Like the rabbit with the pocket-watch on Aaron's door... I'm late! My apologies for that. Friday night was my bachelor party, and on Saturday my machine contracted the mother of all spyware viruses. Ten hours later, my computer was a boat anchor. The rest of the weekend was nothing but Windows Armageddon and me head-butting my monitor like I was training for the UFC. Things still aren't right, but I can delay no more - let's get right into it. Here are the Things I Noticed:
The Others - Taking it Back to the Old Skool
Pop Quiz: Freighter jocks are running buck silly over your beloved island with automatic weapons and RPG's... what do you do? Well if you're the Others, there's really only one answer: You keep it real. And by keeping it real, I'm talking Garrott cords and blowguns - tripwires and knives. Because hey let's face it: when you're facing modern-day trained mercenaries with the latest equipment you want only the finest 16th century weaponry available. Right? Riiiight.
Yes, someone threw a grenade or two - and yes, Richard eventually used a gun. But I think it's pretty telling that the Others initiated the fight the way they did. Guerrilla tactics are one thing, but foolishness is another. My guess is that the Others, temporarily under Richard's rule, have regressed back to their more pure island roots. They've shed their button-down shirts for rags, their homes for tents, their stoves for campfires. And while they're still packing a rifle or two, for the most part they're trying to keep things as unadulterated as possible. In the end things worked out, and I'm sure the island appreciated it too.
Sayid's asskicking fight with Keamy was a fantastic scene. I thought Ben might've been a little pissed when Richard robbed him of his vengeance, but he didn't look so. Perhaps in his infinite knowledge he knew Keamy wasn't dead yet, but more likely Ben recognized he was already on thin ice with Richard. His "thanks for coming" was half sarcasm, half surprise that Rich even showed up. Richard's reaction betrayed only a begrudging obligation. He'd plucked Ben as an innocent kid and thrust him into a very screwed up situation - although Ben failed, he owed him at least that much. Within the first 10 minutes of the finale though, it was obvious that these two were finished with each other.
Strangest of all was Ben's mention of an agreement - with no possible way he could've known there was an agreement to begin with. To me this must have something to do with their wacky Book of Laws. The Others can lie, murder, deceive... yet sometimes they seem oddly bound to fulfill certain obligations they make. Sayid and Kate's agreement with Richard was a lot like the end of S2 when Ben kept his word and let Michael and Walt go. Whether or not the island let them go was a different story altogether.
They Gotta Be Running out of Red-Shirts
I couldn't believe how many red-shirts piled into that dingy with captain Dan. After the body count at New Otherton, it almost made me want to go back to S1 and start calculating just how many extras they've offed since the show began (including glorified red-shirts Arzt, Nikki, and Paulo). Do they have enough? How many are left? The writers may need to ration them out over the last two seasons, just so they don't run out.
The Deal with Charlotte
I've watched the scene a few times, and one thing is obvious to me: Charlotte didn't know she was born on the island until Miles told her. For once I don't think she's lying or hiding anything - her face registered genuine surprise followed by slow and welcome acknowledgment. Also keep in mind that she was initially going to get into the boat with Dan.
Charlotte arrived on the island a lot differently than the other people in her crew. When Locke's group found her she was smiling, laughing, and having a blast; we can now equate that to her channeling the feelings of having finally returned 'home'. She didn't initially realize this, being focused solely on her Austin Powers-like mission to stop the Tempest's evil nerve gas (for which I will forgive the writers in lieu of an otherwise awesome season). But in the end, I think Charlotte was definitely born on the island. Do I think she's Annie? Hell no. The age difference (Annie should be much older) could be overlooked in light of time travel and Walt's freakish growth spurts... but I can't overlook the fact that Ben shoots her point blank in the stomach.
There's also very important aspect of Charlotte's amnesia that I'll get to at the end of my write-up. Something I think is pretty BIG.
The Deal with Miles
Miles becomes extremely interesting this episode. We already know he can commune with the dead, both off and on the island. But beyond that, we get solid confirmation that he's listening to the spirits/ghosts/whispers that have played across the island since S1. Miles now knows something about Charlotte's past, which he could only have gotten from a spirit with knowledge of her prior experience on the island. After watching the deleted scene from The Economist, he appears to commune in real-time, with spirits that tell him the sonic fence is off. Miles isn't just seeing echoes of the past, he's interacting with them on personal levels and then withholding that information to use for his own benefit. I'm guessing he knows what the island is, what it does, and he's sticking around until he comes across that $3.2 million dollars.
