Archive for smokey

across the sea: inheritance and legacy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by eyeoftheisland

was it perfect? absolutely not. the winner of most satisfying mythology download episode of LOST goes to “ab aeterno” (and not just because of my raging crush on harlequin hero richard alpert). while viewers had high expectations for “ab aeterno”, the episode had a fairly defined area to cover; namely, the origin storgy of eternal consogliere richard alpert. what really brings “across the sea” down is that, effectively, the entire series (in the minds of the fan community) was resting on the promised reveals in this episode. but like bib (boy in black) and his mother before him, we were left unsatisfied; answering one question will only lead to another question.

[for an excellent summary of critical and fan reception to what may be the most polarizing episode in LOST history, i refer you to mysles mcnutt’s cultural learnings blog: http://cultural-learnings.com/2010/05/12/lost-the-morning-after-going-across-the-sea-with-critics/]

at first, this took a minute for me to digest. i have to admit that once this season started with a double whammy of an island storyline and a sideways universe storyline, i had given up on getting precise answers to certain mysteries. i had a sneaking suspicion that there was not going to be one be-all, end-all thing to tie together the dozens of mysteries this show has provided for us. in fact, the only thing that truly does tie the series together is that there are mysteries: some large, some small, some solvable and some we may never understand. and while we may seek out fictional stories to find some sort of truth, be they on tv, in a book through a console or in a song, ultimately fiction is our way of dealing with the unknown. to somehow define what the human experience is. in the end, despite how these stories may move us, we just have to shrug our shoulders and admit that we can’t be sure. that was the overarching lesson/theme/motif that i gathered from “across the sea.”

after all, is there much of life that we can be certain of? many LOST fans are complaining that the appearance of mother only led to more questions: who is she? how did she get to be in the position she’s in? and the people before that? etc. however, i saw her cryptic existence as being entirely fitting and strangely satisfying. throughout the series, we have been guided through a series of leaders, a hierarchy of supposed wisdom-keepers: did john locke have the knowledge? rousseau? ben? richard? jacob? mother? the answer is that no one really knows. nor can anyone know. and yet the sum of all human knowledge has been passed down to us by those who came before us. everything we know we learned from our parents and they from their parents, and so on. so what mother told bib and young j: she came from her mother and they came from her. that we can be positive about. our own personal light sources we protect — whether they be religion, morals, values, politics, history, all traditions — they come from our parents.

how they pass on this information intimately shapes us. this is another theme at the crux of LOST’s storytelling. we’ve been beaten over the head with parents and children and the various mommy/daddy issues that spring from them. in a recent interview with the nyt
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/arts/television/16weblost.html?ref=television, damon and carlton spoke of the path of redemption that the LOST characters keep going through: they are all victims of some sort when they crashed on the island, even jin and sun who were travelling together. but now, havin been through these experiences together, they are finding redemption for themselves both through and by helping others on their own redemption journeys. or, in short: live together, die alone. the only way for anyone to make sense of this mystery island known as life, we depend on the sympathy and compassion of others. our constants ground us to reality. and they help us shape the legacy that we might leave for those that come after us.

as a whole, the island gives those that land on it the opportunity to shrug off that burden of legacy. and yet, it is inescapable. jacob and the smokey form of the mib are still playing out the game they started as children: stay and obey the parent’s rule or rebel and escape the burden of inheritance. keep faith in what has always been or challenge the norm and step out into the abandon, across the sea.

enough of the philosophical. generally, the overarching themes and some key bits of writing in “across the sea” made it a success for me. it wouldn’t be LOST without asking questions as it was giving us answers. i did, however, have some issues with the execution, namely….

the glowing birth canal that lives in all of us.

i mean… really? are some fans of this show so dense that they need to see a literal glowing golden  gloryhole of global goodness? oh wait. yes. some people out there on the internets are moaning about not knowing exactly what it is and how it came to be. news flash: IT IS MADE UP. i think this calls for a

