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28 February 2009 @ 11:26 pm
for the meta challenge at thequillstation, part I: Deus Ex Machina  
Okay, this be the first part of the metaing I spent the afternoon doing. Well, Kant broke my head for most of the morning. I also re-watched both the episodes and I am seriously, seriously getting worse. Last time I watched Do No Harm I started sobbing at the end, now I started in the middle. Whaatever. I'm doing two entries, I'll link the second at the bottom of this one. This be meta on my favorite Lost episode period, with some stuff about how I miss comedy time in Lost, a lot about Locke and quite the lot about Boone.

Warning: there's a general spoiler about episode 5x07 when I'm blathering about Locke. If you want to stay completely spoiler free give this a pass. ;)

So, this is my favorite Lost episode, which might seem strange seeing my preferences and what happens, but I do have my reasons, and quite a lot of them. It’s perfectly balanced, in the sense that it was one of the occasions when they managed to do humor and angst at the same time without overdoing one or the other; also, all the characterizations here are simply perfect and the writing is absolutely flawless. There isn’t anything that doesn’t work here. The flashback is absolutely meaningful, really related to the island story, really saying something new and most of all, the parallel is done incredibly well. It was the last time I could really enjoy Locke’s character without having mixed feelings about him, I thoroughly enjoyed the Jack/Sawyer part of course, it features one of Hurley’s best lines which is worth the entire episode, but most of all, it’s my favourite because I am convinced that this is the only episode in Lost where Boone is the great character he could have been. Because while the flashback is Locke’s and the episode might be about Locke and his issues, I think it’s the one where Boone was better written, where he actually had development, where he to me he just shines with potential. This is the episode you need to see if you want to understand Boone, not Hearts and Minds. Hearts and Minds is good for BooneandShannon, not for Boone only, even if of course that’s the other important one. But well, I’ll elaborate on this further down.

First and quickest point: the fun side of the story. Now, this is a very heavy episode on the emotional/angst side (not to mention the blatant tragedy side but back on that later), but I think that they managed to balance it perfectly because the humor side of this episode? Is brilliant IMHO.

First of all, for one who is also a complete sucker for Jack and Sawyer interaction of any kind, the whole deal about Sawyer getting the glasses is a delight. Everyone involved in the subplot was written perfectly IMHO. It’s one of the rare episodes where Kate doesn’t bug me and I even kind of like her since while she’s at least flirty with both Jack and Sawyer the triangle deal wasn’t in full swing yet, it was fun flirting and she was just… well, plain fun here. No triangles, no angst, no daddy issues, no murders, no manipulation in order to get what she wants and such. Which, for me, equals relief. Indeed.

Re Jack and Sawyer, I just love their interaction here. I wished it kept on being like this. Because it’s totally how it’s supposed to be in my head. They bicker (and they should), they seemingly don’t care about each other (but Jack does help him and Sawyer does listen to him in the end) and in the end it’s just plain obvious that they do even if they don’t say it. It was perfect characterization for the both of them, from Jack’s total lack of sense of humor even if he tries to Sawyer completely balancing it with some of the best lines he ever had (I mean, come on, insurance ran out? Do I get a lollipop? I’m sensitive to you?) IMHO. Say what you want but together they work so well and they really have quite the chemistry, and here they really do. Not to mention that any episode which brings up Sayid’s skills (when he builds the glasses) and Hurley having a line like the steamrolled Harry Potter one is gold for all I care. And really, Sawyer’s fashion show? That’s called a brilliant comedy sequence. The point is that S1 was great with mixing humor and angst, see this episode, while now I kind of miss it. I mean, it’s an angst fest but the last light/fun episode I remember watching is… what, Tricia Tanaka is dead? Unless you don’t consider Exposè a fun episode I guess. And it’s a pity because they have a cast with some great comedy timing. Ah well.

Also: Michael and Jin discussing over the raft with Michael taking up Korean swear words is something brilliant. I wish we still had Michael and Walt. Indeed.


