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Lost 5.7: The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham February 26, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 12:41 pm
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This week’s episode unraveled the mysteries surrounding John Locke’s departure from the island, his visits to the Oceanic Six, and the circumstances of his death. Viewers didn’t have as much time travel and Island mythology to sort through as the last couple of episodes. Instead, we were given a mostly chronological narrative that took us from the Island time wheel, to Tunisia, to Los Angeles, with a few other stops along the way.

The Tragic Tale of John Locke, a.k.a. Jeremy Bentham

  • By filling in more missing pieces in the puzzle of Locke’s life, the writers reminded us how tragic and lonely that life has been. In earlier seasons we saw the horrible way his mother and father treated him, how he was bamboozled out of a kidney, how he was always searching for his place in the world and never finding it.
  • Over the years, he has built up a lot of bitterness and anger, and only when he crash landed on the Island for the first time did he start to feel at home. Finally, he felt special. Not only could he walk again, but people were telling him that he was important. We’re left to wonder, especially after his off-island encounters with the Oceanic Six (who mostly think he has delusions of grandeur), how much of his “specialness” is wishful thinking, and how much is truth.
  • His confidence and greater purpose on the Island are a stark contrast to his off-Island hopelessness and powerlessness – he was unable to convince a single person to return to the Island with him. In addition to his emotional despondency off the Island, he also returned to physical limitations. Once again, he found himself confined in a wheelchair – an all too real reminder of the man he was before he found his purpose on the Island.
  • The pivotal scene in the dilapidated hotel room was difficult to watch. Locke had been reduced to a mere shell of a man, he didn’t know who to trust, and he was ready to kill himself, more to end his suffering (“there is no helping me… I’m a failure”) than because he believed this would lead him back to the Island. I am sure in the back of his mind he was holding on to a shred of hope that Richard knew what he was talking about when he said Locke would have to die, but since he hadn’t convinced anyone to return to the Island, he probably didn’t think his death would have much affect on the situation. (As it turns out, his message from Christian Shepard to Jack did convince Jack that they should go back, since this is when Jack started flying again in a blind attempt to return. Ironically, then, his wish that Jack had believed him, written on his suicide note, did come true.)
  • I’d like to think that Locke is special, and that he will play an important role in the fate of the Island. Obviously the fact that he’s come back to life on the Island suggests that he is destined for greatness and a pivotal role in the Island’s future. His whole-hearted embrace of his role has, however, set him up to be manipulated. We saw plenty of that in this episode.

Charles Widmore and Locke

  • When Locke turned the Island wheel, he landed in the middle of the desert in Tunisia, just as Ben did after he turned the wheel. According to Widmore, that’s because this is the Island “exit.” It must be another electromagnetic hotspot. Widmore had a camera set up on this very spot, anticipating that Ben would trick Locke into leaving the Island, as Ben tricked him into doing years before.
  • Widmore claims that he wants to help Locke get back to the Island, because he will play an important role in the coming war. (If Locke doesn’t go back, the wrong side will win.) He also defends himself, since Locke has only ever heard Ben’s “lies” about him. Widmore claims that he was the rightful leader of the Others (“his people”), and they peacefully protected the Island for three decades, until Ben manipulated him into leaving. (Who hasn’t been manipulated by Ben?) It’s interesting that Widmore has been waiting to talk to Locke again since he was 17 years old, but for Locke it’s only been four days since they met.
  • It is Widmore who gave Locke the pseudonym Jeremy Bentham, and explained to him the difficulty of convincing the others to return to the Island – since they had moved on with their lives and kept the truth of their experience a secret. He’s been watching the Oceanic Six, because he’s “deeply invested in the future of the Island.” Conveniently, he doesn’t want Locke to mention that he’s involved in the quest to return them to the Island, since everyone has been listening to Ben’s lies about him.
  • So who can be trusted? Widmore? Ben? Neither? My guess is that they both have motives that they aren’t sharing. Widmore’s justification for sending his private army to the Island was that he needed to have Ben removed, so it could be Locke’s time. “The Island needs you, John. It has for a long time.” So is Widmore just telling Locke what he wants to hear (Ben’s usual manipulative technique), or does he really believe that Locke is the rightful new leader of the Others? Up until now, we’ve only seen Widmore as a power-hungry, ruthless entrepreneur, and could only assume that he wanted to find the Island to exploit its unique properties. But, now that we know he once lived on the Island, and had a stake in its future, we must question what is true and what his intentions are. One of Widmore’s statements was certainly true – that he hasn’t tried to kill Locke yet. Ben tried to kill Locke once on the Island (remember when he shot him in the gut and added him to the pile of bodies in an open grave?), and shortly after Locke’s Tunisian encounter with Widmore, Ben succeeds in killing him, making Widmore’s words prophetic.
  • Locke told Widmore about Richard’s statement that Locke must die to convince the others to come back. Widmore’s reply to this was that he wasn’t going to let that happen. Again, is he just telling Locke what he wants to hear, or is he really interested in protecting Locke from Ben? (We can assume that Ben and Richard are on the same side of this conflict.)
  • Once this new relationship, built on a shaky foundation of trust, was established, Locke set off with Mr. Abaddon to meet with the Oceanic Six.

