Character Development: Too often, especially with Jack and Kate, it feels like the writers are really just spinning their wheels when it comes to driving along the roles of, motivations for or story behind so many of the island's inhabitants. How many times do we need to see Kate running away, or Jack being too dedicated to his job? But this time, we managed not only to get a good deal of information about someone through their back story, but a good deal of information about different characters and the role(s) they play on the island.
Desmond: So this wasn't as revealing as his first flashback, and wasn't as insane as his second. But it was a great story about a man Lost in life, willing to abandon any and everything to follow what he believed was his path in life. We also got to see how he met Penny, a scene I don't think could have been done any better.
Obviously, the big reveal of his flashback - other than why he calls everyone brother - was the Easter egg we saw on the monk's desk:
Beyond working in a jewelery store, it's not really clear who this woman is, and until now, it wasn't even that clear whether she was a real person, or just a figment of Desmond's imagination. But the fact she's connected with the monk, the man who helped send Desmond down a path that eventually led him to the island, is fascinating. Were we shown this picture to remind us of Desmond's last flashback, to let us know that maybe he can change the past/future depending on what actions he takes? Was Penny going to be the one who landed, until Desmond saved Charlie's life?
For the last one at least....probably not, since we saw the Portuguese version of "Catch 22" prior to Charlie being saved, which is much more likely to have been in the possession of a Portuguese parachutist working in conjunction with the Portuguese men we saw on the submarine at the end of season two, rather than the Australian Penny.
But it's interesting they would have a reveal that may tie into the very nature of the show that would be impossible to have noticed were it not for the die-hard fans.
I know three's not one of the magical numbers, yet it's one that holds biblical and cultural significance nonetheless. Desmond's now revealed himself as the third significant character guided more by his beliefs than an overwhelming sense of logic or practicality (like a Sayid or Sawyer).
Locke was first, and his faith has led to: Boone's death, the destruction of two stations and a submarine, and a betrayal of the Losties.
Eko's faith in his own path, and a refusal to waiver from or repent for it, led to his death.
But it seems like Desmond betrayed his faith, a faith that had led him to believe he would be granted the one thing he wanted more than anything else in the world – the safe arrival of Penny on the island. But by betraying the will of the universe, he did the right thing, and saved Charlie's life. So is faith, in anything, the wrong way for the survivors to go? Or was this merely a test of faith that he passed? After all, the monks he lived with bottled a wine named after the land where God tested Abraham (Moriah), it's hard to say whether the decision to spare Charlie's life was Desmond betraying his faith, or passing a test laid out by it. Even if it was the latter, he's still the first of the three to pass any real test of his faith on the island.
Beyond that, it’s curious what role Desmond plays among our survivors. Until now, he’s always been the outsider who participates in but isn't really a member of the island’s society. He wasn't even on the plane with them! Sure, he’s saved Charlie’s life a few times and hunts boar, but until this episode, he’s never been in any kind of position of leadership. We saw him lead an expedition into the jungle, and rescue the latest person stranded on the island. With the growing rift between Jack and Sawyer, it’ll be interesting to see whether Desmond might step into a position of power. But even if this mantle were to fall upon Desmond, could he handle it? We already know Hurley’s got his back, just as he did with Jack, and later, Sawyer.
Which leads us to…
Hurley: Who was the one to figure out Ethan was a fraud? Who has been the one best suited to trigger good relations between the survivors? Who’s easily the most popular-and well-liked person on the island? Who’s the “man-behind the curtains” leader, the one responsible but not accountable for a lot of major events on the island?
This season alone, we’ve seen Hurley con people into a number of things because he felt they needed to happen. In “Tricia Tanaka is Dead” we saw him coerce Jin, Sawyer and Charlie into helping him with the van. In “Left Behind,” he manipulated Sawyer into a leadership role; this time, we saw him manipulate Jin into coming along for Desmond’s camp-out, again, for the greater good. But he’s never led these people astray, as opposed to Jack, who got three of the survivors kidnapped, or Sawyer, who until recently has only been using people for personal gain.