On to more serious things, I think that this is also the episode you need to see if you want to get Locke, good side and bad side. Not that I want to diminish Walkabout’s awesomeness, but here you learn a lot more things. Especially, it was the first time when they showed that Locke has a tendency not to learn from his mistakes and hey, it was Cooper’s first appearance. And it was also the first time someone told Locke that he was special. Now, Locke used to be my fourth favourite character or something. Surely I liked him better than Jack (which changed between this episode and the following one). And this was some perfect, perfect writing because the flashback is so tied with the on-island story, it’s just is revealing.

Why? Because the point is: on the island, in this episode, the more time passes, the more Locke is an arrogant jerk, and sorry for being blunt but that’s it. He doesn’t even try to listen to whatever objection Boone has, he is stubborn with the destiny and island and signs crap, he doesn’t give a damn about anything else, he doesn’t listen to anyone else, he lies to Boone about the vision because he doesn’t tell him that he had seen him covered in blood; and while he does tell Boone to get down the plane (and as far as that point I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt), then he bluntly lies to Jack and disappears when he’s asked details, not to mention that while banging on the hatch door he says what are you doing to me (hello? There’s someone who’s dying over there also because you lied, maybe…).

But, wait a second, you can’t actually hate him (not until he lies to Jack at least for me) because of the flashback. Because in that flashback he just breaks your heart. While in the beginning he’s well, a well adjusted guy, in this episode Locke starts to become what he is now and what brought him to the island, not to mention the start of his issues. So, here comes his mother who goes and tells him he’s special (first time someone told him I think) and then gives him a mean to know his father. Now, since everyone here has daddy issues, Locke has them, too; in the sense that you can see that he’s a man who desperately wants to make up for lost time with his dad, which is more than understandable considering that he was raised in foster homes. He has issues; he wants his dad to love him (who doesn’t?) and he goes as far as giving him his own kidney (call it love indeed) and then? Gets completely, absolutely screwed. You need to have a heart of stone not to feel for the guy at least a bit. The problem is, if you look at it, and there’s tragedy number one… does Locke learn anything from this? No, because as for what we’ve seen up to now, not only he keeps on falling for Cooper’s tricks and loses the woman he loves because of him, but practically everyone screws him up (see Ben for instance) and while he’s a good guy, he has completely bad timing and trusts the wrong people. Aaand… sorry but deep down? He’s like his dad, or at least he was here.

The parallelism here is actually way too obvious but look at it; in the flashback Cooper is Locke’s dad, for a while Locke is tricked into thinking he cares for him, then Cooper cons him in order to get his kidney. On the island, Boone and Locke do have kind of a father-son relationship (not to mention that Locke calls him son when Boone helps him up and exactly ten seconds later in the flashback Cooper calls Locke the same way but that’s probably me seeing too much), Boone obviously trusts him and while he was having doubts about the hatch business I’m sure he thinks Locke cares for him (and I’m sure that Locke did, up to a certain point); and then Locke lies to him and look at it, he gets back his legs. Mm. Doesn’t it look similar? Except that Locke hadn’t died and Boone did. But whatever. And what does it show? That John Locke never learns from his mistakes.

I mean, Locke obviously made a mistake when trusting Cooper. He obviously did it all over until it cost him his legs, too. I never thought that Boone and Locke were a casual match when they had them growing closer; Locke doesn’t have a family, was failed and screwed over a number of times by his own father, Boone doesn’t have one either, I have my reasons (stated down there) to think his mother wasn’t the most present person either, has obvious abandonment and self-esteem issues not to mention that he’s obviously also desperately searching for some role model. I think they could have had a great, great relationship. And I don’t mean the whole thing I always find on metas where it looks like they’re some Star Wars thing where Locke is the emperor and Boone is some brain-washed Anakin (I don’t think he ever got into the Darth Vader stage), I mean in the father-son sense which is also the reason for which Locke is one of the three persons I don’t think I could ever slash Boone with. If Locke had learned from his mistakes with Cooper, he would have never lied to Jack or telling Boone half of the truth regarding his vision or send him up there if he had the doubt. And how does it end? Yeah, exactly. I love how meaty this episode was under this aspect. Because then I still appreciated Locke and could appreciate the complexity of the character. This? Tragic. Because, does Locke learn much from this? I thought he had in S2, now not so much, considering also the latest episode where he ends up doing exactly the same mistake he always did, which is, trusting the wrong people and not giving a damn about the right ones.

