Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lost Rewatch Week #15: Not in Portland, Flashes Before Your Eyes, Stranger in a Strange Land & Tricia Tanaka is Dead

(subtle island visual product placement for AT&T; more bars in more places)

Welcome to this week's edition of the Lost Rewatch! This particular batch featured two of my favorite episodes of all time (Portland & Flashes), one very poignant, overlooked episode (Tanaka), and the first of the only two "worst of Lost" episodes (Stranger). 

Alternate Reality Bites

In the Room 23 brainwashing video on Hydra Island, there is a reference to Jacob in the past tense. 

Was that video was created to prepare people for the time shifts they were going to experience while living on the island?  Does it indicate an alternate reality in which Jacob is actually dead...or just the one we're about to discover after NotLocke stabs him in the foot of the statue?

One of the more fascinating aspects of Desmond's conversation with Eloise Hawking during Flashes is the possibility that what he believes versus what she knows may also be/come true...."There is no island, there is no button. I'm going to spend the rest of my life with her."

In Tricia Tanaka, Hurley's dad tells him that "in THIS world, you've got to make your own luck." That statement reminded me of the new Hurley commercial that they debuted recently at Comic-Con, because he says that "ever since I won the lottery, I've had nothing but good luck." In the universe we're familiar with, we know that is not the case....

Anagrams R Us

Mittelos = Lost Time, a hint of the shape of things to come.

Behind the Wheel

[Frequent Rewatch readers, please excuse the repetition, as I have mentioned this previously]

I know I am not the only one now considering whether it was Jacob himself driving the bus that took out Juliet's ex-husband, or any number of the other vehicles that have hurt or killed people off island. In many cases, these 'accidents' are how and why some people wind up on the island. I previously posted a comprehensive list of said accidents here

Crossing Paths

During his flash back in time, Desmond runs into Charlie playing guitar in front of Widmore's office in London. 

It is sadly ironic that Charlie is singing "maybe, you'll be the one to save me," given his future demise due to a Desmond vision. 

Locke's box company boss Randy is also the manager of the Mr. Cluck's where Hurley worked until he won the lottery and purchased that particular fast food franchise...making Randy his employee. Hurley owned the box company, which means that Locke was his employee too. I wonder if he gave Randy the box management job after Clucks was destroyed by a meteor...

Enter the Matrix

I immediately followed my rewatch of Flashes Before Your Eyes with The Matrix (1999), because I noticed more than a few similarities between the film and Lost, not to mention between Desmond and Neo. 

The most obvious homage to the movie was Eloise Hawking on the bench with Desmond, attempting to warn about his future just as The Oracle did with Neo. Other Lost/Matrix comparisons include:

  • Neo is instructed to follow the White Rabbit
  • An Agent says to Neo, "you think you're special, that the rules do not apply to you."
  • Morpheus: "Do you believe in fate, Neo?" and "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
  • The 'dream world' vs. the real world
  • A jealous Cypher, to Trinity: "I don't remember you ever bringing me dinner." (Like jealous Ben to Juliet, "You never made soup for me.")
  • Morpheus: "If you are not one of us, you are one of them."
  • Trinity: "EMP, electromagnetic pulse; disables any electrical system within the blast radius."
  • Cypher, to Neo: "you're here to save the world."
  • Trinity: "Deja vu is usually a glitch in the matrix; it happens when they change something." (deja vu is mentioned twice in Flashes; once by Desmond and once by the pub bartender)
  • The Matrix computers feature green text and the words "system failure"

Foreshadowing Dialogue

Not in Portland

Tom, about Ben & Juliet: "They've got history."

Richard Alpert: "Well, actually...we're not quite in Portland."

Richard Alpert: "We think you're special, Dr. Burke."

Juliet: "Whatever you think I am, I'm not."

Jack, to Kate: "Promise me that you'll never COME BACK for me." {she may disobey him in this case, but not when she decides to return to the island on Ajira 316...}

Richard Alpert: "We're very thorough in our recruitment process."

Flashes Before Your Eyes

Hurley, about Desmond: "That guy sees the future."

Penny, to Desmond: "Let's celebrate that fate has spared you a miserable existence under the employ of Widmore Industries."

