Friday, February 27, 2009

"The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" Analysis!

Before we get down to analyzin' this week, I wanted to make a quick note about the "Instant Reaction" posts I do each week. Basically, once the episode ends, I sit down and type nonstop for about fifteen minutes about whatever immediately comes to mind about the episode. There is usually no research, no double-checking of facts, or logically thinking through what I’m writing. It's just my fingers going as fast as they can about whatever thoughts are running through my mind. I know that there are often spelling, grammar, and logic errors - and appreciate that people point them out in the Comments Section. Understand that these aren't my final thoughts about the episode, just what's going through my mind the instant that the episode ends - which is why when I sit down to actually think about it and write my analysis, often I've shifted views on some things. There's no need to get worked up or complain about whatever I say in my "Instant Reactions", because chances are - if it's crazy talk, I'll get it corrected when I do the analysis. My goal with the "Instant Reactions" is just to get my thoughts out as quickly as possible, so that you don’t have to wait for the weekend to hear them… even if those thoughts might be a little wacky.


On to "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham". I stand by my initial review of the episode. It was a functional episode, but I feel like it left a lot to be desired. Locke's meetings with the Oceanic Six were all pretty disappointing, in some cases bringing up seeming inconsistencies with what we have seen and heard in prior episodes. Cases in point:


BEN: And what did he say to you?

JACK: He told me... that after I left the island, some very bad things happened. And he told me that it was my fault for leaving. And he said that I had to come back.


KATE: Who do you think you are?! You call me over and over again for two days straight, stoned on your pills! And then you show up here with an obituary for Jeremy Bentham. (Sighs) When he came to me and I heard what he had to say, I knew he was crazy. But you... you believed him.

JACK: Yes.

KATE: Him, of all people.

JACK: Yes, Kate, I did, because he said that that was the only way that I could keep you safe--you and Aaron.


Really? Did I miss the part of Jack's two-minute conversation with Locke where he told him that the very bad things happening on the Island were Jack's fault for leaving? Or where he said going back was the only way to keep Kate and Aaron safe?


At first I thought "maybe Jack will run into Locke again in some flashback and we'll see these conversations happen", but the more I think about the timeline, the more unlikely that seems. It appears as though Locke's encounter with Jack this week is the first time the two have met since he has been off the Island. When Locke is attempting to kill himself, he still has the injuries from the car accident, which makes me assume it's only a few days later. That's a pretty small window of time for Locke and Jack to reunite… and I also don't see how that scene would fit into any future flashbacks for either character. This episode seemed to be "the one that shows what Locke did off the Island". While we may get some future flashbacks showing the falling out between Sayid, Sun's interactions with Widmore, or what Kate did with Aaron, I don't think we'll get any more involving Locke or Jack - because outside of these continuity errors (that only the obsessive among us would notice), they pretty much wrapped up all the other necessary off-Island storylines for both characters.


Unfortunately, this contributes to the difficulty I have in understanding exactly why Locke's death would drive Jack to kill himself, why Kate would flip out when Jack showed her the obituary for Jeremy Bentham, or why Sayid would suddenly gain such a hatred towards Locke where he wouldn't want his name mentioned. Those little details all kept the suspense and excitement going last season about exactly what happened in the three years since the Oceanic Six returned to the "real world", but the payoff and explanation of them was lacking for me (at least for now).


Maybe this is why over-analyzing and obsessing about the show is a bad thing - because I'm guessing that the more casual viewer was totally satisfied with "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham", and didn't even notice. But here's hoping the payoff for the other series-long mysteries on Lost are much better!


