Tuesday, April 21, 2009

LOST - Episode 5.13 - "Some Like It Hoth"

“Luke, I am your father.”

While perhaps being one of the most shocking twists in the history of modern cinema, this moment in The Empire Strikes Back took the fun, melodramatic, fantastical Star Wars franchise and made it meaningful. The moment we realized Luke Skywalker’s father was none other than the Dark Lord of the Sith, it became crystal clear that whether we like it or not, darkness is a part of our heritage.

In the most recent episode of LOST, “Some Like It Hoth,” this father-son connection is once again explored, but with a different angle. As I watched, I realized that this wasn’t so much about daddy issues (i.e. Jack, Kate, Locke, et al.), but about the nature of parenthood.

Before I go any deeper, let me recap. This episode had four storylines:

1) Miles and Hurley go on a buddy road trip into the forest to deliver a dead body to the Orchid station.

2) Flashback reveals how Miles discovered his abilities and got into a position to go on Widmore’s freighter.

3) Kate and Jack attempt to ease Roger Linus’ grief in the wake of young Ben’s disappearance.

4) Sawyer and Juliet try to concoct a cover story for handing Ben over the Hostiles, but run into a big problem.

Here’s what I loved about the episode:

* Hurley re-writing The Empire Strikes Back.

* Miles funky punker look – Fishbiscuit at DocArzt.com made the observation that he looked like Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys from Spielberg’s kid-friendly film Hook. I totally agree.

* Naomi’s appearance. Man, she’s hot.

* Hurley wondering if the horrible smell in the back of the van was the garlic mayo on his sandwiches.

* Bram abducting Miles. What is in the shadow of the statue? It has been suggested that the answer to this question is the Frozen Donkey Wheel. I’m not so sure. For a long time now, it has been speculated that there is an underground culture we haven’t heretofore seen. While I don’t think that would be a good addition to the story at the point (too many new questions and so little time left in the series – 19 episodes remain, sob.), it would be interesting. With all of the Egyptian mythology the writers have been playing with as of late, this theoretical underground culture could be ancestors of the ancient Egyptians.

* The awkward drive to the Swan in which Hurley asks Dr. Candle to join himself and Miles for a beer sometime.

* The embossing of the numbers. The way the scene was filmed made the moment remarkably foreboding.

* The dark Dharma jumpsuits look cool.

* Daniel returns, and he looks like he has a whale of tale to tell.

But the main course of this recap is not to rehash, but to explore. I want to go deeper into the issue of parenting.

Episode 1.3 was called “Tabula Rasa,” which is interesting because of how each survivor of Oceanic 815 was essentially a blank slate upon landing on the Island. In our own lives, we are blank slates upon our entry into this world. We know nothing of pain, suffering, deceit. We are innocent, which is why so many people love babies, because we see something in them for which we long.

It doesn’t take long to lose that innocence, though. From the moments our parents fail to meet one of our needs – whatever they might be – a wound begins to form. The more that need is not met, combined with others, the wound grows. We have a slew of books about the wounded inner child concept, so I don’t want to belabor the idea, but it has a real place when discussing this episode (and the series at large).

Miles’ wounds go deep, as many of the characters’ do, but for him the pain comes from not knowing his father. Jack, Kate, Locke, Hurley and Ben all knew their fathers and felt the immediate sting of their failings as parents. Miles, on the other hand, lives in a blind world, without guidance to steady him. So, he chooses the dark path, much like the young Darth Vader, whose lack of a father also drives him to make some bad choices following his mother’s death. In Miles’ dark world, he becomes a hustler, a punk, a mercenary-type who is in it for himself. A father’s role in a young man’s life is to provide a moral compass and accountability for behavior. Without this, Miles floundered.

Being in 1977 provides a second chance of sorts for Miles, though, and in this episode he gets the opportunity to see different sides of his father, Dr. Pierre Chang. He sees the “douchebag” at the Orchid station who scolds him for bringing along Hurley. Then he sees the awkward social animal during the drive to the Swan. But his last, and most enduring image, of his father is the loving father who holds baby Miles on his lap and joyfully reads to him about polar bears. Dad wasn’t so bad after all. Just as Luke Skywalker discovers at the end of Return of the Jedi, his dad wasn’t so bad after all.

This episode is a turning point in Miles’ character. He is no longer the static guy that talks to dead people at just the right moment the plot dictates. “Some Like It Hoth” made sure to give his character a more dynamic outlook. His feelings for his father will somehow effect the outcome of this season. The finale is called “The Incident,” and my guess is that Miles will do something to persuade his dad to kick his mother and baby Miles off the Island. Ironically, this could mean that the emptiness leading to Miles’ apathetic disposition as an adult was caused by him. Paradox?

In a lot of ways we are the cause of our own misery. Maybe not in the cosmic sense, like Miles, but day to day we fuck up our lives very well without much help.

This week, we have a clip show, which I hope will live up to its advertising and provide a different perspective on events. But next week we will get Daniel Faraday’s story in “The Variable.”

I can hardly wait.

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