Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Washington Post "Lost" bloggers
Wednesday, March 10, 2010; 2:00 PM
Join "Lost" bloggers Liz Kelly and Jen Chaney each Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about "Lost's" sixth and final season.
'Lost' Dueling Analysis: 'Dr. Linus'
Liz and Jen, both obsessive "Lost" fans, have been writing their weekly dueling analysis of the show since 2006. When not debating the merits of Sawyer's hotness, Liz Kelly writes the Celebritology blog and Jen Chaney acts as movies editrix and DVD columnist for washingtonpost.com. For episode analysis, discussion transcripts and more, visit washingtonpost.com's Lost Central.
Liz Kelly: Afternoon everyone. Lots of comments and questions to get us started, so we'll just jump right in. Jen is running a few minutes late, but should be with us soon...
Anonymous: Again you are disappointed! For the first time in a long time the story was uplifting and surprising. My favorite episode of the year.
Weren't there some important reveals, including Roger's revelation that Ben used to be on the island?
Liz Kelly: Well, wait a second -- don't hold us both responsible for something I wrote. I can't speak for Jen, of course, but I don't think she was as disappointed as I was in last night's episode.
And even I wasn't as disappointed as I was last week. There were definitely some important reveals and, not to be discounted at all, Ben's big leap from the dark to the light. But I'm looking for answers to the questions that have been on simmer for years now and we aren't necessarily getting them yet.
Although we did gain a little more insight into Richard Alpert's back story last night, which is good because -- you know -- we've been wondering.
As I wrote in the analysis, though, I think Widmore's arrival on the island is a good omen in terms of storytelling. We're finally picking up the threads of last season.
The Twin Cities, MN: You missed Jack's line, "Wanna try another stick?"
Here's a question, we've seen all of the island's candidates to replace Jacob in the Flash sideways. The only character who seemed to pop in and out of reality the way Jacob can is Desmond. Any chance he's the new J-man at season's end?
washingtonpost.com: I keep thinking there has to be some big secret related to Desmond's parents, and I wonder if Jacob might be his father.
Liz Kelly: I don't know. I'm doubting it for the same reasons I don't see Aaron as a candidate. First, neither has turned up on one of the lists.
Secondly, both Aaron (if we're assuming that 10-year-old kid from "The Substitute" is Aaron) and Desmond appear to operate outside the rules binding everyone else to the island.
Black Rock, Md.: My favorite line didn't make it to the poll. Don't have the exact words, but it was Hurley as he bails from the ship to let Jack have his little tete-a-tete-a-boom with Richard: "If you change your mind, I'll be outside about a mile away."
And come to think of it, a line I liked at least as much was Jack as he lit the fuse on the dynamite: "Okay, now let's talk." Both lines show so much about their characters -- Hurley cautious, sensible and easily spooked; Jack daring, even reckless but now determined to get some answers. I like that in a Lostie.
Liz Kelly: That was a good line and I almost included it. I just thought Hurley's "Are you a cyborg" was so much better.
The voting is still open, by the way:
What happened to Desmond?: He disappeared off the plane, and now seems to have disappeared from the story line altogether. Could he be on the sub with his father in law?
Liz Kelly: Could be -- remember Ms. Hawking told him the island wasn't done with him yet, so I'm guessing he'll turn up before too long.
Cleveland, OH: Can we talk about Jack for a minute? I just loved the moment when he lit that dynamite and had faith that it would work out. I feel he's finally formualting his own opnions/plan. I wasn't entirely convinced that he's on Team Jacob, rather, I think Jacob's actions (via Hurley & Lighthouse) lit a fire under Jack - snapped him back to 'reality' - and he's back to being "take charge" Jack.
Liz Kelly: Agreed. He's back to taking action first and asking questions later. Which hasn't always worked out great for him, to tell the truth. But it is nice to sea him getting his sea legs -- or island legs -- back.
Ohio: So, did we like the Nikki and Paulo shout-out via Miles? I had a two-part reaction. First, I laughed out loud: of course Miles would "hear" them and learn about the diamonds. But then I thought: This is exactly the kind of "answers"/closure/filler that I don't care about and wish they wouldn't waste my time on.
Liz Kelly: Jen and I ran out of time before we were able to get to this in the analysis. The way the Nikki/Paolo reference was worked in by Miles was really elegant. And it is not the fact that Miles "heard" them, but that he obviously heard enough to describe them as two... what was it? "Jabronis?"
But as to your second point, this is exactly the kind of filler I can deal with. It is quick, doesn't slow down the story-telling and adds a little touch of clever levity. Clevity.
