May 7 2009 12:08am

Lost Round Table: “Follow the Leader”

We continue with our round-table discussions of Lost. This week, we’re joined by Bridget McGovern, Rajan Khanna and Theresa DeLucci. As always, spoilers abound, so stay away from this post if you haven’t watched the latest episode of Lost, “Follow the Leader.”

Theresa: This is it, the penultimate episode of a season that’s been very big on action and plot development. So tonight, we got a lot of set-up as the players move around the Island for final confrontations. Most of this season I’ve been into the plight of the 1977 castaways and how they got back to the Island and stuck in time. But tonight, Locke’s story was most exciting to me. How cool was it to see him with a boar again? I love Locke with a purpose, reminds me of the more innocent times of the first season. And when he finally reveals what his purpose is... that self-satisfied, nearly bliss-out look on his face makes me think he could kill Jacob if he wanted to. But how? And why?

I have to say I felt a bit of sympathy for Kate tonight, when Jack insisted that detonating Jughead and preventing Flight 815 from ever crashing was the right thing to do. Is he really that oblivious? Will we ever get to see a future where the castaways never met? I hope so, but even if they did land safely in Los Angeles back in 2004, I’m positive all of the survivors would continue to cross paths. There’s clearly something larger at play here. Whether it’s fate, Jacob, Eloise, that remains to be seen. The survivors crossed paths too many times before boarding that plane to think that something larger than even time is at play here. Has Jack’s insistence on being right ever led the survivors to any kind of good?

If I felt bad for Kate, I felt even worse for Juliet. This love quadrangle thing is kind of manipulative soap opera stuff, but it’s one of the few more emotional investments happening on this show lately. Juliet just can’t escape Kate and Sawyer’s lingering feelings towards her. It makes me like Kate even less because she seems to have no idea that she’s a total third wheel on the submarine and even in the Dharma neighborhood. I pine for the days of jungle smackdowns between these two ladies because I don’t think this drama will be put to rest without more meaningful glances, serious arguments, and tears. Catfights are more exciting.

Other thoughts: 

I missed Sayid. Good to see him again.

I would totally get tripped up by the time-traveling math like Hurley did. That scene was hilarious. 

Locke being so nice to Sun is kind of cruel if he has no intention of actually reuniting with the others in 1977.

Richard Alpert is awesome in any timeline.

Bridget: Well, this week was pretty much straight action, setting everything in place for next week’s season finale; on one hand, all the speculation over time travel and Faraday’s theories are building up toward one of several foreseeable outcomes for the Seventies survivors. On the other hand, Locke and his newfound sense of purpose introduced a whole new crazy element to the present-day plotline. Strangely, what tied the two threads of the episode to me was the presence of Richard Alpert, who seems totally baffled on both fronts, past and present. Alpert remains mysterious (a fact largely stemming from his apparent agelessness), but until now he’d always seemed to be such  a controlling figure: the enigmatic and sinister power behind the throne. Now he seems more servile, like a beleaguered civil servant being bossed around by the formidable Eloise Hawking in one lifetime and by crazy John Locke in the next. The realities of time travel are clearly baffling to him, which adds to the sense of everything being completely out of control on the Island...if Richard has no idea what’s going on, I feel like we’re all in trouble.

There were some truly satisfying touches tonight, particularly in the scenes with Pierre Chang—getting Hurley to admit, “Alright, dude, we’re from the future,” was awesome, and the moment when Miles realizes that Chang only banished his mother and infant self from the Island in order to save them was great. That said, I’m starting to think some of the writers must hate Kate as much as some fans do, because she gets shriller, preachier and more irritating every week. The choice to plop her in the middle of Sawyer and Juliet’s sweet, comfortable romantic moment seems calculated to whip the anti-Kate fandom contingent into a frenzy. I will totally admit that I’ve started secretly praying for a crazy, Joan Collins-versus-Linda Evans-Dynasty-style catfight to break out between them. Maybe that’s what will set off the bomb? How great would that be?!!!

Ahem. Moving on: I love the Locke-Jacob plotline. I kept thinking of The Wizard of Oz, which brings us right back to Ben’s entrance to the show as Henry Gale, hot air balloon enthusiast. It seems like Locke is preparing to pull back the curtain on one of the Island’s central mysteries...but why kill him? Part of me isn’t even sure that Jacob actually exists...the inside of John Locke’s head has become the strangest and most unknowable place in the Lost universe, and it’s fantastic. This has been an amazing season so far—I expect nothing less than genius from the finale next Wednesday...

Raj: I felt that the episode was a very tense one. There was Sawyer getting beat on (and Juliet - that Phil is a bastard!) and then the big clash of ideologies between Kate and Jack, and then the Three Amigos - Ben, Locke and Richard.

I find myself continuing to like Kate. Her character has definitely matured and I agree with her that trying to erase what happened doesn’t seem to be a good idea. I agree, though, that she’s so unintentionally disruptive and oblivious to it. I was happy that Sawyer and Juliet were finally having a moment and then Wham!—Kate drops in right in the midst of it all. And you know her telling them what’s going on is going to ruin their happy ending.

I was a bit surprised at how the different factions came together in the 77 timeline - Eloise agreed to go with them rather quickly, and Sayid was incorporated rather quickly into the group as well despite shooting Young Ben as well as some of Eloise’s people. I’m glad to see Sayid back, but I felt like he would get a bit more of a tongue lashing than what he got. I was happy to see Kate leave them, though. It looks like we have a civil war situation brewing for the finale.

As to the modern day timeline, I agree that Confident Locke is bad ass, but he’s also a bit scary. Especially because no one, us included, knows what his end game is. And killing Jacob? That was a great ender, but I don’t know why either or what it all means. I do like populist Locke, though. And I like that he’s setting out to be his own leader and not follow in the footsteps of Ben and the others (small O).

