Saturday, May 3, 2008

THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE



As I was going on the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish to God he'd go away.
- Anonymous

It's hard to tell what invisible man Jack was more afraid of in this episode.



The shadow of Han Sawyer.



The father who won't let go, even from beyond the grave.



Or the little voice inside his head that won't stop reminding him what a fraud he is.



Yup, it's a Jack episode, folks.



That's right. Another one.

It wasn't a Jack Back



and it wasn't as far Jack Fro as we've gone before.



It was somewhere in the middle.

This season has featured plot heavily over character. Whether that has been a good thing or not probably depends on your reasons for watching the show. The Lost fandom is not an easy family to please. An episode that sends the myth fans off into an ecstatic orgy of clue parsing might leave the shippers a little unsatisfied. So it only seems fair for the writers to throw a juicy wet fish kiss to the romance fans once in awhile. Romance stories have a different feel to them.



Sometimes it seems people can't get their minds off it even when they're in the middle of a death defying emergency.



OK, so he likes her, but does he like like her? Enquiring minds need to know.

Now, it's not that those all important clues were ignored. Not at all. Jack's BoSox lost a three game sweep to the Yanks,



placing our episode in the timespace of August, 2007. Meaning Aaron is coming up on his third birthday. And we'd be lazy Lost fans if we didn't notice that Aaron's really big stuffed toy was a killer whale,



indigenous to Arctic and Antarctic regions - polar regions - areas where magnetic field lines enter and exit the earth's force field



... and an area hinted at frequently, from Penny's search mission



to Sawyer's Risk win



to Ben's preferred couture for time travel.



See! This stuff isn't hard at all!

Hurley's thousand mile stare is seeing something even farther away than wherever Charlie is...



...and he did leave us with the tantalizing hope that this entire episode was just a bad dream in a dead man's mind.

Charlotte apparently speaks Korean.



No idea what that means, but you know that on Lost, there are no coincidences.

My personal favorite clue was this one.



The Millennium Falcon Jack tripped over using Sawyer's signature curse. Sonuvvabitch! Indeed! Here's Jack, escaped from his marooning on Psycho Island, living large in L.A. , finally got Kate all to himself without that damn hillbilly around and who does he trip over first thing in the morning?



From the very first moments of this episode, to the very end, in true Lost triangle fashion, that redneck son of a bitch was smack in the middle of Jack's connubial bliss. Only fools are enslaved by time and space, buddy.



One thing we learned in this episode is that whatever happened on The Island did NOT stay on The Island. It keeps following them all like a bad dream. It all starts here - with Jack talking to a mystery person inside his shower.



We're intrigued. Who could it be?

Bobby Ewing?



Janet Leigh?



No! It's our old friend Monica!



Remember her? One of Kate's all time best impersonations. Just like Monica,



this Kate prefers the lemur style of kissing.



Like Monica,



she's very clever in the kitchen.



And like Monica,



she's hooked on serial matrimony.



Only this time Monica has moved it on up. From cop to doctor! That's upward mobility for Monica - she's not eating too many tacos these days. Being one of the fortunate 6 who got off The Island has paid off - a big fancy house, someone else's little son, a nanny and a life of playgroup leisure.



Not to mention her very own Get Out of Jail Free card. Monica is living the ultimate American Dream - wealth through litigation.

Strangely, Jack does not seem to be enjoying the champagne dreams and caviar wishes nearly as much.



How did I get here?
This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful wife.
- Talking Heads



Maybe his head is spinning, like ours was, by the way their entire relationship is flying by his eyes in hyperdrive. This was like the quickest life and death of a love story ever! They didn't even have time to show us how they first got together. No first kiss. No first surrender. No first discoveries. We entered this grim little melodrama already in progress.

Jack and Kate are living together!



They have a kid!



They have implied offscreen sex!



Look! Quick! They're getting engaged!



It's all going so well!



Until, that is, the next day...the very next day... when Jack already suspects she is cheating!



Not a second is wasted. Instantly, he's drowning his sorrows and feeling very put upon.



