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Lost, Season 1, Episode 20: Do No Harm

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.

Episode: “Do No Harm”

Overall Episode Rating: A-

Like many TV dramas, life and death are major themes on Lost. Sometimes it’s subtle, as with the earlier episode “White Rabbit,” when Jack’s father’s death is used as a counterpoint to Jacks’ come-apart on the Island. It ends with Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech.

At other times the theme is as subtle as a hammer between the eyes, as with this Season 1 tearjerker. In fact, the theme of the episode is so overt that it requires a whole new theme in Michael Giacchino’s score to illustrate the humanity.

This sounds like I dislike this episode. I like it very much. It’s just a SUPER packed episode. In fact, it’s s0 packed it shouldn’t have had a flashback at all. The one we get almost ruins the episode.

But where did we leave off: Ah yes, Boone got his torso turned inside out by a falling Beechcraft. Locke, who lied about the accident to protect himself and the hatch, makes no appearance in this episode, which is all about two things: Jack trying to save Boone and (surprise!) Claire going into labor at the worst possible moment.

It’s a wonderful dichotomy. All season we’ve been waiting for a patented Major TV Death. The Marshal didn’t count, and Ethan certainly didn’t, so we’re left waiting to see who would be the first Lostie to bite the big one. Until he fell from the canopy in the plane, I’m not sure anyone had Boone, but here we are at the beginning of the episode, with Jack (helped in no small measure by Sun) frantically trying to sew up his chest, fix his shattered leg, and transfuse blood. The point: to illustrate the lengths Jack will go to to “fix” someone. We’ve been made aware of Jack’s fixer-fixation earlier in the season, but it’s hammered home here as he punctures Boone’s collapsed lung, gives Boone his own blood with a crude transfusion, tries to figure out what happened to him during Boone’s moments of lucidity, and contemplates amputating the dead leg.

It is also hammered home, to significantly less effect, in the flashbacks, which show Jack at a pimped out beach resort, struggling to write his vows before his wedding to Sarah, who is played by Julie Bowen, of Modern Family fame, back when she was just “that chick who was in Happy Gilmore.” (Let it be said that Bowen is a wildly better comedic actress than dramatic. I don’t buy her as Mrs. Jack Shepherd for a second, though if you continue watching the series maybe that’s the whole point.) Jack is desperately hoping his father shows up–this is obviously prior to their biggest fights–and when he does, the poolside conversation is awkward as all hell, and brilliantly played again by John Terry (Dad: “Do you love her?” Jack: “Absolutely.” Dad: “Then what are you doing out here.”). As Jack flashbacks (Jack-backs?) go, it’s utterly forgettable.

Meanwhile, back at the beach, Claire ain’t feeling so hot. She goes looking for Jack and then wanders off. With the rest of camp preoccupied with Boone, she stumbles into Kate in the jungle, where she begins to have contractions. Rut-roh! Kate sends Jin for Jack, and Jin comes back with … Charlie. And instructions for Kate to delivery the baby herself.

Quick aside: I feel that this decision is an early signal of the identity crisis that Jack will deal with from seasons 4-6, as he instinctively chooses “death” over “life” (there are those words again). By staying with Boone, who is clearly a lost cause, instead of going to perform a dangerous delivery, Jack is putting two MORE lives at stake. Jack looks like a hero in this episode, but is he really?

Back to Claire and her bye-bee. I’m the first to dog Evangeline Lilly, but this scene is superbly done, even though the writing just oozes with melodrama (“This baby is all of us!” Kate says to Claire, though she’s not wrong.) Charlie paces, Jin kindly tells him to chill. And ain’t it nice to see Daniel Dae Kim smile. I’d be willing to say he’s the most unconventionally handsome fellow on the show… when he’s not scowling.

You see where this is going: Scenes of Claire delivering her baby–she names him Aaron–are alternated with scenes of Boone’s final breaths, after he wakes up and tells Jack to not amputate his leg, and let him go. It’s quite lovely. And one of the nice things about a re-(re-re-)watch is that you KNOW this scene is going to be powerfully recalled much, much later in the series… which makes it so much better the first time around.

