I definitely needed some time to digest the “Through the Looking Glass”. After taking a week to let the mind-blowing, series-shifting season finale of Lost sink in, I think I’m finally ready to get down to analyzin’. With two hours worth of Losty goodness to get to, I’ll spare the normal introductory chatter and just dive right in. Let’s start with the in-episode analysis before we get to the much headier topic of “what the ending means for the future of Lost”…
Looking Glass. With all the “huge events” of the episode, this was one that a lot of people might have missed - not only did Ben keep the functionality of the Looking Glass secret from the rest of the Others, but he was the one responsible for jamming their signals. Apparently, while the Swan Hatch Implosion made the sky go purple, and made the Island temporarily visible, it did not cause all communications to go down. Tom’s comments earlier this season about “the sky went purple, we lost communications” definitely seemed to indicate that Tom (and assumedly, all the other Others as well) attributed the loss of communications with the outside world to the Swan Implosion. Ben had also previously claimed that when the Swan imploded, the underwater beacon (required for the submarine to find the Island) stopped working.
Of course none of this is true.
So what we’re really looking at is an elaborate scheme of Ben’s inteneded to keep the Others trapped on the Island, without any means to communicate with the outside world. But why?
Well, to me it just adds more to the slowly developing picture of Ben as a leader losing control, and doing anything he can to keep himself in a position of power. Ben saw the Hatch Implosion as an opportunity to take an incident that none of the Others (or perhaps even himself) understood, and use it as a cover for his actions. By turning on the Looking Glass jammer, he was able to isolate the Others even further from the rest of the world. He eliminated their ability to come and go, and cut them off from any incoming or outgoing communication.
If everyone on the Island was an outsider brought by Ben, like Juliet, this makes total sense – because he’s able to basically keep them as prisoners on the Island, working for him. However, everyone on the Island wasn’t brought there by Ben. Based on the Purge, there are a large number of “Island Originals” in the Others as well. So does this mean that they also want to get off the Island?
It brings up an interesting potential storyline that seems to tie in nicely with some of my earlier theories about the Others “losing their way” (the “Cowboys and Indians” theory, if you will).
Cowboys and Indians. Let’s assume that back in the day, pre-Dharma, the Others used to be “one with the Island”, living in peace and harmony, and reaping the potential super-natural benefit of eternal life because of it. The Others didn’t know about the outside world, and they didn’t care about it either – they were basically living in paradise.
But then one day, along come the Dharmites, who start infringing on their territory – tearing the Island apart building various “Stations”, carrying out freaky experiments (potentially using the Others as test subjects even), and generally destroying the peaceful hippie vibe of the Island. The Others recruit Ben as a Dharmite who can relate to their Dharma-hating, and along with some other Rebel Dharmites, they carry out “The Purge”, thinking it’ll mean a return to their peaceful ways of the past.
Unfortunately, they realize that running water and electricity are pretty nice things to have – so instead of returning to their village (or Temple, or wherever they live), they setup camp in the Barracks. From here, it’s a slippery slope. The Others get a taste for television, the Internet, and Dharma Beer. They continue to move farther and farther away from the “oneness” with the Island that they used to have. In fact, to outsiders (and we, as viewers for the first two seasons), it’s hard to distinguish them from the hated Dharmites. They’re wearing their clothes, using their Stations, and carrying out some freaky experiments of their own (Rave Room, anyone?).
Irony! Much like Sawyer becoming the man he hated the most, the Others became the very civilization that they were trying to rid themselves of with the Purge. What does any of this have to do with the Looking Glass?
Well, let’s take it a step further.
The Others now have a taste for modern luxuries, and know that the outside world holds much more than their outdated 1970’s technology on the Island. Having lost their connection with the Island, they start losing the benefits that they once received. Maybe they’re starting to age. Maybe they’re no longer able to reproduce. All the sudden, the Island isn’t looking so great, and there are rumblings among circles of Others about wanting to leave.
Here’s where more irony comes in. Ben, the former outsider, is the one who now appreciates the magic of the Island. He’s the one who is trying to keep the Others on the Island – for what he believes is for their own good. He’s trying to get the Others back to their former state – to rebuild the paradise on the Island, to save their civilization, and reconnect them with the Island.
To them, he’s crazy – obsessing about baby-making, jamming their own communications, and ordering attacks and kidnapping of the Survivors. In Ben’s head, he’s almost playing the role of a parent, doing what is best for the Others even though they don’t realize it. This relationship is somewhat symbolically represented by Ben and Alex. In this episode, she asked why Ben couldn’t just let the Survivors leave the Island. He replied, “because I can’t”. Later, when questioned by Patchy about the Looking Glass, Ben claims that he used the Jammer for their own protection – a required measure to protect the Island and keep the Others safe.
Too bad our Survivors just ruined everything by turning off the Looking Glass and calling Naomi’s crew.
Ben. While the Cowboys and Indians theory helps explain a lot of Ben’s actions, what it doesn’t explain is how Ben somehow arrived in this position of power among the Others to allow him to carry out his actions… unless you take the theory even farther.