Locke and the Wise Orderly

  • Mr. Abaddon
  • We saw Mr. Abaddon several times in the past, standing in the shadows, sending cryptic messages to the Losties, and otherwise being creepy. Locke remembered him as the orderly who first suggested that he go on the walkabout in Australia, which is what led him to the Island.
  • Is Mr. Abaddon trustworthy? Hurley doesn’t think so. He was visited by Mr. Abaddon under false pretenses, and thinks he’s “evil.”
  • Mr. Abaddon described his job as “helping people get to where they need to get to.” If we can interpret all of his words and actions through that filter, then we can’t really trust that he’s ever telling the truth, only telling people what they need to hear.
  • Is Helen Norwood really dead? Mr. Abaddon claims she died of a brain aneurism, but perhaps this is just what Locke needed to hear to go back to the Island. If the one person he really cared about is dead, then there’s nothing to keep him from returning to the Island.
  • I certainly wasn’t expecting Abaddon to be shot and killed – or for Locke to be involved in a subsequent car crash. Once those events had unfolded, though, I figured Ben was responsible. He couldn’t safely get to Locke until Mr. Abaddon was out of the way.

The Return of Evil Ben

  • Just when we had gotten semi-comfortable with Ben as a weasly but good-intentioned sidekick to Jack, we see his evil side again. While Locke was meeting with Walt, and we can assume, the other Island survivors, Ben was looking on to see what was brewing. Always watching, always collecting ammunition for his arsenal of manipulation.
  • The next thing we know, he is eliminating a threat, Mr. Abaddon – just who Abaddon was a threat to remains a mystery. It makes the most sense that Ben simply killed Abaddon so he would be free to manipulate Locke without Widmore finding out about it.
  • When Ben bursts into Locke’s hotel room, interrupting his suicide attempt, he claims that he wants to protect Locke, and that Widmore and Abaddon were dangerous (the same thing that Widmore said about Ben.) He reminds Locke that Widmore is the reason he moved the Island, “to keep him away so that you could lead”) and suggests that Widmore is only using Locke in an attempt to get back to the Island.
  • Based on Ben’s murderous actions against Locke, it seems clear that he is using Locke to get back to the Island. He told Locke, “You’ve got too much work to do. We’ve got to get you back to the Island so that you can do it.” Maybe Ben believes that; maybe that’s why he killed Locke – because Richard said he would have to die for the plan to work. But, rather than let Locke kill himself, he wanted to find out what he knew first. And Locke was very helpful with the details. Ben quickly learned that Jin was alive (which would come in handy for convincing Sun to return), and that Eloise Hawking was the key to getting back to the Island. Once he was sure Locke had told him everything he knew, he strangled Locke without flinching one time.
  • At this point, I’m starting to trust Widmore more than Ben. Both men seem to think that Locke is important to the Island, but Ben seems more concerned with reestablishing his purpose and authority there, whatever the cost for others involved. Widmore, on the other hand, hasn’t killed anyone yet that we know of, although he didn’t prevent his men from killing innocent people on the Island. There’s definitely a power struggle going on between Widmore and Ben, and we have no reason to completely trust either one of them. For now, I stand by my belief that Ben is manipulating those around him for the selfish purpose of returning to the Island, and his leadership role, that he begrudgingly left. I also wonder now if Widmore could be the one who beat up Ben when Ben went to the docks to, we assume, find and kill Penny. If Widmore found out that Abaddon had been killed, he would assume that Ben was responsible, so maybe he went to L.A. to investigate. Now that we trust Widmore a little more, it would be satisfying to see him protect his daughter and win a round against his most formidable opponent.

A New Beginning

  • The end of this chapter of Locke’s life came at the beginning of the episode, when the newest castaways found him standing in the water, wearing a suit. It seems that the Island’s healing properties have done the impossible and brought him back to life. No wonder that mango tasted so good to him! Too bad that everyone thinks he is crazy, and it doesn’t sound good that Walt had dreams about people not trusting him. (Speaking of Walt, they conveniently closed out his storyline, since “the poor boy has been through enough.”)
  • Caesar and Ilana are our newest castaways. So far I find them tolerable, and much more logically worked into the story than Paolo and Nikki. Ilana is the agent who was escorting Sayid in handcuffs on Flight 316, and Caesar seems to be quite an observant (he noticed Hurley disappearing when the plane lost control) self-preservationist (he kept a gun that he found to himself – reminiscent of Sawyer in his early days on the Island). Meanwhile, we can assume that it was Frank and Sun that snuck off in a boat in the middle of the night, most likely to locate Jin.
  • The question remains whether or not Jack, Kate, and Hurley – and therefore Jin, Daniel, Sawyer, etc. – are in the same time period as the new beach-front gang. Things would be much more complicated if they are separated by time. The only reason I have to think that they ended up in different places is that the plane itself landed on the Island, with most of its passengers still on board, while the three of them flashed away into the jungle before the plane landed.
  • The episode ended with Locke’s discovery that Ben was one of the survivors of Flight 316, and as he gazed down at an injured and sleeping Ben, he said matter-of-factly to Caesar, “He’s the man who killed me.” !!! What will Locke do next? Beat Ben up? Or thank him for helping him get back to the Island? I can’t wait to find out!