Liz Kelly: Thanks to producer Paul, here's Miles's exact line -- which may have been a good candidate for the quote poll, too:
"Why would I need your money when there are a couple of jabronies down there named Nikki and Paulo who got buried alive with $8 million in diamonds on top of them?"
Ilana: I don't understand Ilana.. can you remind us of the origins of her and her group (I swear I have been paying attention every season but there's a lot of balls in the air). In addition to being confusing, might I point out that she is annoying and unsympathetic to boot.
Liz Kelly: Sure.
Here's the super-abbreviated version: Ilana is one of Jacob's accolades who, until summoned to the island by Jacob, was marking time in a body cast in a Russian hospital. She arrived on island on the Ajira Airways flight and proceeded to ask lots of people "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" As far as we know, she's been appointed to guard the candidates. Whatever that means.
Also, she wears a vest like nobody's business.
I don't find her annoying or unsympathetic, but she was a little over-the-top hysterical in last night's ep. And I liked the fact that she was open-minded enough to listen to Ben's explanation of why he killed Jacob and give him a chance to redeem himself.
Liz Kelly: For more info, here's the Lostpedia page re: Ilana.
Reincarnation: Is that what's going on here? Some thoughts on reincarnation are that you live the same life over and over until you get it "right." Folks on the island that make 'good' decisions seem to be rewarded with progress in their new life, and those that make 'bad' decisions are doomed to repeat their past.
Liz Kelly: Interesting. But is it actually the other way around? The way the story has been unfolding, we're seeing the characters make their changes in the sideways timeline first, then seeing the repercussions of those changes in their on-island characters.
Dr. Linus decides to sacrifice his own dreams of power to save student Alex. On island, Ben then finds the courage to come clean to Ilana and break with the deeds of his past.
Sayid Jarrah the oil company translator guns down his brother's creditors -- giving up years of trying to put killing behind him -- and, on island he abandons all humanity and throws in his lot with the man in black.
D.C.: So, what are the chances that the sub is Widmore arriving from the "sideways" timeline? So he'll come out and have no idea who Ben is?
Liz Kelly: Hmm, that's an interesting notion. I need to parse this one a bit.
But even sideways Widmore would need a motivation for coming to the island. Would he still have once lived there and been a leader of the Others? And why did he leave? It certainly wouldn't have been because a grown Ben Linus forced him out because, as we found out last night, sideways Ben left the island as a kid along with his dad.
Good Ben: The whole "choose Alex or the job" thing kinda bugged me. Couldn't Ben have just let the principal write the good recommendation and then 3 months later let the emails come out? The scheming Ben we all know and love would have done that!
Liz Kelly: But that's just the point -- Ben's decision wasn't just about outing the principal, it was about who he wanted to be as a human being. As Jen said in the analysis, this Ben -- sideways Ben -- is a man with a moral compass and he made a conscious decision that he didn't want to be the guy who got his job by ruining someone else's life.
He's no longer scheming Ben. As of last night, he's turned over a new banana leaf. Will it last? We'll see...
shame on Miles: Were either of you disappointed to see Miles turn into a grave robber?
We know he swindled people out of their money back in the real world, but I would of figured that after all he's been through on the Island -- namely finding out that his father actually did love and care for him -- that perhaps he would of changed his selfish ways a little. Instead he seems to of devolved even more??
Liz Kelly: Oh, I dunno. Those diamonds weren't doing Nikki and Paolo any good. Unlike his past as a conman psychic, this was a relatively victimless crime.
Fort Myers FL: Just a quick point, you both seemed surprised that Ben knew Dogen. He sent the "Others" to the temple when the frieghter folks came to the island. It would stand to reason he knew Dogen was there...
Liz Kelly: Good point.
Senseless in Seattle, WA: Oh come on, are we EVER going to get Richard's back story? At least we got some "explanation" for his unaging nature this time.
Jen Chaney: Hi, everyone! I'm here to add absolutely no insights to the proceedings since I still feel comatose, but I am here nonetheless.
I believe we will get a Richard-centric episode in a couple of weeks time. So be patient just a little while longer, and perhaps all (or at least more) will be revealed.
I want Sawyer!: Have we ever gone a whole three episodes without so much as catching a glimpse?
Liz Kelly: I hope this isn't spoilery, but from what I can tell, next week's episode -- "Recon" is Sawyer-centric.
