Walkabout S.1 Ep. 4

I had a bit of trouble coming up with a theme for this episode.  The obvious ones are there of course.

– Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

– Destiny

– Miracles and the magic of the island

None of them seemed entirely right to me, until I stopped and thought about Sayid’s side-story in the  episode Walkabout…

Sayid had a problem with what Jack decided should be done with the bodies of those that passed away in the crash.  At dusk the following day, the castaways will burn the fuselage to dispose of / in remembrance of /  those that died.

Sayid, not wanting to take part in that, because it disrespected the 815 dead’s possible and completely unknowable final wishes, decided to focus on a side project.  He removes wiring, electrics, and metal from the wreckage to build antennas, which will work with a repurposed transceiver to triangulate the mysterious signal left by Rousseau.

The idea of repurposing has often occurred to me while watching Lost.  I’ve always had this thought, that I’ve mentioned in a few other articles, that the island exists outside the dimensional plane of the rest of the Earth.  That is how and why things like the flashes, time loops, teleportation, etc. seem to not affect the rest of the planet.  i.e.  It isn’t so much that you teleport to Tunisia when you turn the wheel, so much as Tunisia is the closest place on Earth to the island’s dimension, when you open the “door.”

So, if you accept that the island exists in its own dimension, with its own rules governing time, space, distance, etc. then the rest of this won’t be that crazy.

I’d like to suggest that when a person crosses over to the island he or she leaves their destiny behind.  They skew from the destiny that they were heading for and embrace a new one which includes time spent on the island, thus drastically changing their life-course.

What if all the characters had very specific destinies?  What if they all had a purpose back in their lives before the crash?   What if, by leaving, and crossing over to the island, these destinies were interrupted, changed, or diverted? (Course correction is a big theme later…)

I propose that Jacob, just like Sayid repurposing a few wires and circuit boards, repurposed the survivors of flight 815.  He took their destinies that were set in stone, and changed them.  It is no coincidence that in the season 5 finale we see that Jacob uses an ancient looking loom to weave tapestries.  Many ancient mythologies compare fate and reality itself to the act of weaving a tapestry.

Three examples from wiki:

Navajo:

Many of the world’s people believe that the world is woven and that a weaving Creator wove its designs into being. Compare the Navajo legend of the Spider Woman, of Teotihuacan origin.

Greece:

In Greece the Moirae (the “Fates”) are the three crones who control destiny, and the matter of it is the art of spinning the thread of life on the distaff.

Egypt:

In pre-Dynastic Egypt, nt (Neith) was already the goddess of weaving (and a mighty aid in war as well). She protected the Red Crown of Lower Egypt before the two kingdoms were merged, and in Dynastic times she was known as the most ancient one, to whom the other gods went for wisdom.

"It takes a long time if you're making the thread." The thread are the castaways. The tapestry is the whole story.

By pulling flight 815 to the island, Jacob removed these people from one tapestry and added them to another.

Jack, destined to live in the shadow of his father, even after his death, was given the chance to be his own man after Jacob crashed 815.  The island made him a doctor not just for individual patients, but a doctor for the whole planet.

Sawyer was on the road to vengeance since his namesake caused the death of his parents.  The island would give him a focus for all that anger and rage.

Sayid was full of regret for the pain that he’s caused and was seeking his true love.  If he had not been one of the “Oceanic 6” would he have ever found her?

Through her island experiences Kate was finally able to stop running from her past mistakes.

Charley?  In season 6 he declared on the plane “I was supposed to die!”  Was THAT his destiny back in the ‘real’ world?  Would he have just been another rocker that overdosed in a hotel?  Probably.  The island, through Jacob, gave him a grander purpose, and made his death mean something more than a TMZ headline.

Hurley experienced the grandest change to his destiny.

Then there was John Locke.  John was destined for tragedy and heartbreak at every turn in his life.  Betrayed by his father and constantly harangued by his co-workers, John was given a new destiny by Jacob.  Jacob brought him to the island, and gave him what he always wanted, adventure, purpose, and family.  In this episode we got to see the very first glimmer of this new destiny John is in the process of embracing.   In this new place John is a strong and mysterious man.  He carries knives and hunts for his food.  He is trying to actually become the man that he merely pretended to be in his war games back at the box factory in California.

