Saturday, March 21st, 2009 http://adamkhan.net/parries/the-dharma-workmen
guess it’s pretty lame that I’m moved to write a blog entry by nothing in life until the latest episode of Lost, but boy that show manages to remain superlative. I’m thinking of the subtleties of the closing scene of the latest — ““Namaste,” season 5’s episode 9. Jack has asked directions from the unpleasant comedian cuckold from Mad Men, who has been roped into the Dharma Project along with the late Michelle Dessler from 24. The guy is rightly suspicious: why should this new fellow Jack Shephard want anything to do with big man on Dharma James LaFleur? And then Juliet answers the door, and suddenly we remember that Jack and she shared good chemistry indeed. They’d sit on the beach together three years ago in chewing-on-haysticks mode, Kate thundering at them from a distance. You can see Jack is floored by Juliet’s domestic arrangement with Sawyer, kicked in the belly. Once again swashbuckling Sawyer has won the heart of a woman Jack fancies. The chemistry dictates that Jack should be with Juliet, Sawyer with Kate.
Inside the house, Jack asks Sawyer what’s the next move, acknowledging the man’s new authority in this environment. Surprisingly, because we’re expecting these now old acquaintances to be on friendlier terms, yet unsurprisingly because it’s part of the ethos of this show that relationships turn on a dime due to the intense churn caused by extreme circumstances, Sawyer lashes out at Jack, telling him that he was a miserable leader and now he, Sawyer, will lead by thinking. Jack, somewhat stunned at this, allows himself to be led out the door, Sawyer telling him patronzingly to relax, Sawyer will do the thinking now. What’s great about this writing is that here, rather than the usual cocksmanship, Jack shrugs and says that’s fine with him, and his relief is actually real. This stuns and outdoes Sawyer, whose victory crumbles, as Jack again demonstrates that he is the natural leader rather than an obsessed pretender. Then behind them we see Kate pacing her front porch, and it’s suddenly clear why Sawyer is so deeply ornery and has taken it out on Jack. He admires, trusts and enjoys his life with Juliet, but he loves Kate. Having the two of these great women in proximity, he knows — because he is Sawyer and it is therefore his cruel destiny — that he is going to lose them both. Circumstances will arise wherein he will somehow have to make a choice, and he will choose Kate, whom he can never have because she’s Kate and it is destiny not to let herself be with a man she loves, and Juliet will be unable for one reason or another to be his second choice.
In fact, if anything, Sawyer would just have rather his friends had not showed up to spoil his idyll. He even says so to Juliet, that they can’t allow the new arrivals to ruin what they’ve got. She seems mollified by this attitude — we’d intimated already that she’s worrying that Kate’s presence would not be good news for her relationship with her man.
I really love how we’ve transitioned over the past few episodes to be back on the island but in totally different circumstances, with the characters now inhabiting the world that they were previously trying to understand through unearthly crackling film reels. The strange man they’d watch in those films is now handing them their kit. I more than accept the whole time travel business, and bow down to the creators, men of my generation, who have taken and exercised themes of our times and turned them into such a magnificent, epic, compelling, sexy fantasy drama.
We still don’t know what Ben’s motivations are, what the island is about, but increasingly, it seems not to matter. All the main characters initially just wanted to get off the island. But what is their motivation now? To rescue others still on the island? To get back to their own time? Not really. Sun wants to find Jin, who is somewhere on the island. Increasingly, the island is just where they mostly live, just a major setting for their lives. They are island people. If they are lost, then it is no more so than many of us are, whose goals crumble into nothingness once we achieve them and who are thrown into what I guess is called existential crisis as a result. Now they are separated by time, not by space, from their goals. But like their relationships, even the goals have churn, until all we have really is the expression of a personality in the moment, every striving a mcguffin. It’s Nietzschian and Buddhist that way, seems to me — Nietzschian in the churn of values, Buddhist in the futility of striving. Well, no. The striving is not futile, it is very necessary.
PS – Looked around the web for others who have reflected on this episode — listed in order of goodness:
- TMZ (with minute-by-minute liveblog)
- Liz at LimeLife
- David Halpert at SciFi Watch
- “LOST Leaves Me LaFleur’d Once Again” by Give Me My Remote
- BuzzSugar (lots of comments)
- That’s Molly to You
[That’s enough reviews, thanks Google]
And didn’t the scene with Christian Shephard showing Sun the picture from 1977 remind you of the end of The Shining?