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Welcome to Dollhouse February 24, 2009

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 4:22 pm
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“Nothing is what it appears to be.” Let’s hope these words, which were the first ones uttered on the new series Dollhouse, are true. I’ll lose interest in this show if all it ever amounts to is a weekly costume change for Eliza Dushku as she takes on a new persona then climbs back into the doctor’s chair for her treatment before doing it all again a week later. Thankfully, we all know that Joss Whedon can take a show much further than our initial impression of it. So, I like to think of the “imprint of the week” as a launching point for a greater mythology, more indepth character development, and more complex relationships.

I am a little late and backwards with the way I’ve been introduced to Dollhouse. Honestly, I forgot to watch the pilot when it first aired. I did manage to catch the second episode, and I liked it enough to go watch the pilot on Hulu. Now I am all caught up and ready to share my opinion of Joss Whedon’s latest creation. My initial reaction: I am intrigued but find the show’s pacing a bit cumbersome.

“Actions have consequences.” “What if they didn’t?” This exchange early in the pilot episode gets to the heart of one of the show’s themes. The truth is, there are always consequences. The powers that be at the Dollhouse would like to think that they are making loads of money; their clients’ wildest dreams or deepest wishes are met; their “employees” are living a good life full of dips in the pool, massages, and no worries; and that no one is getting hurt along the way. I am sure that as the show develops, this perfect setup will begin to unravel. It should be interesting to watch it unfold.

“Did I fall asleep?” “For a little while.” This is the repetitious exchange of words between Echo and Topher every time she finishes a treatment. When she goes in, she is one person. When she leaves, she is Echo the blank slate. Such is the result of what is called a “wipe” and an “imprint.” Topher wipes away the personality for hire, and the next time around he imprints a new personality onto Echo. This basic premise is quite familiar, since My Own Worst Enemy had similar technology. But aside from the manipulation of personality and identity, the two shows take mostly different paths.

The Players: Here’s a closer look at the people who bring Dollhouse to life

  • Eliza Dushku as Echo – Echo is the main “doll” on which the show focuses. I look forward to learning more about Caroline, the girl Echo was before she agreed to have her personality wiped and to serve a five-year term at the Dollhouse. So far the details on what the alternative was are vague, but I’d guess she is avoiding a prison term.
  • Harry Lennix as Boyd Langdon, Echo’s Handler – Langdon and Echo’s relationship is shaping up to be one of the more interesting aspects of the show. He has moral qualms about his job as a handler, but he takes his responsibility for Echo seriously. In the second episode, he was willing to risk his own life to protect her from the crazy human hunter guy.
  • Fran Kranz as Topher Brink – The minute we were introduced to the Dollhouse’s resident geek, I immediately thought of Andrew from Buffy. Like Andrew, Topher seems to be having so much fun with his high tech gadgetry, that he forgets to think about the negative implications and potential destructiveness of his role. It would be nice to eventually have more insight into his character, but for now he is only around to explain the wipe and imprint process. The writers need to give his character something that makes him likable, though, because so far he just isn’t.
  • Tahmoh Penikett as Paul Ballard – Ballard is an FBI agent who was assigned to the Dollhouse case. He’s the only one who takes it seriously. He has a problem with people’s personalities being wiped out so that they can be imprinted with new ones. So far we don’t really know why he is taking this case so personally. But I am just happy that Penikett found a new role so quickly after wrapping up Battlestar Galactica, on which he plays fiery and loyal Helo.
  • Olivia Williams as Adelle DeWitt – I know Williams best as Bruce Willis’ wife in The Sixth Sense. She plays a more nefarious role on Dollhouse. She seems to be the one in charge, and has little to no qualms about the morally questionable nature of her business.
  • Reed Diamond as Laurence Dominic – Diamond most recent tv gig was on the short-lived Journeyman. And while I hope this show lasts longer, his character is not one of the main reasons to watch. He seems to be DeWitt’s right-hand man, sometimes her henchman. In the second episode he taunts Echo, knowing that her “blank slate” personality won’t put up a fight, or even know what he’s talking about. For that reason and many others, he is definitely a villain that you want to hate and do.
  • Amy Acker as Dr. Claire Saunders – It’s nice to see Amy Acker’s familiar face. She played Fred on Angel, a character who, once she grew on me, was one of my favorites. I hope her role as Dr. Saunders becomes more than just a guest starring appearance. Like Echo’s handler, Dr. Saunders seems to have mixed feelings about her involvement with the Dollhouse. If the show lasts long enough, I could see a team of rebels form, including Langdon, Saunders, Ballard, and Echo, who would work together to bring down The Dollhouse or uncover its secrets. For now, though, we’ll just have to wonder how Saunders survived her attack by Alpha.

The Structure:

  • Since there have only been two episodes so far, it’s too soon to say for sure what the structure will be. However, so far we’ve had an “imprint of the week” interspersed by flashbacks to events in the past.
  • Most notably, we’ve seen glimpses of Alpha’s escape and the damage he did. (Alpha was a “doll” who was apparently imprinted with violent tendencies and fighting abilities, and he used those to his advantage when he escaped, leaving a bloody mess and a pile of bodies behind. He seems bent on exposing the Dollhouse, but we don’t know who he is or what his motivations are yet.)
  • My guess is we will continue to see flashbacks a bit at a time to slowly piece together the mystery of Echo’s past, Agent Ballard’s motivation for discovering the Dollhouse, and Alpha’s path of destruction on his way to leaving a trail of bread crumbs for Ballard.

