Title: Lost and Found
Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider
Directed by: Steve Robman
Aired: March 9, 1992
Log line: Joel discovers his cabin is haunted, Eve is worried that she is suffering from an exotic illness, and Maurice is disappointed when his old friend from Korea turns out to be less than perfect.
Listen to our podcast discussion of the episode here.
The Ace of Spades
During our discussion of the “Lost and Found”, we mentioned how central death is to this episode. One thing we didn’t talk about is how it can be glimpsed visually in several scenes that aren’t necessarily about death. We’ve chosen four examples to show how visual cues that suggest death flit in and out of scenes, often unnoticed. When Ed and Joel play cards, the most prominent card in Ed’s hand is the ace of spades, which is often associated with death. (Chris has likely spun Motorhead’s song about it at some point on KBHR, much to the chagrin of Maurice.)
Chris’ soliloquy to the brick from Mel’s Guns and Ammo shop visually echoes the moment when Hamlet picks up the skull of the dead jester, Yorick (Act 5, Scene 1 in Hamlet). Chris even asks questions of the brick (“Who carted you here? Who stacked you one on top of the other, joined you with mortar?”) in the same way that Hamlet poses questions about mortality to Yorick’s skull (“Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?”).
Just after the car crash involving Maurice’s gold Caddy, we glimpse a skull on a t-shirt as the car is being towed away, and Maurice stands beside a model skeleton in Joel’s office while he tells the story of Colonel McKern sacrificing being decorated for his actions in Korea to reward a dead pilot. In both cases, we’re subtly made aware of how fragile our lives are: Maurice and the Colonel could have easily died in the car crash, just as they could have both died while trying to hit the bridge in Korea.
Things are left behind
One way the episode approaches death is through the things people leave behind, through the physical objects that remain long after a person is gone. The most obvious example is the suicide of Jack, and the personal items he leaves behind: a Roget’s Thesaurus, a lighter, a pair of glasses, a pipe. For Joel, these items (along with photographs of Jack) help him piece together the story of Jack. With only these objects to guide him, these artifacts become more than just mere things; they “obsess” Joel, as he becomes more and more identified with his ghostly “roommate.” These items seem almost to possess Joel, as we see him put on Jack’s glasses, read the thesaurus, and absentmindedly chew the tobacco pipe. As Maggie observes, “You’re Jack. Jack is you.”
Indeed, many objects take on a particular importance in “Lost and Found,” as we see how things become imbued with meaning. The glove that Chris finds that has lost its mate on this chilly day. The brick from the demolished gun and ammo shop that Chris gazes at and philosophizes about becomes a symbol of death, change, progress, and the development of the city. Ruth-Anne describes the difficulty of seeing the shoes of her late husband Bill: “Funny about personal effects. After Bill died, I couldn’t bear to look at his shoes.”
For Maurice, the gold Cadillac was a symbol of the American dream as viewed by his hero and commanding officer, Colonel McKern: “Minnifield, at this moment in history, you embody the American dream. It’s only right and proper that you drive the American dream.” It’s hardly coincidental then, that when Maurice’s idealized notion of Colonel McKern is destroyed, the Caddy is destroyed as well. The golden Cadillac that we long identified with Maurice (see: 1.7 “A Kodiak Moment”) is crumpled, just as is Maurice’s notion of himself and his own history. The importance of material objects is further reinforced when Maurice later tells Joel how the Colonel sacrificed his own Navy Cross for another soldier’s family: “Davis’ family got the Navy Cross – Colonel McKern’s Navy Cross.”
When we think about objects and their significance, it is not the thing itself that is important, but the emotions, thoughts and memories we bring to those objects. One item is extremely meaningful to one person while to another, the same item doesn’t mean much at all.
The final minutes of the episode end with a shot of a framed photograph, as the camera slowly zooms into each person’s still image and we hear the song “Common Threads” by Bobby McFerrin. It is a photograph, just a photograph. (We happen to come across a number of important photographs in “Lost and Found”: Jack in front of Joel’s cabin, the Brick when it was called “The Bearded Nail,” and the group shot in the end.)
But this photograph is itself a meditation on the object. It captures a moment in time, it fixes each person in his or her place, forever captured in time. Even as years pass, and Joel, Maggie, Chris, and others in the picture age, as Eve’s still unborn child grows up to become a young boy, then a young man, as others pass away, the photograph is still there, and all of those who are in the photograph will be forever healthy, forever young. And as we look upon the photograph again, we still hear laughter of Ruth-Anne, Maurice, Shelly, Holling and all of the others, just like it happened not so long ago.
Themes / Recurrences: Death; birth; community.
The Good: We enjoyed all three of the story lines in this episode, and appreciated how the ideas between them wove together so nicely. We also really liked the use of the photograph and Bobby McFerrin’s “Common Threads” at the end. It nicely echoed the ending of the previous episode, “The Three Amigos.” There, we saw music and snippets of memory/footage, while here we have music and a memory/still photograph.
The Bad: In recent episodes, there’s been a great deal of Chris talking into the microphone on KBHR, which we always enjoy. Still, it would be nice if Chris were integrated as an actual character more frequently, rather than serving as the Greek chorus.
The Notable: This is the first time we get to see Eve without Adam. Valerie Mahaffey’s portrayal of Eve is delightful here.
On’s rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Shane’s rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Did you two also notice the big owl statue sitting next to Chris in the scene at KBHR where he talks about exile? The camera sort of pans by it at the start of the scene. Calls back to the witness of Rick’s death-by-fallen-satellite.
Ah, a nice observation, Chris! We’d noticed that detail, but hadn’t made the connection to Rick’s venturing into the woods (an exile by choice?) and sudden death beside an owl.