Earlier in the season, take Miles comment about Naomi's corpse: "That's not Naomi, it's just meat". This implies an afterlife, in which Naomi's consciousness has moved on and the corpse is nothing but a shell. Historically this is nothing new, and many religions follow this doctrine. But that's assuming that in the normal world, the person's spirit has a place to advance to. Quite the opposite of that, is the self-contained world of LOST - a place in which everything is circular and nothing leaves. Imagine the spirit leaving the body, but unable to ascend to wherever it would go next. Trapped between worlds, boomeranging back. Forced to wander the island on an ethereal level, replaying small snippets of memories, conversations, entire scenes in time (Horace?). Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Eko - dead but not gone. And not only still there, but aware of their surroundings and even interacting with them (by playing chess!). This would certainly explain the whispers.
From the very beginning the whispers seemed to indicate a consciousness: "Quick, here he comes"... "Should we help them?"... at one point we even hear Boone's voice saying "Dying sucks". But then there are whispers that shouldn't even be there, like Frank Duckett's last words "It'll come back around". At one point I think I even remember a Hurley "Dude!" whisper. But then again, if we're to believe that LOST is a circular story, even those whispers are possible. Who knows what different sequence of events played out each time around - who lived or who died or how it all came to an end. The possibilities are limitless.
Back to Miles. If Miles can hear these lost souls, he might be the key to solving Jacob's whole problem. If Ben has knowledge of future events because he's experienced them before, Miles might be able to inject knowledge of past events from before Ben arrived on the island, and perhaps even before Richard showed up too. If everyone is there for a reason, Miles is there for an especially good reason that might unlock the whole show.
Non-Ghost Walt... Now even Taller! (backgammon playset sold separately)
Walt coming to see Hurley was a sad scene. It's been so long since they've seen each other, each tentatively remembering a much happier time on the island. Since then they've both been through some very dark stuff, with neither of them unscathed. Hurley has the added duty of sadly agreeing with Walt's assessment: his dad is not coming back.
Significant here is the fact that Walt appears to be in the dark about everything. Between all the time in room 23, speaking backward to Shannon, rescuing Locke from the Dharma corpse party... I really thought he knew more. I thought Walt would eventually be the one to give us some answers - in fact, I was always looking forward to it. But yet here he is, forlorn and shrugging, asking a very broken Hurley what the deal is. This is not the Walt from the island. This is not astrally projected wet Walt or taller ghost Walt. This is sad, post-pubescent Walt who must unfortunately go through life without his mom, his dad, or even Vincent for Pete's sake.
This could lend credibility to the double rabbit theory: just as there were two simultaneous versions of Doc Ray, there could be two versions of Walt as well. There are even people who think that next season the O6 will exist simultaneously on the island (wherever it went) and also rescued on the mainland. Perhaps they'll exist as ghosts or reflections the way Walt did after he was able to leave. This is an interesting theory, but I'm not sold on it. At least not yet. As far as kooky theories go though, it's up there with some of my favorites.
You Can Stay Here in Your Little Greenhouse...
Hehehe... Jack and Locke have the best verbal sparring matches. Jack always loses, too. He gets way too emotional, which is ironic since he's supposed to be arguing the science side of the coin. The debate here is little different from the one they had in the Swan hatch in S2, except that this time around Locke's a lot more knowledgeable and sure of what he's doing.
Finally Locke is fully on board. He had his little period of doubt, regained faith, and is now completely sold on the island's agenda. Locke has stopped referring to it as an island, too. He uses the term 'it' and the phrase 'this place'. He has 100% embraced this place of miracles, but more than that he's also convinced it's a place with a purpose. And he knows with full certainty that Jack, and probably everyone else around him, are all a large part of that purpose.