Penny, to Desmond: "You're a good man."

Penny, to Desmond: "WHERE are you?"

Eloise Hawking, to Desmond: "Breaking her heart is what drives you, in a few short years from now, to enter that sailing race to prove her father wrong, which brings you to the island, where you spend the next three years of your life entering numbers into the computer until you are forced to turn that failsafe key. And if you don't do those things, every single one of us is dead."

Hawking: "That man over there is wearing red shoes. Just thought it was a bold fashion choice worth noting." [of course she knows exactly what donning his version of Red Shirt signifies]

Desmond: "This isn't really happening, is it? You're my subconscious."
Hawking: "Am I?"

Hawking, to Desmond: "The universe, unfortunately, has a way of course correcting. That man was supposed to die, just as it's your path to go to the island. You don't do it because you choose to; you it because you're supposed to. You may not like your path, but pushing that button is the only truly great thing that you will ever do." (insert your Fate vs. Free Will thoughts here)

Penny: "Don't you dare rewrite history."
Desmond: "We are not supposed to be together."

Desmond, off island: "I can still change things."

(screen shot from Room 23 video)

Desmond, on island: "No matter what you do, you can't change it."

Desmond: "You're a good man, Charlie."

Desmond, to Charlie: "I wasn't saving Claire, I was saving you. You dove in after Claire. You tried to save her but you drowned. When I saw the lightning hit the roof, you were electrocuted. I've tried twice to save you, but the universe has a way of course correcting and I can't stop it forever. I'm sorry, because no matter what I try to're gonna die, Charlie." (this is where I'd normally insert my Crazy Charlie Theory, but at this point most of you are already familiar with it and I sound like a broken record)

Stranger in a Strange Land

Tom: "You see this glass house you're living in, Jack? How about I get you some stones." 

Kate: "What did you do with the people that you took, the kids?"
Karl: "We give them a better life."
Kate: "Better than what?"
Karl: "Better than yours."

Oceanic 815 Flight Attendant Cindy, to Jack: "We're here to watch."

Ben: "We had an excellent surgeon, his name was Ethan."

Ben, about Juliet: "No matter what she's done, no matter what you think, she's one of us."

Achara: "I am able to see who people are. This is my gift."

Jack: "Do you see who I am? Who am I?
Achara: "You are a leader, a great man. But this makes you lonely and frightened and angry."

Tricia Tanaka is Dead

Hurley: "Death finds me, dude."

If These Walls Could Talk

In addition to never finding out what Ben told Kate after their beach breakfast earlier in S3, I have always wondered what Ben said to Juliet when he asked for three minutes alone with her in the middle of his spinal surgery. Of course I don't believe it was as simple as instructions to help Kate and Sawyer escape and receive a passage home in return. (Not in Portland)

Knocked Up

A third pregnancy test pops up in S3; Sun's, Kate's, and now Rachel's (Juliet's sister). 

Is it a forgone conclusion at this point that hers was also from Widmore Labs?

LOST Book Club

Other guard Aldo was reading A Brief History of Time by physicist Stephen Hawking, outside of the Room 23 building on Hydra Island. 

That this book appeared only one episode before we meet Eloise Hawking, mother of physicist Daniel Faraday, is no mere coincidence.


I wrote about this back in January, but it is worth exploring again because it only appears in Flashes. [sidenote: I first became aware of the ouroboros when Scully got a tattoo of one on The X-Files.]

Eloise Hawking is wearing an ouroboros pin during her first encounter with Desmond during his flash back in time. There are many interpretations of what the symbol represents, but most versions feature a snake swallowing its tail, illustrating return and the cyclical nature of life. However, Hawking's snake is not; the open nature of hers may indicate the ability to travel back and forth through time without getting stuck. 


This is certainly not a new point, but I belatedly realized that Des wanted to work for Widmore in order to win Penny's hand in marriage just as Jin worked for Paik in order to marry Sun. 

In addition, Hurley's dad enables his eating habits from a young age ("live a little, it's just a candy bar") just as Jack's dad influenced his son's drinking habits, without question. Yes, I realize that the latter is an inheritable disease, but I'm just pointing out another Daddy Issue parallel!  

