How long has it been? Well, “I Do” aired on November 8th, almost a full month ago – so long ago, that I had forgotten a lot of the details of this episode and needed to re-watch it completely to spark my thoughts for this Blog Post. The good news is that for the past month, I also totally forgot that Paulo and Nikki even existed in the Lostiverse. But now I remember them all too well, along with all the wackiness that went down in the Season Three: Part One Finale, “I Do”.
So what happened?
Kate. Well, besides keeping with the writers’ central theme of Season Three thus far, we were once again treated to multiple scenes of Kate in various stages of nakedness. Both her flashback and the action on the Island featured her getting down and dirty with the current men in her life. However, we also got another snippet of Kate’s shady past – this time learning that (against all logic and reason), she actually married a Florida Cop named Kevin in her pre-Island life. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re a fugitive, isn’t marrying a police officer a terrible, terrible idea? Was Kate hoping she would get caught or what? Wouldn’t you think at some point during their courtship, Kevin might have found some holes in Kate’s story about her past? Or was he blinded by her beauty, leaving logic at the door and marrying her anyways (a la Nick Lachey)?
Either way, the central theme of the flashback was a recurring one with Kate – that of always running. Pre-Island, whenever Kate got close to someone, she had to run in order to keep her freedom. It contrasts nicely to on-Island Kate, who refuses to leave Sawyer, even though by doing so, she could escape her cell and potentially find freedom. Heck, it takes Jack screaming at her for a good minute at the episode’s ending before she would even leave him.
To what do we attribute this newfound behavior of Kate? Is it a sign of Kate standing by her man (proving she is actually in love with Sawyer, and wasn’t just in it for dirty cage hookup action) - or just a sign of her finally being a team player, finding belonging with a group of people in Jack and Sawyer, and refusing to run away anymore?
I’m thinking a little of both.
Geometry. This episode finally brought the long-promised “resolution” to the Kate-Sawyer-Jack love triangle (although in my opinion, this was already resolved during last season’s “What Kate Did”). The writers clearly wanted us to think that she has “chosen” Sawyer as her McDreamy and the two are madly in love – but should we buy it? The whole cage match action seemed a little bit forced to me. I suppose you could argue that the two of them bonded during their time in captivity together, but short of Sawyer gawking at Kate in various stages of undress and picking fights on her behalf, I didn’t see a lot of character development that would lead to the two of them to professing their love for each other.
But at the end of the day, we’re back where we should have been mid-season two, so I’m okay with it. Smart money is on this “relationship” quickly dissolving because, let’s face it, love triangles make for more interesting TV than love lines do (Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew = boring!). The real reason we should care about Kate and Sawyer finally getting to know each other in the Biblical sense is because of what it did to the third point in the triangle, Jack Shephard.
Jack. Jack is crushed. Although you could argue that he finally decided to perform the surgery on Ben as part of a masterplan that would allow Kate and Sawyer to escape, I think it’s far more reasonable to think that he agreed to do the surgery because he quit. There was a look in his eyes when he saw those video screens – a look of defeat. Although he never really came out and said it, and definitely missed a number of opportunities to put the moves on Kate, seeing her with Sawyer – who you could argue is the anti-Jack isn’t just her picking another guy over him, it’s Kate choosing the anti-Jack. Jack quits – he’s ready to leave the Island.
Didn’t he always want to get off the Island? Maybe a little – but look at the life he left behind. Dad just died (his fault). Wife left him (his fault). It wasn’t exactly all rainbows and puppy dogs. While he doesn’t have the same sort of compelling reason as a Rose / Bernard / Locke to stay on the Island, I think you could argue that he was happy there. He was a respected leader, he seemed destined to end up with the resident Island hottie, and was getting a great tan. On the Island he had something new to focus his energies on instead of tormenting himself about the mistakes he made in his pre-Island life.
But now, he’s got a whole new set of issues. Once again the woman in his life left him and he’s trapped in an underwater prison, unable to lead, help them, or work on getting off the Island – unless he agrees to do the surgery. Doing so gives him a purpose, and I’m not talking about saving Ben. Agreeing to the surgery gives him the opportunity to have some power again – and the chance to get off the Island. But more importantly, it gives him the chance to sacrifice himself for the sake of Kate and go out like a hero.
