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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Stranger in a Strange Land" Analysis and "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" Spoilers

There's a ton of great information to cover this week! We'll start by revisiting last week's conversation about Desmond with some insight from executive producer Damon Lindelof, followed by some extensive analysis of last week's episode, "Stranger in a Strange Land," and finally some spoilers for this week's episode, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead."

In last week's Official LOST Podcast, Damon Lindelof attempted to explain what happened to Desmond as follows:
Yeah, I guess it wasn't really quite a flashback in the conventional sense... The reality is, this is more the experience he had when he turned the fail safe key, and obviously as evidenced by future memories that he's having during his flashback, for the first time in the history of the show we actually allowed a character to have an opportunity to make a different choice than they made before, and Desmond doesn't. He's course-corrected by a certain mysterious older lady in a ring shop...

Did it really happen? Yeah, I think it really happened. I mean, you know, one of the things we try very rarely to do on the show is to play something as only having been imagined or dreamed, and I would say that in the global sense of things that Desmond went back and in the year 1996 actually had that experience. Now, I would venture to guess that in future flashbacks of Desmond's that they would be treated as traditional flashbacks where he doesn't really have any awareness of his destiny...

I think what's interesting is that there are certain things that happened the way that they used to happen that he changed as a result of being in the past that might sort of resonate over time, like getting hit in the face instead of the bartender or... maybe in another incarnation there were two photographs. That would explain how she [Penny] got one.
Basically, Damon says that "Desmond went back" and changed things "as a result of being in the past," confirming that this really was time travel (or parallel universe travel) and not merely a dream or hallucination. This still leaves us to speculate as to exactly how turning the fail safe key triggered such an occurrence, and how Desmond is now able to see "flashes" of the future.

In "Stranger in a Strange Land," we saw an indication that Karl's brainwashing may have had some effect on him, as he randomly spouted the phrase "God loves you as He loved Jacob" in the middle of a conversation on the boat.

It was mentioned at least twice in this episode that The Others live on the same island as the crash survivors. This fact was first revealed in the opening sequence of the Season 3 premiere when the camera cut to a wide shot of "Otherville" on the main island, with plumes of smoke from the plane crash in the distance. Since we now know that Karl once had a back yard, it seems safe to assume that Karl probably lived in Otherville before he was ostracized. Speaking of which, it would be interesting to know whether Karl has been "marked" like Juliet was, since he, too, seems to have been punished for insubordination.

Since Karl has never heard of the Brady Bunch, he's probably lived on the island his entire life, just like Ben. Assuming that Alex is Danielle Rousseau's biological daughter, Alex has also spent her entire life on the island. Regarding Alex's parentage, I've noticed that Alex refers to Ben by his name rather than referring to him as her father like everyone else does, so it seems that Alex knows that Ben is not her real parent. One can only speculate whether Alex knows that her real mother is alive on the island, however.

Karl may have revealed part of the reason why The Others captured several tail section survivors, including the kids. Supposedly, The Others were trying to give them a better life than they would have had with the other survivors. One of the kids that they captured, Emma, seemed in good spirits when she asked about Ana Lucia. Obviously, the captured survivors aren't completely in the loop.

Here's a rather strange observation about one of the people who was hanging out with Cindy, Emma, and Zack. Vozzek69 pointed out on DarkUFO's site that a man wearing a yellow shirt in the crowd seems to have appeared briefly earlier in the episode when Jack and Juliet were being escorted down the hallway. The man can be seen peering through a window over Jack's shoulder, possibly watching Juliet walk by since he seems to be looking in the same direction as Jack. This supports my theory that when Cindy said, "We're here to watch, Jack," she meant that they were about to observe Juliet's trial.

Ben's revelation to Jack that Ethan was their surgeon answers a formerly glaring question: why didn't The Others take Jack sooner if Ben had known about his tumor for so long? Apparently, Ethan would have been the one to perform surgery on Ben, but when Charlie killed Ethan, The Others had to come up with a different plan. Based on this new information, one could make a case that it was Charlie's fault that The Others had to capture Jack and the gang.

