Lost episode 6.4, “The Substitute,” has so many parallels with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory , I am convinced that the movie can be used to reveal Lost’s endgame. While I’m sure those parallels also exist within the actual Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book, since I am more familiar with the 1971 Gene Wilder movie (having seen it dozens of times), I will make my comparisons there. Sure, this may turn out to be nothing more than stuff and nonsense, but in the words of Wonka, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” So, let’s get to it because we have so much time and so little to do. Strike that…reverse it. Continue reading
Wow, the ending of the premier with Flocke taking out Richard was awesome. Richard is obviously panicked about who it is inhabiting the body of John Locke. And when he finally sees Flocke emerge from the statue his fear is apparent.
“Hello Richard, it’s good to see you out of those chains”
“me!” “I am very disappointed- in all of you”
It occurred to me that perhaps Richard was, as many speculated, tied closely to the black rock. Perhaps even a slave on it. If Jacob saved Richard who then worked as an advisor between the people on the Island and the will of Jacob than it makes very good sense as to why Richard is so scared of Flocke and why Flocke is so hostile towards him. It would also explain why Flocke is disappointed with the followers.
The storyline between Jacob and MIB and Richard is turning out to be one i’m most interested in… I cant wait to see the history behind this…
As I was unpacking some boxes after our recent move, I picked up my copy of Kubler-Ross’ On Death and Dying and realized that I have been going through the grief process after watching the Finale. For those that have not read this book or studied it in college, visit the wikipedia article for a summary.
I realized that I been in denial about the death of Locke. I rejected those that pointed out that Locke and the Smoke monster were the same. And, so they were right. I rejected the foreshadowing that “dead is dead.” I ignored that the anagram of the van was “reincarnation” and not “resurrection.” Two very different things. Everything was laid out before us that it was not Locke that was walking on the island. I did NOT want to believe it!
After the finale, I was angry that Locke was in that box deader than a rock. It just hurts that one of my favorite characters is gone. This is a character that we can identify with. With firm conviction, he believed that there was more to life. He believed in a purpose. And, Locke represented that belief in us. He was also that rugged spirit that refused to be told of his limitations. He was supposed to be the one that saved them all. Now, we know that his life was a pathetic series of failures. That his belief, in the end, was vanity. He was never supposed to be the others leader. He was never supposed to be great. He was nothing more than a pawn.
I have already been playing out the scenarios in my head and in discussions with my friends where he could be resurrected once more. Some of those scenarios seemed compelling. After all, Jacob did touch the final 8 survivors of flight 815 that are remaining on the chess board. Maybe this infusion of Jacob can have the power to resurrect Locke. But, these seem as pathetic as the character of Locke. What we see now is that all the pawns have been cleared off the board.
Unfulfilled potential, unrealized greatness… For those Locke fans, deal with it. He is gone. I am preparing myself for the last season where Terry O’Quinn will be playing the part of the nemesis not the hero. Hell, Locke wasn’t even a hero. Locke was a tragedy. Eventually, I will have to take my own advice and accept it…
…just not yet.
One MIGHT say that the LOST writer’s room is trying to inch closer and closer to the redemption line with Ben Linus. I think that would be a huge mistake. None-the-less, some of Mr. Linus’s vulnerabilities were quite revealing. Revealing enough to forgive genocide? Perhaps not.
“Dead is Dead” was a weaveworld of Ben Linus deceptions. For the first time we got to see Ben operate without the average guy facade. We saw the incredulous ‘who me?’ mask thrown on as needed. We saw that every move he makes is a manipulation. He at first seems to be turning on Locke, we later learn he is merely flushing out the weapons. In fact, the only thing Ben was consistent on links directly to the chink in his armor: children.
Ben went through with his judgment without turning the situation on its ear – his agony over the death of his daughter and his role in the situation was real, just as his willingness – nay, need – to be judged. Perhaps most interesting was the parallel between Ben’s commitment to facing his ‘own’ kind of music, to his inability to keep his commitment to his own need for revenge. Killing Penny seemed a cold and apt act in the wake of Widmore’s volition of rule-breaking.
The site of Penny’s child, though, was a turning point for Ben – connected through the needlepoint of the episode. His task, in some regards, was no different than the mission to kill Danielle. He arrived, and at the site of the child changed the rules of the game himself – disobeying his ‘leader’ for a higher moral ground. In both the seizing of Alex and the sparing of Penny, Ben disobeys the Widmore nature – he doesn’t seem to have the backbone for this kind of evil.
All of this revives the question that continues to spin on its own momentum: who is the bad guy between these two? “Dead is Dead” is win one for the Linus fans of the world. Widmore is far more cold blooded than Ben, at least when it comes to children. However, a note of caution to Ben-ites and LOST writers as well; true redemption will elude Ben Linus always, regardless of how popular he becomes. Make all of the Darth Vader comparisons you like.