Not to mention about Helen leaving him because instead of doing what he had promised her he went after his dad again… but let’s look at the people on the island. Boone dies, and he has a good part of the responsibility in it; he never really was straight with much people from the camp, Jack included and especially; and then what happens when, for instance, he needs to get the O6 back to the island…? That’s right, they treat him like dirt. And he ends up alone anyway. Tragedy number two. And then you can’t deny that Locke, deep down, isn’t at all a bad guy; I think he’s actually one of the most needy ones in that bunch. Pity that it was the island making him whole, considering that he becomes blind when it comes around it. Which is also why I think that in the latest episode when Jack told him he was just a lonely old man it hit him hard.

And on to the real and main reason for which this episode is my favourite.

So yes, we went on how I love the comedy aspect, we went on why I love Locke and the flashback, I can also add that there was the right balancing between the mystery stuff and the characters developing, but really, if it wasn’t for what I’m going to elaborate in a minute it probably wouldn’t be. Because this is the Boone episode for me. In particular, the first where you see what he could have been if they just let him live and what a good character he was. Not to mention that hey, THERESA, who is to me one of the most overlooked things re Boone but I’ll go in order.

Now: the point is that I’m sure that a lot of people don’t know what to make of Boone because until Deus Ex Machina he tries to be someone which he isn’t. Meaning: Boone is no hero and is no prince charming for any damsel in distress, especially when the damsel is Shannon; but until DEM, that’s mostly what you get. Boone trying to be a hero and prince charming and being an obvious failure at it. So you don’t know what to make of him because you don’t really see him, just snippets. Or at least that’s always what I have thought. In Deus Ex Machina? Does not happen.

For instance: I don’t know why I read everywhere that he followed Locke blindly without showing any personality of his own and I’d answer, have you seen Deus Ex Machina? Because he’s questioning Locke from second number one. The first thing he says is ‘if you want my opinion’, which clearly means he isn’t that alright with the whole thing and for all the rest of the episode he thinks with his head. He’s saying that the whole hatch thing is completely stupid and that has no sense every five minutes (no wonder the island didn’t want him around if he didn’t believe in destiny and didn’t have faith… *snorts*) and he doesn’t follow Locke because he has no willpower of his own. He follows Locke because a) he mentions Theresa which I’ll elaborate on further down and b) they’re friends. Then you can go and tell me it isn’t healthy but Locke was the only person taking him seriously since the pilot, what do you expect? I also read in a lot of places that he’s pathetic and I’d answer, have you seen Deus Ex Machina? Apart from the fact that Locke is half lying in order to get him to come even if for me it wasn’t necessary, just look at what he does. Even if he’s seriously growing frustrated he never says fuck it and gets back (even if he’d have had the reasons) leaving Locke behind, he doesn’t snap at him even if one expects him any minute, he sticks with him even if he doesn’t have a reason and it’s not because he’s pathetic, it’s because he cares.

Then there’s the part where he goes up on the beechcraft and that’s when we have tragedy number three and the proof that if there was a mistake Boone ever did, was caring about others more than himself. So, he’s up there; he finds the statues, is indeed angry as hell about it (so much for following Locke blindly) and then he could have just left and gotten down. What happens? He finds the radio. And what does he do? He calls for rescue.