What if the Others’ connection with the Island is symbolized by the ability to communicate with the “spirit of the Island”? This spirit would appear in various forms and serve as a guiding entity for the Others. It’s actually quite similar to a lot of religious stories – where those “closest” to God are the only ones who can communicate directly with Him.
But let’s assume that the Others had started to drift away from this Island spirit even before The Purge, before Dharma even came to the Island. As a result of this drifting, they stopped seeing and hearing the Island Spirit… and they’re kinda bummed about it. Then, along comes this boy – Ben – who wanders out into the jungle claiming that he’s seeing images of his dead mother. The Others realize that this boy might somehow have a connection with the Island that is actually allowing him to communicate with the Island Spirit, appearing in the form of his mother – so they recruit him, and he assumes a position of power among them. (If you want to get even crazier, you could propose that the Others had some sort of prophecy where they were waiting for an outsider to appear and lead them back to the Island Spirit after they had strayed away.)
Does Ben actually have this connection with the Island? Maybe… but probably not. However, with his knowledge of the Island, the Dharma technology, and his Dharma quality education, he’s able to trick the Others into thinking he does. He even goes so far as to claim that the Island Spirit will only communicate with him, lives in an old Dharma house in the jungle, and is named “Jacob”. The Others buy into it, but there’s a problem – Ben is not getting any results. The Others are still not seeing / hearing the Island Spirit themselves and they’re still not able to make babies.
Ben is doing everything he can to try and turnaround these issues using scientific / technological means (recruiting Juliet for the baby one in particular), which would “prove” his worth among them and justify his position of leadership. Unfortunately, it looks like their problems can’t be solved by these means. Ben’s use of the Looking Glass is a last ditch effort to buy some more time before the Others give up on him (and the Island).
Talk about a roundabout way to analyze Ben’s use of the Looking Glass! Phew. That was a tangent. Oh, and then there’s that one other pesky little issue for Ben – John Locke.
Locke. It looks like John Locke is actually the “chosen one”. He has the communion with the Island, he’s able to communicate with the Island Spirit (Jacob), and the Island is hooking him up with all sorts of sweet perks – like surviving gunshot wounds.
I know early on in the show, there was some debate on if the “magnetic properties” of the Island might have given Locke the use of his legs again – and that he was delusional in thinking that he was meant for a greater purpose. But this episode seemed to confirm that the Island Spirit indeed had the power to specifically heal him.
Although I still think there could be a more “logical” explanation for why the gunshot didn’t kill him (like the bullet hit scar tissue from where his kidney used to be), the fact that he didn’t have use of his legs when he came to is a whole other story. We’ve seen this happen before – when Locke has an injury, or is knocked out, he seems to temporarily lose the functionality of his legs. This time we saw Island Spirit Walt seem to have a hand in this healing process. What’s interesting is that Walt instructed told him that he “had work to do”, which brought a smile to Locke’s face.
This is huge for Locke. If you think about it, the “mission” that he was on led him to the Others. They seemed to be the key to understanding the Island and Locke’s greater purpose there. However, after his “meeting” with Jacob, Locke seemed to have come to a dead end in that mission. He was chalking up his meeting with Jacob as some sort of trickery from Ben, and was starting to doubt if the Others actually had any more information on the Island than he did. Locke’s taking of the gun and contemplating suicide in the mass grave is symbolic of this hopelessness. With his legs failing him and his mission a seeming failure, it looked like the Island had given up on John Locke – and maybe he wasn’t destined for bigger and better things there.
Then along came Walt to restore his faith and give him new direction. But what was Walt? Well, it could have been Walt in the flesh, but it’s not likely. It could have been Walt using his freaky mind powers to project his image and message to Locke. But since Walt talked cryptically (but not backwards) and referred to some type of “mission” for Locke, he definitely seemed like someone working for the Island. Odds are that this was another manifestation of the Island Spirit or Smokey.
It’s not clear what this mission exactly is, but it seemed to involve preventing contact from being made with Naomi’s crew. If you factor in Jacob’s plea of “help me” to John a few weeks back, it seems that the Island knew the danger it was in – the danger of being discovered by Naomi’s crew, and was looking to Locke to help prevent it from happening.
Which brings about one of the strange inconsistencies of the episode…
Naomi. Over the past few weeks, it’s been well documented that Locke doesn’t have the will-power, or has too much of a conscience to actually kill people. Both in his pre-Island and on-Island life, he demonstrated that no matter how hard people pushed him, he couldn’t “pull the trigger”. He even had to coerce Sawyer into killing his father in order to prove himself to Ben (although you could also argue that this was his way of helping Sawyer “get over” his demons, much like he did with Boone, Charlie, etc.)
Yet, he seemed to have no qualms in chucking a knife in Naomi’s back – which was straight up murder. Was he a changed man? Did the Island Spirit bring him back with a vengeance? It doesn’t look like it, because minutes later he once again shows that he’s unwilling to kill when Jack was about to make the phone call to Naomi’s crew.
