Wednesday, June 10, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 7, The Other 48 Days


As we don't yet know a lot about the tail section other than Ana Lucia having met Jack in the airport bar before the flight, there's not a ton of discussion about this episode. The characters and events are interesting but we do not get any flashbacks.



On-Island Events: A retrospective look at what happened when the tail section crashed onto the beach. Ana Lucia, Eko, Libby, and Cindy scramble to help survivors onto the beach as the wreckage from Oceanic flight 815 sinks into the ocean. Soon after the crash, a man runs out of the jungle in seek of help for a man stuck in a tree, which turns out to be Bernard. Ana Lucia talks Bernard down from the tree and later learns that the man who sought her help is named Goodwin. When the group goes to sleep on the beach the first night, they are awakened by disturbing sounds---Eko has beaten a group of attackers to death with a rock. While the rest of the group tries to determine who the attackers were, Eko has stopped speaking and begins carving things into a long stick.

Days later, others return and snatch the children; Ana Lucia kills one and finds a list with nine names on it. A survivor, Nathan, is gone for more than two hours on his own, Ana Lucia and Libby are suspicious. Eventually Ana Lucia digs a pit which she throws Nathan into, believing he is a spy for the others, feeding them information on the survivors. Some of the survivors sneak Nathan food, and later, Goodwin lets him out, letting him believe he is releasing him, but snaps his neck, killing him. Eventually the group finds the Dharma hatch and inside it, a trunk full of blankets, a glass eye, a bible, and a radio. When Goodwin offers to go to higher ground alone to get a better signal for the radio, Ana Lucia insists on accompanying him. On the way, Ana Lucia asks Goodwin why he thinks the others are attack them and he provides a somewhat alternative perspective on what the others are doing but soon begins to act peculiar under Ana Lucia's questioning.

When Ana Lucia eventually confronts Goodwin about being an "other," he admits Nathan was not one of them and that the children were better off. In a struggle, Ana Lucia stabs Goodwin with a wooden stick, killing him. Later back at the hatch, Bernard fumbles with the radio and hears Boone's transmission. Even after Boone's voice states, "We're the survivors of Oceanic flight 815," Ana Lucia insists it's the others on the radio, trying to draw them out. Near a river, Ana Lucia breaks down crying and Eko comforts her, forty days after he first stopped speaking. A few days later as Cindy and Libby are fishing on the beach, Jin washes up on shore and a replay of events already seen commences, culminating in Ana Lucia shooting Shannon in the jungle.


Further Questions:

1. Why did the others send Goodwin to this camp and not to the other?
2. Would Ethan have eventually taken others besides Claire?
3. What was the purpose of the Dharma station they found?

Television in Quarantine

Sorry this got so long. Since I really don't know when I'll be able to go back to work again, my personal quarantine may indeed be extended into the summer, so I'll keep posting my "in quarantine" series. So many shows . . . so many rants. Funny I haven't started anything new but just rewatched old favorites or got myself caught up on seasons I was behind on, and my kids did this, too. I think we're clinging to times and experiences that reminded us of being safe, or just reminded us of happier times altogether. I still maintain that for the best possible escapism, LOST (which I'm still reviewing one episode at a time) fits the bill better than anything. It's the one show I recommend to everyone who asks.

These are the shows I completed from start to finish:

1. The Handmaid's Tale

In Gilead, women called "handmaids" are forced to submit to ritual rape and humiliation in order to conceive and carry babies for wealthy couples unable to procreate.

I'd read Atwood's novel years ago and then just this year, The Testaments, but seeing it all in action really disgusted me in a way the novels couldn't. This was one of the first series I watched after the shelter-at-home order, and given everything happening in the world under the current administration, it's safe to say I was extra anger-prone sitting through all this ridiculous male bullshit in the name of religion. Most nights I would just fill up my wine glass and scowl, especially those early episodes where there seemed to be little hope and the events were more or less controlled by the commanders of Gilead. I hated those men, I hated seeing their stupid little system, and obviously, I was enraged by all the rape and baby-stealing.

