Last week, my dear cousin Jason hit me up looking to see if I could do a solid for his own website.
See, in another corner of these Interwebs, Jason runs a joint called Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation – a site that caters to the action figure enthusiasts. While I mothballed all my ‘guys’ a long time ago in a playroom far, far away – Poe figured he’d lean on me for my Lost expertise to help him make sense of a forthcoming line of action figures tied to the Lost franchise. Now, this isn’t new ground by any stretch as a decent series of replicas were created by Todd McFarlane’s company a few years back. In fact, in Jason’s wedding, he featured an action figure in each table’s center piece and I happened to walk away scoring Kate Austen in a thicket of bamboo – a really unique curio. Anyway, that baby sits on the bar in my Man Cave, and I’ve often been struck by how well sculpted McFarlane’s team of artisans crafted our beloved Katie.
But that’s about the beginning and ending of my action figure chops aside from what I’m now relearning alongside Colin and Aria. That said, I do know my Lost and more importantly – I know what I like – so I told him he had my peepers should he need someone to apply the old “once over” for this new line of figures. Ahhhh, my kingdom for a time machine. MY EYES – THEY BLEED!!! What I spied in the screenshots he sent me was more horrifying than a dreaded Smoke Monster made of Boone and Richard’s matching guyliner. Here’s some of what I wrote for his site:
When Poe Ghostal hit up his favorite Lost obsessive looking for someone to provide an expert opinion on a new line of character action figures, I figured why not. While I have found my own web-based soapbox to offer up a weekly column spinning wild and crazy theories about what I think is really happening on that fantasy island, I realize that my powers are going to waste if they are restricted to one tiny slab of online real estate. As someone’s dead uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Well – I’ll be damned if I’m gonna’ let all this intellect languish on feverish, imagined queries like “Who Would Win in a Jello Fight? – Kate or Juliet.” That doesn’t help anyone – least of all my marriage.
So this morning I clicked on the links that led to Bif Bang Pow!’s line of 8-inch Lost action figures, featuring the likeness of beloved characters John Locke, Hugo “Hurley” Reyes and the nefarious Benjamin Linus. And the first thing that jumped to mind is, “Thunderbirds are Go!!!” So, that’s all our intrepid band of castaways need to fend off the amorous advances of a frisky smoke monster. Slap on their best Team America: World Police Halloween costumes and tear the place asunder.
Seriously though, these figures just give me the willies – projecting a creepy marionette vibe. I have no doubt that if I position these on my desk, should I dare take a moment to eyeball a Samus Aran maquette, I’d likely get shanked by that Locke-a-like.
Granted, I’ve been pulled to Poe’s island to bring my Lost expertise and gaze at the these figures through a newbie’s eyes. I’m not equipped with the proper schooling to discuss the finer points of articulation so serious collectors may see something that I’m missing. That being said, there’s no other way to put it. These things are freaky as hell and I’m not exactly sure what market they are intended to hit.
The serious Lost fan has already been rewarded with Todd McFarlane’s line from a few years back. In fact, I possess a Kate Austen embedded in a thicket of bamboo; a true showcase that served as a table centerpiece at Poe’s wedding. The modeling of the character is spot on and does what these sculptures should do – accurately represent not just the “person” but their true character. After all, when you strip away the genre-blending (and bending) mishmash of sci-fi, adventure and conspiracy thriller influences – Lost is at heart, a character drama with the core cast populated by very specific archetypes. That McFarlane series keyed in on that and each figure went a long way to celebrating these beloved (and loathsome) characters.
I see what the Bif Bang Pow! line is trying to do but I think they’ve gone about it all wrong. Essentially, they are trying to make exaggerated versions of these characters – cartoonish representations – hence the over-exaggerated body builds. That’s the marionette effect discussed earlier. From a stylish approach, I guess that makes sense, especially considering their background in the bobblehead business. But, the glaring problem is with the face sculpting. They are pretty much spot on and hence we find ourselves wandering frightened in the uncanny valley.
The natural faces perched atop an exaggerated body do this product a disservice. The line would be better served by going all out and simply making a cartoon rendition of these beloved characters. If you can’t faithfully reproduce something that is based off a living, breathing human then don’t even try. There’s no middle ground here.
I’m also struck by the strange clothing choices. Locke’s seems the closest with his rugged khakis and matching T-Shirt but Hurley has been inexplicably rendered as Hugh Hefner gone-to-seed. Weirdest of all is the sly, manipulative Benjamin Linus who appears as if he just wandered out of the Shire. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d spy the Hobbit Kevin Spacey.
