Last year's pre-finale episode of LOST, Hiking Across Hawaii, produced some pretty lackluster reviews. This year however, they remembered to fill the episode with some pretty kickass stuff. We got the trifecta this week: plot advancement, humor, and a dream-team which reunited Richard, Ben, AND Locke. In setting up the board for next week's big game, both the 77' and 07' storylines contained epic new material. And as they flashed between those storylines, I was happy no matter which one landed on my screen. When it comes to LOST, that's always a good sign. Things I Noticed:
As we see Faraday shot again, Jack's urgent need to fix things is about to go head-to-head with Kate's infamous flight instinct. But before we can see which one wins, Widmore performs rhinoplasty on Jack with the butt of his rifle. This makes the 3,451st time the 815'ers are captured by the Others. But hey, who's counting?
Boar. It's What's For Dinner.
John Locke v.2.0 knows how to make a great entrance. As he assumes the leadership mantle of his new tribe, he also provides them with something a lot more appetizing than the hideous squid and fish they're drying. Locke continues his fresh new matter-of-fact approach to all situations, which is just fine by me. Being direct is not a skill the Others ever managed to acquire, but with John around it looks like that's going to change.
Richard's building of what could be the Black Rock might be a clue that he was once tied to the slave ship... but I don't think so. I'm pretty sure he'll turn out to be way older than that. This episode, we finally learn more about Richard's role in the story: he's an ancient advisor. So we've got deputies of fate like Abaddon and Hawking, and we've got Richard in the role of camp counselor. With his book of laws and a rusty old compass, he gets to sit around building model ships until it's time to help identify the next leader of the Others eternal campout. Oh yeah, and he gets to stay young forever too. Not that bad a gig, really.
There are a few important elements to this scene. The first are Richard's words to Sun, after she shows him the recruitment photo. The fact that he "saw them all die" doesn't mean much here, because he could easily be talking about the Dharma initiative in general and referring to the purge. But if he's not, it's gonna make the finale a hell of a lot more interesting.
I thought it was also important to note how compassionate Locke is still treating Sun. His agenda doesn't include Jin directly, but Locke is still stringing her along with kind words, offering her water, and patting her hand with reassurance. He even gives her his word, which may or may not be good at this point. But with Locke 2.0 being all about business, why would he take the time to show Sun kindness and emotion? I think the answer to that lies in the fact that although the new Locke is undoubtedly island-influenced, there's still a measure of the old John Locke lying somewhere beneath the surface. And I'll bet that when the show ends, that Locke is going to become very important.
Locke's words to Sun were also interesting: "I don't think we went through all this for nothing, Sun." This seems to indicate a definite sense of purpose; not just for him but for all of our main characters. Where old Locke was a follower, flowing along with the island's stream of never-ending (and repeating) events, new John Locke is suddenly anti-destiny, striding purposefully through the island's jungles and across its beaches in an attempt to make a difference. He's instilled with both knowledge AND an objective. And his objective is the exact opposite of Ben and Richard's, which I think I've finally figured out:
The Others: Extreme Campers? Or Something More?
Since last week, I've had the impression that the Others have all been guardians of LOST's time loop, living only to keep it alive. Somewhere down the line, a horrific event takes place that needs to be avoided. I think most of us can agree by now that the release of the island's inner energy causes time to fold back on itself, looping over and over again. This loop of time must begin somewhere and end somewhere (the incident? the 815 crash?), but everything in between is the only thing that matters to the Others. This is where they reside, and this is what they protect.
So these people survive on and on, living from generation to generation, making sure that everything happens up to and including the important point where time folds back upon itself. They have knowledge passed on from forever ago, and their agents (Hawking, Abaddon, etc...) use this knowledge to ensure that the everything happens in proper order. Richard is the Other's constant. Since he never dies, he's the keeper of all the advanced knowledge - he passes this on to each successive chosen leader. He knows what must be done and guides everyone accordingly. And if I were him, I'd probably be bored out of my skull right about now, too.
I'm thinking the Swan hatch MUST get built in order to allow the time loop to occur. Everyone knows this. This is why the Others are allowing a full-blown construction team to dig in their territory. This also explains why they'd leave Desmond alone for all those years, so he could keep on pushing the button.
When you consider that only the leaders really know what's going on, the rest of the Others' tribe members are resigned to lame tasks like fishing, hunting, sewing up those cool cloth tents, and getting shot every couple of episodes. They're generations removed from knowing anything about what's going on. Every once in a while a leader gives them an important task that will shape the future, such as clearing off the runway on the Hydra island, but they're too much in the dark to even know why they're doing such things. They've been followers for so long, they no longer even know who or what they're following. Just look at how they all stumbled, zombie-like, into a line of well-behaved sheep when Locke announced he was taking everyone to the movies.
