Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Pompatus of Lost-3.1: Jack In A Box

How exciting it is to be back, to know that this season will not be shot through with reruns every other fortnight, and to have J.J. Abrams back from his last quixotic assignment--leading the Clown Prince of Scientology through his latest Mission: Implausible. That must have been weird for J.J., every day working with THAT cuckoo. We imagine that most days on the set were like this:

JJ Abrams: Okay, Daniel. I appreciate how committed you are to speaking Korean, but you have to remember, I can't understand anything you are saying.

Production Assistant: Uhm, Jage? That's not Daniel Dae Kim.

JJ: What? It's not?

PA: No. That's Tom Cruise. It's just impossible to understand whatever the fuck he's talking about.

JJ: (Sigh.) That's like the fifteenth time I've done that, isn't it?

PS: Yeah.

Tom Cruise: WHOOOOOBEEEE! Gimbledeedee! Winnowcrack! Flurn! Goobeegoobeegoo!!!

JJ: God, I hate that guy.

Last season, we couldn't help but constantly remarking how fucking casual all the Losties were living their lives. The entirety of last season basically documented the next two weeks from where the first season ended--a time when all the denizens of La Isla Encanta were in holy terrorizing fear for their lives. Then, they all woke up the next day and decided to loll and gambol about as if it had never happened. Life was pretty fucking easy for those people. Shannon's weird death, and Walt being gone, and Michael freaking out and the Tailies showing up out of the blue didn't seem to affect them at all.

Now, the Hatch is imploded, which means no more laundry or showers or books or records or parachute food drops. So I hope life gets back to a certain degree of difficulty. And, if you are Third Man from the Left on Lostie Beach, you have to be waking up on Day One of Season Three worried about how your little community is going to continue, because all of the main providers for the community are missing, kidnapped or possibly dead. Let's consult Lostie Beach's prospectus as far as core competencies go, and consider my castaway Starting Eleven.

  • Jack: Doctor, de facto decision maker, and primary care physician to everyone, handles all major instances of brooding, possesses the powers of Coldplay. STATUS: Kidnapped.
  • Sayid: Soldier, engineer, guy you want on your side in a fight. Was a torturer before torture was cool--that is, before a bunch of cowardly Americans threw their moral values and the soldiers of all freedom loving nations under a bus so that they could become just like every other rogue state on the globe. STATUS: On a boat somewhere.
  • Locke: Survivalist, hunter, Keeper of the Button, blind follower of whatever crackheaded dogma spells itself out in his morning Alpha-Bits. STATUS: Imploded, maybe dead.
  • Kate: International woman of mystery, super fucking hot, can handle her shit. STATUS: Kidnapped.
  • Sawyer: Possessor of the Danger Hair, can dole out nicknames that stick, snarkier than Jessica Coen. STATUS: Kidnapped.
  • Michael: "Artist who works in the construction industry," which somehow means he can build boats, excavate caves, construct aqueducts, and shit like that. STATUS: On a boat somewhere, leaving the island.
  • Sun: Gardener, pharmacist, has magical uterus, HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT MAXIM COVER, MAH GAWD! Status: On a boat somewhere.
  • Jin: Fisherman, hero to the common people, mafia-esque enforcer, speaks Korean. STATUS: On a boat somewhere.
  • Eko: Massive, muscled, righteous as all get out. One of the few people to have successfully killed an Other. The only Tailie who's added real value to the Lostie's enterprise. STATUS: Imploded, maybe dead.
  • Hurley: Diplomatic, will do the work no one wants to do, built a golf course, is rich as Croesus. STATUS: Wandering alone through the realm of the Stompy Monster.
  • Walt: Can astrally project, summon animals with his fuckin' mind, man! With his mind! STATUS: On a boat somewhere, leaving the island.

