Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Lost" Season 3 Episode 9 - Stranger in a Strange Land

Well, my mind needs a rest from the last 2 weeks of LOST. How about everyone else? I actually found this episode a nice change of pace from the DETAILS and QUESTIONS packed episodes that kicked off this 2nd leg of season 3. I'm still digesting the Desmond-centric episode from last week. Did he time travel? Did he imagine it? Well, executive producer Damon Lindelof has provided some guidelines for what to consider from that episode as we move onward in LOST. I'm going to take this verbatim from Jeff Jensen's weekly digestion of LOST in Entertainment Weekly:

"1.The episode is essentially an ironic riff on some Big Ideas put forth by Desmond's namesake, the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Those big ideas include a skeptical posture regarding the notions of interlocking cause-and-effect and seemingly miraculous phenomenon.

2. According to Lindelof, the events that transpired in Desmond's flashback ''did NOT happen ''solely in Desmond's imagination.'

3. If Desmond truly did travel back in time, says Lindelof, then ''ANY changes he made during this series of 'flashbacks' indeed DID happen... and thusly, the ramifications of said changes might reverberate later.''

4. It would be a faulty leap in logic to assume that because Desmond's flashbacks were a form of time travel, then ALL flashbacks on Lost have been a form of time travel. ''I don't really see anything in the show to support that,'' says Lindelof.

5. Otherwise, the episode is open to interpretation."

Clear as Mud, right? Basically, Lindelof said (and confirmed in the podcast) that we are to assume that Desmond actually EXPERIENCED his past again and did not imagine it. And that we should expect to see repercussions for his different decisions. Apparently, these are stepping stones to the ultimate "GAME CHANGER" that is planned later this season. Everything we thought we knew is going to be turned upside down and frustrate/excite fans even further! Can't wait!

For now though, let's discuss Stranger in a Strange Land, the 2nd Jack Flashback episode of the season. Let me start right off the bat by saying this. ABC needs to seriously look into their Marketing strategy with these promos for LOST. Even the producers stated they have no control over how ABC markets the episode and never would've said that 3 Great Mysteries will be resolved. Rather, 1 Minor Mystery would be semi-resolved...that of Jack's Tattoo (more on this EXCITING revelation (yawn) in a bit!) So, don't get mad at the show. Get mad at ABC, and in the future take everything they claim in the promos with a grain of salt. And sign up for the LOST Podcast through itunes or listen at lost.abc.com (also read recaps and watch episodes there!!)

Let's see what we can dig up from this limited details episode!

Jack's Flashback

Okay, so we get more information on Jack's time in Phuket, Thailand. He referred to this during a game of poker with Sawyer last season. Yet, we saw no games of poker in this flashback. Instead we get to see him try to find himself for a month by having some fun with Achira (Don't know the spelling, but Bai Ling's character.). Jack is mystified by Bai Ling's (we'll just call her that) "gift." And just can't let it go. He learns how to fly a kite, is happy he doesn't have to deal with his Dad, and well...he becomes a stalker so he can get a tattoo. Exciting stuff isn't it? Let's break down the significance of the tattoo for a bit.

  • Ever since season 1, references to Jack's tattoo have been made. Started as an inside joke between Kate and Jack where Jack wouldn't talk about it, season 2 Sawyer asks how he got it during the Poker game. The stupid thing is...it's actually Matthew Fox's real tattoo, and the producers have seemed determined to work this into the show. Well, they finally did. Congrats!
  • I'm confused by Jack's motivation to be "MARKED" because Bai Ling claimed to be able to "SEE PEOPLE" for who they are and then mark them. We have learned over the seasons that Jack has quite a temper problem. I'm surprised he didn't go all Britney Spears and ask Bai Ling to shave his head also!
  • So Old Lady on island that speaks Chinese said the tatoo means "He walks amongst us but he is not one of us" Ahh a line that works on so many meanings. First, Jack wasn't allowed to be MARKED by Bai Ling because her people would not understand. Definitely has ties to Jesus who was referred to as Shepard (Jack's last name as well). And of course Bai Ling told him what she saw in Jack and it was a Leader, a Great Man but Lonely and Angry. Jack tells old lady that he knows what it says, but it's not what it means. I guess Jack likes the tattoo because it's a constant reminder of what Bai Ling told him. And well, we've seen all of those traits on the island. I tell you, I'm really falling out of my seat from this exciting revelation! (does sarcasm come across in blogs?)
  • I guess we are to assume that this binge in Thailand takes place immediately after causes his father to return to his alcoholic ways and after his divorce. Did he take a month's leave of absence from the Hospital? We know he returns there to get his Dad removed as Chief of Surgery or whatever he was. These time lines are getting confusing to track! I'm sure some website out there tracks it for us! (I'm so smart, click here! Not updated yet for latest flashback)

