Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Name Game

Another Wednesday, another spectacular episode of Lost. (And it goes without saying that if you haven't watched it yet, don't read further).

The revelations came hard and fast this week, kiddies, and at the end, your brain probably felt like someone opened up your skull, and put the amazing cyclonic cutting action of The Magic Bullet to work on your grey matter.

"Jughead" was just about a perfect episode, one that I think will stand the test of time and rank among the very best the show has to offer. We had mysteries. We had ANSWERS. Of course, we had questions, too. We had pathos. We had laughs (thanks, Sawyer and Miles and Juliet).

The big "theme" this week was the question "what's in a name?" Names had a lot to do with things, starting the title of the eppy:

"Jughead." When you of this, undoubtedly you thought first about Archie's comic book pal with the funny hat. However, it turns out that "Jughead" was not the name of a person, but rather the name of a "thing." A big, honkin' thing. An H-Bomb! (cue literal and metaphorical playing of the Gap Band here). Dropped on the island by the US military during testing, that didn't detonate, and is now hung in a big ol' wooden derrick. Probably with enough juice to blow up the entire island. Oh, and it's "leaking." Oh, and it's 1954.

"Charlie." That's the name of the little squirt Desmond and Penny conjured up. Almost assuredly named after Charlie Pace, the marooned rocker whom Desmond repeatedly tried to help avoid his eventual fate, and who spoke with Penny, leading to the eventual reuniting of our star-crossed lovers (and rescue of the O6). Now, while that's a sweet notion, there's another layer to consider. Obviously, Penny realizes that her feared father's name is also Charles. Wouldn't it be slightly uncomfortable for them to give their child the same name as the man who tried to keep them apart? And whom Desmond has to realize is a very bad man? Also to consider, if you want to bend your brain: Do we know if Des and Penny are "legally" married, or if the little Charlie has any specific "legal" birth documents? The reason I ask is, what if something happens to Des, while he's on his search for Daniel's mother, or attempting to assist the O6 in getting back to the island? What if in trying to "do the right thing," Des goes missing in time, or gets killed? And if Penny and/or young Charlie resent the fact that Dad leaves them? (Or even worse, if young Charlie should come to believe that *gasp* Des plays some role in getting Penny killed?) Wouldn't Charlie be more likely to take his mother's name, rather than "Hume," his father's name? That would make him Charlie Widmore. And on a show with time hopping, could it turn out that young Charlie "Widmore" winds up becoming Charles Widmore -- is essence his own grandfather? Or own grandson, depending on how you look at it? Talk about your fucking "grandfather paradox!"

"Widmore." Speaking of which, the English speaking gent who threatened Sawyer and Juliet, who was wearing the uniform with the "Jones" name patch on it, turns out to be a young Charles Widmore. HOLY SHIT CHARLES WIDMORE WAS ON THE ISLAND IN THE PAST. That adds a whole new layer of complexity to the story, and puts the elder version of Widmore's efforts to find out more about the island (Black Rock diaries, research), hide the island (fake 815 crash) and infiltrate the island (the freighter team) into sharper relief. We have been shown the elder Widmore's ruthlessness in the "near present," but that wasn't a recent development. He was all about the hand-chopping in the jungle, and didn't think twice about breaking a comrade's frakkin' neck when he got too talkative with John, Juliet, Miles and Sawyer. We now know that the unis they "Others" were wearing were those scavenged from a killed team of US soldiers, hence the misleading "Jones" nameplate, but the way the show revealed Widmore's identity was classic, with Alpert scolding the badass that didn't want to back down when Locke showed up in their camp. Locke's calm recognition was also cool. Another thought: does Charles Widmore in "our present," look in his 70s? Let's assume the island Widmore in 1954 was at least 20. That would make him at least 70+ in the "present." Do people on the island, or who spend significant time on the island, age more slowly? Ben appears to have aged normally, however, but on the other end of the spectrum, Richard doesn't age at all.