Walkabout was a terrific episode.  I’m sure there are dozens of other topics we could pull from this fantastic example of scripted television, but this was the one is pulled.  I repurposed an idea and made it fit into my Walkabout post.

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Further Jack/ John visual references hinting at the conflict to come:

John Locke and Jack Shepherd are set on a collision course right from the start, which never fully culminates until after one of them is dead and ends with the other dying.  This conflict was hinted at right from the beginning by drawing visual parallels.

From the first image of this episode we get a familiar visual reference.  A Close-up of John Locke’s eye as it bursts open, just as we saw Jack in the first image of the pilot episode. Then the camera movements are similar.  We go from the close-up to a wide shot angled straight down at the body as it twists around almost like a spirit floating above.  A very similar movement was used to show Jack’s location in the pilot.

They both lost consciousness, and when they came to they found themselves on a new road, with a new destiny, reborn.

The primary difference between Jack and John’s re-birth just after the accident is that Jack is reborn into the peaceful bamboo forest, while John is born into pain, screaming, and anarchy.  In the midst of this anarchy though, a miracle occurs.  John wiggles his toe.

I love that his soles are completely unworn! I guess you could say John has got sole?.... That was terrible.

Tabula Rasa is possibly the most over used episode title in the history of television.  There was an episode of Buffy that used that same title where the Scooby gang suffered from temporary amnesia.  Then there was a Battlestar Galactica episode, a Law and Order episode, Criminal Minds, Justice League, Stargate, and even Heroes.  I’m sure there are even more.

Why this fondness for the title? Is it because it sounds cool?  Well, I think it is particularly apt in the case of Lost.  Tabula Rasa means ‘Blank Slate.’  As far back as the fourth century Aristotle wrote of the unscribed tablet, or blank slate with regard to the human mind in his De Anima.  However, it wasn’t until, no surprise here, John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the 17th century, that the idea became popular in modern philosophy. Simply put, the theory states that at infancy we are a blank slate.  Our personality, behavior, and intelligence are products of the many experiences that we absorb and make part of ourselves over the course of our lives.  Basically he believed that from birth we have all the potential in the world, we just need to strive to do better and be better.

Interestingly, over on good old Wiki, I was reading about the Roman tabulas, which were made of wax.  After use, these tablets were heated and wiped clean so they could be used again and again.  Is this more applicable to our castaways?  Were they wiped clean by the fires of their ordeal?  I think they were.  Like human etch-a-sketches, their sins were shaken away by the turbulence and crash.

The focus of the flashbacks in Tabula Rasa is Kate.  Kate desperately wants a go at a new life.  She can’t have that blank slate though. There are two loose ends that tie her to her past, Agent Mars and a WANTED flyer in his pocket.  She is so close to her fresh start when Mars opens his eyes and starts talking to Jack, that it must be infuriating!

When she returns to camp, as a viewer you start to wonder which side of “Right” Kate is going to fall on.  The one man who can spoil her chance is at death’s door.

Kate goes to Jack and asks him “Can you put him out of his misery?”

Just the suggestion gets Jack’s goat!  He stomps right up in her face and taunts her.

“I saw your mug shot Kate! I’m not a murderer!”

Has Kate Lost Jack’s trust?

The episode progresses to the last few minutes, where Kate talks to Mars alone.  She wants to make sure that Ray, the man who turned her in, got his reward.  Through this moment, we see the redemptive qualities of her character.  She’s done something horrific.  Something so bad that it caused her to run all the way to Australia, and for someone to go after her!  Still, she still has the capacity for caring, love, and understanding.  She can’t be THAT bad.  Can she?

But then Mars asks if he is going to die?

Kate, tears appearing a little, replies “Yes” while nodding.

With the question “Well are you going to do it?” Mars establishes what he thinks of Kate’s capabilities.  He thinks a mercy kill should be easy based on whatever she’s done.

