Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loony Libby

As the months seem to drag on in anticipation of the Final Season of ABC's hit TV series LOST, I find myself contemplating the questions that will probably never get answered. Also, when time and real life crap allows, I am still watching the old seasons again to refresh my memory on all the ins and outs and ups and downs of this crazy cockamaimee kooky show. Many things assault my senses.

I'm amazed at Terry O'Quinn's performance of Locke, as are pretty much all of us. I swear there are times when his very gait is a deliberate character choice as an actor. There are times when O'Quinn walks with a swagger that suggests his legs aren't even real: that Locke is moving on stilts. Like his legs are operating like a marionette on strings. I can't tell for 100% certain if this IS deliberate, or if the terrain of the jungle, beach, and sets like the cabin or the swan just naturally lend O'Quinn to maneuver himself in ways that would have made John Wayne envious. I'm not sure if O'Quinn was asked if he'd give us a concrete answer. He'd probably prefer letting us wonder.

I'm astounded at how Rose & Bernard are used throughout the series very selectively. Again I can't tell if this is deliberate on the part of the writers or producers or if they honestly can't get these actors more often than we've seen them. I personally adore whenever Rose & Bernard make an appearance. It's too precious and rare for my taste. However, I understand other fans are not quite as fond of them as I am. Whether intentionally or on purpose, I think the amount of use of these two characters is like the use of powerful spices in a gourmet meal. Too much or too little and you can ruin the entire presentation. Though I personally could do with at least one more Rose & Bernard centric episode before Season Six winds up, I understand objectively that we don't want to overdo their welcome. In fact if they remained behind as the other characters return to the present time, we may learn that "Adam & Eve" in the caves were actually Rose & Bernard. One white stone, and one black. They live together, and they die alone in the past, together.

Which brings me to what I really wanna talk about in this rambling monologue: the season finale of Lost season two dubbed "Live Together Die Alone." In this episode we see Desmond meet Libby. They meet in a coffee shop in the States. Why Desmond is in the United States is never particularly clear, but he has so recently arrived that he hasn't had a chance to change his british currency to American dollars. He mentioned the last of the American money he had went to cab fare.

Libby offers to buy his coffee, having never presumably met him before, and the two of them sit down at the coffee shop and exchange pleasantries. During their conversation, Desmond reveals to Libby (a complete stranger mind you) that he is going to compete in a boat race organized by a man named Charles Widmore (of whom Libby feigns ignorance) but that he doesn't have a boat. Libby tells Desmond that she has a boat, which was named after herself by her now deceased husband David. All this by the way sounds like a scene straight out of a Dickens novel like Great Expectations or Nicholas Nickleby. I mention that because of Desmond's fondness for the author. While not close enough to any particular dialog from a Dickens' work to be intentional, I get the sense that whenever writing Desmond scenes, the writers of LOST have a Dickensonian voice in the back of their mind. Desmond Hume is truly a Dickensian man. Riddled with strife, internal conflict, and unfairly laboured upon by friend and foe alike. He's Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and a young Ebenezer Scrooge all rolled up into one and given a Scottish accent. We also now know so much about Desmond's character from his youthful fascination with Penny to his decadent preference of booze, that dissecting his character is no less fascinating and delicious than carving a Christmas turkey.

However, for everything we know about Desmond Hume, we know less than a tenth as much about Libby. Most of what we know from Libby came from her own mouth and there's little substantial to corroborate what she says. She claims to have done some medical training, but became a clinical psychologist. Yet in her flashbacks we never actually saw her practice either. In fact we saw her in one of Hurley's flashbacks as a patient of Santa Rosa - not a shrink.

Libby claims she was married to a man named David, and that David died of an illness a month before she met Desmond. However, we've never seen her with anyone named David. In fact, the only David we know of in the series was a fabrication of Hurley's mind from when he spent time in Santa Rosa. The producers of the series have gone on record saying that Libby's David and Hurley's Dave are not the same character, but that still doesn't dismiss the curious coincidence. Again, coincidences are common occurrences in Charles Dickens' works.

Libby just happens to own a boat she's doing nothing with when she meets Desmond, and Desmond just happens to be in need of a boat. She happily offers it to him, having met him only that afternoon. He reluctantly accepts, after hearing her story about her dead husband. When the viewer first watches this, we are for the most part relieved. This is an opportunity of the writers letting us in on useful information. We know that Desmond competes in Widmore's race with a boat named Elizabeth - a boat that gets washed up on shore on the mysterious Island, leaving Desmond stranded with Kelvin and The Button for three years or more, before the arrival of the surviving passengers of Oceanic 815. Keep in mind here that while they knew of one another, Desmond and Libby never actually meet on the Island. Desmond escapes from the Island on his (Libby's) boat before the tail section survivors make it to the fuselage side of the Island, and Libby is killed by Michael then buried by Hurley & Kate before Desmond returns on The Elizabeth drunk as a skunk.