Now, as soon as the plane had started to move, it was clear it was going to fall down. But, he had the time to get out of the plane and Locke was shouting at him to do it, too; and he doesn’t get off the plane because he’s his chance at getting them rescued and when you risk your life to do it, then for me you aren’t pathetic or searching for attention, you’re truly selfless. Not to mention that it would have been heroic, if it had worked; instead? It’s tragic and cruel as hell because three seconds before the plane falls when it’s already too late to get out, he makes contact and on the other side it’s not rescue, it’s Bernard who is on the other side of the island. And then the plane falls and he’s doomed and for what? Nothing. Just nothing, and I think he realized it before it fell. This, to me, is called dying bravely and heroically and tragically and of course it had to go like that because the hero of the story survives in these cases and he wasn’t and of course he didn’t. Well, I just love him more for it. If there was an episode where Boone just shines for who he was and not what he tried to be, this is it. Which would be enough for me, but last thing I need to address.

Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs.

Because I think that Theresa is the most important thing about Boone’s backstory and she’s hardly ever brought out. It wasn’t a lot and of course they didn’t elaborate on it, but just a handful of sentences spoke volumes.

First thing of all: she’s the proof that he isn’t a spoiled selfish brat because if he was then he wouldn’t have followed Locke on the basis that he knew about her. He just wouldn’t have cared. Which means that he did. That said, I think that it has also a lot to do with His Prettiness’ delivery but if you look at him when he tells Locke about her (also, pretty important confidence and information that he presumably wouldn’t share with anyone; talk about trust…) I wouldn’t say he’s close to tears but well, close to close. Not to mention that his voice was half breaking at that point.

Then: we find out that he’s partly responsible for someone dying. Because he is. And that when said someone (Theresa) died, he was six years old. Call it easy. Of course he couldn’t have done it on purpose, but what does it say? That he has always felt guilty about it. When he says he needed someone to lash out on he looks ashamed and considering that it was not very casually preceded by ‘my mother wasn’t around a lot’, what does it say? That he never had that much luck in the parental figures department, which totally explains his Jack-hero-worship and why he’d go and follow Locke so eagerly and also that of course he’d be a jealous freak in Shannon’s regards since from what was in Abandoned he didn’t seem too close with her dad and I’m sure he never was with Sabrina. In love with her or not, she’s 80% of his family, of course he’d be terrified as hell if she went with Sayid and left him for good. It also says that because he had his issues, someone else died. Which translates in putting his issues and himself always behind the others since when he put himself first that happened. Which also translates in trying to make everyone happy or being helpful and with every try ending up with uttermost failure. And then what do we have? We have that karma is a bitch because Theresa dies falling down the stairs and if she snapped her neck then it was quick. And we have that as soon as Boone says it Locke starts laughing because the plane is behind them and he dies falling from it but not instantly and it takes him a good deal of suffering before dying. Karma is a bitch, indeed. So yes, that is probably the most revealing thing they ever said in canon about Boone not to mention a good 75% explanation of the way he is and probably one of the few real character developments that they had the grace to give him. There’s quite nothing else that tops it.

Deus Ex Machina is the episode that makes me just see how good of a character Boone is, that reminds me all the reasons why I like him and the one where I could find something new about him which I hadn’t suspected since episode two, the one where he has more screen time apart from Hearts and Minds which anyway as I said isn’t Boone, it’s BooneandShannon; not exactly his swan song since that one is in Do No Harm IMHO, but close to it. Which is why, for me, no episode will ever, ever top this one. Well, until he resurrects, but I wouldn’t hope for that.

click here for the sequel aka Do No Harm
 
 
feeling: satisfiedsatisfied
 
 
 
elliotsmelliot: Locke huge mistakeelliotsmelliot on March 3rd, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Kudos on this great review. I totally agree that this is Boone’s showcase episode, and that anyone who calls his characterization weak obviously skipped this episode. I’ve always like this one, because I was such a Locke fangirl early on, and the whole Theresa imagery freaked me out. Plus it marks the almost-first appearances of Bernard and Desmond!

most of all, it’s my favourite because I am convinced that this is the only episode in Lost where Boone is the great character he could have been.