A day or so later, he's moved on to full blown pill popping drunk, getting plowed when he's left alone with the kid.



He's insulting her and letting her know who's boss.



.....Aaaaand he's outta there.



In record time!



This was definitely the Readers Digest condensed version of a relationship. Apparently they didn't want the audience to have to deal with this shit for too long, so they tossed the whole salad into one tidy episode. Virtual marriage and virtual divorce all in one bargain basement fire sale. It was like when the freezer breaks down and you have to eat all the ice cream before it melts. Even if it makes you feel sick afterwards... Since it was inevitable they had to go there with this couple eventually, it was at least merciful of them to tear ass through it like they had a train to catch. Think of it as speed jating. And besides, that wasn't really the point of the episode.

This was a Jack episode, remember. That means we all had to stop and do what Jack does every day - obsess over Jack.



I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I wanna talk abut ME!
- Toby Keith

We learned in this episode that Jack's downward spiral wasn't triggered by guilt over those he couldn't save, but by that same old self obsession with dear old dad. Even the mopey little marriage proposal was all about Jack. Once Kate told him she thought he was good at "this", he whipped out the ring. No declarations of love for the wife to be. All he wanted was a Good Housekeeper's stamp of approval on his fatherly talents. It was a weird motivation to marry. And sad. In fact, I don't know if Jack looked more miserable about facing battlefield surgery



or about facing a life of wedded bliss with Monica.



Navel gazing certainly took on new meaning in this episode.



When Jack's appendix flared up, just hours before the imaginary rescue team were due to arrive, Jack couldn't relinquish control to another qualified physician. He had a doctor



and a nurse,



both gallantly trying to save his smug, condescending ass...but he didn't trust them. We saw a level of narcissism in Jack here that was actually scary.



This is a man with such an extravagant opinion of his own powers and such a need to control every aspect of his existence that he actually thought it made more sense for him to micromanage his own gut surgery via mirror.



And in the way of Lost, where every week we watch otherwise intelligent adults toddle after Jack as if he were some kind of deity, Juliet inexplicably caved in to his demands.



Though even Juliet has her limits.

Now it's probably true that obnoxious control freaks like Jack are coming from a place of deeprooted insecurity. They probably all have daddies they can blame their own arrested development on. But most of them probably don't have dads quite as clinging as Christian Shephard. Christian continues to disbelieve in his own non existence.



Cleverly, he let the smoke monster announce his presence in the hospital,



beeping to Jack through a dying battery in the smoke detector.


Christian was much more direct with his daughter Claire, leading her from the smoky campfire into a mysterious jungle walkabout.



The shadow line of life and death was almost visible at times.



Miles, the ghost whisperer, who heard the dying cries of Rousseau and Karl, also saw Claire leave camp with her Dad. The dead are always with us in this story.



As Hurley warned Jack, in Jacob Marleyesque fashion, he would be visited by spirits. On Lost, the men who aren't there...



don't ever seem to go away.

I know we're supposed to all feel really sorry for Jack because he had a drunk dad. Jack learned from his dad that the best way to cope with babysitting is to drink....a LOT.



But he also learned that dads are supposed to read to kids at bedtime.



I think Jack's dad should have explained that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland isn't exactly on the nursery school reading list, but hey! At least he's trying. He's explaining to Aaron that the world is very confusing and sometimes it's hard to know which end is up.



"Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: "Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!"

We can see why Jack is concerned with feeling different. He did seem a lot different from the man we'd seen on The Island. For one thing,



his chest went bald!



Or maybe that's why Kate keeps buying him razors.



Because you know this man can go through some razors!

It was a bit of puzzlement to see Jack, the great hero of Lost Island, reduced to a whiny, bullying drunk here on the other side of the looking glass



...while back on the Island, the man who isn't there, the worthless hillbilly,



never looked more the chivalrous knight.



Something has happened to shake Jack's belief in his heroic destiny. We still don't know what. We don't know all the details of how he failed or who he failed. Still, he must learn somehow to cope. He could probably benefit from some kind of self help program.