Ben's note to Sheriff Isabel, to commute Juliet's execution, says that "the rules do not apply." That is what Faraday said about Desmond. 

In Tanaka, we see Sawyer step on a dart that pierces his foot while he is walking through the jungle with Kate. In The Lie (S5), we see Sawyer step on a sharp stick that pierces his foot while he is walking through the jungle with Juliet. 

If we didn't already know that the infamous 4 toed statue that houses Jacob is allegedly Tawaret, I'd swear they were leading up to it representing a version of Sawyer from a previous life. :)

Room 23

We've now seen Karl held against his will in Room 23, and in the Missing Pieces mobisode Room 23, Ben and Juliet discuss Walt's activity in there. 

Of course now I'm thinking about who else may have been subjected to the hypnotic brainwashing, including Flight 815 attendant Cindy and the Tail Section kids Zach and Emma.  

Significant Moments/Firsts

We meet Richard Alpert for the very first time in Miami, as he is attempting to recruit Juliet to work for Mittelos Bioscience. 

We are introduced to the Clockwork Orange-influenced Room 23 on Hydra Island, where Alex's boyfriend Karl was being brainwashed. 

An Other kills and Other (Juliet shoots Pickett).

We see Ethan off island. 

Eloise Hawking makes her first appearance. 

We learn that the Others had a Sheriff of sorts, even though she was never seen or heard from again. [sidenote: anyone else remember & love Diana Scarwid from Mommie Dearest and then Wonderfalls?]

We see Cindy for the first time since she disappeared in the jungle while trekking with Ana Lucia & co. We also see 815 Tail Section kids Zach & Emma for the first time since they were kidnapped off of the crash beach. 

We don't know that it's Ben's father yet, but we meet Roger Linus as a skeleton in the Dharma van that Hurley discovers in the jungle. 

Tattoo You

Add to my list of Lingering Lost Questions (and I do have one; it lives on my iPhone): what is the significance of Juliet's back branding symbol? 

When I saw Stranger in a Strange Land for the first time, my immediate thought was that it resembled the map on the Swan blast door, but now I'm thinking that it may have something to do with her role in the Jughead detonation and future (both on and off the island).

The Visual & the Visceral

When Desmond wakes up in his London flat after turning the Swan failsafe key and experiencing a flash back in time, he is wearing a painters jumpsuit resembling his Dharma jumpsuit; he is lying on the floor covered in red paint which he believes at first to be blood. 

In yet another Wachowski movie, Bound (1996), there is a scene featuring Joe Pantoliano splayed out on a floor of white paint, and his blood looks red paint.

It seems that Widmore purchased some art from Aaron's baby-daddy. There is a painting in the back 0f his office that also appeared in Thomas and Claire's flat. [sidenote: director Jack Bender is also a very talented artist; I believe that he painted that piece, as well as the main Namaste one in Widmore's office and the mural in the Swan.]

Even though they are different vessels, Widmore has a model of a sailboat in his office, and Alpert was seen working on a model of a ship while on the island. 

In Flashes, a man in red shoes gets crushed in Desmond's flash back in time during his encounter with Hawking.

 In The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East is crushed beneath Dorothy's house. 

Immediately after being humiliated and insulted by Daddy Widmore, who asked Desmond if he had any military experience, Des pauses at a military recruitment poster with the tagline, "become a man you can be proud of." 

On the island, Juliet receives a lower back brand as a form of punishment. In Thailand, Jack receives a tattoo after he forces Achara to mark him with her interpretation of who he is. Ironically, his tattoo describes Juliet's true role in the end: "he walks amongst us, but he is not one of us."

Vincent brings a skeleton arm to Hurley on the beach, just as he brought a Virgin Mary statue to Charlie. 

One of my favorite moments in Tanaka features a moment of levity from the characters and actors themselves. If you watch closely during the scene when Hurley and Charlie are talking with Sawyer at the Dharma van, you can see Dom Monaghan trying very hard not to crack up but not succeeding. 

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

There is a larger boat that transports the Others from Hydra Island back to the main island. It just seems odd that we haven't seen it since. 