"Ellie." The blonde chick in the Others camp, responsible for taking Daniel (at gunpoint) to see the bomb, was called "Ellie." Daniel remarked that something seemed familiar about her. Could she be a younger version of his mother (who we believe to be Mrs. Hawking)? It appears that on the 8 PM repeat of last week's ep, which featured a pop up trivia guide, Mrs. Hawking was identified as "Eloise." Now, we're not sure if that's exactly canon, since we didn't see that in the episodes proper, but it would seem to make the puzzle pieces fit. This begs a few questions: Was Daniel born on the island? This encounter takes place in 1954, and Daniel looks to be in his 30s. So Daniel was probably born in the early 70s. So if in fact that is his mother, did she give birth to him on or off the island, some 16 or so years after this meeting? Does this play into Daniel's ability to understand the unique properties of the island? Could babies be born on the island then, with the mother and child surviving? If not, how and why (and when) did Eloise leave? And who is the father? Could it possibly be Charles Widmore? Is that why "present" Widmore is funding Daniel's research (and taking care of the catatonic Theresa)? Would that make Daniel and Penny at least half-siblings? Also, if Daniel really wanted to get a message to his mother (via Des, in Oxford), couldn't he have just told "Ellie" something she'll need to know 50 or so years in the future then, while they were together on the island? And if you'll recall, Daniel named his "test rat" in the maze "Eloise." Naming your lab rat after your mom? Tiny bit icky?

See what I mean? Open Magic Bullet. Insert Brain. Push down and julienne. Wheeeee!

Okay, other questions, quotes and observations from "Jughead:"

That one quick scene with the rifle looked very much like a first person shooter video game. Odd stylistic choice by the director, or something meant to convey more?

"We didn't put them here. You did."

"Well, gee, I didn't have time to ask that with Frogurt on fire and all."

In the lab, who was in the picture with Daniel? Theresa, the comatose chick? Someone else? Was that his girlfriend?

Does this mean the US government knows about the island? Well, I mean, of course they know about it, since they were testing H-bombs there and sending troops in. But do they know about the "magical" properties of the island?

"Bury it and don’t worry about it. It can’t go off, because it didn’t go off."

Is the bomb buried in the bottom of one of the stations? Didn't Des and (I think) Sayid encounter a wall that was extraordinarily thick with concrete reinforcement? And does anyone else think that this bomb will go off at some point toward the end of the series, erasing all traces of the island?

Are we sure that Daniel is a "reliable narrator?" For example, he said what they do in the past couldn't change the future. But isn't his telling them to bury the bomb changing the past? Isn't Locke telling Richard who he is (and affirming that with knowledge of Jacob) changing the future? Would Richard have popped up at John Locke's birth, or given him the Dalai Lama test, if not for this trip to the past by Locke?

Ellie mocks Daniel, saying, “Aren’t you the Romeo?” To which he replies, “Far from it, I assure you.” Are his feelings for Charlotte genuine? Or is Daniel, who is possibly in cahoots with Widmore in the grand scheme, up to something more nefarious?

The only thing that didn't quite ring true for me in this ep was the very forthcoming and helpful "janitor." He seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and tell Des what he needed to know, and not ask too many questions (as would a normal maintenance dude who just found a stranger breaking into a sealed off lab). But could this have actually been intentional? And that the janitor was actually supposed to be stilted and helpful, as an agent of Widmore or Ben?

Is the 1954 Alpert aware of the island's special, and time-hopping, properties?

What do characters other than "our own" see and think after the flash that removes people that were just standing there? And when, chronologically, did this start for the people moving through linear time on the island? Could this be Alpert and the Others' first clue that the time traveling story Locke just told them is true?

I actually knew that that was an M-1 Garand. (Built lots of army models, had lots of old school GI Joes, and watched lots of war movies).

"Could be 5 minutes or 5,000 years." "That's just awesome."