About midway through the first season there comes a shift when the handmaids begin to organize their revolt and begin resisting, and these are the moments that make the show amazing and scary as it may seem to us now, relevant. All three seasons were deeply disturbing, yet not without their moments of hope and tenderness (June's friendships with Moira and eventually Janine, as well as her relationship with Nick, to name a few), but as upsetting as it all was, I did feel like the show validated my anger and served as a somewhat cathartic experience toward everything I've come to detest about men in power who hurt and demean women.


2. Sons of Anarchy

In a twisted, modern-day homage to Hamlet, Sons of Anarchy, a northern California motorcycle club and its vice president, Jax Teller, weather the ups and downs of organized crime in the close-knit community of Charming.

The first season is a little clunky, the last two off-the-rails violent, but for my money, there are no two better characters in television than our two prime movers, the Claudius and Gertrude of Charming, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal). I'll give an honorable mention to Nero Padilla (Jimmy Smits), as well as the amazing supporting cast throughout the seasons and a ton of excellent guest stars. If I'm honest I need to say that Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller, the hero, the Hamlet, definitely looks the part, but his accent, the cringe-y swagger he does, and those ridiculous white shoes he wears, were . . . poor choices, but whatever, it's Hunnam! He didn't need to do much with a cast like this, we were always gonna pay more attention to Perlman and Sagal (who stole every scene), anyway.

I did some thinking about the subject matter of the show, which is heavy into selling guns and prostitution, and shows many instances of violence against women, and admittedly, it's disturbing. A different type of disturbing than what happens in The Handmaid's Tale to be sure, but significantly disturbing, nonetheless. There's a fair amount in diversity in these episodes, but also a fair amount of racism, mostly in the form of epitaphs and stereotyping. Throughout every season, there are rapes, beatings, murders, and infidelities. In this way, SOA is not unlike a mafia film or series; it's about a group of male criminals who, at their best are hyper-masculine, at their worst, toxic and violent, and who live and work within a system where there are differing morals and constantly changing rules among crews and the law. Kind of like politics, when you think about it. If no one plays by the same rules, there effectively are no rules. If everyone is making underhanded dealings behind allies' backs, you effectively encourage your ally to do the same to you. Jax has good intentions but they're not enough, and like all good mafia pictures, we meet him on an upswing but then spend seven years watching it all crash and burn and this is sad, because like Hamlet, Jax Teller is a great character.

There is a moment early on in the first season I'll never forget: the crew is gathered around the table at Gemma and Clay's place, passing food around and bullshitting. The camera lingers on Gemma watching her family and we see her happy, in her element. Would that such experiences lasted . . .


3. Mrs. America

Phyllis Schlafly, conservative mother of six and opponent of the ERA movement, battles celebrated feminists like Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm as the women's movement gains traction in the seventies.

I grew up in the eighties in a tiny farm community in rural Minnesota, and the first thing I ever heard about any of this was when I took a women's studies class IN COLLEGE, in the year 2001. In elementary and high school, our extremely conservative social studies curriculum focused around civics/law, the big wars, and the evils of communism (without breaching the actual wars that were fought over it); if it didn't cast the white American male in a heroic spotlight, we did not learn about it.

I thought I'd immediately hate Schlafly, I wrote about her with more than a little venom in one of my American Studies classes at the U of M, but considering Cate Blanchett's portrayal and the fact that Schlafly is basically mansplained to by everyone for the first two straight episodes, I first felt sorry for her, and then came to somewhat agree with Bella Abzug's assessment, "Phyllis Schlafly is a f*cking feminist." She's not a good feminist, but she wanted all the same freedoms the real feminists were fighting for. I loved how Bella set a little trap for Schlafly's underlings to walk into, admitting basically the same, and how the idea that they might have more in common with each other than not (shown by Alice's experience with the Christian woman at the bar). In order to be engaging, I feel like many stylistic and dramatic liberties were probably taken by the show, especially with Schlafly (her posthumous publication, The Conservative Case for Trump suggests to me that in the end maybe she wasn't all that intelligent but just good at mobilizing and shouting), but whatever. The show was brilliant, more relevant than ever  (hello, MANAFORT AND ROGER STONE!) and material that young people should encounter before college level electives. Watch it.