As negative an effect faith seems to have had on the well-being of everyone once aboard flight 815, Hurley seems to have had a positive. Everyone, in some way, is better off because Hurley is in their midst.
Why does any of this matter? Easy – the last time Hurley was talked into a trek across the jungle, that time by Jack, the end result was a major game-changer; three people being taken to Other-prison. This time, the end result was the appearance of someone (seemingly) sent to the island with the sole purpose of rescuing Desmond. She even brought along a satellite phone! Sure, it’s dead now, but there’s got to be a charger somewhere in Otherville, and if not, it won't take Sayid more than five minutes to get it working again. I think we're supposed to view this episode as being just as significant as the Season two finale.
Jin: Now that Hurley seems to be taking on a more significant part in the Island hierarchy, is Jin the de-facto comedic relief? In the first season, we saw him nearly beat Michael to death over a watch; now we have him telling Korean ghost stories? I don't really have much more to say about this, I'm probably reading too much into simple character development, but after the learning-English-from-Sawyer scene outside of Roger Workman's van, he's definitely been getting some of the show's funniest moments.
Sawyer: After being appointed leader-in-absentia by Hurley, and going against Jack by stalking down Juliet with Sayid, Sawyer is looking more and more like he's going to be the head of a rebel group of Survivors, fed up with Jack, who's actions have led to his, Sawyer and Kate's kidnappings, and now, allowing a traitor to live in their midst. But he'll never usurp Jack; he'll always be the second-string leader, the go-to guy when people are tired of Jack. Sort of the way Kate only slept with him again because she was jealous of Juliet. He's not the first choice, but sometimes, he's the best you can do. At least he can beat him at Ping-Pong. Like I said before though, his afternoon delight comment was priceless.
Beyond the character development, we saw, arguably, the most significant thing to happen to the survivors since they've crashed on the island: the arrival of the outside world. We've known since the finale of season two that Penny's been looking for, and possibly found, where Desmond's been all this time, but there's been no allusion to this until now. It seems pretty obvious that the parachutist is only there because she was looking for Desmond - she had his picture, read Portuguese, and knew his name.
The big question though is this - if she was really sent by Penny "If you have enough money, you can find anybody" Widemore, why was she all alone? And where/why/how did her helicopter crash? It looked like she was flying over the ocean when it went down, but that doesn't explain how she ended up in the middle of the jungle, sort of the same way Jack did when their plane crashed. Is there some kind of barrier around the island? Does not pushing the button cause some kind of signal to go out that destroys anything electrical in its path?
When Desmond didn't push the button, flight 815 crashed. After Locke destroyed the Swan Hatch, Ben said they lost communication with the outside world. I'm guessing whatever force released by the magnet is incredibly destructive, but not in a way that currently affects human beings. When it was being pushed, it allowed the island to remain hidden; now, it's sending out a dangerous, electronic signal that allows people to locate, but not safely travel to, where it is. But since we don't know anything about how the parachutist arrived, it's impossible to say. Since the next episode looks as though it will center mainly on what's happening back at the beach, we're probably not going to learn anything more about her for three or four weeks.
Overall, this was an incredibly well-done episode, packed with humor, plot and character development, and a healthy dose of "what's really going on here?" moments. It gave us a lot more questionsThe few flaws that stuck out immediately still bother me - I really hated that Kate slept with Sawyer because of her jealousy of Juliet, and I wish Charlie had died. I've heard there's going to be a lot of "significant" character deaths...why couldn't we have gotten one out of the way now, and let it be him, instead of someone worthwhile?
I'm sorry for the lateness of this post - I was without internet all weekend - and I've had to put it all together this morning at work. Good luck to everyone else filling in for Brian, even though I had to rush this, I still enjoyed it a lot. See you in the comments section!
Also - thanks Alec - here's a link to the message boards.