Then again, we haven't seen Desmond's sailboat since the Others took it from Sun. For all we know, there is a giant (yet hidden, naturally) boat warehouse storage facility somewhere else on that damn island. 

Who Killed Roger Rabbit

We are already familiar with Ben and his bunnies. I just love that Ben's dad (Roger) drove a Dharma van with a rabbit's foot on the keychain.  

X-Ray Vision

I suppose I must now concede that the Others had an operable x-ray machine on the island. Last week I questioned where Ben's back x-rays had been taken, but it seems to me that the mystery woman's x-rays that Alpert presents to Juliet were probably taken on the island. 

Looking at the womb on the x-ray, Juliet assesses that the woman was in her 70's, yet Alpert says she was only 26. The decomposition that Juliet mentions is probably a result of either proximity to or living on the island. 

Admiral Anderson MacCutcheon

Widmore refers to the retired Navy officer and whiskey namesake as a "great man," which is how Ben describes Jacob, and Penny describes Desmond. 

I have a feeling that MacCutcheon himself may have been to the island, perhaps on the Black Rock. It is also worth noting that Leonard Sims and Sam Toomey were also in the Navy, and they were the source of The Numbers. 


In Flashes, we learn that Desmond has three brothers and that he took care of them after an unknown incident involving his father. Because I take Faraday's statements at face value (that Desmond is "uniquely and miraculously special" and that the rules do not apply to him), I have to wonder if his father is/was anyone of interest to the island. 


Of the many side characters that we've been introduced to over the last five seasons of Lost, Donovan may be the most important. Not only is he a physicist based in England (like Faraday was; they HAD to know of one another), he was the only person that Desmond told about the island...IN THE PAST. 

On top of those facts, he actually says to Desmond, "there's no such thing as time travel." 


One of the reasons that I really like Tanaka is that it represents yet another touching performance from Jorge Garcia. 

Hurley wants to fix the van on the island because he was never able to fix up that car with his father. He had not closed the door on that chapter of his life before crashing on the island, and his joy at being able to drive that van around was the closure that he needed. 


One of my goals for this Rewatch was to try and give Jack a chance from the beginning again. I've never been a huge fan of his character, and these earlier episodes merely amplify exactly why; Jack is fueled by blind jealousy and seemingly can't help himself. There is an ugly pattern, and alcohol is usually involved: Sarah (his stalks his ex-wife to find out who she left him for), Achara (he follows her to her workplace & gets himself beat up as a result of forcing her to tattoo him) and Kate (off island, he goes into a rage and they break up after overhearing her talk about doing a favor for Sawyer). 

Rachel & Julian

IF there is a reset of any kind due to Jughead's detonation at the bottom of the Swan shaft, and WHENEVER we see Juliet alive again...I would really love to see her finally meet her nephew Julian. Her medical breakthrough helped her sister Rachel conceive, even while undergoing treatment for cancer. She left to work for Mittelos under false pretenses and missed her sister's birth and first few years of Julian's life. 

Richard Alpert & Jacob

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that Alpert went back into the real world to recruit only two people to the island, Locke and Juliet. I know believe that Jacob instructed him to test Locke, but now I'm wondering if Jacob had a specific purpose in mind for Juliet other than the obvious fertility miracle worker angle. And no, I do not believe that he brought her there just to eventually travel back in time and detonate a bomb which may or may not cause a reset.

It stood out when Alpert told Juliet that "we're privately funded; privately funded means freedom." Do we know who funds Alpert, Ben and the current Others' frequent off island trips and recruitment efforts? It isn't Widmore, as he was sponsoring Faraday's research in order to even find the island again. And in 2001 (when Alpert first met Juliet), it seems unlikely that the DeGroots/Dharma were still involved. We later see Ben's secret spy room with the drawer full of international money in New Otherton, so someone is stealthily supporting 'the island' behind the scenes. And what is Jacob's role in all of this?
Thanks again for playing and reading along as the Lost Rewatch continues - I really do appreciate your support and comments! If you are interested in different Rewatch perspectives from those who are also still participating, I encourage you to visit All About Lost, Lostaholics and Tubular. 