But keep this in mind: in terms of knowledge and realization, Locke is now at the place where Ben was when he first took over as champion of the island. Ben however, is light years ahead of that. Which is why, I think, Ben suddenly doesn't care who leaves the island. Seemingly, Ben doesn't even care who lives or who dies. It's almost as if Ben has turned over a new leaf, and the back of that leaf says 'fuck it'. But to simplify it that much would be doing him a grave injustice. I think that's just how it looks on the surface, because in reality, Ben's not done. Not nearly. Because if Ben truly didn't care at all... he would be out drinking rum with Sawyer and Juliet instead of donning that parka.
Think about it. Everything Ben's done in the past has always led to him having to repeat it. He's tried things all different ways in an attempt to achieve an ultimate result. Nothing's worked. So what do you do? You do the one thing you haven't yet done: you let go. Right now Ben actually suspects that the game has changed. Something is different this time around, and he suddenly knows it. Consider what I think to be the most important line of the episode: his question to Keamy. "Did Widmore tell you to shoot my daughter?" Watch Ben as he asks this. It isn't done angrily, or sardonically... he's really asking the question. The question is huge, because according to Ben, Alex wasn't supposed to die. This brings about two possibilities: either Widmore himself found a way to change the 'game', or Widmore found someone who could: Keamy. Just as Desmond was able to alter the island's predetermined course for Charlie, even temporarily, perhaps Keamy had the unique ability to do that as well. This brings hope to Ben. This goes against Ms. Hawking's assertion that the course of destiny cannot be changed. Ben has always known he must believe this, but now he has proof. To think otherwise - to think that everything is predetermined for him - he might as well be drinking rum with Sawyer and Juliet.
Be Kind - Rewind
So while Jacob shines his light on a new champion, Ben's still working on what to do next. Locke's asking rookie questions about the metaphorical magic box while Ben's trying to get actual work done. His mind's working a mile a minute because he's in exciting new territory. Imagine the boredom of always knowing almost everything that will happen, and then suddenly being offered a clean slate with which to write your own story. Locke is way too far behind to actually explain this to him... Ben shoves a Dharma tape in his hand and tells him to go see Richard. Is he bitter? Sure. He snidely remarks that Locke will do a 'much better job' than he did, and then apologizes by saying 'Sorry I made your life so miserable'. Was that last comment to Jacob? I think so. Ben is staring fixedly off into space as he's saying it.
Keamy shows up, and Ben kills him out of pure blood lust. There was definitely no one-step-ahead type stuff going on here - Ben's rage took over and put him way past caring about the people on the freighter. His explanation to Locke about emotion overcoming better judgment was not only completely honest, it was also important advice passed from old leader to new. That said, Ben grabs a crowbar and heads for the wheel.
At first, I was surprised to see Ben cry as he turned the frozen donkey wheel. It wasn't until I watched the episode a second time that I caught the little detail that he couldn't come back. With the exception of his secret agent forays to and from the real world, the island has pretty much been all Ben knows. It's been both his parent and his home. He gives up the chance to ever return there in order to fulfill Jacob's last order, but not without feeling the full weight of what he's about to do. If you believe the loop theories, Ben has always had a chance to do things over again. The permanence of turning that wheel frightens him.
Before writing this, I read a theory that Widmore once moved the island, which is why he can't go back himself. It's a pretty solid theory. If you forced me to guess at this point, and if Ben outlives the show, I'd speculate him somehow being granted access back to the island as an ultimate reward for service... leaving Widmore forever tormented with the impossibility of return. But that bit of pure speculation is two seasons away.
I'm really glad they weren't able to disarm the freighter bomb. Not because I wanted blood, but because disarming it would've been pretty cheesy to me. Just for once it was good to see a giant bomb surrounded by people with wire-cutters actually explode. Come to think of it, it's probably a first.
Michael's story finally came full circle, with the island acting through Christian acting through Jacob(?) giving him the final kiss-off. Personally, I liked Mike. The "Waaaaalt!" thing was annoying for sure, but overall he was a good guy placed in a very bad situation. When he shot Ana and Libby, I thought there could be no redemption for him. When he left the island, his story seemed wholly unfinished. Kudos to the writers for bringing him back, and for coming up with a storyline that actually had me sympathetic toward him in the end. And then blowing him to pieces. Heh.