The climax comes when Jack realizes that Kate is in with Mars, and she has a gun.  He suddenly thinks the worst.  He thinks that she’ll do anything to protect her secret.  Running to the tent, he sees her casually exit.  Relief washes over until…. BLAM.  A shot rings out and Sawyer exits the tent declaring that he’s done what Jack couldn’t while territorially peeing all over the camp.  He claims that Mars “Wanted it, and hell, he asked me.”

What’s that?  Then they hear a gurgle from inside the tent.

Mars is still alive.

Crap!

Jack enters the tent and does what needs to be done.  He euthanizes Mars with his bare hands.  Jack once again proves that he will always do what it takes, even if it eventually leads to horrible beards and too many pills to dull the atrocities he will commit in the name of doing the right thing.

In a cathartic moment the next morning Kate offers to tell Jack what she did.  She wants to come clean.  Jack stops her, saying “I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter Kate.  Who we were… What we did before this…Three days ago we all died.  We should all be able to start over.”  So, their tabulas are rasa’d.

I’d like to take the musical montage at the end and break down the just visuals for a moment.  The song is ‘Wash Away’ by Joe Purdy.

Watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmWDN9-ySyk

Lyrics here:

I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I have sins Lord, but not today
Cause they’re gonna wash away
They’re gonna wash away

And I had friends oh, but not today
Cause they’re done washed away
They’re done washed away

And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, I’ve been cryin’
And oh, no more cryin’
No, no more cryin’ here

We get along Lord, but not today
Cause we gonna wash away
We gonna wash away

And I got troubles oh, but not today
Cause they gonna wash away
This old heart gonna take them away

The lyrics are a pretty perfect fit with the tabula rasa motif.

We start with Hurley.  He is literally washing something, pouring the sand from his shoe.  He is serving a dual purpose here.  Hurley is listening to the music in this scene which makes it diegetic, meaning that it is within the narrative and not external to the story.  So, by listening to the song, he seems to have control of the environment, like he will in the END….  really big stretch I know, but who’s to say they didn’t have the basics to the end figured out right in the beginning.

Cut to a nice tracking shot of Jin.

Jin walks up to a sleeping Sun and shows unconditional love for the first time.  Why can’t he do this in front of others, or even in front of her?  The relationship is so strained, but you see a slim chance for happiness for the first time.  Are Jin’s troubles rasa’d and washing away?

Cut to Shannon in a medium shot sitting on the beach.

Boone gives his sister a pair of sunglasses the he repaired for her.  They too have a chance at happiness.  What would make them happy? I don’t know.  But it seems that there could have been a chance.

Cut To Sayid walking.

Sayid throws Sawyer an apple as he walks past.  They might hate each other, but there is a respect that Sayid has for a person that does what needs doing.  He respects Sawyer’s willingness to act.

Cut to.

Charley changes his writing on his fingers from “Fate” to “Late.”  What is late?  His self-respect?  Him getting to California?  Is he late for a date?  I know he’ll be late for his destiny… or at least put it off for a bit.

The camera pans down to Claire.  Maybe he feels that he was meeting her too late?

Cut to:

A beautiful family reuniting.  Michael walks up with Vincent the dog on a leash.  Walt is ecstatic!   They frolic for a moment in the island sun and everyone is happy!  BUT, this is a tainted reunion.  Michael has established something about his character.  He is weak.  He has taken credit for this ‘miracle’ of finding the dog.  He is willing to live a lie as long as it gets him what he wants.  In this case, it is the love and respect of Walt, but later it will be a lot more, and it will cost other characters A LOT more….. and someone notices this.

Cut over to and track around a pensive Locke.  Locke orchestrated this beautiful family moment, and he doesn’t seem to care for it.  He seems to see what his meddling has done.  He sees that Michael might be useful to him…   He might even know at this point that Walt is special.  After all, the island talks to John.

Side note:  As I watched this episode I kept feeling Deja-Vu.  I finally figured out what it was after a bit of brainstorming…  It reminded me of the Gilligan’s Island episode “Not Guilty” when a crate washed up in the Lagoon that had old Honolulu newspapers as wrapping for coconuts.  On one of the pages was a story stating that each of the castaways is wanted for questioning in relation to a murder that took place the day that they left!  I wonder if the writers’ room talked about the parallels while they were brainstorming?  That would be funny.

