Is this the season we've been waiting for? The season of answers?!?!? By now you damned well know it is. After four seasons of loyal, hungry viewership the answers are finally being tossed to us piece by chunky piece. Things I Noticed:
LOST - The Ultimate Recycling Program (and pick-up is on Wednesday nights)
Here's a question we haven't had an answer to yet: Just how many coincidences does it take before the stubborn people stop groping for lame rationalizations? Five season's worth? Well reach into your pocket for some more, because the island isn't the only thing skipping. Not only is there a broken time loop, but there are loops within that loop that just keep on recycling the same old scenes, names, faces, objects, and information time and time again. It doesn't matter what year it is on the island - looks like someone's losing an arm.
And look: a screaming monster - uprooted trees - a bloodied body falling out of the sky. The monster dragging someone into a hole. Someone climbing into a hole. - we've seen this all before. Shouldn't we lower you down? Nah, what's the fun in that? This time I'll climb down, if only for a change of pace.
In LOST, repetition runs rampant. Nadine, Naomi, Nadia - dead dead dead. This place is death, but this place is also rebirth. The island continues spinning, repeating, tumbling through space and time. And on the island, our main characters themselves are leaping through its different eras, arriving at what appear to be significant historic events. But even beyond that, individual characters like Charlotte are now flashing mentally through their own memories, re-living small snippets of their past life(lives?) before returning to the present - if there even IS a present - with that knowledge. It's like one of those ridiculous gyrating father's day desk gifts that spins on all three axis at once: a circle within a circle within a circle.
My point here is this: I think all through its history, the island has summoned the people it needs to reach its ultimate goal - the end game. And the island has been killing off/purging the people it doesn't need - those not on its list - in an effort to protect itself. I don't think any of Danielle's science expedition were on this list - they arrived by lucky accident chasing the radio tower signal. This is why it tries to kill them off, through possessing Robert, Brennan, Lacombe, and possibly a one-armed Montand. Only Danielle survives, but at that point I think the island perceived her as a non-threat and left her alone for the next 16 years. But just how Danielle manages to survive is very interesting...
We're All Here for a Reason
Danielle survives because of Jin, or at least it appears that way. Would Danielle have followed her friends into that hole had Jin not been there? On the surface it looks like she would've. But then again, wouldn't one of the other men remind her that pregnant girls probably shouldn't climb into deep, dark, dangerous holes? Just how many people does it take to rescue a one-armed Frenchman from such a hole, and wouldn't it be logical for someone to stay behind? Was going into the hole even the thing that made them sick in the first place? These are all good questions.
I think we're led to believe here that Jin saved Danielle. Later on we see that whomever went into the smoke monster's lair came back out 'as someone else', much the same way that Claire appeared to be someone else at the end of last season. So if Jin saves Danielle from possession and death, then Jin must have *always* saved Danielle... otherwise she couldn't be around to meet the 815'ers in 2004. I'll admit this goes directly against what I said last week about Jin appearing here (in this loop) for the very first time. But then again if you believe in course correction, had Jin not been around maybe Robert or one of the other men would've kept her from climbing into that hole. The door swings both ways - you can make cases for both sides.
But then in support for the 'Jin's first time through the loop' argument, it looks more and more like Danielle would remember someone like Jin. He disappeared before her eyes and was present for two of her three most traumatic days on the island: arriving by shipwreck and the shooting of her boyfriend. Going by the timeline Danielle tells Sayid in Season 1, her crew didn't get sick until two months (and a trip to the Black Rock) later. Even then Danielle recognizes Jin as the man who disappeared AND the man she tried to kill, somehow firing her bolt-action rifle three times without a single reload. It's a tough call.
And we're also left with another chicken/egg scenario as we see a crate marked 'Explosives' at Danielle's camp. Did the science expedition find this dynamite at the Black Rock and bring it back to the beach? And if so, why the holy hell are they sleeping right next to it? Or maybe it washed up on shore with the debris of their research vessel, and Danielle brought it to the Black Rock later on? Hard to tell here.
First a boat, now a helicopter...
... next thing he'll be talking about a submarine! Damn, I love how seamlessly they can integrate humor into the most serious of scenes, without getting campy or changing the mood. It's one of the coolest, most unique qualities of the way they write the show.
Mmmmm.... French Fries!
The monster scene in this episode was nothing short of magnificent. It reminded me of how much fun it was in the old days... we hadn't even seen the smoke yet, just a bunch of trees getting ripped out by the roots and people running screaming through the jungle. Our own first-time amazement is reflected in the faces of Rousseau's crew, with Jin there as a five-season veteran to anchor the chaos. Totally awesome.
In the past we've known the monster to exhibit some dog-like looks and behavior, and this episode we got an even better look. As its pulling Montand through the jungle Cerebus definitely has ears, and for a frame or two the smoke monster looked like a dog dragging him backward with it's teeth. The ears were pointed upward and almost jackal-like, which when combined with the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the temple(?) wall points to a much different mythological dog: Anubis - Jackal God of Death. This certainly keeps in theme with the episode title. And they're gonna need Brandon Frasier.