I know a lot of people have been wondering how in the world Jack is going to get out of this situation. It’s not hard to imagine how Kate and Sawyer are going to escape (the preview showed them running through the jungle, Sawyer with gun in tow, and we know there’s a submarine / underwater tunnel somewhere), but Jack? He’s in bad shape.
Right now, he’s got Ben as his bargaining chip. The problem is, Jack has too much of a conscience to actually let Ben die. He’s not a killer. But as soon as he saves Ben, his bargaining chip is gone and he’s trapped. While I can’t see the Others flat out killing Jack, I could very easily see them keeping him captive or turning the tables and using him as a bargaining chip to get something from the Survivors. If you want to get crazy, I could even see Ben coming out of surgery and offering Jack that chance to get off the Island (he kept his promise to Michael, after all). Anyways, while I expect Kate and Sawyer to quickly be rejoining the other Survivors after one or two episodes this spring, I don’t see Jack getting back to the beach for quite some time.
Plan. From a storytelling standpoint, keeping Jack with the Others actually makes a lot of sense. Before Season Three started, I expected that after the first six episodes, we would have an idea of who the Others are and what their intentions were – but we’re still a long way from there, having only received hints and small nuggets of information about them. Keeping Jack with them gives the us, the viewers, eyes and ears inside the Others camp – where these answers can be revealed without needing a large “The Other 48 Days”-esque expository of their story.
For instance, one the most intriguing lines of “I Do” was the one Pickett uttered immediately after Ben went under surgery, as he was storming out of the operating room to find Sawyer: “Ben just put his life in the hands of ‘one of them’. Shephard was never even on Jacob’s list’.”
What “list” was Pickett talking about? If Tom had Jack, Kate, Sawyer (and Locke) surrounded during “The Hunting Party” last season, why didn’t he just kidnap them at that point? Why did Ben let himself get kidnapped? What was the Others’ plan in all this? In trying to answer these questions, I realized that I needed a timeline. Here’s the best I could come up with:
- Day 1 – Oceanic Flight 815 crashes, Ben sends Ethan and Goodwin to spy on each camp.
- Day 2 – The three strongest Tailers are “taken”. (Presumably to ensure the Others maintain strength in numbers over the new inhabitants).
- Days 2-12 – Goodwin and Ethan gather information about each of the Survivors, reporting back to the other Others. It is decided which are “good ones” and the “bad ones” based on their reconnaissance and research done via computers / magic / telepathy.
- Day 12 – Nine “good ones” from the Tail Section are “taken”. Curiously, no “good ones” from the Fuselage? (Are the Others unable to carry out kidnappings there due to Smokey being in the way? Were none of them “good”? Puzzling…)
- Day 45 - Walt is kidnapped
- Day 51 – The events of “The Hunting Party”. Kate is kidnapped by the Others and Jack, Locke, and Sawyer are warned to turn back.
- Day 58 – Ben is captured.
- Day 61 – Mrs. Klugh makes agreement with Michael to get Ben back and capture Jack, Kate, and Sawyer.
- Day 64 – Ben is freed by Michael
- Day 67 – Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are captured
- Day 73 – The events of “I Do”, with Jack doing the surgery on Ben.
Trying to make sense of this sequence is tough. A lot of the events don’t seem to add up, and I’m tempted to chalk them up to storylines that were changed mid-season - such as the fact that Michael Emerson (Ben) was only supposed to be on the show for a few episodes, but was so great that they kept him around for the better part of the last year and expanded his role – but I’ll do my best to fit them into a logical sequence of events.
The real key to my theory is that Ben is not the leader of the Others, and is a man who was sent on a mission for the true leader of the Others (who I can only assume is “Jacob”).
