Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Pompatus of Lost: 2.11--The Island of Doctor More Woe

It's not lost on us that many of you people aren't exactly excited over the prospect of Jack-centered episodes anymore. Some of y'all are crazy Lockites who want to get all freaky-deak with the Man with the Dome full of Mystery every week. Still more of you are fanfic luminaries who hope your third season prospectus ends up looking like prophecy. Others just find the inner workings of the JackStory to be snoozeworthy--the "busy work" of the show. Have faith, people. It's all about seed planting, payoff, you gotta sin to get saved, into every life a little rain must fall, lie back and try to enjoy it, bend over here it comes again, et cetera. The sun can't shine on Hurley's ass every time out.

Besides, like I've been saying for a few weeks now, we left off last season with our buddies from La Isla Encanta totally convinced that the marauding Others were going to come knocking and put the denizens of the rape caves to the torch. The Hatch represented, at that time, a last ditch hope for people who desperately wanted to hide. When all that stuff resolved, the islanders by and large, floated serenely back to their daily lives as if they hadn't been terrified out of their minds the day before. Over the season, this idleness has been punctured by moments of excitement, but it's mostly been of three varieties: 1) learning about the Hatchy goodness 2) learning about the Desert Island Dicks and Ana Tequila, and 3) peak, yet private moments of pain for some individual characters. Now, it's time to get the game reoriented back to the threat that concluded last season. As this is, and will be, something that goes right to issues of leadership, it's a Jack thing. Trust me: this episode is a sign that the big arc of the story is getting back underway.

We start in Flashbackistan. Dr. Jack Shepard has made Julie Bowen better again. He's made her stronger, faster, than she was before. And, as an added bonus, when her fiancee bailed on her while she was all busted up, Jack prescribed her 200 cc's of his hot tattooed loving. Side effects include dry mouth, nausea, headaches, and crippling codependency.

Word of Jack's amazing, Desmond-fueled work on Julie Bowen has apparently travelled far and wide, all the way to the far of land of Italy--where men gracefully age into elderly Eurotrash, famous composer-types and their daughters are all preternaturally alluring, be-dialected, raven-haired beauties. One such gentleman and his alluring be-dialected, raven-haired beauty of a daughter has travelled across the sea, no doubt aboard Amerigo Vespucci's restored sailing vessel, to seek Jack's super surgical skillz. Jack is all kvetchy at the prospect of having to repeat his miracle. His dad seems hype to downplay expectations. But we know that he's going to agree to do the surgery because we know Jack's just not complete if he isn't playing God...or at the very least Ty Pennington, on people's bodies and sex lives.

Foosh! Jack wakes up in the Hatch. I wonder if the rest of the castaways get to enjoy the perks of the Hatch, or if it's just an inner circle sort of thing. You'd think that people would hang out there all the time. Or that at least there'd be a steady line for the showers. Well, it's a good thing that everyone's happier out on the beach, otherwise Michael would never have been able to knock Locke unconscious and steal a gun, which is the joyful scene that Jack finds when he awakes.

Surprised that Michael got up the gumption to knock our favorite Island Mystery Man out? Don't be. Michael's all het up and gun crazy, desperate to prove his paternal adequacy once and for all. Jack tries to reason with him, which basically means he tries to sell Mike on a Jack-conceived plan. Jack's behavior in this moment, of course, doesn't at all neatly dovetail with the desperate motivations that have undone his life up to this point. Mike ain't having any of it, and to drive his point home, threatens to shoot the computer. "It's not what you think it is," Michael warns. And the owls are not what they seem, either. Jack pleads that they can find Walt together, that he can lean on him, when he's not strong. Mike's all: I gotta do this alone, and he locks them in the gun closet. Heh. He locks Locke. So meta.