Jack's Continued Captivity

Okay so Jack is moved to Sawyer's cage after some comedic dialogue between him and Tom (unintentional comedy of course). He is watched by tail-section survivors and entangled in a fight to keep Juliet alive after her killing of Pickett. Meanwhile, he makes another chess move of negotiation with Ben resulting in him needing to be Ben's doctor for the foreseeable future, ending in Jack being shipped off to OTHERSVILLE. Details from this storyline:

  • Tom: "See this Glass house you're living in? Why don't I get you some stones?" oooooh Tom, chilling. Jack pours his soul to Tom about how he thinks the others are evil people, and this is the response we get? Patience is running thin amongst viewers on finding out WHY The Others consider themselves GOOD PEOPLE. We know we're going to find out this season. I'm guessing episode 11 (others-centric episode) will reveal some major stuff.
  • We meet Isabel, some old lady referred to as the Sheriff. I think we can confirm that this is not the same old lady from Desmond's episode in the ring shop. Isabel apparently knows Chinese. And seeing her interrogate Jack and Juliet shows that the others have some sort of social structure all established. Juliet claims that their punishments are "Eye for an Eye" so her penalty for killing Pickett is death.
  • Jack and Juliet's relationship advances throughout the episode as Jack finds out Juliet killed Pickett to save Jack's friends. She also did it with motivation to get home. You see Jack change his feelings for Juliet in stating to Isabel that he lied about Juliet wanting Ben dead.
  • Of course, you really can't put any weight into this budding relationship since Ben is still playing games/not playing games by telling Jack that he can't trust Juliet. But you gotta think there is something behind all of this Grilled Cheese making! (mmmmm I would love me a grilled cheese right now)
  • I guess it's worth noting that Alex was helping out Jack in this episode as well. Nothing too important there except Jack now knows that Alex is Ben's Daughter (adopted or not is yet to be determined)
  • Ben might be paralyzed from the waist down. May never be able to walk again. Do we think that this will tie into Locke's paralysis and "miracle" on the island? Oh, I'm guessing that's a 90% certainty on that one. Can't wait for Locke's next flashback!
  • How about seeing Cindy and the Kids again? Kinda sad when the girl Ana Lucia rescued asked how Ana was. Of course, then we remembered it was Ana Lucia, and weren't too sad! Cindy mentions that they are here to WATCH and that it's complicated. This naturally, makes Jack a raving lunatic and screams at everyone. A Caged animal indeed. End result? We didn't learn a damn thing!
  • Oh right...and Juliet herself now got MARKED after Ben wrote his little letter to keep her alive. She has a nice brand on her back. I guess this marks her as some kind of Outcast, similar to Jack's "Mark" signifies he was outcast from Thailand. Whether this symbol becomes more important down the road? We'll find out eventually!

The adventures of Kate, Sawyer and Krazy Karl

Okay, mainly this was a filler so that we don't GUESS on how they found their way back to the main castaways' camp. Time needs to advance in order to set up the next major storyline (THE RESCUE OF JACK). But there were necessary plot points that occurred here that were essential to make this happen.


