No intro this week - too much going on. I voted the episode as Awesome though, just for the sheer amount of cool stuff they packed into it. Things I Noticed:
Where in the World is Ajira Flight 316?
Seeing that the plane had somehow landed on the island intact completely stunned me, as I'd really expected only the O6 (and maybe Frank) to have been 'beamed' onto the island. Instead, we see that everyone managed to arrive - but not all in the same timeline. As Cesar and Ilana rifle through the Hydra station, it's easy to assume that they're not in the same Dharma timeline as Jin, Sawyer, Jack, Kate, and Hurley. We also find out a whole lot of important things very quickly here.
First, the plane landed on the smaller island. Whether the mini-island moves when the big one does still remains to be seen, because there's still no reference to a past timeline yet (although I tend to think that it does). This disconnects the 316 survivors from the goings-on of our main characters on LOST island. At least for now.
We also find out quickly that John Locke is back. The fact that the other 316'ers found him standing in the water is a very blunt baptism inference. He's dressed to kill and kicking around in Christian's old shoes. He's smiling and feeling good, this time eating mangoes instead of oranges. Arriving back on the island has erased any last doubt that he's where he needs to be. John Locke is faithful, focused, and totally ready to fulfill his destiny. More on that later.
Next thing that happens: we're intentionally shown the canoes. Instantly we know the timeline is the present one (2006?) - the one Sawyer & company flashed into briefly during the great boat-race gunfight. We know that one canoe is missing, and Ilana tells Locke that the pilot "and some woman" took it. Time for some quick deduction.
We know the pilot to be Frank (nice!) and I'd figure the woman is most likely Sun. It doesn't make sense that the island would've "taken" some of the O6 and not others, but at the same time I think I know why. At this point Sun is almost in league with Charles Widmore. Not literally of course, but the island could easily see it that way. Just as Juliet has been marked as an outcast by the Others, Sun could've been marked in a similar fashion. The island could've excluded her in some weird way during the bright light beamdown.
The simple explanation for Ajira 316's 'crash' could've been structural: the resulting turbulence caused Frank to have to put the plane down immediately. Either he pulled off a really smooth beach landing or he brought her down on the infamous runway that the Others have been building since the dawn of time. If you want to go even further out on a limb, Sayid, Hurley, Kate and Jack all get zapped off the plane and Sun goes absolutely bananas. She kicks open the cockpit door and forces Lapidus to land on the island at gunpoint. Okay, okay, not even I believe that story. But the important part is they end up getting down there.
We know that at least two of these canoes end up on the big island at the 815'ers old camp. Although Lapidus might have a general idea where that is, Sun would be the only one who'd truly know. I'd guess she convinced Frank to paddle there with her to look for the people who got left behind, especially Jin. Some time after getting there, and finding the camp abandoned, I'd say some more canoes came (this would actually have to be the case in order for there to be two canoes). Shortly after that, we'd have the boat-race gunfight, in the middle of which comes a time zap. It's going to be interesting to see who's in the other canoe, and who it is that gets shot by Juliet.
Finally, we learn that Caesar's totally up to something. Where a normal crash survivor would be foraging food and water, Caesar is rifling through file cabinets. And instead of saying "Hey guys, look at this!", he's hiding sawed-off shotguns in his pack. To top it off, his whole look is far too ominous to be anything but bad. I want to say he's Widmore's guy, but that might be a little bit TOO obvious - especially for LOST. Maybe Illana is Widmore's guy? That would be a lot more subtle. Both of them seemed to question Locke very carefully, especially Caesar who twice asked Locke how he managed to return to the island. Seems that information would be something of great interest to Charles Widmore.
The Boy's Gettin' Big
Funny. No matter what season we're in, Walt's height is always a good running joke on LOST. To be honest, I'm not sure what the deal is with Abaddon. I'm still entertaining the theory that he's really a grown-up version of Walt. The way he walked away just as Walt approached (and returned when Walt left) certainly seemed to reinforce that whole idea. But I'm not entirely convinced, especially in light of his piss-poor death this episode. You can't go saying "He's been through enough" and then let the poor guy get brutally shot to death a couple of hours later. And with his mom dead, his dad blown to bits... it just doesn't seem right for Walt's entire story to end so badly. I'd like to think Walt went on to have something of a good life once the island let him go (not that I think it did just yet).