REALITY CHECK

dear nitpicky fans,
you will not get the answer to every question. we are not going to find out who was shooting at sawyer and co. on the outrigger next season. we may never learn mib’s name. why the whispers were whispering that thing back when shannon got shot: we’re not getting that. what happened with walt in room 23: prob not. at this point in the story we all just need to take a collective deep breath and accept that only what’s essential to the story of the survivors of 815 (and mayhaps ben… cause… he’s ben, i mean… COME ON!) will ultimately matter. at this point, we have to just relax and enjoy the ride. sometimes the best mysteries at all are those whose solutions are left up to our imaginations.

and when they’re not we’re left with a giant, glowing vagina of human life and rebirth.

love,
me.

other reflections:

— allision janney mom was both great and distracting. i could not stop staring at her hairnet thing. sometimes i was thinking about 10 things i hate about you. sometimes i just sat back and appreciated the mellow cadence of her voice.
— i am convinced that mother was smokey. she possessed within her both the light and belief of jacob and also the cunning and wilyness of young mibs. how else could she have filled out that well so fast and smoked (ha.ha.) all those villagers? my theory about her existence pre-across the sea is that she, like jacob would after her, had tried and failed many times to convert people into ideal candidates. however, once she saw the golden opportunity of two blank slates, she hopped on that (i.e. put a rock to mommy claudia’s noggin) and raised (as an OTHER) the babes as her own; two ideal, but distinct candidates. maybe it was her goal all along to have two protectors instead of one so that the burden was more evenly distributed.
— jacob could not be the man he is today without the ongoing influence of his smokey-brother. the jacob we saw in “across the sea” was childish and naive even in his adulthood; but the jacob we’ve seen so far in the series seems jaded and world-weary; maybe the game between himself and smoke-brother was the real training for him to be the proper protector
— however, there is a question of whether smokey is the soul of mib who is trapped forever on the island or, if by sending his brothers’ body down the well (a no-no by mother’s standards; you cannot go back up the birth canal!), jacob released the smoke monster into the world

there are so many other things we could get into in this episode… but it is late and i have thought too many complicated thoughts for a sunday evening. and i certainly have to save my brainpower for THE MOST EPIC WEEK IN LOST HISTORY. members of w.a.a.a.l.t. are finalizing their arrangements; i am going to my local theater to watch the live broadcast of the times talk discussion with damon and carlton on thursday AND THERE IS STILL A NEW EPISODE ON TUESDAY. i have to say that two out of every three of my thoughts has been about LOST lately. i can’t imagine that sickness will stop anytime soon.

hope you’re along for the ride on the crazy train, LOST friends. ONE. MORE. WEEK. AND. WE. WILL. KNOW. THE. ENDING.

GAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

two sides: one light, one dark

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 15, 2009 by eyeoftheisland

although i had some issues with the pacing of “the incident” (along with a few questionable character motivations — mainly jack’s “i’m doing this for kate” tantrum), as i have had time to process the mythologies that it revealed, i am becoming more and more intrigued about “what it could all mean.” clearly the opening scene (my favorite moment) of the episode was important. i want to argue that it is the most revealing moment in the whole series. to recap:

oh, brother

oh, brother

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Morning.

BLOND MAN: Mornin’.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Mind if I join you?

BLOND MAN: [Shaking his head] Please. Want some fish?

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Thank you. I just ate.

[The gray-haired man sits down not far away.]

BLOND MAN: I take it you’re here ’cause of the ship.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: I am. How did they find the Island?

BLOND MAN: You’ll have to ask ’em when they get here.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: I don’t have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?

BLOND MAN: You are wrong.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.

BLOND MAN: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

[The gray-haired man stares at his compatriot.]

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?

BLOND MAN: Yes.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: One of these days, sooner or later… I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.

BLOND MAN: Well, when you do, I’ll be right here.

GRAY-HAIRED MAN: Always nice talking to you, Jacob.