So now, where does Jacob fit into all this? And why are they following him? The answer is that they're not. Even worse, they never really were. More on that at the end.
Caged Heat (1977)
At long last, we finally get to see Jack dish out some crying. For five seasons now, he's always been at the receiving end of the waterworks. As Jack explains his plan to wipe the slate clean by changing history, Kate picks this exact moment to suddenly open up and express her true feelings to him. Awesome. This was information Jack could've used, oh I don't know, maybe 12,000 vicidins ago.
Kate looks horrified at Jack's suggestion that he erase their future past. From the face she makes when Jack mentions flight 815 landing in Los Angeles, some of it has to stem from Kate knowing she'll be back in handcuffs. But from the rest of it, I guess we're supposed to gather that Kate truly does love Jack. I never really doubted this, but I think she somehow loved Sawyer more. Can she love both? Not sure. But Kate seems to do the most soul-searching when she's in captivity, and her love always seems conditional on her current situation. This is exactly the type of flip-flopping that dooms her character to ridicule.
But let's not ignore the Aaron factor. Kate's tears are also for him. Reversing the past and not ever knowing the love a mother can have for her son would be absolutely devastating to Kate. Even though she'd be indirectly keeping her promise to bring Claire back, Kate can't stand the thought of destroying her entire past history as Aaron's mother. This is kind of touching, and it also makes her character more appealing to me.
Believability Sure Goes a Long Way Toward Advancing The Plot
It's pretty cool to see how a slow, rational explanation can finally go a long way toward influencing someone on LOST. Dan's gun-toting approach to diplomacy falls miserably short when compared to Jack's open, honest conversation with Eloise. And once again we're suddenly feeling a little sorry for someone who, only last week, was labeled a cold-hearted murder. The younger version of Ellie not only believes Jack, she also wants to help reverse her actions by agreeing to his pretty wild plan.
We also learn a little more here about Widmore and Hawking: both of them seem to be on equal footing when it comes to ruling the Others. I was surprised at how little resistance he gave her after she explained what she planned to to. Watching him place his hand on her stomach, we can also assume she's already pregnant with Daniel.
Are you SURE Radzinsky is Really Dharma Material?
Somebody needs to take a second look at his application. For someone hanging out in the 70's, Radzinsky's not very full of peace or love. His vehement assertion that the Swan station needs to stay on schedule seemed to indicate he's operating under a different set of orders. This was made even more clear by how easily he seized control away from Horace.
So why are the big bosses at Ann Arbor so obsessed with getting the Swan done? From what we know so far, its only purpose is to study a magnetic anomaly. This can't be the case anymore - someone definitely knows something (or maybe even has advanced knowledge of that something). Hopefully Radzinsky will reveal this later on. For now though, we get to watch him beat up Sawyer - and see Phil slap girls. Not cool Phil. If I were him, I wouldn't be doing that with the finale coming up and all.
And don't reduce Sawyer's loyalty solely to Kate. Just because they did a freeze-frame on her tiny little ass doesn't mean Sawyer wasn't trying to protect all his other friends too. This was apparent when Juliet was about to say something and he told her not to get anyone else hurt. Sawyer won't betray any of his friends. So when Radzinsky gives Sawyer pencil and paper, I'm pretty sure he's going to get a diagram of Disneyland. This should lead Radzinsky's team into a shitstorm of trouble during the finale... and it might put the blast door map a little off, too.
Alright Dude, We're From the Future...
Incredibly awesome scene. From the last minute grab of the vanilla cookies to the look Jin gives Hurley when he doesn't know the president, this is one of my favorite moments of the season. Chang continues to be amazingly cool. I loved the interaction between him and Miles when it was finally revealed that he was his son. By believing Daniel's prophecy and buying into their story, we're set up later in the episode for the inevitable send-off between Chang and his wife/son. Although we knew this would happen anyway, it was pretty touching to see. Miles' mom resented her husband not for doing anything wrong, but for not explaining why she had to be shipped off the island, never to see her husband again.
Desmond May be the Constant, But...
Gonna put a new spin on one of my old theories here, going back to S3 when I called him the 'indestructible epicenter of all things'. I talked about this a little on the ODI podcast last week, but I wanted to put it here for everyone who didn't hear it. Here goes:
The Variable is Hurley.
Since the very beginning of LOST, this has been true. We've never seen it so clearly until now, because we've never really had reason to scrutinize it. But let's examine the evidence for a minute, and then you guys can make your own assumptions. Here's what I'm saying:
* Hurley almost didn't make Flight 815. In fact, the woman at the counter tells him: "I don't think you're supposed to be on this flight, dear".