Have a great weekend!


thorsten said...

The room 23 video used the Ludovico-method, as mentioned in part 3 of Mysteries of the Universe.
We have to assume that it was created by Dharma, and they were pre-incident not aware of any time-travel/alternate reality involving the island.

The Mittelos anagram is funny, I thought they were a german Pharma company. Mittellos means poor, or broke, in german.

Hit by a bus… I expected Ethan to be the driver. Ethan is a killer, but Jacob?

Eloise Hawking talking to Desmond about his future chores… everyone is doomed if he does not turn the failsafe key, in the end? I wonder how the end of the world would have happened. Maybe by just collapsing two realities into a single one.

Quantum mechanics is related to the course-correcting and Charlies fate. During observation, the wavefunction describing the system collapses to one of several options, each with a different probability. Desmond is the observer, which makes him SPECIAL. That's why he was naked in the jungle. Daniel Faraday realised that pretty fast (the rules do not apply). And the most propable outcome was Charlies death. Aldo reading ABHOT is another clue here.

That Others Sheriff, yeah. I expected the Others to be a really huge organisation, after that. Maybe a lot of that was scrapped after they got the greenlight for finishing in six seasons.

Juliets scar reminded me of the PAX symbol, the P crossed with the X at its base, sometimes combined with Alpha and Omega.

Donovan… is right, there is no time travel. If you use a time machine and travel back, to kill your granddaddy or whatever, you create a new branching universe, in which you are stuck. You can not go back to the reality you left. Which is what happened to Desmond, and Spock Prime im Star Trek (by J.J. Abrams)

Lisa said...

I knew I had read this somewhere...and I just searched Lostpedia to confirm. Here is the quote from the page on Edmund Burke:

"In a recent interview Nestor Carbonell revealed that Richard was responsible for the death of Edmund by having the bus run him over."

I don't know if it means Richard was actually the driver...This is not really surprising, but I find it very disturbing in a way. Richard's story (his actual role in "the game" being played on the island, and his history) to be revealed in season 6 will likely be very compelling. Will we like him after we know what is really going on?

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog. I look forward to it weekly. I too enjoy reading everyone else's comments and insight. Keep up the excellent work. I think it will be harder the rest of the way due to the new TV season starting, but I vow to continue watching and reading myself.

Ledyard said...

A little love for Jack:

I completely agree with your statements above concerning what fuels Jack's fire, but for me this is exactly what makes him a great character. He is completely unlikeable at face value, but when you consider the life that was forced upon him by his parents (or just his father) and how thoroughly that has clashed with who Jack is as a person, you get a man, and a personality, borne from a lifetime of frustration.

Of course, he has a good soul or what-have-you, as he is constantly trying to help people (which is needingly termed "fix" by those around him throughout the series). And having his profession (doctor) basically thrust upon him at birth, he was given a great deal of peripheral responsibility that comes with it. He has taken this position the best way he knows how, and he became good at it, but his personality never matched his physical skill at surgery.

It was so easy to be the other people under Jack’s command, waiting for him to make a decision and THEN speaking up to criticize. Jack has been the guy who took on the challenge of managing of group of people who were destined to die, and instead of being remembered as the man who found water, or saved lives, he is the one that is blamed for all that has gone wrong on the island. He was consistently criticized by those who pleaded for his leadership.

We have had some great moments with Jack, from his creepy relationship with his dead father, which is established almost immediately, to the terrific season 3 closer, where we see Jack at his most insanely heroic (the time he beat down Ben, and promised to kill both him and Tom with a wicked gleam in his eye) and also at his very lowest ebb, hooked on painkillers and without a purpose. I love that this season he took a back seat once he got to the island, and seemed contented for once, unafraid to even point out to Kate that he is aware how much she doesn’t really love him. Yet he is still unable to shake his love for her. It’s contradictory. It’s human.

I find every one of his episodes to be fascinating. I love that at the heart of the greatest show ever made is a hero that is crumbling beneath the weight of his responsibilities, responsibilities forced upon him by everyone he meets. I think even he has always been vaguely aware that he is a failure, yet he continued, up until the middle bit of season 5, to push through those feelings and try to do what his job and upbringing mandated he do. Jack is the perfect antihero, and I look forward to the final season, because I think we are going to see a regain of confidence, an almost certain meeting with son and (dead) father, and hopefully some absolution for a hero who is so easy to hate.