In the meantime, maybe
La Plata, MD: More and more I am convinced that the last scene of the last episode will be Jack and Sawyer sitting on the beach. Sawyer will look at Jack and say "Do you know how badly I want to kill you?"
Jen Chaney: Ha. I think some element of "History always repeats itself" will be a part of this. And that's an interesting interpretation for sure.
Boca Raton, Florida: Do you think Widmore is there to be a part of Team Jacob or Team MIB? Is his sub the way that MIB has been promising people a way off the island, I mean the sub dock is on the Hydra Island.
Liz Kelly: Actually, the sub dock is on the main island -- relatively close to Dharma-ville. The runway is on Hydra island, along with the polar bear cages.
But the rest of what you say is interesting. Widmore and the sub could very well be exactly what MIB is waiting for to make his island exit.
And we don't know at this point what team Widmore is on, but we do know that -- at least up until last season -- he was aware that a showdown loomed. He told someone -- was it Sun or Desmond, my mind is exhausted with Corey Haim coverage -- that a war was coming and that one should take care to be on the right side.
Here's one possible clue: Ilana and co. were active off island and already working for Jacob at that point. However, Widmore didn't seem to have any knowledge of them. And, in fact, members of Ilana's gang tried to prevent Miles from taking a berth on Widmore's freighter. All of which makes me think Widmore may, in fact, be on team MIB.
Liz Kelly: Unless of course Jacob is a "need to know" basis kind of guy. As in, over here I've got my girl Ilana working and over here my bud Charles Widmore -- but they don't need to know about each other just yet.
Jen Chaney: I'm with Liz on this. If he is in in fact on a team, I have to think it's the MIB team.
Another reason: he did tell someone a war was coming. And that someone was John Locke, who he talked to after he turned the wheel and landed on his back in the middle of nowhere. He was the one who wanted Locke to get back to the island. And now look who may be helping Mr. Widmore ... John Locke, in MIB form.
The Temple: So the point of the temple was... what exactly?
Liz Kelly: To recycle an old Disney B-movie set and thereby receive a tax write-off?
Jen Chaney: I'm still waiting for a good answer to that question myself. Hopefully that answer is not: "So Hurley could make a lame Indiana Jones joke."
Auburn, ME: I'm not happy with the change in Jack. What happened to our man of reason? Now he is willing to literally put his life on the line based on a theory of invincibility?
Jen Chaney: I think he's just as screwed up right now as he was at the end of season three, but with no drugs in his system. He's really angry for coming back to the island, for being wrong (at least as far as he knows) about resetting things with the explosion, about being under Jacob surveillance for his entire life, etc.
So he's taking willy-nilly risks because he figures, hey, what have I got to lose? Not sure how I feel about it either, but it gives him an arc to go through this season since, I suspect by season's end, he'll be in a different headspace.
Liz Kelly: I'm with Jen. The guy is smashing mirrors and playing Russian Roulette with dynamite. He's back to thinking for himself, but not necessarily thinking clearly.
Kettering, MD: I just have to say my favorite line of the night was uttered by Ben "Because he's the only one that will have me"
How did this not make the poll???
Ben is the Prof. Severus Snape (Harry Potter) of this series and is one of my fav characters!
Jen Chaney: How bad did you feel for Ben at that moment, even though he's been such a raging, scheming maniac? Emerson did such a great job delivering that monologue.
DC: Am I the only one who noticed the irony that Ben was keeping his father alive through gas in the alternate timeline when he had killed him by gas in the island timeline?
Jen Chaney: I think you guys should have written the analysis last night. Great observation!
chicago: I think the new Ben will last....up until the moment he dies on screen. The man we have grown to despise will become a redemptive man whom we come to feel compassion towards. Then the writers will kill him off in a soft, sad, slo-mo, charlie-esque kind of way.
The greatness in this would be that we have all hated Ben (the character of course...because Michael Emerson is amazing) and in the end we will ironically be genuinely sad when he dies.
Just a theory.....just sayin.
Liz Kelly: I think you may be right about that. Whether we've wanted to admit it or not, Ben is one of the best-loved characters on the show. No matter how low he sank, we were always happy to see him turn up in an episode because we knew it would be a good episode if Michael Emerson was along for the ride.
And if nothing else, this show has primed us to believe in character transformations -- formerly reprehensible people who in extreme circumstances find they have more strength of character than even they knew possible: Sawyer, Kate, Sayid...
So, yes, now that we've all witnessed Ben's transformation and got all these mushy-gushy feelings about him, the writers will reward us with a kick in thegut.
