NOTE from DarkUFO: Please give a big DarkUFO Welcome to one of our new Recappers this year, Robz888
Please return your seats to their full upright position and fasten your seatbelts. LAX, here we come!
What an episode. WHAT an episode. I don't know about the rest of you - "LA X" looks like it's doing only okay in the polls - but I was absolutely blown away.
Let's see, where to start? First off, I suppose I should introduce myself, as I'm new to recapping this season. My name's Robby, and I am a long-time fan of Lost and the site. Hopefully I'll be providing you with some insights and opinions on the episode each week. To answer a few of the most pressing questions you may have about me: John is my favorite, I usually dislike Kate, I think season 2 was the best, and I consider Faraday a bit overrated. Now on to the good stuff!
Let's tackle the episode in this order: the Alternate Timeline (ATL), then the ex-Dharma group, and then the Statue gang.
No crash! Seth Norris announces that they hit a pocket but everything's okay. And now it's clear (if it wasn't before) that we are in an alternate timeline. Some nice juxtaposition there, as it was a drill hitting an electromagnetic energy pocket that launched this alternate in the first place. These pockets seem to trip up our Losties quite frequently.
Jack acts like something's strange. Rose and Bernard seem to sense it, too.
They give each other a knowing look. Of course, if they do know about the other reality on the island, they shouldn't be too happy about being in this one. Life was good for Rose and Bernard on the island. In this world, Rose might (or might not) have cancer. Meanwhile, Jack observes a phantom cut that has appeared on the side of his neck.
Note: I checked photos from the original "Pilot" episode, but I didn't see that exact same scratch anywhere (evidence of a THIRD reality! Just kidding). But it's interesting that he isn't just feeling mentally displaced - the cut is strong evidence of some physical manifestations of the other reality, too.
And then we get our first look at the island in the ATL - buried on the ocean floor. The Barracks are there, Dharma sharks, and the Statue. This is almost certainly the result of the detonation of the Jughead in 1977. This means that the timeline doesn't deviate when 815 stays airborne during the turbulence. It deviates when the bomb goes off in 1977. Things - some things, at least - have been different ever since then.
The key to this thread of the Lost narrative will be figuring out what's already been changed, what can be changed, and what it means for the "real" story in the other timeline. This should truly be a unique viewing experience - it's almost like we get to watch a new show, except these characters aren't new to us. They aren't starting fresh, there's no "Tabula Rasa". We have ideas about them already. It's like if they remade Lost intro a movie twenty years from now. We'd be wondering, "Oh, will they include Jack's tattoos? Is Hurley still unlucky? What will they change about Sayid?" I think that's how we'll feel, now.
I haven't read it but a quick Wikipedia check reveals it's about a city so old that it's name has been forgotten (sounds like the island, huh?). There's also an electromagnetic device intended to destroy the ocean, which sounds an awful lot like the island's final resting place in this timeline. By now we're trained to look for similarities in every book that appears on Lost, but this one appears to be an especially good fit.
Jack recognizes Desmond - the question is, does he recognize him from the running of the stadium steps (which may or may not have happened in the ATL) or from the MTL? Because I'm not sure the stadium steps meeting would occur in the ATL at all. If the bomb went off in 1977, it certainly killed Charles Widmore, who was on the island at the time. No Widmore should mean no Penny. No Penny should mean no sailing race and no sailing race should mean no stadium steps run.
I hope we see much more of Desmond this season. His iconic "See you in another like, brotha," is more relevant than ever. It'll also be interesting to compare this Desmond to MTL Desmond, whose probably better off if there's really no Penny because of Widmore's presumed death in 1977.
Hurley has a brief conversation Sawyer, although we didn't learn too much about what Sawyer is like in this reality. It'll be interesting to see if his story's changed, although I guess the major defining event of Sawyer's life - his parents' deaths - happened before the Jughead went off, so maybe he won't turn out much differently. Gotta wonder whether he still killed Frank Duckett, though.
Making our way among our favorite survivors, we come to Jin and Sun. Jin is still a controlling jerk - he gives her the "button your shirt" just like right after the crash. I'm not totally buying Sun's characterization anymore in the MTL (she's been three drastically different people before the island, on the island, and after the island), so it'll be interesting to see what they do with her here.
Speaking of which, no Shannon, huh? Oh well. No beach = no bikini = no real purpose for Shannon.
