Thursday, May 14, 2009

episode: lost, "the incident" (5.16)

So... that just happened.

• The fifth season finale of Lost opens with an unfamiliar face (a motif usually reserved for Lost's season premieres) spinning and weaving a tapestry (with a machete!) in the base of the Egyptian statue. He then catches his own fish in a makeshift trap, and offers a piece to another strange face. The Black Rock presumably sails in the distance. There are two interesting things to note here. (1) Jacob and his little friend are involved in some sort of game, one in which rules are applied (hence why Man #2 needs to find a loophole). As Alan Sepinwall notes in his always-insightful recap, this relationship is analogous to Ben and Widmore. Certainly, Ben thought the safety of his daughter was protected under some set of guidelines, which Widmore broke. And (2) Man #2 is certainly an Esau-like character, isn't he? The son of Issac and Rebekah, Esau was the older twin of Jacob. Because his mother favored Jacob, she instructs Jacob to pretend to be Esau in order to obtain his birthright, which then made Jacob the heir after his father's death. In Genesis 27:41, Esau vows to kill his brother, but Rebekah intervenes and saves Jacob.
Genesis 27:41: So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing that his father had given him. Esau said to himself, "The time to mourn for my father is near. Then I'll kill my brother Jacob."
Although this makes it sound like Jacob is the deceiver, Issac agrees that Esau was not responsible enough for his birthright and denies him a blessing. The brothers eventually reconcile, although only superficially and it seems the rivalry lingered. So between Lost's Jacob and Man #2, who is the deceiver and who is being deceived? Ever since Jacob's name was uttered, we've assumed that Jacob is the most closely linked to the island -- but what if it is really this other man who's in charge? What if Jacob's powers only extend to setting up the pawns of their game?

Here is a complete transcript of the opening teaser.
Jacob: Morning.
Man #2 (Esau?): Mind if I join you?
Jacob: Please. Want some fish?
Man #2: No, thank you. I just ate.
Jacob: I take it you're here because of the ship.
Man #2: I am. How did they find the island?
Jacob: You'll have to ask when they get here.
Man #2: I don't have to ask. You brought them here. You're trying to prove me wrong, aren't you?
Jacob: You are wrong.
Man #2: Am I? They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.
Jacob: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that, it's just progress.
Man #2: Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?
Jacob: Yes.
Man #2: One of these days, sooner or later, I'm going to find a loophole, my friend.
Jacob: When you do, I'll be right here.
Man #2: Always nice talking to you, Jacob.
Jacob: Nice talking to you, too.
• So it seems that "Jacob's cabin" isn't actually his cabin. First of all, it seems to be inhabited by Man #2 (at least, according to Ilana, someone other than Jacob), who may very well be able to imitate dead people -- perhaps he is some incarnation of Smokey, and if so, does this mean Man #2 is the Christian Shephard Ben and Sun talk to in present time?(*). And second, it looks as though Rose and Bernard constructed the house(**) as a means of escaping the absurd antics of the Losties. (By the way, I loved the delivery of L. Scott Caldwell's (Rose) lines, "Oh, sure, you guys all joined up with the Dharma Initiative," and "It's always something with you people." God, I missed Rose and Bernard.) This scene, as well as establishing that Sawyer still pines for Kate (despite Juliet being more awesome in every fathomable way), explained the whereabouts of R&B that was true to their characters. "So we die," Bernard says with complete resolve. All they need is each other, and ever the optimists, R&B have everything they need. It was a really heartwarming scene, completely ruined by the dreadful Juliet-Sawyer-Kate triangle.

(*) Man #2 can't be Christian at this point because he's already imitating the body of John Locke, who's standing outside the cabins... right?
(**) I'm just assuming, really. How many houses have we seen on the island besides the Dharma barracks? There is a time-loop problem with this assumption, though. Locke (and arguably Hurley) go to the cabin and see Jacob, but Locke is unable to find the cabin later. If the house was constructed circa 1977, the cabin shouldn't jump locations if flashing through time. I'm sure that the cabin -- and what Man #2 is using it for -- will be explained next season.

• A quick thought from Isaac Spacewoman over at Throwing Things (which I totally agree with): "If I had one nagging thought this entire episode, it was that it is discomforting, and not mildly so, to realize that we're five years into caring about these characters (or some of them), and suddenly it's apparent that most of our heroes are a bunch of zealot terrorists trying to drop a thermonuclear bomb into a peaceful construction site and the rest are plotting to kill God. If, five years ago, we started in the compound watching a bunch of dirty and self-destructive people fall out of the sky to upset our idyll (just like Sawyer and Juliet did a few episodes ago), we probably would have an entirely different perspective on this little adventure."

