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Lost, Season 1, Episodes 5 & 6: “White Rabbit” and “House of the Rising Sun”

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Lost Re-Re-Rewatch Project. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. This is my fourth round-trip to the Island, but my first time attempting to chronicle my thoughts on the show on an episode-by-episode basis. The mission: A post per episode. Nothing so epic and theory-heavy as Doc Jensen’s great stuff at EW.com, which I highly suggest you read (the theory game is a bit moot at this point anyway), but hopefully it will help scratch both my writing itch and my Lost itch at the same time.

Remember that time I started a blog? That was fun.

Seriously though, it’s been a hell of a month and I’m trying to get back in some of the habits I had formed before February happened. Helping me through this Lost Re-Re-Rewatch is my brother-in-law, Matt Campbell. He has handled both of the “quick hit” sections for the episodes below (with some gratuitous editor’s comments from yours truly). Welcome him to the blog, if you would. Though this does beg the question: If he is now an author of this blog, does it have any more readers? Sigh.

Episode 5: “White Rabbit”

Overall Episode Grade: A-

Though not as remembered as the Lost pilot or as revered as “Walkabout,” “White Rabbit” is an important part of Lost‘s early lore. We learn why Jack was in Sydney. We learn a degree of the depth of his daddy issues. We get another glimpse of the Island’s supernatural properties. And we watch Jack’s full emergence into a self-admitted, if reluctant, leader.

Jack’s lifelong issues with his father is one of Lost‘s main themes, one that isn’t reconciled until the closing moments of the entire series. Here we see its genesis. We learn that Christian Shepherd (Yes, that’s really his name. Sometimes this show is as subtle as a brick to the head.) was an overbearing father, telling his son he doesn’t “have what it takes” to be a hero, though we suspect he was primarily trying to protect him. We see his spiral into fatal alcoholism (though we don’t see what Jack does to prompt this, though it is mentioned by Jack’s mom) and we learn that Christian died in Sydney.

In between flashbacks we learn that Jack is seeing his father on the Island, chasing him into the jungle in a sleep-deprived stupor. Locke saves Jack from falling in a ravine and urges him to chase whatever it is he’s looking for. He never tracks his father down, but he does find the caves, fresh water and… his father’s empty coffin.

The episode’s ancillary island stories are nice but non-essential. A woman drowns, Boone almost drowns trying to save her, and Boone turns heel… stealing water for some reason. Claire and Charlie have their meet cute. And say what you will about the characters individually, but their romance is one of the less annoying ones that Lost will grace us with.

Episode: “White Rabbit.”
Director: Kevin Hooks
Best Scene:
The conversation between Locke and Jack, the first and arguably most amicable, of many to come between these two men. When Locke asks Jack what is wrong and title of episode comes up, “White Rabbit.”  Conventional wisdom would pick the “live together, die alone” monologue Jack gives after finding caves. Which, essentially, ends the show’s five-episode prologue and establishes Jack as the series center.
Best Line: “I looked into the eye of the island and saw something beautiful,” Locke says to Jack during their meeting.
Best Throwaway Moment: Charlie a Claire conversation after Claire woke up from collapsing. Nice to see just a male/female relationship that’s innocent, not gross and flirtatious like Jack and Kate.
Worst Scene: Boone confronts Jack about why he saved him and didn’t go for the girl. The guy saves you and you feel high and mighty about trying to take over. The line “I run a business.” just seems silly to try and take over the group. Hey Boone, go figure out your sister then we’ll think about you as a leader.
Revelations: Why Jack is in Australia and on flight; Jack finds fresh water and shelter; Christian isn’t in the coffin; Walt tells us the Korean female’s name (Sun); Locke hints that there is something “special” about the island; Boone sucks.

Episode 6: “House Of The Rising Sun”

Overall Episode Grade: C+

First things first: Worst episode title ever? Worst episode title ever.

