Well, well, well…by Lost standards, we certainly seem to have had ourselves a pretty straightforward episode in “316.” Even the allusions were simple! John 3:16, the lamppost of Narnia, doubting (but brave!) Thomas the Apostle. And it looked like there were only a few unanswered questions, even having only a few possible explanations. Goodness knows we needed a bit of respite from all the time-jumping. Hell, I thought I was going to start getting nosebleeds for a while there.
That breather’s also going to come in handy, given that the next episode is the obviously Locke-tastic “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham,” which can only mean another serious download full of head-scratchers from the more mystical side of Lost.
But then, maybe things weren’t quite as straightforward as they seemed…
I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.
So the Oceanic…er…5 made it back to the Island, giving us a lovely mirror of Jack’s series-launching eye-opening among the waving bamboo and returning some of the Island’s favorite toys to it to be played with anew.
[***WARNING: Major Spoiler for The Dark Tower. Skip this paragraph if you haven't read the series and don't want it spoiled!***]
I sincerely hope that this puts to rest any notion of a Dark Tower-like ending in which the time-loop simply starts again, but with one minor alteration suggesting some differences this time around. I’ve been hearing that one for quite some time and it’s always bugged me. Next to a Sopranos-like cut to black or Bob Newhart waking up to find it was all a bad dream, I don’t believe I can think any less-satisfying ending to the series. But I digress…
[***End of spoiler zone! Carry on.***]
Literally as soon as he wakes up, we see the return of Action Jack™, hero at large, savior of the imperiled, bearer of Locke’s talismanic “I wish” suicide note fragment, and terrible diver.
Hurley and Kate turn out to be OK and, as our little “holy shit!” moment, we get ourselves a DHARMA-outfitted Jin looking mighty surprised to see his departed friends back again in the same time-slip as him. End of on-Island story.
But the fact that the majority of the O6 (plus Ben and Lapidus) are back on the Island this early in Season 5 has some far-reaching implications, and not just to do with Jack’s opening eye not being the last shot of the series in May of 2010. To my mind, this really opens up the storytelling possibilities of the show for the remainder of Season 5. Many amateur and professional Lostologists were thinking that the return of the O6, et al to the Island was going to be the climactic finale to this season, setting up whatever the on-Island end-game would be for next season.
Instead, we still have about 2/3 of the season left to go during which it looks like we’ll visit with the DHARMA Initiative to get their story, see how an Ajira Airways water bottle ended up in an outrigger canoe in the future, and get some potentially interesting off-Island action with Des & Pen, Widmore, Hawking, Aaron, Ji Yeon, Waaaalt, and other friends and loved ones of the O6. That all the adult members of the O6 would suddenly go missing simultaneously seems like the kind of thing that would draw some attention, don’t you think? Can an “815 Truth” movement and/or public knowledge of the mysterious Island in the outside world be far behind?
Of course, the very fact that there’s a comparatively flimsy Ajira water bottle in 2005 or later and a set of Ajira passengers back in DHARMA days also strongly implies that not everyone on Flight 316, including the plane itself, ended up in the same time-zone. All that remains to know here is who and what ended up when, and why. (By the way, anyone wanna take bets that Caesar is Widmore’s plant on the plane? Didn’t think so.)
Don’t leave false illusions behind. Don’t cry ’cause I ain’t changing my mind. So find another fool like before, ’cause I aint gonna live anymore believing some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving.
(Or maybe I should be quoting the Thompson Twins…”Lies, lies, lies, YEAH!” But really, they were so cheesy weren’t they?)
Verily, I say unto you that the lies were flowing fast and freely from the mouths of both Ben Linus and Eloise Hawking this episode, and I’m betting that something of a long con was pulled. From Ben, we know that he lied about not knowing about the Lamp Post station, about something as niggling as his dead-in-childbirth mother teaching him to read, and almost assuredly about not knowing about Locke’s suicide. We also know full well that the “promise to an old friend” he was keeping was an attempt on Penny Widmore’s life seeking vengeance for Alex’s execution…and that everything didn’t go exactly as planned given Ben’s bloodied and soaked condition during his call to Jack.
But I think the far bigger lie was Hawking’s. Oh, it contained kernels of truth the way all the very best lies do—the Lamp Post no doubt was DHARMA’s way of finding the Island, for example—but fundamentally, she was lying about everything else except which plane the O6ers needed to be one. Why? Because I would lay dollars to donuts that she’s known all along that it would be Ajira flight 316 on that particular day that would hit the “window” that would allow it to get to the Island.
She knew that because some time-traveler in the past had given up that info. Just like the elder Others—and seemingly everyone else but the actual passengers of Oceanic 815—knew that 815 would come crashing down on their shores on 9/22/04 for 50 years. She just needed to make it all look good and sound plausible with the impressive setting, mammoth Foucault pendulum, charming retro tech, and lovely story of the Lamp Post.
I’m also all but certain that she’s playing Ben right along with the O6. She might also be playing Widmore, both sides against the middle, as it were. Her availability in both Ben’s and Widmore’s rolodexes certainly leaves her ultimate allegiance murky. But really, I wouldn’t be even a little surprised to learn that Hawking and Faraday have an agenda all their own pertaining to the Island.
By the way…Ben’s strategic telling of the story of Doubting Thomas to make him out to be a hero? Smooth. The ol’ Benster’s still got it!
See there! A man is born, and we pronounce him fit for peace. There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease. We’ll take the child from him, put it to the test…teach it to be a wise man, how to fool the rest.
