29 March 2006

LOCKDOWN

Last night's episode of LOST was pretty crazy- a lot of bizarre revelations, really complex new questions, and two fucking amazing, dramatic reveals that stepped things up. After a really lame episode last week, this episode ended up being one of the best of the season so far.

The episode picks up where last week's left off- Ana Lucia, Sayid and Charlie off looking for Gale's supposed balloon, and Gale giving a steely plotting of what his motives would be were he actually who they think he may be. "I'd lead them by map to a secluded place, and have my people snag them- then, they'd trade me for them." It was a great scene- meant to convince that Gale was an Other, and that the trio was bound for peril.

But just like everything else with LOST, there was an inevitability of more than met the eye- you knew that Gale wouldn't lay out his plan specifically right away, and while Jack and Locke opened the episode more or less believing him, even despite his subsequent "sorry, it was a bad joke" promises (can't blame them), we cut to the balloon hunt far off in the jungle. To make a long story short- the trio find not only the balloon, but the grave of the woman Gale claims to have buried- his wife- after crashing there. Despite Sayid's protestations and assurance in his guilt, his story now seems legit.

Jack wants a new map to the balloon to go after the trio, but Locke decides- correctly- that if there's a trap, it's too late.

Meanwhile, Sawyer is taking Kate and Hurley in poker (betting mangoes). Jack steps in and embarasses Sawyer, cleaning him out of all his mangoes, his medicinal stash, and his pride. It was a great scene- suddenly, doing this in front of the whole camp, Jack regained "control" and asserted his leadership over Sawyer, and even dealt this verbal blow-

SAWYER- Jack, when I asked you to go back in, why did you ask for the medicine- why not the guns?
JACK- Sawyer- when I need the guns, I'll get the guns.
Jack smiles wryly and walks away.


With Jack gone and the trio off in the woods, however, suddenly the hatch starts to act independently and unexpectedly. Lights begin to flicker, and a loud, crackling sound began to screech through the speakers in the main room of the hatch. Locke, attempting to adjust the speakers in order to hear them better, is met with a screaming Gale, who is irrationally concerned with what's going on, and even appears to be attempting to drown out the noise being made, so that Locke can't understand it. Locke grows even more frustrated with Gale, yelling at him to shut up- when the aforementioned blast doors begin to fall. Locke manages to get a crowbar underneath one of them before they seal off and keep anyone from getting to the computer to enter the numbers.

The backstory of this episode centered on Locke. It began with Locke being informed that his father- the kidney thief- had died. Still with Helen, Locke decides to attend the funeral, to get past what his father did to him. In the process we find that Locke owns his own home inspection company, and that one of the homes he inspects is that of Nadia, Sayid's love from Iraq. Soon, after attending the funeral, we come to realize that Locke's father isn't dead, and is instead trying to evade a couple men looking for revenge after he conned them out of $700,000. He proposes that Locke go get the money to bring to him, and keep $200K for himself. Despite a visit from these said men, Locke does it, lying to Helen in the process, and despite his intention to marry her, and a proposal for which, she leaves him. This all takes place at a motel, over which Oceanic planes rocket by.

Once the wedge had been created, Locke needed Gale's help to get them out. Gale began to bargain- mentioning that if the crew came back confirming his story, that he'd protect him no matter what. Locke agreed, arguing that if the story was accurate, there was nothing to worry about. Gale still worried over reprisals- "these people have done things to them!" Locke feels confident enough to make that promise. They end up prying the door open enough to wedge a toolbox under it, but Locke being too eager to get past it, gets caught when it buckles. Now he truly needs Gale's help. Pointing out that Gale can get around the blast doors through a vent system in the pantry, in an effort to enter the numbers in time and possibly raise the blast doors.

As Gale scurried through the vents (on a second try after falling and being knocked out the first), the lights suddenly flicker off for Locke, replaced instead by blacklights, shining directly onto the blast doors currently rushing his legs. Suddenly appearing on it is a huge, complex, scribbled map that appears to detail the entire island, with all it's stations, and various other unknown elements. Locke looks on it with amazement, and the camera stays on his eyes as they soak it all in.

Suddenly, the blaring alarm for the counter stops, the lights come back on, and the doors raise. Gale re-appears, and helps Locke to his feet. Gale claims his entering the numbers didn't seem to coincide with the doors coming up.