But, for now Jack has his own method of keeping himself on top of that pedestal he's built for himself. Self righteous bullying still works for him.



As he told Kate, "I'm the one who SAVED YOU!" Possessiveness is another coping strategy. He deserves to know where Kate has been...but he doesn't have to tell her about his night runs to the insane asylum.



In the great grand tradition of addicts the world over,



Mr. Live Together Die Alone still prizes himself as Exceptional. It may look like he's going bananas with zippers on them, but he still knows he's better than Kate.



As he told her in no uncertain terms, she's a fraud pretending to be Aaron's mother. He may only be the nasty drunk uncle, but he's still related to Aaron. Neener neener....As Speed Jate crashed and burned, as their lies and secrets spun out of control, Jack let Kate have it with both barrels. It's to his credit that he walked out before it got physical -



- and to Kate's for realizing that the Waynes of this world come in every economic bracket - but it was still an ugly scene. It did have a certain air of familiarity about it.

Jack raging.



Kate crying.



Ahhh, felt like old times. That's the Jack and Kate we all know and love.

It turns out that the invisible man Jack is most afraid of



... is Sawyer.

Because It seems Kate didn't leave Sawyer behind on that Island the way we all thought she did. There's something she's doing for him, something mysterious, that she didn't let Jack bully out of her.



She's keeping a Promise. She's keeping a Secret. And she's keeping it between her and Sawyer, even if he will never know.



It's about the purest kind of promise keeping there is.

Kate isn't the only one carrying promises across time and space . Promises were important in this episode. Brave Juliet promised to save Jack's life, and she did.



Noble Jin promised to get Sun off the Island, and we know that he did.



Sawyer, the newly minted White Knight, promised to get Claire and Aaron back to the beach,



and damn, but he was trying. Jack also promised, before collapsing with the appendicitis we already knew he'd survive, that he'd get everyone off the Island - "All of us." And that was the promise, as we know, that was not kept.

A promise distills down to trust. Kate is honoring Sawyer's trust by fulfilling a promise even though he'll probably never know she did. And Kate was trusting Jack to somehow become Aaron's good dad even though he's a domestic nightmare. But Jack doesn't trust. He didn't trust Juliet, who knew she'd always be second best in Jack's heart.



He doesn't trust Kate, who he knows will never let him be first in hers.

At the end of the episode, Kate decided she wasn't going to hold up any more mirrors for Jack's self indulgent inner journeys. It was a good thing too. The last thing Aaron needs is to have the sins of the Family Shephard revisited on his little blond head.



Of course, there's still that inconvenient glitch that apparently being "raised by another" will bring about great cosmic catastrophe of some kind. Aaron is important in the mythology in ways none of us know yet. He is The Ring in this story.



The Precious.



It was important to note which two characters were shown protecting The Precious in the final moments of the story. It's the kind of clue that we romance fans are often better able to decipher, the kind so often lost on the straight up myth boys.



In the future, Aaron is safe with a woman who finally loves someone more than she loves herself.



But the only reason he's there at all is because on the Island there was a man who was learning that same lesson.


There's one thing I do love about Lost and it's clues


(gifs thanks to sabi7)
...there's no such thing as coincidence.

27 comments:

Kimmerz said...

this one is going in my journal

that was amazing

lots of stuff i was thinking and lots of things i hadn't thought about!!!

and reading through this, did aaron not remind you of young blond james with his fighting parents?

Anonymous said...

Fabulous recap. "Speed Jating" indeed! That was certainly something to be thankful for. Loved all the parallels you pointed out. Sawyer is definitely looking more heroic these days - he'd better not die - not even at the end!

While it could be said that Jack is just experiencing his own dark trials and will come around in the end to being the ultimate hero ... I hope it's as one who walks off into the sunset alone. Or maybe with Juliet.

Anonymous said...

Fun recap! I love the rhyme at the beginning, so appropriate. You saw this episode exactly as I did, and I think we must have laughed at all the same things.

Love the manips... Jack should try some self-help, or some lithium or some intensive therapy of one kind or another. There must be something that can help him be less of a dick!