Get those groans ready. This really is a Lost cause.
All right… enough playing around. Let’s get Lost.
1. The perfect salve for a Kate episode is a Locke chaser. It seems like the writers know well my disdain for Freckles and her so-called life so they always make things right with my world, season after season. And often – the Locke episodes don’t disappoint. In fact, they are usually heavy on the mythological sweep that’s hooked us in the first place. And last night was no exception – with some big answers provided – assuming we are to believe the guy telling them, which might be a pretty tall order.
2. Where last week we spent time completely away from MiB Locke – this week was his show completely, which is fortunate for me, as I don’t have to spend so much time making sure I hit all bases on the island. I’ve got pretty good recall over most things I’ve watched but sometimes hitting every plot point can be tricksy. Anyway, with the focus squarely on MiB Locke, Alterna-Locke and Sawyer – things were nice and tidy last night.
3. We opened on Alterna-Locke having one of those mornings that fate likes to throw his way. The hydraulics on his van seized at just the right angle to send him sprawling to the ground once again and to add insult to injury, fate decided to soak his ass with ill-timed sprinklers. But then came the wrinkle. While this John Locke followed some elements of a prior script (the box company desk job, the failed walkabout), things haven’t gone exactly according to the original plan as Helen is officially still in his life and making wedding arrangements.
4. Helen’s appearance is pivotal because it proves that this time line we are watching is not simply a “What If the Plane Doesn’t Crash?” scenario. If that were the case, Helen would have been long gone by this point. No, this is an alternate time line, created by a bomb blast that sunk an island in the South Pacific. It’s The Butterfly Effect. One tiny difference somewhere in the past can have long-reaching implications. Because Jack Shepherd detonated a hydrogen bomb back in the 70’s – a new time line exists where John Locke is still crippled – although it sounds like not at the hands of his Dad (more in a moment) – and while he is still yearning for a better lot in life, he doesn’t have it as bad as he once did.
5. Which brings his Dad into the equation. When Helen was talking about eloping, she mentioned just inviting her parents and his Dad, which infers that Anthony Cooper/The Real Sawyer is no longer the bastard that tossed John out a window and is actually, actively in his life. That’s another big “tell” in an episode full of them.
6. Of course, there was an assortment of the cute coincidences that Lost deals in. We already knew that Hurley owned Locke’s box company (that was revealed a few seasons ago) but now we learn in this reality, Rose works for one of his employment agencies. With Rose – as we have done so many times in this altered reality – we have to temper the sweet with the sour. Rose is gainfully employed and appears happy but is still diagnosed with terminal cancer. And as we know, the island became her oasis and her home when it healed her. While she has come to terms with her fate in this altered reality, it’s bittersweet knowing that she had it pretty good with Bernard before Jughead blew its stack.
7. The producers have done a really nice job of peppering the supporting cast with the same people who played these roles over the years. For instance, Locke’s weasely boss Randy or as Hugo put it “that guy’s a giant douche.”
8. Another little Easter Egg I uncovered is Locke’s alarm clock in the alternative time makes the exact same sound as the Hatch timer hitting zero. Geez – those things are vile enough without thinking if you don’t get out of bed in 108 seconds the world’s gonna’ end.
9. I’ve always liked Katey Sagal in her appearances as Helen and wished Locke had gotten his act together the first time to really make time with her. She seems like the right blend of gravity that he needs. Anyway, it was nice to see her back and that scene where she talked about the real presence of miracles in life and that all she needs is him in hers was great stuff. I’m a fan of Modern Family and it’s nice to catch up with the Bundys after all these years and see them bringing their ‘A’ game. Ed O’Neill is aces on that show and Sagal injects a lot of heart into this one. Good stuff.
10. I think the episode title, “The Substitute”, works on two levels – of which both are more connected than it initially appears. In the alternative time line, Locke finally connects with a job that seems right for him – substitute teacher. After all, aside from an unfortunate maiming, he did a pretty good job schooling Boone.
11. And of course, the new career path sent him on a collision course with his old buddy, Bug-Eyed Ben, who in this time line is likely the worst history teacher you’ve never had.
12. On the island, Ben presided over the “weirdest funeral” Frank Lapidus has ever attended. Great line, by the way.
13. And again – that cinches it – with Locke buried (and apparently a banquet for crabs), the real Locke is truly dead.
14. I thought Ben’s admission to murdering Locke was touching. He’s the Gollum of this piece. A twisted, wretched creature of whom once there was some shred of decency. He thought he was the grand manipulator but in reality, he has always been blinded by his allegiance to his precious – the island. In his admission of guilt, it became crystal clear. Ben is to be pitied.
