Sunday, April 19, 2009

IN A TIMESPACE FAR, FAR AWAY



They were building outpost stations over hallowed land sacred to the indigenous Hostile peoples.



The Hostiles huddled in the surrounding wilderness, mostly leaving the clueless Dharma Geek-droids to their business, but keeping constant watch and biding their time.



The Dharma went their merry way, continuing to violate the sanctity of Jacob's Island with mines and labs and factories. They gathered around them an unsuspecting community of innocents,



protected only by a fragile sonic shield and the swiss cheese security of their crackpot police force.



Unbeknownst to the Dharma, however, the Hostiles had taken possession of one of their own, the bugeyed son of the town drunk, and were reprogramming him to infiltrate and destroy their placid, complacent society.



Nominally in charge of Dharmalala, as best as can be humanly guessed, is the hairy man known as Horace.



However, not even Horace has any apparent control over the resident guntoting genius, Radzinsky the Radical.



It is also unclear where the chill Dr. Chang ranks in the power hierarchy. He is there to monitor the electromagnetic mining projects being drilled into the heart of Jacob's Island, but he often seems like just another victim of the DI machine. Is he just a college professor who got duped into dying in a tropical hellhole?



The rarely seen Pierre Chang took center stage this episode, along with his long lost son, Miles Straum.



Like its archetype obsessed ancestor, Star Wars, Lost runs primarily on high octane father/son duels.



This episode was no exception. It just had a different feeling to it. There was no mano a mano, no violence. It was almost tender.



No hands were lost in the making of this episode. (That might come later, though!)



A little refresher course in the history of Chang is probably in order. Dr. Chang is a man of many names. We first met him as Marvin Candle in the Swan Orientation Video, later as Mark Wickmund in the Pearl video, while in the Orchid orientation film, he had assigned himself the name of Edgar Halliwax. All theories about Chang possibly being one of four identical quadruplets were finally put to rest in the Comic Con 2008 video, where he admitted once and for all he was indeed the one and only Chang.



In some of his films, Dr. Chang has use of both arms and hands. In others, his left arm looks limp. It is an established urban myth among Lost-maniacs that Chang at some point lost the use of his left hand and/or arm, which would be an echo of a favorite Star Wars theme - the amputation of appendages.



We know that Chang sent his family away from Jacob's Island long ago, and that Mama Chang took her bitterness about this betrayal with her to her grave.



The Comic Con 2008 video also revealed that Dr. Chang knew what the future held in store for him. Probably he was protecting his family from the Incident that was coming, which would be followed by the genocidal Purge, which would in turn be followed by the infamous Reign of Bugeyed Ben. And if you listen to the videotape, it's clear which time traveler sets him straight. Daniel Faraday, back from Ann Arbor, Swan suited up to return to his time travel battles in the belly of the beast.



We don't know if Pierre Chang ever noticed that his little baby son had an odd psychic deformity. We do know that Baby Miles grew into a sad, haunted child.



He was chased through life by the unchained chattering of dead people desperately seeking to unload their final secrets on him. And since it didn't seem like Mom was the communicative type, he grew up angry and confused, selfish and greedy and manipulative and so badly misguided that he ended up stealing his fashion style from



Rufio, leader of the Lost Boys.



Eventually Miles' special powers brought him to the attention of some of those seeking to exploit the Island's magic, and back he came to the land of his birth.



The title of the episode was Some Like It Hoth, one of the more blatant clue titles of the season. It didn't take much thinking to rule out the first association, the old cross dressing masterpiece, Some Like it Hot.



Hurley and Miles had a bit of a buddy act going on, but happily, it didn't include any makeup or high heels.



If you wanted to stretch, and look for seriousness in an episode that didn't have much, you could rearrange the word puzzle and find a bit more Egyptology in the title. Some Like I, Thoth?



