Lost Dueling Analyses: The Plot Thickens
Two out of two washingtonpost.com analysts (movie editor Jen Chaney and I) agree: last night's "Lost" rocked. Warning: Spoilers aplenty ahead.
Liz: With five shows to go, we're finally getting somewhere.
I knew the episode would deliver the second Sayid opened his mouth and asked Juliet the questions any marooned crash survivor who has been antagonized by a hostile native population would ask given the opportunity. The questions that Jack, Kate, Locke and Sawyer somehow failed to form in their many dealings with the Others: "What are you people doing on this island? Why are you terrorizing us? Making lists? Taking our kids? I want to know everything. Who are you?"
We didn't necessarily get answers to any of those questions, but our little show finally returned to form -- the plot was taut, the dialogue was the right mix of flippancy and clues and the flashback advanced the story in a huge way.
Last week, I ended my portion of the analysis with a quote from Alvar Hanso: "The work of the Hanso Foundation has always been intended to bring rebirth to a dying land and a dying people." This week, that quote makes eerie sense considering Juliet's reveal as the island's own Dr. Moreau. We are left with the distinct impression that somewhere along the way, Juliet ceased being the researcher held on the island against her will and, essentially, drank Ben's Kool-Aid.
Jen, there's no way we can disagree this week, is there? Last night's show rocked, yes?
Jen: Absolutely no way we can disagree this week. I completely concur with everything you said. The episode did everything any "Lost" fan should expect: It was compelling, emotional (I thought Elizabeth Mitchell's performance was particularly strong) and, as you said, answered some important questions about the plot. It was so good, I'm willing to forgive and forget the ping-pong challenge and last week's pig roast side plot.
When Sayid said, "I want to know everything," I personally thought: "Amen, brother."
So much meat to dig into here, I don't even know where to start. But I'll cut to something semi-major: As the whammo ending proves, Juliet is working with Ben to pull one over on our "Losties." This was pretty obvious, but I believe they're trying to impregnate Claire again since she seems to be the only woman who can successfully give birth. (Shades of "Children of Men," anyone?)
I'm not sure Juliet isn't also pulling one over on Ben somehow, but I definitely think that Locke is part of the scam. It's funny that he disappeared with the Others, the people who want to stay on the island. I'm more convinced now that he didn't blow up the sub and that Ben convinced Locke to make it seem like he did in order to fool Jack.
Much more after the jump...
Liz: Agreed again. And I'll wager that Juliet also knows the sub is intact despite whatever Jack thinks he saw in her eyes when it "exploded."
Let's talk about Jack. The man is completely snowed. He's bought Juliet's story -- actually, as he said, he doesn't even want her story. He looked into her eyes and thinks he knows her soul in the same way President Bush knew Vladimir Putin's (and we all know how well that turned out). And, thanks to a chilling final flashback, we know Jack is dead wrong to trust this woman -- she's there at the behest of Ben for a yet-to-be-revealed reason and, whatever it is, it can't be good. Ben said she will not leave the island until she completes her work and I think that is what is driving her. Somehow her presence among the Losties is meant to further that work. Does she know, I wonder, that Sun is pregnant?
I tried to talk about Jack, but it keeps coming back to Juliet -- who, I agree, is taking her place beside Benry as one of the best-acted characters on this show.
Jen: I would not be surprised if she knows about Sun's pregnancy. There also has been speculation in the past that the Others are trying to get Kate knocked up, which could have happened during her hot tryst with Sawyer. But I think Juliet's initial objective is to get Claire pregnant again. The camera shot of Claire being injected was almost identical to the shot of Rachael, Juliet's sister, getting injected. I can't think that's an accident.
In Jack's defense, he's not wrong about Juliet's sincere desire to leave the island. I think that's what's motivating her to work with Ben. It's very similar to Michael, who was so intent on saving his son that he was willing to betray the Losties, even to the point of murder. I wonder if Michael will pop up again before the season is over?
I want to try to parse what Juliet told Ben during one of last night's key scenes. She said, "I think it happens at conception and if that's the case, there's nothing I can do about it. The only way to see if I'm right is to take a woman off the island." I assume that she is referring to whatever condition causes these women to die after getting pregnant, but I believe the dialogue is deliberately vague.
Liz: And since Claire (and Sun, supposedly) conceived before coming to the island, that would bear out Juliet's theory that the island has some kind of detrimental effect at the moment of conception. Though the island is obviously capable of throwing curveballs and breaking its own rules -- hence Ben's ability to get cancer.
I'm so intrigued with Juliet. Richard said Juliet had a gift because she'd risked everything to make her chemo-ravaged sister pregnant. But did he really mean she would do anything, thus making her the perfect fit for an island where pregnant women are viewed as expendable lab rats? Is she a savior or a butcher? Has the island masked her good nature or stripped away her civility and allowed her to become her true rotten self? And will she ultimately sacrifice herself for the good of the Losties or sacrifice the Losties for the good of Juliet?
I love it.
Oh, and before I forget, I wanted to go back to something we discussed a couple of weeks ago: The week Paolo and Nikki bit it I was annoyed at their insertion into earlier scenes and several folks wrote in to say I was dead wrong, that the alternate views of already-unfolded events were illuminating. I still stand by that assessment -- the retrofitting was ham-fisted and unnecessary. This week, I'd like to point out we saw the opposite: We again saw the bookclubbing Others rocked by the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, but our insight was expanded as we saw what happened after Ben dispatched Ethan and Goodwin off to impersonate survivors and take names. And that insight made all the difference. It added to our knowledge about the Others' contact with the outside world, let us know that Juliet's sister was in fact still alive and thriving (though we knew that already, didn't we?), that she was sleeping with Goodwin and gave us some tantalizing clues about Juliet's work on the island.