If you start with that, you can piece together a storyline that almost makes sense. The standard protocol that exists among the Others is whenever someone new stumbles upon the Island, they try and blend in with them, learn as much as they can about them, and determine if they are “good” or “bad”. Why? Not important right now. They take the “good ones” as soon as they can, and later steal Walt away when they find out about his power (their affinity for children is still puzzling – but again, not important for this discussion). When any of the “bad” Survivors get “too close” to the Others’ territory on the Island, they are warned to stay away.
Everything up until this point (Day 51) makes pretty logical sense… everything up until Ben getting captured. What was the purpose of this? Perhaps the Others are worried about the Survivors finding and living in the Hatch and what they might have discovered within (full of weapons, communications equipment, and a big honkin’ magnet!). It is agreed upon that someone needs to go on a dangerous mission – to get “caught” by them in order to see what they actually know, even though it will likely mean lots of torture and possible death. Our boy Ben volunteers because he is promised that if he can complete his mission, they’ll bring Jack back to their camp where he can perform the surgery needed to save his life.
After one week, the Others send Michael back to release Ben and give him the list. The all-knowing Others realize that it’ll be hard to get Jack to actually perform the surgery on someone who is viewed as “the enemy”, so they wisely bring along Kate and Sawyer as bargaining chips. Knowing that Jack loves Kate and Kate loves Sawyer (see, the Others picked up that Kate choose Sawyer with the black horse during “What Kate Did” too!), they realize that by threatening Sawyer, they can affect Kate – and by affecting Kate they can affect Jack.
Thus, Kate and Sawyer are doing menial tasks that potentially have no purpose other than keeping them busy while Juliet tries to break down Jack. Once Jack sees the X-Rays, it’s determined that there isn’t enough time to see the plan to fruition and the beating of torture begins, setting the whole Sawyer affecting Kate affecting Jack wheel in motion. Little do they know that Jack would go all “hero” on them and sacrifice himself for Kate and Sawyer.
Phew. Lots of holes in there, but that’s the best I can do.
Pickett. So why is Pickett in such a rage? Well, if it weren’t for Ben getting this arrangement with Jacob, they would have never kidnapped Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. If that never happened, Sayid, Sun, and Jin wouldn’t have sailed around the Island to meet up with them. If that never happened, the Others wouldn’t have tried to steal their boat, and Colleen would have never been shot or died. Not only is Pickett full of rage against Sawyer (who embodies the Survivors), but also for Ben – who is putting them all at risk by trusting these “bad ones” who weren’t on “Jacob’s List” (the original list of “good ones” from Day 12). Pickett’s all about following the rules and his leader – and all of this bending of the rules for Ben’s benefit eats him up inside.
Jacob. With all this talk about Jacob, I think it’s time we give him a little analysis too. The name Jacob is Hebrew for “he who supplants or takes the place of another, by force or scheming.” In the Bible, Jacob was the “father of Israel”. If we apply this to the Island (“Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess” alert!), I’m picturing Jacob as someone who overthrew Alvar Hanso and the Dharma Initiative on the Island, and decided to form a cult-like utopia there instead. It would make sense, wouldn’t it? He “supplants” Hanso and becomes the “father” to all the Others on the Island.
So where is he? Why haven’t we seen him? I’m guessing the leader of the Others is hanging out at their headquarters, and after this episode it’s clear that “Alcatraz” is not the normal home base of the Others…
Breach. How? Well, during Alex’s compound breach this episode, Pickett asks “How the hell did she get over here?” – as if she should be “over there”, along with all of the other Others, Cindy, the “good ones”, etc. I’m guessing Alcatraz is only used for “dirty matters” of imprisonment, torture, and weekend getaways. From a storytelling perspective, it’s also tough to have the Others and the Survivors interact when they’re on totally separate Island – which is why I’m thinking we’ll be done with Alcatraz after an episode of two of the spring season.
But what are we to make of Alex’s impassioned cries to Kate and Sawyer about “whatever they say, don’t believe them – they’re going to kill your boyfriend just like they killed mine”? At first I was tempted to chalk it up to part of the Others’ tricks to get Kate to think they would actually kill Sawyer, but on second viewing it all seemed legit – and I like the idea of Alex being an emotional teenager who is rebelling against the Others’ (aka – “The Man’s”) way of life. It seems that her boyfriend rebelled a bit too hard and paid the ultimate price for it. Capitol Punishment is alive and well on the Island!