Thoth is another one of the many, many Egyptian gods. This one is considered the heart and tongue of Ra, the one who makes the Sun God's will known through speech. Maybe that was part of the title reference. Maybe, kinda sorta. There were a few echoes back to our friendly Egyptian gods and their death fetish. There was a bit of bodysnatching going on, complete with a pretty funny reference to the famously missing corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.



And Janitor Jack (hee!) was seen scrubbing away an Egyptian history lesson from the classroom blackboard. Was this erasure meant as a reminder that those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it?



The most obvious reference in the title was a callback to those halcyon days of science fiction glory, when The Rebel Alliance managed to evade the Imperial Army and escape from the planet of Hoth - an ice planet where Wampas, much like our own tropical polar bears, dragged people into caves to terrorize and devour.



The polar bears were only there in this episode for the poop jokes and the storytime. But they were there.



Like every other Star Wars fan, Hurley spent the episode second guessing George Lucas's story choices. Hugo would have gone for the more emo hug-it-out solution to the Bad Dad situation. None of that metaphorical castration or terrifying revelations. So, hey, since The Empire Strikes Back is the only Star Wars film that Lucas didn't write himself, maybe it will turn out to be Hurley who really wrote it!



In Lost, the Swan Hatch was built to mine the powers of the electromagnetic beast that lurks beneath the surface of the Island. We've known since Season Two that the Swan Hatch had a powerful magnet behind its concrete walls.



But the Dharma mineworkers were encountering this magnet raw. Where Desmond's fillings only ached when he was trapped in the Swan, this poor schmuck had his filling ripped out right through the top of his head.



Maybe we can think of Dharma Village as an Echo Base, where the Rebels hide behind a shield generator, relying on their remoteness to protect them from the outside world. Just as Hoth was a society of tunnels and caves, both Dharma and Hostiles have mined beneath the Island. So much that happens in this story takes place underground, below the surface - not just of the Island itself - but just below the surface of our comprehension out here in the audience. We never really know what's going on, but once in awhile we kind of feel it coming together.



In our efforts to keep track of all the subterranean subconsciousness, we have learned to rely on the helpful Easter Eggs the writers so generously toss our way each episode. This episode was like the clearance rack at supermarkets the week after Easter, just a bargain basement sale of clues and teases and wink-nods. Get your notebooks out, kiddies.



The white rabbit was back.



And with our lucky number 8 no less.



Though the number 4 was having a good day as well,



being very much a featured number this week.



One of our new favorite numbers, 316, was out and about.



Just so we don't forget our Bible lessons during this detour into pop culture. The only question is which only begotten Son will be the lucky one who gets to sacrifice himself for the world his Father so loved.

In Janitor Jack's classroom, we saw flowers and butterflies,



as we've often seen before.



And the star picture at the bottom here, right below the erupting volcano,



looks almost like it was swiped straight off of Kate's old refrigerator!



Do those arts and crafts mean anything, or are they laughing at us with "clues" like that? Sometimes it seems like you don't know where to stop with this Easter Egg hunting. You start going a little nuts with it. Like, does it mean anything that the shirts are all plaid?



What about those wild horses over Lara's death bed?



Was it just me or did anyone else think of The Secret Garden when Chang opened the gates to the Orchid?



Was this the kind of "Circle of Trust" Horace had with LaFleur?



And what was up with Hurley being too demure to say the word FART?



Gregg Nations, the writer of this episode, gets the award for lamest joke in any Lost episode ever, by having Sawyer say this one: "Ever feel like the little dutch boy with his finger in the ....Doc?"



Ew.



I also gotta say, that I am no Star Wars expert, not by a long shot, but even I know that Luke Skywalker lost his hand before he found out Darth Vader was his Fatha.



This was also not a good episode for the Big Four. Sawyer, baby, you know I love ya, but you're slipping. Any halfway competent Conman would have thought to call Miles and get the videotape removed before he got filmed on it.



It didn't occur to Juliet that she'd need a cover story for Ben's disappearance until Roger stumbled back from the errand she'd sent him on.



The Kuliet ship got yet another lame scene of chick bonding through gritted teeth.