  • Kate and Sawyer pretty much find out that the others live on the same island. Pretty sure they'll put 2 and 2 together and realize that they'll move Jack there. Meanwhile, Locke still hasn't headed NORTH to rescue Kate, Sawyer and Jack. Perhaps NORTH is the location of Othersville? I thought North was where the FAKE CAMP was last season. But whatever!
  • Sawyer is a little bitter that Kate seems preoccupied with Jack after their "Relations." But he's probably pretty spot on that their "RELATIONS" only really happened because she thought Sawyer was a dead man.
  • Karl definitely was affected by that brainwashing film as he kept ranting off the messages from it. Or just the one "God Loves You as he Loved Jacob"
  • Karl reveals 2 things. What do they use the Hydra station for? To work on projects. (great! We kinda knew that!) Why did they take the kids? To give them a better life, better than yours. Again, referring to the GOOD PEOPLE vs BAD PEOPLE vibe. They want to get the kids while they're young and raise them to be GOOD PEOPLE also. Put into this that they recruited a fertility doctor and you get the theory that the OTHERS are all incapable of having children. Of course, it's all a theory at this point.
  • Alex and Karl seem to be obsessed with Teddy Bears as they named a constellation Ursa Theodorus (which Karl suggests means Teddy Bear) And of course we got to see the infamous Teddy Bear from the tail section kids once again. The last time we saw this bear was when Eko and Jin saw those crazy barefoot kids silently marching through the jungle. Yeah, I forgot about that until just now. We are still nowhere closer to finding out what THAT was all about!
  • Anyway....Sawyer sends Karl off to be with his true love....pretty much sending him off to his death. Kate makes a good point that Karl could have led them to OTHERSVILLE. It's okay guys, you have John Locke!

And to cap off this "setup" episode? We got our first Musical Montage episode of the season. Man, I missed these! I guess we've dispelled any formula suggesting that they did these every 4 episodes. Best thing about the Montage....we see Karl and Alex cheesily looking up at their Teddy Bear Constellation, Benry looking pathetic as he's boarded onto ANOTHER BOAT???, and of course....I couldn't help getting a TITANIC VIBE between Jack and Juliet as they stood in the front of the boat with the music blaring. Well, in an episode with GRILLED CHEESE, may as well put as much cheese as you can get into the WHOLE episode! And yes, I'm including BAI LING!

So that's it. Not the best episode, and definitely not the worst (The Charlie episode "Fire + Water" in season 2 still is KING) Anything else you all want to discuss? Feel free to use the comments section of the blog! I love discussing LOST! I appreciate everyone forwarding this blog on and on to everyone you know. Based on our new hit counter below, we have a rapidly growing audience. Exciting stuff! But I'm still seeing limited comments! Don't be shy! REPLY! (See? I can do CHEESE also!)

See you next week where we begin OPERATION RESCUE JACK!



19 comments:

Leigh said...

Rather, 1 Minor Mystery would be semi-resolved...that of Jack's Tattoo (more on this EXCITING revelation (yawn) in a bit!) So, don't get mad at the show. Get mad at ABC, and in the future take everything they claim in the promos with a grain of salt.

Pointless!

The stupid thing is...it's actually Matthew Fox's real tattoo, and the producers have seemed determined to work this into the show. Well, they finally did. Congrats!

Boring!

I guess Jack likes the tattoo because it's a constant reminder of what Bai Ling told him. And well, we've seen all of those traits on the island. I tell you, I'm really falling out of my seat from this exciting revelation! (does sarcasm come across in blogs?)

Lol yes! Love it!

Patience is running thin amongst viewers on finding out WHY The Others consider themselves GOOD PEOPLE.

#Nodding# #Sleep#

We meet Isabel, some old lady referred to as the Sheriff. I think we can confirm that this is not the same old lady from Desmond's episode in the ring shop

Lol I thought that for a second when I saw her!

Can't wait for Locke's next flashback!

Me neither! They're my faves!

And of course we got to see the infamous Teddy Bear from the tail section kids once again. The last time we saw this bear was when Eko and Jin saw those crazy barefoot kids silently marching through the jungle. Yeah, I forgot about that until just now. We are still nowhere closer to finding out what THAT was all about!