The only explanation I can think of is that Naomi is seriously bad – and killing her is somehow justified, whereas Jack might be considered an “innocent” in the eyes of the Island. (On the other hand, Anthony Cooper seemed like a seriously bad dude as well, so you would think the Island would give Locke a free pass in killing him too…)
But that brings up one of the huge questions of the episode – who is Naomi’s crew?
I think the easiest answer is that Naomi’s Crew are Dharma, coming back for some serious revenge on the Others that killed their brethren on the Island years ago. But there are two big holes with that theory – one that Dharma has continued making the Periodic Ration Drops on the Island, so clearly the know where it is, and wouldn’t need Jack’s phone call to track the coordinates. Two, it doesn’t explain why Naomi would have a picture of Penny and Desmond among her belongings.
The next easiest answer is that she is working for some sort of “rival organization”, looking to pick up where Dharma’s research left off on the Island in hopes of succeeding where they failed (perhaps in hopes of saving the world after all). Based on some assumptions from “Bad Twin”, Dharma has close ties to Penny’s father’s organization, Widmore Corporation. It’s reasonable to think that this rival organization would have tried to dig up as much information as possible about the Island from Widmore (assuming that Dharma no longer exists) – and in doing so, just might have come across Penny / Desmond’s friend Donovan, who just might have mentioned that Desmond once crazily talked about being stranded on a mysterious Island (during his flashback / time travel episode earlier this season). The rival organization carries the picture of Desmond (stolen or copied from Penny), knowing that if they can find him, they can probably find the Island.
It’s a stretch, but it’s the best we’ve got at this point.
I know there is always the “easy way out” answer that Penny is a rich heiress, and wouldn’t actually know Naomi or personally be on the boat searching for Desmond. Although her reaction seemed to indicate total surprise, as if she didn’t have any sort of rescue team out looking for Desmond – this doesn’t make much sense either. Based on last season’s finale, if Penny had people sitting in the Arctic constantly monitoring for electromagnetic anomalies, she most certainly would start combing the ocean for that anomaly once it happened. Heck, you could even hypothesize that this crew was sent by Charles Widmore, not Penny, in a race to find Desmond first as part of some massive scheme to keep Desmond away from his daughter. But that seems a little out there.
The other thing that was a little out there? That if the boat isn’t really tied to Penny at all, why was she calling the Looking Glass? If you recall, it was an incoming transmission, not an outgoing one, that Charlie responded to. Then Penny acted surprised and puzzled by what was going on… even though she was the one that placed the call. Is she just frantically sending out video messages on every frequency, to every channel in the Pacific, in hopes of finding Desmond? I’ve got no good explanation for this one, other than it was a necessary scene to advance the story.
Which brings us to the main point - although we don’t know who Naomi’s crew are at this point, the writers want the audience to know that they aren’t who we think they are, and maybe Jack placing that phone call was a seriously bad decision. Which leads me to where I think the show is headed next season…
Desmond. Charlie’s scribbling of “Not Penny’s Boat” as his last action wasn’t just meant to show Charlie as a hero to the end – I’m thinking it’s going to spark the main storyline for at least the first part of next season. If the writers just wanted the audience to know that it wasn’t Penny’s Boat, the scene wouldn’t be necessary – we gathered that information from listening to his conversation with Penny. No, the important thing here is that Desmond learned this information. Why?
Because he will realize that he has to warn the Survivors as quickly as possible. Luckily, he has the ability to do so, because all he has to do is reach the Beach, where he can have Hurley radio Jack and relay the message. The walkie-talkies prove to be critical!
Suddenly, we’ll have this crisis of doubt in our Survivors’ minds. On the one hand, we’ll have Ben telling them that Naomi’s Crew is bad news, and that they need to run and hide. On the other hand, there will be the Survivors distrust of Ben, willing to take their chances with whomever Naomi’s Crew ends up being if it means that they’ll be able to get off the Island. We might see a divide among the Survivors at this point (such as Claire and Aaron taking their chances – which would fulfill Desmond’s flash prophecy), but I think most of the main characters are going to approach these outsiders with caution – which will bring about the storyline I’ve been waiting for all season long…
The merger of our Survivors and the Others.
I know you are all probably sick of me calling for this each week without it happening, but it just has to, doesn’t it? Since there still seems to be a good deal to the Others’ story that we don’t know (Alpert’s non-aging, what happened to Anne, where they came from, why they worship 4 toed statues, etc.), it’s clear that they’re going to stick around for a while. The beginning of this season seemed to show that the audience didn’t really like the “split-time” story arc between the Others and our Survivors. Factor in that this episode was supposed to be the big showdown between the Survivors and the Others, and it definitely feels like it’s time to put their past differences aside and band together.
The funny thing is that after a season of our Survivors being the ones with the hatred against the Others (for the kidnapping / torture / general tormenting through withholding information), now the tables have turned – considering our Survivors just mowed down 10 Others during their raid of the Beach. Heck, maybe this will be the thing to make both sides call it even and move forward.
