Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Here's to Being Dead: Lost Recapped
(Hint: it's the performances.)
In "The Substitute," we weren't just treated to the new version of "Locke"—since "Esau Locke" is clunky and hasn't caught on, I'll go with the more readily acceptable "Flocke"—but also new twists on Richard (now a scared and confused child), Ben (alterna-Ben is a benign school teacher), Hurley (alterna-Hurley is so calm and zen-like that it's eerie; plus I liked how his good luck even prevented alterna-Locke from scratching his Hummer), and even Sawyer (okay, well maybe a new old version of Sawyer). In fact, with the exception of Kate—and again, I'll blame this on Evangeline Lilly—nearly every character on the show this season has been shifted out of their original template. And as a result, the actors have been invigorated.
Focusing on Terry O'Quinn, since he was the focal point of "The Substitute:" in season one, when the rest of the cast was off doing keg stands and hooking up (why couldn't Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan work it out?), O'Quinn was meditating under a tree in Hawaii (or something). His dedicated work paid off with an Emmy.
As his reward, O'Quinn spent most of the second season locked (pun!) in the Hatch and his performance seemed to wain. While Locke stayed interesting as a character, O'Quinn lost (pun again!) his title of "best actor on Lost" to Michael Emerson. Unfortunately, there just weren't that many new layers of the Locke onion to peel back.
That all changed at the end of last year and has pitched into overdrive in season six. O'Quinn is basically cadillac'ing his way to another Emmy Award like Manny Ramirez would after hitting a mammoth home run: he knows he's killing it, and he wants to savor every moment of it that he can. As Flocke, O'Quinn has taken parts of the original Locke—"Don't tell me what I can't do," Flocke yelled to the mysterious blonde kid who hopefully isn't the grand master of the Island (I'll get to this shortly)—but coated him in slimy and resigned confidence; Flocke seems almost exhausted with the ease which he's able to manipulate. It's a nuanced performance, filled with subtly and an underlying depression. O'Quinn has turned "John Locke" into something completely different than he was before, which is a good thing, of course, since John Locke is dead and (literally) buried.
If the macro result of Lost's final season is giving us the answers we've been waiting patiently to receive, then the micro result will be allowing each of its cast members to go away from the series without the burden of type-casting. Consider this something akin to the world's most public acting reel.
Anyway, enough already! You just want to read about the Numbers. To the lightning round!
1.) 4 (Locke). 8 (Reyes). 15 (Ford). 16 (Jarrah). 23 (Shephard). 42 (Kwon). So after six years, we finally know what the infamous Numbers mean! Kinda! I'll believe what Flocke told a shocked/drunk Sawyer: Jacob just has a thing for numbers. That they're numbered in that order isn't important; what is important is that those six names are the candidates to replace Jacob (and presumably, perhaps, "Esau"). Let's call them The Chosen Six. And, of course, The Chosen Six all encountered Jacob at some point in their life and felt his touch (something Lost unnecessarily reminded us of during the episode). Conventional wisdom has to place bets on Jack and Sawyer becoming the new Jacob/"Esau", right?
1a.) Also: cheeky of Lindelof and Cuse to only use last names so we get the added mystery of not knowing which Kwon is a candidate to replace Jacob—it could be Jin or Sun (cue: thunderclaps). Since it was an all-boys club, logic dictates that it would be Jin—plus, uh, since Sun's maiden name isn't "Kwon," it feels like she should be disqualified automatically—but something tells me the candidate is actually Sun. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Sun did eventually take over the Island. After all, besides being reunited with Jin, is there anything actually left for Sun (or Jin for that matter) to do?
1b.) Of course, the Kwon could also be Ji-Yeon, their long-forgotten child back on the mainland somewhere.
1c.) One name blatantly absent from Jacob's cave scribbles of candidates? Kate! This doesn't mean she's all set to get toe-tagged, but it certainly makes her feel a lot less significant to the plot, doesn't it? Maybe the love triangle in this final season will be between Jack, Sawyer and the Island.
1d.) Speaking of Kate: a matter of continuity. When we saw her last, she was crying on the dock as Sawyer walked back to his house. Are we to believe she just magically left New Otherton before Flocke smokey'd his way into town? I guess so, but that's still slightly annoying.
