Desmond-centric episodes always deliver, don’t they? “Live Together, Die Alone,” “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” “Catch-22,” “The Constant,” and now “Jughead”…the list reads like a highlights reel of the series to date, ranging from the merely very good to the positively mind-blowing. There’s a reason the time-skipping Scot quickly became a fan favorite, and it’s not just Henry Ian Cusick’s breezy charm, though he does have that in spades! It’s also that every time it’s his episode, Lost just gets that much more wonderfully weird and gives Lostologists so much more to chew on. That we get more from the single most beloved relationship on the show (suck it, Jaters and Skaters! ) is just gravy.
In “Jughead,” ambiguity is the watchword of the day with very few scenes being what they seemed to be on the surface. Hell, even the reference in the title is ambiguous, since “Jughead” was both the name of an actual experimental H-bomb and of a time-traveling Archie character! (Don’t think they meant the Archie reference? Then why did Widmore’s appropriated uniform say “Jones?”) About the closest thing we got to straightforward was Locke’s closing the time-loop that brings him to the Island and makes him either the resurrected Once and Future Island King™ or else the biggest patsy ever used and abused by this particular hunk of exotic-matter-laden rock, putting even poor Michael to shame.
(Aside: And really, wasn’t it just one of the most cold-blooded moments on the show so far when Island Apparition Christian appeared to pointedly dismiss the at least partially redeemed Michael? No one deserves that…except Nikki & Paulo, of course.)
So let’s start with the Locke subplot before we get to the main course of Desmoliciousness. (I do so love Desmond-based neologisms, or “Desmologisms.” )
Pre-des-tin-a-tion, pre-des-tin-a-yay-tion…it’s making me loop!
That grown-up Locke ended up being the cause for Alpert’s previously-mysterious interest in young Locke may seem anticlimactic to the hardened sci-fi geeks in the house. I mean, we’ve all seen predestination loops before. But that reaction gives short shrift to this scene by focusing too narrowly.
Just as important in the exchange between time-jaunting Locke and 1954 Alpert was the fact that Alpert and the 1954 Others (including promising rookies Charles Widmore and Ellie-probably-Eloise Hawking) seemed ignorant of time travel as a possibility on the Island. It certainly looked to me as thought it was this strange visitation by the class of 2004 that first showed them it was even a possibility and that they should start studying bleeding-edge physics, stat!
In so doing, Locke (and Faraday) actually gave rise to the epic-scale ensurance trap being spearheaded by Hawking and blessed by Alpert (after all, Jacob sent Locke, right?) to ensure that all the Lostaways were aboard fateful flight 815 and Desmond entered Widmore’s sailing race.
It also resulted in the careful grooming of Faraday (who I’m more convinced than ever is Hawking’s son, but more on that later) as a temporal troubleshooter. Think about it…if the sudden disappearance of of the ’04 Lostaways didn’t completely verify their outlandish story, then the birth of one John Locke in Tustin, CA, a mere two years later certainly did. It also explains the seemingly excessive emotional response by Alpert to 5-year-old Locke’s failure of the Other Lama Test™.
So, while Locke’s role in setting the predestination loop in motion was clarified, his fate was rendered more ambivalent than ever. Locke’s ascension to Other leadership as a child would clearly have gone against the time-stream’s (or maybe just the Island’s) necessary configuration. As Faraday said, most of us can’t change the past. Locke had to fail that test and he had to turn down the “Science Camp” invitation from Mittelos as well. He had to lose the kidney, survive his 8-story fall, be miserable in a wheelchair for some years, crash with Oceanic 815, be miraculously healed, do all the things we’ve seen him do on the Island, and actually die in the service of this grand design.
(Further Aside: Is it just me or does this throw some serious doubt on the ultimate employer of Mr. Matthew Abaddon thanks to his visit to the convalescing Locke? The possibility that he’s a double-agent only pretending to work for Widmore while actually serving Ben, Alpert, and Hawking is intriguing, to say the least.)
Furthermore, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Jeremy Bentham-vintage Locke actually did not spend three years leading the Others and soaking up Island lore. Instead, bouncing around through time and never managing to get full explanations out of any version of Alpert he meets, he seems more out of control and less clued-in now than he’s ever been (his quick adaptation to using details like when certain rifles were made as temporal landmarks notwithstanding). Increasingly, he looks like the Island’s most-exploited dupe.
