I've got a fever… and the only cure is... more cabin.
Episode Title: Cabin Fever
Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Well this one seems quite obvious, doesn't it?
After teasing us with the uber-exciting prospect of a return visit to Jacob's Cabin two weeks ago, last week left us considerably cabin-less - but it looks like we're getting the payoff this week… big time. Clearly the episode title is directly referring to Locke, Ben, and Hurley's journey to visit Jacob's Cabin, so that portion of the episode title is fairly straightforward. But what exactly is "cabin fever"? I'll defer to the good people at Wikipedia!
Cabin fever is a slang term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a party is isolated and/or shut in, alone or together, for an extended period. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness, and excessive sleeping.
The origin of the term is unknown, but may originate from the United States during the time when settlers would be snowed into their log cabins in winter and would had to wait for the spring thaw in order to travel to town. The phrase may also be associated with ocean-crossing sailing ships in which passengers had to endure weeks and months of slow travel while living in cabins below deck, or group of people on a deserted island or on a long space voyage.
If you think about it, based on this definition you could argue that literally every person on the show could be suffering from a type of "cabin fever".
First there are the Freightors, who have such a bad case of "cabin fever" that they're literally killing themselves. They seem to have been sitting just offshore of the Island for quite some time, isolated from the rest of the world thanks to Michael trashing their communications, potentially suffering some weird side effects from the Magnetic Bubble around the Island that could be accelerating the issue.
Then we've got our Survivors on the Beach. They too have been somewhat isolated from the rest of the world since they crashed on the Island, stuck on a wacky Island with mysterious Others, Smoke Monsters, and Island Visions. Although most seem to be handling it pretty well, we've seen a few of them "snap" from time to time, and the stress seems to be building on Jack, who is becoming obsessed with "saving everyone" no matter what the cost.
Even the Others themselves seem to be growing discontent and restless with their isolated state on the Island, losing faith in Ben as their leader and returning to their roots (perhaps) in their journey to the Temple.
But let's be honest - this episode title is clearly referring to the search for Jacob's Cabin. This search might get "heated" with arguments between Locke and Ben, or even approach a "fever pitch" of intensity and excitement as Locke and Co. draw closer to the Cabin. They're the characters with the biggest case of "Cabin Fever" this week.
On the other hand, I'd argue that we, as viewers have an even bigger case of Cabin Fever. If I were to make a list of the top questions I wanted answers to on the show, Jacob and his Cabin would be near the top of the list (right below "What is Smokey" and "Why aren't there more scenes of Kate in a men's button down shirt and underwear") - and I think most of you are the same way. Ever since we got our first glimpse of Jacob and the Cabin last season, it's been a huge mystery - full of possibilities ranging from the mundane (all a hoax put on by Ben) to the not-really-pseudo-science supernatural (Jacob is the manifestation of the Island Spirit, is all knowing, all powerful, and used to be a pirate). We're all dying to know more, and I for one am giddy with excitement about this week's episode. I'll probably overhype it to a level that no episode could possibly live up to - but I'll just chalk it up to me coming down with a nasty case of Cabin Fever.
Episode Description: Locke is enlightened as to the whereabouts of Jacob's cabin, and life aboard the freighter becomes perilous. Guest starring are Jeff Fahey as Frank Lapidus, Lance Reddick as Matthew Abaddon, Marc Vann as doctor, Kevin Durand as Keamy, Anthony Azizi as Omar, Grant Bowler as Captain Gault, John Terry as Christian Shephard, Holland Roden as Emily, Rebecca Tilney as Emily's mother, Amanda Carlin as ER nurse, Patrick Torres as ER doctor, Doug Hutchison as Horace Goodspeed, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Matthew Pedersen as physical therapist, Mandy June Turpin as Florence, Sarah Duval as Melissa, Charles Henry Wyson as John Locke (age 5), Phil Abrams as Gellert and Caleb Steinmeyer as John Locke (age 16).
Episode Breakdown: There are so many gasp-worthy items in that description, I hardly know where to begin. Let's start with the guest stars…
Alpert. Thank you, Writer's Strike. We all complained about it at the time, but if it wasn’t for the writer's strike, Nestor Carbonell's short lived series "Cane" might not have gotten cancelled, and CBS (the worst network on TV) probably wouldn't have allowed Nestor to jump over to ABC for a guest spot on Lost. But thankfully, the writers striked (stroke?), I was able to get married without the distraction of Lost, and we get the ageless Richard Alpert back. So in a way, the strike was a blessing in disguise.
If you recall, Richard is really the only honest-to-goodness pre-Dharma Other we've met on the Island (since he's the only one we saw before the Purge, you could argue that Tom, Pickett, etc. were all recruits by Ben after he took over) – which explains why although we’ve gotten numerous Ben and Juliet flashbacks, we still have no idea who these Island Original “Others” are, what their purpose on the Island is, or if they really do not age. For many viewers (like me), Richard Alpert has been the key to getting answers to these questions, so I couldn’t be happier for his return.
