Tuesday, February 16, 2010

6x04 "The Substitute" Review

Let me start off by saying: WOW. I was blown away by this episode, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. There was definitely a lot of improvement from last week's "What Kate Does." Contrary to last week's episode, which focused on Jack, Kate, Hurley, Dogen, Lennon and the rest of the Temple dwellers, this week's "The Substitute" focused on Flocke, Richard, Ben, Ilana, and Sawyer. I personally find the latter to be the much more interesting/intriguing group currently in the show, so naturally, I was very excited to see new events transpire after the cliffhanger from "LA X, Part 2." After killing Bram and other Jacob's bodyguards, Flocke leaves the statue and knocks Richard unconscious, telling the Others that he is very disappointed in all of them.

In the beginning of "The Substitute," Flocke is seen taking his 'smoke monster' form to travel quickly across the Island. He moves to the Barracks, looking through Sawyer's house, and then leaves to talk to Richard. I thought this scene was amazing, and it was really cool to finally see things in the perspective of the Monster traveling across the Island. We learn that, although Richard was advisor to the Others, and was looked very favorably upon by Jacob, he was still left in the dark with many major issues. He apparently didn't know that Flocke could shapeshift, when he asked "why do you look like John Locke?" This was also a surprise to Flocke, who was seemingly shocked that Jacob had withheld important information from one of his top advisors. Then we see something very surprising -- an apparition of a mysterious kid. Flocke seems very surprised to see this kid, but when Richard turns around he sees nothing. I found this to be very interesting, since I've come to expect that most apparitions on the Island have actually been the Monster -- and now the Monster himself is seeing an apparition. So who is this mysterious kid? I initially thought that it had to be Jacob as a kid. Either way, I though that this apparition had something to do with Jacob. Jacob seems to be the only one who has any power over MIB; even though Jacob is now dead, I really don't think he's "dead" (if you know what I mean). The Man in Black asks Richard to follow him. I found this to be much like Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. MIB tells Richard that he won't keep him in the dark like Jacob did. Still, Richard refuses to follow MIB. This now begs the question: how well does Richard really know MIB? In "LA X, Part 2" he seemed quite aqare of him and his capabilities after he left he statue, and he also seemed very scared (something that Richard usually isn't). But apparently he didn't know that MIB could change form.

Back at the statue, Ilana collects Jacob's ashes from the fire pit. I'm guessing that those ashes will somehow come in handy in the upcoming episodes. Ilana says that MIB is recruiting. We see MIB enter Sawyer's house. Sawyer doesn't seemed surprised at all to see him, merely exclaiming "I thought you were dead." Sawyer sees that there is no fear at all in Locke, making him come to the conclusion that it really isn't Locke. MIB convinces Sawyer to come with him, saying that he can answer the most important question: "Why are you on this Island?" Saywer is intrigued, and somewhat reluctantly, follows MIB.

In flashbacks, we see Locke arrive home in his van. I must say, when he fell out of his wheelchair and the sprinklers turned on, I just had to laugh. I felt bad so for him, but at the same time it was really funny because nothing ever seems to go right for him -- even Locke starts to laugh when the sprinklers turn on. We then see Helen come outside and help John. Back inside, Locke and Helen discuss the Australia trip that he had just gotten back from. Helen finds "Dr. Jack Shephard's" spinal surgeon card. Helen says it might be destiny that he met him (which I thought was an awesome line).

Locke returns to his good old cubicle at the box company. Then we see a face we hope we would never have seen again: It's Randy Nations. Locke's jerk co-worker from "Deus Ex Machina" he made fun of Locke's desire to go on a walkabout. We also see him in "Everybody Hates Hugo" as Hurley's boss, and in "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead" as Hurley's worker. But in this flash-sideways timeline, Hurley is not only the boss of bosses, he is the owner. He offers Locke his job back, and writes a note for him (this is an awesome scene...I love Hurley!). Back at the office we see Rose Nadler, who reminds us that she has terminal cancer since she never went to the Island.