4. LOST

After 10 years of writing about it do I really need to make up a synopsis? Fine, here it is:

After surviving a plane crash, a group of people discover connections among themselves and the unique properties of the island they've crashed onto, which was Absolutely. Not. Purgatory.

While it's true that I am watching each episode, taking notes in detail, and writing each one up separately (see LOST), I watched the entire series with my son, ending with the finale on the 10 year anniversary on May 23. The first and final seasons are pretty familiar to me, but many of the middle episodes I'd only seen once or twice, so it was nice experiencing these all over again. I've told the story about how I came to the series many times, but it's such a great one I'm telling it again: In 2006, I was working at a Starbucks on 50th and France in Edina, and many of my coworkers were film and television people. I was in the height of a serious 24 obsession (getting these either through Blockbuster online or eventually Netflix), and was watching The Sopranos and Six Feet Under weekly on HBO. Several of my coworkers assumed I was watching LOST, and when I said I hadn't heard of it, pressured me to start. My sister and brother and law said the same thing, but I always answered that I had too many shows going to start another. Only when my brother told me what he thought ("It's like The Twilight Zone on an island. You need to watch this.") did I actually become interested, but I didn't actually start watching for at least another year, possibly two as I was busy having many babies during this time.

When I did eventually begin watching, I was mesmerized from the very beginning; it was like The Twilight Zone on an island, a series of different episodes and experiences that were strangely ALL CONNECTED. The unidentifiable "monster" (which turns out to be THE DEVIL). Ben Linus as a sort of stand-in "Howling Man" (not the devil, but a dangerous man). Keeping Jack in the cage on Hydra Island and the turnaround scene where he later catches Friendly's football having presumably joined the others. The entire "Expose" episode. The explanation of keeping the smoke monster on the island as illustrated by the corked bottle of wine (straight from "The Howling Man"). It was very much its own story, different than anything we'd ever seen before but still a TZ fan's dream come true. One line that's stayed with me since the finale is when Jack says to Desmond, "trust me, all of this matters." This is something I've come to learn from life, more so in the last few years than any other time, there is a play between good and evil, it never stops, but we really are all connected and everything we do matters. Everything.

Now. I've never really been comfortable enough in the past to just lay out my take on LOST, but after ten years, I'm willing to be blunt about a few things. The island on LOST was meant to be creation. Life began on the island and then through its electromagnetic properties, once it was discovered and manipulated, continued through the donkey wheel exit point into Tunisia, flourishing all over the Middle East. Each protector of the island (Island Mother, Jacob, Jack, Hugo, Walt) is a Jesus/savior figure, human and flawed, the unnamed man in black was a human who became the devil at the hands of Jacob, and the light and energy of the physical island is God/The Universe through which all things are possible. Island Mother and Jacob clearly served the longest tenures as island protectors, but in his wisdom and maybe due to his desire to pass on the position in a timely factor with a gift for planning and unique foresight, Jacob assigned meaning to the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 even before the candidates were born, but then, when it was clear that they would eventually factor into his own replacement, linked each number to a candidate. The numbers, the candidates, and the people they connected became united by the island's energy (via Jacob's interest in them) which influenced everything from the relationships they made, the jobs they took, and the internal struggles they faced even before coming together on Oceanic Flight 815 and crashing onto the island.
This, as said by "A Scientist
Explains LOST" about a decade
ago, IS FRECKLES, JUNIOR.

David Shephard was not a dummy character or flash sideways stand-in for Jack's guilt over abandoning Aaron or having daddy issues but a real, live person, and the son of Jack and Kate (not Jack and Juliet). Being in the flash sideways, David has also died but was not instrumental to the entire island group's moving on, only Jack's, as if the God or the Universe perhaps wanted to give him a chance to meet his son, which is a very Hugo Reyes, empathetic thing to consider. It's the only thing that makes any sort of sense.