In their own strange way, I think the 815'ers somewhat forgave him too. Sun stopping to tell him she's pregnant was a poignant moment in which a lot was passed between them in very few words. In Jin's heartfelt thanks to Mike, he seemed to acknowledge an understanding - if not total forgiveness - for past events. The two of them had a history of that type of silent understanding, dating back to the beginning of the show. Michael was a great character. In situations when everyone else was being way too calm, he always reflected my frustrations - and usually in the loudest, funniest manner possible.
The New Sawyer: Somewhat Ridiculously TOO Heroic? Discuss.
He searched a day for Claire. He came back for Hurley. And not only is he considerate to the point of jumping out of choppers, but Sawyer even looks out for his daughter before leaping selflessly into the ocean? What happens next season, does he give Bernard a kidney? Holy shit. Rose should knit him a cape with an S on it.
Sawyer's awesome, don't get me wrong, but isn't this the guy who shot Tom in the face and strangled his dad last season??? Where's the progression? He's gone from one extreme to the other just a little too fast for me. They need to slow down a bit and give some of his sarcasm back (although the Kenny Rogers line was a good start).
Even The Best Hockey Goalie Can't Save Every One
Jack was taking heat this week from the minute the previews showed up, before the episode even aired. It's funny too, because Jack-critics usually bash him for always trying to save everyone, yet the minute he doesn't save everyone he's slapped for that too. I guess it's just fun to slap him. The situation certainly sucked, and there was no easy solution. That being said, I definitely think Jack could've gone down to look for Jin after the explosion. How long could that have taken? Perhaps the writers needed a reason for Sun to be angry with him. According to Hurley's conversation with Sayid, Jack looks to be the other person she blames for his death.
Look Outside... Tell me if you See Anything
The jolting, shaking chopper prop with the fake sky background and bullet-hole fuel leak (that defied any kind of wind or forward motion condition by calmly pouring out of the tank in an unbroken stream) were some of the worst special effects in an otherwise seamless show. Let's chalk it up haste due to the writer's strike.
Jin is so Totally Not Dead
Jin's got three things going for him. First, Sun needs motivation to come back to the island. Second, Dan just happens to be near the explosion site with that dinghy... I'm betting he'll be the one to pick Jin up. Third, and most important of all, Michael's sacrifice has to mean something. Him ordering Jin to go and be a dad cannot be for naught. Jin's okay, but he ended yet another finale floating in the ocean after being blown off a boat.
I'm Pretty Sure I Drove Juliet to Drink
Juliet, obviously despondent over my comments last week about her 'not being one of the cool kids', resorts to heavy drinking this episode. Like an angry pirate, Juliet sucks down a bottle of rum and sits back to watch the freighter's fireworks... just in time to see shirtless Sawyer climb out of the ocean as if he's shooting a daytime television commercial. And hey, doesn't Sawyer hear the sound 500lbs of C-4 makes when it goes off a few hundred yards out? Maybe that was the moment he was pulling his shirt over his ears.
In reality, you can't blame Juliet. As the 815 club runs excitedly up and down the beach, she's been there long enough to know the sobering truth: no one's really going anywhere. For years Juliet has wanted to leave the island, and for years she's been denied. She's smart enough to realize it wasn't just Ben denying her exit... Juliet knows you don't go anywhere until the island lets you go - chopper, boat or no. With this in mind, it's Miller Time.
Should I Stay or Should I Go
All this season, the flash-forwards have been about one thing: convincing the O6 to head back to the island. Ghost Charlie started working on Hurley very early. Ben began work on Sayid once his motivation for staying was removed (i.e. Nadia). Jack has unknowingly been working on himself slowly throughout the season. Defiant at first, he's given glimpses of his dead father and fed convincing stories by Hurley until even the most rational side of him can't deny the truth. Sun's still an unknown factor, but I'm guessing by her visit to Widmore she's not willing to let the island, or more specifically her husband, go. And we find out this episode that Locke, presumably using Ben's old methods to get on and off the island, has been working on all of them.
