The Glass Ballerina (S3, ep. 2)
The Glass Ballerina is, ultimately, not an episode that warrants a long, in-depth Rewatch column. There are some interesting aspects to note, some nifty mythology details, and, as almost-always, ample solid character work on display. But there’s nothing in the episode that, to my eyes, warrants in-depth analysis. If you disagree, or I’ve missed something of minor/major/median importance in your eyes I invite you to point it out!
• I love that, on Rewatch, some aspects of Ben’s underlying character are beginning to make themselves clearer. He’s still opaque as all hell, but his innate jealousy and suspicion make more ‘sense’ now when held up against his overall character arc.
• We meet another Other in this episode – Colleen Pickett. She’s played by Paula Malcolmson, and she’ll always have a special place in my heart for her brilliant, fragile/strong, foulmouthed performance as Trixie on Deadwood. Have you watched Deadwood? If not, perambulate yourselves to a purveyor of fine Digital Video Discs and bathe in its sundry glories – after you finish up Lost, of course.
Juliet: So they have a boat — sailing in circles will keep them busy.
• Juliet confirms for us that there’s no leaving the Island without special knowledge, knowledge Ben imparted to Michael and Walt in the Season 2 finale. I really like that the show laid its groundwork here for all the weird time-dilation/wormhole stuff that will be explored in Seasons 4 and 5. On the whole, Lost’s writers have largely known where they were steering this story-ship of theirs, and these sorts of details make it clear that the show has never been fully ‘winging it,’ despite claims to the contrary.
Pickett: Alright, here’s the jig — see these rocks, here? That’s where you two come in. You’re going to chop them loose. And you’re going to haul them out of here.
• It’s fascinating to watch Kate and Sawyer helping to build the runway that the Ajira flight from Season 5 will end up needing and using. It brings up questions to which, as yet, we still don’t have the answers. What it seems to confirm is that Ben, either through his use of/knowledge of the Island’s time-hopping abilities, or through his ‘relationship’ with Jacob, is privy to knowledge of future events. What’s not clear is whether that knowledge is far-ranging and wide-reaching, or whether it’s limited to a few events, all of them seemingly necessary in order to get all of the players in Jacob’s possible end-game into their respective places.
Pickett: If you try to run off, you will be shocked.
Sawyer: Shot?! We don’t even get a warning?
Pickett: Shocked. I said, shocked. If you talk to each other you’re going to be shocked. If you touch each other, you’re going to be shocked. If you’re slacking, you’re going to get shocked. Matter of fact, if you do anything at all that pisses me off, you’re going to get shocked. Okay? Let’s get to work.
• Pickett’s dialogue here, and the work-camp that Sawyer and Kate have joined as of this episode, remind me of one of my favorite films – “Cool Hand Luke” – specifically Carr the floorwalker’s “Box” speech:
Carr: “Them clothes got laundry numbers on them. You remember your number and always wear the ones that has your number. Any man forgets his number spends a night in the box. These here spoons you keep with you. Any man loses his spoon spends a night in the box. There’s no playing grab-ass or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box. First bell’s at five minutes of eight when you will get in your bunk. Last bell is at eight. Any man not in his bunk at eight spends the night in the box. There is no smoking in the prone position in bed. To smoke you must have both legs over the side of your bunk. Any man caught smoking in the prone position in bed… spends a night in the box. You get two sheets. Every Saturday, you put the clean sheet on the top… the top sheet on the bottom… and the bottom sheet you turn in to the laundry boy. Any man turns in the wrong sheet spends a night in the box. No one’ll sit in the bunks with dirty pants on. Any man with dirty pants on sitting on the bunks spends a night in the box. Any man don’t bring back his empty pop bottle spends a night in the box. Any man loud talking spends a night in the box. You got questions, you come to me. I’m Carr, the floor walker. I’m responsible for order in here. Any man don’t keep order spends a night in –”
Luke: “The box.”
Carr: “I hope you ain’t going to be a hard case.”
Of course, Lucas Jackson ends up being just that – a hardcase. Sawyer’s character, especially as time has passed and his murderous edges have been sanded down, resembles the character of Lucas Jackson in a number of ways. Like Luke, Sawyer has a chip on his shoulder regarding any and all authority. Like Luke, Sawyer attempts various escapes and generally makes life harder on himself, motivated more by a generalized screw-you-attitude as much as by any desire to help or protect those that he’s imprisoned with. Like Luke, Sawyer (and Kate, and, in another way, Jack) is being conditioned by those in authority. Like Luke, Sawyer is made to work a chaingang-style job.
If you’ve never watched Cool Hand Luke, I’d like to invite you to give it a try – especially the rather gorgeous Blu Ray version they’ve released. It’s an older film, a largely quiet film, but if you settle into its cadence I think you’ll find something worth treasuring and revisiting. Give it a shot!
Mr. Paik: You don’t get to quit! This man has shamed me! You married my daughter, Jin — that makes you my son. My shame is your shame. I need you to restore our family’s honor.
• Lost continues to emphasize the pressure Jin (and the rest of the castaways) feel to please/placate the older generation. And it emphasizes again the way that sin (as I’ve defined the word here) is passed from parents to children in ways that leave both damaged. We’ve already seen that Jin is afraid to run from Paik, and with good reason – Sun’s father’s reach is long and cold and fatal.
Alex: You’re not even supposed to be in that cage.