With Naomi’s Crew approaching, I could both sides will go into a state of “careful observation” of these newcomers to the Island that just might bring about an uneasy reunion for the purposes of information sharing. It’s also worth noting that with the loss of so many Others this episode (both at the hands of our Survivors and Patchy), I’m not sure how many Others are really left on the Island. At what point do they concede that they’re overmatched and need our Survivors if they’re going to have any chance of “fighting” Naomi’s Crew?
But back to Desmond.
Aside from being the most important character for the start of next season (can we place bets on who will get the first centric episode next year? I call Desmond!), the big question for Desmond concerns his flashes. After being whacked on the head by Charlie, one of my first thoughts was that he might lose his flashability. This week almost seemed to confirm it, when Charlie asked if he saw anything, and Desmond gave a puzzled, I-can’t-believe-I-don’t-see-any-flashes look back and replied “no”.
If you think about it, all of Desmond’s flashes seemed concerned with saving Charlie. Now that Charlie’s done, one could argue that the purpose of his flashes is also complete, and they are conveniently gone. However, in my eyes this would leave a huge dangling plot without much chance of resolution. We still don’t know what caused the flashes, if Desmond really went back in time, or if what the point of the flashes really was. If you look at the net result of the flashes, they pretty much ensured that Charlie stayed alive long enough to turn off the Jammer in the Looking Glass, and helped Desmond find Naomi before Patchy… both of which led to Jack being able to make the phone call to Naomi’s Crew. This brings up an unbelievably intriguing possibility…
Could Desmond’s flashes be the opposing force to John Locke’s Team Island?
If you think about it, we’ve constantly seen the good vs. evil, black vs. white symbolism on the Island. So it would make sense that there would be some opposing force to the Island’s voodoo power. Locke and Team Island are working to keep the Island secret, whereas Desmond and Team Flashes are working to help the Island be discovered. It makes perfect sense since Desmond is the character with the most desire to actually get off the Island (more on this later), and Locke is the character with the most desire to actually stay on the Island.
While this doesn’t explain the “how” behind the flashes, it may very well explain the “why”. If you consider that Desmond’s “mission” is now complete, as he has the opportunity to get off the Island with Naomi’s Crew, then it would make sense for the flashes to stop. However, if Naomi’s Crew aren’t the rescue team that we think they are, it would make sense for the flashes to continue. But rather than looking for them to switch to a new character to “save”, I’m betting they focus more on actions that will help lead to getting off the Island.
Flashbacks, flashforwards, and Desmond flashes? Lost is getting flashtastic!
Charlie. So, based on the idea that Desmond’s flashes weren’t really about trying to change fate and save Charlie – but rather were a means to have Charlie disable the switch in the Looking Glass (since only a musician could have figured it out), it seems that Charlie’s death turned out to be a merely a necessary sacrifice for Team Flashes to help the Island get discovered / help our Survivors escape.
Yes, there were plenty of logic issues surrounding Charlie’s Death (why didn’t he shut the door from the other side, why did he have to shut the door at all, why didn’t he and Desmond pump a few rounds into Patchy initially, etc.) – but damn if it didn’t make for great TV. It’s kinda amazing what the writers can do over the course of two episodes. Charlie went from being one of my least favorite characters on the show to being someone that I was honestly sad to see go over the course of two hours.
The other big thing to keep in mind about Charlie’s death is this – without Charlie, Claire becomes an expendable character. Yes, she’s Jack’s sister. Yes, she’s the mother to Aaron. But from a simple week in, week out, storytelling perspective, she seems pretty superfluous. Her story has been told, and unless there is some quick development in the seemingly forgotten “Aaron is key to everything on the Island” storyline, I think Desmond’s flash with Claire and Aaron getting on a helicopter will absolutely turn out to be true.
In fact, while Claire remains a strong candidate to feature flashforwards (guaranteeing her escape from the Island), I think a far more intriguing storyline would involve the audience learning about Naomi’s Crew from Claire’s perspective.
If they indeed turn out to be “bad guys” so to speak, putting Claire and Aaron on that helicopter accomplishes two major goals:
- It proves Desmond’s flashes to be correct.
- It gives Claire a worthwhile storyline on the show.
Imagine the shock and horror of our Survivors if Naomi’s Crew shows up with a helicopter, our Survivors happily load up Claire, Aaron, and Sun (women and children first, of course), then are sitting and waiting for the helicopter to return and “save” more of them as they receive a frantic message from Hurley warning them that Naomi’s Crew aren’t who they say they are.
Suddenly, our Survivors have quite a vested interest in figuring out who Naomi’s Crew actually are, and a reason to join the Others in the fight against them, since it may mean that the lives of some of their own are hanging in the balance.
Then again, maybe Claire will just continue to hang around in the background, popping up for a scene or two, lamenting about how much she misses Charlie. But I think the other scenario would be far more intriguing.