Meanwhile, we see Jack and Kate converging in the forest. After a peremptory conversation in which Jack fibs to keep Kate from the hatch and Henry, they both notice a flashing light in the woods. As they descend on it, they meet up with Charlie, Ana Lucia and Sayid- all around what appears to have been a balloon drop of food rations, stamped with the Dharma logo.

Finally, we cut to Gale, trying to help Locke with his leg. Suddenly, after Gale has appeared to be a non-Other, helping Locke and gaining his trust, Jack breaks into the hatch in anger, screaming at Gale to get away from Locke, as the others with him descend on the man. As Gale is pinned down, Locke protests, only to have Sayid elaborate. They found his balloon, and the grave he mentioned, but upon inspection, it didn't contain Gale's wife- but the real Henry Gale, a black man from Minnesota. FIN.

A lot of really interesting revelations in this episode that aren't really "revelations"- like the map. We're introduced to it, and it is an amazing visual piece, as well as incredibly surprising, but not particularly revealing. What does it mean? What does it say? Outside of some cursory notes, we can see an arrow to one of the stations saying "I AM HERE", as well as a circle in the middle with a question mark. The image is never on the screen long enough to expect the audience to be able to read it- so there is a disconnect between say, what I might find on the map, and what, say, my Mom may. The difference being I'll search feverishly for a screencap at 945 AM on a Thurs morning, while my Mom digests the show as the producers reveal it to her. It's an interesting show in that way- the "levels" in which you watch it.

As for the map (pictured above), there's a lot there- some Latin phrases, the little logos of each "station" or "hatch." Since it appears to be a map, there is something to be said about the fact that the island is drawn like the Dharma octagon. This is interesting- which came first- the island or the logo? Did these people pick this island? If so, did they pick it because of it's shape, a felicitous coincidence that jived with their worldview? Did they use the island to shape whatever it is they're doing, including the logo? Is the octagon shape to the map simply a representation of what the logo means to the island as a whole, in lieu of it's accuracy? Interesting to ponder. I personally am going to avoid overt translation of anything on the map, as I don't want it to ruin anything.

Either way, we also get to see that somehow, and for some reason, a food drop was triggered on the island. The obvious question is- why? Is there a set timeframe for when food drops are made? Are they watching the pantry, enough to know when food is gone? Is there some low-food-trigger that signals for one? Either way, unless you're assuming the drop is somehow "robotic" in nature- ie, not done by human supervision- this means that whatever is up with the island is still "going on", and is still being monitered/ fostered. It suggests a sentience, and a will for it to continue- be that one ignorant of the island's new inhabitants, aware, or expecting of them. Either way, very interesting development.

We also learn a lot about Locke- that at one point, he owns his own house inspection company, and at the same time comes into $200,000. We also know that at a not-too-distant date, he is relatively broke, single, paralyzed and working for a box company. How he gets from there to the Locke pre-flight is intriguing. We do know, however, what ever happened to Helen.

I still actually expect there to be further elaboration on Gale- something unexpected. I don't think there is any coherence between all the Others- the grubby footed ones, the theatrical "Zeke" guy, Goodwin, Ethan Rom, Henry Gale. Maybe all but one are working on the same level, maybe a couple here, a couple there. Something about the Henry Gale saga may be left untold as of yet, though. That's just a guess though- he exhibited a lot of signs of long-range malfeasance as well. His electing to help Locke, with the assumption that his balloon story would be believed, suggests that he valued their trust for his ends- but getting them to trust him, like, say, Goodwin, he could eventually bring more damage, for instance.

Of course, add Henry Gale, the solo balloon traveller crashing on the island to the unexplained LOST jetsam- with the Black Rock, the big monster, Walt and Michael's whereabouts, and the polar bear (remember that?!).

Great, great episode however. I'm hoping, here in the home stretch, that the show is shedding the sag of some weaker episodes from midseason and going into it's kick. It seemed like it was falling into a trap The X Files often got into, where there would be "conspiracy" episodes and "character" episodes- ie, shows where we focus on Charlie's background and character to the general detriment to the furthering of the larger-scale plot, and episodes that move a TON along. In the first season, they managed to seemlessly further both in every episode.

Next week's episode looks fantastic- just guessing, that it may be a Hurley backstory, maybe with emphasis on his days in the asylum. Looking forward to it.

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