Monday, July 30, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #5: 2.01 "Man of Science, Man Of Faith"

You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin';
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song,
Make your own kind of music - even if nobody
else sings along! Rating:
9.4 (#20)

Brief Summary: In one of the best opening sequences ever imagined (and directed), we follow a strange man who appears to be starting his day, he wakes up to an odd beeping sound, hits a (very old) computer, puts on a Mama Cass record, makes breakfast, washes the dishes, exercises, showers, gives himself a strange injection... and then has his world rocked by an explosion. He puts on a suit, grabs a gun from what appears to be a locked armory, and peers into a (very old again) telescope, which, sure enough, takes his gaze up the dark shaft of the Hatch, taking us right back to the end of last season, with Jack and Locke peering down into the darkness.

With the ladder broken, Jack suggests they all go back to camp and wait out the night together. They all head back, but Locke gathers up some cable saying whatever Jack does, he's going in.
Kate tells Jack she's going with him to the tune of "live together, die alone." Jack, hesitates knowing the camp needs him, but eventually follows them, concerned about Kate.

While everyone is waiting for Jack and the others to return, Shannon heads into the jungle with Sayid in tow to search for Vincent, who's missing. They finally see him, sitting creepily in the jungle darkness, but as they approach, he runs off. They get separated and Shannon trips and falls. She looks up and sees a vision of Walt, dripping wet and seemingly speaking some mangled form of Parseltongue. Sayid finds her and Walt disappears.

Amid all this, Jack thinks back to how he first met Sarah, who was in a terrible car accident with Adam Rutherford, Shannon and Boone's dad. Jack tells Sarah he's going to "fix her," something he doesn't really believe is possible. After the operation, Jack tries burn off his perceived self-failure by trying to complete a "tour de stade," in a nearby stadium. Desmond is also there training and they have a surreal, mystical sounding conversation about Jack, Sarah, and miracles. Afterwards, Jack heads back to check on Sarah and it turns out against all odds she can walk again.

Jack climbs down into the Hatch. Inside he finds a strange complex, which houses something rumbling and magnetic, magnetic enough to pull the key around his neck towards the wall, centered around a geodesic dome. He finds Locke held a gunpoint by an unseen assailant. He asks where Kate is and Locke tells him she's fine. Locke's captor tells him to put down his gun "or I'll blow his head off, brutha!"

At that point, Jack sees his face, recognizes Desmond, and says "You!"

Drum ending.


Why it's a classic: Having just finished Harry Potter 7, the question that's been at the forefront of my mind since the very last page has been how often do you find something that not only meets, but exceeds your expectations?

Harry Potter was like that for me, as was Return of the Jedi, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, all of the Lord of the Rings films, and Wizard and Glass (the fourth book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which appeared five years after book three ended on an incredible cliffhanger). All of these I had been waiting for with an immense amount of built up anticipation, counting down the days until their release. And after viewing/reading/playing them, I was completely and utterly satisfied.

"Man of Science, Man of Faith" just about topped them all.

Granted, as I've mentioned before, I didn't have very long to wait for this one (I watched the whole first season on DVD). But there were so many ways the writers could have screwed this up and instead they hit one out of the park. Yes, I wanted more of the inside of the Hatch, but you can't deny how awesome was the ending of the episode. And I think, in retrospect, that's partially why "Adrift" was one of the worst episodes of the entire series - it rehashed "Man of Science" without adding anything new and made you wait two weeks to discover the computer, the Numbers, the Button, all while surrounding the meaningless plot with fairly meaningless flashbacks.

Speaking of which, not only did we get some great Jack flashbacks for a change, but the scene with Desmond probably provoked more speculation than just about any other scene in the second season, until Desmond showed up again in the finale and cleared things up.

Jack Ow, damn it.
DesmondYou alright, brother?
Jack I'm fine. I'm fine.
DesmondTake it easy. Keep the weight off. Here, let me have a look. Does this hurt? You haven't sprained it then. I don't fancy your chances of catching up with me tonight, though.
Jack I wasn't trying to catch up.
DesmondAye, of course you weren't.
Jack What do you know about sprains anyway?
DesmondI was almost a doctor once.
Jack Small world.
DesmondYou a doctor then? So what's your excuse?
Jack Excuse?
DesmondTo run like the devil's chasing you. My excuse. I'm training.
Jack Training for what?
DesmondFor a race around the world. Impressive, I know. So your excuse better be good, brother.
Jack Just trying to work a few things out.
DesmondAh, a girl, right?
Jack A patient.
DesmondAh, but a girl patient. What's her name?
Jack Her name's Sarah.
DesmondWhat'd you do to her then?
Jack Do to her?
DesmondYou must have done something worthy of this self flagellation.
Jack I told her... I made her a promise I couldn't keep... I told her I'd fix her and... I couldn't. I failed.
DesmondWell, right. Just one thing. What if you did fix her?
Jack I didn't.
DesmondBut what if you did?
Jack You don't know what you're talking about, man.
DesmondI don't? Why not?
Jack Because with her situation that would be a miracle, brother.
DesmondOh... and you don't believe in miracles? Right. Well then, I'm going to give you some advice anyway. You have to lift it up.
Jack Lift it up?
DesmondYour ankle. You've gotta keep it elevated. It's been nice chatting.
Jack Jack.
DesmondJack, I'm Desmond. Well, good luck, brother. See you in another life, yeah?

