Lost Wednesdays: Good Times at the Caves

February 24, 2010
By | 5 Comments

Sorry for the delayed posting today – a snowstorm trumps blogging!

My overriding feeling this season is that the producers are having fun. Generally at our expense, but certainly having fun. This is not to say that season 6 is bad, but it feels a little too coy thus far, planting seeds rather than revealing ripe fruit. I still have faith in the long-term payoff, but I’m not having as much fun as I’d like.

As I said last week, I’m confident that this will all play much better on DVD and knowing how the pieces add up. But for the weekly first-time viewer, the dual timelines are both frustrating in opposing ways. The island plots are doing the typical Lost machinations, by answering one question (“what are the numbers?”) with two more (“what are the candidates?” “what is this lighthouse contraption?”). I sense a grand payoff down the road, but after five years, our patience is rather strained. The intra-episode plotlines are still more about moving pieces around rather than any grand motions, so we care about the still-veiled macro-mysteries more than the micro-plots.

Meanwhile in LA, the stories are emotionally engaging and satisfying within the episode, but with the deep uncertainty of the larger picture serves as a cloud preventing full success as stand-alone stories. Last night’s tale of Jack as daddy was quite enjoyable, and I think Matthew Fox played it quite well. But we were left with really big questions with seemingly incomprehensible options – how does Dogen live in LA? Did the island exert enough force over Jack’s life to change the history of his appendix? As I spin possible plausible scenarios, they all leave me cold – virtual reality simulations, dream fantasies, etc. I know that the writers wouldn’t resort to such trickery (they wouldn’t, right?), but without any other real guidance, patience is needed.

I do like the role that Hurley has taken on this season, extending our fanboy surrogate into meta-narrator of Lostpedia theories (Adam & Eve time travel loops!) and callbacks to season 1 (good times at the caves!), as well as taking on the role of Jacob’s oracle. And I’m growing to really hate Jacob for being a smarmy manipulative demi-god – Smokey’s direct wrath is much more appealing. But Jacob’s strategy of withhold & tease fits the overarching narrative logic of how the castaways live their lives, so he does seem to be the guiding force.

As for Feral Claire, I found her storyline underwhelming – we knew that “her friend” would be Smokey, so the reveal was nothing special. And the question as to whether she was truly infected or just driven mad by being abandoned for three years was a bit underdeveloped. But I’m glad to see her back as a force, and look forward to seeing her and Smokey’s team storming the temple.

Random favorite fanboy moment: Hurley namechecking both Indiana Jones and Star Wars resonates with my own childhood media fandom, although I suspect he’s supposed to be a bit younger than I.



5 Responses to “ Lost Wednesdays: Good Times at the Caves ”

  1. Sean C. Duncan on February 24, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Hm, I dunno, I sense that I’m enjoying this season much, much more than many others are, so I’ll provide a few counterpoints (as per usual).

    Your question “How does Dogen live in LA?” doesn’t seem terribly confusing to me, as we have no idea where and when Dogen came from in the prime timeline. As Rose lives in LA instead of New York in the sideways-timeline, Shannon’s still in Australia, Ben and Ethan are both in LA, etc., this doesn’t seem too much of a stretch. Re: “Did the island exert enough force over Jack’s life to change the history of his appendix?” I suspect the most interesting interpretation of this is around Jack’s lack of memory of this event — he lost the appendix in season 4, as an adult, and this seemed to me to be hinting that the Jack of the alternate timeline might somehow still fundamentally be the same Jack as in the prime timeline.

    I found the visit to the caves and all the season 1 hints (Shannon’s inhaler) to be a bit tiresome, to be honest. For the viewer who hasn’t been paying attention or doesn’t have lostpedia around, it’s useful, but for those of us who have been obsessing about the show for years now, I can’t say it did much for me. The Claire storyline, similarly, is nicely evocative of Rousseau from the first season, but I can’t say it’s doing much for me just yet.

    Plus, one nitpick: The show’s done a great job of foreshadowing significant geographical bits on the island several years before they become important to the story — from the underwater cable in season 1 (that pays off end of season 3) to the radio tower (from the pilot to the end of season 3) to the statue (first seen end of season 2, but not explored in any detail until season 5). The lighthouse, then, seems a bit… random? No mention of it that I know of until last night, and it seems odd that something so large and significant wouldn’t have been noticed or mentioned by anyone else. Is it another structure like Horace’s/Jacob’s cabin that only appears to specific people at specific times? Does it move around the island, like the cabin (or like the island does around the ocean)? Who knows?

  2. Sean C. Duncan on February 24, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    One other thing I do like about the alternate timeline is that it’s giving us character resolutions that are almost impossible for the characters to have in the prime timeline —

    Last week, we had Locke moving up in the world from the demoralizing box company gig, as well as apparently working out some of his disability issues with Helen. This week, we have Jack working out some of his Daddy issues with his son (who’s the mom? My guess is Juliet, Annalucia, or Libby — David’s name is the same as Libby’s dead husband). So, it’ll be interesting to see if this is just an illusory pattern or something they’re developing as they move along with this storyline.

    • Jason Mittell on February 24, 2010 at 2:34 PM

      Agreed about the joy of the positive character arcs in the sideways stories – and that’s why I’m worried that they won’t fit into the “real” narrative world in a satisfying way.

      I didn’t mean specifically about Dogen in LA as much as “why aren’t the people who should have died on the island dead?” Obviously, Dogen could have not been on the island in 1977 (I guess it would be unlikely now that I think of it, given that he speaks English with an accent), and how Ben escaped as well. But as you suggest – and I allude to in my post – there does seem to be some para-reality relationship between the two streams more than a clear fork in 1977. And I haven’t found a relationship that seems satisfying rather than cheating. But clearly, patience is needed…

      • Sean C. Duncan on February 24, 2010 at 5:40 PM

        Ahh, now I get it — but we don’t necessarily know that the alternate timeline diverged with “the incident,” do we? Jack’s appendix would have been removed a few years before that, if Jack’s age is supposed to be the same as Matthew Fox’s.

        Each of the last three peisodes, we’ve seen a major one of “the Others” safe and sound off the island, when they shouldn’t have been (assuming they were on the island when Jughead went off) — first Ethan, then Ben, now Dogen. But, I’m not sure it’s as simple as the island just “blew up” when the bomb went off in the sideways timeline. After all, the entirety of the island seemed to have just … sunk? The barracks, the foot of the statue, etc. were all pretty much intact, which could have just been done to make it clear to viewers what they were seeing, but also could be more significant in some way.

      • Derek Kompare on February 25, 2010 at 1:23 PM

        I’m getting the increasing sense that Jughead’s a red herring; some other sort of “incident” happened or will have happened (that wheel on the Orchid station is still there, as far as we know), post-Dharma settlement and well before 2004, but not necessarily as late as 1977, to radically change the lives of all these characters.

        That said, I’m also wondering if they’re actually flash-forwards, e.g., that Jack’s appendix scar is indeed from his season 4 appendectomy, retconned in to his childhood somehow. Hmm.

        Regardless, the path being laid out is predicated more explicitly than ever on characters’ choices (nudged by Jacob/MiB, of course). Does Jack really “have what it takes”? Will Hurley accept that he’s lucky, rather than cursed? Will Locke accept “what he can’t do”? Will Ben accept that he’s not a candidate? And so on. These questions will come right to the fore, now that “teams” are lining up (as my wife observed; Team Jacob vs. Team Smokey).