Desmond doesn't even know Libby was ever on The Island. No one has ever thought to tell him.

This is just one of the many things that make Lost unlike most any other series ever in the history of television. Most television is pretty cut and dried. Ross is doey-eyed over Rachel. Chandler is the sarcastic one who falls in love with the cleanfreak Monica who used to be fat. Phoebe's the crazy one who sings about cat odors, and Joey is the stupid one with the heart of gold who wants to be an actor. Not a lot of depth here. Fun. I'm not dissing Friends. For what it is, it's entertaining. It's just that the deepest the show ever got was to explain that the reason Chandler cracks jokes all the time is because his father was a transvestite. Not very deep, or even remotely logical. Funny.. but meh.

Lost can be many things to many people. If you just wanna look at the surface you can. You won't understand the details but you don't have to. There's people trapped on this Island against their will, and there's other mysterious people who seem to know more than they're telling, and they purposefully make life difficult for the people we're rooting for. If you wish to dig deeper, it's like Alice venturing into Wonderland. There's many layers to this onion and there seems to be no end to it. At least, not until the end of the series, but there's no way all these questions are going to be answered. I don't think the writers of the series even want to try to answer them all.

This is probably something that will never be explored. The many gaping holes in Libby's curious history will probably never be illuminated in season six. There's simply no need for it. The story has long since passed this moment between Desmond and Libby by. Why delve into it deeper?

The story at hand going into season six is whether or not Locke is dead, and if so, who the hell's been walking around pretending to be him the past season and a half? Has Locke ever even been Locke, or has he been nothing but a puppet since the moment his father pushed him out that window?

The story at hand going into season six is whether or not Jack and the others back in DharmaVille's past succeeded in affecting time by using a nuclear explosion to destroy the land which would have been used to build the Swan station which is believed to have been what shot Oceanic 815 down out of the sky in the first place? Did it work? Did the bomb go off? Or was it a dud? Or is the very Incident that Jack instigated a temporal disturbance that threatens to destroy the very fabric of space-time and therefore what caused the initial problem leading to their predicament in the first place? Were they always fated to be trapped on this Island, or by dabbling in parasciences they could not fathom, did everyone from Dr. Pierre Chang to Vincent the Retriever each do their own part to generate this fate for themselves?

Libby's been left in the dust. We'll never know why she was in Santa Rosa. We assume it is because her husband died and she was distraught over that. We will never know why she was on the plane. We'll never know why David got a boat and named it after her. We'll never know why she just gave the boat to a complete stranger in a coffee shop. We'll never know who put her in Santa Rosa and under what conditions these events occurred.

In a time leading up to season six when many actors are being approached by the producers of Lost, and information is leaking out revealing just how many past characters both alive and dead may be returning, the actress Cynthia Watros is nowhere near the top of the list of names being batted around. She has been very busy, making appearances in shows like CSI, The Closer, Family Guy, Gossip Girl, and upcoming movies like Mars and Calvin Marshall. However, not a peep about her showing up in even a flashback or dream sequence during Lost's sixth and final season. The last time we saw Libby she was haunting the tragic and starcrossed Michael as he postponed the explosion of the freighter long enough for some to survive.

What makes this bittersweet is that, again whether it was intentional or accidental, the lack of detail regarding Libby makes that scene with her and Desmond at the coffee shop incredibly unique. You can take it at face value if you wish.

[FLASHBACK]

[We see Desmond at a coffee bar counter.]

DESMOND: Just give me which ever one has the most caffeine in it, brother. [he opens his wallet] Damn, um, I'm sorry. I've just arrived and I spent all my American money on a taxi.

LIBBY: [putting money on the counter] I've got it.

DESMOND: That's not necessary.

LIBBY: It's just 4 bucks.

DESMOND: I don't suppose you have 42,000 more of those do you?

LIBBY: Depends on what it's for.

DESMOND: I was joking.

LIBBY: No you weren't.

[We see Libby and Desmond sitting with each other. Libby is looking at a brochure for a sailing race. There's a picture of Widmore on the brochure.]

LIBBY: So, a sailing race around the world?

DESMOND: I have 8 months to get into the best shape of my life. I'll tell you what, miss, I'm going to win.

LIBBY: And what do you get if you do?

DESMOND: What really matters is who I win it for. [he pushes the brochure toward her]

LIBBY: [looking at the brochure] Charles Widmore.

DESMOND: He tried to buy me off. And when I didn't take his money, he took away the only thing in the world that I ever truly cared about.

LIBBY: Who is she?