It doesn't look like we'll ever find out what happened to Montand upon bottoming out in the hole, but it seemed to me that his demeanor changed a little TOO fast. While all he really did was call for help, the "I'm hurt" part seemed a little unnecessary considering the rest of his friends were holding his severed arm. I'll get razzed here for looking a little too far into things, but it seemed he was trying to lure the rest of them down there almost immediately. The smoke monster pulls him 100 yards through the jungle only to let him go in the end? I'm thinking it wanted them all down there, maybe in the same way it wanted Locke down there back in S1.
Should We Stay or Should We Go
Back in the 'real world', the O6 pity party gets broken up by the blame police. After setting up the Aaron/Ji-Yeon playdate, Sun storms onto the scene with a gun to Ben's face. Kate stomps off. Jack whines and goes after her. And then at that exact moment, Sayid mirrors my own disposition: disinterest to the point of completely not giving a shit.
You all know how much I love LOST but the off-island scenes are becoming a nightmare... totally made worse by the fact that the on-island scenes are so damned good this season. The "We have to go back!" thing is so played out by now I roll my eyes every time I see Jack, Kate, or Sun. Ben, Hurley and Sayid have been only mildly more interesting. When the episode ended at Hawking's House of High Level Mathmatics I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Forget about the world coming to an end, she needs to get these once-great characters back to the island before I start fast-forwarding through their scenes.
I'm Warning You Kids... I'll Turn This Car Around RIGHT NOW!!!
Hahahaha!!! How great was that? Not only did this scene make me laugh my ass off, but Ben's little tantrum was extremely telling in the grand scheme of things. Just look at him this scene: his frustration is totally genuine. Last week I threw down the gangplank to the 'Ben is one of the good guys' 2009 cruise. Many people balked. But for those of you still kicking around on the dock, this is the episode you should jump on board. If you believe like I do, Benjamin Linus is stuck in an extremely difficult role. He has to protect, guide, and ensure the success of select people through certain tasks, but without giving them any of the information explaining why they must do these things. He's bouncing from place to place, source to source, trying to hold everything together while all other forces are aligning against him. And now here he's got Jack and Sun, like a pair of ungrateful little brats plotting backseat vengeance against him while he's trying to drive them to the circus.
At the end of the episode, although he's lost half his audience, Ben lays a lot of this stuff on the line. He uses Jin's wedding ring as a tool to get Sun back to the island; ironic since Jin asked Locke to use it for the exact opposite purpose. Somewhere along the line we now know that Ben met up with Locke. Going one step further, I'm going to suggest that Ben's responsible for Jeremy Bentham being dead, too. Does that cancel his good guy cruise? Not necessarily. More on that at the end.
We're like, umm.. (air-quotes) 'Time-Traveling' now
Sawyer's reaction to seeing Jin was awesome. For so many episodes he's been nothing but scowl... it was good to see him elated at finding out his old friend was still alive. It was even better watching logical, sardonic Sawyer have to reluctantly admit that yes, indeed, they were in fact time-traveling.
And the Nominee for Creepiest Scene Goes To...
Charlotte and Daniel, hands down. Watching Charlotte flash through her Rolodex of memories and then return to reveal to Daniel that he, himself, was the scary guy who threatened death if she ever returned to the island again... wow! It blew me away. We knew from the season premiere that Daniel would be creeping around Dharma-town, and we kinda knew that Charlotte had grown up on the island. Still this scene took me completely by surprise and totally spooked me out.
It also got me thinking... how long did Charlotte spend in her own mind? If she were unconscious for 10 minutes, would she re-live only 10 minutes of time? Or was she playing out days, months, maybe weeks of memories in just the few minutes Daniel stayed with her in the jungle? Look at Teresa, Minkowski, Leonard; their own records skipping at different intervals as their brains jump from memory to memory. Just as the island skips through it's own memories, with the main characters coming along as an interactive audience.
The fact that Daniel tried to prevent Charlotte's death and failed shows us that he alone cannot break the rules. Desmond he is not. But he was able to circumvent the rules in one aspect: he brainstormed that very important on-the-fly meeting that ultimately sent Desmond to seek out Ms. Hawking. By doing this, Desmond likely gets back to the island... and Daniel effectively puts the wild card back in the deck.
A few final words on Charlotte: At first I really couldn't stand her. Eventually she became tolerable, then she grew on me, and then just as I started to like her... death! Same thing went for Charlie. The writers have an uncanny knack for that crap.
Is That a Tibia in Your Pants or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
In an already-juicy episode, the real meat and bones was the meeting between Locke and Christian. I'm still not totally sure what to make of the whole Christian/Claire/Jacob thing, but I will share a few gut feelings.