JACOB: Nice talking to you, too.

whoa dang. still get chills reading this. what is sort of outwardly displayed here are two forces: one is light and one is dark. jacob, with his sandy tresses and white linen and mr. nameless (although from here on in i will be referring to him as esau, jacob’s brother in the bible) with his dark, hairy demeanor and black shirt. two forces: one open, optimistic, progressive; the other angry, vengeful, pessimistic. oppositions are lost’s modus operandi, but it seems like all the point/counterpoint relationships we’ve encountered so far (jack vs. locke; ben vs. widmore; even kate vs. juliet) are mere blips on the radar compared with the two immortal collossi we have here.

for those of you who aren’t familiar/weren’t in a production of joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat in seventh grade, in the bible jacob and esau are twin brothers. (twins are a concept already embedded in the mythology of lost with gary troupe’s bad twin, a book that came out as a companion to the series; supposedly, the author was aboard 815 with his manuscript about a mystery involving the hanso foundation. click on the link above or the lostpedia entry to read more). when the twin boys were emerging from their mother, rebecca’s, wombthe first that came otu was the hairy esau, whose heel was being clutched by the wily jacob. jacob eventually steals the birthright that esau had earned for being the first born. having made jacob a ruler over his brothers, their father, isaac could only promise, “by your sword you shall live, but your brother you shall serve; yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.”

resentment between them runs deep (esau vows that he will kill his brother), so they split and start two different tribes. eventually, jacob moves his family to egypt to avoid a famine in canaan. egypt, you say?

anyway, that is my gross oversimplifying of this historic brotherly feud. yet, we all know that lost likes to play with these traditional themes in its overarching theme: is man naturally good or evil? can oen change one’s nature? what is the effect of the environment upon human nature? the above conversation seems to indicate to me that we have two brotherly forces who have been engaged in this debate for eternity. one tries to prove one’s point to the other until both sides are proven correct — a positive plus a negative yields neutral results — and they are back to square one; back to “reset.”

and, i think, this is exactly what happened in the finale.

now that we know that “locke” has not been quite himself this whole season (let’s call him locke 2.0), we have to call into question all of the “apparitions” we’ve seen in the series thus far. i certainly think that the esau figure could be all the apparitions/visions of people we’ve seen before. thinking back on it, visions on the island have always manipulated people to do bad things, i.e. christian, kate’s horse, dave. and remember that it was “christian” that told locke to turn the wheel and locke 2.0 who sent richard to tell locke he had to die.  

 esau assumes he’s won by having ben kill jacob (ben would be the ultimate exhibit on jacob’s side; the son killing his father), but then, simultaneously, jacob wins with his juliet victory in the past. before the episode, i was in the miles camp and thought that what jack’s plan was going to cause was the incident (“whatever happened, happened”). now, with the “two brothers” plot, i am thinking that juliet’s actions have changed the course of history. like they always say in schmaltzy sci fi — you can predict everything except for human emotions. so because she loved sawyer and because she had the power of choice she changed things. essentially, her love for sawyer could save them all.

 thus with both a jacob win and an esau win (however temporary), we are back to square one. the brothers are in a constant stalemate. maybe. as i’ve said before, i am willing to roll with the punches as long as those punches are entertaining. i could make the complete opposite argument that jacob is the dark and his brother, the light. while jacob’s “touchy-feely” encounters with the losties in their pasts seems to indicate that they are the chosen (and may just save them), he also provided the means for many of them to destroy their lives. he kind of told kate it was okay to steal; he gave sawyer the implement to begin his revenge obsession; he allowed nadia, the person that was keeping sayid “good”, to die. the scenes are deliberately ambigous. what dreams may come?  bring it on, season 6!

and yet, the two opposing sides, the “light” and the “dark” have been around since episode one. as iconic as the opening scene of “the incident” was, we also have the following scene from “the pilot: part two” where two different sorts of players had a similar conversation:

the light and the dark

the light and the dark

LOCKE: Backgammon is the oldest game in the world. Archeologists found sets when they excavated the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Five thousand years old. That’s older than Jesus Christ.

WALT: Did they have dice and stuff?

LOCKE: [nods] Mhhm. But theirs weren’t made of plastic. Their dice were made of bones.

WALT: Cool.