If Abaddon IS Walt, it would definitely explain the height. And somewhere along the line, Locke "owes him one". Abaddon's dead, and Locke hasn't paid up yet. So unless the debt gets settled somewhere in the past, maybe Walt/Abbadon will meet up again with John at a later time to collect. It's happened before. Walt has a funny way of popping up like that. I also think maybe Walt had a general idea of what happened to his father, but was testing Locke to see what he'd tell him. When Locke kindly spared Walt the gory details of his father being dead, he seemed to smile in knowing appreciation. Or maybe I'm reading too much into that.
I Finally Decided Who I Want to See Kate End Up With
I've come to the frustrating conclusion that predicting Kate's reaction to anything at this point is utterly impossible. Her conversation with Locke seemed to indicate total indifference to everyone left behind on the island, including Sawyer. The "have you ever been in love" line seemed instead to point directly at her feelings for Jack (or maybe Aaron?). At this point I don't think Jack OR Sawyer should bother with Kate - she's emotionally too high maintenance. Big drama. I'd rather see her end up with Claire. Not only is that a much hotter scenario, but it works out for both of them: they could raise Aaron together. So there's my final position - I'm a Clater. Join me.
The Jeremy Bentham World Tour - Canceled After Only 5 Appearances
Last week I talked about how each of the O6 needed to make some sort of demonstration of faith in order for the island to accept them back. This week, we see that Locke's leap of faith is the shortest of all - it involves only the last few inches of a hotel room table. Prior to this test, Richard had pretty much handed him the cheat-sheet; before he even left John knew he'd have to die once he got off-island. But along the long depressing road to that death, Locke was in serious danger of losing something even more important than his life: his own faith and belief. Lucky for him, Ben was there to give this back to him... right before strangling him to death.
Locke's flaw here is that he forgot the one golden rule of his own character: off the island he's nothing but a doofus. On the island, John Locke is an ass-kicking, boar-hunting, knife-throwing maniac. But off-island? Now he's back to the old John Locke - a weak, crippled, easily manipulated puppet being carted around by Abaddon much the same way Boone wheeled him around during his vision quest.
When he leaves Tunisia, Locke is strong in his convictions: he must convince the others to come back to the island. But one by one, they all turn away from him. Starting with Sayid and ending with Jack, each of these meetings slowly chip away at the confidence Locke has in his own mission, and in himself. Jack's a doctor, Kate's a mom, Sun has a baby. Sayid joined Habitat for Humanity, where there are no red shirts - only yellow. It seems that everyone's gone on without him. Even worse, they've gone on without the island. Suddenly all that important "We're all here for a reason" stuff doesn't look so very important anymore. In a world full of real people doing real things, Locke's 'mission' is suddenly full of holes and it's leaking fast. And as his friends scoff at Locke's master plan, which isn't even a plan at all, Sayid and Kate both pointedly remind him of something: There are other things in the world - things like love - that might just be a little more important. Which leads John's thoughts to Helen.
Aww, Peg. You're down here? Damn. I was dreaming you ran off with the dwarf down at the bookstore, and I was living in sin with a Playboy centerfold and her eight friends who could speak but chose not to.
Personally, I'm not sure Helen's dead. When Locke first asks Abaddon about her, he blows it off. When he claims he can't find her, John calls him on it. By the time Abaddon finally takes John to the graveyard, we're led to believe this hesitation was to protect John's already fragile feelings. In truth, I'm thinking it gave Widmore's crew time enough to set up the phony baloney Peg Bundy headstone.