Thanks for featuring those great images of Sawyer and Kate protecting Aaron. Those were my favorite things in this episode. Now that Jate is toast, I'm looking forward to the rest of the season... and the recaps that will go with it. Roll on, Fish. You rock!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign just above. I'm going to have to get a blog one of these days.

Dez

Anonymous said...

Great review Fish, one of my favorites!

"that redneck son of a bitch was smack in the middle of Jack's connubial bliss." - so, so true! It's amazing how a certain part of the fandom didn't pick up on this, when everybody else did.

"In the future, Aaron is safe with a woman who finally loves someone more than she loves herself.
But the only reason he's there at all is because on the Island there was a man who was learning that same lesson." - this part slew me, I love Sawyer's, as well as Kate evolution right now. She finally did what's best for her (and Aaron) and called that lame-ass douchebag out on his behavior.

- Caprica

LostBunny said...

That was a great review, Fish. Is it wrong that even though the sex was implicit it still disgusts me?

Anonymous said...

Great analysis and a great recap. I think, that's exactly what we were meant to think. Awesome parallels drawn and such nail-to-the-coffin arguments.

Jack haunted by all his boogie-men! Jack, the douchebaggery god :) that's the kind of Jack I love. And yes, the voice of reason, what's up with the hair mistery! Aaron hasn't changed a bit since Eggtown, but Kate managed to grow quite a tremendous mane! What the hell is she using?? Whale-sperm?

Mz. Fish, this recap hits exactly where it lives. Brilliant.

SassyNails.

Anonymous said...

Woah. You always stun me. Great recap Fish!

Poor Aaron, something tells me that kid will never have it easy. And when he was standing in the hall with his stuffed whale, listening to his "parents" yelling it did remind me of James when he was little.

Hmm... If Claire is dead, then whats going to happen to Aaron? Who can raise him if not Claire! Shouldn't prophecies have back up plans?

susan14509 said...

Awesome recap, Fish! Sawyer’s ‘invisible’ presence was all throughout the entire FF, starting with hairless Jack and his “sonuvabitch” outburst.

I loved the “I wanna talk about me” song reference. Two years later after the island, Jack hasn’t stopped trying to control things and people, and Kate values Sawyer’s secret enough to jeopardize her relationship with Jack, while in current time on the island Sawyer is becoming the White Knight.

And you about killed me with In the future, Aaron is safe with a woman who finally loves someone more than she loves herself. But the only reason he's there at all is because on the Island there was a man who was learning that same lesson.

You’re right, there’s no such thing as coincidence. There is fate and destiny, and those are the last two scenes people are left with in their mind for a week.

Perfect review!

candylandgal said...

I am blown away beyond words. Speechless. Awestruck. Pretty much bowing at the base of your pedestal.

Best Analysis of a Lost Episode Ever!

Speed Jating.

I think you're my hero. :) I am going to carry this to my journal, if it is okay. This is can't miss episode dissection!

Bsti said...

Funny, Fiscuit, but you seem to draw more trolls to your reviews than anyone else at DarkUFO! I think because they really hit home and some people just can't handle seeing and reading things that go against their ENTITLEMENT. As usual, I wait for your recaps after each episode. Keep up the excellent work, you have a fan base.

Anonymous said...

Kate's super sekrit Sawyer service seem so obvious to me. It fits perfectly in sync with the entire episode. Sawyer must have asked Kate to look after Clemantine.

They both saw to Aarons safety and it seems most likely that he asked her to help him see to his daughters safety and well being.

I would not be at all surprised if the phone call that Jack *caught* Kate was making, was to Cassidy. If not directly to Cassidy, then absolutely to someone who has direct knowledge of her.

I'm guessing the "errands" she had to do, had to do with sending money to Cassidy and Clemantine.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, as usual. "Speed Jating" totally made me crack up. I didn't notice the final scenes with Kate and Sawyer both holding Aaron. Nice pick up!

talliann said...

Wonderful recap, Fish. You pointed out many details I hadn't seen in the episode and that are shown clearly.