After the commercial break, we get Giacchino’s most classical theme, the simple piano strains of “Life and Death,” which we’ll hear again… and again… and again as Lost‘s story continues (a clip here). Claire introduces her baby to the rest of the castaways–you can totally tell Sawyer has NO idea what to do with a baby–as Sayid and Shannon come back from a romantic overnight picnic, where she confessed Boone’s obsession with her; though presumably NOT her night of drunken mattress dancing with the future CW hunk. Jack shares the news of Boone’s death with her, she cries, and we quickly get the feeling that Shannon’s relevance on the Island just took a major hit, too. The video of the final segment–including the final lines where Jack goes looking for Locke, who he says “murdered” Boone–is below.

Before we go farther, let’s post a cheesy fan YouTube video to Boone. I’ll try to do this for each Lostie who kicks the bucket. At least the ones who are worth it.

Meet “The Little Prince.”

Episode: “Do No Harm”

What the Title Means: “Do No Harm” is a doctor’s mantra. But Jack’s efforts to save Boone’s life significantly harm his well-being during his few hours left on earth. It could also apply to Kate’s fear of delivering Claire’s baby (which she apparently does flawlessly).

Director: Stephen Williams

Best Scene: The last 10 minutes of the show are borderline flawless, unless you just can’t get past Maggie Grace’s acting. The silence of the final segment is powerful. I’m a little more susceptible to the tear-jerking baby scene than I used to be, so sue me. In truth the final “Jack’s angry” conversation with him and Kate doesn’t even belong in this episode; the emotional ending has all the impact needed.

Worst Scene: Jack and Sarah’s one-on-one banter is enjoyable, I don’t buy the dramatic chemistry. Her toast at their rehearsal dinner is eyeroll-worthy–though it does share clues about how they met–as is the wedding scene.

Best Line: “Tell Shannon. Tell her…” Boone’s last words. We’re not sure what he wanted, though we have an idea. Figured it would be good to include the first final words of a major character. Boone was annoying, but he didn’t deserve to be made into a aviation pancake.

Best Throwaway Moment: Aaron. No! I don’t mean Claire’s baby should literally be thrown away, but does anyone else think that Lost delivers the biggest, whitest, cleanest babies in television history? I mean, my god; Aaron pretty much walks out of there, drops his book bag at at Claire’s feet and asks to be driven for Fourthmeal. Also, the Jin/Charlie stuff is pretty good.

Revelations: Jack was married to a woman he saved from paralysis; Boone dies; Claire has her baby, a boy named Aaron; Sayid and Shannon are an item but she puts up the temporary stop sign.

Next Episode: “The Greater Good”

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

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Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 1, Episode 19: Deus Ex Machina

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.

Episode title: “Deus Ex Machina

Overall episode rating: A

I could literally write 5,000 words about this episode, and it would probably not be enough. It is one of the most iconic hours of the entire series. In an effort to err on the side of conciseness, let me list the indelible elements and explain their indeible-ness.

1. Finally, the hatch. It was discovered episodes ago, but since then we’ve only seen flashes of Boone and Locke working to unearth it. In this episode’s first scene, they’re pulling out all the stops, rigging a high-speed trebouchet to try and smash the glass. It doesn’t work, breaking the metal tip, which embeds itself in Locke’s leg.

2. Locke and the Island. In Locke’s previous episode, we learned that he used to be in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down for an unknown reason. Upon crashing on the island–immediately upon crashing–he was cured. But when the metal embeds in his leg, he doesn’t feel it. In fact, he’s losing the ability to use his legs as the struggle to open the hatch creeps on. We don’t learn how Locke wound up in the wheelchair, but we do learn the genesis of…

3. Locke’s absolutely heartbreaking back story. There’s a reason Locke was voted one of TVs’ most unfortunate characters by Entertainment Weekly (and they were talking about more than just the horrible hairpiece in this episode). These aren’t the “he’s a jerk to me but got me a job at the best hospital in L.A” problems of Jack Shephard, but something longer, darker and sadder. We knew Locke was an orphan. In this episode–as toy-store employee Locke ominously teaches a young boy the principle of the game Mouse Trap–he is approached by a woman who claims to be his mother. She tells him he’s special, and that his was an “immaculate conception.”