Widmore. We learned a lot about Charles Widmore this week, but the information he provided raises more questions than answers (otherwise known as "The Lost Way"). The facts are these:


1937 - Charles Widmore is born

1954 - Charles Widmore is on the Island

1992 - The Purge happens on the Island

1994 - Widmore begins funding Faraday's research

1995 - Desmond meets Penny

1996 - Desmond asks Widmore for Penny's hand in marriage

Widmore claims that he "led his people for three decades" before he was exiled by Ben


Doing some quick math, even if Widmore was the leader of the Others in 1954 (which it didn't appear), that puts us around 1984 that he was still on the Island (at least). If Ben "tricked him" into exile off the Island, you actually have to put this date closer to the Purge in 1992 - since until then, it's assumed that Ben wouldn't have had enough power / knowledge / contact to pull such a trick on Widmore. How could Widmore go from being Island Leader in the early 1990s to being corporate boss / jerk to Desmond in the mid-1990s? It really doesn’t seem like there's enough time to explain his rise to power - unless the Others already had an established "shell company" that Widmore simply stepped into the leadership role for and slapped his name on it. And how does Penny fit into all this? Was born on the Island? Is Charles Widmore not her biological father? The earliest information we have on her is that she was dating Desmond in 1996 - at which time she was at least in her late 20's, meaning she was born in the 1970's.


It's confusing, and there are a few ways to tackle this, but in true Lost…and Gone Forever fashion, I think the easiest is probably with a wacky, all-encompassing theory that will probably last exactly one week before being proven wrong by next week's episode...


Let's assume that Widmore becomes leader of the Others around the time we saw him in 1954. He's an "up and comer" among the Others - his strong will, fiercely loyal to the cause, and strong jaw-line make him a logical choice to lead "his people". Roughly twenty years pass without any incident, taking us to the 1970's. Then along comes the Dharma Initiative. The Others aren't big fans of Dharma digging up their Island, building concrete stations, and polluting their Island with Dharma Beer Cans. This creates an internal debate among the Others about how to deal with them.


On one side is Charles Widmore, who realizes by observing Dharma that there is a lot of potential for the Island to make the world a better place by using its "unique properties" to cure cancers, make people live forever, take rides on Smokey, etc. Heck, maybe you could make a little money in the process to be able to build fancy houses for the Others filled with new TVs and fancy cheeses. He might have even proposed to partner up with Dharma to work towards this "the greater good".


On the other side is Richard Alpert, who likes things they way they've always been, just wants to get rid of Dharma, keep the Island secret, and go back to being a long-haired hippie. Capitalism be damned! He finds a like-minded individual in young Benjamin Linus, and begins to "recruit him".


Years later, it's pretty clear which faction wins the argument, as the Others use Ben to help carry out the Purge, wiping Dharma from the Island. Suddenly Ben is the new "up and comer" among the Others, creating instant friction between Ben and Widmore. As Ben is a pretty tricky guy, he's able to trick Widmore into leaving the Island, effectively putting Ben in a newly vacated position of leadership among the Others.


Lucky for Widmore, he knows enough of the secrets of the Others to collect some of their stashes of money hidden in various locales around the world, uses his clout as former leader of the Others to step in as the leader of the Others off-Island corporation, which he renames as Widmore Industries and goes on with life… but deep down inside yearns to return to the Island. Over the years he gathers information on how to get back by buying the Black Rock Journal, discovering the Lamp Post, and eventually puts together the Freighter team with the goal of removing Ben from the Island, paving the way for his triumphant return… where he can pick up his mission of using the Island for his original altruistic / monetary goals.


What about Penny? I think the easiest answer is that Widmore and TBD Female Lover had her on the Island in the 1970's. Widmore knew that there was a potential for some bad things to go down with the Great Dharma Debate, and sends Penny and TBD Female Lover off the Island to keep them safe. Penny grows up in the real world with no knowledge of the Island. Widmore may even visit her from time to time, but spends a good deal of time "away on business trips", which is actually when he is on the Island.


If you want to get really crazy, let's make TBD Female Lover into Ellie Hawking. Then you could go all Star Wars and have Penny and Faraday be brother and sister, which could explain why Widmore was funding Faraday's experiments (or maybe it was just because he thought Faraday could help Widmore find the Island again), and could explain why Ms. Hawking was in the Lamp Post (because Widmore sent her there to get the place up and running again to help find the Island).