Here we get the backstory of the island’s resident Asian couple, Sun Hwa and Jin Soo Kwon. Sun is the daughter of a powerful Korean businessman (possibly the worst human being in a show full of them, but more on him later in this season). Jin is a commoner in his employ. They fall in love. He goes to work for the father. Somewhere along the line he changes and the marriage falters to the point that Sun learns English (!) and considers running off… from the airport in Sydney.

The island arc is frustrating, and more than a little contrived. Jin attacks Michael on the beach, beating him to a bloody pulp. Michael immediately screams “That’s RAY-CESS!” and drops the Asian people don’t like black people trope, to which I can only say to Mr. Dawson: “Have you ever seen Rush Hour?

Jin spends the episode handcuffed to bulkhead, roasting in the sun. To free her husband, Sun drops the English bomb on Michael and explains that the kick-ass watch he’s been wearing was actually Jin’s, to give to a L.A. businessman on her father’s behalf. It’s a question of honor. Michael returns the watch which leads the episode’s best line (below). Somehow, watching his old man get pummeled leads Walt to want to get to know his dad. I’d rather have the watch.

I know it’s impossible to imagine, but the other on-island story is much more interesting. While hiking for water, Charlie takes a smack-break and breaks a beehive. Rut-roh! He, Jack, Kate and Locke rush to the caves where they find… that Kate has a dirty bra! No, wait! That there are two dead bodies in the caves! Jack finds two stones on the skeletons–one white, one black. Adam and Eve will be seen again… about 110 episodes down the line. Which is cool to think about in retrospect.

Following the hubbub, Locke tells Charlie he knows he’s using drugs and takes the stash, but not before telling Charlie that he can ask for them three times, and on the third time he’ll give them back, which reminds me of nothing so much as the episode of King of the Hill where Hank punishes Bobby for smoking by forcing him to smoke a carton. Hooray for digression!

The episode ends with a set of survivors at the beach camp and a set in the caves, with Jack and Kate on opposite sides of the bamboo forest. Hurley’s CD Player plays a sad Willie Nelson song, “Is This Where You Want to Be?” Good song selection, still a terrible gimmick.

Episode: “House of the Rising Sun”
Director: Michael Zinberg
Best Scene: Matt Campbell: Flashback when Jin gives Sun the ring and proposes. Jin truly loves Sun, made sacrifices he didn’t really want to make but he wanted to be with Sun. Matt Lemmon: Adam and Eve discovery, no doubt.
Best Line: “I found this in the wreckage and I figured, hey, why let a $20,000 watch go to waste?! Which is ridiculous, since time doesn’t matter on a damn island!” Micheal to Jin as he returns watch and releases Jin from handcuffs with one violent swing of an ax.
Best Throwaway Moment: Charlie commenting on Jack and Kate’s “verbal copulation.” Also: Where did Sayid’s axe come from for chopping wood? An axe on the plane? Locke’s buffet o’knives is one thing, but an axe?
Worst Scene: Very beginning of episode when Kate is asking Jack about his tattoos. Seems silly plus his answers are pretty silly as well, obvious writers hadn’t thought up an idea yet.
Revelations: The backstory of Jin and Sun; Sun had plans to abandon Jin at the airport; Sayid tells Micheal where he’s from; Adam and Eve are found in the caves; Sun speaks and understands English; Locke knows Charlie is a junkie.

Next Episode: “Confidence Man” in which we learn all of Sawyer’s hair-care secrets.

(All images and ep-title links are courtesy Lostpedia.com)

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Categories: Lost, Reviews

A Life Lived in the Light

February 1, 2012 7 comments

I only remember going to see three movies with my grandfather. None of the three was much of a success. I’m sure there were some films when I was very young: E.T. and Sleeping Beauty come to mind for some reason, but at that age I was so happy for bright lights and popcorn it didn’t really matter what I was watching or who I was with.