Along the way to seeing how the main storylines will connect, we’ll continue to see Echo experience life from the perspective of many different personas. At the end of the first episode, we see her former self, Caroline, say, “I want to do everything. Is that too much to ask?” We’ll get the answer to that question and many more over the course of this season. Assuming Fox lets it finish out the season. Like any Joss Whedon show, I’ll most likely watch it as long as it lasts.


Lost 5.6: 316 February 19, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 1:18 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What a fantastic episode! It continued this season’s trend of making references to previous episodes, gave us some new information to digest, and left us with some mindblowing questions.

The Opening Scene

Lost has had more memorable opening scenes than any other show, and this episode’s opening sequence is now one of them. In a near exact recreation of the opening to the pilot episode, we entered the scene with a close up of Jack’s eye, and then the camera pans up to reveal that he is in the midst of a jungle. He’s wearing a suit, as he was in the pilot, he runs through the jungle, pauses, keeps going, etc. Even the music is very similar. Only this time, instead of coming to a clearing that reveals beach front plane wreckage, he finds himself at the top of a waterfall, and Hurley is calling for help from the water below. I loved this homage to the exhilarating sequence that started it all, and it was a great kick off to the rest of this intense and fascinating episode.

The rest of the episode recounts the previous 46 hours, revealing how Jack, Hurley, and Kate ended up in the middle of the jungle back on the island.

Mrs. Hawking and the Tale of the Lamppost

  • The Lamppost, a Dharma station beneath a church, is the means by which the Dharma Initiative found the island.
  • The room was constructed over a “unique pocket of electromagnetic energy” that connects to similar pockets all over the world, one of which is The Island.
  • The Dharma Initiative gathered proof that such a place as The Island existed, but couldn’t locate it until a “very clever fellow” built a pendulum (the one that swings back and forth at this station) on the notion that “they should stop looking for where the island was supposed to be, and start looking for where it was going to be.” (Desmond wasn’t too keen on this idea). The clever fellow believed (correctly) that the island was always moving, which is one explanation for why the crash survivors were never rescued. By using a series of equations, clever guy was able to predict “where it’s going to be at a certain point in time.” (Any chance this smart guy could be Daniel?)
  • So, if you know where The Island is going to be at a certain time, you have a “window” for getting back there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay open for long, and this particular window will close in 36 hours. Their best shot at taking advantage of the window is to catch Flight 316, Ajira Airways, from L.A. to Guam. That flight will be passing right through the window.
  • Desmond’s solo: Desmond delivers his message to Mrs. Hawking that Daniel and the others on the Island need her help. She says she is helping and that the Island isn’t done with him yet. Desmond doesn’t want anything to do with it. He tells Jack they are being used as pawns, and he says he’s “done with the Island” and storms out.

The Rest of the Story (Mrs. Hawking and Jack’s backroom conversation)

  • Locke left a suicide note for Jack, and later in the episode, after Jack has failed in ridding himself of the unread note, we learn that it simply said, “I wish you had believed me.”
  • John, in his deceased, coffin-dwelling state, is going to be a “proxy,” serving as a substitute for Jack’s father, who was in a coffin on the original flight. The purpose? These former Island dwellers need to recreate Flight 815 as closely as possible to try to mirror the conditions that led them to the Island in the first place. To that end, Mrs. Hawking tells Jack to give Locke something that belonged to his father. He ends up dressing him in a pair of his father’s shoes.

Ben’s Loose End

  • “I made a promise to an old friend of mine. Just a loose end that needs tying up.” – I got a chill when Ben uttered these casual words. I knew he was referring to his vow to Charles Widmore that he would track down and kill Penny in revenge for Alex’s death. And after seeing Desmond at the Lamppost, Ben figures Penny is within his reach.
  • The next time we see Ben, he’s standing at a pay phone, his face covered in blood, his clothes soaked with water, his voice frantic and out of breath, as he explains to Jack over the phone, “I’ve been… sidetracked” and tells him to pick up Locke’s body from Simon’s Butcher Shop.
  • Worst case: this means that Ben succeeded in killing Penny. But I don’t believe that for a second.
  • More likely: Ben found Penny, but Desmond was waiting for him and wasn’t about to let Ben mess with his true love! Driven by his powerful love for Penny, it’s likely that Desmond gave Ben a blow to the head and a broken arm before throwing him overboard.
  • Whatever the case, I hope we get the full story on this “loose end” sooner than later.

Where’s Aaron?

  • What in the world? For me, this was the most unsettling development of the episode. Jack hears noises from his bedroom, and when he investigates, he discovers a distraught Kate curled up and in tears on his bed.
  • She tells Jack she’s going with him to the Island, but that if he wants her to go with him, he’ll never ask her about Aaron again.
  • So where is Aaron?! My guess is that Kate is taking her vision of Claire seriously, when Claire pleaded with her, “Don’t you dare bring him back.”
  • Best case, Kate took Aaron to Claire’s mother, explained that Aaron was actually Claire’s son, and left him in her care.
  • Worst case, something horrible happened to Aaron. But I don’t think so. I think that Aaron will still play a vital role on the Island. Hopefully we’ll get some answers about this mystery soon.
  • It was awkward watching Jack and Kate play house, like nothing unusual had happened, the next morning, when the big elephant of Aaron’s absence lingered in the room. At least Jack is keeping his promise not to bring it up.