On the Island, Flocke and Sawyer run into the mysterious kid. And this time, Flocke isn't the only one who sees him; Sawyer can as well. Flocke runs after the kid, and trips. The kid tells MIB that he "can't break the rules," and he "can't kill him". Flocke responds angrily by saying "don't tell me what I can't do!" Mysterious kid shakes his head (possibly in dismay), and then runs off. I found it to be a little odd that Flocke started to act a little like Locke; he seemed to be very vulnerable at that moment. I think the writers intended that, though, to show that MIB isn't the Island's omnipotent entity; he is still vulnerable against Jacob. I think that this mysterious kid could possibly be Jacob, but he says "you can't kill him" -- it semed like he was referring to Jacob since he mentioned breaking the rules. It's possible that he was referring to Locke or Sawyer, but I believe it was Jacob he was referring to. If that is the case and the mysterious kid really is a young Jacob, he should have said "you can't kill me." This leads me to think that this mysterious kid is not Jacob himself, but rather, a relative of Jacob -- perhaps his son or brother.

Richard then emerges from the jungle, pleading to Sawyer that he would come to the Temple with him. Sawyer refuses, saying that at least Locke promised to provide answers for him. Richard said that he wants to kill Sawyer, and everyone else as well. Sawyer decides to stick with MIB, and Richard runs off. If Richard is this terrified of MIB, then he is definitely something we all should be scared of. Sawyer pulls his gun on Flocke, asking "what are you?" MIB says that he's trapped, and he doesn't remember what it was like to be free. He says he knows what it's like to lose someone you care about and to feel pain.

On the beach at the funeral of John Locke, Ben gives a eulogy. I was pleasently surprised to hear Ben say that Locke was a better man than he would ever be. I had to laugh, though, when he said "I'm sorry I murdered you." Frank's reaction to that was hilarious to see.

In flashbacks, the episode title's meaning is revealed: Locke is a substitute teacher. When he enters the teacher's lounge, we hear that telltale ominois voice. Yes, that's right: it's none other than Benjamin Linus. He teaches European history. I found this to be a great scene; Ben really does appear to be a good teacher! (I'd love to see him actually teach in class during a flash-sideways).

Now we get to the best part of the episode. MIB and Sawyer arrive at a cliff, where a ladder resides. They make their descent to a cliffside cave, where there is a balance scale with one white and one black rock. MIB takes the white rock and throws it into the ocean, saying that it was an "inside joke." This makes me wonder: is MIB admitting that he's the evil 'bad guy'? He seemed to recognize that Jacob was good (a.k.a. the light white rock), and he is evil (a.k.a. the dark black rock). I thought the scale was an interesting item that I hope we'll receive more insight to in upcoming episodes. Sawyer and MIB enter into the cliff through a cavern. On the ceilings and walls are numerous names, many with numbers next to them. The Numbers are assigned to various characters we have come to know well: 4-Locke, 8-Reyes, 15-Ford, 16-Jarrah, 23-Shephard, 42-Kwon. As MIB noted, 42 could either be Sun or Jin. Other names seen on the walls with their names crossed off were Domingo, Troupe, Cunningham, Jones, Mattingly, Lapidus, Littleton, and Sullivan. There are various numbers next to these names. I'm assuming that these names on the walls go back centuries, since we see some names from the U.S. Army camp (i.e. Mattingly, Cunningham, Jones) and also 815'ers. I'm guessing some names on there are probably ancient. MIB tells Sawyer that he has three options: 1) to do nothing. Wait around and see what happens. 2) he can take the job of being the Island's protector. But MIB says that the Island doesn't need protecting, saying that it's "just an island." 3) leave the Island and never look back. Sawyer is with Flocke on the third option. At this point, I'm definitely thinking that this is a long con from MIB. the Island really does need protecting, and MIB does not want to leave at all. Sawyer will probably join the dark side with MIB, and who knows, maybe convince Kate and some of the others to join him. I'm thinking that, like Richard warned, MIB will eventually kill Sawyer after he's used him. This really was a fantastic episode, and the best of Season 6 and one of the best episodes ever. Awesome on-island storyline, great new mysteries, and amazing flash-sideways story. Real answers are being revealed, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the season brings us.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

6x03 "What Kate Does" review

Before I begin, let me get one thing off my chest: Like most of you, I did not like this episode. But like any Lost episode, it was still enjoyable and gave us plenty of topics to discuss (even if one of those topics was how much we disliked the episode)

In fact, the backlash to the episode was so great, Damon Lindelof tweeted "For those of you complaining of "filler." Seriously. PLEASE WATCH NCIS: LOS ANGELES. I promise not to hold it against you."