That leaves Kate - the hardest nut to crack. She has the added burden of Aaron to consider, which makes her most resistant to the whole idea. Kate's going to need hardcore convincing, and I was never sure how they'd get her to go. Suddenly she gets a phone call, another backward voice, telling her that the island needs her and she must return. To me, the first line sounds like it comes from Sawyer. The second line sounds like it comes from Locke. Both make sense, since we know Kate's needed for the ultimate return. And that's when the ghost of Claire shows up... and tries to convince Kate NOT to go.
Obviously, this is contrary to everything else we've seen. If the island needs them back, and they have to all go back together, then it makes sense that the island has been responsible for the visits and visions throughout this season's flash forwards. Yet here's an apparition(?) of Claire trying to counter that whole mission. Is this the island's doing? Probably not. In fact, the apparition interrupted the island's long distance phone call across space and time. So what does that mean?
It probably means what lots of people have speculated for the last few weeks: maybe we didn't really see Jacob when we saw Christian in that cabin. Instead maybe saw the force that opposes Jacob, lying it's ass off. Perhaps this is the entity who wants to keep Jacob down, maybe even the one responsible for the ash around his cabin. Maybe the ultimate showdown isn't between Ben and Widmore at all... maybe the kings of the chessboard are actually Jacob and the spirit behind Christian Shephard. And somewhere in the middle, the mediators - the referees - Ms. Hawking? Abaddon? Damn I'm as confused as everyone else.
In the end, the important part is that Kate agrees to go. She's obviously apologizing to Aaron because she knows she has to take him back. The island won't rest and none of them will be free until they go back and accomplish what they need to do.
We Gotta Lie...
Jack smugly rejects Locke's assertion that they're going to need to lie in order to protect the island. At this point Jack has no reason to think the island needs protection, and no clue as to the downward spiral waiting for him off-island. Locke's cryptic reasoning and blind faith in underground hatches has stretched Jack's patience thin here, even though he's already seen ghosts and visions and flying smoke monsters. Jack's always been a tough sell... even as the island disappears before his eyes he refuses to admit it. And Hurley ranking on him about it made me laugh my ass off.
Later on though, as the rescue ship approaches their raft (in an eerily similar parody of Mr. Friendly's boat coming to take Walt away in the first finale), Jack finds his very own concrete reasons to lie about where they've been these past three months. Stubbornly he does it using his own terms, instead of Locke's. And to Jack's credit, the reasoning was pretty sound. As much as I hate to admit it (because I always thought it seemed kinda stupid for them to lie), Jack correctly points out that whoever put the plane in the trench went through a lot of trouble to make them all seem dead. And after encountering people who sailed all the way from Fiji to try and kill them, it does make sense for them to go along with the Sundra Trench story. Instantly famous, they'll be unable to hide from anyone... doing it this way portrays the untold message that they're going to keep their mouths shut.
Gotta Love Des and Penny
Penny peering over the railing of that boat totally blew me away. I should've seen it coming, but I totally didn't - they got me hook line and sinker. Ever since I saw Desmond in the chopper on the previews, I was worried something pretty bad was going to happen. When he was face down in the water, I thought he was gone. I thought about how many people were going to be pissed, and how unfinished that story would be, and everything else bad I could think of. And then the writers/producers go and hit us over the head with a happy ending for once... even if it's temporary.
You know a character is great when nobody has anything bad to say about them. Desmond is one of those characters.
My Thoughts on the Frozen Donkey Wheel
Okay, let's talk about it. I think we were all a bit shocked, maybe somewhat disappointed, and definitely a little bit confused to find out there was a big wooden donkey wheel that somehow could move the entire island. We're LOST fans and we can believe a lot of weird crap... but this? Hmmm.
Well I'm here to tell you it's not as bad as you think. And here's why:
Everything on the island has always been based upon Faith. Faith is belief. So many times during LOST we've watched things happen because people believed or wanted that they would: Jack healing Sarah. Locke walking again. Rose finding Bernard alive. Even before these events, we've got the presence of Dharma on the island. They studied their anomalies, gathered their data, and concluded that by using the 'exotic matter' of the island they could send rabbits back in time. And of course they did... that was what they believed.
