Episode V: Smoke Monster Strikes Back

February 14, 2009

A very cool episode fraught with erratic pacing.

That would sum up the fifth episode, “This Place is Death”, of Season Five of Lost. Smokey returning was more exciting than a basket full of puppies. Better yet, characters are dropping out like pigeon poop. Sadly, the pacing seems to be operating like a drunk driver, swerving erratically all over the place and occasionally killing a family of four. Drunk driving isn’t funny. Don’t do it, kids.

glyphs

Were these glyphs on the temple too?

The long and winding introduction. So the smoke monster is back, protecting the temple. This is where Richard allegedly took the rest of the Others at the end of the third season.(Sidenote: The hieroglyphs were also interesting, I think the same ones were in the hatch.) The smoke monster does prove to be a valuable security system, yanking one of the French gentlemen down the whole, minus an appendage. This scene reminded me of the second season when Locke was being pulled underground. He said he saw a beautiful light or something of that nature. I wonder if we’ll ever learn what that meant. Or what the smoke monster is. Could Richard be the smoke monster? Seems plausible.

Also, did the smoke monster’s noises seem to be different? It was more drumbeat than clicking, and the whispers weren’t as prominent. Maybe Smokey loses power down the road?

Now we discover (through the eyes of Jin) that Rousseau is the one who killed her crew, not this “sickness” as described in the radio distress signal. Or was it? Was Smokey taking the shape of the crew? Of Rousseau? Was it controlling them somehow? This scene could have answered a lot of questions, but instead raised so many more. By the way, the trick Rousseau used to disable her beau’s gun was reminiscent of how she later disable’s Sayid’s [same?] gun. It also reminded me of when Michael tried to off himself and the gun jammed. Could the island be doing the same thing for Rousseau? Knowing she (or Alex) still have a job to do?

skippy-creamy-peanut-butter-deFinal thought of the opening sequence: the time skips are not random, they are clearly purposeful. Jin ends up back with his buddy Sawyer, a cute scene, but also showed the island wanted everyone reunited. The time skipping affects Juliet, but not Rousseau, even though Rousseau will have lived there far longer than Juliet. I found that very odd.

O Mother Where Art Thou? Has anyone else noticed this season of Lost seems to be [finally] focusing on mothers?
Consider the following:

  • The first person we see this season is a woman, wife of Dr. Chang, and mother of a crying baby (whom we assume to be Miles Straume).
  • The Kate/Aaron relationship and maternity issue is becoming a significant storyline.
  • Sun has developed into a much stronger role than the submissive wife of seasons past.

    puritan-woman1

    Sun has evolved.

  • Hurley spilled the entire story of the island to his mother, possibly the very first time anyone outside the island heard the full story.
  • Last episode began with a mother, Penny, giving birth.

There is definitely a pattern occurring. In a way, it’s rather refreshing. The “woe-is-me-my-father-sucked” theme was becoming a little jaded.

Quote of the Week. That’s what happens when you bring women. She’s probably off chasing a butterfly.”

jack-shephard

Former action-hero Jack Shephard.

Don’t make me pull this car over! I don’t recall ever seeing Ben lose his cool like he did during Sun and Jack’s bickering in the van. He is really losing his grip on the situation.

Jack looked rather sheepish through the scolding, too. His character has become a complete waste of screen space. What happened to the go-getter, hero doctor? Maybe that’s the whole point-when he returns to the island he will be “himself” again. Actually, now that I think of it, everyone seems a bit out of character don’t they? I’m glad they are returning to the island soon (see below) so we don’t have to put up with these filler moments.

Walmart is not the devil. Don’t get me wrong, the place is often a societal cesspool (see Slumdog Millionaire) but it still provides excellent deals for the majority of Americans. Check out this excellent story. Also, didn’t Walmart used to be Wal-Mart? Or am I just imagining things.

08plainview1

No Daniel Plainviews this year.

Slumdog Millionaire review. From the looks of things, Slumdog Millionaire is on track to land a Best Picture Oscar, and possibly more. In an off-year for Hollywood, perhaps Slumdog shines due to lack of competition rather than exceptional filmmaking. Last year’s No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were cinematic masterpieces, possibly the greatest films of this decade. Unfortunately, Slumdog does not live up to their standard.