2.) Also slightly annoying: creepy blonde kid! With the exception of the Numbers, the biggest reveal in "The Substitute" was that Flocke is starting to see mysterious things on the Island as well. This flies in the face of my initial theory that the smoke monster was responsible for all the bizarre appearances on the Island (Kate's horse, Hurley's friend Dave, Eko's brother, Sayid's cat). Perhaps then the Island itself was manifesting those things as a warning sign before the smoke monster appeared. Remember: the smoke monster has always been called a "security system." Maybe before Flocke managed to get free, he was the unwilling servant of the Island? Never mind that he told Sawyer that the Island was "just an Island." I'm not sure anyone who has watched one episode of Lost believes that.
2a.) Back to the creepy blonde kid. When he started blandly intoning about rules and what Flocke could and could not do, my eyes started to glaze over. (This was especially true after Flocke, the dude who was the f'n smoke monster, couldn't catch up to a running kid.) If Lost is really going to introduce yet another master of the universe, but in the guise of a small child who, at times, bleeds all stigmata-like, I'm going to have to call foul. That's just stupid. Unless that's Tween Aaron from the Future. Then it's awesome.
2b.) Also: I'm betting Sawyer was able to see the kid too because he's a candidate.
3.) I got some flack last week from a couple of commenters who were set in their belief that "Sayid" was going to become Jacob. While I'll admit to wavering, I still don't buy that theory. Sure, the creepy blonde kid said that Flocke couldn't kill Jacob—meaning he could be coming back any minute as someone else—but I'll trust that the people in the Temple are on the level. The Others always said they were the good guys, and it appears they are.
3a.) By the way: if you're one of those people who thinks Flocke is actually the good guy and Jacob is the bad guy, I'd like to know how it feels to be on Planet Earth for the first time. Hopefully you enjoy your stay.
4.) Gotta love how Sawyer is always quoting Of Mice and Men on long walks through the jungle with manipulative bad guys (remember he did that with Ben in season three!). Basically everything Josh Holloway-as-Sawyer did tonight (and has done this entire season) was perfection. This includes: wallowing in his own drunkenness in dirty boxers, listening to "Search and Destroy" (Drunk Sawyer loves The Life Aquatic soundtrack too!) and immediately realizing that Flocke wasn't actually Locke. Well played!
4a.) Also, this: "I don't give a damn if you're dead. Or time traveling. Or the Ghost of Christmas Past. All I care about is this whiskey. So, bottoms up."
4b.) Detail alert! Flocke saying John Steinbeck was "a little after my time." Hmm...
5.) Michael Emerson hasn't had much to do this entire season—and now that he's stuck with the also-ran crew of Sun, Illana and Lapidis, I fear he might be marginalized even further—but his eulogy for Locke was actually quite moving... even if it did include the laugh-line "and I'm very sorry I murdered him." Here's hoping we get some more Ben-time before what I assume will be his inevitable (and unfortunate) offing.
5a.) Sorry, but Lapidis saying that Locke's funeral was "weirdest damn funeral that I've ever been to," was too over-the-top. That line just stunk of "let's just have Frank say something cool here!" and didn't feel organic at all. Lapidis better have a payoff beyond being Sun's defacto chauffeur and the writers' soundboard, because otherwise he's just useless window dressing.
6.) I haven't mentioned anything in the alterna-plot yet, because while cool, it doesn't seem to matter that much beyond offering more chances to revisit what we loved initially about Lost. We're told that it will, however, so I'll sit tight. That said, seeing Ben Linus as a prickly European History teacher was worth all the flash-sideways scenes Lindelof and Cuse can muster. "Alright, I know I sound like a broken record, but how many times do we have to go over this? If you have the last cup of coffee, you remove the filter and throw it away. Fear not, I will make a fresh pot." Hilarious.
6a.) Another "well, will you look at that?" flash-sideways moment: Locke's alarm clock has the same alarm sound that the hatch alarm did.
So where are we at now? Well Flocke and Sawyer are trying to leave, Jack is presumably still having meetings with the Other Others, Kate is wandering the jungle, Jungle Claire is torturing Jin and the C-Squad are making their way to the Temple. Phew!
Next week: Claire stuff? Hopefully!