* When Ben sees Hurley on Ajira 316, he looks him in the eye and tells him: "Hugo, who told you to come?"
* In Left Behind, episode S3.15, Hurley stands on the beach with Sawyer sitting behind him. He then looks out into the ocean, and says "I'm not supposed to be here".
* In Locke's vision where Boone's wheeling him through the airport, Hurley's the only person not getting on the plane. Everyone else is boarding the flight, but Hurley is not a passenger: instead he's stamping tickets at the gate.
* In S1, Hurley knew he wouldn't die on the bridge. He just had a 'feeling' he'd be alright - and he was. At the end of S3 Hurley knew he could get that 30+ year old van to start... and he got it started. He drives the van into Pryce through a hail of gunfire, without ever taking a single bullet.
* Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley all get captured by the Others. But Hurley was the one person they let go.
Hugo has always been lucky: rolling the dice, winning at horseshoes, never missing at basketball, winning the lottery. He eternally makes his own luck... and if this is the case, it stands to reason that he can make his own future. Hugo makes his own kind of music - he's been doing this both on and off the island. He's untouchable, unreachable, and the island can't affect him for a very simple reason: he's not supposed to be here.
Think about Hurley's distractions, too. The island tried to bribe him with a storeroom of food, but Hugo blew it up. It tried to offer him romance, but then his potential girlfriend gets shot. It even tries to get him to kill himself... by using Dave to almost convince Hurley to jump off a cliff. Didn't work.
Outside of the island? Hurley's in a mental institution, where someone is watching over him (because they can't touch him) to make sure he stays put. He gets out anyway. Then he's captured and imprisoned by the police. Somehow he gets out of that, too. No matter what happens, Hurley can't be contained. Hurley can somehow even see Jacob's cabin, because he's not affected by whatever illusions or smokescreens the island puts up.
Even now, it's no coincidence that Hurley's the one voice arguing in favor that things can be changed. He argues with Miles in Whatever Happened Happened, and he's trying to rewrite history with his Empire Strikes Back script. Hurley's seen more ghosts than anyone else. Charlie comes to Hurley as a ghost, telling him "They need you". Who needs him? Everyone else in the story. The Hurley bird is even shrieking his name over and over in the finale. The answer is obvious to me: Hurley's the one person who'll end up changing things.
What's funny is that we've always thought the game changer would come from one of the bigger players: Desmond, Ben, Jack, Locke - but if you think about LOST in general, it makes sense that such changes would come from someone you'd least expect. Hurley is perfect because no one's expecting him to matter. He's done nothing but cook, divide up food, play ping pong, and make everyone else laugh - including us.
Hurley is the island's very big problem because he's the one person who's "not here for a reason". And that's the very reason why he'll end up being so important: WHH can't apply to Hurley, because he was never a part of the plan (timeline?) in the first place. In short, I'm saying Hurley is the variable. Just tossing that out there, so let's hear everyone's thoughts on it!
Benjamin Linus... Bitter Betty? Or Slow-Playing The Island?
Here's one to hate on: I think Ben's not half as stupid as he acts this episode. Michael Emerson is an amazing actor, which is why you can tell when he's intentionally over-acting. Ben's comments throughout this episode ranged from false bitterness ("Why John, afraid I'll stage a coup?") to artificial astonishment ("What just happened? Where did you go?") to over-the-top sarcasm ("Your timing was impeccable, John!"). If you doubt it, just listen to him when Locke mentions the Beechcraft: "What plane?!?!?!". Yeah, right. Clearly he's acting here, and not doing a very good job of it (Linus, not Emerson).
The reason for this is pretty simple: Ben's slow-playing the island. He intentionally wants the island (acting through Locke) to think he's stupid, that way it doesn't perceive him as a threat. Thinking pointedly back to Alex tossing him around that Egyptian chamber and calling him out on his murderous thoughts, Ben is attempting to keep the island out of his head. Acting dumb is the best way he can think of to accomplish this right now.
But one thing I don't think Ben's lying on... when Locke calls him on never having seen Jacob? That's the truth. I don't think Ben ever has seen Jacob. Ben was never meant to be a chosen leader of the island anyway.
Can Sayid Go Three Episodes Without Shooting Someone? All Signs Point to No
Just when it seems the 815ers and the Others finally have a common goal, Kate's flight instinct once again gets someone killed. Sayid interrupts the can't-we-all-just-get-along moment by shooting another one of the Others. And as he moves forward while keeping everyone at gunpoint, I thought it interesting how quickly Richard stepped in front of Eloise to protect her from getting shot next.