Jen: I hate to constantly refer to Doc Jensen's EW column on "Lost" as if it's some sort of Bible, but let's face it. It kind of is. Anyway, this week's installment offered some particularly illuminating stuff, including this idea that the Others are trying to continue propagating the human race, which the Dharma Initiative has attempted to destroy. (It's complicated; read his column to get the whole scoop.) If that's the case, then the work they are doing may really be for good. It's hard to say.
Re: Juliet's sister. Yes, it appears she is alive but I don't entirely trust it. The video of her, coupled with the newspaper, was very Daniel Pearl-esque and reminiscent of the way terrorists handle kidnapping videos. This comes back to my idea that "Lost" is somehow a commentary on the post-9/11 era and terrorism in general, which may sound wacky but I really think there's something there. The fact that Juliet first came to the island shortly after 9/11 -- three years before the date of the plane crash, which was Sept. 22, 2004 -- seems meaningful to me.
And on to another one of my themes, there definitely is some religious symbolism in all of these names. In the Bible, Benjamin is the son of Jacob. And who was Benjamin's mother? Rachel. I'm not saying Juliet's sister is literally Ben's mother, but it's a clever bit of nomenclature on the writers' parts. Also worth noting that biblical Rachel died in childbirth.
Liz: Whoa -- why the need to propagate the human race on this remote island (where they are failing miserably at it) when the rest of the world is producing children to the point of overpopulation?
As for biblical references, "Herarat Aviation" may well be another considering how close the word "Herarat" is to "Ararat," the mountain on which Noah's Ark lodged after the flood.
Yes, Ben mentioned the mysterious Jacob again last night. He told Juliet that Jacob would see to the disappearance of her sister's cancer himself if she stayed on the island. So are we to understand that the ultimate Others authority is somewhere off island? If you're into being confounded and frustrated, Kulturblog has a complete list of last night's Easter Eggs, coincidences and some interesting recent news about the show -- including this tidbit about "Lost" being the top DVR'd show in the country.
A couple things that bugged me about last night's episode -- one petty, one puzzling. Petty first: Would Juliet really travel to an unknown destination wearing a skin tight pencil skirt and six-inch stilettos? Puh-leeze. As for the puzzling: Hurley tells Juliet that the last Other to come into contact with the Losties -- Ethan -- ended up dead. Is Hurley forgetting about Benry's imprisonment and eventual escape?
Jen: On the human race question, I'm sure I'm not explaining it very well. Just read Jensen's column. It made some sense to me when I read it.
Liz: Will do.
Jen: Your two questions are good ones. More important than the pencil skirt was why she would chug that glass of orange juice tranquilizer, especially days after 9/11. Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid. Then again, that's kind of how my first day at washingtonpost.com was. "We're so glad to have you with us. Before you get started, please consume this Diet Coke laced with cyanide. The first day can be a bit bumpy."
Re: Hurley. Does he know Benry is an Other? He must, since Ben was on the dock when Hurley was. But did Hurley ever come into direct contact with Ben when he was being held prisoner? I'd have to review the season two eps to double check, but it's quite possible he wasn't in on all that business since only a few people were.
On a totally random note, I just revisited oceanicflight815.com, which launches the Hanso Foundation Web site. It's been a while since I've checked it out, so the letter from Alvar Hanso on the site may be old. But in part, it reads: "Thanks to the tireless efforts of my daughter, Rachel Blake, and a worldwide movement set against the dark entity that was Thomas Mittelwerk's regime, I have been exonerated and freed from imprisonment." Could this Rachel be the same Rachel as Juliet's sister? Peruse the letter to see what I mean.
Liz: Has to be. Blake is Juliet's last name. Good catch, Jen. (Update: Actually, this is incorrect. Juliet's last name is Burke. See the comments section for the mea culpa.)
Jen: I guess we should wrap up. I'm already looking forward to next week, a Desmond-centric episode and one that promises the debut of a new female character. And in two weeks, apparently we'll find out the identity of the father of Sun's baby. I'm not convinced it's Jin.
Liz: There's much more to discuss, but my head is starting to spin. I need some tranq-laced OJ. Let's keep it going in the comments section and in today's 2 p.m. ET Celebritology Live discussion.
A couple random observations in closing:
In last night's final beach scene with Jack and Juliet, she appeared to have orange splotches on her face again. I'd like to go on record as saying that this signifies that the "Lost" make-up department needs to try a different bronzer.
Also, Jen, thought you might want to pick up an animatronic polar bear actually used in the show for your little one's crib.
And, lastly, I was thinking maybe we could offer our expert services to this Tufts University class dedicated to studying "Lost." Yes, somewhere out there, there are parents writing tuition checks so their kids can watch primetime TV. What happened to serious academic pursuits, like my senior year "Literature of Rock and Roll" class?
Next Week: "Catch-22" -- Charlie questions whether Desmond has had another "flash" foreshadowing his death when coaxed into joining a trek across the jungle, and jealousy motivates Kate to turn to an unsuspecting Sawyer.
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