It's not a perfect theory, but it's a good enough place holder for this week. Who is good and who is evil? It depends on which side you come down on - Ben represents protecting the secrecy of the Island, Widmore represents opening up the Island for the greater good. Ben uses trickery, deception, and mass murder to work towards his goals. Widmore uses money, power, and influence.



Ben. As for Benjamin Linus, this week confirmed that he lies approximately 90% of the time and kills people the other 10%. He admitted to killing Abaddon, claiming that it was only a matter of time before Abaddon would have killed Locke - probably a lie - and then proceeded to kill Locke himself (irony!).


But why did Ben kill Locke? If he was going to kill him anyways, why not just let him actually commit suicide? Two possible answers here:

1. In some religions (Catholicism), killing yourself is a big-time sin. Perhaps the Others believe the same, and Locke couldn't be "the chosen one" if he had killed himself. Ben, knowing that Locke needed to die to convince the Oceanic Five to return to the Island, took one for the team and killed him - since it would achieve the same results without Locke falling from grace. Given that the Others have committed mass murder via the Purge, and used Locke killing his father as a sign that he was ready to be their new leader, it seems unlikely that they would have some rule against killing yourself… especially since Alpert told Locke "you're going to have to die" instead of "you're going to be murdered", as if leaving the door open for Locke to carry out the action himself. This was confirmed by Abaddon this episode when he asks whether Richard Alpert's prediction that Locke must die is predetermined or whether it's a choice. Locke asks how it could possibly be his choice to die but Abaddon doesn't answer - again insinuating that Locke might get to the point where his only option to convince the Oceanic Five to return to the Island is to kill himself.


You could argue that Abaddon (and, by association Widmore) are trying to get Locke to kill himself because that will suddenly make him "unworthy" and open the door for Widmore to step in and reclaim his role as "leader of the Others" - making Ben the good guy by allowing Locke to retain his position… but it seems like a bit of a stretch.


2. The other, much more logical explanation is that Ben needed information from Locke. He kept Locke from killing himself until he got the information he needed, and then proceeded with killing him - because it needed to be done. In this scenario, it's true that Locke needed to die in order for the Oceanic Five to return to the Island, but Ben has cleverly inserted himself into the scenario - kinda like he cleverly inserted himself into being a part of moving the Island by turning the FDW last season. Now, instead of Widmore stepping in after Locke's death to bring him back to the Island, Ben does.


The two pieces of information that Ben learns from Locke during the scene are why he hasn't contacted Sun, and where he is headed next (visiting Ms. Hawking). Earlier in the scene, Ben confirms that he knows Ms. Hawking… which pretty much confirms that she is an Outcast Other (since Ben spent the majority of his life on the Island). Based on the earlier Widmore theory, this probably means that Widmore, Ben, and Ms. Hawking were all on the Island at the same time for some period in the past. What if Ms. Hawking, this all-knowing mysterious Other knew that someone was destined to visit her and bring a dead John Locke and the Oceanic Five back to the Island, but didn't know who that was supposed to be? Ben could easily approach her and present himself as the "man behind the mission" - convincing Ms. Hawking to explain to him what needs to be done to return to the Island.


Just like Widmore said to Ben last season "everything you have you took from me". First the Island, now his plan to get back to the Island. What a jerk.



Island. The last major item to discuss this week is the on-Island action. I must admit, I was pretty surprised to get any on-Island action - and although we only got a few brief scenes, they revealed quite a bit. As I mentioned in my Instant Reactions, I think that (for some reason) we have the Survivors of Ajira Airways 316 spread out over two different time periods. Last week, we learned that Jack, Kate, and Hurley are currently in the same time period as Jin - who is driving what appears to be a "new" 1970's Dharma Van. They are on the main Island, near the waterfall we saw in Season One.


