But who is the leader?
The full post is going to be delayed at least 24 hours due to business travel. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, I’ve posted some of the usual links and feel free to use this thread to discuss the penultimate episode of season 5. I’ll join you in about a day after I’ve had a chance to see it myself.
So, no spoilers in the body of the post (yet) but other good stuff awaits you after the jump.
UPDATED: the episode recap and analysis is now up.
Links and miscellanea
- Here’s an appropriately timely parody: Star Trek – The Lost Generation:
- Now that ABC and Hulu have a deal, you can get full Lost episodes on Hulu.
- Jimmy Kimmel’s been a huge fan of Lost. Here’s some recent shtick from The Variable.
- A few things from the Official audio podcast: the fundamental question at the end of season 5 is whether it’s true that what happened, happened; in an earlier draft of The Variable, Faraday used an object lesson involving throwing a pebble into a stream, then throwing a boulder into the stream to explain that small changes in the past won’t change anything, but maybe big changes will; Vincent is Jacob (woof!);
- TV Guide asks: “Why is Jack such a jerk?” Actually, although I’ve been as critical of Jack as anyone, I’m kind of digging the returned Jack, he’s more humble, more intuitive, and less likely to act rashly.
- I won’t mind a set of Lost nesting dolls.
- Here’s a Lost font that can be downloaded from dafont.com.
Observations and speculations
- As the episode opens, we have Jack and Kate debating the merits of “putting things back the way they were supposed to be” while Eloise Hawking executes her son. Of course, for Jack the way things were supposed to be meant attending his father’s funeral, then going back to his surgery practice. For Kate, it meant doing hard time for murder and various other felonies. No wonder they have a difference of opinion on the matter.
- As Kate and Jack attempt to flee back into the jungle, Charles Widmore comes on his horse and smacks Jack upside the head. These Others seem to be the rightful antecedents to the Others we knew in seasons 1 and 2: brutal and decisive.
- Charles Widmore’s plaid shirt and cargo pants don’t seem very 1977 to me. I’m just saying.
- Cut to 2007 and Richard Alpert is building a ship in a bottle. Is this image supposed to link Richard with the Black Rock as some have speculated? Seems like an interesting hobby for an ancient, ageless Other.
- An Asian female Other tells Richard, “He’s here,” referring to John Locke. At this point, Richard’s had a lot of interactions with Locke and clearly understands that Locke is special. How much he really knows about Locke is unclear, and Richard himself seems pretty uncertain.
- These others are living in throwback-style yurts on the beach, drying fish and squid. Remember Yurtsville in season 2, the decoy village that we were all lead to believe was a ruse to keep the Oceanic 815 survivors guessing about the true nature of the Others? It had similar shelters and drying seafood. Yet here we are in season 5, seeing a very similar setup that is actually being used by the Others, with no apparent attempt to deceive. Odd.
- Locke walks into the Other’s beach camp carrying a dead boar. This is the Locke of season one, except now he’s an Other, not a plane crash survivor.
- Richard says “there’s something different about” Locke. Locke responds, “I have a purpose now.” Either that, or it could be, as some are arguing, this is not the same John Locke. He certainly seems much more confident.
- Ben calls Richard Alpert “a kind of advisor” and says, “He has had that job for a very, very long time.” At some point, maybe we’ll know how long. (Incidentally, Wikipedia refers to this episode as a “Richard” episode. I suppose—after all, Richard is featured in both timelines—but it’s not what I’d call a Richard-centric episode, and other than this comment by Ben, we don’t learn that much about Richard.) So Richard is an adviser to whomever is the leader at any particular time, but Richard is not himself a leader. What kind of an “adviser” is he? Political? Spiritual? Does he have a shamanistic relationship with the island and/or Jacob? Remember, when he brought Young Ben to the Temple, he claimed that he doesn’t answer to Charles or Eloise, the presumptive leaders of the Others in 1977.
- Responding to Sun, Richard claims that he met Kate, Jack and Hurley and “watched them all die” in 1977. This is a puzzler to me. I’m still partial to the “what happened, happened” theory, but this causes me to question it. If these people all died, does that mean that Faraday’s plan (now Jack’s plan) is essential to prevent the deaths of our main characters?
- Richard claims that the compass that Locke gave him is “a little rusty, but she can still find north.” We learned earlier that compasses can’t really tell true north on the island, probably because of the island’s electromagnetic properties. Still, plenty of people have used compasses to navigate on Lost.
- Ben is really out of his element. He taunts Locke about the possibility of “staging a coup” among his former people, but Locke assures Ben he’s not afraid of anything Ben can do anymore. Later, Ben tries to play Richard and Locke off of each other, whispering doubts about the reliability of either one to the other. It’s just Ben being Ben, and he doesn’t really seem to have a plan at this point. Plus, Undead Alex has already made him swear to do whatever Locke tells him to do.
- Locke tells Sun, “If there’s a way to save our people [i.e., the remaining Oceanic 815 survivors], I’ll find it.” Later in the episode, he tells Ben, “I’m not interested in being reunited with my people,” implying that his true loyalty, is with the Island and the Others. I don’t think reuniting Sun with Jin is really his top priority.
- Lots of beatings in this episode. Jack and Kate get beaten by the Others, and Sawyer and Juliet get beaten by Radzinsky and Phil. Ben’s probably just glad to have gotten an episode off.
- Jack and Kate continue to debate their situations and preferences regarding wiping the last three years from their lives. Kate objects to Jack’s plan by pointing out that “It was not all misery.” I’m sympathetic to Kate’s point of view, even if it is a little selfish. I don’t like the idea of excising experiences from a life, even if some of them are bad ones.