The first one I remember seeing was Back to the Future Part II. The year was 1989 and I was stoked beyond belief for this flick; the original BttF was the first PG entertainment I remember enjoying, and the marketing blitz for Part II was overwhelming to a 10-year-old (remember Pizza Hut’s Solar Shades?). It was afternoon on New Year’s Eve, and my parents and I went to see it at the old North Town Mall theater. We took my grandparents. For starters, they were prone to talking–loudly–through movies anyway. Second, Back to the Future Part II is a terrible film to see if you haven’t seen Back to the Future Part I. My folks and I left the theater confused by the plot; Nonee (my name for my grandmother) and Pop left the theater convinced we had slipped them drugs, though in firm agreement that that Michael J. Fox was a very nice-looking young man.

The second film was The Fugitive. My cousin Jason was in town and The Fugitive TV series was one of my grandfather’s favorites. I remember him being very excited and enjoying the show, at least until a tornado shut down the movie and forced us all to take shelter for an hour or so. We finished the movie, but half of us were asleep by the time the credits rolled.

Our final trip to the theater was in 1996 (I think). It was my first summer working at the Campbell 16 theater, my go-to summer job in high school, and The Island of Dr. Moreau remake, starring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando, had just come out. Because Pop enjoyed the original story and 1977 version starring Burt Lancaster (and because I was very much of a mind to show off my employee comp tickets whenever possible) I took him to see it. What a horrible mistake. The film would have been abhorrent even without the bizzare costumes and that rave scene with animal-people rutting all over the screen. I’m sure Pop had no idea what he was watching, or at least had the decency to not act appalled, and for that I am thankful. He thanked me for the tickets and never asked me to go see another movie. To my knowledge it was the last movie he ever went to see in a theater, though I could easily be wrong. With girlfriends and college on my doorstep (and our all-too-infrequent outings soon to be dominated by baseball games at Price Cutter Park, and then Hammons Field), I have certainly never seen another one with him.

Our lack of time spent in a dark movie theater feels appropriate, though. My relationship with my grandfather has been one I’ll remember for light. I’ll remember hot summer days at the lake, crisp spring afternoons at the ballpark, warm summer evenings in his garden, and bright mornings at Ozark City Hall when I was a boy (those mornings smelled of coffee and, when he would walk me around the garage where they parked the city’s fire trucks, diesel fuel). The light is figurative, as well: My grandfather baptized me. He performed my wedding ceremony. He prayed over a good majority of my holiday meals and is the guiding light in our family, the one person who everyone rallies around and looks to when times are less than perfect. His light is no less bright in the lives of the thousands of students, servicemen, parishioners and city patrons he has served in his multitude of careers.

This trip down memory lane is bittersweet, and necessary. I choose entertainment for this particular bit of navel-gazing because it has become my currency on this blog, for better or worse. It’s a language to speak. As many of you who love him well already know, Pop is in inpatient Hospice at St. John’s. He fell on Thursday in his apartment in Ozark and was admitted to the hospital for a not particularly serious-seeming gash on his forehead. He was walking and talking, if a bit loopy, on Friday. And on Saturday he never woke up.

Doctors tell us the bleeding and swelling and other complications from the fall are simply too much for a Parkinson’s-ridden 89-year-old man to overcome. He is being kept comfortable with family by his side at all hours, and we stand ready to be with him in his final moments, if at all possible, whenever they may come.

While you’re always prepared for something like this when someone is as old and frail as Pop, the suddenness of this injury has been surprising, and I haven’t quite figured out my feelings about what is going on. That time will come.. My mother, who has been his main caretaker for much of the last four years, is foremost in my thoughts right now, though everyone has a special connection with him. I am grateful for my own memories, the time I have been able to spend with him living so close (I grew up across the street). I am happy he was able to meet his great-granddaughter, who I’ m sure he would have one day addressed as “Sally.” I am enjoying flipping back through those mental files, even if I am not enjoying the current. hopefully brief, limbo before all of Ozark (and beyond) can help us celebrate.

This is not a unique story. Everyone loses family members. If they’re lucky, they lose grandparents that we all love as much as I love Pop. I will have more to say about him, but this bit of sharing just sort of spilled out tonight. Into the light.

ML

Categories: Movies, Navel Gazing