See. Those are people you can't afford to lose! Plus, Desmond, that scrappy rookie with potential, is also imploded. So, if I'm a Lostie, I'm shitting my pants right now, because everyone who ever wiped my ass and made sure I got fed is GONE. We're down to the second string: flibbertigibbet Claire, ethereal Rose, her charisma hole husband, and Charley. Charley's like, the TOP DOG on Lostie Beach! Which would be all well and good if the Other's demanded they perform some Britpop-tinged wuss rock. Shit, if he didn't have all the distractions of monsters and weird baptism dreams and heroin addiction, Charley would have successfully founded Travis weeks ago. But the Losties are fucked if somehow Charles gets put in charge of their days and their nights.

Anyhoo. Previously, on LOST: The OTHERS are BAD. Don't believe me? Here's a fuckin' MONTAGE, yo. Deal with that, asshole! Wu-Tang!

Lights up in Flashbackistan. We meet a blonde woman, who looks like Kate Warner from 24 but isn't, who we will come to know as Juliet. She has been crying--which is probably the most important thing we get to see this episode, so ENJOY. She puts on a Petula Clark CD that's she's curiously housed in a Talking Heads CD case and cues up "Downtown" and then sets about arranging chairs. An alarm goes off, and she notices that she has burned a tray of muffins. This causes her to have another mini-breakdown, because, fuck--how hard is it to cook some muffins? Was that the timer or the smoke alarm? Because if it was the oven timer, next time, set it to go off a few minutes BEFORE your food is ruined, brainiac.

Anyway, she is living in what appears to be a typical suburban community--maybe not one that was planned with fascist regard by Robert E. Simon--maybe more like Burke, Virginia. And she's hosting a book club meeting, where they give Stephen King a huge shout-out for his LOST fandom. Some dude named Adam starts giving her static about the book choice, about how "Ben wouldn't even read it on the toilet." And she snaps back that it's her favorite book, so suck it, Adam, and furthermore the fact that Adam hates it makes her feel awesome. Zing! Bring on the rest of the desperate housewives!

Just then, there's an earthquake and a noise from outside. The book club takes cover from all of the clatter, and then goes outside to see what the hell is the matter. People come streaming out of their homes, and that's when you see Ethan Rom, and Henry Gale, and other leading luminaries of the Others Community. And up in the sky, there's poor, doomed Oceanic Flight 815, breaking up and crashing in a balletic arc above them. Once the plane is down, Henry Gale springs into action, ordering Goodwin to the tail section and Ethan to the fuselage. "There may even be survivors!" Oh, Henry, we're immune to your dramatic irony. Goodwin, incidentally, is specifically told that he can make it to the Tail Section in an hour if he runs--Mr. Kyle Leafblower officially calls bullshit on that contention, and, on the face of it, he would seem to be right--Goodwin appears to arrive a LOT sooner.

After Gale sets these events in motion, ordering Ethan and Goodwin to bring back "lists withing three days." He notices Juliet, still holding the book, and drily intones: "I guess I'm out of the book club." Awesome catch phrase. I can imagine Gale, post-coitus, pulling out, wiping off, looking down at my partner and snarking, "Heh. I guess I'm out of the book club." Or just before he caps somebody. Or the last line of some awesomely awful episode of some dumb sitcom. "I guess I'm out of the book club." Kick ass.

As the camera pans back, we see that the Others live very close to La Isla Encanta, in a beautiful matte painting, now marred by Flight 815s downward descent. If you are a proponent of "the Others are the islanders from the graphic novel The Watchmen" theory, your spidey senses are tingling just

We return from commercial. Dr. Jack is in Flashbackistan, skulking around spying on a playground--which is a total shout out to Mark Foley, y'all. He watches as his estranged wife, Ed's Julie Bowen, cavorts with some other man.