After Juliet Burke detonates a nuclear device in the pit of the then-in-process Swan station, the split narrative known as the "flash sideways" was presented in a way that, to viewers, suggested Farraday's idea of sending everyone back in time before Oceanic 815 crashed, worked. In reality, the flash sideways was its own, legitimate series of events experienced by every character after they died in whatever various methods befell them in a common place (I'm okay with using "pre-afterlife" for this) that, according to Christian Shephard during his explanation in front of the stained glass window in the final moments of the finale, they, the survivors had created for themselves. Also not purgatory. Michael and Walt are notably absent from this gathering, Michael having been relegated to the island whisperers to work off his punishment for murdering Ana Lucia and Libby and Walt being busy with island leadership duties after Hugo's unseen death, in whatever form it took. The rest of the survivors moved on together, presumably to the afterlife, proper. The end.

Questions? Let's have a drink and talk. I'm here all night.




Sunday, June 7, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 5, Abandoned

The Tail Section: Michael returns to the group as they continue their journey back to the beach camp; Sawyer bullet injury continues to worsen. Eko is sympathetic toward Sawyer but Ana Lucia is not. When Michael challenges Ana Lucia about her attitude, she explains that the others took several members of their group and that the people are smart but "animals." Eventually Sawyer collapses with fever from his infected wound and the group make a stretcher to carry him forward. As they are working together to lift the stretcher to higher ground, Ana Lucia discovers that Cindy is missing. Soon Michael hears whispering and Ana Lucia commands everyone to run.

On-Island Events: At night inside her tent, Shannon sees Walt, soaking wet and whispering, but no one believes her. After digging through Michael and Walt's remaining clothing, Shannon sends Vincent off in search of Walt's scent, convinced she hadn't been dreaming. When Aaron won't stop crying, Locke helps Claire by swaddling the baby and Claire inadvertently lets slip the fact that Charlie has one of the virgin Mary statues leading to awkwardness between Locke and Charlie. Later Shannon admits to Sayid that the reason she needs him to believe her is that she's convinced he will eventually leave her; he assures her he won't leave and tells her he loves her. Just afterward, during a downpour in the jungle, Sayid and Shannon both see Walt. When Shannon runs after Walt, a gunshot rings out and she collapses in Sayid's arms, having been accidentally shot by Ana Lucia, who with the rest of the group, has finally arrived at their camp.

Flashbacks: Shannon's experiences with her stepmother after her father's death were rife with tension and frustration but Boone is supportive. Shannon looks forward to a ballet internship but her stepmother refuses to give her any of her late father's money or estate. Boone attempts to get the money from his mother himself, but is also denied. He offers to give Shannon money once his trust fund kicks in but she decides she'd rather find a way to support herself rather than remaining dependent on him or his mother any longer.

Greater Meaning: Clearly Shannon has shown that she has the skills to manipulate others to her will, and if Locke's advice ("everyone gets a new life here,") is true, Shannon's relationship with Sayid could indeed be a positive thing built on honesty instead of manipulation. Sayid's unwillingness to believe that Shannon has seen Walt does seem a little paternalistic and man-splainy, Sayid after all must know by now that stranger things have happened on the island, but seeing Shannon show her vulnerable side with legitimate emotion instead of spite is kind of nice. Why Walt chose to reveal himself to Shannon is a mystery, maybe her caretaking of Vincent and Walt's acknowledgement of her pain over Boone before leaving on the raft bonded them, but it could also have been a sort of premonition of her eventual downfall (which Ana Lucia may or may not have instigated had Shannon and Sayid not been chasing Walt through the jungle). It's not yet proven if this was actually Walt or just a vision of Walt (ala Christian Shephard in White Rabbit). If only a vision, how is Walt able to appear to people like that? Walt's episode in season 1 was entitled "Special," is this just evidence of his specialness? And if it's only a vision, does this mean that Walt has died?

Further Questions:

1. What are the whispers in the jungle?
2. Is Walt just hanging out in the jungle by himself?
3. Will Charlie begin using heroin again?
4. Will Sawyer be okay?
5. What will Sayid do to Ana Lucia?
6. Is Shannon dead?

Reading in Quarantine: The Second 7

This stack went considerably faster than the first one. They were shorter in length but also very engaging---I tore through these because I thoroughly enjoyed each one and always looked forward to picking them up when it was time to read. I don't think I've ever felt that way about an entire group of 7 before. 