After being snubbed by every single one of his island pals, hooking back up with Helen might've been the straw that broke Locke's missions' back. John might've been content to flip the island off once and for all... maybe try to have a life all his own. Seeing her grave however, sent Locke even further down the spiral. This appears to be what Widmore wanted. John's world tour seemed less of an actual rally for return to the island, and more of a long slow drive toward suicide. I'll bet Widmore made Abaddon stop at the hardware store too, for some cable.
It was Benjamin Linus... In the Hotel Room... with the Extension Cord
So by the end of the episode, John Locke is now Jeremy Bentham. Since leaving the island he's been changed physically, he's been changed emotionally, and even his very name has changed. Important to note here that all of this, with the exception of the crippled part, is courtesy of Mr. Charles Widmore and Driving Ms. Daisy.
At the point Locke climbs onto that table to kill himself, he's doing it purely for suicidal reasons. He's convinced that he's failed, and I'm pretty sure not one single part of him thinks he's doing it for the 'good of the island'. Screw Richard, screw Widmore, screw Jacob and ghost-Christian Shepard... Locke legitimately wants to die, island be damned. And that's when Ben knocks on the door.
Ben's not here to prevent John Locke's death. Ben knows Locke needs to die to go back to the island, but he also knows that dying faithless would be catastrophic. Ben's here to repair the damage caused by Jack, Sayid, Kate and Hurley. Ben's here to re-infuse Locke with the confidence and purpose he had when John turned the donkey wheel just few short days ago. He tells Locke that he's not a failure. He pleads with Locke not to kill himself. He talks Jeremy Bentham down off the ledge, gives him a hug, lets him know that all isn't lost. "Hey man, it's okay. You're not a loser. Jack booked a ticket. If you get Jack, you can get the rest of them. Good job, man. High five."
Jeremy Bentham dies here, and the old John Locke is back. He even thanks Ben. This is the guy who kidnapped people, the guy who told string after string of filthy lies. This is the man who gutshot Locke and left him in a pit full of rotting corpses. But hey, all is forgiven in lieu of the island. Suddenly John believes again - his faith is restored - his life is filled with purpose and direction once more. NOW he's ready to go back to the island. NOW Locke has fulfilled his leap of faith. And now, as Ben knows all too well, Locke needs to perish in order to return to the island via the Christian-corpse-proxy.
In short, Locke needed to die - but not by his own hand. There are rules that need to be followed, and Ben is fully versed in them. I hate to keep quoting Ms. Klugh, but as she once said to Michael: "It doesn't work that way". Benjamin Linus knows the way it works. So does Charles Widmore, which may be why he didn't want Locke back on the island despite all the things he said about helping him get there. Ben knew that if Locke had died faithless, or by suicide, he might not have been resurrected. That's the single most important part of his visit to the hotel room.
Don't fall into the trap - don't think for one minute that the mention of Ms. Hawkings name suddenly 'changed Ben's mind' or gave him stranglerrific ideas. Ben didn't just happen to have a spray-bottle of bleach and some green latex gloves on him, nor did he stop at the 24-hr Quickmart to pick them up afterward. You can bet your ass that everything he does is coldly calculated, and Ben already had that stuff when he showed up. He knew he'd have to kill Locke just as certainly as he knew he had to make it look like a suicide. Do you think Ben wiped his fingerprints from the extension cord and bleached the room to avoid being caught by the cops? No, he needed the newspapers to reflect that Jeremy Bentham had taken his own life. This got Jack to the funeral, but more importantly it served to let Charles Widmore think he'd succeeded in driving Locke to suicide. Sneaky shit? Yup. That's Benjamin Linus.
In fact, the only thing Ben didn't count on was the survival of Jin. And he seized that opportunity quickly enough, knowing he could use Jin's wedding ring to easily lure Sun back to the island. With Locke in a coffin, Jack already cracking, and Jin's ring in his pocket, Ben knew the chances of an O6 return to the island were suddenly looking very much up. I'll also say Ben might not have expected to hear the name Eloise Hawking from John's lips, but this was something Daniel changed afterward and Ben had no way of knowing about it yet.