Jen Chaney: Ditto on that being a good call. I actually that might happen last night, but I'm glad they're stretching out that part, at least.
Leesburg, VA: When Ben was in the principal's office and told Alex that History club was back on because the principal had found someone else to take detention, it seemed to me that the good Dr. Linus was showing a hint of the manipulative island Ben.
Liz Kelly: But that was an innocuous use of manipulation compared with potentially blackmailing his way into a job, don't you think?
PG County: So what about that conversation between Ben and his Dad (uncle Rico)?? I mean...they talked about the island in their sideways universe and as far as we know the island is under water in that world? So how do they know about the island? More questions than anwsers.
Jen Chaney: Well, my assumption was that they went to the island and left during the '70s. So the island sank -- maybe because the U.S. government's bomb experiments didn't work out so well? -- sometime after that but no one knows about it.
Reminiscent of Oceanic wreckage underwater, except that turned out to be fake.
Liz Kelly: And tying back into a question from earlier in the chat, this would argue against Widmore having come from sideways world on the sub. Because, as you point out, the sub is a mile underwater in sideways world.
Arlington VA: If they had not shown the Temple, people would be complaining about it not being shown. The creators can't win either way.
Jen Chaney: Well, I don't think it's a question of showing it. It's a question of spending so much time there with Dogan and Lennon, who were never on the radar before and have been pretty front and center this season. It's just disconcerting for people, especially when they are eager for resolutions re: the characters they already know and love.
Nerdville: Can we limit the Harry Potter references here? I'm still barely clinging to the view of LOST as hip and edgy.
Jen Chaney: Expecto patronus!
All right, that'll be the last of it.
NotDoc: Another great nod to past episodes was Hurley's reaction when he saw Richard pulling the dynamite out of the boxes -- a quick reminder of "Dude, you got some Arzt on you."
Liz Kelly: Was anyone else waiting for Arzt to have an unfortunate lab accident in the sideways story?
After all, he spent half the episode complaining about outdated equipment.
Jen Chaney: Yes, there really should have been sort of tragic bunsen burner accident to make things truly complete.
I love that Arzt is just perpetually annoyed, regardless of the situation he's in. Unless, of course, he's talking to Hurley about his restaurant business.
Washington, DC: So is it now May in the sideways timeline? That's when AP exams are given, and Alex said that the exam was coming up.
Jen Chaney: Oh, you stickler for details. I think it's still September/Octoberish in the timeline, unless we fastforwarded a lot from what we last saw with Sayid. (Which is technically possible.)
So yeah, that might be one of your continuity goofs.
Vienna, VA: Was it just me or did anyone else think Alpert was going to find a hideous picture of himself on the Black Rock a la The Picture of Dorian Gray. Also, Michael Emerson needs to win an Emmy for his work as Ben. In his final talk with Ilana when he said he was join Locke because "He was the only one that would have him?" he really made me feel for Ben, which was no small feat considering all of the vile things he had previously done.
Jen Chaney: That was a great scene. And actually, Emerson finally won the Emmy last year for his genius Linusness. But maybe he'll take it again this year, too.
I also loved his posture in the last scene -- so hunched over, unsure of himself and separate from the group on the island. A real contrast to how he was in the sideways world: walking tall and feeling calm about who he was. He thought about going after the head honcho job, but ultimately, he was comfortable being where he was as long as it meant helping the students he cared about and caring for his dad.
A sentence you never thought you'd read: That Ben Linus has a noble soul.
I'm with "Good Ben" commenter: I didn't see the choosing Alex over the job thing as the moral high ground. The principal was a sleaze - proven by the fact that he'd ruin the dreams of a good student to save his own skin nevermind the infidelity. Ben would have been a better principal. So he forsaked (?) not only his own dreams but what was best for the entire student body for one kid. Also I hated that he let the principal get off so lightly when really Ben held all the cards.
Liz Kelly: I see your point, but can't agree. He did take the moral high ground by scrapping his plan to blackmail the principal. Because, as Dr. Linus knew, that one act would be a slippery slope that could only lead to more and more questionable moral judgments all in the false guise of doing something for the greater good.
Things like promising Arzt a parking spot -- which may sound petty, but is a clear abuse of power.
And, sure, he let the principal off lightly, but when it comes right down to it the principal hadn't broken any laws. He'd just overstepped ethical boundaries.
Jen Chaney: Yeah, I'm with Liz. If we've learned a few things from "Lost," one of them surely is that absolutely power corrupts, absolutely.