- Eloise was only 17 years old in 1954, when she took Faraday to Jughead. Interesting. How did a 17 year old come to be on the island, anyway, and in such a prominent role among the Others? That means Ms. Hawking is 40 years old in 1977, and 70 years old when she sends the Oceanic 5 back to the island in 2007.
- Ms. Hawking has had just enough odd things happen to her that she’s willing to believe someone when they say they are from the future. That’s incredibly rare.
- Best Kate line (when Eloise asks Kate if Jack knows what he’s talking about): “He thinks he does.”
- Ms. Hawking tells Jack and Kate that Jughead is beared underground beneath Dharmaville. Later, we see Jack, Sayid, Eloise and Richard going through the Tunnels toward the bomb. Remember that we knew (or was it that we strongly suspected) that there were tunnels leading to and from Dharmaville?
- Meanwhile, back in the DHARMA initiative, Radzinsky seems to have declared martial law and appointed himself the leader. Phil is only too willing to be a militant follower.
- The video footage Radzinsky shows Sawyer on the security monitor of Kate reminds me of the infamous Patterson film of Big Foot. Something about the way Kate strolls off into the jungle, then looks back over her shoulder.
- Radzinsky’s first name is Stuart, by the way. I don’t think we knew that before. He doesn’t strike me as a Stuart.
- I really think Sawyer’s going to kill Phil. It’s been a while since Sawyer’s lived with vengeful purpose, but it’s probably like riding a bike.
- We see Hurley stuffing DHARMA food (including vanilla wafers) into a backpack and carrying the guitar case we still know nothing about. Of course, we really do know what’s in the guitar case. It’s a MacGuffin.
- “Dr. Chang, what are you doing here?” “I could ask you the same question.” “But we asked you first.” Ha.
- Chang’s interrogation of Hurley was easily the funniest moment of the episode. “You fought in the Korean War?” “There’s … no … such … thing.” And Hurley never did bother to figure out who the president of the U.S. was in 1977.
- Charles Widmore whispers to Eloise Hawking, “I’m worried about you. Not in your condition.” Eloise is most likely in the early stages of pregnancy—with Faraday, the man she just killed. The timing seems about right.
- Both Richard and Ben seem disturbed when Locke asks Richard to take him to Jacob.
- I really liked the scene where Locke sends Richard to administer aid to himself, in a time skip. Recall that Locke had just been shot by Ethan, then flashed forward in time. Locke (the resurrected Locke, not the wounded one limping through the jungle) really seems to be enjoying himself.
- Ben comments to Locke about how his timing is impeccable. But what about Sayid’s timing? Is the island speaking to him, too? It’s a bit of an action movie cliche, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome.
- Kate and Sayid have a major difference of opinions. Kate: “Since when did shooting kids and blowing up hydrogen bombs become okay?” Yeah, we’ll just step off your high horse there Kate, wouldja? I think maybe Sayid decides to follow Jack because he thinks maybe he’ll get a mulligan in his quest to make things right. Remember that he too believed it was his destiny to change the future (by killing Young Ben) and that would give meaning to his return to the island.
- Miles has a nice moment when he realizes that his father was willing to risk estrangement with his wife and child for their own protection.
- The tunnels have the same sort of ancient stone architecture, scattered with hieroglyphs as the Temple. Clearly, the tunnels have been there a long time. There are some interesting objects in the tunnels—stone urns and a few objects that may even be ceremonial.
- Back in 2007, Locke is really pushing for a midnight departure for a group field trip to visit Jacob. He asks, “Is this everyone?” Richard says, “Well, there’s another group at the Temple.” I wonder if these people have been at the Temple since Ben sent them there three years ago, at the end of season 3. This helps explain why we don’t seem to recognize anyone in this particular group: no Tail Section kids, no Cindy, the flight attendant, no Ms. Klugh or any other Others we might recognize from season 2.
- In his speech to the Others, Locke seems to call the authority (and maybe even the existence) of Jacob into question. Yet, when Sun asks, Locke answers assuredly that Jacob can tell them how to bring Jin back to her, which seems to indicate that Locke doesn’t really doubt Jacob’s existence. Unless he’s just humoring her.
- Richard: “I’m starting to think John Locke is going to be trouble.” Ben: “Why do you think I tried to kill him.”
- I do like that the Sawyer/Juliet/Kate love triangle has been very understated so far. I don’t like that it’s lingering and refuses to die.
- I wonder why none of the people riding on the sub are sedated. I thought that was standard operating procedure.
- After Eloise takes Jack to the bomb, she asks, “Now what?” Exactly. Somehow, I get the feeling that Jack really has no idea what’s in Faraday’s journal, and even if he had read it, it’s unlikely he’d understand any of it.
- By the time Locke, Sun, Richard, Ben and the other finally get around to leaving on their field trip, the sun is coming up over the island. That means that the Others’ beach camp is somewhere on the southern/southwestern part of the island (assuming the Lost sun rises in the east, just like the real world sun.)
- Locke has the final reveal of the episode: he’s going to see Jacob, to “kill him.” This is undoubtedly the most debated point of the episode. Some are theorizing that Locke’s journey is to prove that Jacob doesn’t really exist, which will kill the myth of Jacob. There’s some merit to this, but I think Jacob is a real person, or at least an entity. I personally have a different theory. I think that Jacob is being held captive on the island for some reason, in a state of existence that is not really living and not being allowed to die. Locke is “killing” Jacob to set him free, and it’s what Jacob wants, and also what the island wants.
I thought this episode was excellent and ranks up there among the best of the series. The lead up episodes to the season finales have always been really good, when the pace gets quick and the tension gets taut.
Next week, the two-hour season finale, “The Incident,” should be fantastic. It will be the Lost A-Team (Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof writing and Jack Bender directing), and expectations will be high. I fully expect another game-changing twist. I can’t wait.