And, poof, Jack awakes to find himself in some sort of cell. The door won't open--which makes a certain kind of sense--I mean, he was captured, so it stands to reason they'd lock him in somewhere. But you have to try. It's human nature. Like when you lock your keys in the car and you touch the pane of glass on the driver's side window as if some heretofore unknown hole is going to appear and allow you to reach in? Like you're suddenly gonna pull some Criss Angel shit? Mindfreak you Honda Accord? We've all been there. Jack walks around the room and strides right into a plexiglass wall. The blow is sufficient enough that it activates Jack's default mechanism, which is to loudly and blindly start yelling for Kate.

Kate wakes up in some sort of locker room. The dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album is there, just as bright and cheery as ever. He tells Kate to take a shower, which Kate refuses to do in front of him. The dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album just laughs. "You ain't my type," says the dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album. Dude, the dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album must be CRAZY.

Meanwhile, Sawyer wakes up in what looks like a Butterstickless panda enclosure at some outdoor zoo. This doesn't sit well with Sawyer. His danger hair parts itself in a most incensed manner. Across the yard, he spies another cage with some kid sitting in it, with his back turned. Sawyer attempts to engage this kid in conversation, but the kid won't answer. Kid's all EMO and shit. Sawyer shall call him "Chachi." Sawyer looks around the cage and sees an assortment of buttons and pedals, one of which appears to offer food. Sawyer presses the button, and he gets a recorded voice that says, "Warning!" He tries it again with the same result. Chachi pipes up that he'd better stop doing that, but, honestly: does Sawyer ever listen? Of course not, and the next time he pushes it, he gets a huge electric shock that sends him flying across the cage.

Back in Flashbackistan, Jack is meeting up with Ed's Julie Bowen, presumably to discuss their impending divorce. Jack isn't taking this at all well. And neither are we. Sorry, but this part of the Jack backstory is getting played out. We love the flashbacks, but most people want to see stuff in flashback that either directly pertains to La Isla goings on or play up the way these characters are interconnected--because the really fascinating thing to consider is whether these characters were MEANT to come to this island, if there's some sort of higher purpose that explains Why These People and Why This Island. Other TV executives have caught on to the way this fascinates people--witness shows like Six Degrees and The Nine. I mean, we KNOW this is all stuff that speaks to what makes Jack tick, but let's get ON WITH IT!

Anyway, Jack wants to know what Ed's Julie Bowen's new beau's name is, and she won't tell him. She probably has a good reason. Maybe his name is Ferdinand or Teablossom and people make fun of him all the time. Maybe she just wants Jack to move on and understand that she's not coming back. Maybe ol' Teablossom is nothing more than an understanding guy whose managed to teach his wang how to coil up and dance like a cobra, making every lovemaking session a veritable Jeff Corwin Experience. Anyway, she gets up and leaves.

Anyway, Jack zips back to the cell, where Juliet encounters him and attempts to get him to calm down and stop pulling on a chain that hangs from his cell. Get it, he's "YANKING A CHAIN" and he should "STOP" because the quality of his flashbacks are growing MASTURBATORY. Maybe Juliet is, like, the Other's show-runner or something. But Jack won't stop yanking on the chain. Not ever.

Meanwhile, Kate finishes her shower and is intructed by a post-it note to put on a dress, and, as dresses go, it's a pretty damned good one. The
dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album comes in and takes her down to the beach, where Henry Gale sits in an open-air tenty thing with a table set for breakfast. He's got a French press, AND handcuffs! Pregame for the Folsom Street Fair, ladies and gentlemen!

He starts in with Kate, who wants to know where "Sawyer and Jack" are. "Sawyer and Jack?" muses Gale, adding, "Why Sawyer and Jack?" Ugh. Is Gale just a fanfic writer or something? Stupid Skaters. Stupid Jaters. Gale says he burned her clothes and got her a new dress so she'd feel like "a lady."
What? Is the full Pygmalion treatment coming? "I have made a bet that I could rid you of your Canadian accent by the time we host our coconut ball, for which Juliet will be making her famous Burny Muffintoasts."

Actually, he tells her that he wants her to have one last moment of comfort, because "the next two weeks" are going to be very unpleasant. Wow. He must be intending to make them watch last season's Tail Section recap episodes!