This week, we found out that Ben, Locke, Caesar, Ilana, and every other member of Ajira Airways 316 are in the same time period. According to Caesar, everyone apart from those that disappeared have been accounted for. What about Sun and Sayid? Are they "accounted for", or did they "disappear"? Based on the facts of the past two episodes, their fate is still up in the air… but based on the episode preview for next week, it's a little more clear.


***For those who don't like to speculate about things we see in episode previews, you'll probably want to stop reading now.***


In the episode preview, we see a scene with Sun standing in the foreground and Ben standing in the background. Ben still has his arm in a sling, and displays the signs of the mysterious beating he took before boarding Ajira 316… meaning she's in the same time period as the Ajira 316ers. But what time period are they in? Well, using a little deduction skills, it's safe to say they are in "the present" or 2008. We actually do see that the Ajira plane crashed nearby the "runway" that Kate and Sawyer were building in Season Three (meaning it's after 2004). We also find out that "the pilot and some a woman" left in one of the canoes during the night, leaving two behind. If you remember back to "The Little Prince", our Skipping Survivors came upon their old beach camp (which had long since been abandoned) along with two canoes. Again, this puts the time for this particular "skip" as at least 2005 or later.



I'm guessing that at some point, some Ajira 316ers take a canoe over to the main Island (probably accompanied by Ben or Locke). This would put two canoes on the Island, and explain the Ajira Airways water bottle that our Skipping Survivors found in one of the canoes. It also sets up the scene from "The Little Prince" where someone starts to chase and shoot after our Skipping Survivors, resulting in Juliet shooting one of them. Currently, I don’t see why any of the Ajira 316ers (or "the pilot and some woman") would chase after our Skipping Survivors and shoot at them, so the Backriggers could still be anyone.


The moral of the story is that Ajira 316 is in at least 2005… and I'm guessing it's actually in 2008 for simplicity sake. This means that although Sun has successfully returned to the Island, she is about 30 years too late to run into Jin. Hello instant drama.


What about Sayid? Although I have little to base this on, I think he's in 2008 as well. Given that Hurley, Kate, and Jack all landed pretty close to each other, I would assume that if Sayid "skipped" off the plane, he would have ended up near them as well. I also think that Ilana would have mentioned if he was one of the ones that disappeared during the crash - instead of Caesar commenting about Hurley. But he could still go either way.


So, with a little analyzing of the preview scenes, that gives us the following:


1970's - Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, Kate, Jack, Hurley, Miles, Faraday

2008 - Locke, Ben, Frank, Sun, Sayid, Caesar, Ilana, and a slew of redshirts to get killed


As for "the Pilot and a woman", I assume they're talking about Frank and Sun. It would make sense that Sun, uber-excited about reuniting with Jin, would realize that she is on Alcatraz, and needs to go to the main Island to find him. She probably was about to run off on her own, but Frank stopped her and offered to come along for protection / help, since he's also been to the Island before. I'm guessing that the second canoe that goes to the main Island next episode will contain Locke, Ben, Sayid, Caesar, and Ilana… making one of them a great candidate to get shot and killed by Juliet in the very near future. Yikes.


Also, things are not looking so great for John Locke himself. Although he completed his mission successfully, is back on the Island he loves and came back to life (which constitute a pretty good day, if you ask me), Walt's visions of a suited Locke (check) being surrounded by people who want to hurt him sounds like the party is going to be over pretty quickly.


As for Caesar and Ilana, I'm not sure what to make of them yet. It's possible neither knew each other before Ajira 316, and have quickly bonded in the face of disaster similar to how Kate and Jack did after Oceanic 815. Or, maybe one or both have sinister intentions, are Outcast Others, or Widmore's people. The options are endless at this point.