First, I don't think Christian has anything to do with Jacob. They seem to be two separate entities, with different agendas. Regarding the island, Christian admonishes Locke: "I told you to move it". Locke's words to Ben last season were "We have to move the island", so this could've been easily misconstrued by either of them. Ben had no way of knowing whether the order came from Jacob or Christian, because he'd waited outside the cabin. Still, I don't think this is the case. Ben wouldn't have made a mistake like that - I think he knew exactly what he was doing when he turned the wheel.
After scolding Locke, Ghost-Christian seems more interested in correcting the mistake than anything else. Looks like Ben might've busted up the donkey wheel when he flashed out of there. Christian needs the wheel fixed, which will probably fix the island in its present place and time. Judging from what we saw when Sawyer was holding the rope, the current time is pre-Dharma (no Orchid station) and sometime before the well to hell was built. I'm thinking way before, as in 4-toed statue time.
But Christian doesn't just want the wheel fixed - he wants Locke gone. He had instructed Locke to turn the wheel even before Ben snapped it off its axis. This leads me to believe he's afraid of Locke, and needs him gone from the island for good. But just as pushing the button wasn't Desmond's sole purpose, turning that wheel is not John Locke's destiny. He's got a much greater purpose, and I think Christian is trying to prevent him from fulfilling that role. I also got the weird impression that Christian couldn't care less whether or not Locke brought back the O6. I really think he just wanted him gone.
I also think Christian's refusal to help Locke stand was important. This is akin to Ms. Klugh not being able to help Michael in what he had to do. "It doesn't work that way, Michael". Later on, Klugh would even advise Mikhail against breaking "the rules". Manipulating Locke is one thing, but I think physically helping him is something Christian cannot do.
And the wheel chamber... it was interesting how they shot it. It seemed to be a reversal of the chamber that Ben was in - almost a mirror image - as if instead of it being the same chamber, we were looking at what was on the other side of Ben's donkey wheel. Sadly, when Locke grabbed the wheel he became a puppet once again, with yet another master pulling his strings. It's been that way all his life. One of these days Locke's gonna snap out of that role and do something all his own, and I've got the feeling evil cave-dwelling Christian will rue that day. That might be the day the real Jacob gets freed from his temporal prison, and all holy hell breaks loose. We'll just have to see.
Have You Seen My Friend's Mum's House, Brotha?
The final scene this episode promised some very BIG answers next week. For two seasons now, all off-island activity has been geared toward getting the Oceanic Six back to the island. They've been scared shitless, shot at, drugged, mugged, and herded like cattle to all arrive together in one place at one time. Yet with time running out Ben shows up with just two of them. Hawking's gonna kick his ass. All would seem lost here, if not for Desmond.
Check out Ben's face when he sees Desmond - it's like a light bulb suddenly goes off in his head. As the one person who can change things, Desmond instantly becomes plan B. Three years of coordination and effort, and Ben's only 2 for 6. But with Desmond going back to the island, maybe that doesn't even matter. Ben looks completely astounded to see him. I think this marks the first time Ben even speaks to Desmond. And as he brings him in to see Hawking, Desmond suddenly becomes their ace in the hole.
I'm sure the rest of the O6 will eventually come around. Wouldn't be much of a show if they didn't return to the island. But in the end, Desmond's role will play a huge part in what happens. He's the one chesspiece Widmore and Ben will be vying for.
Interested in pure speculation? Of Course Not! (Read on)
Final thoughts: let's quickly go back to last season. Ben finds out he's fallen from favor: he can no longer see or hear Jacob, but suddenly Locke can. This is a bitter pill for him to swallow. Ben then shoots Locke - perhaps out of jealous rage for all the unrewarded sacrifice he's made, perhaps as a test: if Locke really is Jacob's chosen one Ben knows he will not be allowed to die. Maybe a little of both.
After the freighter debacle, Ben knows change is imminent. All he can do is get ready to repair the damage. When Locke mentions moving the island, Ben seizes the reins by deciding to turn the wheel himself. He cries as he does this, because he's sacrificing the one thing he has left: his home. As he explains to Locke, once someone leaves by turning the wheel they cannot return.
It's important to realize that at this point he could've easily convinced Locke to turn the donkey wheel. Locke was drunk in his own destiny - he would've humped the statue's big toe if he thought that's what he was supposed to do. But Ben knew two things: that he'd need to be on the mainland if he were to act as shepherd in rounding up the O6 flock, and that Locke still had some unfulfilled destiny on the island.
This season, I'll bet Ben is quite astonished to see Locke turn up in the real world. Just as the O6 were never supposed to leave the island, Locke was supposed to stay there as well. And now that quasi-evil subterranean Christian Shephard has tricked Locke off the island by turning the wheel, he apparently cannot go back. At least not alive, which is why I bet Ben kills him. Going back to the island as a corpse... that might be do-able. Just ask the original coffin-dwelling Christian Shephard.