Thursday, July 6, 2017

LOST S1 E19: Deus Ex Machina

"Then the island will tell us what to do.
...our faith is being tested...
the island will show us how."
-John Locke regarding his faith and belief in destiny intertwined with the island-

Following on from a reference to John Locke's father not being a very good father over backgammon with Walt in Episode 17, ...In Translation, we are brought to the very episode that explores Locke's background in deeper detail and greater effect in LOST, Season One, Episode 19, Deus Ex Machina.

The episode's title is a term referring to a plot device whereby an unsolvable problem is readily solved. This involves a new character, ability, event or object that influences the narrative or plot. It is implemented often when writers have seemingly cornered themselves and need a way out of an ongoing story. Star Trek might be a franchise familiar with the device. Person Of Interest (2011-2016), starring LOST's Michael Emerson (Season Two-Season Six), often feel back upon easy resolutions in tight spots. That development quickly became troubling in the aforementioned show's first season for me. How many times was Jim Caviezel's character snatched from the jaws of death?

Given the influence on LOST by William Golding's Lord Of The Flies (1954) as discussed in Episode 6, House Of The Rising Sun here, one such example in the novel would be the passing Naval officer who essentially saves the savage children from an even worse fate. It is a rather sudden and unexpected resolution in the book.

Would the same plot device be put to use here or sprinkled liberally throughout LOST in credible fashion or incredibly so? Time would tell. All sorts of time.

Deus Ex Machina is the second flash back tale into the life of John Locke and takes us back even further before the wheelchair bound events told in Episode 4, Walkabout.

This is the story of how Locke landed himself in that wheelchair and through the unconditional love of his parents.

One thing that seems to be ringing true for a lot of these characters on the island is that they are "special." In the flashback, Locke's mother informs Locke he's "special" just as Walt is believed to be special as highlighted in Episode 14, Special, or Claire Littleton's unborn child appears to be special in Episode 10, Raised By Another.

Highlight: The Locke back story itself with a dual performance by two pros in the acting field, Kevin Tighe and Swoosie Kurtz as Locke's conniving and insane parents, is nothing short of riveting. O'Quinn shines too. The back story offers an incredibly ruthless, conniving and cruel story of betrayal. The tale speaks volumes about Locke's naiveté and his desire for acceptance and a need to fit in. So when things happen as they do the story is compelling yet heartbreaking. Its this tale itself penned by Carlton Cuse with Damon Lindelof that excels in every dramatic fashion. It's easy to see why Cuse makes the science fiction series Colony (2016-present) and even The Strain (2014-present) so dramatically compelling in every way conceivable. It's all up there on the screen here in LOST too.

Deus Ex Machina would be the first story co-penned by future LOST show runners Cuse and Lindelof.

On the island, Locke has a vision of a crashing plane, a bloodied Boone and all of it seems to come to fruition as the island guides him. Imbalance in his legs is seemingly connected with his faith and mission on the island and when he wavers so do his legs and the feeling in them can seemingly disappear. Deus Ex Machina further underscores this intense and seemingly vital connection between Locke and the island. The two are interconnected.

And finally that moment with the hatch in the final seconds. Locke looks to the island for a sign that his faith in it means something. With great futility, Locke peers into the window to the hatch he cannot break and a light inside turns on. This writer will never forget how supremely cool that moment was watching it for the first time. A big epic moment. Another sign. Another masterful clue leading us into the unknown. Another direction literally into the island. The hatch, a deus ex machina and perhaps one of the greats in television.

Deus Ex Machina is a complex entry with loads of story pieces in play making for yet another skillful entry in LOST.

Flashback: Locke.

Notable Guests: Swoosie Kurtz (Sisters). Kevin Tighe (Emergency!).

Writer: Carlton Cuse/ Damon Lindelof.
Director: Robert Mandel (F/X, The X-Files).

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