Slumdog Millionaire reviewed in six sentences. SPOILER alert.
Indian guy is on Indian’s version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”’
Flash back to Indian guy’s childhood.
Indian boy grows up in slums, has crush on girl, wide range of emotions drawn out of viewer.
Indian boy goes through trials and tribulations, cinematography is excellent.
All the situations in boy’s life reflect the questions asked on “Millionaire”.
Excellent visuals, good character development, and creative writing make this movie highly recommended.

No, really, while this movie is no classic it is definitely worth checking out. It is probably the best movie I’ve seen this year (Gran Torino could be a close second). I have not seen Benjamin Button yet. We’ll see how it stacks up.

tiki

Anyone remember this book? Classic!

Send help, Lassie! Seriously, has anyone ever descended safely into a well? Seems like an overall bad idea. But Locke is a man of faith and destiny. And who does Locke meet in the well? Yes, Christian Shepherd again. Is it safe to assume Christian Shepherd is Jacob? Or is he a messenger?

Also, why does Christian hang out in a mysterious cabin when he can move anywhere on the island? I still don’t think Christian is Jacob…some part of me thinks Jacob is actually Locke somehow. Did the lantern hold any significance? Or am I reading too much into it?

lordofchaos14

Locke just turned the Wheel of Time. Wow. I'm a nerd.

Anyways, Christian gives Locke directions to spin the wheel and bring the rest of the Losties back to the island (sounds like exactly what Ben is doing, perhaps it was supposed to be Locke who turned the wheel all along). He refuses to help Locke turn the wheel, even though Locke’s leg is clearly broken. So is Christian unable interact with his environment or is he just a sadist?

Did anyone else notice Locke turned the wheel clockwise, as opposed to when Ben pushed clockwise? Wouldn’t it be easier to push a wheel with a broken leg? I theorize Locke somehow knew what to do in advance…or knew to “reset” what Ben had done. I thought it was a bummer that Locke was handicapped once again.

Is Locke just a pawn, or is he a hero? One part of me loves Locke and wants to see him break out of the pattern of being continually used and conned. On the other hand, can he ever escape that fate? Is that what he is doomed to forever?

Jennifer Aniston is the most overrated actress ever. Okay, this statement is a bit bloated. For someone to be “overrated” they must be highly regarded at some point. Jennifer Aniston is only highly regarded for her looks and only her looks. Her ability to act is a joke. Sure, she was in Friends, but that little piece of resume became irrelevant…hmm…ten years ago? Seriously, it’s time to get over her Rachel character and focus on anything else she’s done. Quick! Name me one good movie she has starred in. I promise the first (and only) movie to come to mind is Office Space, but let’s be clear, Office Space’s excellence had absolutely nothing to do with Jennifer Aniston. In fact, replace her with any other B-List female celebrity and you still have the same damn movie. And if I have to hear about how she wants kids one more time I’m going to vomit into a suitcase full of dead gophers. She just comes off as a clingy, self-absorbed, look-pretty do-nothing.

A note on the Grammys. Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin = excellence. Alison Krauss in O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack = excellence. Robert Plant + Amy Krauss = not what I expected. But apparently it was Grammy worthy. Not that I really care about the award, it was just interesting to hear what the music industry finds worthy of praise.

Charlotte’s Web of Discontinuity. So Charlotte starts having a severe case of House-break-to-commercial-syndrome. Her mind must be flashing in and out of time, similar to Desmund last season. She starts remembering her childhood (odd) and how she was born and raised on the island. She reveals it was Daniel who told her to leave and never return or she would die. This makes perfect sense. Although Daniel has not told her this, he eventually will. This would make Daniel’s appearance as a worker at the Orchid fit nicely into the timeline. However, if Daniel is going back in time yet again, and intends to tamper with the wheel again, this means the time-skipping will not stop in the near future.