How many of you fell for John's story about his walkabout? I totally did. I'm a huge John fan, and I was thinking, "Oh, John is happy in this reality! He can walk, he can walkabout... it makes it almost okay that he's dead in the other timeline." But I should have known better. Kicking John fans when we're down is the producers' favorite pass time. But we don't find out yet that new John is the same as the old John (in that regard) until much later, so I'll hold off for now.
What I will say is that John's walkabout tale sounded almost as if he was talking about being on the island. Him and Boone are channeling their crash-survivor selves, just like Jack.
Remember? Boone is trying to do CPR on Rose, Jack comes over to help her and sends Boone off to get a pen. He comes back after the madness is over with a bunch of different ones.
I'm fairly certain it's not too important, but it's cool how even this scene - Jack asking for a pen to save Charlie - mirrors what would have happened had the plane gone down, when Jack asked for a pen to save Rose.
But I just got a little ahead of myself. Jack's called over to help Charlie, Charlie is choking on his drugs, Sayid offers to help. Again, one of Sayid's first scenes in "Pilot, Part 1" was offering to help fix the transceiver. Apparently that's how Sayid makes new friends.
Speaking of Sayid, who's carrying his famous Nadia photo, does this guy have it better in the ATL or what? He's on his way, presumably, to meet up with Nadia, instead of dying in the jungle from a gunshot wound. Talk about an upgrade.
Jack saves Charlie (Was it suicide? An accident? I was confused.) but Charlie is less than grateful. "I was supposed to die," he says. Is Charlie channeling his island self, too? In any case, Jack never seems to get much appreciation for the lengths he goes to save people. This scene matches up nicely with his failures to save MTL Sayid and the death of MTL Juliet hanging over his head, too. Does Jack fix things or just force the universe to course-correct? Is it course-correcting, now?
This was the first of two scenes to make me shed a tear.
My face fell as I watched everyone else get off the plane, John just sitting there patiently as it became clearer and clearer that he still couldn't walk. This raises the question of whether he went on the walkabout at all, or whether he simply told Boone that he had. It could be that in the ATL, the walkabout guy lets him on the bus. I'd say the evidence for this theory lies with John's demeanor - he doesn't seem nearly as upset as he did in the MTL. But it's equally likely (maybe more likely) that he didn't get to go and just lied about it to make himself feel better.
Once Jack is off the plane, he finds out that his father's coffin is missing. Enter the really tricky questions like - is the Christian Sheppard that walks around in the MTL the body from the missing coffin of the ATL? Not that they need an extra body, since Jack found the body-less coffin in the MTL.
I don't mean to rain on the parades of any really interesting theories, but I hope they keep these timelines mostly separate, by which I mean, you can't travel from one to the other (not even if you're Desmond, to whom the rules don't apply). The ATL should serve as a complement to the MTL. It should be it's "I Wish," it's "Place Where Miracles Happen." If the two timelines have much more direct interaction than that, things may start getting messy.
I have to say, Jack's upset about his father being missing, but he's not SO upset. I definitely think the version of Jack we're seeing here is more balanced. And I think this becomes apparent in a big way in his subsequent conversation with John. John, for his part, has lost some luggage too: his knives. He's probably better off without them. He's a farmer, not a hunter, right? And when he picked the knife in Richard's test, he failed. Let 'em stay lost.
John explains to Jack that though his father's body might be missing, his father's spirit is somewhere else entirely. Yes, that has island ramifications, but it's also a nice thing for a John who strongly believes in faith to say. And you know what? Jack appreciates it. He appreciates this nod to faith.
And then the reverse happens. Jack asks about Locke's paralysis and politely offers him a free checkup to see if there's anything he can do to fix it. John accepts Jack's card gratefully. And just like that, John has proven that he can be a man of science, too - he hasn't totally given up on the idea that he can be physically healed. "Nothing is irreversible," Jack says. Would this comment be the opposite of Whatever Happened, Happened? Is this a universe where Whatever Could Have Happened, May Happen?
Jack and John both seem to be more complete characters in the ATL. It's not Man of Science, Man of Faith here. They respect each other immediately - they acknowledge each others' philosophies. I hope - I really, really hope - that John goes to see Jack and Jack fixes his paralysis. And that they play backgammon together every Tuesday thereafter.
This was the only other scene that got me to tear up (that's right, I remained stoic during Juliet's death, though it wasn't easy).
There wasn't too much else very interesting going on in the airport, so I'll skip most stuff except Kate.