LMAO

Crap episode!

Great blog Mike! As soon as I watch an eppy I run straight on here to read your blog! lol

Mike Vitullo said...

I forgot to mention that the Tattoo Jack got in Phuket was not Jack's COMPLETE tattoo that he has on the island. Is everyone ready for the continuing saga of the evolution of Jack's Tattoo? I'm so intrigued!

Mike Vitullo said...

Oh right...Ethan was a surgeon. I don't think we knew that for sure until last night.

Pink said...

Jack's tattoo is a sak yant, a spiritual marking that is believed to have supernatural powers. There's lots of interesting stuff on the web about this, including something about 5 principles (hence number 5 in jack's tattoo?). Apparently he got beat down b/c it's a sacred thing to be protected. They do not want the spirituality of the marking to be LOST.

http://www.sak-yant.com/

Actually, I think a big part of the purpose of the tv show LOST is about cultural awakening - having people go on quests for knowledge and whatnot. That way stuff like who henry gail was doesn't get lost to time and generations of people like me who don't read books and slept through school and learn everything from TV.

Anyway, anybody notice how Juliet's marking kinda looks like the red hot chili peppers symbol? you know who else is red hot? mai ling!

Pink said...

oops, meant bai ling, not mai ling. whateva!

Cheech said...

I agree that this was basically a setup episode. I guess we have to have these from time to time. I read that the creators of the show are heavily inspired by Stephen King. Haven't you read a King novel and stumbled onto a 30-page background of one of the main characters? I kind of equate this episode with that.

The "looking up at the same stars" scene was vomit-inducing. And ABC should have nothing to do with the marketing of the show. "We're here to watch." What a let-down!

Still, some interesting threads. Jack is essentially an Other. The Ethan replacement, I guess. He's tied himself to Ben pretty securely. Now remember when Ben said to Jack "I want you to WANT to help me," or something to that effect. Well, success. How far will Ben go with his mind games?

Did anyone think that the Trial of Juliet was a farce, a sham, a put-on? I'll never put anything past The Others. But then again, there is some splintering going on among the good people, so this could be the start of a kind of civil war.

David said...

I loved how we got a little look inside the room where they had the trial and there was the stand with the DHARMA logo on...

I also liked how Jack called it 'his room' when Juilette was being moved into there after being bad...and take me back to 'my cage'...

I thought that maybe the 3 mysteries might have been: Jack's tattoos...wooppee(!); What happened to Cindy and the kids and the tailies; and the fact that the Others don't live on the other island, only work there...


But yeah, it was like Charlie's Fire & Water in that it didn't really do much for us...

Anonymous said...

Hm.. I have a question... when they leave the smaller island in the end of Episode 9... they put Ben on a small boat... in sunset... and behind them.. on the sea... is a LARGE boat... ??? Is this.. an error??

Mike V. said...

Hmmm, I never saw the boat there. Of course, this is probably an episode of LOST that I have watched the least of all of them. (3 years later it is looked at as officially the worst episode of LOST lol)

But, if there was a boat there, I'm guessing it was by accident. It may have been a "safety boat" in case something went wrong during filming. Or it may have been a boat being used for filming or something like that. I'll have to go back and check. But, I will say this. If that boat was intentional, it never came back into play on the show! Unless it is Desmond's sailboat!

Anonymous said...

I think the boat in the background is the bigger boat that Jack and Juliet were later on. They had to take the smaller boat (that Ben was on) out to the bigger boat. That's what it looked like to me at least!

Mike V. said...

Possibly anonymous! That makes about as much sense as anything! I still haven't rewatched that episode to see the 2 boats as this is one mystery I haven't lost sleep over! :-) lol

Anonymous said...

This episode really annoyed me. The Thailand scenes were unrealistic, and the actor isn't thai, and the tattoo is Chinese...and I don't see why those Thai guys would realistically give a shit that Jack got that tattoo. I also thought it was unrealistic and stupid that Jack physically forced the poor girl to tattoo him. Poor episode.

Mike V. said...

