09 February 2006

Lost, Rajah, Decision Time...

Last night's episode of LOST ("The Long Con") was strange- on the one hand, I very much liked it, and I'll explain why at more length in a bit. On the other, however, I've read a lot of dissatistfaction with it, as part of a larger dissatisfaction, and that I can actually understand, though I don't share the sentiment.

LOST is in a sticky area right now. This is a show that has been lauded up and down, from episode one, with not much critical or "commercial" reproach. It's been a smash on all fronts.

But just like any other pop culture entity, eventually, with all that unbridled enthusiasm comes an inevitable mainstream backlash. Maybe it's not huge, and maybe it ultimately amounts to nothing- but for whatever reason, there is an inherent dissatisfaction that grows ultimately in a lot of people from all that affection. I don't mean this has or will come from everyone- it's just a pattern that often develops. I've done it myself. The thing is, the backlash isn't always earned though declining merit. Sometimes it just happens.

I only mention this because it feels like this is around the corner with LOST. Maybe I'm wrong and, ultimately, I don't know that it changes much. As long as people watch, it'll be on the air, and there's a good chance I'll enjoy it. It is also worth considering as well, of course, the nature of the relationship between a show like this and it's audience. A show that resembles LOST in a lot of ways- an unravelling "mystery" with information dispensed as the writers saw fit- is Twin Peaks. It was around the point that LOST is at now, mid-second season, where the audience began to throw their hands up in frustration.

This may not be LOST's fate, because, after all- the nature of the mystery and the rapidity with which it's consumed and reinterpreted/ resolved is a lot different between the two. One of the gifts of LOST is how they sate the audience by closing one door... and then opening another. This is different than how Peaks approached their show. In addition, X Files was a tremendous show that survived a much longer time doling out answers to it's mythology at a much slower pace than Peaks. I just think the similarity is interesting.

Really, it's not hard to quibble with the fact that, since late November, the show has been on and off repeats. Of the new ones, one ("Fire + Water") was among the worst the show has produced, and the other ("The Long Con") was essentially a long setup episode. That's easy to get frustrated with.

But anyway- that's enough on that. On with "The Long Con."

First, for pure "sighting" sake- Kate's mom was the waitress serving Sawyer and his partner at the diner as they discussed Cassiday (played by Joanie Stubs from Deadwood) and her $600 large.

I think essentially the episode wanted to put a few points into place-
a) Sawyer isn't a good guy. He may have been drifting back slightly towards that in recent weeks, but it should be duly noted that he only looks out for himself, and wants control of the situation. Period.
b) Locke and Jack don't even come close to seeing eye-to-eye, and I think the whole Sawyer-stealing-guns thing only deepens that.
c) Charlie's off the reservation. I really think he and Michael have gone nuts. Whether that means "the sickness" or not I have no idea.
d) There is a MAJOR inter-survivor conflict brewing, and it's along a few fronts. The "army" idea may not even initially apply to the Others.

In the comments section last night, Sean O- who happens to be growing a bit frustrated with the show- mentioned this about last night's episode:

I figured out my problems with it right after I posted here. Last night reminded me of when I was a kid watching wrestling. the "I'm a bad man line," Sawyer's "I have shift eyes, so I'm evil" acting, his bravado-filled "this is why I did it" speech, it all reminded me of a wrestling storyline.

I happen to disagree, and here's why- Sawyer is not an eloquent guy. He's not on the level of Sayid, Locke, Jack- even Michael, when he was still around. What Sawyer did in last night's episode amounted, to me, to alpha male strutting. His entire persona is an act- aside from the fact that he is, in fact, a "bad" person- his entire character is predicated on this macho, dominant, "above-the-fray" idea. His being a "bad" person is why he went through with the plan, but the persona is what made him think of it, and what fed his brain those rote, fairly "typical" tough guy posturings. I think it's been established that much of Sawyer's life is an act- his name, his adopting of another man's role for his life's "work." This is no exception, and in fact, is what he thinks (maybe) the original Sawyer would have done.

I think the analogy you use, in this case, is actually really spot on. He's acting just like a "bad guy wrestler" because both are trying, forcing everyone in shouting distance, to confront the fact that they're "bad" on an elementary level.

Kate said it- "you want people to hate you"- he's forcing people to hate him by being pointlessly repugnant. "I stole all the guns and will rule over you because you went through my shit." It's purposely acting reprehensively on a nearly infantile motive. The quickest way to being hated- just like holding out on Shannon's inhalers. For some reason- and I don't think we know why yet, exactly- this is his solution to having complete control of a situation, and the environment he prefers.