If Theresa is afflicted with time-travel sickness, why isn't she dead? It certainly took down Minkowski (and presumably others) fairly quickly. But it appears Theresa has been hanging on for a while.

Noooooo! Not "Ginger!"

Miles just kept bringing the funny: “Yeah, me too. I’m great too.”

As did Sawyer: "Hate to bust up the 'I'm an Other, you're an Other' reunion."

And damn, more hilarity:

"Good luck with that."

"You TOLD her?"

"Others 101. Gotta know Latin. Language of the enlightened!"

I loved that Penny saw right through Des after he came back, but didn't badger him about his "mission." She knows the risks involved (or at least some of them), but didn't play the typical "whiny naysayer" that we might have been conditioned by ordinary TV to expect.

If Mrs. Hawking is working with Ben, and Ben and Widmore are at odds in a blood fued, then why would Widmore have Hawking's address so handy right there in his rolodex?

Yep, 3 for 3 this year. "Jughead" was a heaping buffet of awesome.

What did y'all think?

Until next time, Namaste.


  1. I do think Ellie is Daniel's mother and I think it likely that Charles Widmore is his father. That then begs the question of how Widemore and Ms. Hawking ended up as rivals (appears Ms. Hawking is working with Ben). Or maybe they are not rivals at all. I think Charles Widemore was thrown off the island by somebody or something. I think he thinks his rightful role is as leader on the island and that is why he is show desperate to get back.

  2. Remember when Ben told Locke that once he turned the wheel, he (Ben) couldn't return to the island? (Of course, we don't know what to make of that proclamation now, since Ben is working with Jack to get the band back together) Well, what if Widmore had to make a similar sacrifice sometime in the past, and he got transported off the island and has been attempting to get back ever since?

    Also, I'm not sure about the Ben/Hawking alliance, since as I mentioned above, I found it awfully convenient that Charles just happened to have her present location handy at his desk. Either A. he's keeping close tabs on her (and Ben) out of competition, or B. she's his "mole" working with Ben. (or C., my head hurts).

  3. Here's even more of a "Who shot first Han or Greedo?" type of question... If Locke or Sawyer actually managed to shot the young Charles Widmore, would they have ever crashed on the island to begin with.

  4. Shan - you're right...that's no janitor. If he is, that's pretty sloppy writing, and I don't think these guys do that. We may never know who he actually is, but if he's the janitor then I'm Blagojevich's bag man. (I'm not, by the way).

    There has to be LOTS to come regarding the situation with Widmore, Ben, Mrs. Hawking, Daniel, Charlotte, etc. There's too many loose ends and open questions right now.

    Nice write-up.

  5. Jen, it all depends on what theory of time travel and "destiny" the show subscribes to. Everything we've heard from Team Darlton had led us to believe that "fate" cannot be overcome. Meaning, that the the things that need to happen, happen. Micheal and Jack try to off themselves, but something prevents that because they have work to do. Charlie is going to die, Des prevents that a few times, but he eventually does die (which begs another question -- if Des hadn't prevented Charlie from kicking the bucket one of those "original" ways, he wouldn't have contacted Penny, and the o6 wouldn't have gotten off the island, would they? Or would they have, just via the freighties? head....) Anyhoo, I guess what I'm trying to say is that if Sawyer or Locke shot Widmore, something probably would have happened to put the same damned things in motion, because "fate" (the island?) demanded it. At least that's what we've been conditioned to think.

    And Scott, you're right. Lost may have been guilty of some bad writing occasionally (Jack's tattoos, anyone?), but not really since they've had the end in sight. All that in the lab scene was too "perfect" to not have been set up, or at least monitored and capitalized on, by Widmore/someone. Question is, Des seems fairly canny, wouldn't that thought have crossed his mind, too? Or we he just too obsessed to see it?

    And no problem being Blago's bag man. If you were his barber, then I'd worry. :-)