Temple. Okay, so I think we’ve discussed most of the major action on the Island from this episode. But before we move on, I have to make mention of one last, very brief scene that might open the door to yet another side of the Island next season. Before Ben left to confront our Survivors, he told Alpert to take everyone to the “Temple” as planned. The Lost writers have hinted that the Island has quite a long history, and we’ve seen remnants of ancient statues (with four toes) and columns from ancient buildings (handy for tying people to). In my mind, I’m envisioning this Temple as part of a larger complex, pseudo-Mayan, rich in Other-history – which makes me uber-excited at the possibility of seeing it next season.
Well, if I had to pick my one overall complaint about the season, it would be the lack of reveal about the Others. Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic coming into the third season, but when I heard that it would be “about the Others”, I expected that by the end of the season, we would fully understand them (although, looking back, Season Two was about the Hatch and we still don’t fully understand that either). However, in the end, we got a lot of good looks at the Others, but ended up only learning about two of them (Juliet and Ben), who actually weren’t true “Others” at all.
I would love nothing more than to see Season Four starting with our Survivors journeying to the Temple with Ben and joining the remaining Others there (could this be where Isabel, and the rest of the “governing body” of Others have been hiding all season long?). Heck, there’s even a chance that John Locke might be heading to the Temple to launch into a unifying speech that will bring both parties together. I know it sounds crazy, but while it wasn’t clear where Locke was heading at the end of the episode, if he’s really trying to protect the Island from these foreign invaders, his best chance lies at getting the help of everyone on the Island. As much as he wants to continue on his Island spiritual journey alone, he can’t single-handedly go Rambo on Naomi’s Crew. I think it’s plausible.
Okay – consider this your intermission. If you need to take a break, get a drink, or rest your eyes, now’s the time to do it. That concludes the “Island Action” portion of the program. Now it’s time to get flashy…
Flashforward. I’ve been trying to think where the Flashforward reveal at the end of the episode ranks in terms of “most shocking endings to a TV season” ever. There are three other contenders that immediately come to mind – Buffy Season Two, 24 Season One, and Alias Season Two. Ironically, maybe this one shouldn’t have been so surprising, since it’s a bit similar to Alias Season Two, and both shows were the products of JJ Abrams. I suppose this is also the biggest reason to be afraid. If you had to pick a turning point, where Alias went from being an amazing show with a complex storyline to a good show with a convoluted mess of a storyline, the second season finale would be it. It was an amazing, shocking idea that was never really executed properly. Here’s hoping that JJ has learned from past mistakes.
But as I said in my Instant Reactions, I think it’s a genius idea. More on the possibilities for the future at the end of the post – but first, let’s hit on some of the analysis of the flashforwards themselves.
Coffin. It’s amazing how with everything else that happened on the season finale, people are really only caught up in two questions:
- Who is in the coffin?
- Who was Kate referring to when she said “he’ll be wondering where I am.”
To me, this is a little crazy because there were so many other huge things to think about, but I guess they were the two most direct mysteries tossed at the audience, so they were the easiest to latch on to.
Some of the first comments about the coffin were that it was smaller than a normal coffin, so it must have been a child / midget / person with no legs inside. I admit, when you watch the scene, it does seem a bit small, so I decided to do some detective work. If you look at the best picture of the coffin where we have something to compare it to, it’s this one – with Jack’s hand resting on it.
Now, assuming that Jack’s hands are about the same size as mine (which admittedly, is an assumption, the way his hand is laying on the coffin makes it about seven and a half inches across. By copying and pasting copies of his hand across the coffin, I came up with the following:
The coffin is ten Jack Hands long, (what’s the ratio of Jack Hands to Coffin? About the same as the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.) or about 75 inches. But, who actually knows how long coffins usually are? Even though I used to work at a cemetery, I had no idea. However, thanks to the Internet, I stumbled upon the following at “deathonline.net” (creepy!):
“Caskets and coffins do come in different sizes to accommodate all people. A coffin is traditionally 180cm long x 61cm high x 61cm wide.”
Unfortunately, it was in bloody metric, whereas my measurements were in “God’s Units”, inches. But, with a quick calculation through Google, it turns out that 180 centimeters = 70.8661417 in.
Long story short – it’s a normal sized coffin.
But aside from ruling out oompa loompas, it doesn’t help us any in determining who is inside the coffin. The other major clue from the episode was this much analyzed newspaper clipping:
And although some people claim to have insiders who took the prop from the set and posted the full article online, the show’s producers didn’t want us to be able to read that. All they wanted us to be able to read was what we actually saw in the episode, which is the following:
"The body of Jo...[unreadable]...[a]ntham of
New York was discovered shortly after 4
a.m. in the...[unreadable]...of Grand
Avenue. Ted [lastname], [a door]man at The
[unreadable]... [sa]fety, he co[nfessed]
[unreadable]...a beam in the
(totally stolen from Lostpedia, by the way)
Which means that the person in the coffin’s name start with Jo, and their last name probably ends with “antham”. Unfortunately, we don’t have a single character on the show that fits that criterion, leaving us with a few options:
- The show’s creators accidentally allowed us to see too much of the newspaper clipping, and we weren’t supposed to be able to decipher the character’s name. In the sake of keeping it secret, a fake name was used in the article prop. It’s an easy answer, but as clever as those Lost folks are, I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t catch the readability of the clipping in the editing room. They knew we would obsess over it.