Can we quit with the Kuliet scenes? I think we get it, guys. They don't hate each other even though they are in love with the same man. Again.



Kate popped a Bud with her new BFF, Roger Workman. Which didn't work out too well, since next thing he was angrily staggering over to Jack, loaded for bear.



Janitor Jack somehow managed, in his uniquely snotty way, to pretty much confirm every one of Roger's suspicions. Way to go, Jack! You still got it, man.



I wonder if it was foreshadowing the violent end of another father/son pair when Roger "kicked the bucket" across the classroom.



Some people thought it was a shoutout that Miles was reading about the Dodger's first new manager in 23 years



but I think it was more of a wink to Marty McFly's find of the Gray's Sports Almanac.



And naming the football player's bereaved daddy Mr. Gray was a pointer to that clue as well. But why? Are they telling us that soon our heroes will use their knowledge of the future to rig the past? Or are they just reminding us that Miles, like Biff in Back to the Future II, was a schemer and a money grubber who might be persuaded to use foreknowledge to his benefit?



We found out why Miles wanted exactly $3.2 million dollars from Ben back in the day. Miles had tried to bargain for that amount from Bram in the van. He must have assumed that, since Bram didn't work for Widmore, he worked for Ben. But was that correct?



When Ben sent Tom off Island to lure Michael into boarding the Kahana as Ben's spy, Tom tried to prove to Michael that Widmore was bad. He had documented evidence that Widmore had planted graves in the Sunda Trench, trying to fool people into believing Flight 815 had crashed there.



The dead man talking that Naomi brought to Miles had been carrying those incriminating photos. That leans towards Ben telling the truth about who planted the bodies.



So, do Bram - and his riddling buddy, Ilana - work for Ben? Was Bram trying to keep Miles off the boat because his boss, Ben, wanted to keep him away? Bram wasn't offering Miles any money. He was offering him Enlightenment. Answers. Miles would find out who he was, who his father was, why he could hear dead people, all of it, if he only stayed away from the Island.



Except Miles did go to the Island, he did the opposite of what Bram told him to do, and he has found his father by doing it. Is this another circle? It's more like a Zen koan. It's like a riddle that can only be answered when you stop trying to answer it. And when you arrive at your destination by never heading where you're going, that's Enlightenment.



Sort of.

Perhaps Bram represents another faction entirely, one that we might think of as a kind of Third Way. He repeated the riddle that his ally Ilana had asked Frank on the beach last week. What lies in the shadow of the statue? We are not getting out of this one easy. This one will take some thinking. It seems a little obvious to me that the thing that lies in the shadow of the statue is the wheel that's in the well. The wheel in the well is in the shadow of the statue. The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true. Or something like that.



But maybe we're supposed to be looking at a different word. What LIES in the shadow of the statue? The monster is a kind of shadow. Is he lying? Has someone lied to him? There's as many liars on this Island as there are dead people, so I think it's a distinct possibility that part of this clue involves the act of telling untruths. Words, and all their various meanings, always matter on Lost.



"Think About Temperature." Hmmm. Let's think. Temperature. Polar bears in the tropics....Hmmm....You know I've been thinking about the temperature for about four years now and it's still not getting me anywhere. This might be better advice.



"Use Your Imagination." That seems obvious when it comes to Lost. If we didn't use our imaginations, we wouldn't get very far. I think we've all tried to imagine what would happen if a body met his own body while coming through the timespace continuum. In this episode we found out. Miles saw his own self as an infant and not a molecule was disturbed in the universe. Another secret video, this one shown only at Comic Con 2007, hinted that it could cause a disaster to encounter one's own physical self. It's just a matter of how close you get. Miles kept a safe distance from his own true innermost self.



But he got a little closer to the absent dad he'd spent his lifetime hating. It didn't have quite the same impact as if Luke and Anakin had dropped the lightsabers and talked it out, but for this one episode at least, Father and Son were allowed a little cosmic harmony.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did anybody else notice that "what lies in the shadow of the statue" Bram from the van is also one of Ilana's Ajiranuts on the beach in "Dead is Dead"?

