Monday, July 30, 2012

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, episode 3, Tabula Rasa


The face of a criminal?
Tabula Rasa

Events: The episode opens with a huge reveal for Jack (not for us, as we learned in the pilot's second half that Kate was wearing handcuffs next to the Marshal)---Kate is a criminal. The Marshal, feverish and sputtering, insists over and over that Kate is dangerous and shouldn't be trusted. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Kate worked for an Australian farmer named Ray Mullen, who turned her in for reward money, but her crime still remains a mystery. Meanwhile, the group that went on the transceiver-hike makes its way down the mountain again, avoiding the jungle after dark. Once everyone is back on the beach again, Sayid announces that their mission was not successful while Kate shares with Jack the discovery of the French Woman's transmission. The Marshal's health continues to deteriorate, and Jack starts to take criticism from the other survivors for wasting resources to keep the man alive. The conclusion chooses to linger not on Kate's crime or the Marshal's unpleasant death but on forgiveness and new beginnings. Just after Walt explains to his father that the bald man, Mr. Locke, told him "a miracle happened here," Jack tells Kate, "we should all be able to start over," (the title of the episode, translated, means Blank Slate). As the instrumental soundtrack draws the episode to a close there come some extremely tender, human moments: Boone fixes Shannon's sun glasses with a paper clip and smiles affectionately as he drops them into her hand; Sayid tosses Sawyer a piece of fruit; and Walt is reunited with Vincent, his dog. That said, however, there was something extremely unsettling about that last, almost-scowling wraparound shot of Mr. Locke (?).
The face of a criminal.

Greater Meaning
: The crafty significance of Locke's backgammon game (Pilot Episode, part 2) seems to be its representation of the theme of duality (two sides, one is light, one is dark) given the events and differences in philosophy seen on the island thus far, and Jack is key. As he searches the fuselage for medicine, Sawyer ransacks luggage for contraband. As Jack does his best to treat his patient, the Marshal, Hurley faints at the sight of blood and the other survivors start pressuring Jack to put him out of his misery. As a doctor, Jack's first principle is to do no harm; his world is scientific, structured. The interesting point comes (specifically in this episode) when Jack's role as a doctor and as a leader intersect. A utilitarian leader would have perhaps conceded the point that a wounded man, suffering loudly, should be killed for mercy's sake and in order to preserve supplies for the rest of the group. Jack, though trained as a surgeon and no doubt familiar with the concept of triage (clearly aware that the man's condition was dire), did not act as a utilitarian and sacrificed materials to save just one man.

We should all be able to start over.
Kate, too, is an interesting character for this reason--her nature is at odds with itself as she's a peaceful, compassionate felon. She sews Jack's wound for him, breaks up fighting between Sawyer and Sayid, needs help in disarming a weapon, and in the flashback, saves the life of the man who ratted her out to the law. And through all these events, or in spite of them, we cannot help but wonder more about her (and her crime).

Further Questions:
She's dangerous.
1. What did Kate do?
2. What are Kate's trust issues?
3. What was the miracle that Locke told Walt about?
4. Did Ray Mullen ever get his money?
5. Was Locke upset about something at the end?

6. Was the Marshal telling the truth?

Friday, July 20, 2012

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Pilot Episode, part 2


Pilot Episode, part 2.
Events: The second half of the pilot episode reveals more of the characters, more of the island, and yet ends with nothing but confusion and mystery. We learn that many of the characters have issues, with themselves or with each other. Charlie Pace uses heroin; Sawyer is outspokenly bigoted; Kate was handcuffed in a Marshal's custody when the plane went down. The Korean couple (yet unnamed) are strained; Walt and his dad don't seem to connect, and Shannon and Boone enjoy pushing each others' buttons. Hugo, Sayid and the bald man on the beach with the backgammon set are the only people who seem comfortable or at least welcoming to others.
As Jack tends to the Marshal's shrapnel wound, Kate, Sayid, Sawyer, Charlie, Boone, and Shannon hike to higher ground in order to test the transceiver. On their way they encounter more roars in the jungle, this time from a polar bear, which Sawyer kills. Later, when they test the transceiver, they hear a French woman's voice already broadcasting a distress signal. As Sayid discovers that the woman's message has been repeating on a loop for sixteen years, Charlie, concerned, asks, "Guys? Where are we?"