- A character we currently know on the show changed their name. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, especially when you consider some of the sketchy pasts of our Survivors. What better time to start fresh with a new life than when you just survived a near death experience and escaped off a freaky Island? It would allow the body in the coffin to be any of the Survivors we actually know, without revealing who it is until we see the episode featuring that Survivor changing their name.
- It’s someone that we haven’t met yet. This seems like the most logical answer, yet a lot of people don’t like it because it feels like the easy way out. When you think about it, we still have three seasons of Lost left, so it’s entirely possible that new characters will be introduced (like the Others). However, what is the likelihood that Jack becomes close enough to one of these new characters to have such a reaction to their death?
So what do I think? I think you have to look beyond the article itself and at the events surrounding the death. (Note: this is one of those situations I often talk about where I have no idea what I’m going to decide on a topic until I write it all out and figure it out, so bear with me…)
- When Jack found out about the death, the first person he thought to call was Kate, meaning the person must have been close to both of them – or the three of them shared some unique experience, explaining why she would have been the first person he called.
- When Jack found out about the death, it devastated him. He was about to kill himself. It’s not like Jack was Mr. Happy before reading the article, but it’s like the death pushed him over the edge. It made him give up. The person in the coffin gave Jack hope.
- No one went to the funeral. Clearly this person didn’t have any family or friends – or if they did, they didn’t like them enough to say goodbye. Through flashbacks, we’ve learned that a lot of characters on the show don’t have a ton of people waiting for them back home (Kate, Sawyer, Locke), but you would think that after sharing the Island experience with the rest of the Survivors, at least they would show up… unless they never made it off the Island.
- Based on what we can read from the newspaper clipping, it seems like the person hung themselves. That means the person hated life in the real world almost as much as Jack.
- Jack asked Kate why she didn’t go to the funeral, to which she replied “Why would I go to the funeral?” This seems to indicate that either Kate didn’t know the person, or really hated the person.
Looking at all the facts, the most likely candidate that fits those criteria (assuming this is a character we already know) is Benjamin Linus.
If Ben left the Island, he wouldn’t have anyone else in the world. He’s spent his entire life there. The only candidates to show up at his funeral would be people from the Island who escaped… and even then, most people on the Island right now hate Ben. The Survivors clearly do. Heck, Jack beat him half to death this episode. It also looks like the Others are starting to doubt him, and think that he’s leading them down the wrong path.
Ben has continually demonstrated his love for the Island – the same kind of appreciation that Jack has now found. Jack realizes that the real world sucks, and wants nothing more than to get back to the Island and sit on the beach all day sipping Dharma Pina Coladas. It’s reasonable to think that to Jack, Ben represented hope. Hope that someday Ben would find a way to take him back to the Island. His death would serve as the last straw for Jack, making him give up on ever getting back there, driving him to the brink of suicide.
Ben, on the other hand, would have had this hopelessness from the start, as soon as he left the Island, which explains why he would have taken his own life. Kate, on the other hand, enjoys post-Island life (or thinks she does), and doesn’t understand why Jack would want to visit someone responsible for torturing them and preventing them from escaping the Island.
Really, the biggest argument against it being Ben inside the coffin is the portion of the name we saw in the newspaper clipping. But if anyone were to change their name after the Island, Ben seems like one of the most likely candidates. I can see him determining that “Benjamin Linus died when I left the Island. From now on, I’ll go by Jonathan Bantham.” (Why that name? No idea.)
But if this is true, it brings up a bigger question – wouldn’t Ben have rather died than leave the Island? How did he end up back in the real world with Jack and Kate? I suppose if the Others “turn on him”, they could banish him from the Island as punishment. Maybe Ben isn’t as tough as he acts, and actually does fear death. Or perhaps Jack forcefully takes him off the Island (knocking him out, dragging him onto a rescue ship) as a sort of punishment for him for all that he did to our Survivors. But to consider any of these possibilities, first we have to figure out how our Survivors are actually going to get off the Island… and when.
Jack. If Matthew Fox isn’t nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series at this year’s Emmys, I will be shocked. He gave an unbelievable performance this episode, running through a huge gamut of emotions between on-Island action and flashforward action. There’s a lot to say about Jack.
First, the writers made sure to keep the love rhombus on the Island alive and well, featuring scenes with Jack and Juliet kissing (although she seemed much more into it than he was), Jack telling Kate that he loved her (which ironically took place almost right after the aforementioned kissing), and even some potential sparks between Juliet and Sawyer during their back and forth banter on the way back to the Beach.
Second, the writers once again teased us with the possibility that Christian Shephard is alive, subjecting us to yet another round of debate on the subject matter. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Christian Shephard is dead. Actually, I think Damon Lindelof said the same thing in a recent podcast. Why won’t you people believe him?!