Personally, I believe that most of the negativity about this episode was because of the awesomeness of the episode preceding it, I can't really remember the last time there was such a jump from awesome-to-not-so-awesome in Lost, except for maybe "Flashes Before Your Eyes"
into "Stranger in a Strange Land".

But anyway, let's get into what actually went on in "What Kate Does". We'll begin with the flashsideways timeline, where Kate's escape leads to the (first) reintroduction of Claire. After a totally pointless scene with a mechanic, she goes back to find Claire, who apparently hasn't moved from where she was dropped off. Things get a little bit more interesting here, when Kate and Claire meet the intended adoptive mother.

According to the episode's credits, the mother's name is "Lindsey Baskum". For all you anagramaniacs out there, that's an anagram for "Used by Malkins". Of course, the whole Richard Malkin situation is one of confusion and blurred fact. But personally, I believe that he is a real psychic, and only told Eko he was a fraud in "?" to dissuade him from investigating his daughter, who apparently had a very real experience with Eko. But, in "Raised by Another" Claire came to the conclusion that Malkin saw her coming to the Island so she would raise the baby. However, in the sideways timeline he wouldn't have seen her on the Island...so would've he seen that Claire would end up raising him anyway? But then, why would've he sent her away anyway? He knew that she had decided to raise the baby herself. Is there a different reason, perhaps guided by destiny, that Claire had to go to Los Angeles?

Another interesting point of the sideways timeline was the appearance of Ethan Rom. Or uh, Ethan Goodspeed. It seems he's left the Island, and had a relatively good upbringing and is a pretty good guy. He's continued his path as a surgeon, but has avoided the path of being an evil creepy doctor, believing he "would rather not stick her with needles if he didn't have to". A subtle reference to original Ethan's insistence on jabbing Claire's stomachs with the biggest needles on the Island. Another more explicit reference to the original timeline is when Claire already knows Aaron's name, another obvious nod that there is a definite connection between the two timelines. Kate then departs the hospital, because she can't sit still for more than two minutes.

Back in our other timeline, it's much of a sameness. Kate heads off after Sawyer, who has truly become a broken man. Accompanying her are Jin, a redshirt Other named Justin, and not-quite-as-redshirt Aldo, who we havn't seen for fifty episodes. After a conversation about the Monster, Ajira 316, and Wookie prisoner gags, the group comes across a Rousseauesque (I like that word) trap. Unfortunately, it seems Aldo hasn't got any smarter over the past three years, and (along with Justin) is outplayed again by Kate.

Jin and Kate go their separate ways, as Kate looks for Sawyer and Jin looks for that reunion scene we've all been longing for. Of course, he doesn't find it and is instead confronted by a pissed off Aldo and Justin. But even though Jin gets stuck in a bear trap, the two Others still can't get a break as they are shot by the second reappearance of Claire, looking Rousseauesque, but still seeming to have some recognition of Jin.

Some way off, Kate tracks Sawyer down to the Barracks. In perhaps the highlight of the episode, a broken Sawyer tells of his plans to propose to Juliet, strengthened by incredible acting from Josh Holloway. We're only three episodes in, but already there are cries from some fans for an Emmy for Holloway.

At the Temple, Sayid is essentially tortured by Dogen, a process which includes blowing ash over him. Observant fans would've no doubt made a link between this and the ash circles we've previously seen. After a back-to-his-leader-self Jack hears of this, he demands answers, something he usually fails to get results with. He only really learns that Sayid has been "infected", the same word used to describe what happened to Rousseau's team in the 1980s. Dogen gives Jack a pill, and after refusing to give it to Sayid, he ends up just taking it himself, like any doctor would... Dogen then decides to admit it was poison, because Sayid has been "claimed".