Richard’s status as advisor makes the Merlin connection to me all the stronger. He certainly seems magical with his non-aging. But what’s his relationship to Jacob?

Favorite part of the episode, I think, was Ben’s face when he said, “What plane?” It’s fascinating to see him not know what’s going on.

Runner-up was when Hurley tried to play off being from the future. Epic fail.

Nice little touches, too, with the view of Charlotte getting on the sub along with the Changs.

Next week promises to be cataclysmic.

Eugene Myers
1. ecmyers
Bridget, I can't believe I missed the Wizard of Oz reference! Or maybe I got it at the time, and have forgotten it since. I want to watch this whole show again once it's over to try to catch all the nuances. Why isn't this show syndicated anywhere yet? Or is it?

I loved this episode, especially Hurley's answers to Dr. Chang's questions. "So you fought in the Korean War?" "There' such thing?" It was great to see John so confident and mysterious, while Ben is more and more clueless. That scene where John sends Richard to help his past self is so Back to the Future. I almost expected to hear Jack tell Kate "It's our density."

I can't wait to see how they redefine this show for next season. It's going to be a long year until we get to see the resolution, but I think it will be worth the wait.
Heather Johnson
2. HeatherJ
"if Richard has no idea what’s going on, I feel like we’re all in trouble." Exactly. I was blown away when I realized that present-day-John was behind that whole scene where Richard removes the bullet from time-traveling-John's leg. All this time I've been thinking Richard is almost all-knowing ... when in reality he is practically clueless. Except for that scene with him and Ben - WHAT is going on there?!
Mitchell Downs
3. Beamish
Richard being confused always strikes me a more lie than truth. When Daniel came stumbling into camp Richard smoothly and quickly lied to him: Eloise is not here. When you see Richard lie with such ease so he can take control of the situation it makes his frequent moments of "confusion" during this episode seem disingenuous. I think he was flat out lying, if not merely dissembling, when he told Sun he watched all the 815 folk die in 1977.

Except for why Locke is insistent on finding Jacob (i.e. to kill him) - Richard Albert is much more informed than he lets on.
Joe Sherry
4. jsherry
@1: I believe you must have 100 episodes to go to syndication. Lost has had 86 episodes through Season Four (we're currently in S5).

There will be 17 each in S5 and 6.
Dayle McClintock
5. trinityvixen
I love Richard, and I hope we never find out why he is immortal (or seemingly so). I find his willingness to follow and never lead an interesting sort of impulse/destiny. For one thing, it assures him that no one will ever blame him for anything (he wasn't in charge!) and for another, he flies under the radar.

Or...he did? I mean, with Ben snitching him out to Locke, maybe that will change?
Dave Thompson
6. DKT
John Locke is a badass, but a scary one. The idea of him going to kill Jacob and the smoke monster being his protector makes me extremely uncomfortable for some reason.

And I'm also suprised by Richard Alpert appearing to be a little bit in the dark. It's a different aspect to him, unless it really is just him gaming Locke and Eloise.
Rajan Khanna
7. rajanyk
Lost's 100th episode was last week's, "The Variable". So I assume syndication is in the works.
Rajan Khanna
8. rajanyk
I like how Ben has gone from snitching on Locke to others (like Cesar) to snitching TO Locke. He obviously sees which way the power has shifted.
Mitchell Downs
9. Beamish
@1, 4 & 7

The show was syndicated on the SciFi Channel last year.
Bridget McGovern
10. BMcGovern
@ 1

I know! I really hope I have a chance to rewatch the series before the final season; Lost is one of very few shows that actually gets better and better for me upon repeat viewings. Also, I just made the mistake of checking the Lostpedia entry for The Wizard of Oz to find the name of an episode, and totally got sucked in (if anyone's interested in further fun Oz connections). I love how the show plays with these kinds of references, teasing them out from season to season...all I know is that John Locke makes for one terrifying Dorothy stand-in. Or maybe he just needs pigtails.
Rajan Khanna
11. rajanyk
I think someone needs to Photoshop a picture of Locke with pigtails now.
Mr Wesley
12. Mr Wesley
Actually, Lost's in syndication right now. Or at least it was at the beginning of the fall season. I worked at a local TV station that was running it on Sunday evenings. And I know G4 was running it at least once a week (I don't know if either is still running it).

I have nothing to add to this week's episode, except to say what I told my wife last night: "Next week is going to be like riding a cannonball."
Theresa DeLucci
14. theresa_delucci
@13 No we don't want any ugly shoes here.

You know, I was so focused on the Sawyer-Juliet-Kate triangle thing that I forgot when Jack was so insistent about making Flight 815 never crash, he also seemed to forget that Kate was on her way to prison, too. Wow. He is kind of a jackass lately. I'd say that this time in 1977 must be the part of the hero's journey when he's at his low point, but nothing beat's Jack's pill-poppin', hideous beard-growin' lowpoint in 2007. So what gives?

I can't wait to re-watch this series from start to finish. Even "Stranger in a Strange Land." If Lost is on syndication, it's not on as much as it was at the beginning of the year when it would be on ABC, NY-55, and G4. Sometimes all on one night, but different seasons.
Zed Lopez
15. ZedLopez
I think Ben knew the plane was there. In Exposé, the Nikki/Paulo-centric episode in Season 3, we saw that Ben was in the Pearl during the events depicted on the Island is Season 2. And he knows the island too well to not know they were approaching the Pearl.

My take on Ben is that his default position is to always be lying. He needs a good reason to ever tell the truth.

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