Greater Meaning: Both of the pilot episodes are overflowing with happenings that cannot be explained, scientifically. Surviving the plane crash was only the beginning (which was interestingly enough preceded by instrument failure). Once later events begin to unfold, the crash almost pales in comparison to the "creature" in the jungle, a mangling, roaring thing that no one can explain or even see; the tropical-dwelling polar bear; and the French woman's transmission, playing for sixteen years. What possible explanations can there be for these occurrences? 
Later, when Walt approaches the man on the beach, he notices the backgammon game and sits down. After explaining a bit about the game and its origins, the man asks Walt, "Do you want to know a secret?" In a situation like this one, it's strange that a survivor would simply lounge on the beach with a board game (just as it's slightly insensitive when Shannon tends to her toenails instead of helping others) given the fact that almost everyone else is busy with other, more important activities---Jack/the injured, Sayid/technology, Sawyer/firearms, and so on. But for some reason, this man, and whatever his secret is, seem significant, and so does his game. 
Further Questions:
1. Why is there a polar bear on the island?
2. What did Kate do?
3. What is the bald man's secret?
4. What happened to the French woman?
Next week, Tabula Rasa

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, Pilot Episode, part one


That was one hell of a nightmare . . . Oh, Christ.
Do you roll your eyes when people start talking about LOST? Were you baffled by the ending enough for it to make you angry? Do you feel like you would have liked the show better if there had been more answers or more explanations along the way? LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory is here for you! Whether you're a newcomer to the series, a fan, or a skeptic, there are millions of discussions and ideas to be shared in reexamining the show, one episode at a time. Weekly, each episode will be tackled by recapping events, analyzing greater meaning (regarding science, religion, or links to other media) and organizing further questions, all of it, other than the title of the column, of course, virtually spoiler-free. Are you ready to go back to the island?

KEEP YOUR LEGS CLOSED, I'm not an OB!
Pilot Episode
Events: A man wakes up in a forest of bamboo trees; He's injured, He has vodka in his pocket, and He's alone. After emerging from the jungle to find the aftermath of a plane crash scattered across a beach, he rushes about, saving people. This is Jack; he's a doctor. Later he meets a woman (Kate) whom he enlists to help him with his wound just under his back left ribs and they seem to connect. Most of the other survivors huddle together on the beach, awaiting a rescue plane while Jack suggests they find the cockpit in order to acquire the plane's transceiver. "I saw some smoke," Kate says, "in the valley." Immediately after this, there comes an enormous roar from the jungle and the booming sound of impact against trees, which are overturning. 


Greater Meaning: The pilot episode of any television program serves to expose a situation and its characters that in most cases, are firmly in place before we the viewer decide to sit down and watch. What's unique about this particular pilot is that the characters of LOST are unacquainted and in a completely unfamiliar setting after just having survived a plane crash. We come to this story the moment it begins. They are learning about each other at the same time we are learning about them, likewise with the place they've landed, the island. Every surprise to us is also a surprise to them, and in watching, we're implicated, almost as if we too are stranded. 

Play doctor? Sure, what the hell?
The next day Jack, Kate, and Charlie, the bass player in the English rock band Drive Shaft, head into the jungle in search of the cockpit, which they find. The ominous noises return, this time attached to an unseen entity that snatches the pilot just after he informs Jack and Kate, "they're looking for us . . . in the wrong place."

Clearly the characters of Jack and Kate are important, as evident from their early introductions and time on screen, and are even shown as equals (Kate takes on role of Doctor as she sews Jack's wound, Jack shares the personal story of a catastrophic surgery with her, Kate later counts to five as Jack said he had done in fear, etc.) But the pilot episode also gives ample (if not equal) attention to the geographical entity of the island itself. The island as a character makes sense given its complexities (sections: forest, beach, valley), its ability to sustain life (offer the survivors food or shelter), and its inherent danger in sharing its grounds with whatever creature is roaring, de-foresting, and bloodying pilots. The passengers of Oceanic Airlines may have survived the crash but clearly they still aren't entirely safe . . . 
Godfather reference?
Further Questions:
1. Will they be rescued?
2. Will the pregnant woman's baby be all right?
3. *What* is the creature in the jungle?
4. *Why* did the plane crash?
5. Where's Vincent? (the dog)
Next week: Pilot, part two.
*the search to find an affordable box set, new or used, of LOST in the Minneapolis metro area has not yet been successful. All episodes are available through Netflix streaming, however, F.O.C; you should check out the pilot tonight, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 


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