After we hear about some exciting new products, we return to find Sawyer and Kate canoodling their way to the Hatch. Skaters everywhere, rejoicing. Skater-haters, swallowing that bitter pill. But when they get inside, the countdown clock is beeping and Jack and Locke are yelling. This is like, the second time in three days that the person who's supposed to watch the clock's been otherwise incapacitated, so maybe a new business model is order. Kate shuts down the doomsday device as Sawyer unlocks the gun closet. If you numerologists are scoring at home, the combination is 25, 29 and 40. Play the Pick Three, and see if horrible shit doesn't start happening to your friends and family.

Jack and Locke quickly bring Kate and Sawyer up to speed. Jack wants to go after Mike, because that's what Jack does. Sawyer thinks to himself: "Oh, no! Kate cut off my Danger Hair! The source of all my powers! The place from whence my nicknamey mojo flows!" But in the end, Sawyer's in, if only to get backsies for the bullet he had to pull out of his shoulder. Kate, naturally, wants to join in the fun, but Jack, sensing an opportunity to do what he does best in relationships--putting off the inevitable--seizes the opportunity to separate Kate from Sawyer and tells her she can't come. Personally, I don't see why Kate's so bothered that she's not allowed to come on this crazy-ass chase, but then, that's just me. If I were on the island, I'd be the first to welcome the Others as conquerors: "Nunnanunnanunnanunna Oth-ERS! Nunnanunnanunnanunna Oth-ERS! Oth-Ers! Oth-ers! Batman!"

Back in Flashbackistan, Jack is in the hospital and it is late and the air is heavy--charged with sexual tension. Jack's tense with the worry that he won't be able to repeat his miracle but that downplaying his ability will be an admission that his whole life has been based on an illusion. Gabriella, the alluring, raven-haired daughter, is nervy at the charged air in the room. She gets her nervy all up inside Jack's rich creamy tension. Down in the ER, the call comes in that a mass casualty alert has just been ordered in the wake of fifty thousand anvils falling from the sky.

Gabriella and Jack trade smoky confessions. She doesn't believe in miracles. He doesn't believe in miracles either. Well what about the Miracle on Ice, bitches? Someone needs to call Mike Eruzione up in here stat, to bring drive the de-Zamboner over Jack's burgeoning crotchfire. They talk about how Jack fixed his wife, how Jack likes to fix things, about Jack's "This Is The Girl I Fixed" themed wedding. Suddenly Jack remembers that while he'd love to stay and churn the vibe in the air until it's buttercream spreadable, it's getting to be 4:30 in the am and he's got to get home to wifey.

And so Jack returns to his palatial Flashbackistan home, to find Julie Bowen alone in bed. Julie wakes up, appearing on the surface to be all supportive of Jack's return to super-healer reknown, but it's totally obvious that deep down, she's resentful. She wants a miracle worker, not a miracleS worker. She settle for two workers of singular miracles, independently working her business...her lady business!--but that's it. Speaking of that lady business, she tells Jack that she's late with her period and has consulted a pregnancy test, but Jack hasn't managed to slip one past the goalie.

There's something in the way that Julie Bowen says she's not preggers and for Jack to not worry that's a little loaded. Not in a "Ha! Looks like you don't have super sperm after all, Jack!" way. More like in a way where I wonder if she can't have a baby because of her injuries. We know at this point that Jack gets divorced, and that this episode is leading up to that reveal in truly anviltastic fashion. But it still feels like there's one or two steps between Julie Bowen taking it on the arches and full-on looking for drunk dad down under. I only bring this up because you know this is going to mean at least two more helpings of FlashJack, and I think that you might as well accept that now and get all upset about it later.

The No Kates Allowed club continues their search for Michael. Wife of DCeiver points out that after all this time on the island, there's only been one booty call. We haven't seen one, true, but deep down, we believe that since their reunion, Bernard and Rose are loudly working at banging out a whole passel of beautiful biracial babies. Maybe that's why no one hangs out in the hatch, they never know if it's going to be Bernard and Rose's shift and, if so, which button he's working.

