(Before I start, I should mention that ABC has a pretty hilarious "everything you need to know about Lost in 8:15" video on their website right now. By all means, check this out. Don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back.)
I have to be up front: I’m not feeling this week’s edition of "Missing Pieces," a weak-ish entry entitled "Arzt and Pieces." Not everything Lost does turns into Dharma-laced gold, sadly. This is more like what would happen if Dharma tried to put out its own brand of Zima. I don’t care how many research dollars that the Hanso Foundation has at its disposal: Zima is an inherently awful beverage and should only be used to clean pipes or torture people inside of Room 23.
But I’m not here to discuss ill-conceived malt beverages, people. I’m here to discuss the latest and greatest mobisode that the makers of our favorite show have released to us unwashed masses. So on with the recap!
Sun and Jin are busy folding clothes on the beach. Jin, in Korean, tells his wife that he thinks two people offscreen are lovers, given the way the man looks at the woman. Sun informs Jin that Shannon and Boone are in fact brother and sister. Jin wonders how Sun could know this if she doesn’t understand English. Whoops. So, we’re in Season 1 here. Got it.
The camera cuts to a POV from the beach, in which we see Michael and Hurley in the foreground, also sorting through clothes with Sun and Jin towards the wilderness just a few feet away. Enter stage right everyone’s favorite blowhard science teacher, Leslie Arzt. He’s all up in pre-explosion arms over the fact that Jack wants to move everyone from the beach to the caves, which locates this mobisode just after the actions in Season 1’s episode "White Rabbit."
Arzt questions Jack’s leadership skills, while Hurley has no problem with Jack’s ideas. Arzt’s main concern seems to center around moisture, which I understand, as the word "moist" is one of my least favorite words in the English language. Arzt does the old "if I shout loud enough maybe you’ll acquire language skills" technique on Sun and Jin, a method Michael chides. Arzt then attacks Jack’s sanity, saying that while relieving himself in the jungle recently, he bore witness to Jack screaming for his father while running through the wood. Arzt might not have wanted to play the "crazy" card in front of Hurley.
Arzt only starts to change his mind when a familiar loud sound comes from the jungle: looks like Smokey is out for its afternoon walk. Suddenly, the comfort of the caves calls to one Leslie Artz.
Usually I populate this section with overly elaborate theories than are at best tangentially related to the mobisode in question, but this week’s mobisode leaves me unable to do that. It’s up there with the Frogurt mobisode in terms of "what you see is what you get," really. Rather than seeing something new that adds depth/mystery to the overall story as we know it, this week’s edition simply let us see hear people reaction to something in a way our eyes simply hadn’t before.
Now, this begs the question: what exactly does the show mean by "Missing Pieces"? Are these simply meant to be little extra scenes, not unlike those you find on a DVD? If so, then these are scenes that have value, but ultimately detract from the overall storytelling of the show. If you watch such scenes on a DVD, you get scenes that, while having some redeeming qualities, leave you with the feeling that they would have hindered the episode in question. As such, while you’re perfectly content having seen them, you’re happy that those involved with the editing of the episode left it on the cutting room floor.
However, I’m not sure that’s the goal with "Missing Pieces." I think these are supposed to be vital elements of narrative meant to illuminate what we already know, but more importantly, set the stage for what’s to come. Mobisodes such as "King of the Castle" and "Room 23" have greatly enhanced the overall story of Lost, adding depth while contributing even more questions to the greater story of the show. As such, we (and I’m using the royal we here) should perhaps look past the surface and see what could be of vital import in this mobisode.
And it might be that what’s important isn’t seen, but described. Perhaps what’s important here is the planting of the seed of doubt in Jack’s leadership, which simultaneously introducing the literal spectre of his father into that doubt.
Overall Important to "Missing Pieces"
I like the disintegration of Jack’s role as leader of the Lostaways as a central theme to Season 4. I mean, if you made the literal call that endangered everyone’s life, you might be in a bit of a doghouse, no? If we’re to believe the rumors about only six people leaving the Island this year, that means that a severe majority of those we’ve seen since Day One opt to hide in the jungle with John Locke.
The schism between these two has been brewing for years, obviously, and with the end of Season 3, I think we finally reached what Sarah Brightman might refer to as the point of no return. I’m just not sure these two could ever be study buddies again, and while I’m not convinced these two will come to blows, Jack will most certainly lose control of the mob. I think there’s strong thematic resonance in watching Jack lead the Lostaways towards the radio tower at the end of Season 3 in broad daylight, then watching Locke take the very same group into hiding under cover of night in Season 4.
Arzt’s mention of Jack’s father should also come into play, since we’ve already seen creepy images of Christian Shepard in the trailer for Season 4. The nature of this shot is incredibly confusing: is he in Jacob’s cabin? In someone’s mind’s eye? In a flashback? In the Nine Inch Nails video "Closer"? Hard to tell. But combine this with the fact that Christian was featured in the very first mobisode, along with the fact that the guy’s in just about every freakin’ flashback extant, in addition to the fact that the last two seasons have both featured Jack flashbacks, and you have a strong case that Jack may very well not have seen the last of his father on the Island.
What did you make of this week’s mobisode? Am I reading too much into these little snippets of Lost, or do you think these serve important narrative purpose? And do you prefer your Arzt alive or slightly charred?
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.