When we last left Alpert, he was leading the Others to the Temple at Ben’s request. Although I tempted to hope that this week finally gives us a glimpse at this “temple”, with all the other non-Other guest stars listed in “Cabin Fever”, it seems unlikely that the story will progress that far this week… but I’m still holding out hope for a temple visit in the three part season finale. But we digress. A lot has happened since we last saw Alpert, which forces us to re-evaluate his character.
For one, the Season Three Lost DVDs came out, which confirmed that Alpert is a leader of the Others, responsible for selecting a leader. The commentary for “The Man from Tallahassee” compared him to the Panchen Lama (the guy who picks the Dali Lama – for more, study up on Tibetan Buddhism). This gives a whole new understanding to Alpert’s encounter with a childhood Ben outside the Dharma Barracks during “The Man Behind The Curtain”. Did Alpert know that Ben would become the future leader of the Others? Was the Purge a test for Ben to prove his worth before he could become leader? Was there some prophecy that foretold of a non-Island boy coming to lead the Others?
It’s unclear, but the important thing is that with this knowledge, you could argue that through his actions last season, he was “grooming” John Locke to become the next leader of the Others. Alpert was told Locke the truth about Ben trying to expose him as being weak for not being able to kill Anthony Cooper and even provided him with an “out” of the situation by revealing Cooper’s relationship with Sawyer. Likewise, Alpert openly questioned Ben’s methods of leadership (focusing on pregnancy) and showed concern when Locke “had an accident” after his trip with Ben to see Jacob the first time. His return this episode might mean we are one step closer to Locke becoming the leader of the Others (more on this later).
As for his non-aging for the past thirty years, we now have a few options to help explain it. For one, we’ve gotten a pretty good indication of funky time and space on the Island through Ben’s transport to Tunisia. It’s reasonable to think that Alpert could simply be hopping back and forth through time on the Island to be at critical junctures, but is aging quite normally. On the other hand, we’ve got this week’s episode preview featuring an apologetic Horace Goodspeed mentioning he’s been dead for 12 years. Unless TV shows and movies have lied to me in the past, dead people don’t age – they keep the appearance they had when they died. This could mean that Alpert died years ago, but has appeared to Ben, Locke, and the Others as a ghost / Island Spirit that doesn’t age.
However, I’m really pulling for this theory to be wrong. Although last week I hypothesized that Claire could already be dead (and be walking around and interacting with people like the also dead Christian Shephard), the more I think about it, the more “cheap” and “sci-fi” it seems. I would much prefer for Claire to be alive, Christian to be a manifestation of the Island Spirit, and Alpert to be living forever thanks to his communion with the Island and its “rules”. Yes, that’s right - somehow I can accept manifestations of Island Spirits and people living forever much better than I can accept ghosts that interact with people. I can’t explain it either.
Goodspeed. However, that wouldn’t explain Horace Goodspeed. For those who don’t remember, we’ve seen Horace before – he was the man who was driving by when Ben was born, recruited his father to come work on the Island, and died in the Purge of the Dharma Initiative (note: based on his comment in the episode preview, the Purge must have taken place in 1992 –which sorta conflicts with the timeline established by other events on the show – but we won’t get caught up with that).
So how do we explain Horace’s guest appearance this episode? The easy answer would be that he’s a manifestation of the Island. Locke seeing Horace (someone he doesn’t know) really isn’t any different than Hurley seeing Christian earlier this season – the manifestations don’t seem to be necessarily related to a figure from each character’s past. But what would be the purpose of his appearance? To warn Locke about Ben’s treachery in the past? To enlighten Locke of the higher goals of the Dharma Initiative? Neither seem like a good reason – but they’re the best I can come up with. Maybe he’s just there to torment Benjamin Linus for his past sins. I’m just really hoping it’s not that he’s a ghost leading Locke to the Ghost Town where all the former members of Dharma are happily living.
Jacob. Although there are a thousand questions about Jacob inside my head, the biggest one for right now is “why Hurley?” I can understand that the Cabin isn’t so much a physical place, and moves around the Island from time to time. I can understand that Jacob can appear as other people, seem to be talking to other dead people, and is an all-knowing and all-powerful being. But what I can’t understand is Hurley’s connection to all this. Why did Hurley see the Cabin in the first place? Why is he needed to find the Cabin again?
Did Hurley just accidentally stumble upon the Cabin earlier this season? Is the last person to visit the Cabin required to find it again? Is Hurley not really needed, but has “seen too much” and must be taken care of? Or did Hurley suddenly make Jacob’s list as a “chosen one”?