 

They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same."

It begins again.  Eight months later, I’ve gone back to the island with the knowledge of everything that is to come.  While re-watching the pilot, I paid close attention to two elements: Introductions and the concept of fate as applied to the castaways.

1. Introductions – I wanted to keep a close eye on who latches onto who first.  Boone and Jack saved Rose’s life.  Jack paired Hurley with Claire so Hurley could keep her safe.  Sayid enlisted Charley to build a fire.  Shannon took care of herself and her own needs.  Locke, on his new magic legs, rushed to help Jack pull people from wreckage.  And when the dust had settled, Jack wandered off into the woods like a hurt cat so he could tend to his own wounds.  That is when Kate comes walking out of the forest to complicate the rest of his life.  And, of course, the Smoke monster was heard but not seen going for a walk through the jungle.

"Kate, meet the Smoke Monster. Smoke Monster... Kate."

2.The Idea of Fate – The first night on the Island Charley writes the word FATE across four of his fingers on pieces of white tape.  People often associate fate with something bad.  The phase “accept your fate” carries with it a connotation that you have to accept something less than desirable.  This is because so few of us actually have a fate in store for us that is something like, say, King Arthur.  He needed to accept his fate after freeing Excalibur, but of course his fate meant he got to be king, marry Guinevere and rule from Camelot.  His fate also entailed his wife cheating on him with his best friend, having an incestuous bastard child, and then killing that child.  It was a tough life and a sorry fate but a grand fate nevertheless.

While paying attention to the featured characters in the first part of the pilot, I noticed that regret and acceptance are huge plot points.  They all seem to have a guilty look about them as they tend to their wounds.  What do they have to feel guilty about?  Well, maybe EVERYTHING!   They all think the crash is their fault in some sort of karmic way.  Hurley believes that the cursed numbers crashed the plane.  Sun believes that her cheating led her to this place and she deserves all the horror of the island.  Claire thinks that she is on the island because she chose to give her child away.  Kate is on the island because she is running from her crimes.  Locke believe this was the price to regain his legs.

Then there is Jack.  Jack carries the literal weight of the world on his back.  He is the King Arthur of this story right from the start.  He might not believe that it is all his fault, but he believes he can fix it all.

In an ensemble story, it is always important to introduce your characters early.  If I’m writing a screenplay I like to get all my primary characters into the first five to ten minutes.  Sometimes it is difficult to do that.  To convincingly weave all of your characters into a story efficiently and quickly might feel contrived.  One tool that I used recently was having all the primary characters in their various homes, jobs, offices, all watching the same television program about the main character of the story.  So, I was able to link all of their interests and knowledge of the subject, and as they meet, it is already established that they have this common thread.

Lost introduced all the primary characters with organic ease.  All of their quirks and traits were prevalent right from the start.  Using the crash as the event that relates all the characters is brilliant in that the writers can constantly go back to that one moment and tell another character’s story of who, what, where, when and how they found themselves on flight 815.  All at once it is simple and brilliant.

I’m going to have fun re-watching.

I have a new Lost theory…  I know it doesn’t matter anymore…  but who cares.  I’ll share it after watching part two of the pilot.

This is slightly inspired by Hurley’s numbers almost hitting the Mega Millions this week.  Did any of you see Jorge Garcia’s opinion of the Lottery?  Very funny.  Check it out here: http://furtherdispatches.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/will-you-people-ever-learn/

I’ve given TV a chance.  Walking Dead shuffled off into hiatus.  Dexter came and went like a silent killer.  Boardwalk Empire was as fast as a group of guys robbing an Atlantic City Casino.  I have not found a single show that stimulates that primal “I need to figure this crap out’ part of my brain the way that Lost did.  I tried to watch the X-files on Netflix, but that just isn’t doing it for me.  It was really cheesy on the outside during the first season.  Don’t You think?

What should I do?

Well, I did buy the entire Lost collection on Blu-ray…

 

“We have to go back!”