Yeah, there's really no defending the episode at this point. I think at the time, it was a nice change of pace from the couple episodes that preceded it. But now that the picture is complete, this is easily the worst episode of LOST ever! And it has been universally acknowledged by the fans and by the producers/writers as that. They knew where the show was going but had to wait to execute their ideas until they could negotiate and end date for the show. Things definitely start progressing in the 2nd half of season 3, which help me rank this season as one of my favorites (when it's most of people's least favorites based on episodes like this).

Miles Balzard said...

Mike, I bet you thought I'd come on here and try to defend a mediocre episode of Lost.


Nope.

Yeah, this one kinda dragged, but even worse, I just felt no emotional investment in it at all. I mean, I can root for stripper/prostitute types with a heart of gold and a smart-ass mouth, but this Achara girl just kinda bored me. The kite flying beginning was kind of cool (and sexy) but it all went downhill from there. By the time Jack was getting beat up for no reason on the beach, I was like, WOW, Lost finally completely blew an episode.

Instead of Stranger in a Strange Land why didn't they just call it The Tattoo Backstory? Then I could've skipped it (ha, just kidding).

But honestly, the only reason I really care about Jack is because he's a love interest for Kate. But you know I ship Skater anway, so I'm even rooting against him then! And even though Jack's father appears to have a pretty big ongoing role in the show, I don't much care about his story so far either. They're gonna have to do more than just make him a dashing drunk.

Jack does fit right in with the other major characters on the show though, because they all seem to get mad real easy and get caught up in spiteful rages. It's probably the weakest thing about the cast of characters: a bit too much orchestrated drama. As if they don't have enough real drama to worry about!

Of course, there were actually lots of redeeming parts of this ep. Sawyer can always save the day with his one-liners. And I'm quite intrigued with Juliet and her flip-the-switch loyalties. Like I said last week, tough as nails, but there's a heart in there somewhere. But this is Lost after all, where the only hearts the bad guys have are ice cold ones.

Mike V. said...

Nope, if you recall...I think I said in a comment section earlier this season that you should be able to discover for yourself the worst episode of LOST!! You found it!! lol

There have been articles posted on ew.com since theorizing that this episode was intentionally aired to tell ABC "see? This is the kind of episodes we're in store for if we do not figure out an end date!" I half believe that it's true. lol

I always was a fan of Jack, but I'm a sucker for the hero. I will say that his arc is a long one and it is a hero's journey. So, a lot of people were like you and couldn't stand him. And it may get worse before it gets better. But, he may turn you around eventually.

Orchestrated drama eh? Never really considered that. Though, the whole "long con" thing with Sawyer in season 2 was kinda silly when all was said and done. But, it did give us the term "long con" that applied several more times during the series.

Who said Juliet was a bad guy? I thought she was pretty ambiguous up to this point. But, I think that's what you're saying. Showing both sides of her and not letting LOST slip one by you! lol The thing about LOST is...they do so well at giving the villains backgrounds that justify their actions so it's tough not to feel some sympathy for them.

Jennifer Angel said...

I just started watching Lost on Netflix and enjoy reading your recap and thoughts after I finish every episode. I watch with kids in the background some sometimes I miss little details.

Mike V. said...

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog. I know all about tv watching with kids these days!!

But on the bright side you should be content that the worst episode of lost ever is behind you! :) enjoy the ride!

Baran said...

Hey Mike,

Crazy that I'm posting on this 10 years after you published this. I am actually rewatching lost cause I never watched the last 4 episodes of the whole show, I know, shame. So started to give it a go from the beginning. Love the blog man, crazy people comment on it year over year

Mike V. said...

Hi Baran! Wow, crazy that I wrote this 10 years ago. And it still holds up as the worst episode of LOST! lol

That's crazy that you made it to the final 4 and just didn't watch them. I don't even know how that's possible! But I'm glad you decided to come back. Binging before watching them is a great idea.

Thanks for the props on the blog. I get excited every time I find out someone is still reading it and finding it enjoyable/useful. Enjoy the rest of the ride!