Ajira Airways: Flight 316

  • Two episodes ago, Sawyer discovered an Ajira Airways water bottle in a boat that was pulled up on the shore of the Island. We can now assume that he, Daniel, and the rest of them had jumped three years into the future, and that some of the other passengers from Flight 316 had found their way to shore.
  • Jack, Kate, and Sun all show up at the airport as planned to catch their flight. Jack is surprised when he also sees Sayid and Hurley there.
  • Sayid seems to be doing his part, whether or not he knows it, to recreate the conditions of Flight 815. He is acting as a stand-in for Kate’s previous condition, since he’s now a prisoner being transported by a government agent, just as Kate was on the original flight.
  • Hurley seems in on the recreation game as well. He purchased 78 additional tickets to prevent other seats on the flight from being filled. I’m guessing there were 78 empty seats on Flight 815? I wonder how Hurley knew about the flight. Maybe Charlie told him, and told him to take a guitar with him. Interestingly, while waiting to board he is reading a Spanish comic book, “El Ultimo Hombre.” The caption on the back of the comic translates as “the last man on Earth.” The image of three men in safety suits on the back is reminiscent of the suits that Desmond and others wore on the Island when they thought it was contaminated.
  • Just before the doors to the plane close, Ben scurries inside, his arm in a sling, and otherwise looking bruised and battered. Ben is no longer at the top of the food chain in Island hierarchy. I get the feeling that he is grasping at straws to return to the Island and try to reclaim his former glory. Ben was reading James Joyce’s Ulysses on the plane. I’ve never read that novel, and while it is apparently extremely complex, a general connection between it and the show is that it is about a man’s journey through the ups and downs of life. Ben’s life has certainly had its ups and downs.
  • Frank Lapidus was the pilot of Flight 316! I was wondering if/when he was going to show up again. It seemed necessary for him to return to the Island as well.
  • The similarities to Flight 815 seemed to end when the turbulence began. Instead of the plane splitting apart and crashing, there was a blinding flash of light, similar to the ones that have been occurring on the Island. So then, where is the plane? Did it disappear when its occupants were transferred to the Island? Did it land gently in the water? Or something else?
  • Flight 316 is obviously a biblical reference to John 3:16, that most well known of Bible verses that speaks of how God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, and of the promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him. Locke is the obvious Christ figure, since he sacrificed his own life to save the lives of those on the Island. And his followers, aka the Oceanic Six, must believe in him and his plan, in order to return to their life on the Island (not an exact analogy to eternal life, but close enough). Based on the preview for next week, it looks like Locke will be resurrected.
  • Another biblical reference in this episode was Ben’s explanation to Jack about Thomas the Apostle, and how he required physical proof of Jesus’ wounds to believe that he had been resurrected. Jack asks if Thomas was convinced, and Ben replied, “We’re all convinced sooner or later, Jack.” It seems like Ben is drawing an analogy between Thomas and Jack here, since Jack has always required proof before he would believe in the impossible. Yet, just as Thomas was willing to risk his own life to return to Judea with Jesus, Jack is now willing to return to the Island with Locke, not knowing the consequences.

The Next Island Adventure Begins

  • While we will certainly still see glimpses of the events off the island (such as what happened to Locke after he turned the wheel – next week’s focus), it seems that the heart of the story is now recentered on the Island. Present day events will now be what is happening on the Island, and the off-Island adventures will once again be flashbacks, rather than flashforwards.
  • But then there’s the question of what time period Flight 316 landed in on the Island. Jack, Hurley, and Kate hardly had time to get their bearings, before the blue Dharma van drove up – oldies music blaring from the radio, and out stepped Jin, dressed in a Dharma-issued uniform, holding a gun. In the season premiere, we saw Daniel wearing a similar uniform and hanging out in the Orchid station.
  • Perhaps when John turned the wheel, Daniel, Jin, and the rest were sent back to the time of Dr. Marvin Candle – was that the 1980s? Maybe they are trying to pass as Dharma workers while they figure out how to blast back to the future. Whatever the case, it should be a wild ride.

I never wrote a post about last week’s episode. The new developments involved Locke’s encounter with Jack’s father, Christian Shepherd, who proceeded to “shepherd” him to the time wheel; Charlotte finally succumbing to the time flashes and dying; and the revelation that the smoke monster is a security system protecting the mysterious Temple. I’ll reserve extended thoughts on these developments until we get more information about them.