The Poet, Michael Connelly, 1996. 492 pages.

In effort to uncover the truth surrounding his twin brother's supposed suicide, a journalist finds a string of serial crimes linked to a murderer and child abuser with a penchant for the work of Edgar Allen Poe.

I had read only The Lincoln Lawyer from Connelly, which I liked a lot, but I picked this up for fifty cents at a thrift shop in my hometown last year. It was a little slow at first for maybe two chapters, a lot of journalism and cop talk as the main character, Jack McEvoy, deals with the aftermath of his brother Sean's suicide, but once it gets going, it really goes. Details that don't add up, the arrival of the FBI to the story, and the POV chapters from the murderer himself, not to mention Poe and the poetry, all make for very interesting scenes and a compelling mystery, overall. As with any story that deals with child abuse, the subject matter here was dark and disturbing, but it was a very well-done, interesting novel.

The Great American Read project (which I'm still in the first pages of) lists all of Patterson's Alex Cross mysteries on their list, and while I do enjoy the character of Alex Cross, I feel like Connelly does a better, more authentic job laying out the mystery. Written in 1996, this was Connelly's fifth novel, but on the strength of this one I'd really like to start at the beginning of his work like I did with Patterson and CJ Box's Joe Pickett series. Good thing I have all this time on my hands.


Esperanza Rising, Pamela Munoz Ryan, 2000. 312 pages.

After the death of her father, a young girl must leave Mexico with her mother to escape an abusive uncle and find work in California.

I needed a YA novel and one of my kids recommended this one. I really ended up enjoying it, there's so much going on to process. It makes me really happy they give this to kids in elementary school, because on top of being a great story about a girl and her family, there are class issues at play (Esperanza is from a upper class family), labor union issues (many of the workers want to strike for better working conditions), and racial issues (white workers from Oklahoma are given better homes and more pay per hour than the immigrant workers from Mexico). Each chapter heading is a Spanish word for whatever fruit or vegetable the crew is currently picking or prepping, so by the end you've learned the Spanish words for twelve nouns (grapes, papayas, figs, guavas, cantaloupes, onions, almonds, plums, potatoes, avocados, asparagus, and peaches), which is cool, too.

The story itself is told through the main character Esperanza's perspective, and while it does focus on common YA topics such as friendship, material things, and bullying---which I happen to think everyone should read more about anyway, no matter age or gender---the bigger topics described above make it an important story about immigrations experiences with labor and the struggles these workers face. I daresay we as Americans could stand with a bit more empathy for situations like these, and would recommend this book as an introduction on learning about topics that require understanding and compassion for humankind.


The Wild Things, Dave Eggers, 2009. 306 pages.

In a novelization of Maurice Sendak's children's book, Where the Wild Things Are (and also a novelization of the screenplay of the same name), Eggers tells the story of Max, the boy in the wolf suit who escapes his family life to and island of beasts to become their king.

Silly me, I bought this only because Eggers did it, had no idea it was based on Sendak, no idea Eggers had done the screenplay. Only after the wolf suit came into play did I realize what was happening, but even so, the story was wonderful and engaging from the very first page. I don't think you even need to have read or enjoyed the first book or film to enjoy this story, Eggers is a brilliant enough writer to have carried it totally on his own, filling in those back stories of why Max was naughty, what was going on in his family, the unique personalities of each of the beasts he spends time with, and how Max inadvertently learns a lot about himself in the process. It's a great story, and should you already be a fan of its original subject material, you will likely enjoy this, too.


Watership Down, Richard Adams, 1972. 496 pages.

After their warren becomes unsafe, a group of rabbit bucks forge an escape and relocation plan encountering several threats and challenges along the way.

I never really had any interest in rabbits; as a writer and more importantly, a reader, I'm a solid cat person, although I do sprinkle our throwaway produce ends under our deck for the baby buns that hang around the yard. It doesn't matter if you like rabbits or have even thought about them in regard to fiction, this book is really about adventure and relationships, and it's very well done. I really enjoyed it.