15. Last week, I made allusions to Stephen King’s The Stand and they are really starting to bare out at as we work through this season. While The Stand is an end-of-the-world allegory, it’s also an adventure yarn depicting the final stand between Good and Evil. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, both sides get busy recruiting soldiers to their cause. And that’s where we find old Smokey – at the outset of the episode – making a beeline for Sawyer in order to draft the rogue into his good graces. Of course, he has some more unfinished business with Richard.
16. Utilizing the best pages out of the Devil’s Playbook, MiB first works on Richard’s final nerve, insinuating that Jacob always kept him at arm’s length – never ready to reveal his true purpose for being drawn to the island. It’s a similar tact he took with Ben in the fifth season finale when coercing him to murder Jacob. That’s the seductive nature of evil – offering up your greatest desires (even if it’s just a hint of a supposed truth) in order to win your allegiance. Having failed to sway Richard, MiB heads for an easier mark.
17. And there Sawyer sits, drunk and defeated – ripe for the picking. At least, you have to imagine he’s ripe in that soiled John McClane wife beater.
18. It’s interesting to watch the ultimate con artist trying to pull one over on one of the best (Sawyer). I’m standing by my theory that Sawyer will allow himself to get into MiB’s good graces but it’s all part of a long con and in the end, Sawyer will sacrifice himself for the good of his people. Mark my words. Y’all owe me a beer in May when I’m proven right.
19. Which is what makes MiB’s reveals hard to swallow. I think like every good lie, it’s built on a foundation of truth – the best lies always are. In fact, I think most of the facts MiB dispensed to Sawyer are true but he’s spinning them in a different light. Last week I posited that perhaps Jacob is the bad man and he’s keeping MiB prisoner. Most of that is just me fooling around. While it would make for a decent twist, I think Jacob is pure of heart. He is the Light – the Good. But sometimes the methods of the Good can be maddening.
20. One thing that’s clear is that we are starting to see substantial proof that despite MiB’s claims that there is nothing special about the island, it really is either the birth place or holding area for Good and Evil in the world. Think of the numbers emanating throughout the world. Once could argue that as much as the island has those special electromagnetic properties that send waves of energy out and heal Locke’s legs or eradicate Rose’s cancer – this is also the “heart” of the planet – sending forth waves of “Good” and “Evil” in the world – essentially influencing the true nature that lies in the Hearts of Man. With the balance disrupted, the fate of the planet is at stake, as Pure Evil now gains a greater hold without Pure Good to balance it out.
21. MiB hints at that when he takes the white rock from the scale and tosses it in the drink – capping it with the line “Just an inside joke”.
22. Not sure who that blonde kid is. First, I thought the initial vision was just Sawyer as a kid – thus hinting at MiB to seek him out.
23. But then when he showed up a second time, in full Others regalia, I started thinking that maybe he was the Second Coming of Jacob. He did talk about “candidacy” which we now know is a big project of Jacobs.
24. Which bring us to the Candidates. There were a number of them over the years (in fact – I saw a #313) and it looks like many of them have failed in their quest – most recently, #4.
25. So here’s the breakdown:
4 – Locke
8 – Reyes
15 – Ford
16 – Jarrah
23 – Shephard
42 – Kwon.
26. You know what those numbers tell me. Jacob is a misogynist. Running the island is a man’s job. That’s right, there’s nothing for Freckles to do but get back in that kitchen and make me some bacon and eggs. I KNEW IT!!! She’s only here to play Eve and ruin this Eden. I’ve been saying it for years and now Jacob and I are on the same wavelength.
(Editor’s Note: The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the view of The Ed Zone, it’s management or their affiliates.)
27. So, what is the true nature of MiB. I think he’s telling the truth that perhaps once he was a man – at least his real body was – but he has been INFECTED. And maybe that vision he saw is the person he once lost. A son? But if he was a man once, it’s clear he’s not any longer.
28. My guess is the real man wants to get home but he has been infected by Evil that is not a Man but an Entity. And using that vessel, the Evil wants to break free of its island prison. Meaning maybe MiB is looking for his “Substitute” too?
29. Which means all this talk of candidacy make sense. My guess is that Jacob’s body is the same. They are just vessels for the entities of Good and Evil. These vessels become the caretakers. Jacob is looking for another worthy vessel to take ownership of the island, as the Agent of Good – much in the same way MiB found his “substitute” once before – and potentially, once again.
That’s all I’ve got. See you next week for Episode 6.5 – ‘The Lighthouse’.