Lost Round Table: Episode 5,”This Place is Death”

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

Bridget: On this week’s episode, I feel like the writers have really begun to lay the groundwork for the way the time travel is going to work as a plot device–up until now, it’s been all confusion and chaos with occasional hints at what might be going on. This week they really began teasing out issues of causality, beginning with Jin’s interactions with Danielle Rousseau and her posse of French guys. We’re now forced to question whether or not his actions in the past will affect events in the future…or even if they already have. Is it possible that Rousseau only survived her initial experiences on the Island because Jin was there to stop her from following her compatriots into the Lair of the Dread Smoke Monster?

(Incidentally, I’m sure we’re all glad to see that the Smoke Monster is alive and well, even if it’s only in the past. I like to think of ol’ Smoke Monster as the Cosmo Kramer of “Lost”—it’s wacky and ridiculous and has the best entrances…good to have it back!)

Later, the same questions seem to haunt the exchanges between Faraday and Charlotte, as the time shifts accelerate and she drops like a ton of Dharma bricks. As her condition worsens and her mind becomes increasingly disoriented, she remembers leaving the Island as a child, and being to told never to return…by a man she thinks may have actually been Daniel Faraday. At this point we’re in the narrative equivalent of an M.C. Escher painting, with time looping around and around and warnings flying between past, present, and future, but at least it seems like it’s all going somewhere, and that it all will connect somehow eventually, hopefully in an utterly satisfying and amazing way. Personally, I hope Faraday’s mom shows up with her crazy candles, impassive gaze and no-nonsense attitude and just sorts everything out neatly like Martha freaking Stewart (she seems like a formidable lady, to say the least–I think she can swing it. Go, Eloise!)

It also seems like things are tilting away from Faraday’s empirical science toward a more mystical vibe; the fact that Eloise Hawking operates out of a church is kind of interesting, as is the sacrificial language in the exchange between Locke and The Ghost of Christian Shephard in the Cave of Wonders (which always looks like somebody borrowed the special effects from Disney non-classic Darby O’Gill and the Little People). Also, is the Smoke Monster really a monster which has the power to change people’s behavior and personalities, to make them “sick,” as Rousseau puts it, or is it really just a security system as we’ve been led to believe? With time skipping around like a hopscotching drunk, it seems to me that we’re drawing closer to figuring out answers to some major questions, but I’m increasingly curious to see whether those answers will be science- and reality-based or more supernatural/mystical in nature.

Theresa: I need a donkey wheel that will let me go back in time to rewatch this episode again and then let me jump forward seven days so I can see the next episode now, dammit.

Jin’s whiplash journey through time with Danielle and her people was full of little treats for longtime fans. I heard the famous numbers on Robert’s walkie talkie, just before the Smoke Monster came for their party! Haven’t seen Ol’ Smokie in a long time, though I admit, it’s always a bit of a letdown to see the monster monster in broad daylight. But seeing how Montand lost his arm more than made up for it. So did Danielle’s team go crazy? Robert, her boyfriend, was going to shoot her. Did the smoke monster do that? Did Dharma folks infect them with a disease? What’s up with the temple? Why is asking Lost-related questions still so much fun after four seasons?

The real drama of the episode, for me, came after Jin’s happy reunion with Sawyer & co.. Should any of the Oceanic 6 (and Desmond and maybe the as-yet-unseen Frank Lapidus) return to the Island? I can see exactly why Sun would want to go and yet also why Jin wants her to stay away. Look at how well returning to the Island worked out for Charlotte. Her jogged memory of meeting Faraday as a child was creepy and really well-acted. And after her professed love of Geronimo Jackson and the Klingon language, I was a little sad to see Stolzface go. Mostly for Faraday’s sake, but maybe now his character is freed up to do more cool, geeky science stuff. 

But that ending! How exactly does that donkey wheel work? And silly Ben, not putting the damn thing in park so now the Island’s skipping all over! How cool was it watching Christian Shepherd ask Locke to say hello to his son? And how the hell is Faraday’s mom going to send the Oceanic 6 back. Providing they really can get the whole band together. 

It’s interesting that you bring up the church, Bridget. Faraday is a man of science from what we’ve seen and his mom is a woman of faith, maybe? Can’t wait to see how their views collide and contradict one another. 

Bridget: Wait..wait: hold the phone…Theresa, are you suggesting there might be some problematic issues between Faraday and his mother ahead of us? Tension between parent and child? Mother-son conflict? Really? On “Lost”?

Pshaw. Man, I can’t wait until they subtitle this show “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Right after Will Smith guest stars, probably.

I also agree that Stoltzface was starting to grow on me a little bit toward the end there, mainly for the reasons you mention, but also because she seems to have eased up on the accent throttle a little bit. There were points in the last couple of episodes where I could swear she thought she was appearing in a revival of “Oliver!”…maybe Jeremy Davies took her aside and finally told her she was no Artful Dodger. Or something. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry—I’m sure she’ll be back in one way or another. This show is starting to rival “Buffy” in the nobody-stays-dead department.

I also like the fact that Christian Shephard straight-out tells Locke that Ben is not to be trusted. I think I like Ben way too much, just for being an incredibly entertaining character–it’s good to be reminded once in a while that he’s not infallible. Although that only makes him more likeable, somehow; the magic of “Lost” is like that sometimes…

Theresa: Well, Mommy issues are a welcome change of pace from the usual Daddy issues.

I never trusted Ben with his beady little eyes. Even when I like him, I still never know what to believe. If I was Sun, I’d still want to kill him for that complete disregard for others’ lives when he killed Keamy last season and thus caused the Freighter to explode. That cold-hearted “So?” Evil! But he’s really fascinating, too. He’s just as self-serving as Sawyer, but he usually hides it behind his manipulations. And he’s so good at manipulating. He’ll get what he wants in the end. I still only hope someone will stop him before he can kill Penny. 

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