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Lost 5.4: The Little Prince February 5, 2009

Filed under: Lost,Television — Emily @ 12:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

Viewers were given plenty of food for thought on this week’s episode of Lost. Before I get to my analysis, here’s a quick rundown of what we learned this week:

The Characters:

  • Sun – She has hired someone to run surveillance on Ben, and she now has a gun in her possession (courtesy of a box of chocolates – how quaint) that she intends to kill him with.
  • Kate – She does her own spying, to find out who Mr. Norton’s client is. After following him to hotel where he meets with Claire’s mother, she thinks that is the person trying to gain custody of Aaron. However, apparently this was only a charade to mislead Kate, because his real client is Ben. As many viewers have suspected, Ben is manipulating Kate to give her a reason to go back to the Island.
  • Sayid – The massive dose of horse tranquilizers didn’t seem to phase him much, as he was quick to recognize that a supposed orderly was actually a hired assassin (hired by whom – Ben probably?) and deftly disabled him. I am guessing that Ben is orchestrating all of these events to bring the gang all together on the docks in Long Beach.
  • Charlotte – It was all but confirmed that she has been to the Island before, and that she was there for a significant amount of time, when Daniel explained to Miles that the reactions to the time flashes seem to be worse (like really bad jet lag) for people who have spent more time on the island. I still wonder if she is somehow Annie, Ben’s childhood friend.
  • Miles – When Miles develops a nose bleed, Daniel suggests that Miles may have been to the Island before and just not remember it. I read elsewhere that given this new development, it seems likely that Miles is Dr. Marvin Candle’s son – especially since we saw Dr. Candle with his wife and baby in the season premiere. Even if Miles is Dr. Candle’s son, we are still left to wonder how he ended up leaving the Island, and why he doesn’t remember that he’s been there before.
  • Ben – In the midst of manipulating everyone and everything, Ben is driving around in a Canton-Rainier Carpet Cleaning van. I figured that name must have some significance since it was shown several times. Sure enough, it’s an anagram for “reincarnation.” Perhaps this is in reference to Locke, whose body is most likely in the back of that van, and who will be brought back to life if all goes as planned. By the end of the episode, Ben had managed to gather Sayid, Jack, Kate, Sun, and Aaron at the docks. Now they just need to get Hurley out of jail and prevent Sun from shooting Ben.
  • Jin – I was ecstatic when those French folks rolled over the body and we saw that it was Jin. I had held out hope that he wasn’t really dead, and I am happy that I was right. Now he finds himself in a bizarre situation: newly stranded on the same island, but with a young Danielle Rousseau and her shipmates. He probably thinks he is hallucinating, since he doesn’t have Daniel around to explain what is happening. But backing up, I guess we are to assume that when the freighter exploded, he had jumped overboard, and within minutes, the Island moved, taking him along with it in time.

The Time Flashes – These jumps through time are playing out like a “Lost’s Greatest Hits,” and I’m loving it!

  • First Locke, Sawyer, and the gang find themselves a few years back, on the night that Locke was pleading for a sign and a purpose, and the light shone up out of the hatch as if in answer. Seeing that light again, even though we now know that was just Desmond going about his business, was still interesting. It reminded me how creepy it was the first time around. Moments later, Sawyer heads through the jungle to investigate a loud scream. Turns out it’s Claire, about to give birth to Aaron, and Kate is giving her a pep talk. I got all misty-eyed during this scene. It’s both sad and sweet – Sawyer probably thought he would never see Kate again, and now he is getting this glimpse into an amazing moment in her life. Unfortanately, his special moment is cut short when another flash occurs.
  • From night to day, next they found themselves jumping ahead again. They come across their campsite, but it has been abandoned. And there are a couple of boats pulled up on shore, containing a water bottle from an Indian airline. I’m guessing that there was another crash caused by the Island’s magnetic properties? The zodiac is gone, so they start paddling to the other side of the island in one of the new boats, but are soon after pursued by the people the boat belongs to. Thankfully, another time flash saves them from their pursuers and gunfire.
  • Now going from day to night, they are suddenly caught up in a heavy storm, still out on the water, but no longer being chased. When they make it back to shore, they discover wreckage that appears to be brand new. Locke flips over a container that says “Besixdouze,” French for B612, which just so happens to be the name/number of the asteroid that was the home “planet” to the Little Prince in Saint-Exupéry’s novel. (See below for my thoughts on these literary allusions.)
  • This was where things got really good. We are introduced to a group of French-speaking people on a lifeboat, and they come across a body that they then pull off of a piece of wreckage. Oh my goodness! It’s Jin!!! I’ve already mentioned my joy over this development, but I’ll just say again that this was a surprise for me. I’m so glad I don’t read spoilers. The episode ended with Jin having a conversation with a young, and very pregnant, Danielle Rousseau, before she was all crazy and Rambo-esque. Hopefully Jin will be reunited with his fellow castaways soon, so that he won’t think that he’s crazy.

The Little Prince

The most intriguing aspect of this week’s episode is the title, The Little Prince, taken from the French novel Le Petit Prince, by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In this classic fable, a pilot (the Narrator) has been downed in the Sahara desert and is trying to repair his plane when he sees an apparition of a Little Prince. They strike up a conversation, and for much of the book, the Little Prince relates stories of his home planet and his journey through the universe, including how he fell in love with a rose and his encounters with a wise fox.

The choice of the title “The Little Prince” could refer to various characters on the show for different reasons, but most notably Aaron:

  • Aaron Littleton – Before I even thought of the literary reference, I assumed the title was referring to Claire’s son. He’s always been treated as something of a golden child, even before his birth (when the psychic told Claire that she needed to be the one to raise him, and that he was special.) In this week’s episode, Kate and Jack take drastic measures when they learn that someone wants to take Aaron away, that someone knows who he really is. Also, since his last name is Littleton, Aaron is literally a Little Prince, but so far there are no connections that I can see to the literary character, unless it’s just something that hasn’t been revealed yet.

