Brace yourself. Although I’ll still do next week’s “Episode Preview” and “Instant Analysis”, this is my last full “Episode Analysis” until May. That means I need to do my best to ensure it’s as chock full of wacky theories, uber-excessive analysis, and witty puns to hold you over for the next few weeks. It could get out of control. But rest assured, based on some of the entries I’ve received in the Control the Blog contest, you’re going to be in good hands. The winners and their assignments are listed at the bottom of this post. Heck, you might not even want me to re-claim control of the Blog when I get back. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let’s take a closer look at what the writers “left behind” for us to analyze about the episode (see, the witty puns are already starting. Woo!)
Locke. One of the first scenes of the episode was arguably the most intriguing. In it, we saw a very free John Locke (still sporting his hunting knife, no less!) enter the game room and apologize to Kate for not being able to take her with them. His hand is bandaged, which may simply be the result of being handcuffed and roughed up by the Others after his submarine-blowing-up escapades (yes, he really blew up the submarine - we need to accept this). It sounded as though he fought for Kate, arguing that she was worthy of taking with them – but then found out about her sketchy past and understood why she couldn’t come.
The first question becomes – what are the criteria for being “worthy” vs. “unworthy”? If you look at the ones who were “left behind”, we have Kate (killed her biological father), Sayid (tortured and killed numerous people), Juliet (killed Pickett), and Jack (pulled the stunt that almost killed Ben). But if that’s the case, how is Locke (responsible for Boone’s death) any better? Does he get a free pass due to his communion with the Island? For that matter, one wonders why the Others were cool with Ethan killing / nearly killing our Survivors, but if any of our Survivors do it they’re immediately considered unworthy.
The answer is that it doesn’t add up, and that there appears to be a bit of a double standard, but should we expect anything less from a freaky religious cult? If they were 100% logical in their actions and beliefs, they wouldn’t be a freaky religious cult.
Really the important thing from the scene is this – Locke is now one of them. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s in any sort of power position yet, but Ben is probably viewing him as a potentially dangerous “equal” due to his pull with the Island. He also seems to have been “let in” on some of the Others’ secrets, and has taken on the calm, knowing, understanding demeanor we have seen from Cindy, Juliet, and Jack – as opposed to the rapid-fire questioning that we see from Kate and Sayid (and formerly Jack). Speaking of which…
Jack. I will be VERY interested to see Jack’s actions in these next few episodes. As I mentioned above, during his last major scene with Kate, he was definitely acting “weird”, as though he now understood the Others and their actions. Does he still view them as enemies who have kidnapped and tormented his fellow Survivors, or does he now understand WHY they did what they did, viewing them as allies who can help everyone get off the Island? Or, does he view them with indifference, chalking them up to a crazy cult that is no real danger – but also not willing to help the Survivors out? If I’m Sayid / Kate / Sawyer, I would be immediately grilling Jack for information – even more so than Juliet – because you could be sure that he would be telling the truth…
…or would he? You know, I’m personally starting to doubt the words and actions of ol’ Jack Shephard. He’s been acting a tad too strange for me the past two episodes, punctuated by the scene at the end of this week where Kate spilled her guts, apologized to Jack, and grew as a person before his very eyes. Jack’s response?
Sure, maybe he and Juliet have formed some sort of bond – and maybe he’s still a little bitter with Kate for her hookup with Sawyer - but didn’t this seem a little too cold and emotionless? Even though a few weeks ago, I wrote that Jack had “given up” on Island life once he saw the video of Kate and Sawyer (which may help explain his demeanor), it still makes me wonder what happened between the time when Jack left Alcatraz, and when we saw him tossing football with Rag-arm Tom. In the few scenes we’ve seen with him, he seems like a totally different person. Is he brainwashed? Drugged? Under Juliet’s spell? I mean, she’s hot – but not Kate-hot.
Like I said, keep an eye on Jack. While Juliet is the obvious traitor at this point, secretly working for the Others, Jack is certainly in the running as well – remember, this show was always supposed to be about Kate leading the Survivors anyways…
Juliet. Up until this point, I thought I understood the character of Juliet – but now I’m feeling fairly confused. I had always viewed her as something of a helpless prisoner of the Others, who just wanted to go home, but realized that her best chance of doing so lied with playing nice with the Others and not making any trouble. Deep inside, she hated them, hated Ben, hated the regiment and mindless obedience of the lifestyle, but she kept her feelings to herself. Once Jack was kidnapped, she saw him as her ticket out, attempting to convince Jack to kill Ben in a crazy scheme to cause an Others coup that might lead to her freedom. When the episode aired, we wondered if she was just testing Jack or if she was serious about taking Ben out – and based on her actions since then (killing Pickett, buddying up with Jack in a scheme to get off the Island) it certainly seemed like she was dead serious.