There are so many questions about Jacob, without even getting into his nature. Is he a ghost? Is he the manifestation of the Island? Was he an original Island inhabitant who has been dead for years? Is he really as wise and powerful as Ben claims? If so, why can’t he take care of the Freightors himself? If the Cabin really does move around, then why is there a map for it? And if there’s a map for it, why is Hurley needed?
Sorry guys – there’s so many questions and I don’t have a good answer for any of them. We really don’t seem any closer to knowing Jacob now than we did after his first appearance during “The Man Behind the Curtain”, so I’ll leave it up to you and this episode to figure out.
Freightors. But enough about potential ghost spirits – there are plenty of other non-Sixth Sense-y mysteries surrounding this episode. This episode preview seemed to show a scene between Michael and Keamy on the Freighter… but Keamy has been on the Island for the past two episodes. Does this episode start out with a flashback to “three days ago” to fill us in with what happened on the Freighter since we last left it? Is time really so funky that Keamy is arguing with Michael two days in Freighter time after he murdered Alex in Island time? Or did last week’s episode hint that Frank was taking Keamy and the remaining Freightors back to the ship, where their confrontation with Michael will occur in “real-time”?
You’ll also notice that the creeptastic Abaddon is scheduled to appear this week – how he fits in is even more of a mystery. It didn’t seem as though he was on the Freighter, and this week’s flashbacks clearly deal with the childhood of John Locke (more on this coming up!). So what’s the timeframe we’re looking at here?
Well, I don’t really see Keamy leaving the Island until he gets Benjamin Linus – he strikes me as a man on a mission, who doesn’t retreat due to the minor setback of a few casualties of his team, so I’m betting the episode starts with brief Freighter flashback to bring us up to speed on what we missed. This could feature a conversation between the Captain and Abaddon happening (discussing what to do with Michael now that he has been revealed to be a Survivor of Oceanic 815? Or just talking about their weekend plans). I also think that this might be a result of our current strike-shortened season, where we have writers cramming the story in as tight as possible even if it means a mini-flashback such as this. Given a few more episodes this season, I’m sure we would have had another episode before now that featured a Freightor flashback to help bridge the gap between the stories. It’s all leading up to the eventual collision of the Freighter Survivors (Sayid), Team Island (Hurley), Team Rescue (Kate, Sun, and Jack), and Team Walking Through the Jungle (Aaron) who must meet up to become “The Oceanic Six” and get rescued before the season ends.
Locke. As for this week’s flashbacks, it’s pretty obvious by the guest stars that we’re looking at a John Locke version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The “Emily” listed as a guest star would likely be Locke’s mother – but instead of being played by Swoosie Kurtz (as in previous episodes), it’s the younger, hotter Holland Roden.
The inclusion of an ER Nurse and Doctor hint that we might witness the birth of John Locke this week, which explains the difference in actresses. I mean, Swoosie is a great actress and I, but I don’t really think she could pull off playing a 15 year old. In addition, the guest stars indicate we’ll have scenes featuring John Locke at age 5 and 16 – but why?
What could we possibly learn about John Locke at such an early age that will add to our understanding with him or tie in with the current Island storyline? We’ve already seen what a truly crappy pre-Island life Locke had – people taking advantage of him at every turn, longing to belong, confined to a wheelchair. Will these vignettes of his youth feature him getting bullied around and picked on in school? His mom cursing him the moment he was born?
I don’t think so.
Rather, I think this is a very big week for John Locke. The week he finds the “greater purpose” he’s been hunting for since he arrived on this Island.
Let’s add up the pieces. Although his mom was certifiably crazy, she claimed that Locke was “immaculately conceived”. Both Ben and Alpert have hinted at Locke’s importance on the Island. From his first encounter with Smokey, Locke seems to have been on a spiritual journey with the Island. Although he’s had a few stumbles and crises of faith along the way, here he is, about to make a second journey to Jacob for the purpose of defending the Island from invaders.
I think now is the time for John Locke to come into his own, to become the leader of the Others, to start learning the secrets of the Island, and to step up to protect it.
As for the flashbacks this week? What if John Locke really was destined to end up on this Island? What if the flashbacks features scenes where he almost got hit by a car as a kid, or avoided a falling piano that make us question if it was just dumb luck or truly fate that got him this far. Or perhaps we’ll even see random acts of strangers help guide him along the way – strangers who we later see on the Island as non-aging Others at the Temple with Alpert? That would be pretty mind-blowing, right?
That’s my hope for this week. Evidence of Locke’s greater purpose, setting the wheels in motion to bring all parties together in the huge finale, some reveals about the nature of Jacob and the Others, and gratuitous scenes of Kate in a bikini. Is that so much to ask? The episode description (which we actually didn’t even discuss) states “Locke is enlightened as to the whereabouts of Jacob's cabin, and life aboard the freighter becomes perilous”.
Like I said, I’m totally over-hyping this episode… which means no matter how great it is, we’ll all be disappointed now – but that’s my bad. I can’t help but think this episode is going to be absolutely huge.