I liked the references to Star Wars and LOTR.

Definitely Aaron seems to be a very important character in the whole plot and it's really meaningful that our two outlaws are the ones protecting him and taking care of him.

So annoying to see Jack and Kate and acting like Jack and Kate *sigh*. Jack yelling at her and Kate crying. She never fights him back the way she does with Sawyer, Sayid or any other Lostie. It's sad to see that even in the future she still believes Jack is better than her.

Bravo Fish!

unlikelyme said...

I loved it all! You poined some details that are interesting(the killer whale, the artic and Sawyer).It made me smile and made me sad, and I loved the end... As you say, coincidences...

Anonymous said...

Miz Fish when I watched this ep,I cringed and thought finally those poor jate bastads get some screen time.And then I thought: I wonder what u'll have to say abt this ep and I couldn't wait for the recap. And then I read it...wow! I laughed, I had moments of epiphany, u picked up on very subtle moments and speed jating crashing and burning, our old friend Monica, all brought me to tears with laughter.

Keep it up Mz Fish

All the way from South Africa
Sbujero

Anonymous said...

Wonderful!

Lou said...

Reading this recap made me appreciate the episode more. Interesting bit at the end with Sawyer, Kate and Aaron

SockeRock said...

This was my first recap read, and I really enjoyed it. It made me find humor in an episode that made me want to throw up in my mouth.

I think you've got to hand it to the writers. They give the Jaters what they've been declaring their owed, but sneakily sneak Sawyer into nearly every one of their scenes together. Jack's using Sawyer's curse word, the painting in the background while Kate was reliving a Monica scene by jumping up and straddling Dr. Jack. The phone call and then the mention of HIS name that made Jack go ballistic.

Even though this was the worst rated episode in the history of Lost, Jaters still think they're going to get the spectacular kiss.

I also read your recap on The Brig and loved it. I was trying to find if you did one on Sawyer's behavior when he was in Room 23, but I guess they don't go back that far.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a first time reader of your recaps and boy did you nail it perfectly. It was a Jack-centric episode but damned if Sawyer wasn't all over it. The most boring ship on the island crashed and burned to a bloody crisp all in one episode. There is no doubt in my mind that the hillbilly boy is getting the girl in the end.

Anonymous said...

I loved the poem you used at the beginning of the review...the man who wasn't there. Boy, if that have a layered meaning. Dead fathers, dead friends, and missing lovers...none of them were meant to be there, yet their presence was very much felt. It was truly a tragic affair to see Jack literally watch his house of cards or illusions fall down around his ears. He got everything he thought he wanted, but not a single thing he needed. It'll be interesting to see how he deals with Juliet after showing her how cowardly and petty he can be when someone refuses to reflect back the image of the hero he wants to be. She's too classy to kick him in the nads, but I'd cheer her on if she did. LOL!

Great review as always, Ms. Fish.

Darbi,

Anonymous said...

Jebus... Jack is such an arsehole. Urgh. I agree with everything you wrote.
But, they are NEVER going to kill him off. The writers seem to think he is the hero and that's just the way it is.

Viva LaDiva said...

This is my first time reading your recaps (thanks for the tip, Ack Attack!), and I absolutely loved it...I got little tinglies in my belly when I read the end :)

~LaTissa

Kyle from Kentucky said...

People will again and again say that Stranger in a Strange Land was the worst lost episode (at least it had Cindy-Gary Troups fiancee) but this episode I hated worse because of Kates alligator tears and that surgery crap was just awful outside of Bernie. The FF was awful too except for Christian. Terrible episode. Just terrible

Kyle from Kentucky said...

and another thing. I dont care if Jack is the hero at all. Sawyer and Locke and Desmond and Ben and even Sayid to me will be the male heroes (or Ben the villian) that will stick out to me decades down the road not Jack. I mean i knew he would eventually believe and I'm glad that he believes now but big chunks of his story are no good.

Anonymous said...

Lol. This overblown hatred for a fictional character is hilarious. But I guess Darlton stuck it to you good!