Finally, I also think Ben was telling the truth when he told Locke that Widmore was using him. His words here were frantic and strained, his whole demeanor was a lot different than the rest of his conversation with John. Of course, Ben needs to stop telling people that Widmore is 'extremely dangerous' and start telling them WHY he is. That might kinda, like, help him gain some credibility or something. But doing that would give us the same information by default, and the writers probably don't want to spring that one on us just yet. I still keep putting myself in Ben's shoes though, imagining how frustrating it must be to have to do all this seemingly evil shit in order to 'get people where they need to be', all for the good of a cause we have yet to finally see. Ben is the ultimate Abaddon.
Christian = Locke
I'm not saying that Christian and Locke are the same person here, but for the purposes of flight 316 we see that they are. And this had me wondering if maybe Christian didn't die of a heart attack at all, but instead was murdered... by strangulation. This would parallel Locke's own death as well as the death of his father, Cooper. As Christian Shephard becomes more of a tangible character and less of a fleeting ghost or vision, maybe we'll get another glimpse into his backstory.
Also, when you boil away everything else, it's actually Christian who gets the O6 back to the island. If not for the "Say hello to my son" comment, Jack might not have ever been convinced to start seeking a way back. Christan's comment was the catalyst, Locke was the messenger. They both played parts I guess, but the important part of getting them back was making them believe. Jack didn't believe squat until Locke's impossibly accurate mention of his father's name stirred up those old creepy doubts again.
The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend
The most important part of this episode, hands down, was Locke's conversation with Charles Widmore. The dialogue was awesome, and the whole scene was great. I hung on Widmore's every word, kind of like when we used to hang on Ben's every word way back in the old days when the Others were so mysterious to us. The overwhelming impression Widmore gave us is the same one he gave Locke: that he was telling nothing but the overwhelming truth. And I believe he was too, for the most part.
For so long now, it's been established that Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus are playing opposite sides of a giant game. Chess, backgammon, world domination - doesn't really matter. One's black, one's white, one's dark, one's light. Good vs. Evil, all that stuff. They rule the board, they make the moves, and the main characters are the gamepieces. Lately though, I'm not so sure how entirely true that is.
I think Widmore and Linus have the same goal, but different ideas of how to go about achieving that goal. I do think maybe they're both on the same side in the "war" that Widmore ominously predicted is coming. Hawking too. All three of them seem hellbent on avoiding something that's going to have cataclysmic results for everyone. None of them seems to want this to happen. Maybe the war isn't between Widmore and Ben at all, but between them and a third party we don't even know about yet.
However, I do think they're on opposite sides in many other respects. For one, it's obvious that Widmore's drooling to get back to the island. He's also completely astonished that Locke would ever voluntarily leave. He talked fondly of ruling the Others "peacefully" for decades, and he's crazed that Linus apparently took leadership from him. This has me wondering about his motives, which seem to lean on the selfish side. Widmore wants to rule again, whereas I think Ben's kind of through with that whole role. At some level they both have the island's interests at heart, but one of them has a much more pure, unsullied idea as to how to best protect it. I get the impression that Widmore's island-crazed vision is beclouded by him having been off it more than 30 years. Ben's is sharper and more focused, having seen the island through a lot more recent craziness than Widmore. I can't fully explain why I feel this way, but I also see Ben is now "over" the island. He does want to help win the war, but he sees Widmore as dangerous and crazy. Widmore's elevator isn't going to the top floor anymore, and Ben knows it.
The best way I can put it: Ben has paid his dues. He'd like to move on. For years and years he's sacrificed having a life of his own by living out the will of the island. If anyone in the whole show has had a predetermined destiny, it's been him. And while Ben's totally sick of it, Charles Widmore craves having it again. He hates Linus for having ousted him, but at the time Ben didn't even know what he was getting into. If Ben could go back in time (pun intended) he probably never would've taken the job. And yet Widmore knows nothing of this, he only knows his hatred for what Ben 'did' to him.
I'd bet that by the end of the show, Widmore gets exactly what he wants. And when he does, it's not going to look as good as it did in the brochure.