But now? I’m not so sure. The fact that she orchestrated this scheme with handcuffing herself to Kate in an effort to show that they were “in the situation together” makes me go back and reassess her actions. It’s almost as though she’s trying too hard to “fit in” with our Survivors.
In my mind, one of two scenarios is possible.
Scenario #1 - Juliet’s intensions are true, and she’s not trying to scheme against our Survivors in any way. This would have to mean that Ben told Juliet she was voted out of their tribe either because she killed Pickett, was too attached to Jack, or had demonstrated that she would do anything to get off the Island – making her no longer trustworthy or “Island Material”. In this scenario, the Others didn’t knock Juliet out - unlike Jack, Kate, and Sayid - and she was left free to roam around the Barracks alone, put Jack and Sayid in funny positions and take pictures of them, and drag Kate out into the Jungle in a desperate scheme to “fit in” with them. While Juliet doesn’t appear to be overly strong, it wouldn’t be the first time an Other demonstrated crazy strength (see: Ethan hanging Charlie, Ben dominating Sawyer), and we saw Juliet was quite kickasstastic when she took down Kate in the gameroom scene (PS – nice work Heather!) – so it’s plausible she could have carried this out on her own.
Scenario #2 - Juliet is in the middle of a Long Con of Jack and our Survivors. The Others knocked out Jack, Sayid, and Kate, and helped drag Kate out into the Jungle where they handcuffed her to Juliet and turned over the key. She either was lying about wanting to get off the Island (not likely) or has been offered a ticket on one of the Others’ boats in exchange for going on one last mission for them. What they’re after is still anyone’s guess, since they seem to know just about everything about all our Survivors… at least pre-Island.
But what about post-Island? Based on the scene inside the Pearl from last week, all the information that the Others know about our Survivors after the crash is based on what they’ve seen on the monitors inside the Pearl, and the reconnaissance performed by Ethan / Goodwin. But what could they possibly be so interested in post-Island?
How about babies? Even without talking about Sun, who I think is too recently pregnant for the Others to know / care about, the Survivors still have the ever-growing Aaron in their camp, who was important enough to them in Season One to kidnap Claire and inject him with their 4-8-15-16-23-42 secret formula. We’ve seen the Others demonstrated lack of baby-making prowess, and it would make perfect sense to send the fertility doctor on a secret mission involving babies. While I don’t think it’s something as blunt as stealing the babies (which could be done by sheer force if need be), it may be something as subtle as observing Aaron to see if he is showing any negative side affects from the injections, if he’s turning into some sort of super-baby, or if he remains immune from the “illness” – whatever the injection was supposed to be accomplishing.
In my mind, the second of the two scenarios seems the more likely. If Juliet was looking to gain the trust of our Survivors, she could have easily done so by telling them the truth and letting Jack vouch for her. Instead, she’s demonstrated that she’s incredibly tough, willing to lie, and knows a lot more about the Island than she’s letting on… and that’s a dangerous combination for our Survivors. Plus, look at this picture! Tell me she doesn’t look like pure evil!
Others. Regardless of Juliet’s intentions, there’s still the big question of where the Others actually went. Although it seems like our Survivors have now combed every inch of the Island, the mountainous regions still remain relatively unexplored, as well as the underground tunnel system we’ve seen referenced on a number of maps and blueprints – making either a potential option. But why would they leave the comfort of the Barracks just because they were discovered? Something tells me they didn’t leave out of fear of the Survivors finding them. Is it possible that Locke has convinced Ben to have everyone pack up their backpacks (seriously – the Others are hippies – get some real luggage!) and move out?
If you buy into the whole “the Others have lost touch with the Island” theory, it might make sense. Ben’s noticed he’s not as powerful as he used to be and isn’t healing like he should, then along comes Locke, who seems to have a very strong understanding of the Island, and calls them out for their “easy way of life” in the Dharma Barracks on the Island. Locke calls them to return to their Other roots, get back in touch with nature, and re-connect with the Island – and Ben buys it, ordering all the Others to go on a spiritual journey led by one John Locke.
It’s a little far fetched, but seemingly a much better rationalization for why the Others would leave their comfortable Barracks. Remember, we’re due for the action on Lost to shift back to the Beach for the next few weeks, which gives the Others some off-screen time to go on this hippie revival, setting the stage for their confrontational return in time for the Season Finale, now super-charged with their new leader in John Locke. It practically writes itself!
(Note: some have also questioned why the Survivors wouldn’t return to the Barracks and enjoy some of the comforts it would provide. For one, it’s not as pretty as the Beach. For two, if they’re serious about getting off the Island, staying on the Beach is a better option, as you’re more likely to see any random passing ships. For three, the Beach has been 100% Smokey-free since the start, whereas the Barracks seem to be surrounded by Smokey territory. While it would make sense to collect as many resources from the Barracks as possible to try and understand the Others, living there doesn’t make as much sense).