DESMOND: His daughter. I was unsuitable on several levels.

LIBBY: And what' the 42 grand for?

DESMOND: It's a wee bit complicated. As of yet, I don't actually have a boat. [Libby looks sad] Sorry, did I say something wrong?

LIBBY: I have a boat. It was my husband's but he got sick. He wanted to sail the Mediterranean—he never—he passed away about a month ago.

DESMOND: I'm sorry.

LIBBY: I want you to have it.

DESMOND: I can't take your boat, miss.

LIBBY: But you have to. He'd want you to.

DESMOND: What was your husband's name?

LIBBY: David.

DESMOND: And what did he name his boat?

LIBBY: Elizabeth. He named it after me.

DESMOND: Then I thank you, Elizabeth. And I shall win this race for love.


By the way, just for grins, look at the numerical significance in this scene for a second. Four bucks. Eight months. Forty-two thousand more. These are some of "The Numbers" that hold unique significance in the tv series Lost, as they show up repeatedly in a number of other places throughout the run of the show.

You can take this scene as it is. Two strangers meeting in a coffee shop and finding common ground; a way to help one another cure what ails them. It's a nice tender moment all by itself. No need to delve further. You can take it at face value and walk away entertained.

Or you can delve deeper.

What if Libby's insanity were more than a fleeting thing? We are led to believe what drove her crazy was the loss of her husband, but when she speaks to Desmond she claims David died less than a month before. If you look at the time table, she must have been at Santa Rosa before she met with Desmond, so she didn't give him the boat and then go insane. She was insane before she gave him the boat. We are less to presume that she got better which is why they let her out of Santa Rosa.

What if the reason she were in the hospital was because she's a pathological liar? What if everything she says to Desmond is a lie? She doesn't have a husband named David who named a boat Elizabeth after her. She doesn't even have a boat. We know her name is Libby because that's what the nurse calls her in Hurley's flashback.

If that's the case, how did Desmond get the boat? Why is it named Elizabeth. There's a number of ways to explain that. Perhaps Libby found a boat named Elizabeth (a common name for a boat) and stole it. She gave it to Desmond before the cops got to her, so when the authorities approached her about it she didn't have it in her possession, so they never found it. Perhaps they would have eventually investigated further and found Desmond, but by then he was already lost on the Island.

Another possibility could be that she wasn't just a pathological liar, but part of a Long Con that was being orchestrated to keep Desmond away from Penny. Libby feigns ignorance when Desmond talks of Charles Widmore, but what if she knew precisely who Widmore was because Widmore told her to tail Desmond and befriend him, then give him a boat that Widmore could rig in a special way to end up going off course during the storm and wind up on The Island?

This would mean Libby was working for Widmore. This would also explain why she was on Oceanic 815. Let's go back to when the Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island. Ben and the Others behaved as if they had been anticipating a moment like this. Ben immediately told Ethan and Goodwin to infiltrate the camps of the survivors pretending to have crashed with them, make lists of names and return to Ben for more details later. This was part of a well-orchestrated plan. Ben had been waiting for this moment. Now, why would he need lists of names? Well, so he could have Patchy over at The Flame to make up dossiers on everybody, which Ben then memorized so he'd know with whom he was dealing. The code phrases the Others used referring to these list used variations on the words good or bad. There were good people and bad people. Presumably this meant "good" people they could control or bring under their wing, and "bad" people who would become troublesome in one way or another aka "hostile" to their efforts.

What if Ben was looking for something else as well? What if the reason why The Others couldn't just welcome all the survivors with open arms and leis and pina coladas was because an unspecified number of people on Oceanic 815 were plants of Charles Widmore? What if Oceanic 815 going off course wasn't an accident, but intentional? What if Libby was one of the people, sleeper agents if you will, who were supposed to get on Oceanic 815, befriend whoever survived, and await further instructions that never came?

All of this is plausible and possible, without adversely affecting anything that is actually canon in the series itself, so long as the producers of Lost ever venture back to shed more light on Libby's past. Libby is an enigma. Like Schroedinger's Cat, so long as the box is left closed, Libby can be all or none of these things.

Is she a sweet innocent who befriended Hurley and fell in love with him? Is she a double agent working for Widmore who would have been eventually found out by Ben anyway had she survived Michael's target practice? Is she a crazy woman who bought Desmond a cup of coffee and lied about owning a boat because she wanted so badly for Desmond, a complete stranger, to be indebted to her so some day he'd fall in love with her? And she stole the boat then later threw herself at him? Did he spurn her advances and dare to call her crazy to her face, then took the boat in spite of her madness because he so desperately wanted to win the race for Penny?

Now THAT would be deliciously Dickensian.

1 comment:

jojo said...

This was a great article. Thank you.