Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LOST in Translation V.14

Let's get this right out of the way.

I was totally digging last night's episode.

I know a lot of you (A LOT OF YOU) hated it, and I can't blame you. Two years ago, my least favorite thing about LOST was the mystical element. I wanted scientific abnormalities. I wanted nefarious government, rich guy ne'er do well intrigue. I did NOT want to hear anything else about this bullshit Jacob guy that I was convinced Ben had invented. I did not want to see Smokey ever again.

But here we are. And at the end of the journey, I'm finding the revelations delicious. And I especially love being right.

Last summer, we were re-watching the first season and I started taking notes to track common themes (lame, I know) and I started noticing that backgammon seemed to be imbued with significance.

Don't know anything about backgammon? Yeah, me either. But I looked up the Wikipedia, which basically said backgammon is the oldest board game for two players in the world, and takes luck and strategy to win. A player wins when all his pieces are removed from the board. Players can also raise the stakes in the game.

Hm...that sounds a lot like a game played for a bajillion years by Smokey and Jacob, except they play with people. And perhaps to win the game against Jacob, Smokey has to remove all his pieces from the board (i.e. the LOSTies).

But that could be a lot of mumbo jumbo on my part. Another thing I loved about this episode was that it set Jacob and Smokey up as brothers, just like Jacob and Esau. At the beginning of this season, I mentioned on this blog that I thought it would be interesting if the MIB and Jacob turned out to have a similar story to those Biblical brothers, who were lifelong enemies. Welp, look who gets a cookie! That's right...ME!

The thing I'm struggling with is whether it's good to be right. Because as much as I'm glad I was able to accurately predict some elements of the episode, I don't know if that necessarily made it great storytelling. The whole backstory was a little too simple...when you give a bad guy an empathetic backstory, it becomes kind of showing us Anakin before he was Vader.

Anyways, let's hit the big notes:
  • ADAM AND EVE: Well, I was right about the white and black stone being game pieces (not sure if it's backgammon or not). I was not right about the skeletons having to do with time travel. They are the boys' adoptive, murderous mother and what was once the Man in Black.
  • The Man in Black has a corpse?! If Jacob killed the Man in Black, but we've seen him interact with Richard, then how was that possible? The only thing I can figure is that Smokey figured out how to take form, especially in bodies that could really haunt the people they came in contact with.
  • The Man in Black is nameless: Did no one ever name that little boy? He was, truly, an afterthought, but from the moment of his birth, the adoptive mom (played by the glorious Allison Janney) seemed to recognize his potential and removed his own mother from the picture.
  • Why is he special? Is it because he has the power to see dead people? Or because he has the power to lie?
  • Wine = birthright: In the story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob offers Esau stew in exchange for his birthright. I thought it was interesting that in the LOST world, the power of Island Protector passes through a gulp of wine.
  • What is that light anyways? Okay, so the island has crazy magnetism and light coming from beneath. Will we ever get an explanation to this? I thought it was cool to see that the MIB had the idea to build the wheel, which we now know only moves the island. But his whole plan was really weird and I thought, "Why does he think this plan will work?"
  • Why did the light turn him into Smokey? I don't have any theories, but the entire scene reminded me of the scene in Indiana Jones when the Ark of the Covenant explodes with light and you're NOT SUPPOSED TO LOOK!!
  • How did the Adoptive Mom get to island? She said it was an accident. How did she come to be the Keeper of the Light? I also wondered if she had the same abilities to sway people and infect their brains like the MIB. She seemed to know exactly what to say to both her boys.
  • Smokey mentioned before that he had a crazy mother, and boy did he. But have you noted that her influence still dictates many of his actions? He still has no qualms about murder (like her) of men, because they are corrupt.
I think, of every line spoken on the whole damn show, Allison Janney spoke the most telling when she said, "Every question I answer will simply lead to another question. You should rest. Just be grateful you're alive."

Again, the show was back in the thick of the faith vs. science debate, and I really do believe that's what the show is about. At times, it seemed like it was about many different things, but at its core, it's always been about different world views. Is it better to question everything and search for answers, or better to have faith in a greater power and accept one's fate as it is? The show seems to have been a six-year-long pros and cons list for both, and I think most of us wrestle with the desire to just go with the flow or to seek for more.

One note about this week's episode: While it was super corny, I found myself disappointed to see that next week, we'll rejoin the castaways. Has anyone else come to hate most of them the way I have?

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