Sunday, May 4, 2008

If it's not broken, Jack won't touch it.

Before I start a brief analysis on this past week's "Something Nice Back At Home", I want to return briefly to the tete-a-tete between Ben and Widmore. It has always stuck me as strangely as to why the Freighter Missionaries aren't threatening - and have orders not - to kill Ben. He clearly needs to be alive for some reason. And during his midnight liaison with Charles, Ben ominously says, "we both know I can't do that" responding to Charles inquiry whether he has arrived to kill him, indicating that Ben also needs Charles alive for some reason. But why? Why can't Ben just eliminate Charles if he knows where he is? It seems that it would save him tons of time, energy and concern, while protecting the Island. My thinking is that Ben is Charles constant and Charles is Ben's. Admittedly there is little current evidence to support this theory, but it would go a long way to explaining why they need each other alive and how Ben stomachs his apparent location/time travel treks off the Island. If anyone has any thoughts on this, please let me know. I'd love to discuss. Now onto this week's installment of the trippy, tropical adventure.

I wrote earlier this year that the fourth season of LOST was settling into a predictable routine - Season 1-esque character build/plot set-up, mythos-changing and answer revealing pay-off, followed by the cycle repeating. I think "Something Nice..." fit well into the routine, as it focused on Jack's evolution - or rather devolution - while bridging the character's differing Island-present and post-Island future as well. It also set many of the pieces in place for the season's final push (Jin's agreement to get Sun off the Island, Claire gone missing, the departure of Keamy and crew from the Island, etc.)

With the heavy emotion focus on post-Island Jack this felt the most like a Season 1 episode - eye-opening first scene included! - where "answers" took a backseat to the character motivations and complexities. And we again saw the over-zealous, paranoid Jack that destroyed his first marriage and relationship with his father. We now know how Jack went from happy-go-lucky pseudo-celeb after his Island return to grizzled alcoholic whose relationship with Kate had become strained. Jack MUST have something to fix, so he breaks what he can - his relationships with his dad, Sarah, and now Kate - through his own destructive ways. There were signs that Jack was sliding backwards even before his shotgun proposal to Kate. The Red Sox had once again lost to the Yanks as it recalls one of his father's favorite sayings - his return to the heavy drinking, his smothering paranoia surrounding Kate (who he views more of a possessed object than a worthy pursuit), and the haunting echo of his father's heavy hand. When he steps on the Millennium Falcon toy in the kitchen, Jack's "son of a bitch" response isn't really the way you'd expect him to refer to his half-sister and nephew, which is ironically tragic for the audience if Jack does not yet know his relation to Aaron. The MF's pilot - the rogue Han Solo - easily could be paralleled with the Island's maverick Sawyer. As Jack leaves the kitchen to join Kate in the shower, the camera lingers on the toy and newspaper, a harbinger of Jack's troublesome, insecure past that returns to haunt him and failures he has yet to learn from.

Which brings us to a number of quick takeaways from the episode. First, who was Kate with while Jack was home downing three beers, a bottle of wine and a glass of hard liquor? My guess - and I'm not the only one who thinks this - is that Kate was closing some loop with Cassidy, the mother of Sawyer's daughter who crossed paths with the fugitive and helped connect Kate and her mother.

The reason Sawyer couldn't do it himself was presumably because he was still on the Island, but the new wrinkle on that was when Jack indicating that Sawyer chose to stay behind on the Island, rather than returning to the mainland. This is the first time that anyone said those remaining on the Island had a choice as to whether they should leave or stay - an interesting dynamic to see play out in the next few weeks because it seems that more than six would choose to leave if offered the opportunity. And if it were a choice, why are the O6 lying about the survival of their remaining 815 compatriots? I'd think this will be clarified in the coming weeks.

And what's the deal with Jack's dad? Jack spoke of his father in the past tense after finishing the second chapter of Alice In Wonderland to Aaron - saying "he was a good story-teller" - but the white tennis-shoe wearing AA member keeps showing up. His appearance on the Island to Claire could be just chalked up to the visions others have seen - Eko's brother, Kate's horse, Boone, etc. - but the seperation between Claire and her child along with the fact that Miles saw Doc Christian added a new wrinkle into the story. I still don't think he's alive and most certainly he is not around Jack's post-Island life in any physical sense, but something weird is going on. I know that's a real insightful statement I just made.

Three other quick things. If the Island has some control over the 815 survivors, why is it (seemingly) leaving Kate, Sayid, and Sun alone while tormenting Jack and Hurley? Why wasn't the Smoke Monster more effective in killing some of the Freighter assassins? Did Ben program it not to kill so that Ben can continue making the claim that he is not a murderer? And who else was disappointed that Rousseau was actually dead? I thought that was a wasteful end to one of the show's more intriguing characters. Her death - unlike Boone's or Charlie's - meant nothing in the larger scheme of the show's web or character development. It seemed poorly executed and an indistinguishable way to send her off the show.

Hopefully next week's episode takes us to Jacob's castle - it's called "Cabin Fever" (!) and gets Desmond a little more screen time.

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