Anyhoo, Locke questions why they've got to start the No Kates Allowed club, and, even if so, surely they can have one Kate and still be the No Kates Allowed club. "What's she do to you?" Locke asks. Sorry, Terry O'Quinn, but if you want to delve into the swampy Sargasso sea of Jack's inner psychology, you're just going to have to watch these episodes like the rest of us. Jack doesn't want to come off like a Kater-Hater, but he doesn't necessarily mind firing a shot across the bow of his rival Kater-Participater Sawyer, sorta asking him/telling him halfheartedly under his breath, "You love her."

Nothing really comes of it however, and soon Locke is back to being concerned with the hunt for Michael. He asks Sawyer if he recognizes anything specific in the surrounding area. Sawyer sarcastically mentions that he sees his favorite leaf. We're sure that deep down, Sawyer really does have a favorite leaf, though: he calls it "Frondy" and it's near the Rape Caves and it's the only living thing on this whole island that really understands him.

Through a complicated series of hand gestures, Sawyer finally helps Locke orient the search, and that's when Locke drops the news: wherever Michael is headed, it's not back to Tailie Beach, and we can only thank Jehovah for that, too. Even though I like Eko, I never want to go back to Tailie Beach either and relive the painful memories of the dull Tequila-led Tailieban and their boomerang sticks and baseless accusations and their incompetence at fending off kidnappers, and it makes me sick to know that when they finally all do get off the island and tell their story and lead others back to the island, it'll probably be Lostie Beach that gets all touristy and lousy with cheesy resorts and that the bars will be better over on the Tail side.

Back on that pre-gentrified Lostie Beach, Sun gives Jin a hat. He looks cute. Hurley comes over to let them know about Michael going freakshow and how Jack and Locke and Sawyer have taken off after them. Jin, realizing that he has recently added searching for the emotionally wrought Michael on his resume, makes to take off in pursuit himself. Sun, however, isn't having any of it and intercedes to break Jin of his Tailie-time behavior. Jin, effectively whipped, stays put. If there's something important to take away from this scene, it's that frequently, producers have two or three minutes left to fill with some shit. And fill they did.

We rejoin the No Kates Allowed Club, and Sawyer, still weary from his wounds and tiring in the absence of his normally full, normally dangerous, head of hair, wants to take a break. Locke takes the time to point out that Michael seems awfully determined and he seems to know exactly where he's going. He asks what Jack thinks he's going to do if they find him, and Jack breaks into a few bars of the "I Just Want To Maintain The Status Quo For Once In My Life Is That So Wrong" shuffle, telling Locke that he will talk Michael into coming back. Locke gets all philosophical, saying, "Who are we to tell Michael what he can and can't do?" Tell it to Boone, jackass. Jack replies: "Nanananananana! I can't hear you! Blah blah blah! I am going to Flashbackistan where you can't hurt me. Fa la la la laaa, la la, la la."

"Crapnuggets!" Jack thinks as he ends up back in the Flashbackistan JJ and Damon have chosen for him. He's back at the hospital and Gabriella is there, as alluring and raven-haired as ever. Jack encourages them to go back home, give up, surrender, throw in the towel. But Gabriella's not the surrendering type: she's Italian, not French, and so she's more inclined to stay the course, lose badly, and restructure the disastrous Italian economy. "You're giving us a chance," she purrs, the antecedent to the pronoun lost in the humid atmosphere of unacted-upon sexual yearnings.

That's when Jack's dad enters to get Gabriella to sign off on some release forms and to personally invoice her for all the anvil removal the hospital is dealing with during her stay. Jack's dad seems terse, basically reading the situation for what it is. He offers Jack an oblique warning: "What's okay for some is not okay for you." This highlights the importance for parents to talk with their kids in very specific terms. Where Jack's dad offers his meaningless Dr. Phil bullshit, a better father would say: "Don't stick your dick in that woman unless you want to be very unhappy." Also, you should tell your kids how you feel about them as directly and to their face as possible, as opposed to leaving it up to anonymous drifters you meet in Australian bars to carry your message for you. Although, full disclosure: I did break up with a girl in exactly that fashion. You should have seen her face when she got the news. Seriously, you should have seen it. You could tell me about it. The more you know.