This girl just can't be brought to justice, can she? We've seen Ed Mars lose her over and over again, and then when he finally gets her, he dies after a plane crash. In the ATL, Kate's escape is completely ridiculous. Would Mars really take that moment to wash his face? He knows what a flight risk she is. This scene was a rare moment of "LA X" worthy of criticism.
Anyway, she's out and runs into Sawyer, who is more of a gentleman, it would seem. I wonder if he was exiled from Australia? And then after failing to steal Frogurt's taxi (you caught him snoozing between Boone and Locke on the plane, right?), she uses the marshal's gun and hijack's a taxi with Claire in it!
We can assume that she was on the plane, though we didn't see her. I wonder if she saw Charlie and had any vague feelings of recognition.
In the taxi, it was impossible to tell whether she was pregnant or not. I'm going to guess yes, though, because the possibility that Kate plays a role in Aaron's birth and/or raising once again is too interesting to pass up. Of course, I'm not sure I can make myself care about the fate of a new Aaron when I'm still not sure if the original Aaron is going to see his mommy again.
This issue is kind of a problem with the ATL storyline in general, actually. I'll admit that I love the potential, here, to wrap things up more nicely for some characters, to offer something more than redemption - an actual shot at happiness, for things to go right. But still, these aren't the same characters. These are shades of the characters we care about. The real Claire isn't driving in a taxi with Kate - she's presumably been wandering the jungle for three years. It will be nice to see ClaireX get a bright future, but I want something for real Claire, too.
This, I think, is the danger of the ATL. It's a diversion, a "what if". But the main focus, at least in viewers' hearts, will still be the island. Hopefully the show doesn't forget that. It doesn't look like that's going to be a problem, though, with all the great on-island action.
1) Was Charlie trying to kill himself? Did he accidentally swallow the package during the turbulence? I didn't get it. Yes I understand the parallelism of Jack having saved Charlie before, and in the current storyline him failing to save Sayid... but this seemed weird to me.
2) How much is different? Is it just these character's lives? Have other things turned out differently? For instance, will the Red Sox win the series and George Bush be re-elected President (as Ben explained to Jack during his captivity in the MTL). I guess I wouldn't be surprised if the show never goes in that direction, but you gotta wonder.
3) We didn't see Michael or Walt on the plane. Was that because they couldn't get the actors to show or because Michael and Walt were no longer on the plane? It seems like Walt is too important not to be touched on in either the ATL or the MTL, and the ATL might end up being a better place to do it. Then there's the Tailies - what about Eko, Ana Lucia and Libby?
4) I'm not willing to believe that Sun doesn't speak English. Sun is the second biggest liar on Lost. Only Ben tops her.
Okay, onto Jack's group in 2007!
But first, the survivors discover they are in some time period after Desmond's implosion of the hatch in 2004. The imploded hatch looks different than it did at the beginning of season 3, but I don't think we're supposed to think that.
Jack is confused that the plan didn't appear to work according to Faraday's plan - apparently, he doesn't sense his other self landing safely in LAX. Sawyer blames Jack for Juliet's death and threatens to kill him until he hears Juliet's voice beneath all the rubble from the hatch.
Maybe this isn't a good time to ask, but why did the Jughead detonation launch them all into 2004 without harming them? And why just them? I was a little disappointed not to see what happened next between Miles and Pierre Chang, but Chang was gone. Shame, I hope Miles gets a chance to talk to his father sometime. I also really hope Miles doesn't die since I have him in the Fantasy League, but he's somewhat on the periphery, I feel, because he doesn't yet have a place in the ATL.
While Sawyer, Kate and Jack set to work trying to dig Juliet out, Hurley encounters Jacob, who admits to being dead and pretty much confirms that the Losties are now in 2007 - the same time period as Flocke and Co. This is good, because it would just be too much to keep track of if there was an alternate reality and two different timelines in a main reality. Anyway, Jacob tells Hurley that he's dead, which makes sense, since Hurley can talk to dead people. I'm glad that Jacob didn't just come back to life - that would be a little unfair, you know? Dead is Dead, after all. But there's a greater sense of urgency and mortality when we know the characters can fail and die.
This also confirms that Hurley truly does have the power to talk to dead people, as this is the first dead person that we can unequivocally say is NOT the Man in Black.
Meanwhile, two main Losties are dying. Juliet is being crushed to death in the Swan shaft, and Sayid is bleeding unstoppably from a bullet wound. Sayid quickly loses consciousness after reflecting on all the people he's tortured. Again, just like last season, Sayid spends some serious amounts of time unconscious.