Sure, even though Anakin stood by while a whole planet was blow’d up real good, and we still cheered when he threw the emperor over the rail. We were also always aware of this greater evil that seemed to pulling his strings, not to mention an overarching mythology that included an equal opportunity corruptor known as the dark-side of the force. Ben linus has neither of these plot conveniences on stand-by to save him from the horrors of gassing the men and women of the Dharma Initiative, or any of the many smaller sociopathic displays Ben has snickered through.
Finding the human side of a psychopath is always the most fascinating part of stories that choose to go there, as long as they do not lead blindly to a redemption that fails to bring the villain to any kind of justice. It’s an argument that makes returning to the question of who is the good guy/bad guy between Widmore/Linus all that much more volatile. Personally, I’ll stick to “worse of two evils” line, and hope that at the end of the day the ghosts of New Otherton are waiting to drag a sneering Ben Linus to his just desserts.
Best. Last Line. EVAR!
I mean, really, did you see the look in Ben’s big, bugged-out blues? Classic! Then, Locke smirks, smash-cut…*pah!*…”LOST.” That, my friends, is how you end an episode and leave ‘em wanting more. Truly, do you ever get enough of Locke and Ben? I know I don’t!
And what about Miles and Hurley? Much like Sawyer and Hurley in the pre-Sawyer-as-derring-do-er days, those two sure know how to provide some great comic relief doubling as being the in-show voice of the fans. Ahhh…good times, good times.
And Sawyer and Juliet! What great chemistry they have. How heroic, how noble, and how smart are they, eh? Truly the golden couple of the show right now, and not just for both being blondes.
Oh, wait… *le sigh*
I suppose I should mention Kate seeing as “Whatever Happened, Happened” was one of her centric episodes and all. And really, where does she get off having a second centric episode in the time travel season anyway? All right, all right. We’ll start with her, and then get to the good stuff, m’kay?
How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?
And I do have to be fair to old ferret-face. She’s shown some character growth even if she hasn’t picked up any acting chops. Kate did The Right Thing™ at every step along the way of this episode, both on the Island and off it. Let’s break it down:
• She gave Aaron to the one person who should really him in Claire’s absence, Claire’s mum, thereby paying proper attention to her near-Claire experience. (Called it!)
• She told Carole the truth about Aaron and that the O6 lied.
• She told Cassidy the truth about the O6′s lie.
• She honored her promise to Sawyer to deliver the money for Clementine.
• She went above and beyond to save a poor tween boy who’d been shot, even if that boy grew up to become the Ben Linus we all love to hate.
• She never once reproached the suddenly contrite Roger Linus for his woeful lack of quality parenting.
• She delivered news back to a grateful Sawyer about Cassidy and Clementine.
• She even took the news of Sawyer’s “doing this for her (Juliet)” with its accompanying backhanded message about Kate’s prospects with Sawyer without even flinching.
• Even though we saw it in “316,” Kate still got on that plane to face up to her destiny on the Island.
So, this isn’t the same old “making messes and running away from them” Kate. We get it.
You want answers?
I want the truth!
You can’t handle the truth!
But there’s something even more important going on in there, in the off-Island bullet-points. Can you see what it is? No, it’s not that she’s going to be single for at least the foreseeable future, though I’m pleased as punch about that, too.
It’s that Kate has joined Hurley and Locke in a very exclusive club of off-Island people: those who’ve exposed the lie of the Oceanic Six. But why, you may well ask, is that important?
Because this little trend is putting into place something I think is going to be a very important plot development for Season 6. Call it the “815 Truth Movement.” To paraphrase the ever-pithy über-pilot, Frank Lapidus, you know those nuts that think 9/11 was an inside job? Well, this is like that…only real.
The list of people who know some or all of the truth about the Oceanic Six’s deception, or who will vociferously question their re-disappearance is growing. Carmen & David Reyes, Cassidy & Clementine Phillips, Carole & Aaron Littleton, Mr. Paik & Ji Yeon, and Waaalt could sure grab some media attention if they went and validated the conspiracy theories about Oceanic 815 that have already been hinted at by the “The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies” bonus feature on the Season 4 DVD set. And none of them would be the sort to be silenced or placated by anything Ben Linus, Charles Widmore, or their operatives have to offer. (I’d have added Desmond, Penny, and wee Charlie, but I’m somehow sure they’ll be on the Island sooner than next season.)
There are also just too many on-screen instances of this sort of “loose end” being left now to ignore the evidence. I’d actually been pondering this going all the way back to Hurley’s original admission to his mom in “The Lie,” though I only brought it into these pages with my treatment of the last Kate-centric episode, “The Little Prince.”
In the larger sense, the only confirms to me that the off-Island world is actually going to be a major factor in the end-game rather than just fading into the background to focus solely on the on-Island chess-match, which I still think is all about finding out whether or not the time-stream can be altered after all…or else, in the words of the always-cheery Eloise Hawking, “God help us all.” Or is it the alteration that one side wants to perform that God needs to help us avoid? Alas, we have too little info as yet.
Oh, of course! It’s all about you, isn’t it?!?