As with The Stand, I read most of this about ten years ago when looking for clues about LOST ---people said it might hold clues to the survivors' fate (it was also one of Sawyer's "beach books"). The premise is sort of similar, a group needs to survive and evade enemies, but that's really it. At its heart, this is a sweet story that explores a lot of how wild creatures experience other species and the natural world. I enjoyed all the rabbits' names and personalities (Dandelion, the storyteller, was easily my favorite), the mythology and history of rabbitkind showcased in the stories of old they passed around, and as these were British rabbits, I enjoyed many of their words such as "shan't," "Old Chap," and other traditional phrases. It's a lovely story, and I daresay, one that eventually addresses bigger, relevant-to-humans themes such as trust, bravery, and control. It's pretty long, but well worth the time, and the ending had me in full waterworks.


The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, 2016. 338 pages. **SPOILERS BELOW**

A woman escapes from the plantation owner who enslaved her through an underground railroad but soon discovers, escaped or free, there are no safe places in America.

This was on a list of novels of supplemental reading for one of my grad classes at Augsburg, the third one from the list that I've finished, and by far the best. I didn't know anything about it before reading, only that it was said to be very good and that it would go on to win many, many awards. I assumed it was about The Underground Railroad as I've grown to know it from history and I was very excited when I discovered the motivation was the same, but this story was about an actual railroad that allowed people to escape. I don't want to say too much, because reading and learning about the railroad, where it goes, how it's made and hidden, should be experienced as it's written, I think the less known in advance, the better.

Cora, the book's main character, is interesting, very headstrong, and written, I think, in a way that details the evils of slavery she experienced while giving equal attention the concept of the long-lasting trauma these experiences caused. I don't know that I've ever read it described so fully (since Toni Morrison, at least)---the idea that these terrible things that have been done to a person, beatings, rapes, humiliations, stalkings, murders, and the memories of these things can and will stay with them, affecting every aspect of their lives. The effects of slavery didn't just stop when those enslaved escaped or obtained freedom.

Everyone should read this.


Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Ronan Farrow, 2019. 464 pages.

Farrow investigates the countless sexual assault and harassment charges against Harvey Weinstein over the years; many people, including his production team at NBC and Weinstein himself, try to kill the investigation but in the end, The New Yorker publishes the story.

I was curious at first, and I knew quite a bit going in, but after "The White Whale," a section about 90 pages in, this became an anger read to the end as I learned about the number of victims, specifics of how they were raped/assaulted/stalked (and not only by Weinstein, Matt Lauer has a section and he's just as disgusting and criminal), and just how deep this coverup really went. It was infuriating, but an important read, and (as with War on Peace) really good insight into the importance of competent journalism. The one happy moment, if there can be one in a story like this, is Farrow's little "okay, bitch ass," (my words, not his) treatment of his producer Noah Oppenheim's pleads for Farrow to make a statement that he, Oppenheim, wasn't the villain in all this. I'll allow that in a story this evil, he wasn't THE villain, but he was definitely A villain. Reminds me of Isaac from Children of the Corn, strapped to the corn cross, crying, because he knew his ass would soon be grass. With any luck, Weinstein is making similar sounds in prison these days.

Unsound Variations, George R. R. Martin, 1982.

A former chess captain and two friends agree to meet the teammate that lost an important chess match decades earlier; the loss has consumed every aspect of the teammate's life, and as it turns out, all of theirs, as well.

This is a short story in the Dreamsongs, Volume 2 collection, and one of my favorites of all GRRM's short fiction. I'm a pretty basic chess player so I knew and understood most of the terms, but honestly, it didn't really matter. Chess is important in the story, yes, but overall, it's a story about bitterness and strategy (both on and off the chess board). I think it would make for a very nice new Twilight Zone episode, if Peele might be looking for material for his third season. I really, really dug this, very clever with a brilliant ending.

Friday, June 5, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 4, . . . and found

On-Island Events: Sun realizes she's lost her wedding ring and tries to retrace her steps in finding it; she later destroys her garden in frustration. After Kate begins sorting through the messages in the bottle Claire gave to Sun, she finds her ring inside.