This, of course, prompts Locke–at that point not a spiritual man–to look for his father. He finds him, and they hit it off. They go dove hunting. Along the way Locke discovers that his dad will die without a new kidney. Locke gives it to him.

But it’s all a ruse. His mother was paid to set him up, and it was all an elaborate scheme to get Locke to give his conman father his kidney.

Now, on second/third/fourth watches, we see how naive and desperate Locke was to fall for the plan. Who just drives up to a rich man’s gate and is let right in? Who just offers their kidney to a man they first meet in their 30s? But that’s John Locke, and his simple-minded trust makes it all the more gut-wrenching when he climbs out of his car, white T-shirt soaked with blood from his just-removed kidney wound, and screams at his father to let him in the gate. He doesn’t.

It is no less than one of the most heartbreaking character-development episodes in TV history.

“Hi. I was voted second to only Jerry Sandusky in the ‘Worst People On Earth 2005’ pageant.”

A quick aside on Locke’s father, played by Kevin Tighe with gleeful slime: He’s one of the ancillary Bad Three of the show, which could include Sun’s father, Mr. Paik, and the as-yet-unintroduced Charles Widmore. A big, bad baddie, though not as powerful as the other two, which somehow makes him even more despicable. Fortunately, the story (and the Island) aren’t done with him yet. And we haven’t even learned the Sawyer connection…

4. The vision. In a creepy dream sequence, Locke sees a number of things at the hatch: A Beechcraft airplane crashing on the Island; a bloody Boone standing there chanting “Teresa falls up the stairs, Teresa falls down the stairs”; his mother pointing at the sky; himself in a wheelchair. Trippy stuff.

5. The Beechcraft. The vision of the plane wasn’t BS. Locke leads Boone–who is starting to get frustrated with the Project Hatch–deep into the jungle to find the yellow-and-white propeller plane and, sure enough, it’s there… and it’s been crashed for years, caught in the canopy on the edge of a cliff. Locke, his legs becoming more and more useless, sends Boone up. In the plane he finds. Virgin Mary statues filled with heroin (“Charlie Pace Likes This”). As he investigates (which includes finding a body–more on who it is next season), the plane crashes to the ground with him in it. But not before…

6. The radio. Right before the plane falls 100 feet, Boone tries the radio in the cockpit. The static covers most everything, but after he says “We’re the survivors of Oceanic flight 815” he hears “WE’RE the survivors of 815!” Which is, of course, awesome. Unfortunately Boone’s not going to get to tell anyone because…

7. Boone falls. He’s pretty effed up. Big time. Like, so big the makeup folks from The Walking Dead are probably jealous of the job the Lost creatives did on his torso.

8. But Locke’s suddenly better. Whatever happened, Locke is able to carry Boone back to camp, telling Jack “he fell off a cliff.”

9. Jack immediately goes to work on Boone, but it’s clear immediately that things are not good. Jack screams for Locke to tell him exactly what happened.

10. But Locke is gone. As Giacchino’s score soars, the camera cuts between 1.) bloody, white T-shirt-wearing flashback Locke pounding the roof of his car and screaming that life isn’t fair and 2.) bloody, white T-shirt-wearing Island Locke pounding the roof of the hatch screaming that he was just trying to do what the Island wanted. Suddenly, the window of the hatch fills with light. Locke gets a look approaching rapture in his eyes. The final shot retains a place among the top 10 iconic images of the show, if not top 5. And everyone who wasn’t hooked on Lost after the first four episodes is totally hooked now.

Bonk.