 

 

That is it.  I’m going to go back to the island.  I’m going to re-watch from the beginning, and it is going to be in awesome Blu-ray crystal clear awesomeness!  But, I’m not going to attempt to watch it with fresh eyes at all.  Rather, I’m going to watch it with my already filled to the brim Lost theorizing mind and try to explain it as I go.  For every four or so episodes I’ll offer I Always Have a Plan annotated notes.  I’ll connect dots.  I’ll explain actions and reactions that the writers didn’t even know they had at the time of writing.  This show was probably such a happy accident by the end that the writers, producers, and directors had no idea where they were going at the premiere of season 2, but ended up steering an out of control Island castaway, Plane wreck, time traveling, philosophical, action/adventure story on a collision course with TV history.

Please, feel free to watch along with me, start or join the (a) conversation, and maybe we’ll find some theory, idea, or Easter egg that nobody saw yet.  I’ll begin watching this Sunday Jan 9th at 12:00pm EST with a tub of popcorn and a notepad.  See you back on the island.

 

2 more numbers and life would have been so different....

Yesterday I was at the bank.  I made my deposit, went back to my car and was about to return to work, when I thought “I should play the lottery.”  So, back out of the car and across the street I went.  There was a little shop a few doors down that did lottery.

The Mega Millions pot was over 300 million dollars.  I know people say you have a better chance of being hit by lightning, but you know what?  That is a very negative way of looking at the world!  I’d rather think about what I’d do with 300 million.  So I got a ticket.

My first line as you can see in the above picture is 4,8,15,16,23,42… I know, I know.  I’m a super dork for betting the Valenzetti Equation …  Or am I?!  I got 4 numbers!

I wonder how many people nationwide actually play those numbers?

If they hit, it would probably be the most shared pot in the history of the lottery.

Did you play them? Let me know if You’re a Lost dork holding on in some weird way too.

Hurley: A while ago, I was in this kind of psych ward and there was this guy, Leonard. All the time I knew him,all he ever said were these numbers. “4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42”. Over and over and over again. And they kind of got stuck in my head. So when I got out… well, actually a couple months after I got out, I was buying a frozen burrito and thought “I should play the lottery”, and I guess those numbers were stuck in my head, so I played them. And I won… $114 million. That’s when it started happening. My grandpa died, my house caught on fire, the chicken joint that I worked at got hit by a meteor… Well, actually, a meteorite. OK, so, tonight, I see the same freaking numbers on that hatch thing. Just written on the side. And that’s why I tried to stop it, because that thing is cursed, man.

Jack: You were in a psych ward?

Look for a new post tomorrow – – – – – – – – I have new Lost plans.

Part 3 – The Peripeteia

A peripeteia is a sudden reversal dependent on intellect and logic, essentially changing a person or character’s mind. From Wiki, Aristotle defines it as “a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity.” According to Aristotle, peripeteia, along with discovery, is the most effective when it comes to drama, particularly in a tragedy.

Over the past 6 seasons Lost has been called a brilliant Sci fi show, a moving drama about survival, a time traveling adventure story, and many other descriptions suit it as well. No matter what it was to you or the person sitting next to you, it was dependent on one constant, Characters. Lost was populated with a cast of wonderfully flawed characters. But did these characters reach their moment of peripetia, where they could evolve and achieve a full metamorphosis into something ‘more’ than when they began 6 years ago in their harrowing survival of the Oceanic flight 815 wreck? I think some of them did.

I CAN see my house from here.

Jack Shepherd was a hard-edged man of science. He was confident and sure of himself when in front of others, but fragile and given to vices when left to ponder his actions. Jack desperately wanted the love of a father who died. While traveling home with his father’s remains, flight 815 crashed on the island. He resisted belief in the mystical nature of the island. As a doctor, he could not wrap his rational mind around it. Even through EM flashes, smoke monsters, underwater bases, the endless coincidental connections between the people on the plane, and seeing his deceased father walking around the island, he still declared himself a practical man of science and had every intention of obtaining rescues for all those men and women that would follow him, but he would do it with a phone, and a gun, and a boat or a plane. There was never any consideration given to any of the otherworldly occurrences on the island, or how they could be utilized for escape or rescue.