The other interesting thing is that the last thing Ben asked before going under for surgery was if Alex asked about him. It seems pretty obvious that after Alex was taken from CFL, Ben had some influence as raising her, perhaps as an adoptive father of sorts. Given this connection, think back to how Ben got “captured” by CFL which allowed him to do his reconnaissance of the Survivors. I wonder if there was some bargaining between Ben and CFL to have her arrange this “capture” in exchange for information about / seeing Alex…
Eko. Switching gears a bit, back on the main Island, Eko was buried – and with his burial came some intriguing conversation between Sayid and Locke, where they have some candid conversation about “the monster” (Sayid knows that Locke has seen it, but doesn’t believe in it until he sees it with his own eyes). Locke also remarks “Eko died for a reason – I just don’t know what it is yet”, indicating that he hasn’t lost faith in the Island, Smokey, or his purpose there (amazingly). He then looks down at Eko’s staff and sees the following:
Now I know a lot of people were perplexed by this because the verse “Lift up your eyes and look north” is NOT John 3:05. What they’re failing to realize is that there is all sorts of jumbled Biblical phrases and verses running into each other on Eko’s staff, and they’re not intended to be related.
The phrase “lift up your eyes and look north” is actually from Genesis 13:14…
The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.
Time for more Biblical analysis! So the SAT analogy here is Locke:Abram::Eko:Lot.
In the Bible, Abram and Lot were both highly spiritual men who decided to divide and conquer the lands of Isreael. Unfortunately, Lot headed down to Sodom and Gomorrah (sin city!). Eventually, Abram rescues Lot from this life of gambling and strippers and receives the favor of God.
That’s some pretty obvious symbolism there, don’t you think? Locke and Eko were both spiritual, but went about different ways of proving their faith to God (the Island). Locke quite literally saved Eko three episodes ago, not from a life of sin, but from a polar bear – but in the end the Island smited him for refusing to repent for his sins, leaving Locke as the only one left in the favor of the Island.
The fact that the staff said “John” right below the verse just served as another “sign” to Locke that the message was meant for him. In fact, I’m guessing Locke isn’t a Biblical scholar and all this meaning is lost on him. So what is his new purpose? Well, it’s quite literal – head north. I don’t believe there have ever been any maps of the Island that had a clear indication of North, South, East, and West – but I’m betting that “north” will lead him to the Flame Hatch, and with it, “Patchy” the mysterious one-eyed man from the video screen in the Pearl two episodes ago.
Numbers. One last thought: something I noticed this season is that the Numbers have been surprisingly absent this season. There have been countless opportunities for them to appear, but instead random, stupid, non-4815162342 have been used in their place. Is this something intentional, the writers signifying that the Numbers “died” with the Hatch, where they were so integral? Or is this a product of the “Lost Experience” finally explaining what the Numbers meant, giving the writers an “out” from the Numbers that had grown far more important to viewers of the show than they had ever intended? Either way, it’s something I thought I should bring up.
So there you have it, the last of my analysis of the mini-arc of Season Three. Looking back, I give it a C+. Perhaps my expectations were too high – but like a lot of you, I wasn’t blown away by these six episodes. There were some definite high points (“The Cost of Living” in particular), but I think we all expected a self-contained six episode storyline and that wasn’t really what we got. Instead, we got more of “Act One” of a three act play that might have ended with some action, but didn’t end with some resolution.
Having said that, the writers have planted enough seeds to have some great stories coming up in the spring (Desmond’s new “power”, Kate and Sawyer’s escape, Jack’s imprisonment with the Others, Locke finding Patchy). Here’s hoping that by the time I’m writing my review of Season Three as a whole, I’ll realize that these episodes were necessary for a later payoff, and weren’t just a product of a show losing steam.
Speaking of which, it’s time for me to get working on my mid-season report cards for the TV shows of the fall. Coming soon!