Episode: “Deus Ex Machina”

What the Title Means: “Deus Ex Machina” is Latin for, essentially, “the God in the Machine” or “the ghost in the machine”. This episode could apply to the Hatch, which lights up; the plane, which produces a voice on the radio; or the entire concept of the Island and its powers. Or, perhaps, it represents John Locke’s entire life, which we’re only just now seeing follows a set of rules all its own.

Director: Robert Mandel

Best Scene: There are many of them, but I have to go with the final couple of minutes, as a scene of the still-bleeding Locke pleads to be let into his crook of a father’s home is intercut with Jack’s efforts to save Boone and Island Locke pounding on the roof of the hatch. It’s embedded above.

Worst Scene: Unfortunately they had to involve the rest of the cast somehow (the showrunners of later seasons wouldn’t have bothered) but the whole plot of “Sawyer needs glasses” is silly even by Season 1 standards. It does set up the great scene where Jack quizzes Sawyer about hooking up with prostitutes and STD outbreaks in front of Kate. We also learn that no one solders a pair of Tortiseshell rims like Sayid!

Best Line: “Dude. It looks like someone steamrolled Harry Potter.”: Hurley when he sees Sawyer’s specs.

Best Throwaway Moment: It’s only prescient to those who have finished the series, but the opening scene where Locke explains Mouse Trap to a young boy smacks of Season 6 and the Jacob/Man in Black cat-and-mouse game. Good stuff.

Revelations: Locke was conned out of a kidney by his real dad; a Beechcraft once crashed on the Island, the wreckage contains drugs; Boone is crushed when the plane falls; there is someone else on the Island within radio-shot, claiming to be the survivors of 815; there’s something–at least a light–in the hatch; Sawyer is farsighted, has the Clap.

Next Episode: “Do No Harm” (Ominous title for Boone, wouldn’t you say?)

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

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV

Lost, Season 1, Episode 18: Numbers

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.

Episode Title:Numbers

Overall Rating: B

Lost episodes that focus on individual characters developed reputations that eventually became hard to shake. Sayid episodes were “Dark.” Jack episodes were “Important.” Locke episodes were “Powerful.” Kate episodes were “God-awful.” You get the idea.

But many people still don’t have a good feeling for where Hurley episodes fit in. Now, after three-plus watches of Lost, I am finally prepared to bestow Hurley’s adjective: “Underrated.”

To tell the truth, I was not looking forward to “Numbers.” I remembered the premise but I thought it was an oddly placed hour, right between a couple of quality character-driven stories and “Deus Ex Machina,” the next episode, which begins the Season 1 endgame in earnest.

I was wrong not to look forward to the episode–it’s actually very good–but I was correct in thinking it’s oddly placed. By this point in season one we’ve seen three Jack episodes, two Sawyers, two Kates, two Charlies, one Sun and one Jin, and at least one of each of the other main cast members. This is the first time we’ve gotten to know Hurley, and it was probably overdue. And honestly, except for the final shot of the episode, there’s not a single moment that couldn’t have happened earlier in the season.

Regardless, it was worth the wait to get to know the character that, many theorize, is the writers’ chosen avatar for the fans of Lost: Confused, friendly, funny ol’ Hurley. Periodically throughout the season, Hurley has referenced the fact that he is rich, and in “Numbers” we find out that it’s true, as well as how he came into that money. It was the lottery, where he played a set of mysterious numbers (4-8-15-16-23-42), which with this episode joined the A-list of Lost folklore items (some would say “red herrings”). He picked up these numbers from a muttering fellow patient at (big reveal!) the Santa Rosa Mental Institute, where he had previously been a patient.

In short, things don’t go as Hurley would expect after winning the lottery. His grandfather dies during his news conference, the house he buys his mom burns down (as she breaks her ankle), he’s arrested for being a suspected drug dealer, and his money doubles when a factory he owns burns down. Hurley, naturally, assumes the money–more specifically the numbers–are bad luck. When he asks the man at Santa Rosa where he got them, though, the dude flips out, screaming that the numbers are evil, that he heard them from Sam Toomey, a former inmate.

