Lost Round Table: Episode 3,”Jughead”

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

Bridget: Wow. Alright, so. This week we’re dealing with two main narrative threads: the group skipping through time on the Island (specifically Locke, Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Charlotte a.k.a. “Stoltzface”, and Faraday) and the delightful duo of Desmond and Penny, the Chachi and Joanie of bizarro SFdom. Except baby makes three, since the episode opens with the birth of their son, whose name is later revealed to be “Charlie,” neatly completing the show’s awesome Trinity of Charlies. We now have the Father (Charles Widmore), the Son (cherubic product of those spectacular Desmond-Penny genes) and the One who wore eyeliner, loved his heroin and rock and roll and died for everyone’s sins. Er, I mean, “saved the Island, and everyone on it.” And it was good.

Which brings me to one of tonight’s most intriguing themes, in my view. First, there are several characters who seem preoccupied, if not obsessed, with taking on the role of savior (of other people, of the island, etc.). Jack comes to mind, of course, although he didn’t feature in tonight’s shenanigans, but he’s clearly compelled in the direction of self-sacrificing heroics at every turn, and as of the last episode it seems as if he’s being offered a last chance at redemption through Benjamin Linus. Of course, since it does involve Ben and a return to the Island, who knows where that whole thing is heading? All I can say is that I’ve never seen anyone wanting to take a bullet for somebody as badly as Dr. Jack does—if he could get the last nail in himself, he would’ve been up on a cross years ago.

Then there’s Locke, who needs to think of himself as special, “chosen by the island,” which is what he’s been told, and firmly believes. There was an interesting moment in this episode when he claims that Richard was (is? damn time travel!) going to tell him how to save everyone on the island, and Sawyer immediately responds with concern for the safety of Daniel Faraday, “the guy who was actually going to save us.” Faraday is kind of a wild card, representing science in the face of all the mysticism, faith and fate-based readings of what’s happening on and off the Island, and this episode definitely stirred up even further ambiguities surrounding his character. And finally, there’s Desmond, who basically functioned as Odysseus earlier on, and now seems driven to continue on in the role of romantic knight-errand—he’s always on a quest, first to prove himself worthy to the Widmores and now to find Faraday’s mother, because his recovered memories tell him that Only He can save the people on the Island.

It’s interesting. I feel like we’re watching a competition, a race to see who will really prove to be the Ultimate Savior.

Also. some things we’ve learned: a young Charles Widmore was stationed on the Island and reported to Richard “Permanent Eyeliner” Alpert; the Island was used for testing hydrogen bombs in the 1950s (one of which had a cracked casing–not good); the Others all speak Latin (“the language of the Enlightenment” according to Juliet); Widmore funded Faraday’s research at Oxford; and pasty British redheads suck at time-travel. God, I love Lost.

Melissa: I think it’s an interesting point, this idea that there’s something of a competition of who will save everyone / everything.  It’s always been clear that Jack wants (needs?) to be the one to save everybody, but it’s true, as the series goes on we’re seeing more and more characters either stepping up to or being thrown into this role of the savior.  The unwilling savior role applies especially to Desmond tonight, as the only off-island character we saw this episode – we’ve seen him trying to leave the island and its many puzzles behind in a number of episodes now, yet he always seems to be stuck holding the key (sometimes literally).

You know, a lot of people observed last week that events ON the island were less interesting and/or relevant now that we have events OFF the island to be looking at, but I have to say, I’m growing more and more fascinated by all of the skipping through time.   Probably the most noteworthy from tonight’s episode is this revelation that Charles Widmore was on the island.  It brings to mind the comment Widmore made to Ben last season – that whole “You stole the island from me” thing.  I’m wondering, then, when exactly it was that Widmore actually LEFT the island, and under what circumstances.

We also have to assume that, if the results of the Locke-Alpert interaction (I’ll get to that in a sec) are any indication, Present Tense Charles Widmore should remember meeting Locke & Co., so he would have known that those specific people would end up on the island.  What does that mean for all of his scheming?  Is this meeting the reason he ended up funding Faraday’s time-travel research?

Hell if I know, but it adds an interesting angle.

But back to Locke and Alpert.  Tonight’s scene is obviously what leads Alpert to visit boy-Locke and show him that assortment of objects.  We now know which object he was expecting/wanting Locke to choose when he asked which one already belonged to him – the compass.  Alpert thought he had the wrong guy at that point because Locke chose the knife instead, so I’m not sure what the point actually was of Alpert giving Locke the compass in the first place.  Nonetheless, all those later comments along the lines of “we’ve been waiting for you!” are finally, finally explained.

Also, again with the no-aging thing – we’ve got a good 55-year timespan now of this guy looking exactly the same (and doing very little in the way of updating his eye makeup).  ???