Jack starts the episode being very curt with Juliet: "Let me simplify it for you... I'm not going to help you." When Jack becomes aware that Juliet's life is in danger, he suddenly becomes compassionate towards her, and goes to the other extreme. He gets Ben to save her life, and at the end of the episode, instead of telling Juliet to rub some aloe on her own darn back, he offers to do it for her, and there's a hint of chemistry as Jack puts his hand on Juliet's waist. Later, as the two sail back to the main island together, the brief scene where they stand on the deck together evokes memories of scenes from Titanic. It's interesting to note that Jack saved Sarah's life and subsequently fell in love with her; is the same thing happening with Juliet? And if so, is this a deliberate setup? Ben reminded Jack that "No matter what you think, she's one of us."

At the end of the episode, "Sheriff" Isabel gives her translation of Jack's Chinese tattoo: "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." Jack admits that that's what his tattoos say, but that they mean something else. There are lots of potential interpretations of the tattoo. One possible meaning is that Jack walked amongst the people of Thailand, but he was not one of them, and hence he became an outcast for forcing Achara to "mark" him. This "outcast" interpretation may indicate a connection between Jack and Juliet's marks. The meaning that Isabel apparently took from it (since she told Jack that it was ironic) was that Jack walks amongst The Others but he's not one of them. My wife observed that Jack isn't one of "us" because most people are followers, while Jack is a leader. This is probably similar to Jack's understanding of what the tattoos mean, based on what Achara told him before she marked him. Yet another interpretation is that Jack is not like other people because he's a savior figure, or in other words he has saved many people's lives and frequently puts other people's well-being before his own.

If you don't already subscribe to the "Cranky Fanatic" LOST podcast, you may be interested to know that Big-O is going to interview actor Jorge Garcia, who plays Hurley, in an upcoming podcast episode. Look for it soon at http://crankyfanatic.com.

The remainder of this post contains spoilers.

This week's episode, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead," is a Hurley-centric episode. ABC's official synopsis is as follows:
Hurley's discovery of an old, wrecked car on the island leads him on a mission of hope not only for himself, but for a fellow survivor in need of some faith. Meanwhile, Kate and Sawyer reunite with their fellow castaways, but Kate is still torn about leaving Jack behind with "The Others."
Kate and Sawyer will return to camp in time for Kate to join Locke and Sayid in their mission to rescue Jack. Meanwhile, as seen in a LOST Moment, Vincent will run out of the jungle holding a decaying arm with a key and a rabbit's foot between its fingers. Hurley will follow Vincent (and the arm) back into the jungle. Presumably, this will lead to the discovery of the Volkswagen bus, where Sawyer will later teach Jin some English phrases to use with Sun while the two guys drink from DHARMA-branded aluminum cans. At some point during this episode, we'll see Danielle Rousseau, Paulo, and Nikki, and we'll also meet Hurley's dad (played by Cheech Marin) in Hurley's flashback. We'll also meet a character named Tricia Tanaka, who will probably die based on the episode title. According to TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, the episode "features a touching scene between Hurley and 'Libby,'" and the episode ends with Kate confronting a character we haven't seen since Season 2 whose name rhymes with "clench matey" (which I can only assume means "French lady," or Danielle). Based on interviews with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, Ausiello believes that after the next several episodes, we'll know whether Claire is Jack's half sister, what The Others wanted with Aaron, how Locke ended up in a wheelchair, and the link between The Others and the DHARMA Initiative. Ausiello also reports that actress Marsha Thomason will have a recurring role on LOST starting in late April or early May.

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Blogger Josh Long said...

I said... "Regarding Alex's parentage, I've noticed that Alex refers to Ben by his name rather than referring to him as her father like everyone else does, so it seems that Alex knows that Ben is not her real parent."

...to which MasterNak replied... "Actually, this is not true. In "Not in Portland," Alex tells the Other guarding Karl 'My dad is the one who told me to bring them here.' Just thought I would point that out."

Good observation, Nak, although I was mainly referring to "Stranger in a Strange Land" (for instance, when Alex hands the note to Isabel, Alex refers to him as "Ben"). You definitely have a point, though. On the other hand, here's a counter-argument: Alex was trying to con Aldo when she said that, and Aldo of course thinks that Ben is her dad, so it wasn't really the best moment for Alex to get into semantics about whether Ben was really her dad—she was just saying what Aldo believed to be true. That's just my opinion, and it's a rather minor point anyway, but I still have to wonder how much (or how little) Alex knows.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 7:09:00 PM  

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