• Isn’t that an interesting line? It suggests a couple of different things, all or none of which could be applicable: (1) Alex, who we’ll learn is Ben’s unknowingly-‘adopted’ daughter, has access to her father’s plans on some level as we’ll see later. So this line could indicate that Ben hadn’t initially planned to keep Kate in a cage, but I don’t believe that we ever learn what other, alternate plans he had for her; (2) There are ‘rules’ on this Island, rules that in some way involve Alex, and we’ll see Charles Widmore apparently breaking those rules when he has his thug, Keamy, execute Alex in front of Ben’s eyes (I can’t WAIT for that string of episodes). That makes me wonder whether Kate’s presence in the cage is something that Ben has insisted on, despite some knowledge that she wasn’t supposed to be there.
…Wow. I’ve gone crazy.
Great Sayid exchange:
Sun: Why are you lying to me, Sayid?
Sayid: And what would you know about lying, Sun?
Sun: You’re putting our lives in danger.
Sayid: I’m fairly certain our friends have been captured. There are tracks all over the dock. They’re fresh — as recent as yesterday.
Sun: You said this dock was abandoned.
Sayid: That would be part of the lying you mentioned.
• I love the ease with which Jin handles the weapon he’s given by Sayid, and the look on Sayid’s face.
• I’ll be honest: Sun and Jin’s flashback storyline didn’t hold my interest much at all. We learn nothing of value that we didn’t know before, really, and while I very much enjoy both actors’ work on the show their flashback scenes felt like a retread of familiar ground – something that, surprisingly to myself, I didn’t feel about Jack’s flashback in the last episode.
• Despite that generalized apathy, there is one element of the flashbacks that I’m curious about: Are we to understand that Hotel Manager Man committed suicide after Jin threatened him? Or are we to assume that Paik sent a second man?
Sawyer: I’m guessing most of these boys have never seen any real action. But that blond who had a gun pointed at you? She would have shot you — no problem.
• Yeah, Juliet is a smokin’ badass. We all know it. What’s interesting to me about Sawyer’s observations here are what they say about the rest of the Others – that they aren’t some kind of supernaturally-charged jungle-ninja-monk brigade. While some of them (and I’m thinking most specifically of those who live with Richard in a state of ‘naturalism’) do seem to be preternaturally at home on the Island, it strikes me that, ultimately, there isn’t much overall difference between these Others and the original Dharma group. They’re a band of scientists, essentially, and it makes me think that in recruiting many of them, Ben was sub/unconsciously reconstructing the very environment he helped to destroy in the Purge. He replaced a Dharma Initiative in which he was a helpless cog with a faux-Dharma in which he holds nominal control.
Sawyer: Sooner or later, they’re going to let their guard down. And when they do, we’re going to be there to put them in their place.
• The security cameras that monitor Jack, Kate and Sawyer recall not only the monitoring done at the Pearl Station, but also Sartre’s initial French title for “No Exit”: “In Camera.”
Ben: I want for you to change your at–perspective. And, the first step in doing that would be for me to be decent enough to introduce myself honestly, so …Hi, my name is Benjamin Linus and I’ve lived on this island all my life.
I mentioned in the Rewatch column for “A Tale of Two Cities” that Kate’s “wear this” note/instruction recalled the “eat me/drink me” instructions found in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” I observed that this seemed apt, given that both Alice and Kate undergo changes in perspective as a result of following those instructions, and Ben’s comment here about altering Jack’s perspective would seem to back-up that initial observation.
Ben lies here in a way, but from a different perspective he may be telling the truth. He wasn’t born on the Island, not literally. But figuratively? Well, that’s still an open question. We know that young Ben was taken to the Temple during the events of Season 5. We know that Richard somehow saved his life there, and that, as a result of this, Ben somehow changed and ‘lost his innocence.’ So, in a sense, the Ben that we know as an adult may have been born there, in the Temple.
Ben: Your flight crashed on September 22nd, 2004. Today is November 29th. That means you’ve been on our island for 69 days. Yes, we do have contact with the outside world, Jack. That’s how we know that during those 69 days your fellow Americans re-elected George W. Bush; Christopher Reeve has passed away; the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Jack: If you wanted me to believe this, you probably should have picked somebody else besides the Red Sox.
What’s amusing about this exchange: at this point, the myth of the Red Sox ‘curse’ and the chants of ‘1918’ have been largely banished. The Sox won the Series again in 2007, and their record following this first, at-the-time-utterly-implausible Series victory makes Jack’s disbelief less understandable. But for all you youngsters out there who won’t discover Lost for a while, know that the idea of the Red Sox winning the World Series was as probable to most people as you learning how to speak in Mandarin Chinese while reading in German and listening in French. And writing in, say, pig latin. All at once.
REMINDER: The first person to suss out the Sondheim reference made in the Rewatch Column for “A Tale of Two Cities” will win a prize. No one has come up with a correct answer so far, so I’ll drop a hint: The reference is the title of a song from one of Sondheim’s best-known shows, consisting of two words. Those two words are mirrors of one another. The first person to correctly guess the answer will receive a prize – not a no-prize. An actual prize.
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Missed a column? Catch up here:
• Season 3 Premiere
• Season 2 finale
• Three Minutes (S2 ep. 22)
• ? (S2 ep. 21)
• Two for The Road (S2 ep. 20)
• S.O.S. (S2 ep. 19)
• Dave (S2 ep. 18)
• Lockdown (S2 ep. 17)
• The Whole Truth (S2 ep. 16)
• Maternity Leave (S2 ep. 15)
• One of Them (S2 ep. 14)
• The Long Con (S2 ep. 13)
• Fire + Water (S2 ep. 12)
• The Hunting Party (S2 ep 11)
• The 23rd Psalm (S2, ep. 10)
• What Kate Did (S2, ep. 9)
• Collision (S2, ep. 8)
• The Other 48 Days (S2, ep. 7)