The Raft Crew/Tail Section: Michael reassures Jin that he'll be reunited with Sun soon; Ana announces the group will be hiking back to the beach group's camp. Jin impresses Bernard and Ana with his fishing skills while Michael gets to know about the survivors from the tail section; Libby explains the group's "trust issues." As Sawyer learns that the large man who initially snatched them and threw them in the pit is named Mr. Eko, Michael bolts from the group, taking off into the jungle. After Mr. Eko offers to help Jin find Michael, they happen upon a dead body, which Eko identifies as Goodwin. Soon they find Michael's tracks but Eko senses danger; as they hide among bushes a group of dirty, barefoot "others" make their way through the jungle just in front of them, including a child holding a teddy bear. Eventually, Michael emerges from the jungle and demands Jin go back to the others.

Flashbacks: Sun and Jin share flashbacks of before they met during which Sun is set up through a matchmaker and Jin's friend implores him to wear orange in order to meet the woman of his dreams. Jin interviews at a hotel and lands the job despite being belittled for his poverty by his new boss. Jin happens to open the door for Sun and her mother where Sun connects with the man her matchmaker has paired her with but she soon learns this man plans to marry an American woman. When Jin allows a young boy to use the hotel's bathroom against his boss's guidelines, his boss confronts him for it and Jin quits. Later, while crossing a bridge, Jin sees a woman wearing an orange dress, but when he turns around to follow her, he bumps into Sun.

Greater Meaning: While the events in the episode are broad and pretty scattered, the overall theme seems to be Jin's superior moral character and Sun's concern for his well-being. Despite begin shown as a punch-happy control freak in the early episodes of the first season, Jin has shown nothing but bravery and loyalty during the events of the raft and toward Michael and Sawyer. Showing Jin's sympathy for a poor man and his son in the flashbacks suggest that second-season Jin is the true Jin, that he's always been a good man. While Sun doesn't seem to have Rose's level of connection when it comes to the fate of her husband, Sun seems to be rightly concerned about Jin, she just has no way of knowing what the real threat is (she assumes peril by ocean or perhaps sharks, the tail section knows better of course). Beside Ethan, the beach survivors have not seen any "others," but with Eko, Jin got a good look. One has to assume that these others, whoever they are, are able to reach the beach group (as Ethan did with Claire), are still out there, and are still a threat. Whether or not Jin or any of the tail section will still encounter them is a serious concern. Ana Lucia's strict authoritarian manner as leader of the tail section and the frantic way they all carry themselves about the jungle suggests these others are not to be taken lightly.

Further Questions:

1. Will Michael find Walt?
2. Who are the others?
3. Who was Goodwin?
4. Will the two groups of survivors meet?

Why Watch Foreign Films? Pain and Glory

Pain and Glory, d. Pedro Almodovar, 2019.

This felt a lot like a modern-day Fellini film. Everything looked very beautiful, the moments of pain and light-heartedness went hand in hand, and every scene shouted art. I often wonder what items or experiences other people have from their childhood or coming-of-age years that they look back on and enjoy remembering; this film is a lovely reminder that we should do that, if we can.

Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) is a gifted film director with several health issues that have kept him from exploring new work or interacting with the public. When one of his popular films gets remastered, he agrees to meet with the film's lead, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia), who he'd shunned for years after a falling out over the actor's heroin use. The two men connect over the exact act Mallo had judged Crespo for decades earlier (which Crespo calls, "chasing the dragon"), and under influence of the drug, Mallo begins a sort of retrospective review of his life and work. He not only begins writing again, but through Crespo's stage performance of his autobiographical essay, Mallo reunites with the love of his life, who inspires him even more. While many of his physical pains persist, Mallo continues his work honoring the people and experiences that shaped him as an artist.

The technical and thematic elements present in this film are equal parts skillful aesthetic and sentimentality. The colors, the landscapes, the interactions between characters, and even the graphics used early on in the film are all engaging and beautiful. The nostalgia and heartbreak shown in the film is best seen and not so much spoken of; this is such a writer's film, one that those of us who spend time wrapped up in our thoughts, reactions, and longing for past experiences will easily recognize. It was truly lovely to behold.