The chase for answers takes Hurley to Australia, where he finds Toomey’s widow. The woman–who has a prosthetic leg (what is it with wooden-limbed Aussies?)–says Sam had heard them over a radio broadcast while monitoring the south Pacific. She also gives Hurley a verbal tongue-lashing for thinking the numbers are bad luck. Of course, we know what happens to Hurley on the way home from Australia…

Here’s a video that is helpful in explaining the numbers as presented in “Numbers.”

On-Island, the numbers are the MacGuffin for Hurley to venture into the jungle in search for Rousseau after he finds “his” numbers listed over and over on her maps. Charlie, Jack and Sayid give chase, and most of the episode covers their trek, including Hurley triggering (and escaping) a booby trap and Charlie and Hurley making it over a creepy rope bride over a canyon.

Hurley eventually find Rousseau, and the resulting conversation is one that I always forget about until it happens. And for that I’m thankful, because it’s a nice surprise every time. The high points are hit in the above conversation: Hurley bearing his soul to a stranger, lamenting his “funny-guy” role on the Island; his desperation for answers.

The most interesting part of the conversation, though, is when Rousseau explains why she wrote the numbers on the map in the first place: Her French science crew wrecked on the Island because a radio frequency was transmitting the numbers in the Pacific. This was, we presume, the same frequency that Toomey heard. The science team crashed and found the source of the signal: The radio tower where she eventually changed the transmission to her distress signal, which played for something like 16 years. Hurley’s hug for Rousseau when she says he isn’t crazy–indeed, admits the numbers are cursed–is a nice moment.

The lesson, which we’ll see repeated throughout the six season: Hurley’s honesty and inherent goodness more often than not get results. He gets his answers and Sayid gets a battery he needs for the beacon on the raft.

But the episode wasn’t quite done yet. As our characters wind down for the night, we get our first good glimpse of the hatch, which Locke and Boone have been working to unearth for weeks, and inscribed just under the hatch door? Hurley’s numbers. And we have the first excellent “BONK!” moment in at least a half dozen episodes.

Elsewhere:

–Locke asks Claire to help him with a project. There are two or three scenes of her helping him build something. At the end of the episode he turns it over and we (and Claire) find out it’s a cradle. She didn’t recognize it until he turned it over? What to cradles look like in Australia?

–At the end of the episode Charlie opens up about his drug problem to Hurley, which is a well-done scene. Hurley tries to open up and tell Charlie about his lottery win, but Charlie doesn’t believe him. Poooooor Hurley.

Episode: “Numbers”

Director: Daniel Attias

Best Scene: Hurley and Rousseau’s gunpoint conversation in the jungle. It’s a nice example of human elements (Hurley’s desperation) mixing with some plot details of the show (how the numbers also lured Rousseau to the Island).

Worst Scene: I know they’re setting up the Locke-as-father-figure storyline from Season 2, and Terry O’Quinn is always good, but the Locke-builds-a-cradle-for-Claire stuff just feels squeezed in.

Best Line: Sawyer to Walt when he’s watching the others build the raft: “I am helping, Short Round. I’m watching for arsonists.” Hahaha. Short Round.

Best Throwaway Moment: In Hurley’s accountant’s office, he is told that he is now the primary shareholder of a box company in Tustin, Calif. Where we (but not Hurley) know that one John Locke is a regional shipping manager. Honorable mention: The first scene of towel-on-head Hurley, stomping across the beach, is intercut with the hardcore rap coming from his stereo in a subsequent flashback. Pretty funny.

Revelations: Hurley actually did win the lottery; Rousseau heard the numbers coming from the radio tower, which caused her team to crash there; Hurley was in a mental institution; the numbers are stenciled into the front of the hatch, which Boone and Locke have almost entirely unearthed.

Next Episode: “Deus Ex Machina”

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

“I am helping, Short Round. I’m watching for arsonists.”

Categories: Lost, Reviews, TV