Jack was seriously hopped up on Oxycodone when he referenced his father in the current state. Dr. Hamill took over Christian Shephard’s former job as Chief of Surgery. Jack was using his father’s old prescription sheets to try and score some extra drugs. It’s as simple as that.
I’ve also seen some theories that propose that the Flashforward represented an “alternate future” where Christian Shephard is alive. But if you go that route, the theory quickly loses its legs. If Christian Shephard is alive, Jack wouldn’t have needed to go to Australia to recover his body, and thus would have never gotten on Oceanic Flight 815. If he never got on the flight, he would have never crashed on the Island, met Kate, and received a “Golden Pass” to allow him to fly for free for the rest of his life. It just doesn’t make any sense.
The other reason that people seem to be hoping for an “alternate future” is that they were pretty upset that Jack is totally miserable in the future (present?). They wanted a happy ending for Jack. Unfortunately, Jack is what book nerds call a “tragic hero” – meaning that he’s a hero, saving others – but makes a tragic mistake that leads to his own defeat.
For Jack, he’s definitely got hero traits. We’ve constantly seen that he needs to be “fixing” other people. He wants to help them… but he can’t help himself. We’ve also seen this need to constantly be helping others lead to self-destructive tendencies for Jack with drinking, depression, etc. But so far, Jack has been able to carry on.
In this episode, we saw Jack make his tragic mistake. Placing the phone call to Naomi’s Crew marked the beginning of the end.
Some people want to see the Season Four pick up where Season Three ended, with Jack going on a mission to return to the Island, giving us a “happy ending” at the series’ conclusion as Jack finally gets back to the Island. I’ll get to why this is a terrible idea shortly, but this wouldn’t fit the bill of a tragic hero. Lost is a show about life, and in life sometimes you don’t get the happy ending.
But that makes me wonder – would any of the Survivors be happy off the Island? It brings up an interesting point – that although the natural tendency of our Survivors is to “get off the Island”, they all had pretty crappy pre-Island lives that they would be returning to. Why can’t they just realize how good they have it on the Island and stay there? Is there something innate to humans where we need to reconnect to our fellow humans, and being isolated on an Island brings about this need to escape? I realize that initially, getting off the Island made sense because it was a question of survival. The Island was dangerous, there were questions about finding food, water, and shelter, etc. But now, it seems to be a pretty cushy lifestyle on the Island. Bad news for the happy ending fans out there - I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see that all of our Survivors are miserable post-Island.
Kate. Which provides a nice segue to the second of the “big questions” from the episode. Who was Kate talking about when she said “he’ll be wondering where I am”. It could be a husband (Sawyer is a fan favorite choice), a child (it is three years post-Island bumping with Sawyer), or even some sort of law-enforcement person. Keep in mind that Kate was a wanted woman when she crashed onto the Island, and those crimes don’t just go away because you’ve been through a tragic experience. It’s possible she was eventually brought to justice, but had her sentence be reduced to some type of “house arrest”.
But the other clue from the brief scene of Kate in the future was that Kate seemed pretty well off. She was driving a nice car, dolling herself up extra pretty, and telling Jack that they were supposed to leave the Island, and that it couldn’t be changed. The wording in this scene is particularly interesting. Jack claims that he is “sick of lying”. Kate says that “it can’t be changed.” I almost get the feeling that the rescue of our Survivors wasn’t something that was made public knowledge, and that they were “bought off” to keep their mouths shut.
It would tie together a lot of these unanswered questions nicely. Jack is referenced as a hero for saving the woman from a burning car, but no one mentions that he was involved in a horrific plane crash as well. If you assume that Dharma still has the wealth and power to recruit people like Juliet, bring people like Locke’s Dad to the Island, and kill those who get in their way like Juliet’s ex-husband, it stands to reason that they could get Kate exonerated for her crimes, setup all our Survivors with cushy monthly paychecks, and even legally change their names to conceal their true identities – in exchange for keeping their mouths shut about their time on the Island.
Jack is sick of lying. He wants to get back to the Island, but can’t talk to anyone about it – even to the other Survivors. They signed contracts which “can’t be changed”. Kate isn’t in jail, and seems to have plenty of money. Ben was forcefully removed by the Island by Dharma to prevent him from interfering in their resumed experiments there. Could Lost end with Dharma reclaiming the Island and returning / kicking all our Survivors and the Others back to the real world?
Timeline. It brings up the true biggest question of the episode - the complicated subject of time. When I was talking through this subject with a co-worker, I drew a timeline on her whiteboard, which made it a lot easier to explain – but I’ll try and talk through it.
So far, the story of Lost has been traveling along one timeline, jumping back to the past via flashbacks, and occasionally going back to earlier points on the timeline to fill in some gaps we didn’t see the first time through. According to the timeline at Lostpedia, we’re roughly in December 2004. But at the end of this episode, we jumped a three years into the future to April 2007. Where do we go from here? From a storytelling perspective, there are three options available, each with their own pros and cons:
Continue telling the story forward, starting with Jack and Kate at the airport, using flashbacks to fill in the gap between December 2004 and April 2007.