Pain and Glory is rated R for nudity and drug use and runs 1 hour 53 minutes. I got this as a recommendation via Twitter (thanks, LOSTie Laura!) and got the film itself through Netflix disk.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Season 2, Episode 4, Everybody Hates Hugo

The Raft Crew: The large man who threw the group into the pit returns and assists Jin and Michael out; Sawyer refuses. Eventually, Sawyer agrees and joins the others, who have come to accept that they were on the same crash. Ana Lucia is heavy-handed with the three men, but some of the other survivors begin making conversation and asking questions. After leading them into a bunker with a Dharma Initiative logo on the concrete wall, a woman named Libby explains there had initially been 23 of them but their numbers were now drastically reduced. One survivor turns out to be Bernard, Rose's husband, who asks after her well-being and rejoices in hearing she's okay.

On-Island Events: In the hatch, Hugo falls asleep and dreams of Jin, speaking English, and a man in a chicken suit in the food supply room. After conversing with Hugo (who speaks Korean in the dream), Jin insists "everything is going to change." Kate wakes him up and references Hugo's new job. After his button-pushing shift is over, Hugo attempts to share the news of the hatch with Charlie, who refuses to believe him, so he brings Rose instead, again referencing the job he's been assigned. Jack has tasked Hugo with inventorying the contents of the supply room and devising a plan for making distributing it. As Hugo is lamenting how everyone will hate him for policing the supplies, Kate ignores his protests when he tries to explain the new policy.

Claire walks on the beach where the bottle of messages sent with the raft washes up and Jack and Sayid investigate the hatch's magnetic properties, learning that the hatch is surrounded by eight to ten feet of concrete. Locke tells Charlie the truth about Desmond and the hatch, who says it all sounds a bit "nutty," but brightens upon hearing about the record player inside it and the possibility of peanut butter. Proving Hugo's worries again, Charlie becomes upset when Hugo doesn't give him what he wants. With Shannon's help, Claire presents Sun with the bottle of messages while Hugo tries to get out of his assigned job. When he attempts to rig the supply room with dynamite, Hugo explains to Rose what he believes will happen when word gets out that he's in charge of the food, as flashbacks to his lottery winning and his friend's reaction to it are edited in.

Hugo eventually comes to Jack with a plan he devised, which is to hand out the food, outright and immediately to all the survivors; Jack agrees and everyone enjoys an evening of Dharma-logoed meal items.

Flashbacks: Hugo's lottery win is revisited, where his mother berates him for falling down and eating basura. Hugo hides the winning ticket from her and insists he likes his life the way it is. After getting busted eating on camera by his boss at Mr. Cluck's Chicken, Hugo and his best friend quit their jobs and later Hugo asks his crush from the record store out on a date. Later, the two decorate their former boss's lawn with garden gnomes and in their euphoria, Hugo demands an assurance from his friend that things between them will always stay the same. As news crews gather to report on the lottery winning ticket, Hugo's friend's expression suggests that he is upset with Hugo over the ticket and that things indeed will change.

Greater Meaning: The episode carries on the idea (initiated from the Exodus episodes in Season 1 when Hugo joins the group in search of dynamite) of Hugo as a leader as well how his attributes and experiences have uniquely shaped him. Given his involvement with the dynamite, the loss of Arzt, and the hatch, it's natural that Hugo would be involved in the pushing of the button and later the division of the food and supplies. He was there, he was involved, and he seems willing to remain involved and to do his part in helping out where he's needed. What's interesting about Hugo as a member of the island leaders is his ongoing empathy and honesty, which is at odds with pretty much everyone else on the island. Hugo noticed when everyone needed a distraction and created the golf course. When everyone was busy celebrating Claire as she introduced baby Aaron on the beach, Hugo acknowledged Shannon's return and made sure Jack reached out to her. He takes Arzt's death the hardest and needs time to process, just as he admitted to his psychiatrist that the accidental deaths of the partygoers during the collapse of the deck was something for which he felt personally responsible.

Hugo has committed no crimes and he refuses to lie. Hugo's morals and dedication to doing the right thing make him a perfect candidate for leadership.

Further Questions:

1. Where did all that food come from, anyway?
2. Will the two groups of survivors ever meet each other?
3. How did Rose know Bernard was alive all this time?
4. Where did Desmond go?


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