Of course, one of the benefits of having the “present-day” storyline happening in 1977 DHARMAville (future site of New Otherton!) is that everything has become something of an extended Ben flashback, allowing us not to have to think about dramatically lesser characters like Kate too terribly much if we don’t want to.
And before we get into the heavier plot elements, I just want to take a moment to reflect on the fact that we actually, finally got to see a different side of Roger Linus than “abusive asshole” or “dessicated corpse.”
I have to admit that, after seeing Jon Gries playing far gentler souls like terminally shy savant Lazlo Hollyfeld in Real Genius and lovable techie Broots in The Pretender, seeing him be so mean to young Ben was causing me no end of cognitive dissonance. So it was a bit of a relief to finally see Roger express a positive human emotion by confessing to Kate his shortcomings as a father and expressing due concern for the life of his boy.
If only it weren’t a case of “too little, too late.” Just another one of the many poignant stories woven together on this crazy drama we all love so…
Now, in the latest performance of the predestination loop mambo, we have evil, cruel, nasty Ben bringing assassinified Sayid back in time to shoot young Ben so he can become cruel and nasty enough to want to do that to Sayid. (I’m still holding out for Hurley to be the one in whose voice The Numbers were being broadcast when Leonard Simms heard them…)
We also have Hurley raise his one good question in his dialogue with Miles about the nature of time travel—that of why Ben didn’t remember Sayid shooting him—only to possibly have a possible answer given shortly thereafter by Mr. Guyliner himself.
Annnnnd a big question about the mysteriously-migrating gunshot wound flip-flopping which side of the Prime Meridian of Ben’s hoodie it’s on between “He’s Our You” and “Whatever Happened, Happened.”
There’s already been a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments about both of these questions. Some people think that the “he won’t remember any of this” line was too facile in explaining why, as Hurley was curious to know, Ben wouldn’t remember Sayid as his would-be killer upon being tortured by Sayid as “Henry Gale” in the Swan hatch in 2004. And does it mean that Ben suddenly doesn’t remember anything before that point at all, making his lie about being born on the Island into his belief of the truth? Or else surely that means he actually remembers everything!
Well, I’m going on record to say that both are wrong. The only “all this” Ben won’t remember is being shot and handed over to the Others…and probably the day or two previous, in which he would have met Sayid. The rest of his fucked-up upbringing, including the fact of being brought to the Island at 8 years old, he’ll remember. After all, he’s still going to need a reason to still hate Roger enough to gas him up close and personal even though I’m quite sure Roger will moderate his parenting style upon miraculously getting his son back alive. And what’s more, some part of Ben, conscious or otherwise, is going to retain the memory of being shot by Sayid, adding fuel to the fire of Ben’s treatment of Sayid from 2005-2008. But I’m betting it suits the Island’s/Jacob’s/Smokey’s purposes for Ben not to remember Sayid clearly when he’s captured in 2004 despite having other foreknowledge of the time-tripping Lostaways in DHARMAville remain intact.
And to the “total amnesia” proponents I only ask this, did Robert and the other members of the French team forget their past lives after being mysteriously reprogrammed by the smoke monster in “This Place is Death?” Based on the intimate knowledge of their past together displayed by Robert in his final standoff with Danielle, the answer to that is a very clear “no.”
The whole world keeps spinning around me. All life is future to past, every breath leaves me one less to my last.
Now, about that gunshot wound…
A quick look at the screencaps is enough to show that this wasn’t a simple case of horizontal inversion, which is more common than you think in TV shows. Checking out Young Ben’s hair in both scenes nixes that. So we’re left with either a pretty colossal continuity error on the part of Lost’s costume and makeup people or else another one in an ongoing series of small alterations indicating that someone or something is somehow constantly changing the timestream in small ways, as in the case of the mysterious pictures on the stairs (pictured right) during Miles’ ghostly powwow back in “Confirmed Dead.” There have also been slight dialogue differences in each revisiting of the scene at the pier between the O6 and Ben, which strikes me as very odd since it’s not like they didn’t have the script for “This Place is Death” lying around to double-check against.
I’m certainly not beyond believing that it’s easy to make mistakes from one episode to the next or even one day of shooting to the next on a show as complicated and intricately-plotted as Lost, nor even believing that at least some of the examples I’ve cited, or that others would cite, are in fact bloopers. But there are just too many of them and some of them are just plain too egregious to simply be errors. I’ve been saying it for some time now, but it bears repeating: the timeline of Lost isn’t fixed and fully fated…for the right people or beings.
Like the Island itself. And Desmond. And quite possibly Walt.
I mean, just think of the ripples through time it would have taken to ensure a failure to fire in both Michael’s and Keamy’s guns, preventing Michael from dying before his appointed time, for example. Or to orchestrate a rare bird smacking itself dead into the Lloyds’ window right as Walt and stepdaddy were talking about it all the way back in “Special?”
It’s just that for poor schmoes like the rest of our Lostaways, all they can do is follow along the tracks through time that only they can’t see.
You’re worn and used and you cant talk. Your flight has been postponed, now you must walk…straight up that hill, now you must push your own rock.