But then…it’s still only the beginning of Season 5 with the better part of two full seasons to go and Locke’s biography remains studded with miracles, the list of which I’ve gone through before. I still read this as setting Locke up for the ultimate miracle of resurrection and a chance for our master player of games to finally make the decisive move that “wins” for everyone the show and possibly everyone on Earth. Who knows? Maybe like poor, canceled John Doe, Locke will wake up with the Akashic Records in his head and Jack as his converted apostle. (I really like that scenario, by the way! You listening, Darlton? )
We also got to see that Richard doesn’t merely seem ageless by virtue being a time-traveler, as some had suggested previously, but has actually stayed young for very long periods of time. If anything, the evidence at hand would appear to suggest that Alpert has only ever traveled in time at the usual 1:1 speed. (“How old is he?” “Old.” I still say Alpert, at least, was on the Black Rock, dangit!)
Of course, this segues nicely to those fresh-faced youngsters, Widmore and Ellie…
I had a feeling when I’d met you that I’d seen you before. I saw the city of Paris in civil war…
The fact that Widmore was an Other in 1954 utterly confirms for me the basic premise of my “Others Civil War” hypothesis from last week’s recap, while still forcing me to change the details given that young Widmore would certainly appear to be “temporally appropriate” (ditto Ellie, assuming she’s Hawking, which I very much do!) to the grizzled, vicious old corporate raider in the present day.
Clearly, at some point, Charles tried to usurp power over the Others and the Island for himself. Though now I’m forced to conclude that this happened sometime in the late ’50s or ’60s in order for him to have gotten exiled to the outside world with enough time to spare to become a captain of industry thanks to his mad Other skillz before being the “silent partner” helping fund the DHARMA Initiative in the ’70s.
His ruthlessness was established early on by his willingness to snap his compatriot’s head rather than lead Locke, Sawyer, and Juliet to the Others’ camp. Ditto his arrogance by his inability to see Locke as anything more than “a sodding old man” who couldn’t possibly track His Otherness or know the Island as well as he does. Certainly sounds like the profile of an ill-fated would-be revolutionary and all-around hot-headed malcontent, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, young Ellie was given a really fine reason to start learning all she could about Minkowski space-time and probability by a traveler from the future. She also certainly seems to have ended up off the Island in the future, raising the possibility that she might have been a rebel on Widmore’s side. Possibly even his lover, as some are already theorizing, making Penny and Faraday half-siblings. (And we all know how Lost loves itself some secret half-sibs courtesy of Christian Shephard’s philandering ways…)
For her to turn around and fashion her son into an instrument for either troubleshooting or monkey-wrenching time itself (depending on how you choose to interpret it) would add yet another Dickensian touch to the proceedings. Anyone remember nasty old Miss Havisham, raising her daughter to break the hearts of men as a man had broken her own heart by jilting her at the altar in her youth? I know most of you are still trying to forget ninth grade English, but still…do try to remember your Great Expectations!
Despite all this seeming clarification, we once more find ambiguity in Eloise Hawking’s agenda in the future. Is she ultimately on Ben’s side? Widmore’s? Time’s? Her own? Whatever she is, she’s certainly not some passive Oracle of Time willing to do her thing for all sides without an agenda of her own. Yes, she may be helping Ben and the Oceanic 6 get back to the Island, but is that an alliance of convenience or a true loyalty to Ben (or just against Widmore) on her part? Is she trying to preserve the timeline, as she said to a confused Desmond all the way back in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” or is that just a smokescreen for her attempt to use Daniel and Des to perpetrate the biggest temporal hack ever undertaken?
So, the reveals that both Widmore and Hawking were once Others, and that Ellie almost certainly grew up to be Eloise Hawking, mother of Daniel Faraday (and really, are those assumed names or what?) may seem par for the course on Lost, but don’t focus too much on the surface. Focus on the murkier depths instead, because meeting their past selves has done little to clarify the future of either character or their progeny.
Also, regarding Ellie, I think people are making wayyyy too much out of her comment to Daniel, “You just couldn’t stay away, could you?” This is a classic misdirection on the part of the Lost writers. This was a comment born out of the initial misapprehension on her part that Daniel, Miles, and Charlotte were somehow connected to the US military, with whom the Others had only recently done battle (and slaughtered to a man), and who left behind the titular Jughead, the H-bomb. It wasn’t Ellie recognizing Faraday at all, though as we heard in subsequent dialogue, Daniel recognized Ellie. (Holy broad hint, Batman!)
(Yet Another Aside: In further ambivalence news, weren’t the young Ellie and Widmore both dead ringers for how we’d expect them to look in their youth while simultaneously having two of the worst attempts at English accents ever heard on television? Oh my, yes!)