The No Kates Allowed Club continues their search, using vines or roots or some shit to assist their climb up a steep incline. Sawyer attempts to work his nickname mojo on Locke and comes up with Mr. Clean. Umm, yeah. See: his hair is the source of all his powers. Locke skillfully turns it around, and asks Sawyer why he chose his name, because he knows his real name is James Ford. Um, duh! He likes to saw stuff, like Jack and Kate's perfect relationship! And his given name is clearly named after the co-writer of the classic Pat Morita film Earth Minus Zero! Or, maybe because he's related to this guy, who led an Illinois band of outlaws at the turn of the 19th Century. I don't fucking know. Hey, bloggers, why don't you quit wasting my time and go and ask your boyfriend Sufjan Stevens about it already? Jeez.

Just then their discussion is interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Naturally, Jack freaks out and runs blindly and wildly toward the fusillade. Again, if I were on this island, I'd be all: Nuts to this running into gunfire shit. And then I'd return to crudely silkscreening my signature line of "Hail! The Others" t-shirts.

Locke and Sawyer tear off after Fearless Leader, and catch up to him in a clearing. Sawyer mentions that the others snatched Cindy right out from under their noses while they were travelling back to their side of the island. "You guys," Sawyer adds, "You don't understand. You'll never get to meet Cindy. Never get to share a moment with her. Never get a chance to bowled over by her personality." Well, maybe once Tequila and Tonic are in the stir for driving while blotto all over Hawaii, Cindy's agent will get a call.

The trio find some shell casings, and take a few minutes to get all CSI on the clearing, but before long they're all hashing out each other's personal agendae, making a big deal about why each one wanted to come along and find Michael. For Jack, the insatiable need to fix things and people yadda yadda blah. For Sawyer, revenge cakes. For Locke, no reason. He doesn't need a reason. He's Locke.

Meanwhile, things in Flashbackistan have taken a bad turn for the Italian dude, who's now not only not fixed, but very much not alive. Jack is awash in an orgy of self-incrimination--and that's a total shout out to to the people I watched World Cup '94 with. Jack wants to tell Gabriella that he failed, that he's a big tumenescent, pulsating, sweaty, needy, failure. But Jack's father has already communicated this to her in terms that she can understand, even if she cannot be sexually penetrated by them. Jack's mad that he doesn't get to tell her, but Jack's dad ruefully tells him that she's gone. Which of course means that she's not gone. The hospital will keep that last anvil as a memento of this trying time in everyone's life.

Jack goes out to his car, only to find Gabriella out there, waiting, teary-eyed yet still alluring and raven haired. Jack says he's very sorry and offers to make it up to her by providing her with a coupon for free exploratory throat surgery that he's grafted onto the end of his tongue. Nice work, Jack. Not stupid at all. I guess if they find Michael, he's going to make out with him.

Speaking of, it's now really dark and Locke seems to have officially lost Michael's trail. He doesn't offer a cheery forecast for picking it up again. Jack hears what he most likes to hear in the world, a bleak prognosis, and immediately starts getting all weird. Nobody thinks it's a good idea to press on, but Jack finally snaps and tells them that if they choose to return, then Mike's disappearance is "on us." That's when the bearded Evil Stevedore decides to finally add his two cents from the darkness, "You're exactly right, Jack!" Holy shitty McShit! We break for commercial, but, blogga, please: we're in no frame of mind to critically evaluate anybody's products!

We return from commercial to find the No Kates Allowed Club in a confrontation with the Evil Stevedore who's played by the guy who was Roscoe P. Coltrane in the Dukes of Hazzard remake, looking here like the dude from the cover of Kansas' Greatest Hits album. Sawyer raises his weapon to Fight Fire With Fire, but Roscoe is all Hold On, he's not going to Play That Game Tonight. He warns the No Kates Allowed Club that they've hit The Wall, arrived at The Pinnacle, reached the Point of Know Return, and if they want to Carry On living, like the Wayward Sons that they are, they better listen to him before they become Dust In The Wind.