Pros: This would keep the show’s signature format of “revealing” things through flashbacks. Remember how many characters I thought could have died in this episode because I felt like their storylines were about complete? Well, maybe there was a reason for that, since this huge jump was coming. The writers wrapped up their pre-Island stories in preparation for their post-Island stories to begin. Finding out what got each character to that point in their post-Island life becomes the mystery on the show. It would still allow the writers to wait until the series finale to answer some of the big Island mysteries, as they could be revealed in flashback form whenever they like. The audience gets a complete story of each character’s life post-Island, rather than being left to wonder what happens to them.
Cons: This would make the Island, the signature look and almost a character on the show, secondary. It would quickly reveal which characters live and which characters die. It would also make the very intriguing on-Island action secondary to what I envision as the depressing post-Island lives of the Survivors. Who wants to see Claire struggling through the trials of Aaron’s terrible twos or Sawyer becoming a card shark in Las Vegas to feed his hunger for conning? Not me.
Continue telling the story from Jack’s phone call to Naomi in December 2004, but using flashforwards to tell the story of what happened to the characters post-Island.
Pros: This would keep the primary action on the Island, where it belongs. The reveals about the Island mysteries would come naturally, chronologically, rather than being randomly thrown in to various character flashbacks. It could help develop mysteries on two fronts, since we would have the current Island mysteries, as well as mysteries derived from the flashforwards. It’s almost like we’re working on arriving at the conclusion from two different directions (the past and the future) – with the conclusion being the moment the Survivors leave the Island.
Cons: Again, this assumes that all the main Survivors are going to escape the Island and survive, which I seriously doubt. Otherwise, it’s going to become evident who is going to die based on who isn’t getting any flashforward episodes. This would also eliminate the possibility of a CFL flashback, which the writers have mentioned would like to show (along with Alpert, Ben, etc.).
Continue telling the story from December 2004, using both flashbacks and flashforwards.
Pros: Best of both worlds. Flashbacks could be used when needed or exciting, but not required each week, eliminating the weaker ones we saw this year (such as Jack’s time in Thailand). Flashforwards could be used to build additional mystery to the storyline from the other side, but also would provide satisfying conclusions to each character’s story. As we near the series finale, there could be more of a shift to Flashforwards as the fate of our Survivors becomes more evident. The amazing on-Island storyline continues logically, leading us to its ultimate conclusion.
Cons: Could be confusing, especially if you start talking about on-Island flashbacks, regular flashbacks, Flashforwards, and Desmond’s flashes. You would almost need a disclaimer during the first flash of each episode telling you when it was taking place.
Looking at the options, the third scenario seems the most likely to me. It opens up new storytelling opportunities without totally changing the show as we know it (which can happen whenever a show does a “time jump”). The Lost that we know and love would basically remain the same, but now could feature a side-story from any point in a character’s past, present, or future. For the writer in me, what more could you want? The full spectrum of the character’s life is at your fingertips. It should lead to tighter episodes, with more symbolic flashes (like during the first season, where seeing something on the Island would seem to trigger the flashback) – only this time it might be something in the future that reminds a character of their past time on the Island. Fun!
With that, I think I’m going to wrap it up. But is this goodbye for the next eight months? Of course not. It’s time to discuss the off-season plan:
Lost Rewinds. This one seemed to get the most reaction on the Message Board. It’s almost like a Lost Book Club. Basically, we would start over – at Season One, Episode One – “Pilot”, and work our way back to Season Three, Episode Twenty-Two – “Through the Looking Glass” re-watching the episodes to see if we missed anything the first time through now that we know more about the Island and the characters. I would re-post my original analysis of the episode, along with any new insight gained (actually, I didn’t even write anything on the first six episodes, so I would need to make something up there). If we do two episodes a week, we should wrap up right before Season Four starts – and we’ll be more prepared for it than ever.
Guest Articles. A lot of people loved controlling the Blog when I was in Europe, and asked if they could contribute again in the future. Well, here’s your opportunity. If you would like to breakdown any particular subject matter, throw out some crazy theories, or just talk Lost, send me an Email containing your post to firstname.lastname@example.org – as long as it’s not too profanity laden or full or racist and sexist remarks, I’ll throw it on the Blog and give you a chance to bounce your ideas off the cruel and unforgiving world wide web.
Other. Not to be confused with "Others", there will always be those random other posts, which I term the “…and Gone Forever” portion of the Blog. They’re not related to Lost and everyone complains about them, but I like to try and analyze the past TV Season, preview upcoming new shows, and critique anything and everything in the world of TV, movies, and music. It’s also a good forum to spread propaganda. More sporadic in nature, these will just pop up here and there as I feel the need to write them.
So what do you think? You can comment on the Off-Season Plan below, or in the dedicated post on the Message Board. Basically, the Off-Season starts now, so it’s decision time!
And I’m spent. I can’t believe I just wrote about 9,000 words. My fingers are going to hate me when I’m older. Feel free to comment on my analysis, complain about things I missed, and say things like “I waited a week and a half for that?” on the Message Board and below.
We’re now 59% complete with Lost!