Kyle from Kentucky said...

Of course I noticed Bram. Ever since I saw the promo for season 4 I have been going back and forth in my mind about who is this war between. It's no doubt what season 6 is all about. It can't be Widmore. I would be surprised if it's Ben because I see him being on the islands side from here on out but you never know. It has to be between the island and all the people who want to protect the island like Locke and Widmore and Jack etc.. but who they are against want to expose/harm the island. Who could that be? It has to be someone we have been aware of for a while. Nobody in Dharma is important enough to carry such clout. It's going to be a shocker like Jacob's the bad guy or Richard's the bad guy. Or maybe one of our main heroes has been a traitor all along. Who knows. I can't wait to find out.

I've been saying volcano for a while now. It's out there and it's coming.

Sawyer is suddenly making bad decisions and it will be bad for him.

'Each one of us was brought here for a reason.' What is Vincent's reason for being brought here? To pacify Walt from going on a psychic killing spree? It's been a while since I saw that dog..

It's possible that Bram and Illana are not working for money at all since he had no money to offer Miles. But Ben definitely had money in his secret room. I just think it's Jacob

Hey Zeus said...

i think it's Miles' voice on the rabbit video, telling Chang not to worry about the makeup.

Anonymous said...

This episode was good, I mean not as bad as I thought it were, but great.
I'm so looking for the next episode, it seems like there's gonna be a lot of action!

Kate wanted to be nice with Roger because she felt guilty (and she kinda is actually), and she had Aaron so she knows how worried Roger must to be.

Jack trid to defend her, but not the good way. He should have do like he didn't care, or telling Roger to go and see LaFleur. But Jack was anyway more pleasant to look in this episode.

We got it, Kate and Juliet don't hate each other, even if they're in love with the same guy... again= I loved that part Fish!

Now let's talk about Miles: his story was ok and it's fun to see that he's the son of the doctor we see on the videos since season 2= but I don't really care about his character so...

a lost french girl... which one doesn't talk english very well, I know :)

Allez bye Fish, j'adore lire tes articles mais vue que cet épisode-là n'était pas passionnant, je n'ai pas grand chose d'autre à te dire

Gypsy said...

Thanks for the History of Chang, I'd forgotten half that stuff - including the comic con video. Definitely Faraday. Definitely an exciting episode coming up next week.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the refresher on Chang and his candle-related names too. I guess Halliwax's "don't let them near each other" when rabbit no. 15's (?I think 15) second self appeared in the Orchid station vid, serves as a reminder that it's ok to come across yourself in a different time period, as long as you're not too close. Kind of an easy way out of the problems that could arise otherwise perhaps. Chang's insistence on Dharma being reconstituted does make me wonder when we'll see the DI reappearing in the future. It could well be that Bram and co have arrived to do just that, though they seem like a scarier bunch than what we've seen of Pierre Chang and his co.

Loved your pointing out all the little Easter eggs Fish, whether or not they're meant to mean anything. That and your refs to the title of the ep, the goings-on in Dharmaville, and the father-son story with Pierre/Miles, painted a fuller, entertaining pic of the episode for me. I'd have had to watch it numerous times over to pick up all you did from it.

"Was it just me or did anyone else think of The Secret Garden when Chang opened the gates to the Orchid?" That was my first thought when I saw that scene! It may be a minor detail, but cool to know you thought of it too!

- Midnight

JohnChop said...

I think Kyle is onto something. My theory is that Ilana, Bram and company are the children of the DI that were taken off the island before the purge to save their lives (Miles or Daniel blow the whistle to Dr. Chang). They want to go back to the island to turn back time and prevent the purge. The war is between them and the island with Locke leading the way uniting the teams of Widmore and Ben.

bluefish said...

Totally thought "Secret Garden" and "Circle of Trust" from Meet the Parents too Fish. Great review as always!

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