three years? (I mean, honestly, if I had been through what these guys have, I would get the hell off that island ASAP. Speaking of, why is Miles still on the island? What convinced him to stay?) Also, if I were Jack, Kate, and Hurley, I would be asking SO MANY questions about Dharma -- who they were, all of the stations that exist, what each of the stations are for, who is charge, etc. I would also ask if Sawyer had run into Smokey (or any other island booby traps) or Rousseau in the last three years. Come on, guys. This isn't a high school reunion. When thrown into a new situation, you need to ask questions.

• Continued annoyance of the week: I still don't understand why the 06ers had to return to the island. Jacob/Christian/the island better have a good explanation for why they had to come back. For Locke, the island told him to jump, so he did without asking questions. "I need to bring back these people who don't trust me and are living their old lives again? Sure, no problem!" And for Ben, there really hasn't been a good explanation for his interest in returning to the island. (I definitely think he killed Penny and exacted revenge on Widmore and is now ready to come back to the island, but did he needs the 06ers in order to return to the island? Could he not have "gone back" on his own?) And NONE of the 06ers have a good reason for coming back. They didn't know about the time flashes. Locke just told them they had to go back with no real explanation why. The only people who can explain this are Christian, Jacob, and Eloise -- and my money is on Eloise. Someone has to convince Desmond to go back to the island, and my best bet is, after discovering that Penny was killed (or injured) by Ben, he seeks out Eloise and she tells him what he needs to do next... and hopefully provide some exposition along the way.

• I appreciate the following quote from Isaac_Spaceman over at Throwing Things: "My favorite part, of course, was LaFleur going meta and delivering the audience's verdict on Jack's leadership. I never was a Sawyer fan (he always seemed like the stock TV renegade to me, a half-step removed from Lorenzo Lamas), but the Churchill-emulating LaFleur, with a long-con man's respect for the setup, is dramatically more interesting than either the old Sawyer or the eternal Jack. Because I like where LaFleur is now, personally and professionally, I'll be sorry to see the romantic tension over the next few weeks and the inevitable escalating pissing match with Jack over the next season and a half, but the last few episodes have been nice for both the character and the actor."

• From commenter Russ over at Throwing Things: "I presume that Hurley or another 815 survivor plays a role in selecting the numbers for the Swan's "botton"? Will we learn that the musician who programmed the code in The Looking Glass was also a time-displaced survivor? I've assumed for a while that it was Charlie, but of course bringing Charlie back would require more than simple time travel. Unless, of course, Charlie is (1) Charles Widmore or (2) the son of Des and Penny or (3) both."

Overall, this was a decent enough episode. It seemed to be a narrative filler, though -- as in, they needed to dedicate an episode to explaining how the 06ers are integrated into Dharma life. But it was also a bit of a creepy episode. There was a lot of foreshadowing (is it really foreshadowing if we're in the past looking at the future, but we know about the future because we experienced it as the present? is there another literary term for time-travel foreshadowing?) regarding unfortunate events in the future: eight-year-old Ben (who is on board for the next few episodes), baby Ethan (Juliet's reaction was PRICELESS), and Hurley's mentioning of the Purge. Since Sayid hasn't been around for Faraday's time-travel theorizing, will Sayid try to kill the young Ben? What ramifications will that have? (He can't die, of course, if Lost is going to be consistent with their time travel theory.) How will the 06ers try to alter the past so that the future does not unfold like it does?

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