Charlotte’s “this place is death!” warning rang false to me. For four seasons the island has been curing people of cancer, paralysis, drug addiction, gunshot wounds, and other physical ailments. Additionally, it has brought peace and closure to the troubled past of numerous characters. But now it’s a place of death? I don’t get it.

calvintv2Calvin and Hobbes = best comic strip ever. The “funnies” page of the newspaper just isn’t what is used to be. Declining readership, lack of artistic talent, and overall malaise have contributed to the downfall of the daily comic strip. Nearly every comic is about a typical American family. Jokes are centered around teenage behavior, male stupidity, hyper-emotional females, and other various stereotypical and forgettable one-liners. While there are certainly some exceptions to comic banality (Get Fuzzy, Bizarro) there is still an empty space in the hearts of readers where Calvin and Hobbes used to be.

Calvin and Hobbes was one of the most deep, philosophical, and introspective comics the daily newspaper has ever had. Period. It wasn’t just about a boy and his “imaginary” tiger. It was about the very nature of how we perceive reality. Calvin saw Hobbes as a living best friend, and the rest of the world saw Hobbes as a lifeless stuffed animal. Neither was wrong, it was a simply a matter of subjective reality.

Artistically, Bill Watterson revolutionized the Sunday comic strip. Instead of a typical 8-10 cell format, he developed his own style that allowed for mind-blowing creativity and customization. The characters and stories were just priceless. Calvin’s diction was hilariously complex. Hobbes’s observations of human nature from an animal’s perspective were always thought provoking. I was too young to truly appreciate the comic when it was in the newspapers. Perhaps I am still too young to understand some of it now. That says something about a comic.

Anyone who says comic strips are the lowest form of art should re-examine their argument. Calvin and Hobbes was more than a comic strip-it was a continuous philosophical examination of a childhood, growing up, parenting, the environment, and so much more.

wormwoodWhat does this have to do with Lost? Calvin’s school teacher was named Ms. Wormwood. Who was Wormwood? A character from the Screwtape Letters. Who wrote the Screwtape Letters? C.S. Lewis. Charlotte’s last name? Lewis. Charlotte Lewis = nod to C.S. Lewis. See? It all comes full circle.

Ending. Ms. Hawking is Daniel’s mother. Not too much of a surprise there. But why was she okay with not everyone being there? Wasn’t this a “God help us all” situation just two weeks ago? Perhaps she has found a second “window” where they can get back to the island. Look, I’m not expert on time travel and window, nor do I have the time to get into all the semantics. Bottom line: is it mysterious and compelling? Yes. However, as unrealistic as it is, it still needs to be consistent of a lot of people are going to be ticked.

brislFinally, let me explain the biggest problem of this season so far. The pacing is completely out of whack. If the first three seasons were a gentle stroll through the park, this season is a drunken tumble down twelve flights of stairs. I mean, seriously, how is this going to work? It can’t be more than three or four episodes before the Oceanic 6 return to the island. And then what? There will be ten episodes and a whole final season left. Perhaps the pacing in previous seasons was so deliberately slow that this season, even at slightly brisker pace, seems schizophrenically fast.

Which brings me to another point. I don’t think the writers should have revealed exactly when the show was ending. Why set an ending to a show whose primary hook is unpredictability? I think that was a poor decision.

Well, that’s all for this week. Sorry about the late post. I went to see a stage play last night, “The Screwtape Letters.” It was spectacular. Spell-binding. Captivating. Definitely see it if you ever get a chance. Best work of art I’ve seen in a long time.

-In Richard Alpert (WHERE HAS HE BEEN?) we trust-

Fournabee

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One Response to “Episode V: Smoke Monster Strikes Back”

  1. Annaphylactic shock said

    A few critiques and comments:

    You misspelled “hole.”

    Locke’s leg was not clearly broken. It’s a possibility. However to me, it looked like he had been impaled with something very sharp and possibly severed a muscle or tendon. In any case, the word clearly probably was an overstatement. Good point about him turning the wheel the opposite way though. I missed that.

    There are so many legitimately awesome connections in Lost (that you astutely point out in this blog)….there’s no need to cheapen it with Ms. Wormwood –> C.S. Lewis –> Charlotte Lewis. That’s like saying Ms. Wormwood is a character in Matilda, who was written by Roald Dahl….who happens to have Danielle Rousseau’s same initials backwards….whoa! Shout out to Western Europeans!!

    Other than that, this week’s post was an enjoyable read. Good grammar, flow, and entertaining thoughts.

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