Theresa: This episode had an abundance of my favorite characters: Desmond, Faraday, and Alpert (yes, he of the weird permanent eyeliner.) These guys hold the answers to so many of the time travel mysteries brought up in recent seasons. But I’m still trying to figure out the gorram questions I should be asking. Time travel, frankly, makes my brain hurt. Watching these past three episodes, I really feel like I need to watch them at least twice before I can fully comprehend them.

Desmond, as I’ve said before, is such a great romantic hero. I worry about his fate. His love for Penny, and now their son, is his greatest strength, but I worry it’ll be used against him in a painful way. Of course Desmond is going back to the Island. I bet he kicked himself for giving his real name to Faraday’s ex’s mom after he learned Widmore funded all those time travel experiments. TV characters rarely get a happily ever after nowadays, but I’m rooting for Penny & Des. I loved learning more about Faraday, too. Working for Widmore and Desmond’s constant, too? And a past tragedy. And a love confession to Stoltzface. I was disappointed that Miles didn’t look appropriately disgusted by all the love. The first flashback of Faraday’s pre-Island life showed him crying for reasons he said he couldn’t understand as he watched the footage of the “recovered” Flight 815. Was it really because he knew already that he would go to the Island and lose Charlotte? 

Richard Alpert was especially awesome this episode. As you said it Melissa, now we know why Richard was so disappointed young Locke ultimately chose the knife over the compass. And how Richard knew to wait for Locke through the years. And the shocker of Charles Widmore being on the Island. What isn’t a shocker is Widmore’s kneejerk ruthless nature, to snap the neck of his partner and try to save his own self. 

I’m still trying to adjust to the new structure. I hadn’t gotten tired of the flashforward or flashback formula. I wonder what will happen when the Island stops skipping through time. Will it take at least half a season? I’m finding it hard to gain a foothold on an emotional level. It’s revelation after revelation, definitely some of them are character reveals, like Faraday’s abandoned, broken girlfriend(?). The Island one week, the Oceanic Six the next? The biggest mystery so far seems to be figuring out how to bring everyone together, and with all of the obstacles in pretty much every character’s way, it’s looking like we’ll be watching the set-up for the big game for a few more weeks. 

Bridget: Okay—I agree with Melissa that Desmond is an “unwilling savior” and at the same time, I feel like he’s definitely desirous of the status of hero. There’s something about self-sacrifice that seems to appeal deeply to all of these characters, a sense of higher responsibility and purpose that they can’t seem to resist. Even Sawyer buys into it. It’s like watching an Army recruitment video. Except sexier, and more believable.

Melissa also brings up an excellent point in terms of the Locke/Alpert interaction; I like the idea that Locke is somehow torn between the knife and the compass, with all the attendant metaphorical interpretations encompassed within that choice (violence/instinct versus guidance/premeditation, etc.)

Also, I think if we’ve learned one thing from Richard Alpert, it’s that a thick coating of black eyeliner is always in style….

I’m so glad Theresa was as disgusted by the Stoltzface-lovefest as I was, and for the record I’m not a fan of the super-angry-waify-blond commando chick either. She was  totally unconvincing in her attempts to be surly, coming off like a yappy Private Benjamin with rabies. I really hope she’s not sticking around (but she probably is).

And as far as Young Widmore’s ruthlessness, I think it was really fascinating to contrast his actions in 1954 with his encounter with Desmond in the, uh, present? (Time travel!!!) His concern for Penny seemed genuine, which made him appear vulnerable for the first time ever. I thought it was a nice touch.

Finally, like Theresa, I’m a little worried that the back-and-forth between the Island and non-Island folk might go on too long; then we’ll be stuck waiting all season for the two halves to get finally get together like they’re frakking Sam and Diane. I really hope that’s not the case, but whatever. Right now I’m enjoying the ride.

Theresa: As it’s only the third episode in, it’s way too early for me to start bitching. (Much.) I just liked concentrating on one character at a time, especially if it was a character I liked. I can’t wait to learn more about Miles. His scene in the jungle, walking over fresh graves, was nicely done and rather creepy.

And I liked angry blond Other chick – her name’s Ellie. It’s just starting to get a bit difficult for me to keep track of everyone. The Dharma Initiative isn’t on the Island yet right? Just the U.S. military doing their H-bomb testing and the Others. Danielle Rousseau and her team haven’t landed yet. And then we followed Desmond witnessing the birth of his son, then jumped about three years ahead of that, to 2007. There are days when I’m so busy at work I can barely remember what I had for lunch, now I’m supposed to remember when the Black Rock crashed or something? It’s a damn good thing my brain stores all of my Lost memories in the place algebra used to live. Sadly, I always sucked at algebra and there wasn’t a lot of storage space in there to begin with.

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