Sayid is one of the characters that the ATL could really help out. What can be a happy resolution to Sayid's character in the MTL? Best case scenario, he dies heroically. He's lost pretty much everything else.
Hurley's instructions from Jacob are to take everybody to the Temple to save Sayid. But first, Sawyer gets his final moments with a dying Juliet. Up until her last breath, I thought she might yet live, somehow. It was almost more heartbreaking watching Sawyer get that chance to say goodbye.
But even at death's door, Juliet delivers some very important info. "We should get coffee," she says. This immediately reminded me of Charlotte's final words to Daniel, "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before supper." I'm betting that was deliberate, and that it was done in order to suggest that maybe Juliet's consciousness was, on some level, in another place. Could that place have been the ATL? Probably. Juliet was the one who actually set off the bomb, so I imagine she might have some of her own "The rules don't apply" status, much like Desmond did for turning the failsafe key. Both these events took place very near the electromagnetic anomaly, so I'd be willing to buy it.
I'd really like to see Juliet and Sawyer get together in the ATL. It won't completely make up for their unhappy ending in the MTL, but it'll still be nice. Plus, if the island is destroyed in 1977, Juliet will never have to part with her sister and go there. So, even though Juliet's death was very sad, we're pretty much guaranteed to see her and Sawyer "get coffee" in another universe.
But Juliet had more to say before she died. Thankfully, Miles exists. Do other fans like Miles? Am I the only one? I think Miles is great. His relationship with Sawyer is very touching, even though Sawyer only wanted to borrow his ghost-talking powers.
Miles's post-burial ghost-whispering was, in my opinion, the "wait... what?" moment of "LA X". When he's doing his thing, we can definitely here Smoke Monster noises. I was expecting Juliet's urgent message to be, "It's not John, it's a monster!!!!!!" But instead, all we get is, "It worked." The Jughead-reset, presumably? This would confirm that Juliet is/was on some level able to comprehend the other universe. Still, I'm not sure that's enough to merit an "it worked". It wouldn't surprise me if this phrase turns out to have some significance we aren't at all aware of yet.
I know I haven't gotten there yet, but I need to mention it now: Flocke/Man in Black turns out to be the Smoke Monster. Why on earth, then, is the Smoke Monster a security system for the temple? The Others living at the temple are terrified of the Man in Black - he is their enemy. How did the monster ever serve as a successful security system if the others are trying to defend the temple from it?
The gang is quickly captured by the Others, including a decidedly hippie-esque Cindy. Sawyer nicknaming her Amelia Earhart seems especially appropriate for her dramatic reappearance after three years of wondering where she was. She identifies the crash survivors but seems perfectly happy to let them all be shot by the Others.
Is it just me, or have the Others lost some of their cool factor? They're so quick to shoot people that it's just kind of annoying. But if anyone plays the Jacob card, then they turn into complete whimps. And these Others dress much more strangely than Richard's group. I can't imagine these people having ever lived in the Barracks.
The apparent leaders of the Temple Others are a John Lennon lookalike and some kind of samurai man. Hurley's guitar case - given to him by Jacob - is the lifesaver here, and we finally discover that there's a giant ankh in it. This symbol of eternal life is a good reminder that even as Juliet dies, and Sayid appears ready to die, there's another whole reality (maybe many of them) where the dead still live. That's sort of how the Tralfamadorians of "Slaughterhouse Five" see things, now that I think about it.
Anyway, the ankh contains a note with instructions for samurai man: "SAVE SAYID." Finally!
Only they end up drowning him instead. I was a little confused about this whole Spring of Life thing. The waters were muddied - a rarity, it seemed. Probably tied to Jacob's death, right? And what was that hourglass for?
Sayid appears dead, but I had a hard time believing that was just it for him, so I wasn't totally surprised to see him alive at the end of the episode. "What happened?" he says. You know the answer to that Sayid! Whatever Happened, Happened!
But is this really even Sayid? Can Jacob take the bodies of dead people, just like MIB? There's a chance that this Sayid actually is MIB, although it's a slim chance. If this body was someone other than Sayid, experience tells us the real body would still be around, too. And we know that Ben has undergone a similar procedure as a child without having his body taken over by some other force. It will be very interesting to see what Sayid is like from now on. I'm pretty excited about this development - it could be just what Sayid's character needs to really break out of his doomed shell.
While Jack mopes about Sawyer hating him, Kate being considerably indifferent to him, his responsibility in Juliet's death, and what he perceives to be failure to save Sayid, it's Hurley who's running the show. It's great to compare Hurley now to his pre-island (or even ATL) self. He's always been a good person, but he's definitely become more responsible. And I loved how he caused the Temple Others to panic when he dropped the Jacob is dead bombshell.