Jack is reminiscent of King Arthur pulling a sword from a flaming wreck of a plane and declaring that everyone should follow him, but he refuses to admit the powers of Excalibur. The peripety came for Jack in L.A. after the Oceanic six had been saved, in the form of a dead Jeremy Bentham. Jack felt overwhelming guilt over his being home, while his friends remained behind and faced hardship without his leadership. He was a King that abandoned his kingdom. He declared “We need to go back!” But that would not be the only reversal. Jack was the character equivalent of a car doing donuts in a field. He would go back and forth between leader with unstoppable forward momentum and wallowing pill popping alcoholic and even a ‘let’s wait and see’ person. The final reversal came at the end of season five with his sudden determination to detonate Jug-head.

"How is this for faith Locke? I'm going to blow us all up in order to make it all right."

Jack decided to give himself over to fate and faith. Science got him nowhere, and he knew that. The living embodiment of Science, Daniel Faraday, was executed thirty years before he arrived on the island by his mother who had not even conceived him yet! (Which raises a very interesting question: If Daniel died before he was born, was his soul eradicated?) That moment gave birth to the Jack that would lead and ultimately save his friends (the ones still alive at least) in the final season. Jacks transformation from ‘daddy issues boy’ to Arthurian leader willing to sacrifice himself for his people was complete.

What happened was just this. The wind began to switch the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch. Just then this this b!#ch caught me in a net and I've pretty much been here all night...

Ben Linus – Ben was introduced under the guise of a lie. The lie was told to the castaways in the hatch as well as the audience. Nobody knew who this man was. He told everyone that his name was Henry Gale, and he was on a balloon trip around the world with his wife. Their Balloon crashed on the island and his just finished burying his wife. This was a series of half truths. Half true, because they happened to someone else. Henry Gale did crash on the island, but he was already dead. From there, Ben would be established as the ultimate manipulator on the Island. He would do anything, say anything, hurt anyone that got in the way of his ultimate goal, which was to protect the Island at all costs. This duplicitous nature created many enemies for Ben. Even amongst his own people, they were constantly waiting for a sign of weakness to dethrone him as he pointed out in the Season Three Episode where Ben thanks John for Destroying the Submarine. He told him that to let Jack go would have been a sign of weakness, but to kill him would have been unacceptable as well, because that would have been going back on his word. And if they sensed either, his status as the leader of the others would be in jeopardy. Where or when was the moment of peripeteia? I think it occurred during “The End,” but it originated some time earlier in “Cabin Fever” Season 4 Ep. 11, where Hurley shares an Apollo bar with Ben. So, this reversal would actually take years to fully develop.

Up to this moment, not a single character has ever openly shown Ben an ounce kindness. As a child his father got drunk on his birthday and reminded him that his mother died in childbirth. But this exchange between Ben and Hurley placed a glimmer of love in Ben’s heart. In Dr. Seuss terms, you could say his heart began to grow right there, and it had three sizes to grow.

The first growth in size would come during his heartfelt confession to Ilana regarding his daughter and murder of Jacob. He looked within and realized he has made some horrible mistakes, which he would most likely take to his grave with no chance for atonement.

I'm going to do something redefining for my character right now, because you shared a chocolate bar with me Hugo!

Amidst the island ripping itself apart during “The End,” Ben sees a massive tree limb falling towards Hurley. Ben selflessly shoves Hurley out of the way only to be pinned under it. His heart grew one more size when Kate, Sawyer and Hurley work together to save his life.

And the Third Size came just after Jack turned the light of the source back on. Hurley did something which nobody ever did for Ben. He asked Ben for his help. Right then, Ben completed his reversal. He went from rampaging lying monster to nurturing father. He became what he always wanted from his father. He reassured Hurley and told him that he can run the island how he sees fit. How Jacob ran it was not the only way. Ben really had a wonderful story of redemption and the search for acceptance and love.

Part 4 of 4 on Friday.

Favorite Finale Moment #3

When Kate said she missed Jack so much.

I saved this to my hard drive, but never read it.  Very strategic right-clicking…

I looked at it finally today.  It is cool to check it out now after the finale.