Thursday, January 31, 2008
Jacob's Ladder: Lost Recapped
The season four premiere of LOST was everything I expected it to be: questions beget answers which beget more questions.
Jack was maniacal.
Ben was diabolical.
And no less than five times did I yell "oh my God."
As an episode, "The Beginning of the End" was a solid one, probably the best season premiere yet, though that might seem like faint praise, since there have only been two other season premieres. And while no scene was as good as the opening of the season three premiere at the barracks of the Others on the day of the crash, top-to-bottom the episode was consistently tense, suspenseful, entertaining and downright hilarious, mostly thanks to the twistedly brilliant line readings of Michael Emerson. I will write this until my fingers bleed, but if there is a better supporting actor than Emerson I have not seen him. Emerson is so good at playing Ben, it seems like he can almost do it in his sleep. He's such a commanding presence as an actor that even when he's tied up in the background and not talking, you can't take your eyes off of him.
And then of course, there's Matthew Fox. Good old Jack is turning into television's version of Daniel Plainview. Everything that comes out of his mouth is covered in bile and a ready made catch phrase. The more I watch Jack, the more I get the idea that he doesn't really care about anyone, he just cares about winning. Jack has a competition in him. He wants no one else to succeed. Getting off the island is his only goal and he will stop at nothing to get it. It's not only that Jack is a glorious and maniacal failure of a human being. It's not just that he has almost completely degenerated on the island, throwing punches at an alarming rate and yes, trying to shoot Locke in the face, in front of everyone! It's that while he's doing all of this, Ben is continually taunting him, pushing his buttons and driving him even further over the edge. Ben and Jack are the island's Martin and Lewis, if Martin and Lewis were two horrendous human beings who only cared about destroying the other one.
As for Future Jack, watching him barely keep the tenuous grip he has on sanity was just perfect. I can't wait to see the other tiles flipping over. How does Jack get from functioning alcoholic with the thought of growing a nice beard to a pill-popping lunatic with a feral looking merkin stuck on his face?
And while we're in the future, yes: the flash-forwards are the best device they've ever come up with. The possibilities are endless. Whereas the flash-backs had the problem of being stuck with narrow focus that over the course of the series got increasingly narrower, the flash-forwards can literally do anything and go anywhere. Clearly Hurley is currently where Jack was at the end of last season. He's just at the cusp of going over the brink. What happens to Hurley between the flash-forward last night and the moment Jack declares to Kate that they have to go back? I don't think he dies, even though his death could be enough to rock Jack out of his cocoon of self-satisfaction that he displayed last night. Honestly, I just don't think they would take the only fan favorite, now that Charlie is dead, and have him kill himself, or worse, be killed by whoever-the-hell Matthew Abbadon works for (Lance Reddick, you are the scariest person on earth). Maybe Hurley goes back himself? Maybe he gets taken prisoner by the Abbadon group? I just don't know.
So now we know that Jack, Kate and Hurley are three of the people who got off the Island. Are Michael and Walt counted in that six? Do Sun and Claire get off? I'm sure the remaining characters who comprise "the Oceanic Six" will be shown over the course of the next couple of weeks, so I'm not really that concerned with knowing at the moment the identities of the other three. Though one thing has been bothering me: what do they do with Kate? She is, afterall, wanted for murder. What kind of deal could she have cut? Or did they just erase her identity? Maybe there are seven people who got off the Island, but only six were reported.
But that's a discussion for another day. The big reveal last night was that Jacob, the mysterious man behind the curtain who leads the Others, is Christian Shepherd.
Y'know, Jack's dad.
When Hurley first stumbled upon Jacob's house in the middle of the jungle, I'll admit it, I hid my eyes. Come on, it was scary. But thanks to the magic of DVR, freeze frame and my massive, 42 inch high-definition television, I was able to go back and dissect the scene that every single talk-backing nerd will be dissecting over the next 24 hours. I can say unequivocally that yes, it's clearly Christian Shepherd in Jacob's rickety chair. If you don't believe me, take a look at the picture above and compare it with this picture of John Terry.
Terry was also listed in the opening credits, much like Malcolm David Kelly was in the finale last year.
Again, why they ruin nice reveals by putting the "surprise guest stars" in the credits, I'll never know.
Now whether or not Christian Shepherd is actually Jacob, or if Jacob is just inhabiting his ghostly visage, I'm not sure. And how Hurley even saw Jacob, since last season it was established that no one except the "special people" (Locke and Ben) could see him, is beyond me. In fact, even thinking about the possibilities that can spring forth out of this makes my head feel like it's going to start smoking as if I was R2-D2 mistakenly plugging myself into a power socket. But clearly LOST, in keeping with the Star Wars theme, has it's very own "Luke, I am your father" scene coming around the bend. If Jack is this series' version of Luke Skywalker, then Christian is its Darth Vader.
The bigger question of that scene wasn't if Christian Shepherd is Jacob. It's who was the other person who startled Hurley (and me) when their eye jumped out of the bottom of the screen? A freeze frame on that image gave me no answers, just frustration.
Was it Charlie? Was it Locke? Was it someone else altogether?
Well it probably wasn't Charlie, who had his very own minor "oh my God" scene just moments later. Since LOST has established already that Hurley is predisposed to seeing dead people, it wasn't such a shock to see him conversing with the very dead Charlie. Hurley is the shows very own Haley Joel Osment. But what did surprise me was that Future Hurley (or is it Present Day Hurley) wasn't the only person who saw Charlie. One of the patients at the mental hospital alerted Hurley to Charlie's presence. Is Dead Charlie actually just walking around and disappearing, free for the world to see?
Wait, I think my ears are smoking again.
The fact is, not only is LOST one of the most entertaining shows ever, it's amazingly dark. This show is going to get really depressing and sad, really quickly. Not "seeing Bernard and Rose and Sun and Jin hug and reunite while Claire is left, literally, holding the baby" depressing and sad. But full-on heartbreaking. And Jack, Jack is going to prove to be one of the worst human beings in the history of television. He only gets six people off the Island and then abandons the other 30+ to a life of horrors? And he seems decidedly happy with this outcome? Characters like this aren't supposed to be on network television. They just aren't. He is Daniel Plainview, corroding from the inside out with hatred, drowning himself in the solace of vodka and self-delusion and merrily trying to drink the milkshakes of everyone who stands in his way. If I was Daniel Faraday, the man who parachuted onto the island at the end of the premiere, I'd be more than a little worried.