"To run like the devil's chasing you"

"You have to lift it up"

"See you in another life"
Looking back now, it's actually a pretty innocuous coversation, but boy, didn't you think Desmond was some sort of mystic at the time? And, in retrospect, given that Desmond's already gone back in time once and seems to have his life pushed in certain directions, I do wonder if Ms. Hawking had a hand in setting up the conversation with Desmond and Jack. Remember, not only does Desmond meet Jack on that fateful evening, but he meets Penny as well and tells a pretty crucial bit of information: That he's going to enter her father's race.

Big props to both Matthew Fox and Julie Bowen here for some terrifically emotional scenes; this episode just overflowed with some quality Jackface. I still get verklempt at the end of the episode when Sarah asks Jack why she can feel her toes and he discovers to his amazement he really did fix her. He even had a great scene with his evil daddy, who chastised him in a very non-evil way for his putrid bedside manner. And that scene actually tied into the episode when Jack told everyone that everything was going to be okay. Holy relevant flashbacks, Batman!

Oh, and then there's "Make Your Own Kind of Music." Harry Knowles of AICN has a penchant for writing tiresome, juvenile, pedantic reviews. But he does know film exceedingly well and occasionally will have a somewhat novel bit of insight. Something he once wrote about "The Battle Without Honor or Humanity," now better known as the theme to "Kill Bill," has stuck with me over the years (forgive me for not being able to find the link, I'm paraphrasing here). Basically he was commenting on how independent pieces of music made into themes or incorporated into movies can become so associated with them it becomes impossible to listen to the pieces again in their original setting without thinking of the new scene.

Quickly, without thinking, what do you think of when you hear the following songs?

Stuck In The Middle With You (Reservoir Dogs)
In Your Eyes (Say Anything)
Don't Stop Believin' (Sopranos Finale)
Singin' in the Rain (A Clockwork Orange)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Young Frankenstein)
I Heard It Through The Grapevine (The Big Chill)

More than likely, most of these will remind you of a certain film or TV show (answers in invisotext next to each title, just highlight to reveal). The Kill Bill theme was taken from an obscure series of martial arts films Tarantino loved. Now should you ever happen to watch one of them, all you'll be able to think about is Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox dueling cutlery in the kitchen.

And to any Lost fan, Make Your Own Kind Of Music is, and forever will be, Desmond's Theme.

It was the perfect song at the time, a familiar blast from the past eerily emanating from a very strange place. But now, given what we know about Desmond, one wonders whether there's even more meaning behind it. Take a look at the verses again:

Nobody can tell ya;
There's only one song worth singin'.
They may try and sell ya,
'cause it hangs them up
to see someone like you.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin';
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.
I get chills, I tell you, every time I hear it. It's almost like Ms. Hawking (or, perhaps, Penny) was singing the song to him. And remember, Desmond hears it again in "Flashes Before Your Eyes." It makes me think more and more that Desmond's going to have to sacrifice himself to save them all. Regardless, it was a simply inspired inclusion by the writers and something that will forever now be associated with Lost.

Other great scenes: Walt and Shannon in the jungle. Jack and Hurley talking about the Numbers ("your bedside manner sucks, dude"), Jack vs. Locke, Round 2.

But it all ends, and begins, at the Hatch. And, boy, was it worth waiting for.

Summary: There was no doubt this episode was in my Top 5. It really is such a shame that after such an amazing beginning to the season, they follow it up with the clunker ironically named "Adrift."

But, without a doubt, the writers came up huge here. We all wanted answers and we got them, to me anyways, in a perfectly satisfying way.

Previous Reviews
#10: White Rabbit
#9: The Man From Tallahassee
#8: Exodus
#7: Numbers
#6: Lockdown


Anonymous said...
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capcom said...

That is a really nice analysis Jay! And you are so's the best opening scene ever, and the song (which I never really cared for previously) will be one of my all time favorites for the rest of my life.

Jay said...

Thanks Capcom! Since that episode, MYOKOM has been in my running playlist on my iPod. It's like a little random taste of LOST to get me through the summer... and fall... and winter. *sigh*

Yessifer said...

Great post. I love this episode. Other songs that remind me of Lost Shambala and Downtown.