LOCKE: Two players. Two sides. One is light … one is dark. Walt, do you want to know a secret?

i can’t help but wonder what secret locke might have whispered in walt’s ear. what exactly did locke see when he looked into the eye of the island? and can the beautiful that exist there defeat the terrible, or will this cosmic tug of war last forever?

only time will tell.

namaste, friends. happy theorizing!

where there’s smokey

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 12, 2009 by eyeoftheisland

in connection with the last post, i wanted to draw attention to the picture that young john locke draws of smokey. richard sees it on the wall when he goes to see him. notice how the monster seems to come out of a hole and towards a bald man…

flashback

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 12, 2009 by eyeoftheisland

first of all — great episode. i feel like all of charlotte’s ramblings could comprise a whole new season of lost, at least material for a rich storyline. yet, it appears we must say goodbye to the island’s fiesty redheaded anthropologist. who called it that she was going to kick the bucket when she kept giving too much of her story away. rip ginger, rip.

but more on that demain. right now what’s on my mind about this episode is how it referenced earlier occurances on the show. lost has become extremely self-referential lately, as we are seeing not only reworkings of old scenes (as i will discuss below) but also seeing scenes we have already seen before but from a different angle. sawyer’s whole act of watching kate help claire give birth to aaron imitates the act of us watching the show. sawyer is going through the same process we are, an observer of events, but necessarily removed. uncanny, that.

but what really struck me here were the scenes in locke’s journey that are now replaying themselves.

–first, the scene with the beechcraft in “because you left.” locke watches the plane crash into the canopy. the first time locke encountered the plane, he was with boone. boone was the one to climb up the trees and into the plane and, subsequently, dies. when the first flash occurs, locke replays the scene, but this time casts himself as the one who climbs toward the plane.

— in this episode “this place is death,” the scene where locke is hanging from the rope in the well struck me as extremely similar to when locke was being lowered into the hatch. both holes are dark and impossible to see the end of. both become portals of destiny for locke, of course. but what i found striking here were the fact that both of these wormholes were huge points of departure and discovery. the first time, the hatch was opened and the dharma initiative was first discovered. (remember what a shock that was then?)

now, locke falls down a well and discovers christian shepherd and a frozen (and broken?) wheel/smoke machine/laser light show which will transport him off the island. he falls through the hole and into an entirely different time and space.

like alice, locke falls down a rabbit hole and emerges into an entire new world.

[a few thoughts on the christian shepherd moment: he didn’t admit exactly that he was jacob, but he did say to locke, “you came to visit me.” technically, he came to visit jacob and saw christian there. it is also interesting that while like a vision in that he cannot touch locke (help him up) he can communicate things to him that locke doesn’t already know. locke has no idea this manvision is jack’s father. this has me extremely perplexed as christian arrived on the island in a body bag… yet i am a firm believer that though a body may appear in a coffin, forever dead it may not stay ;)]

— a third echo that i found really important in this episode was when our old friend montand (he lost his arm!) got dragged into the temple by the smoke monster! THE TEMPLE! THE SMOKE MONSTER! IT’S ALL COMING BACK TO ME! [although how the castaways never saw the temple the entire time they were on the island beats me.] the whole visual of montand being dragged into a hole and the others trying to pull him back reminded me of when, wayyy back in season 1 (which is where this episode seems to want us to go, as if the lost powers that be are ticking off mysteries chronologically) when the same thing happened to locke.

locke thinks the monster will do him no harm, as he has an encounter with the smoke weeks earlier and “looks into[its] eye” and sees “beautiful” things. but this time it is not so friendly and attempts to drag him down a hole. locke tells jack, “it’s all right” and to let him go, but kate throws some dynomite down the hole and that’s all folks.

this doesn't look weird or anything...

this doesn't look weird or anything...

why draw a parallel between these two events? well, when the monster was successful, those who encountered it in the depths come back changed. the “sickness” that rousseau referred to seems to be real; her compadres come back as creepy island pod people. what would have happened if locke had the same fate? what made him so sure that the monster was indeed benevolent? what was that beautiful thing that convinced locke that the island was so worth protecting in the first place?

this episode proves that the smoke monster is much more important than a simple security system or dharma experiment gone wrong. the fact that it has had significant psychological impact on those who are captured by it is a huuuuge reveal and i’ll be waiting on pins and needles to see where this trail leads.