Which brings us to easily my second-favorite scene in the show: Hurley and Miles sounding a lot like arguing Lost fans with Miles playing the generally clued-in role and Hurley being mostly sans clue, aside from the insightful question about Ben’s memory that probably has nothing to do with time travel at all.
What Miles was trying to explain to poor, unequipped-to-cope Hurley was the difference between objective and subjective time (which I was busy defining way back at the beginning of the season, if you’ll recall). All of which makes me wonder why there weren’t more sci-fi geeks among the Lostaways. Maybe the Island didn’t want anyone around who could really explain things properly to the returned O6ers, hence the disappearance of Faraday.
But getting back to the point, it really is quite simple, as I’m sure the vast majority of the readers here will agree. But for the confused few, it’s quite simple…everything that the time-travelers experienced up to the point at which they were thrown back to the ’70s is subjectively “past” to them. They lived from their respective birthdates one day at a time until the Island started its time-skipping (in the case of the Left Behinders), or until the flash aboard an out of control Ajira 316 (in the case of the time-tripping O6ers). So, their existence in early 2005 or early 2008 is in no way contingent upon their surviving their experience in 1977.
But people who haven’t time-traveled to the past, but are merely the 1977 versions of people we know in the 2000s can neither die (e.g. Ben) nor be prevented from dying (e.g. most of the DHARMA Initiative) no matter what the time-travelers do. By the time we get to 2004 and the crash of Oceanic 815, Ben is alive and the DHARMA Initiative is dead, and that’s all there is to that.
Got it? Good. Miles was 100% right and Hurley was 100% wrong, as much as we love him.
That’s what the title is all about. Nothing that any of these people do during the DHARMA days can even possibly be anything different than what the future knows they did. No matter how “unpredictable” you try to act, your actions will inevitably be exactly what they always would be. And it’s that knowledge that drove poor Daniel Faraday quite mad after the last time-skip took him away from the mortal remains of Charlotte Lewis, which now resides forevermore on the Island in whatever ancient time that was when the statue still stood.
The only exceptions, as previously stated, are those special, exceptional “wild-cards.” But will their influence be enough to enable whatever alteration one side or another of the Great Game of Lost is trying to get away with? This is exactly why Season 5 is all about giving fate the edge, so that free will can be the fan-favored underdog going into the all-important Season 6.
Hello there, ladies and gentlemen! Hello there, ladies and gents! Are you ready to rock? Are you ready or not?
And finally we complete the circle and arrive back at that most triumphant episode ending. That better-than-classic-Lost moment we’ve been waiting for since “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham“…Ben getting an eyeful of one seriously resurrected Locke.
And it was all we could have hoped for and more.
We got some genuine-looking shock from The Man Who Always Has a Plan™, a righteous smirk and verbal smackdown from The Once and Future Island King™, and the setup for what looks to be a big-time, bad-ass Ben episode called “Dead Is Dead”…even if it should be called “Dead Is Dead (Unless You’re the Island’s Miracle Boy).”
So, is Ben’s look actual shock, as in “How can you be alive?!? I killed you!”? Or is it disbelief more along the lines of, “I knew you’d come back, but…holy crap, it actually happened! Now there’s something you don’t see every day.”? There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there. And even then, Ben might lie through his teeth.
Still…”Hello, Ben. Welcome back to the land of the living.”
(Author’s Note: OK, back to a regular schedule after this last late recap. I was in San Diego and Baja helping my brother get married with many attendant festivities starting last Wednesday night. Note to self, there’s a reason they call it “te-kill-ya.”)
Well…there you have it. The Passion of the Locke, as others have already been perceptive enough to call it. And did I call it? Of course I called it! But then, did anyone really not believe that Locke the Miracle Man’s™ story arc wasn’t leading him inexorably toward that ne plus ultra of miracles (and ultimate validation of his importance in the scheme of things), resurrection? Anyone? Bueller…?
Don’t worry, I wouldn’t own up to it either in your shoes after seeing the proof.
But before he could rise again, Locke needed to suffer the death of ego courtesy of his travels in the underworld, by which I mean the outside world. Shall we? Hang on…
I’ve heard of you. I heard you were dead!
• New guy Caesar is shifty and not to be trusted, possibly has Island knowledge, and is almost certainly a catspaw of Widmore.
• At some point, the DHARMA Initiative got its grubby little mitts on Faraday’s journal in order to make that copy.
• Frank Lapidus managed to land Ajira 316 reasonably safely on Hydra Island, leaving most if not all of the passengers alive. Can that man fly under adverse conditions or what?
• John Locke is back from the dead…and looking more than a little reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi during the dramatic de-hooding as he introduces himself to the Ajira 316 survivors. Unfortunately for Locke, he doesn’t seem to have come back with any more knowledge than he had when he died.
However, seeing as I’m going to be spending the bulk of my time in this piece talking ’bout my main man, Locke, how’s about we start with Items 2 and 3 on that list, as they actually tell us something new and interesting and not immediately related to Locke’s strange journey?