Apparently everything Sayid was will be gone once the "infection" reaches his heart. And the same thing happened to Claire. Who Jin is now with. *cue L O S T slam*

But what is The Sickness? Danielle had been warning the Losties about it since Season 1, and after three years on the Island it seems its finally struck. Darlton have described it on the Official Lost Podcast as "making people go crazy". And there definitely seems to be some involvement of the Monster. Rousseau's team had all encountered the Monster, if Christian Shephard is a visage of the Monster, Claire has, and it seems the water of the healing spring has been tainted by Smokey as well.

So what does it do, other than make people crazy? My theory is that the infected become living minions of the Man in Black, giving the entity access to their body and soul before they die.

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Image use on the wiki

Hi everyone,
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Tuesday evening (in the US) and that European viewers who will be seeing the season premiere over the next few days will have just as much fun as the North American fans in rediscovering the majesty that is Damon and Carlton with all guns blazing at their keyboards. We've had an amazing influx of editors from around the globe taking part in Lostpedia in the last few days, but I just wanted to speak out about the use of images on the wiki.

Lostpedia uses images under the United States Fair Use Doctrine. Basically this means that the images on Lostpedia within articles should be used in such a way to illustrate the point being made within the text content.

In several articles, we have seen an influx of images that do not do this. They are from the correct show that they are trying to reference, but they aren't necessarily informative images. I will use two images from Sawyer's article to illustrate the issue at hand.

Firstly, we have this image of Sawyer with Locke's father, and the original "Sawyer", Anthony Cooper. The image is entitled: "Sawyer gives Cooper the letter he kept with him most of his life." then links to the article for the episode The Brig from which it came from. It is also in line with the content written within the wiki which tells the story of Cooper's arrival on the Island, the conversation Sawyer finally had with the man who caused the death of his parents and Cooper's death at the hands of Sawyer.

This is an excellent use of images on the wiki. It illustrates the situation, and most importantly, the content in the article. It is a great aid visually to the text content in the page.

Now for the otherside of the issue. We have this image to the right. This is from the episode Eggtown, and was on the article with the subtitle "Sawyer agrees to help Kate release Miles from the boathouse."

Now, I think we can all agree that its a good photo of Josh Holloway as Sawyer, and the image does in fact come from Eggtown, and does come from the scene it is said to have come from. However, there is a problem with it. The image doesn't actually convey any information relevant to the article, even if it is from the correct scene. It says he is agreeing to help Kate to release Miles, but Kate is nowhere to be seen. He is smiling, almost jovial looking and is casually holding his hand on his hip. At no point does it actually help convey the context of the article. It is really a superfluous image.

The vast majority of images on articles are there to aid and benefit the contents on Lostpedia, and they do just that. But we need to make sure, as editors, that the images are used to illustrate the content of our articles, not just illustrate the article and make it more visually palatable for the users.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

6x01 "LA X, Parts 1 & 2" Review

And we're back! Sorry for being a little bit late with this one, but we've only just come down from the huge high of the Season 6 premiere, LA X.

As usual, this premiere began with a mind-blowing scene that sets the path for the rest of the season. As many had predicted, we're seeing an alternate timeline where the Island is underwater, and therefore Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed.

This is hinted at by the title of the episode, with many believing the "X" is a reference to the comic book world, suggesting TPTB are following the trend set by series such as "Earth X". But's what's in this Lostverse X? Or more importantly, what isn't?

As the opening scene revealed, the Island is completely submerged. The barracks and statue, however, are present. This would suggest that the Jughead explosion, or an event around DHARMA time, caused the Island to be destroyed. And this seems to have had some effect on our Losties' lives, who always seemed to have a destiny leading towards it.