We cut back to the Hatch, and I would posit that because the story breaks up the breaking news between Roscoe the Evil Stevedore and the No Kates Allowed Club, it's likely we're about to get an important parcel of information here. Hurley and Charlie are chilling in the Hatch, leafing through Desmond's LP collection, which is in clear violation of international Desert Island Discs rules. They talk girl stuff. Charlie wonders if Claire misses him, Hurley wonders if he's got a shot with Tonic. They pause to muse over a record by Geronimo Jackson, which self-proclaimed music expert Charlie claims to have never heard of. Sayid wanders in, and it's clear that he's reached the stage of post-Shannon grief where one decides to assume the manner and affectation of a mopey John Cusack character. I call him Sayid Dobler, and he's never heard of Geronimo Jackson either. Google it now, kiddies.

We head on back to the No Kates Allowed Club, being menaced by Roscoe. Roscoe gives them the whole I come in peace routine, but he mentions that Walt is fine, that they aren't giving him back, that they'll make sure Michael doesn't find him, and that Walt is a special boy. He adds, This is our island, and the only reason you're living on it is because we let you live on it." He quotes Alvar Hanso's compliment of human curiosity, which, according to the Hanso Foundation website is something he said in a speech at the United Nations back in a simpler time when the UN would routinely entertain the ravings of hippie cornball theorists because they were under no threat from crazy-ass John Bolton who would surely throw staplers and pencil sharpeners at people like Hanso today. But he reminds Jack that curiosity killed the cat. Basically, the scene is a heavy dose of the sort of things that happens in shows like this and the X-Files: whenever our protagonists finally get up close and personal with the people who can flat out answer all their questions, what they get in return is a melange of riddle-me-this bullshit.

Anyway, Jack gamely attempts to rebut Roscoe, saying: "Neener neener. You aren't so great. If you were all that, you wouldn't have had to send Ethan Rom, whose ass, by the way, we roundly kicked." Jack theorizes that Roscoe is alone and weak and that the three of them could take him easily. Roscoe considers this for a moment, telling Jack that he has an interesting theory--the strong implication being that it's wrong to assume that Ethan Rom-slash-Goodwin, the Stevedores, and the shiny shinned Others are all part of the same gang.

But we don't get to ponder the matter for very long, because at that moment, Roscoe yells out what sounds like the same phrase Apache Chief used to use to grow all tall and shit, and suddenly the No Kates Allowed Club is surrounded by torch wielding figures. Roscoe next calls out to a comrade named Alex--get it? ALEX, people!--and asks him to bring forth the girl. In he comes with a captured Kate. This is in clear violation of the bylaws of the No Kates Allowed Club--despite the fact that the letter of the law makes allowances for the possibility of a single Kate--and it has the trio in a bit of a bind. Faced with the possibility of harm coming to Kate, Jack and the others lay down their weapons and surrender--though Sawyer does warn that business between him and Roscoe--who Sawyer calls "Zeke"--isn't over. The Losties are warned one last time not to "cross the line" and the Stevedore gang fades into the night.

Back at the beach, Jin is sitting near the surf, unable to sleep, when Sun comes over to talk to him. Jin, recalling that trenchant scene where Sun told him not to go looking for Michael, confesses that he doesn't like being told what to do. Sun's replies, "Big whoopeedoo. Neither do I, Mr. Controlly Controllerson." Jin turns and says: "I suppose you don't." Awww. Jin has reached a new level of understanding, just like it said he would in the brochures Michael printed up for the Rainbow PUSH Oceanaire Club and Rafting Society Unlimited.

The No Kates Allowed Except The One Kate We Got Stuck With Thanks To Roscoe Club returns from their hunting expedition. Kate tells Jack she's very sorry. Jack frosts her big time.