So many times throughout the show we've seen diverging agendas; groups splitting up because each disagreed with the other's end goal. Here we've got Jack and then Sayid arguing on the side of bringing everything to a bombtacular end, which as Sayid succinctly points out would finish the story one way or another. Kate somehow expects to "get everyone else" to convince Jack he's wrong, which didn't make a whole lot of sense to me at the time.
In any case, the Egyptians built one hell of an underground tunnel system. I'm not sure how or why the bomb got down there, but if it's directly beneath Dharmaville this whole time maybe it explains why Miles' mother seemed to be suffering from some sort of radiation sickness in her later years. She's one of the only Dharma residents who reaches old age anyway, so it's kind of hard to make a comparison.
Good Riddance. Again. And This Time I Mean It!
Sawyer's idea to buy Microsoft and bet on the Dallas Cowboys is probably one of the soundest plans on the whole show. With Radzinsky being led safely away to wherever Sawyer's map sent him, everything's looking good from all angles. He and Juliet get to leave the island for a sweet bell-bottomed lifestyle, and his friends can do whatever the hell they want... being in shackles absolves Sawyer of any responsibility toward them at this point. It's totally win-win for him.
But then, just like before, Kate arrives to screw everything up. Suddenly Sawyer is now one crazy landlord and a pair of short shorts away from starring in his own twisted version of Three's Company. So much for his plans of eating popcorn and watching the 78' Superbowl.
With the finale only a week away, it's obvious that the sub never gets to leave the island. I'm not sure how it happens, but if I had to guess? Kate convinces them to go back - which is a nice twist on Jack trying to convince her to go back two seasons ago. If Jack were to succeed in what he's trying to do, Juliet and Sawyer would never get to have their off-island life anyway. I'm thinking maybe Horace is also on the sub. He seems to owe allegiance to Jim Lafleur, and is probably pissed at being upstaged by Radzinsky. If I had to guess, he'd be the one to free them from the cuffs. Can't wait to see what happens to Phil.
There is No Spoon
As the episode progresses, Richard begins to understand Ben's point about Locke potentially "becoming a problem". It looks as if this new version of John Locke is going to pull back their curtain and expose the pile of bullshit that is Jacob. Or at least, maybe this is what Locke thinks. To Ben and Richard however, the story's probably a lot different.
There definitely has to be a Jacob. Not only have we seen his cabin, but we've heard him speak. We've also seen him actually re-wind time: at the end of Locke's first encounter with him, we saw that broken lantern (and the fire it started) instantly fix itself. We saw a ring of ash around Jacob's cabin, which originally seemed like it might've been there to protect it from being discovered or seen. Later on though, it became more and more obvious that the ring of ash was probably there for the opposite reason: to keep Jacob IN. We also saw a very worried look on Ben's face when he saw that the circle had been broken, almost as if he were worried that something had escaped. Incidentally, this is also when we started seeing quasi-evil Christian and Claire.
So Ben and Richard both know of Jacob, but instead of following his orders maybe they've just kept him imprisoned all this time. They do whatever's needed to keep the time loop on track, in order to keep whatever happened still happening correctly. "Jacob" is how they keep their followers in line. The refer to his "orders" whenever necessary, making sure everyone does what they're supposed to. No one can question Jacob, because no one has ever seen him. The very act of questioning him incurs everyone else's wrath. He becomes, in effect, the island's version of God.
On a side note, this also explains Widmore's wry reaction to Richard just after he'd brought young Ben to the temple: "Jacob wanted it done". As leader, Widmore knows Jacob said no such thing, but he also knows that's what Richard has already told his people. To keep up the illusion of this supreme being, he has to accept and acknowledge it in front of everyone else.
Now we find out Locke wants to kill Jacob. Perhaps he only wants to kill the illusion of Jacob - once he does that, he puts himself firmly in command. Or maybe he wants to free Jacob from whatever temporal prison he seems stuck in, and the only way to do that is through the same method he himself was resurrected: death. The only thing we can be sure of is that whatever spirit wants this done (the island? the smoke monster?) is now acting through Locke, and is probably trying to get rid of a long-standing island problem that both Richard and Ben were trying to hide or keep from it.
To sum it up, maybe Jacob did exist at one point. If so, I'm guessing he was a realllllllly bad dude. Maybe he caused assloads of problems and was finally contained, similar to a demon or something along those lines. It probably took a lot of time and a lot of effort to finally put Jacob down, and now Locke's talking about revisiting a very bad scenario. I think both Ben and Richard are genuinely afraid of Jacob - they don't seem to be pretending when it comes to that.
But what happens when Locke gets there? Can't wait to see it.