What they tell us in no uncertain terms is that the knowledge of future events specifically included foreknowledge of the crash of Ajira 316, just as I theorized in my recap of “316.” Otherwise, why would Juliet and the Others have been clearing a runway there back in Season 3, hmm?
I told you Ms. Hawking was simply using the rather impressive and arcane environs of the Lamp Post as a set for her play of having spent a great deal of effort finding out about where the Island would be and which plane would be the most likely to get them through their “window.” She already knew exactly which plane would be crashing there on that particular day, as did whoever gave the order to build that runway, either Ben or Richard. Of course, as with the very best lies, hers contained a kernel of truth. I’m quite sure that the Lamp Post was used for exactly the purpose she says it was and could, in fact, still do that job if required. Hell, she may very well have still been crunching the numbers to verify what she already knew, but the fact remains…she already knew it.
Furthermore, if DHARMA had Daniel’s papers and journal, to say nothing of presumably having a period of access to Daniel himself, then it’s almost certain that a pretty extensive info-download occurred. This past year’s Comicon teaser video was a testament to that fact.
So, the gears of determinism keep grinding away to get us to the point at which things will finally have an unsure outcome. Really puts Abaddon’s remark about “getting people where they need to go” into perspective, doesn’t it.
Everybody’s coming, leave your body at the door. Leave your body and soul at the door.
Now, on to the Stations of the Locke. I’m not going to try to draw one-to-one correspondences here. I’ll leave that to the more fanatically detail-oriented among the Lost fandom. But the Passion imagery was simply too obvious to ignore, right down to Locke’s “why hast thou forsaken me?”-like lament to Jack (in the note) and Ben (in person).
The betrayal, the stumbles, the falls, the scourging, the sharing of the burden, the final death…it was all there, with Ben more than anyone playing Judas Iscariot and Widmore, despite protestations to the contrary, doing his best impression of Pontius Pilate.
Let’s start with Widmore. As is ever the case with paternal figures in Locke’s life (Cooper, Christian), he seems to be leading Locke down the primrose path by feeding Locke’s need to feel special and important. He makes sure there’s going to be medical attention available to Locke when he appears at “the exit” from the Island (a place known at the very least to himself, an unfortunate polar bear, and Ben), indicating that he knew someone would be there even if he didn’t know the precisely time. He expresses concern and support, gives him a new identity and resources, and sends him off with Lost’s answer to Charon, Abaddon.
But all of Abaddon’s actions in his role as Locke’s sherpa through Hades seemed to be intended to cause Locke very calculated distress. He brandishes that most hated symbol of impotence at Locke—the wheelchair. A crutch would have done every bit as well without being nearly so demeaning. He digs at Locke with every failed or passed-on attempt to persuade someone to return, adding insult to the injury inflicted by four of the O6 and by his struggle with the prospect of dragging Walt back into the fray. He plants the seed of taking Locke to see someone “who’d be glad to see [him],” likely knowing full well there would only be one person who matched that description, and she’s either dead or else has one very premeditated staged grave.
Clearly, where Locke “needed to go” was right into the pit of despair. Somehow, Widmore knew that it would be Locke’s failed attempts plus his suicide that finally drives the O6 into the vortex of events leading them to the Time Witch, then back onto another airplane known to be making an unscheduled stop on Mystery Frickin’ Island.
But then Ben seems to save Locke from Abaddon. Out of nowhere, he guns Widmore’s lieutenant down and, after losing Locke in the car chase and crash, tracks him down to whatever skeevy flophouse Locke was using for his last little leap. He gives a masterclass on improvised manipulation and then…strangles the man he just talked down?
Of course he does. He got the piece of information that he wanted out of Locke: that Ms. Hawking knew how to get the O6 (accompanied by Ben, of course) to the Island. He couldn’t have gotten that if Locke had killed himself first. I think that this information was all Ben ever wanted out of Locke, and that he always intended to kill Locke once he had it. Like Widmore, he knew that Locke had to be a corpse on Ajira 316.
But the big question now is whether either Ben or Widmore—or even Hawking, for that matter—knew that Locke would be resurrected once back on the Island.
What did he say to make you such a believer?
The Island, on the other hand, knew. It also planted, though zombie-Christian, the seed that germinated into Locke delivering the correct message to the correct O6-er to start the dominoes falling. This culminated in most of the off-Island Lostaways (even Frank…yay, Frank!) getting on their appointed flight to land on their appointed runway and find their appointed Island Messiah™.
Given Christian’s (and therefore presumably the Island’s) distaste for Ben, it also looks like Ben’s got some appointed comeuppance headed his way. If Ben was morose over the fact that Locke had been shielded against death from Ben’s bullet at the mass grave through the trifling expedience of having his kidney on that side conned out of him several years prior, just imagine how not-so-gentle Ben is going to respond to Locke getting up again after being dead for what I can only imagine was about three days.