Sorry for the length. Keep up these wonderful posts.

Anonymous said...

One thing Jo's blogs do is get me questioning my assumptions.

For instance, take the "God loves you" thing: While I've always assumed that it was something the Others put into the mind control cavalcade of images, maybe it was just a coincidence, something that some nameless Dharma scientist inserted, never knowing about Jacob's presence on the island.

Or Eloise Hawking... I've always assumed she was working as some kind of cosmic policewoman, but maybe she just told Desmond all those things to make sure things happened a certain way that would give her son the best shot at changing history so she wouldn't end up killing him.

Here's something funny:

Mittelos Bioscience: MB = Man In Black. Nah...

As for who was driving the bus that killed Juliet's ex-hubbie, I always kind of thought of it as bad luck or fate. After all, nobody told him to step off the curb...

Anonymous said...

Portland is a good episode, and Flashes is one of the mind blowing ones. Maybe because we meet Richard, and Mrs. Hawking.

Ethan gave me the creeps. I still don't believe he's old enough to be a surgeon. Born in 77, so 24 in 2001.

Was anyone else bothered by the moral implications of a single mother being treated for cancer deciding to have a baby?

I wondered who the 26 year old woman from the xrays was. And I'm with Jo on Jack, and how insufferable he is, while Sawyer's grown.


ZooBot23 said...

@ Ledyard:
I agree, Jack might not be likeable but he's a great character!

@ Windy:
Ethan was born on the island. He is incredibly strong (one-arm Jack lift? Carrying Charlie and Claire? And, he grew up with Ben...I guess Ben didn't think they would kill him, right??) and incredibly intelligent, apparently.
And, Juliet's moral ambiguity is one of her most fascinating traits!

@ Jo:
More great insights, thanks!
As far as Juliet being recruited by Richard...I still think this could be her with the Ajira Others:

As far as her branding, this blogger has a really cool piece on it:

Although as a Robert Anton Wilson fan, I always thought it was the Five Fingered Hand of Eris (now an astrological symbol for Planetoid Eris)! Which is two arrows from different directions, converging on each other to make a new third thing. Ala ->!<-

Have a great weekend, yourself, Jo!

Deneph said...

I don't believe Desmond ever wanted to work for Widmore, I think he went to the interview with the sole purpose of asking permission to marry Penny.
And yes, I thought Donovan was going to be a key to...something because he was told the whole story.
I always think about what he's telling the student as that scene opens up, that if you repeat a test 10 times you'll get 10 different outcomes. I think this is an example of what Jacob is doing. He's testing them (humanity?) and each time gets a different outcome. They're in the progress phase now and this next season will be when it finally ends. It only ends once. Des may rewrite history which leads to this final ending (hopefully!).

Anon - I can see someone who survives cancer going after their dreams and don't see anything wrong with it. Perfectly healthy people can have a child and then get hit by a car a month after. Someone can survive cancer and go on to raise children into adulthood. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, you may as well try to find your bliss in the process.

Dustin Winebrenner said...

Interesting that you mention Desmond's parents possibly being someone significant to the show. Desmond is the only major character we have not seen as a child and who's parents have not been identified. Sometimes in Lost what's withheld is as significant as what's shown. Why don't the rules of time apply to him? Something to do with his birth? Could he have been born time traveling. Maybe his parents are Jack and Kate and they left him in the 70's.

Juliet's marks is very similar to the mark on the tree where she retrieves the drungs in "One of Us." I also thought it was rather similar to the mark the pendulum left on the floor in the Lamp Post station.

Nurby said...

It was fun to rewatch Flashes after reading the Time Traveler's Wife. Having Desmond travel back to the island and be naked seemed to be taken from the book.

Eloise Hawking talking to Desmond reminded me of her encouraging her son to follow his destiny. She seems to be the one pressuring for things to happen as they should. I wonder what is in it for her.

Still very far behind in the rewatch. Trying to catch up!