Back in Flashbackistan, Jack has somehow gotten hold of Ed's Julie Bowen's cell phone and is lamely prankcalling everyone on her sim card in the hopes of finding out HIS NAME...HE MUST KNOW HIS NAME! HE WILL ENSLAVE RUMPELSTILTZKIN and then, THEN!...Ed's Julie Bowen will LOVE HIM AGAIN!

Jack's father walks in and sees what he is doing, and they argue as to whether he should continue acting like a psychopath or not. He tells Jack to stop being so obsessive, which, in this case, is sort of like telling a drowning man not to get wet. Jack discovers that Ed's Julie Bowen has his father's number in her cellphone and freaks out, seemingly failing to realize that it's not at all unusual for a spouse to have their in-law's number on their cellphone and yet never even receive any oral. "Let it go," Jack's dad says.

Back in the cell, Jack is playing with the communication box, and on the third press of the button, hears his father's voice saying "Let it go." Just then, Juliet walks in with food for Jack, but Jack won't eat the food and he won't let her come into the cell. When asked about his occupation, he tells her that he is a repo man (and then goes on to explain what a repo man is for all the morons out in TV land who don't know what one is and who haven't seen the AWESOME movie of the same name). He eventually tells her why he was in Sydney.

Back at the panda enclosure, Sawyer is working at figuring out all the buttons and pedals when suddenly, Chachi escapes. Even after seeing these events play out, we kinda feel like there's something inauthentic about this escape attempt. Chachi unlocks Sawyer's cage and directs him to run in the opposite direction. Sawyer does so, but then makes two critical mistakes that I always teach the first day of my prison break class at the learning annex. One: after you've started escaping, go on and KEEP escaping. Spend at least a first solid hour just on the escaping part. You'll find it's worth the time. For God's sake, don't STOP escaping.

But Sawyer does stop, and, in so doing, runs into Juliet, who tasers him. Which brings me to me second lesson: when escaping, do not stop to chat with the person with the taser. Sawyer is knocked out and dragged back to the camp, where Brad (nee Chachi) is forced to apologize for
"involving him in [his] escape attempt." Great. Now, when is someone going to aplogize to me for those stupid Hanso Foundation ads?

Juliet returns to Jack's cell to try to get him to eat, telling him that the side-effects of the medicine he received include dehydration and hallucination. To us, this sounds like the best tab of Ecstacy ever, but Juliet is concerned, concerned enough to convince Jack that he isn't defeated if he does what she asks this one time. Jack's right to be wary. After all, word of Juliet's muffin burning problems are probably graffitoed on the walls of Jack's cell. Still, he dutifully goes and sits in the corner.

This, naturally, prompts another trip back to Flashbackistan. Jack watches his Dad as he talks and laughs on a cell phone call, and of course, this totally proves that his Dad is yet another one of the horde of men pumping his ex-wife. Jack follows his dad to what looks like a hotel room, and sees him going into a room with a sign on it that says, "Friends of Bill W." Now, we're quite sure that this sign caused a million TiVos to stop, rewind, freezeframe, zoom as thousands of Lost fans said as one: "Friends of Bill W! Jinkies! A clue! What part of the conspiracy does this fresh menace indicate." But, it's not a clue. "Bill W." refers to Bill Wilson, one of the two men who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous. And if you go to large conferences or trade shows, or go out on a cruise or stay at a resort, you'll often see time and space reserved for the "Friends of Bill W." That just means there's a meeting.

Jack, who should know this, barges in anyway and confronts his dad in front of everyone. They argue back and forth, until the woman running the meeting says: "You must be Jack." She all but implies that Dad has labelled Jack as the reason he drinks. Frankly, we're a little surprised how snarky and confrontational she is about it. She should ask God for the strength to mind her own business, the serenity to shut the hell up and the wisdom to know the difference between ending this calmly and provoking Jack into taking a swing at his dad, which is precisely what happens.