I did have a new thought after watching this episode, now that we have the added dimension of time traveling: what if Aaron must go back to the island because he is meant to be there and is necessary to its survival, because he was there in the past (as an older version of himself)? What if Aaron is Jacob, Richard, or someone else on the Island? His family tree certainly seems connected to the Island, since his grandfather, Dr. Shepherd, has been hanging out in Jacob’s cabin, and Claire disappeared into the jungle to hang out with her father. The most intriguing idea is that Aaron is Jacob. Perhaps this is connected to the idea of reincarnation (also hinted at in this episode with the anagram on Ben’s van). I also think it is significant that we were reminded of Aaron’s island birth. Sawyer could have observed Kate in any number of moments, but the writers chose the birth of Claire’s son. Maybe he is the Island’s Little Prince. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

  • Ben – We’ve seen two people born in the middle of a forest on this show: Aaron and Ben. Perhaps there is more of a link between these characters than we know. Ben’s mother died giving birth to him, and at this point, Aaron has been separated from his mother, Claire. They both seem to be special, based on what other people have said about them or how they treat them. To me, these similarities are further proof that Aaron is likely a person of significance on the Island. But as far as connections to The Little Prince go, there is one obvious one with Ben. When Ben turned the wheel and moved the island, he landed in the middle of the Sahara Desert. In Saint-Exupéry’s novel, the narrator is a pilot whose plane goes down in the Sahara Desert. The narrator learns much from the Little Prince he encounters. Although it’s not a direct comparison, Ben has many encounters with Jacob on the island. Maybe these are also encounters with Aaron, the Little Prince, if Aaron is Jacob.
  • Locke – At the end of The Little Prince, the Little Prince tells the Narrator that he must return to his home planet, and explains to him that “while it will look as though he has died, he has not, but rather that his body is too heavy to take with him to his planet” (I gathered this info from Wikipedia, since it has been years since I read this novel and I’m foggy on the details.) This reminds me of Locke, who has to die in order to make everything right again. Will Locke be reincarnated in a different body, or has his body been left behind while he’s actually still doing the Island’s work? One famous quote from The Little Prince sounds exactly like something that Locke would say: “One cannot see well except with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes.”
  • Jin – The revelation that Jin is still alive also seems connected to the chosen episode title. A French crew is shipwrecked on an island, similarly to the French pilot stranded in the desert, and they encounter a man there, with no explanation of where he came from. So in this sense, Jin is like The Little Prince. The reference to the Little Prince’s asteroid, B612, on the French ship’s wreckage, may just be another reminder of the episode’s title, or it could be suggesting that the island is not of this world. I’m not quite ready to bring alien theories into the mix, though, since I’m still digesting the whole time travel aspect.
  • Jacob – Is Jacob the Little Prince? Is the Little Prince Aaron? If so, what’s the point? So many questions!

One more thought about Lost’s connections to The Little Prince. In the novel, the Little Prince tells of his life on his planet. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about the Little Prince’s daily existence that sounds an awful lot like the lives of some of the Island’s dwellers, most notably Desmond, Ben, and Richard:

“The Prince spends his days caring for his ‘planet’, pulling out the baobab trees that are constantly trying to take root there. The trees will make his little planet turn to dust if they are not pulled out. Throughout the book he is taught to be patient and to do hard work to keep his ‘planet’ in order.”

Desmond has to care for the Island by pushing in a sequence of numbers regularly, and Richard and Ben both work hard and are very patient to keep the Island functioning the way it is intended to.

Maybe these are just more literary allusions, presented to viewers to give us something to dissect, similarly to previous references to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Or, maybe they are intended to give us clues to future revelations. Whatever the case, I am fascinated.

Related Links:

  • Little Prince Theories – This page contains other theories related to The Little Prince. I haven’t even read any of these yet, but I’d imagine there are some similar ideas to the ones I’ve presented here.
  • Lost 5.3: Jughead – My review of last week’s episode

The Best of The X-Files February 4, 2009

The X-Files is number two of “My Top Ten All-Time Favorite TV Shows.” And deservedly so. For nine seasons, viewers followed Mulder and Scully into the world of bizarre, disturbing, and not-of-this world phenomena. Sometimes we laughed, sometimes we cried, sometimes we covered our eyes, sometimes we couldn’t believe our eyes, and sometimes we simply didn’t know what was going on. The mythology didn’t always fit together nicely (the alien-human hybrid business and such were never quite resolved), but the show was top notch when it came to the memorable characters, the freak of the week plots, and perhaps most notably, the chemistry and ever-evolving relationship between Mulder and Scully. After browsing through’s X-Files episode guide, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite X-Files episodes. I couldn’t pick just ten, so instead you get twelve.