Now let's delve back even further into the history of the island, to arrive at the people who carved all those pretty hieroglyphics. It's not that big of a stretch (although admittedly a stretch) to consider that those people had beliefs too. Perhaps they believed in things like monsters. Maybe even smoke monsters. At one time long ago they were the protectors of the island, and perhaps, like Ben and the Others, they had need to keep the island safe and hidden from outsiders. Consider that perhaps, all those years ago, they had need to move the island also. And so they did it the only way they knew how: they fashioned that giant donkey wheel.
I know it's far-fetched... I'm not saying it isn't. But in a way, it's kind of logical too. Like the time chamber of the Orchid station, the wheel is nothing more than a man-made object created to perform a function. The island definitely has a time line to it, and we've seen a backward progression (regression?) from its most recent inhabitants to the older ones. From the 815'ers to Danielle's crew. From the Others to the Black Rock. From the temple ruins to the three-toed statue. People have lived on the island before. Therefore people have believed on the island before. Who's to say what kind of beliefs they held true to their hearts back then, or how long they've remained around?
In any case, watching Ben peer down upon that frozen pane of ice separating him from that chamber... you could tell he was passing a very important barrier. As he lowered himself in, it was as if he'd crossed over to the other side of the world. Crashing down through the ladder there was no going back. I was instantly reminded of an episode of Land of the Lost, where Holly was lowered through a similar hole on a rope. Further down, she passed a point where she could view their world, but reversed upside down. In that show the Land of the Lost turned out to be a closed universe, repeating back upon itself in all directions. Great show... this isn't the first time I've mentioned it because there are lots of similarities to LOST. That episode was entitled "Elsewhen".
Can we Bury the Coffin Now?
I don't think finding Locke in the coffin should've been a tremendous shock at this point, knowing what we do about the way the island works. From the moment we saw it we were pretty sure it would contain one of the 815'ers, and that the coffin would most likely need to come back on the plane when the O6 returned to the island. John Locke's coffin on flight 518 (I'm predicting it now, hehe) will parallel Christian Shephard's coffin on the 815 flight. And just like Christian's corpse, Locke's will probably disappear into the jungle for whatever insidious purpose it needs to.
There's no doubt in my mind we'll see Locke on the island next season, wherever it happens to be. If the island lands in the future, it may explain why so many whispers and messages have been backwards - twisted that way as they reversed through time. If the island lands in the past, Locke wouldn't even be dead yet. Or perhaps like Doc Ray, Locke can exist both on and off the island simultaneously, both dead and alive. Only time will tell.
Finally That Charlotte Thing
Alright, here we go. This episode I think we saw a tiny glint of a microscopic hint toward a loooooong-running theory that might suddenly gain a lot of weight. No, it's not the zombie-clone season (although after the show is over they definitely need to have one). I'm talking about that eerily mystical eye-zooming moment we seem to always somehow fall back upon... the very moment when Jack first wakes up in the jungle in S1E1.
If Miles is right... and Charlotte has indeed 'returned' to the island... the goosebump-inducing detail here is that she doesn't even remember it. Soooooo many theories have speculated that when Jack wakes up in the jungle he isn't doing it for the first time - he's actually returning to the island at the end of a loop. Knowing now that Jack and the O6 will eventually return to the island, perhaps by plane, this theory was always semi-plausible... the only thing keeping it down was that Jack would certainly remember everything that had happened before. Charlotte's amnesia upon returning to the island could suddenly explain that detail away. It would explain how Ben knows everything ahead of time, how everyone seems to have met everyone before, and could be the big unfound 'clue' the producers have said exists in the pilot episode. On top of all that, it would make for a mind-blowing twist. I'm not sure I believe it yet, but I am sure that I totally love it.
In the end, everything points to the big return. The O6 now have unlimited resources with which to seek a way back to the island - hell, I think they blow Widmore away. They've all got chunky Oceanic settlements. They've Sun's giant corporation, Hurley's Millions, and probably Penny's resources to boot. They've got Ben's knowledge, Sayid's new super-spy abilities, and the bloated corpse of John Locke. They even have Aaron's giant battering-ram head. Things are lookin' up.
I'm in Hawaii next week, where I'll definitely keep an eye out for Jin. Give me a few weeks and I'll try to update my Theory of Everything... even shortened, this season was informationally huge and I want to take my time with it. Until then enjoy the summer and the hiatus and try not to overdose on reality TV while LOST is gone. Peace!