So, our Locke has a destiny and is important. Important enough for the Island to have gone above and beyond merely “out of its way” to ensure that he’s where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Not premature birth in the ’50s, disability, or even death itself is being allowed to stand in Locke’s way, despite his moments of weakness and failure. Mark my words…somehow, some way, Locke will be the one who ends up either winning the “game” of the show or making the choice that decides all the temporal shenanigans. Either way, he’ll end up showing up both Ben and Widmore in so doing.
By the way, was it just me or was it not incredibly satisfying to see the Jackface (pictured right) issued by Matt Fox upon hearing the news that zombie-Dad passed along a wee greeting by way of that nice Mr. Locke? Yeah, I thought so, too!
And when the Zetas fill the skies, will our leaders tell us why?
Taller Non-Ghost Waaalt had himself a vision of Locke in a suit on the Island surrounded by people who wanted to hurt him. Locke and the rest of the passengers of Ajira 316 land pretty miraculously intact on Hydra Island. Time-skipping Sawyer, Juliet, Locke, et al find the same outrigger canoes we saw on Hydra Island over at an ominously empty and disshevled Beach Camp. Subsequent unknown canoers take potshots at our time-skippers.
I don’t know about all of you, but I have to say I’m not terribly sanguine about the prospect of watching whatever Bad Dudes and Dudettes someone (probably Widmore) placed on Ajira 316 do nasty things to our beloved left-behind Lostaways and their camp. Though, I am kinda looking forward to seeing just who it was that Juliet was able to hit with that Olympic-caliber riflery of hers. Does that make me a bad person?
So it seems that poor John Locke is still beset on all sides and really does have “a lot of work to do,” even if he’s going to end up triumphant. But, if Team Darlton is listening, can you guys just lay off the poor man’s legs for the rest of the series? Seriously, guys…Joe Namath didn’t have this many problems, and his knees were reputed in New York to be “the best-known joints in town,” m’kay? Thanks.
Now bring on “LaFleur!”
(Author’s Note: Please pardon your humble author’s tardiness as she fell into a bit of a time-loop herself in trying to make her thoughts about “This Place is Death” semi-coherent in the face of all that’s come before.)
Well, that was a cheery name for a cheery episode, wasn’t it? Not that it wasn’t an adrenaline-pumping little slice of awesome like the rest of Season 5 to date, but wow was it ever dark. Poor Daniel, poor Charlotte, poor Locke, poor Jin, poor Danielle, poor Montand, poor “infected” (or is it re-programmed?) French Science Team…and things aren’t exactly looking peachy for the O6ers, Ben, or Des either.
If ever there was an episode showing us just how cruel a mistress the gears of time can be as they crush everyone unfortunate enough to fall into the machinery, this was it.
OK, let’s do this thing…
A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there’s no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?
In my recap of last season’s finale, I went for broke on a Watchmen metaphor. And, now that the reference is all timely what with the big-screen adaptation of that most excellent of all graphic novels about to hit a megaplex near you, I find it timely (*rimshot*) that we get yet another reminder of just how hard the Island is on its toys. Much like Dr. Manhattan in the quote above, the Island seems indifferent to suffering and death of the humans ensnared in its causal web.
(Spoiler warning! If you haven’t read Watchmen and don’t want to be spoiled, you might want to click away now…)
It’s been noted before that Watchmen has a very strong parallel with Lost in that it also features a secret Island full of supremely talented individuals being used in the service of a daring plan for the greater global good, and involving science so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic, who are thanked for their efforts with an untimely end (on an exploding ship, no less!). And that, furthermore, said plan involved the death of millions and the traumatizing of the entire human population of the planet in order to save us all from otherwise-inevitable extinction and give us World Peace™…tough love, to say the least.
But more and more I also see Dr. Manhattan as an analog to the Island itself—capable of seeing past, present, and future simultaneously and of manifesting anything according to their desires. Dr. M does it through direct manipulation of matter, while the Island seems to do it by mapping causality backwards far enough and tweaking things to ensure that something or someone is in a certain place at a certain time (and that, kids, is “The Magic Box“).
Both could save or destroy their respective worlds. And, much like Dr. Manhattan needed to be persuaded first by Silk Spectre to involve himself and prevent humanity’s “mutually-assured destruction” by nuclear holocaust (*cough*“Jughead“*coughcough*), and then by Ozymandias to keep the secret of his deception in the service of the greater good to humanity, so too does the Island need persuading.
But I’m not convinced that it’s gotten that yet from Ben, Alpert, Widmore, Locke, or anyone else. Someone needs to be the conscience that keeps the Island’s own agency in check. Who’s going to be our Silk Spectre?
But the Island has also shown the spoiled-prodigy arrogance of Watchmen’s resident schemer, Ozymandias, as well. Our much-discussed, four-toed statuary foot even calls to mind the “trunkless legs of stone” of Percy Shelley’s famous sonnet, “Ozymandias,” with its ironically hubristic declaration, “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
Like Ozymandias, who engages in a merciless beat-down of all the other main characters mainly to show how powerless they are to stop his machinations, the Island and its manifestations have often seemed petty in reminding its catspaws who’s in charge…most notably zombie-Christian. (Zombie-Yemi and zombie-Ana were no great shakes either. “Libby says, ‘hi!’” indeed.) It’s not enough that he makes you do things whether you want to or not without regard for broken bones, hearts, or minds because you “have to,” but he’ll be all snarky to you as he does it.