Back in the cell, Juliet comes in the door and, with a quickness, Jack is all over her, with an arm around her neck and a knife to her throat. He forces her out the door and demands to know the exit. She won't say, but Jack fixates on a bulkhead door and tells her to open it. She won't do it, saying that if she does, they'll die. Henry Gale emerges from around the corner and says the same thing. So, we have a consensus among the Others, but Jack doesn't believe them. he warns Gale that he'll kill Juliet, but Gale could give a fuck, because if he opens the door they'll all die anyway. Finally J.J. recognizes that we've milked the scene of basically every ounce of door tension that could be mustered. Jack tosses Juliet to the ground and starts opening the door himself.

Immediately water starts streaming into the hallway! I mean, WHY EVEN HAVE A DOOR? When new hires tour the facility, does the HR guy say, "That's the copy'll find the fax machine and postage meter in there...and, yeah, here's the door that you open when you want us all to drown..." Somehow, Jack and Juliet get the door closed. That's two people versus the ocean. After the flooding has ceased, Juliet cracks Jack good across the face, knocking him out.

Sawyer, using a rock, has figured out how to make the food dispenser work, and is disappointed to receive what looks like a dog biscuit in the shape of a fish, several handfuls of popcorn, and water that flows into a trough. Just then,
dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album brings Kate to Chachi's old cage and locks her up. Sawyer brags to the dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album that he figured out how to make the food thingy work. "Aw, you got a fish biscuit?" snarks the dude who used to look like that guy from that Kansas album, who goes on to tell Sawyer that it only took the bears two hours to solve the problem. Which means, relatively speaking, the author of the DCist Go Home blog would have starved to death.

Sawyer and Kate have about as tender a moment as these two can have under these circumstances. Sawyer asks Kate if she wants a fish biscuit, and tosses her his leftovers. I'm guessing that the first time Sawyer ever imagined the moment he and Kate would enjoy a "fish biscuit" together, it happened a lot differently.

Jack wakes up from getting decked by Juliet back in his cell. He surmises that they are in an aquarium and Juliet tells him he has surmised correctly. They are in, she says, the Hatch known as "The Hydra" and that it was an aquarium a "long time ago." Long time ago?? They were meeting in book clubs, like, a month ago!

Anyway, Juliet cops to having a file on Jack containing everything there is to know about him. She knows that he's a spinal surgeon, that he graduated early from Columbia and that he was married once and contested the divorce. She also says she knows all about Ed's Julie Bowen, so why not ask her something?

Jack has a final flashback, where Ed's Julie Bowen comes to bail him out of jail after his Beatdown at the Alcoholic Anonymous Meeting. She walks outside and Jack follows. Her new bf is there, and Jack once again wants to know his name, his occupation, and how he makes his Jeff Corwin Cobra Cock dance in that teasing, pleasing way. Ed's Julie Bowen wont cave. She tells him that when his dad called, he was three hundred sheets to the wind, so congratuations Dr. Coldplay, now you have something to fix.

Back in the cell, Jack asks only one question, "Is she happy?" To which Juliet replies, "Duh! Uhm, hello? Jeff Corwin Cobra cock, much? She's ECSTATIC." Jack obediently heads for the corner so that she may enter and leave the food.

As she enters the hallway, she sees Henry Gale lurking outside. Gale offers thanks for a job well done, to which Juliet edgily ripostes, "Thank you, Ben."

Uh oh, looks like someone's back in the book club!

[Next week: Sayid tries to lead a daring rescue attempt as Sun struggles to explain to Jin that Sayid is trying to lead a desperate rescue attempt.]


The Redonkulous Linker said...

That is unquestionably the single greatest episode recap anywhere, ever.

Ed said...

Welcome back! I've been missing the Pompatus greatly since we last saw the Losties.

And I must now publicly profess my love for Juliet.

jolene said...

Welcome back indeed.

Mediocre season opener. Awesome recap.