• Speaking of Juliet, I sure am going to miss Elizabeth Mitchell. She's the only actor on this show who can handle complex emotions. Whereas actors like Matthew Fox (as much as I adore him) and Evangeline Lily and even Josh Holloway can only express one emotion at a time (no matter how intense it is), Mitchell was able to convey rationality, heartbreak, resolve, regret, and love all at once. However, and I completely blame the writers for this, Juliet's apocalyptic-suicide mission would have been so heroic if she hadn't done it for love. ("I saw the way you looked at her." Really?) And on that note, it was admirable that the writers allowed Kate to come back, not for Sawyer but, to give Aaron back to his rightful mother. But then they make it so Jack wants to detonate a bomb because he had Kate and then he lost her? I was certainly under the impression that Jack wanted to detonate the bomb to save (because that's what he does) all of the 815ers who died (Boone, Libby, Ana-Lucia, Nikki, Paolo, Arntz, Charlie, Shannon -- a lot of people died!), but no, he wants to detonate it so he can hit the reset button on him and Kate. I can understand that the writers are planting the two most rational characters -- Jack and Juliet -- as the "believers/saviors" of love, but the execution was just so unbelievable and untrue to their characters.

• Oh, Zombie-Locke and the patricidal Ben. What a sweet couple this pair make. (1) The original Locke is dead dead. His body is still in the coffin from the plane, and this switcharoo was made apparent earlier in the episode, to me at least, when Zombie-Locke suggested to Richard that they kill the other passengers of the Ajira flight. Even Richard was surprised at this suggestion, and if Richard Been-Around, Seen-a-Lot Alpert is surprised, you know something is afoot. (2) Zombie-Locke is most likely Man #2 from the opening scene. This means that it was Man #2 -- and not Richard, and not the original Locke -- who set in motion the idea that Locke is destined to die in order to come back to the island. This means that Ben really did kill Locke, which only adds to his ever-expanding list of father-figures he's taken care of. (3) And now Jacob is on that list. I really thought Ben was going to kill Locke out in the hallway -- there was a moment of hesitance, and when he grabbed the knife from Zombie-Locke, deception seemed inevitable -- so when he killed Jacob, I felt a bit cheated. I thought to myself, "Hey, I was just getting to know this Jacob guy." And then Zombie-Locke pushed Jacob into the fire and burned him.

• Things I liked: Sawyer and Jack finally beat the crap out of each other. This has been a long time coming. (And can it be true that Jack never knew about Sawyer's parents until just now? Kate never told him during their engagement or at any other point in the last three years?) I also loved, loved, loved the few seconds leading up to and during the dropping of the bomb. Everyone knew -- the characters as well as the audience -- that dropping the bomb was suicide, and thankfully the show didn't linger on that obvious fact for too long. When Jack finally dropped the bomb, the looks on everyone's faces -- especially Elizabeth Mitchell's -- were brilliantly done. And what made this scene extra fantastic was the closing shot (similar to season one's ender, "Exodus," where the camera goes down the hatch). Juliet furiously bashes the bomb(***), and when the screen went white, those watching became all too aware of how absurd that idea actually is. Blow up the island? In the hopes we'll return to 2004 and the plane will never land? Now we're stuck in limbo, just as those characters are.

(***) Unlike "Exodus," which did not show us Desmond in a Dharma suit below, "The Incident" showed you what was at the bottom of the well. And FYI, if you're ever angry and need to do something destructive, it seems that cursing at the object to be destroyed always does the trick. When Juliet's rock doesn't detonate the bomb, she yells at it, "Son of a bitc--" and you knew it was over. Ka-blooey.

• Things I didn't like: As much as I enjoyed watching Mark Pellegrino (Rita's abusive ex-husband on Dexter) as Jacob, I did not like the flashbacks. What exactly did they add to the story? Jacob "marks" someone by touching them and they thus become a pawn in his game, and that's fine, but the moments depicted in the flashbacks left a lot to be desired. Young Kate steals a lunchbox? Hurley shares a cab with him after being released from prison (and Hurley's not super freaked out about this guy)? He freaking gives Jack an Apollo bar as a metaphor for "needing a push"? Juliet's parents got a divorce (and Jacob wasn't even in this one)? Wow, snooze. The only interesting about them -- if you would even call this interesting -- is that it seemed like Jacob had a previous connection/relationship/meeting with Ilana. I'm also upset, of course, that neither Radzinsky or Kate died. I know Radzinsky dies later with Kelvin, but gosh darn is that character annoying.

• One last thought before I go... the title at the end of the episode, as well as the teaser for next season, inverted the colors so instead of white-on-black, it's now black-on-white. Perhaps next season takes place in bizarro-world where everything is backwards.

1 comment:

carrie said...

"so when he killed Jacob, I felt a bit cheated. I thought to myself, "Hey, I was just getting to know this Jacob guy." And then Zombie-Locke pushed Jacob into the fire and burned him."

exactly my first complaint. i just sat there and was like 'really? did that really just happen?'... but in true lost fashion, he probably won't be gone.
and btw... i'm on the 'i hate radzinsky' boat with you. he makes me want to throw my empty glass at the tv.