Ben’s tumor and exile…Locke’s numerous leg-wounds (the nastiest of which by far was this week’s protruding-bone special!), exile, and death…Michael’s denied release, then frigid dismissal…Claire’s separation from Aaron…Jin’s separation from Sun…the French team’s “re-programming”…Charlotte being the victim of a Cassandra-like prophecy of doom…the numerous worst-possible-moment time-skips preventing important questions from being answered. The list goes on and on.
It’s enough to make you bang on a hatch in the middle of the night screaming your frustration at cruel fate.
(Aside: While it would probably be futile to attempt to draw direct correspondences between the ensembles of Lost and Watchmen characters for a variety of reasons, one does seem very clear: that of Jack to Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl II. Like Dreiberg, Jack was all too willing to lay down his burden of heroism, only to find himself impotent and adrift in “normal life” before being reluctantly called back into action. And no, that doesn’t make Locke Rorschach! )
(***END OF WATCHMEN SPOILERS***)
“Did it hurt?”
“I felt my back break. What do you think?”
As both fellow DocArzt & Friends recapper Fishbiscuit and EW’s Doc Jensen (among others) have aptly pointed out, descents played a very key role in the proceedings of “This Place is Death.” And the place of the journey into the underworld in the great Western monomyth is pretty well established by now. Locke crashes to the bottom of the well and almost meekly accepts his role as wheel-axle-righter and soon-to-be-corpse. Robert and the rest of the French Science Team chase after Montand (well, most of him anyway). Charlotte falls into the well of her own timeline. Danielle begins her long descent into solitary madness. Ben, Desmond, Jack, and Sun prepare for their own descent into the time-witch’s lair.
And, as always, you do not return from the underworld unchanged…if you return at all. Charlotte didn’t, succumbing at last to a particularly nasty case of Time Travel Sickness™, but I’ll get back to her. Robert and crew seem reprogrammed or replaced by smokey pod-people (providing us with an unexpected answer to the question of the “sickness” which made Danielle gun her team down like rabid dogs, and showing us a new ability of Smokey’s). Danielle becomes the “crazy French chick” we all came to know and love before her brutal slaying by the mercenary team. The off-Island folk will presumably return from their descent ready to cast away the outside world once and for all and return to the Island for the end-game.
Which leaves Locke, the miracle man. Locke, the Island’s answer to the Hero With 1,000 Faces™. But also Locke, the eternal patsy.
Look at the expressions that adorn John Locke’s face as he survives another nasty fall and confronts yet another broken part of himself, then interacts with zombie-Christian. He looks just like a whipped puppy as yet another father-figure uses and abuses him. We also know that Locke will end up giving his life during his particular trek through the underworld, which for Locke would also include his time off-Island. Anything that takes him away from the Island that let him walk again could only be considered a form of purgatory or hell for John Locke.
But, despite that, and despite knowing that certain doom awaits, Locke struggles on one good leg with help denied him by Christian and puts the wheel back on its “axis” (which struck me as odd…shouldn’t it be “axle?”), while yet again being denied an answer by the Island.
And, once we see the clearly-impending story of his time as Jeremy Bentham which culminates in his death, will we have seen the last of gullible, approval-seeking patsy Locke? I think we will. Somehow, some way, our monomythic hero will rise as they all do and win the day, providing his hard-acquired boon to his people (both the Others and the Lostaways) and to the world.
Wheel of morality, turn turn turn! Tell us the lesson we must learn.
But, before we leave Locke’s portion of this episode, let’s look at one very key exchange between Locke and Christian:
CHRISTIAN: You came to see me in the cabin. You asked me how to save the island and I told you you had to move it. I said that you had to move it, John.
LOCKE: But Ben said he knew how to do it! He told me that I had to stay here and lead his people.
CHRISTIAN: Since when did listening to him get you anywhere worth a damn?
This segues us very nicely into Ben, since this dismissal by the Island’s mouthpiece provides a very stark contrast to the Ben of “This Place is Death” who has to pull his Reincarnation Van full of ungrateful brats over to tell them what’s what about how he’s been shielding them from forces far worse than he. (And, really, how cool was that, eh?) Here we see one of Ben’s few truly unguarded moments of sincerity on the show to date, right up there with his rumination on what kind of girl Destiny is and his assertion to Juliet that she’s his. It’s clear that he truly believes he’s “one of the good guys” and that he has, in fact, protected the Oceanic 6 from evil.