  1. “Pilot” (Season 1) – The one that started it all. Newly paired agents Scully and Mulder headed to small town Oregon to investigate some unsolved murders, possibly linked to alien abduction. I loved that they returned to this town years later, and that Billy Miles reappeared as a super soldier in season 8. While watching the pilot, it was clear that this show had a lot of potential, and that potential was realized over the show’s nine year run.
  2. “Humbug” (Season 2) – This episodes has Mulder and Scully traveling to a Florida town inhabited by circus and sideshow performers to investigate the death of the Alligator Man. It was bizarre and hilarious at the same time, but there was also some social commentary about Otherness in our culture.
  3. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3) – This episode came together beautifully and is one example of how The X-Files could be poignant when it wanted to be. Mulder and Scully enlist the help of a psychic (wonderfully portrayed by Peter Boyle) when they investigate a serial killer who targets fortune tellers. The episode is well written, finely tuned, and has an ironic conclusion.
  4. “War of the Coprophages” (Season 3) – Who knew that cockroaches could make for such entertaining tv? From Scully’s jealousy over Mulder’s attraction to Dr. Bambi, to the cockroach that crawls across the tv screen, this episode is a great example of The X-Files’ special blend of humor and horror.
  5. “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” (Season 3) – There are two sides to every story, or in this case, even more, as we get conflicting versions of the same tale about two teenagers’ supposed abduction by aliens. The narrative structure is what makes this episode a classic. We go back and forth from the science fiction writer’s office to the various versions of what happened, slowly putting together the pieces along the way. Very fun episode.
  6. “Home” (Season 4) – Sometimes the X-Files’ brilliance was its ability to unsettle us or make us gasp in horror. This episode about a reclusive, homicidal, and inbred family, complete with a matriarch who is kept hidden under the floor boards of the dilapidated house, certainly fits in that category. Unfortunately, this episode isn’t for everyone. This happened to be the episode that was airing when I tried to convince my college roommate that she should watch the show. I didn’t know what the episode was going to be about, but by the time it was over she wanted nothing more to do with The X-Files ever again. For me, though, this episode is yet another instance of The X-Files doing what it does best: providing its viewers with genuinely terrifying stories told in the most unsettling of ways.
  7. “Leonard Betts” (Season 4) – There was nothing funny about this episode, which revolved around an EMT who (literally) loses his head, but proceeds to walk out of the morgue, grow his head back, and begin killing people who have cancer because he must feed on cancerous tumors to survive. Gross? Yes. Fascinating. Yes, again. This episode also blindsided viewers with the revelation that Scully had cancer, as Betts had her cornered in an ambulance and said quite matter of factly, “You have something that I need.”
  8. “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (Season 5) – From decapitated heads and tumor-eating EMTs, we make the unusual jump to Jerry Springer and a “monster” who loves Cher. Filmed in black and white, this humorous episode was also a heartwarming one, as Mulder and Scully investigate strange happenings in a town whose residents believe that a two-faced monster has been impregnating women. As usual, things are not what they seem, and by the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully are helping a misunderstood and abandoned son of a mad scientist realize his dream of attending a Cher concert, and viewers are treated to the sight of our favorite FBI partners sharing a dance.
  9. “Bad Blood” (Season 5) – This may be my favorite X-Files episode of them all. It is just so funny! It finds humor in unexpected places, like vampire fangs, pizza delivery guys, hotel beds, and small town sheriffs. I love the way the episode is structured, giving us Mulder and Scully’s very different accounts of the same events. Luke Wilson is fantastic as Sheriff Lucius Hartwell – adored by Scully and ridiculed by Mulder. The episode has many twists and turns, and manages to surprise us in the end.
  10. “Arcadia” (Season 6) – The first part of this episode plays like a “what might have been,” had Mulder and Scully met under different circumstances, gotten married, and found domestic bliss in a planned community. It was amusing to see them go undercover as Rob and Laura Petrie. The episode shifts from humor to horror once it becomes clear that the missing residents didn’t just move away. This neighborhood takes its rules and regulations a little too seriously, as Mulder and Scully soon discover. The ensuing chaos was fun to watch.
  11. “Daemonicus” (Season 9) – This episode was my favorite of the Doggett/Reyes era. There’s no denying that the show lost a lot of its magic when Mulder left, and never got it back, even when he returned on a recurring basis. But, I still enjoyed the last two seasons – just not as much. Doggett was a great character, and Reyes was rather interesting, too. This episode stands out because it was a return to the good ole days of creepy, disturbing plots. The opening scene of the old couple playing chess, followed by the scary masked guys, was only the beginning of this chilling episode.
  12. “Existence” (Season 8 Finale) – This season finale could very well have been the series finale. It was riveting, suspenseful, and satisfying. It was more like 24 than a typical X-Files episode, from the epic showdown between Skinner and Krycek, to Scully having to give birth to her baby in an abandoned town. The closing shot of Mulder and Scully together, holding the baby in between them, would have provided a small amount of closure (I say “small” since there would have still been tons of unanswered questions about government conspiracies and alien races). Instead, the next season got all muddled down in Scully’s baby being a chosen and special child, and eventually the writers had to shut that story down by putting William up for private adoption. How convenient. Anyway, I think this would have been a good place to stop the series, perhaps with a movie to wrap things up. However, we still got some pretty decent entertainment out of the last season.

Based on my review of the episodes, I think that seasons three, four, and five were the strongest ones for this show, and seasons seven, eight, and nine were the weakest. Despite the show’s ups and downs, just about any episode of The X-Files is better than most of the sci-fi/paranormal shows that have been produced since its era. Only now, with Fringe, does the television landscape have a show that is potentially as well made and intriguing as The X-Files was for nine seasons.