And, as Liz said, Ben could sense he would be treading into dark waters by taking that job. And it was purely a self-involved move, as the Reynolds implied, to make Ben feel important. Maybe he would have made the school a better place, but he probably would have sold his soul on some level in the process.
And unlike what he did on the island, he chose not to do that. He chose to think of his pseudo-daughter first and to put his needs second.
re: reincarnation: But why do we assume that just because we are seeing the sideways timeline first on tv, that it is influencing the island? It could simply be reverse story telling, or possibly the influence runs in both directions.
Jen Chaney: I am not assuming that all. As a matter of fact, I think these things may be happening concurrently, somehow, on two parallel lines. Which makes no logical sense. But I'm sticking by that theory.
Liz Kelly: Jen, I posited that earlier in the chat because the way the editing is unfolding we are first seeing the characters make life-changing decisions in the sideways world, then seeing shifts in their on-island situations.
Jen Chaney: Sorry, this is what happens when I get here late. So they may be happening concurrently but one timeline is also impacting the other.
Hmmm ... I need to ponder that one, Miss Liz.
Alexandria: Can we now confirm that Richard did come over as a slave on the Black Rock?
Jen Chaney: This hasn't been flat-out confirmed, but the comment MIB made about him being out of his chains seems pretty close to confirmation to me.
Reston, Va.: Oh no! My meeting went long and I've missed the chat!!! I don't have much to say, but how awesome was the end with at least a small part of the gang being reunited on the beach? It made me grin like a goofball.
Liz Kelly: Same here. I got chills. It's that damn Michael Giacchino score. We're pre-programmed to get misty eyed when we hear that music.
Jen Chaney: I actually got to meet Mr. Giacchino in L.A., at the US-Ireland Alliance pre-Oscar party. And I told him that I often use the adjective Giacchino'd to describe how I feel when I watch a scene set to his music.
He laughed, and I'm sure was both flattered and thinking: "This woman is a lunatic." Which, let's face it, is probably true.
Disappointed and not?: During the episode last night I said to my husband "not much plot advancement, but a great character show." Because remember, one of the things we like about the show is character development, and it was enjoyable to see "good" Ben.
Liz Kelly: That's true. And a good reminder to me that I need to calm down and let the show happen.
But if we get through five more episodes without much in the way of concrete answers, all bets are off.
Jen Chaney: I like this show a lot more than last week's, for that same reason.
Underwater Island: A lot of people (including Jen just now) have tossed out the theory that the island is underwater in Sideways-world because of US bomb tests. However, in the sequence that showed the island underwater, the camera panned through Dharma-ville, which wasn't built until the late-60's/early 70's. So the island must have gone down after the Dharma Initiative arrived, not before.
Liz Kelly: Another sharp reader with an excellent point.
Jen Chaney: Oh, it definitely went down post-Dharma. Otherwise Ben's dad wouldn't have talked about going there to join Dharma at all.
I just wondered if there was some latent effect from the bombs being there (e.g. something like "An Incident") that either sent the island underwater or prompted the U.S. government to quite literally bury the story.
I love a good conspiracy theory, you know.
Timing: Interesting point about the AP exams. It can't be too close to when Oceanic 815 landed, because Locke had to undergo his own transformation (and period of unemployment) before he finally landed at the school as a happy substitute.
Jen Chaney: Then the question becomes: why'd we suddenly skip ahead several months? Thus far, all our sideways material has been right after the crash.
Confederate Alex Rousseau?: I don't have the screencap, but I'm 100% positive that Alex had a Confederate flag stitched into her backpack in last night's episode... I'm sure it's probably nothing, but maybe it's a shout out to her rebellious nature?
Liz Kelly: Ya know, I thought I saw that too and kind of didn't believe my eyes. I would have to go back and re-watch to confirm.
Or, no I won't, because
from Get Lost Podcast showing that it was in fact a rebel flag.
Jen Chaney: Weird.
Rockville, MD: Have you all gone back to the Lost Supper picture released before the start of the season? It's amazing how all of it's "truths" are coming to light.
Liz Kelly: Hmmm, well it is definitely tracking with how the two main groups have splintered at this point. Though not sure why Ilana and Richard are grouped on the side with Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Sayid -- aka, Team MIB.
Liz Kelly: Okay, folks, that's it for this week. Thanks again for your spot on comments. You make this job both easy and difficult for Jen and I and for that we thank you.
See you back here next week after "Recon."
Jen Chaney: Hopefully my brain cells will all be back in working order by next week. Thanks for your patience with me, everyone -- even those of you who were impatient with me.
Liz and I will see you next week!
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