So now, let’s handicap the answers to the obvious (and a few not-so-obvious) questions of this episode:
To my way of thinking, Carol Littleton (Claire’s mum and Aaron’s gran) is the logical choice here, though I do rather wonder if wee Turniphead didn’t get to her by way of Dan Norton, Esq. I’ve also heard the notion that Kate stashed her moppet with Sawyer’s old flame, Cassidy, and while I find it an intriguing notion, I don’t think it makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Carole Littleton’s “coincidental” appearance in LA surely couldn’t just have been a red herring in “The Little Prince“…could it? And couldn’t you just see the Carole and the Mr. Paik getting more than a little agitated by the abandoning of their grandspawn by their children?
2. Who roughed Ben up before giving him a dunk in the drink?
All of the above: 3-2
None of the above: 20-1
Everything clearly did not go according to plan in Ben’s plan to avenge his adoptive daughter’s death. His arm’s damaged badly enough to be in a sling, he looks like he went a few rounds with Mike Tyson, and he obviously took an unplanned swim. Given Ben’s track-record of badassery, I’m not buying anyone but former Royal Scot Desmond and/or former Republican Guard Sayid (with possible assist from Penny herself…you can’t be Widmore’s kid and not be tough!) doing that kind of damage to our international man of bug-eyed mystery. I’m just not buying Ben being taken down like that by a bunch of rented goons from Charles Widmore.
3. What was Sayid doing in cuffs in the custody of US Marshall Hottie?
Being deported for either his murders for Ben and/or his beat-down of Ben: 2-1
Being conned by a fake Marshall to do what Ben wants: 10-1
Conspiring with the Marshall, real or fake, to take down Ben: 20-1
It’s all just a great big misunderstanding: 1,000-1
Ben’s clearly not above using law enforcement to do his dirty work for him…especially after getting beaten to a bloody pulp. Even if it wasn’t Sayid who put that hurting on him, he may very well still have used it to implicate Sayid. And we know he has a scary-good lawyer.
4. Who got Hurley out of jail and told which plane to be on?
Dan Norton, Esq.: 3-1
Other Island Apparition: 10-1
Anyone else: 100-1
Unlike any of the Island Apparitions, Dan Norton has the juice to get Hurley out of the pokey before telling him which plane to get on. And wasn’t it just the sweetest thing that Hurley let himself be thought of as a dick in order to save 78 people from enduring a crash and stranding on the Island? That boy is SO the moral center of the show!
5. Who’s the “clever fellow” who came up with the method of finding the Island?
Enzo Valenzetti: 7-1
Gerald DeGroot: 12-1
Pierre Chang: 30-1
Charles Widmore: 25-1
Alvar Hanso: 100-1
Daniel Faraday: 50-1
Horace Goodspeed: 10-1
Someone we haven’t met: 15-1
We’ll never find out: 20-1
OK…Chang’s an astrophysicist, so freaky earth-bound electromagnetism isn’t his area of expertise. Hanso and Widmore don’t seem to be scientific minds of any sort, despite clearly being high-wattage bulbs. Faraday would be a bit too cutesy and coincidental for my liking. It could easily be that we’ll either never find out who did it or else meet them later. But, of the people we’ve met or heard about, I like Valenzetti, DeGroot, and Goodspeed the best for coming up with that kind of mathematical model. Yes, I know Valenzetti isn’t exactly canon what with being from The Lost Experience and all, but I’ve always looked at the Sri Lanka Video as being at least as canonical as the Orchid orientation film bloopers and the transmission to the future shown at Comicon the last couple of years.
I told the priest, “Don’t count on any second coming. God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming. He had the nerve to come, the gall to die and then forgive us. No, I don’t wonder why…I wonder what he thought it’d get us.”
For all that faith often seems to get the upper hand on science in that particular great debate on the show, it sure does seem to be for suckers, doesn’t it? People making appeals to faith on Lost all seem to be manipulating others or are being manipulated by others (and sometimes Others). Ben and Hawking trying to buck up Jack’s courage to get him back to the Island, Locke trying to convince Jack of his “destiny” of staying on the Island, Locke seeming more and more like the Island’s dupe as time goes on, and so forth.
Most of the people who keep asking for faith from others—Ben, Hawking, the Island via Christian—seem to have empirical data to work from and don’t exactly need faith. The faith is for those who don’t have “need to know.” The fate of the faithful on this show is certainly looking like it’s to be used and then discarded…usually involving death. We the audience don’t need any convincing that there are miracles to be had on the Island. We’ve seen them. Actual gnosiskind of eliminates the need for faith, don’t you think? If you have direct knowledge of the supernatural, you don’t need to have faith that it exists.
On a related note, am I the only one who’s deeply annoyed by ABC’s teaser for next week? None of the other recappers I’ve seen have mentioned this. I won’t get into the details for those who haven’t seen it, but ABC really looked like it spoiled a major reveal from next week’s episode and they should know better than that. Given what it was, I can’t even hope that it was misleading. Whoever did that should be canned post-haste.
Right. That’s it for now. See you probably about this time next week as I’m going to be out of town from Wed-Sun and won’t be in much of a position to be doing all the watching and gathering of resources I need to do for a proper recap. Sorry in advance!
(PS: Was it just me or was it more than a little poignant that an episode with so many CS Lewis allusions happened after Charlotte died?)
(PPS: Best line of the whole episode, “Wait a second…we’re not going to Guam, are we.” )