Smokey. Speaking of the Smoked One, this episode finally revealed a “weakness” of the seemingly unstoppable monster (besides TNT) – the electric fence that surrounds the Barracks. For those wondering why the Others moved into the Barracks post-Others, here’s a pretty good reason – it kept them safe from Smokey.
Let’s look at Juliet’s comment that “we don’t know what it is, but we know it doesn’t like our fence.” If we are to believe Juliet, it means that Smokey is a Dharma invention, and the Others are just as clueless about it as we are (a nice call by the writers to keep the truth about Smokey a mystery even after we understand everything about the Others – which should be by the end of this season). Want a reason for why the Others moved into the Barracks? A runaway Smokey is a pretty good one. Did you notice that the code to turn on the fence was 1623? This would also indicate that the Electric Fence and Barracks were created by Dharma, who were obsessed with these Numbers, and not the Others.
But should we believe Juliet? For whatever reason, I viewed her comments the same way I viewed Patchy’s comments in “Enter 77” – she’ll lie for a long time, then she’ll tell the truth. Juliet lied to Kate the entire episode, but then told the truth about Smokey. At least that’s the way I interpreted it. If she was lying, and Smokey is some sort of “Island Protector” that the Others know about, it would still make sense that the newly-exiled Juliet would suddenly become an enemy of him, but if Smokey is some sort of “magical Island creature”, it would be much harder to explain him with pseudo-science.
Which once again brings up one of the biggest mysteries on Lost – what the heck is Smokey? In “Left Behind”, we saw him apparently take on the “bright, beautiful light” side when flashing at Juliet hiding in the trees (just as Locke described it). However, when we saw it later, it appeared to be the dark, shape shifting killing machine that dominated Eko earlier this season. Are both Smokeys one and the same? Or could there be a “Good Smokey” and a “Bad Smokey” on Island? Why has Smokey seemed to scan some people (Locke, Eko, Juliet) but not others (the Pilot, Jack, Kate) – does it have something to do with which people are good vs. evil? I could accept Smokey being inconsistent if he’s some sort of wild monster, but the weird thing is – he doesn’t seem to be.
Smokey comes and goes pretty quickly. He gets in, gets the job done, and gets out. If he truly did “scan” Juliet early in the episode, couldn’t he have instantly determined her fate? Why did he wait until later in the episode to try and attack her, rather than doing so when she was a helpless victim in a Banyan Tree? It’s almost as if it needs to collect the information, then take time to evaluate it and determine the course of action. Or it could indicate that it collects the information to pass along to some other entity (Jacob?), and then receives instructions on how to proceed – like a spy and executioner rolled into one.
I don’t have any hopes of getting answers about Smokey until near the end of Lost, but it does add an element of danger if both the Survivors and the Others are afraid of him – it keeps the jungle “dangerous”, maintains a sense of “mystery”, and prevents the Others from being able to answer all of our questions. It puts them on a level playing field – at least for one aspect of Island life.
(Aside: I actually finally read the Michael Crichton book “Prey” last month – and by “read”, I mean “listened to the book on MP3”, and even though the Lost creators have flat out said that Smokey is NOT nanobots, all I can say is that Smokey looks and acts EXACTLY like the nanobots Crichton describes in his novel… and would easily explain Smokey with pseudo-science. They observe, they mimic, they take on the appearance of various people, they can separate, combine, and kill. Honestly, it’s the only logical explanation I can think of for Smokey that wouldn’t betray the foundation of “pseudo-science” that we’ve been told this show is built on.)
Winners. Finally, here it is. Big thanks to everyone who expressed interest and wrote in – I was absolutely blown away by the response. While there were many great entries, there could only be (what turned out to be) six big winners. Without further ado, here’s who will be pitching crazy theories and over-analyzing simple scenes while I’m gone:
- 3.16 – “One of Us” Analysis – Jonah YoYo
- 3.17 – “Catch-22” Preview – Dave Rudolph
- 3.17 – “Catch-22” Instant Reactions and Analysis – James Borden
- 3.18 – “D.O.C.” Preview – Andrew Pang
- 3.18 – “D.O.C.” Instant Reactions and Analysis – Rutkowskilives
- 3.19 – “The Brig” Preview – Steve Barlow
Note: I was originally ambitiously thinking that I would be able to write the 3.19 Preview, since I’ll technically be back in time for it – but then I realized that I’m going to have to watch the two episodes I missed before I could even think about writing a preview for the next episode, which might be tight given everything else that will be on my plate when I get back. Rather than potentially half-ass it, I’m turning it over to someone who will give the preview justice.
You’ll also notice that writers have the option of doing both an “Instant Reaction” and “Analysis” as I do, or just an “Analysis” if they think they’ll get it up quick enough to keep the Commenters satisfied.
So hopefully this all works out and everyone behaves themselves. If not, well at least we tried our best and failed miserably... the lesson is - never try.
Happy Easter everyone!