I do, however, think the backstories have been on a bit of a downturn these last two episodes. They have taken a smaller role in the events they were being juxtaposed against than they had up through "The Hunting Party" episode. I can appreciate the dislike of what appears to be a "setup" episode after what feels like interminable breaks for repeats, etc. But I felt like it was a good setup episode, as those go, and if next week looks as great as it seemed, it all works out in the end to me.

The scenes with Hurley, Sayid and the radio were odd to me in that they were so devoid of meaning, I had to assume they are going to come back as something eventually. After setting it up, only to hear Glenn Miller and float off into the night sky was way too flatliney for this show. Hurley's joke about the sounds coming from "any place... or any time." was interesting. Worth red-flagging, I guess.

Between Locke/ Jack, Sawyer/ Everybody, Ana Lucia/ Sayid, Charlie/ Locke, and even potentially Jin/ Locke or Sawyer or Charlie- something has to snap from these tensions. I doubt they're setting them up for nothing.

Next week's scenes looked tremendous- from the trapping of an Other, to what appears to be the 108 clock running down to "0" and what happens- although I'm betting good money that's how the episode ends, with an answer to be given at a later date.

Everytime I recall the Dharma film's mention of BF Skinner, however, my first guess "nothing happens." But we'll see, I'm sure. It doesn't look like Jack and Locke are really jiving on the 108 computer issue just yet, either.

Two more things- this is a nice, succinct spot for the culling of different "investigations" in each episode. Always worth a look. Also, the manuscript Hurley finds, "The Bad Twin" by Gary Troup- will actually be published and sold as a LOST tie in. An anagram for Gary's name is "purgatory." Now it's a necklace.

Til next week...

I'm not linking to a Gerry Callahan article, but he did mention recently that he has a source telling him that the Sox FO is going pedal to the floor after Clemens, including Werner putting a DVD together, and Lucchino backing the cash truck up.

If this were to come to pass, I would be 100% for it. Here's why:

As it appears to me, the front office wanted to do two things- build the team for the future, and construct a roster in 2006 that has a very real chance at contending for the title. That's tough to do at the same time, but if you wanted note-perfect examples of this, they include getting rid of Renteria, trading blue chips for Crisp and Beckett, and taking on older guys with shorter deals (Lowell, Loretta, Seanez, Timlin). In so doing, they got younger, arguably better, and saved a bundle of cash on this year's payroll that is as of yet unspent.

This is why Roger Clemens- at 43 years old this summer- would be absolutely perfect on a one year contract for something like $18 million dollars. Why? Because first of all, it upgrades the rotation for this year. Clemens threw 211 regular season innings at a 1.87 ERA, and broke down late. If you shave something like 20 IP off that total in the interest of his preservation, and accounted a ridiculous swell of, say, 2 runs on his ERA- he's still 191 IP, 3.87 ERA- the high end of both Schilling and Beckett's projections.

It also allows you to trade either of Clement or Wells (or both) for youth and roster depth. Use Clement for, perhaps, an upgrade on 4th OF over Dustan Mohr or Gabe Kapler and a prospect, then use Wells for a good power hitting prospect. It also keeps the slot in the rotation held for Papelbon/ Lester, which they may not necessarily be ready to assume yet, until 2007. It'd be tough to argue that having the greatest postwar RHP (maybe the greatest pitcher ever) on the staff would help the much vaunted youth.

The money you're lavishing on Clemens goes largely unspent anyway- there aren't anymore FAs to spend on, and with the exception of taking salary at midseason in a trade, this is where you can upgrade via those savings. It's perfect.

Will he even consider it? I have no idea. I don't know if someone like Roger Clemens even allows for differentiation between the Yawkey/ Harrington/ Duquette crowd and the Henry/ Werner/ Lucchino/ Epstein crowd. He left pissed at the organization, and who knows- maybe he stayed that way despite a change in leadership. We're not talking about a Rhodes scholar here.

Clemens, to me, is devoid of sentiment as well. He'll largely follow the money- maybe there's the sole intention of returning to Houston anyway, and all this "maybe Boston, maybe New York" is the Hendricks Bros. driving up prices. We'll see.

But if that's not the case, and if Boston really brings out the big checks to get him here- I don't see why it can't happen, and why it can't be an optimal idea to pounce on. It would make our likely 2006 rotation:

Arroyo/ Papelbon

So, I've decided which hat(s) to get next. I'm taking wincheck's suggestion on Mickey's Place, and going with the 1975 Cincinnati Reds hat, and the Brooklyn Dodgers hat. Pretty pumped. I'll post pictures of em when I get em. Cos it'll be sooo different than the ones on their webpage.

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