Okay, okay…now on to Desmond!
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
I know I can’t be the only one who gets a little misty over Des & Pen getting at least three years of globetrotting, off-the-grid connubial bliss or that they named their adorable little moppet Charlie. (Awwwwww!) But nothing good can ever come of seeming to get your “happily ever after” only two-thirds of the way through the story. And, sure enough, poor Desmond has to go back to Ithaca…er, Oxford…to run another errand for Daniel and all the endangered leftover Lostaways. Being a unique temporal anomaly can really have its down-sides.
And, for all that Desmond showed us a more take-charge side as he stormed into Papa Widmore’s office rather than approaching as a supplicant, he (like Locke) seems to be dancing on the strings of hidden puppeteers. Eagle-eyed viewers have already noticed that the receptionist at Oxford was played by the same actress who played the Oceanic Airlines gate attendant in Sydney who saw flight 815 off. On a show that’s used the same extras to mill around in the background since Season 1, that simply can’t be an oversight on the casting director’s part.
We know for a fact that extra special attention has been paid to the manipulation of one Desmond David Hume’s life—Brother Campbell, Ms. Hawking, Charles Widmore, Libby, Faraday, and no doubt many more have been expending Herculean efforts to ensure that he act as required for as-yet-unknown purposes thanks to his “specialness.” (Yeesh. You turn one little key and suddenly the burden of the entire time-stream is on your shoulders…very unfair, I say!)
So, the trip from her to Faraday’s “sealed” lab to meet the suspiciously helpful caretaker, to poor, time-unstuck Theresa, to Widmore’s office to get the slip of paper with Mama Faraday’s LA address on it seems awfully orchestrated…which only further obfuscates Hawking’s ultimate allegiance if so. And, even if the caretaker was on the up-and-up—an unexpected wrinkle based on Desmond theoretically being rebuffed by the “Daniel’s not here, man!” response from the planted receptionist—it still seems odd that Widmore would know how to find Hawking and be willing to give Desmond that info.
That the destination of Oxford was originally planted in Desmond’s brain by Daniel is also curious. It doesn’t beggar imagination that 2004 Daniel didn’t know that mummy had relocated in the intervening three years to LA, but somehow someone still knew that Desmond Hume would be showing up in Oxford on that lovely 2007 day. Hell, at this point I might be willing to believe it was a future version of Desmond, all Wyld Stallyns style.
It’s going to be one mighty interesting day when Des faces Ms. Hawking again after over a decade, and double trouble to boot since it’ll put Penny and Ben Linus in close proximity. Hopefully, he’ll remember Hawking. That Des couldn’t remember that it was in 1996 that he’d last gone to Oxford with the events of “The Constant” comparatively fresh in his mind (only three years as opposed to eleven years previous) is more than a little unsettling after Charlotte’s memory lapse last episode. If Des has time-travel sickness as a result of Faraday’s implanted memory or as a delayed, dormant effect of the effects of all Des’ other time-jaunts, I’m gonna get mighty pissy.
This is what you want. This is what you get.
Which finally leaves the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, by which I mean the 6-megaton-yield hydrogen bomb, Jughead. The one question I’m not hearing anyone ask, let alone answer, is how the US military managed to stumble its way to this particular Island to test a bomb capable of vaporizing it entirely when Widmore, Ben, and others with astonishing skills and resources can’t find their way there even with very specific intent.
I can only formulate one possible answer to this question: the Island wanted that bomb.
Why? Beats the hell out of me. It clearly didn’t have much use for the military personnel accompanying said bomb as it allowed its faithful servants to mow them down expeditiously. It also prevented the one man likely to have the acumen to “render it inert” from actually doing so by yanking on the ol’ time-strings to leave Faraday and the others goodness knows when.
As has been observed on several occasions, things buried on this particular Island have a way of showing up again, and burying the bomb is exactly what Faraday told the ’54 Others to do. That means there’s still a highly experimental nuclear fusion bomb with compromised shielding somewhere on this Island fifty years later, thus becoming the single largest instance of Chekhov’s Gun ever seen on network television.
Could the Island be considering suicide like the Luna Central Computer in Steel Beach? On Lost, anything’s possible…
(Final Aside: To all you people out there speculating that Charlie Hume-Widmore somehow time-loops back around to become Charles Widmore, I’m sorry…I really just don’t think that Darlton would have a major character be straight out of a novelty song. There is such a thing as a time-loop too far!)