The Temple goes into full defensive mode because of Jacob's death. I'm still wondering how they plan to defend themselves from their own security system.
Side Note: I'm told that a copy of Soren Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling" appears in the Temple. I saw it during my first viewing but couldn't find it the second time. Anyway, Fear and trembling takes its title from a Bible quote, "Try to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." It will be helpful to keep this in mind, I think, as we head on over to our friend, the Man in Black.
Okay, I'm getting pretty tired so let's move on to the Statue group and wrap this up.
If the Man in Black was creepy in "The Incident," he was downright terrifying in "LA X". The reactions of other characters made him even scarier. It was very interesting watching Richard, who hardly ever loses his cool, completely flip out about this new threat.
Ben emerges from the Statue and tells Richard that John requests his presence, while lying about Jacob being fine. It was pretty funny to watch Ben try his old cons and get totally schooled. Richard drags Ben to the real John's body, and suddenly everything makes sense to Ben. Meanwhile, Ilana and Bram are itching to do something about MIB. Needless to say, it doesn't go so well.
Ilana doesn't enter the Statue, but the rest of her team does. MIB tells them that Jacob doesn't need protection anymore since he's dead. When they shoot at him, he transforms into THE SMOKE MONSTER! Long have fans speculated that MIB and Smokey would be one and the same. They have now been proven correct. As I said before, this raises interesting questions about why Smokey protected the temple, at least in Rousseau's day.
Smokey kills all of them, though Bram attempts to defend himself with a circle of ash, similar to the one that surrounded the cabin.
Smokey gets around it by basically chucking a rock at him. The moment Bram steps out of the circle, Smokey destroys him. It's clear that Smokey can't enter the circle, though.
This circle of ash raises questions. If indeed it was MIB residing in the cabin when John and Ben visited it in "The Man Behind the Curtain" - and we have every reason to believe that it was - how was Smokey able to run around the jungle killing people up to that point? We see Smokey in 1988, we see him right after the crash... why does he appear to be trapped in the cabin by a circle of ash right after that? Was the circle already broken?
It's of course possible that there is more than one Smoke Monster. And I'm not positive on who occupied the cabin and at what times (Horace was actually the one who built it, remember?). So I guess we'll see.
After Bram and his team are slain, MIB goes on to have a conversation with Ben that was truly one of the finest moments of acting in the entire series. Ben conveys such confusion, terror and pity that you can't not feel sorry for him. And MIB gives a very revealing speech about the real John Locke.
"Do you know what he was thinking when you choked the life out of him, Benjamin? ... 'I don't understand.' Isn't that just the saddest thing you ever heard?" Terry O'Quinn is able to jump back and forth between these two starkly different characters with such ease, it almost makes me wish MIB had been with us earlier.
MIB reveals that he wants, "the one thing John Locke never wanted. To go home." Where is home? That's a question for another episode. But there's no denying something Biblical about the feud between Jacob and this monster. It's almost as if MIB is Satan from John Milton's Paradise Lost, waging war on the angels to reclaim a place in heaven, while ruling from hell. As if to confirm these notions, MIB's face continues to move into the light and then out of it again during the conversation. Two sides. Light and dark.
Outside, the Temple has signaled Richard's group of oncoming danger. MIB emerges from the Statue, delivers Richard a cryptic greeting ("It's good to see you out of those chains"), beats him unconscious, reprimands the Others, and disappears with Richard slung over his back.
This gives enormous credence to the views of Richard as either a prisoner aboard the Black Rock or a slave from ancient Egypt. In either case, Richard knows MIB, but it seems like they haven't encountered each other for quite some time.
So there it is. The stakes are obviously high. We know for sure the face of the enemy, though we wish we knew its real name: the Man in Black/Black Smoke Monster. What sort of defenses will the Temple be able to employ against him? What will Ilana and Richard's Others do? It seems like it might be a good idea to meet up with the Temple Others, though MIB might get to them first.
In one reality, the island stands ready to be the battlefield between ancient competitors: the forces and belated guardians of Jacob vs. The Dark Enemy. In another reality, there is no island. We have two groups of characters - those we have come to know, love and hate, and those who share traits with them but aren't quite the same. Let's see how both turn out.
I hope you've enjoyed my recap! I don't anticipate most of them being this long, but there was just so much to cover here.
See you next week,
- Robby "Robz888"