This is an excellent point. If the island was truly about purgatory, it would fit with the idea that the island is done with Boone because he has reached his potential, learned something about himself, and move beyond his earlier obsessions. Of course if it is not about this, Boone is merely a pawn in teaching Locke a lesson.

That John Locke never learns from his mistakes.

I never properly considered all the parallels between John’s flashback with Cooper and his sacrifice of Boone. They are both all about John’s commitment to an idea to the point of blindness, and they are both about his failures. It was unbeknownst to me on my original viewing that Locke would not learn from this mistake, so I initially forgave him for his actions here. But then seeing the repeated patterns of his refusal to accept responsibility, calling Boone’s death the sacrifice the island demanded, and his indifference to others’ suffering, most notably Sawyer’s in The Brig, John and I broke up.

point is that S1 was great with mixing humor and angst, see this episode, while now I kind of miss it.

Word. The physical separation of all the characters has really disallowed for an independent and purely fun B plot or a C plot. I actually find Jack’s little game with Sawyer disturbing because it was in such clear violation of his Hippocratic oath and hero persona, which of course just adds to his complexity as a character which is fine, but at the time it was shocking. Of course, in the next episode, he practically kills himself to save Boone, so he is back to being Super Doc. Also Hurley’s HP line is awesome, as is Sayid’s frame making.

Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs.

I admit to being a newcomer to the Boone fan club, but even when I first watched S1, this storyline was so intriguing, both in its effect as a supernatural element and in terms of adding dimensions to Boone. That Boone carried this guilt his whole life, so starkly contrasts with Locke’s own reaction to Boone’s accident, making, as you said, all about him. He is not knocking on the hatch asking why Boone had to get hurt, but asking why the island was testing his faith.

Thanks for this review. I really enjoyed it.
the female ghost of tom joad: lost boone and lockejanie_tangerine on March 4th, 2009 07:59 am (UTC)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! I just have such a thing for this episode. Indeed.

that anyone who calls his characterization weak obviously skipped this episode.

YES, yes and yes. That's it. And really, that's enough of a reason here. It really doesn't get any better than here. And ha, totally Locke fangirl too... up to this point. I guess it probably shows because I did spend some time on Locke here but I really, really used to like him. Alas.

I'd have liked the purgatory thing, but then again Locke should have... y'know, avoided the whole sacrifice the island demanded thing. Clearly they couldn't make him show he was sorry until S2 and then he decides he isn't anymore but whatever, I can't explain that to myself. Not really.

I had half forgiven him before the sacrifice thing and since I liked him in S2 I cut him slack, but I'd agree with The Brig thing. At that point I just couldn't ignore that I was cutting him slack for Boone and I couldn't stomach the whole Sawyer thing. That was a huge no here and while I know I'll never be done professionally with him for good he just won't get back up where he was anytime soon. I always found his commitment a great part of the character but at this point after five seasons he should have learned something, right? *sigh*

I miss the plot B and the plot C. Ah, when Sayid and Hurley listened to the radio, Hurley bribed Jin for fishes and so on. I miss the fun. I mean, I know there isn't much space for it now because it's what it is, but they also have kind of killed every possible comic relief except for Hurley *rolls eyes*. And doesn't Jack break the oath quite often? Not that when he practically did in the following episode I had anything to say. Ha, he really did buy the ticket to my forgiveness and endless patience there... and yeah, the HP line = awesome. As Sayid was, also without having a single line.

You phrased the thing about Boone and Locke's guilt better than I did in a way longer paragraph methinks. ;) Yeah, that's it. That's exactly the point. I'm surprised that Theresa is not more brought out because that was character development but I don't know if it's generally more taken for shocking/supernatural value than for what it was in terms of actual development but who knows. And yeah, that about the hatch. What did it do to you? Erm. Not so much. *rolls eyes*

Again, definitely glad you did enjoy it! ♥