Having seen the Island’s callousness on numerous occasions now, it really is enough to make you wonder if perhaps Ben’s assertion of being on the side of the angels might not have some merit. Granted, Locke has been strung along by Ben quite a bit, but the Island’s manipulations of Locke have been, if anything, far crueler. It demanded the sacrifice of Locke’s follower, Boone, only to subsequently ask the ultimate sacrifice of Locke himself and it played “Indian giver” on several occasions with Locke’s legs. All the Island’s gifts seem to come with some rather nasty strings attached.
So here’s a question to bake your noodle: what if the Island has exiled first Widmore, then Ben, and finally Locke to ensure that no one with a strong enough will or talent could challenge its plans, and its plans are decidedly not good for humanity? We know that the DHARMA Initiative was supposed to harness the Island to “save the world,” after all.
Or, conversely, are the plans of both Ben and Widmore perversions of the natural order so grand as to force the Island’s hand to the degree that it has to break quite this many eggs in the making of a light and fluffy global omelet? On the one hand, the Island is part of nature. Well, sorta. On the other, it meddles with natural processes like healing and pregnancy to serve its ends.
Obviously, this is a question whose answer is going to remain unclear right through the end of Season 6.
Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not
The action of getting the O6 back to the Island is happening at far too breakneck a pace to allow for wee Ji Yeon to be flown in from Korea. Desmond is at Lady Hawking’s Temporal Oracle without the wife and child in tow. And why do I get the distinct presentiment that Aaron’s going to become similarly inaccessible?
While we’re at it, weren’t children born or conceived on the Island supposed to be somehow special? What about Waaaaaalt’s magical mystery abilities to affect probability and/or causality and project himself into places he’s not?
To me, this raises the broader question of what role in the show’s endgame the outside world will play…will people question the O6′s flimsy story after they suspiciously all disappear together, leaving even their children behind? Will the world find out about this bizarre Island on which no less than the fate of all humanity seems to rest?
And last but least, am I the only one who find’s Sun’s whole vengeance storyline’s apparent end more than a little perfunctory? Just askin’.
Invisible airwaves crackle with life. Bright antennae bristle with the energy. Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength…bearing a gift beyond price, almost free.
I know I’m not the only one to say this, but count me in among the chorus of voices saying that the voice the French Science Team overheard on their radio rattling off the Numbers was none other than Hurley’s.
If I’m right, this will create the fifth confirmed predestination loop on the show:
1. That the time-skipping Lostaways themselves assured the crash of Oceanic 815 by giving the Others 50 years to plan for it and ensure its occurrence.
2. Locke was the one who first made Alpert interested in Locke, eventually precipitating his arrival on the Island and his seeming ascension to Others leadership.
3. Daniel cemented his own grooming as a temporal troubleshooter by demonstrating to his future mother, Eloise Hawking, that time travel was possible.
4. Charlotte confirms that it was Dan Faraday whose warning to stay away from the Island on pain of death no doubt had the reverse effect, guaranteeing it.
5. It was Hurley’s own voice heard by Leonard Simms and Sam Toomey at their listening station broadcasting the Numbers which found their way to Hurley, allowing him to win the lottery and secure his place on flight 815.
This would also strongly imply that 1) the O6 will get back to the Island, and 2) that they’re going to spend some time with the DHARMA Initiative in the past. I’m also betting that we’ll see at least a few more of these loops before we’re done.
Again, I put it to you that the big question we all need to be asking about time travel is, “from how far into the future have time travelers come back, leaving a warning of their existence?” I’d be willing to bet that at least the Island and Eloise Hawking have knowledge from farther in the future than the O6′s departure on their return trip to the Island.
Came the last night of sadness and it was clear she couldn’t go on. Then the door was open and the wind appeared. The candles blew then disappeared. The curtains flew then he appeared…saying, “don’t be afraid.”
Going back to my initial premise, this has to be one of the crueler examples of the Island’s “ends justify the means” modus operandi. A girl escapes the Island with her mother, spends her whole life making herself someone who could find her way back, actually manages to get back, and then turns out only to be there so that she can, in her dying throes of Time Travel Sickness, tell Locke to look for a half-remembered well from her intentionally-repressed childhood.
That is just plain cold. I know that, if I were bereaved enamorato Daniel Faraday, once I figured out how this particular temporal game had been rigged, I would be doing my damnedest to go from being a temporal troubleshooter to being the most dangerous monkey-wrench the Island has ever seen thrown into its gears.
What’s more, the verification of her DHARMA Initiative upbringing (who else listened to Geronimo Jackson?) has bred a lot of speculation about the identity of her parents. The two most compelling couples I’ve seen bandied about are Ben and long-lost love, Annie, and Horace & Olivia Goodspeed. Both pairings would seem pretty likely to produce a redhead like Charlotte, but I have to kind of give the edge to Ben & Annie here, given Ben’s piercing blue eyes which Charlotte shares.
Given that we know Daniel will go back in time to DHARMA days, I think it’s a fair bet that we’ll actually get an answer to this question. If it is Ben, how horrible would it be for him to lose not one, but two daughters to the draconian game into which he was pulled as a neglected and abused child?
But that’s just how big, bad papa Island rolls. This place, as the lady said, is death.