We return to Flashbackistan and the unhappy household of Jack and Julie Bowen. Jack relates that the surgery was a massive failure. He takes over washing dishes, because his bad head voice keeps telling him: "Okay, Jack! There's some gravy remnants on that charger! You can FIX it! It's GO TIME! You're SUPRAMAN, Jack Scrub! Scrub like your marriage depended on it!" Julie Bowen asks after Italian dude's daughter, and Jack manages to dial up the exact wrong answer, confessing to the saliva donation he made on her behalf. Jack's world begins to tilt on its axis and unravel, and he starts insisting that he can totally fix their relationship. Get me my conversation cap! Bring me the pipe cleaners and duct tape. Cue up my MacGyver collection.

But Julie Bowen decides to drop her bombshell. She's leaving Jack. In fact, she's all packed up. The only thing keeping her there was the dishes. Which Jack went ahead and washed. She's been seeing someone else, a nice guy whose opened up a law practice in a bowling alley maybe. Or maybe not. Chances are, whoever she's ending up with is likely to be one of those great Lost coinky-dinks. She tells Jack that his problem is that he'll always need someone to fix. Yeah, Julie, and you'll always fall googly-shit in love with whoever happens to be showing you a shred of kindness that day. Anyway, this is what happens when you base your relationship on a Coldplay song. Lights guide you home and then they turn around and ignite your bones. Seriously, don't ask me what the fuck Chris Martin is talking about. Ignite my bones? WTF?

Jack's rapid descent is set in motion now. He's gone from being a happily married man to being a Single Guy. And we all know that on many levels, being a Single Guy is like being a massive dollop of useless shit. Still, Jack has many honorable vestiges left. He's not so far gone that he's reached the basest, shallowest, level of waste of some Single Guys. Single Guys, like, for example, plagiarizing ass-hats like, say, Mike Lucia who need to have their bones ignited by the delicate work of backhanded fists.

Back at the beach, the closing montage is in full swing. Kate pads around, looking concerned. Charlie passes by Locke cooing over Claire's baby, gritting on him hard. And Jack walks with a purpose, looking for someone to turn to. Guess who that person is? It's Ana Tequila, sitting alone, who offers Jack her renowned fish-like sympathies. Jack asks her if it's true that she killed one of the Others. Tequila replies in the affirmative. He asks if it's true that she's a cop. Tequila says yes--a dirty, renegade, murdering cops at that. Jack asks her how long it would take for her to train an army.


I guess if actual-member-of-an-actual-army Sayid only had a vagina, none of this would be happening.


PK said...

You have to wonder why the "military-style search party" included Jack (who doesn't seem to have ANY useful traits except the "I must always go on under any conditions no matter what" attitude) and Sawyer (who doesn't exactly seem like a "command-and-control" type) rather than, oh, I don't know, Eko? Sayid? Tequila? Somebody with actual Others-killing experience?

Also, question on Ethan and Goodwin ("Team Canada"): If they're not with these particular Others ("Team Stevedore"), how come they (or Ethan at least) were after Walt, too? Or are they having some kind of psychic-child-collecting contest or something?

The Deceiver said...

One of the first things we said while watching it was, why not take Eko just because he's easily the strongest of all the castaways, with brains to match.

As for the possibility of Ethan Rom/Goodwin having different agendas from the Stevedores, it's just a theory, suggested by Roscoe himself in his response to Jack. I seem to recall though, that Ethan was after the other special child, Aaron.

PK said...

So you're saying that when crazy French chick offered Aaron up and was told he was the wrong boy, she was trying to negotiate with Team Stevedore and not Team Canada? Hmm. I guess since "Alex" is playing for the Stevedores now, that makes sense. I just kinda figured that they were all really out to get Walt - the only kid on the island with demonstrated psychic powers - but Ethan was acting on good old-fashioned Bush-style bad intel.

jolene said...

I have to thank you for this past week's Pompatus. My feckin' cable cord went out on me last week and I missed the first half. Hail Others.

Love the details.