Hurley, for example, is "the luckiest man alive", a complete turn-around from his tragic original past. My guess is he won the lottery with completely different numbers, as he would've never met Leonard, who would've never been admitted to Santa Rosa because he never heard the numbers. Different numbers meant no curse, meaning Hurley was lucky as...well, a lottery winner.

This is only one of many opposites shown in the "flash-sideways" as Darlton calls them. The conversation between Locke and Jack hinted the opposite perspectives on science and faith between the two men. Charlie is a depressed, suicidal wreck. Rose remained calm throughout the flight, and Bernard returned from his otherwise-fateful bathroom trip.

As well as these differences, the other highlight of the alternate timeline was the constant reintroduction of familiar faces with Boone, Arzt, Cindy, Frogurt, Edward Mars, Claire, Desmond and probably more I can't remember all reappearing. And in the case of Desmond, disappearing.

Desmond was perhaps the most interesting part of the alternate reality for me, he gave us a suggestion that all was not as it seemed. As well as Jack's feigned recognition of him, and the cut on his neck, Desmond's disappearance from the plane raised many questions. Why was he on the plane at all? Why was he wearing a wedding ring? Where did he disappear to, and why?

Compare this to Juliet, whose message from beyond the grave was simply, "It worked." My theory? As we've seen, Desmond is unique and miraculously special, possibly from his exposure to electromagnetism in the Swan, especially at the fail-safe. Juliet also would've got a whopping amount of electromagnetic goodies when she detonated Jughead, perhaps making her "special" as well. And what does this speciality lead to? Well, to steal an Faranology, imagine time as a record. Anyone can move back and forth on a track, but only the special ones: Juliet, Desmond, and possibly more, can move BETWEEN tracks/timelines. Point out any flaws/praise me in the comments.

Now, let's make this post miraculously special and move between timelines ourselves, to the just-as-exciting original timeline, where our 77er Losties have jumped to as well. As the A-Team try to save Juliet from her entrapment under the Swan wreckage, Jacob appears to Hurley telling him to take Sayid to the Temple. Unfortunately, Juliet doesn't make it, so Kate, Jack, and Hurley head off to the long-awaited Temple, leaving behind Miles and Sawyer.

Miles does his thing, and we receive another sign that some connection exists between the two timelines, not only from the "It worked" message, but also the sound effects of the "listening", with the plane crashing/time flash sound effect used to cross between timelines being heard by Miles.

Meanwhile, the others go to the Temple wall, where Montand, albeit dead, makes a brief cameo. This is only the start of the mythology-fest, with the return of the creepy whispers, the ragged Others, and our first view of the Temple. It continues again with the Egyptian ankh inside the guitar case, and then what seems to be another one of Jacob's many lists. We're not over yet, as we see the (unclear, both literally and figuratively) healing spring. The Temple then jumps from mythology madness to chaos, with Jacob's death announced and Sayid's treatment failing. But, in true Lostian manner, we get a last minute twist where Sayid sits up and asks "What happened?" Good question. Is it really Sayid? Or a reincarnation of Jacob or the Man in Black?

Speaking of the Man in Black, or should I say the Monster (but let's not resort to name calling), we had plenty of excitement statue-side. With one of the most badass reveals ever when Locke disappeared and Smokey came in, and some of Terry O'Quinn's finest acting, the third plot-line of the episode was just as amazing as the other two. We see that the circle of ash outside the cabin, which Bram terribly tried to replicate, was definitely to keep Smokey out (or in?) of the cabin in Season 3, as hinted by the Season 5 finale.

Following this, we had one of the most insightful monologues of the show, as the MiB discusses the tragedy of John Locke, and his dying thought: "I don't understand", one all Lost fans can sympathise with. Smocke followed this up with his own goal, to "go home." Where or when home is my favourite question of the episode, and unless the answer is "Mars", I can't wait to see where Darlton go with it.

The last thing to cover is Richard's "chains". My first thought was definite foreshadowing of a Black Rock backstory, but Lostpedia raised the possibility of metaphorical chains to Jacob. What answer would be cooler? I'd have to say both.

That's all from me, leave your thoughts about the episode and any questions/theories raised above in the comments section.


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