Time. Lastly, I think it's a good idea to step back and look at the big picture, from a timeline perspective. In 2008, Caesar finds what appears to be Faraday's journal and CFL's maps inside the Hydra Station. Was this where he worked on figuring out how to get the Skipping Survivors back to their proper timeline? And what happened to him? For that matter, what happened to any of them? If they are alive and on the Island in the 1970's, they would eventually reach 2004 and 2008 (assuming they survived the Purge). If they successfully found a way to go "Back to the Future" (I should trademark that, it sounds catchy), then they would simply skip the next 20-30 years and are  sitting on the main Island alive and well. If not, they have lived a whole lot of life on the Island, and it makes you wonder where they were spending their time in 2004 to avoid running into themselves (maybe at the Others' Temple?)


Furthermore, what has happened to the Others since 2005? Locke disappeared, but they didn't. Who stepped up to become their new leader? What have they been doing for the past three years? Without a leader, did they fall apart and become savages? Are they back to "protectionary" mode, attacking any new people who appear on the Island (could they be the Backriggers)? And what about Vincent, Rose, and Bernard? How do they factor into all these events? Did they die of nosebleeds? Are they in the 1970's working for Dharma as well? Remember how surprised we were to have our Survivors all back together on the Island so quickly this season? Well, they aren't there yet - I have to assume the end-game for this season will be the reunion of all our Survivors in the same timeline, allowing the last season to bring the storyline forward, and to conclusion.


…and I think that's all I've got for this week. What did I miss? What was I terribly, terribly wrong about? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Three Word Review: Rushed But Functional

Even though we got an extra six minutes for the episode, I feel like we needed another sixty to get the full story of Locke's time off the Island. Although we got all the "necessary scenes" of Locke interacting with the Oceanic Six to complete the storyline, they all pretty much played out like we expected without any huge surprises... and all were condensed into three minute scenes. If this is the only time we'll see Locke's off-Island escapades (which I'm assuming), I guess I'm a little confused by some of the reactions we saw in the aftermath of Locke dying (being murdered!)

For example, I know that Jack was being "haunted" by visions of his dead father, telling him the same stuff about "going back to the Island" that Locke told him... but why would Jack finding out about Locke's "suicide" lead him to nearly committing suicide himself? Kate's visit with Locke seemed pretty friendly, yet she slapped Jack and freaked out when he attempted to say his name at the airport in the Season Three Finale / Season Four Premiere. It was probably just a plot device to keep the identity of the person in the coffin a mystery - but looking back on it now, it doesn't really seem to mesh well together.

But I nitpick. This was still a great episode, with a lot of stuf to digest. Most importantly, it advanced the storyline like it needed to do, allowing us to get to the "good stuff" that hasn't happened yet on the Island, rather than focusing on telling the story of what already happened off the Island.

Here's what we need to discuss:

Time. Even though everyone is back on the Island, it looks like our characters aren't quite all "back together" yet. It just wouldn't be Lost without flashes between multiple storylines / timelines, would it? Here's what it's looking like:

1970's - Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, Jack, Kate, Hurley
2008 - Locke, Ben, Sun, Sayid, Frank

(Why did some skip and others did not? You've got me!)

Futhermore, we've got all these new Ajira Survivors on Alcatraz (note: they didn't land on the "runway" - which was a pretty ridiculous theory when you think about it). Personally, I am SHOCKED that the airplane actually crashed on the Island. The "skip" of our Survivors out seemed like a much cleaner storyline to me. But what would Lost be without super complicated storylines?

Lastly, Caesar and Ilana may have sketchy backgrounds (it's Lost - everyone does!), but as of now, it's not looking like either are actually Outcast Others or working with Ben.

Ben. There's a chance the writers are just really setting us up for a huge surprise when we find out Ben is a "good guy" in the end - but if they are, they're doing one hell of a job. Once again,this week's episode made Widmore seems like the good guy, Ben seems like the bad guy - BIG TIME. We can now confirm that he has pretty much lied about everything off the Island (intentionally lying to Sun about Jin being alive, MURDERING John Locke, killing Abaddon, etc.) I know Lost is all about blurring the line between good and evil, but it seems pretty obvious right now. Ben is one bad dude.

There's also the question about motive. Upcon learning (or confirming) that Locke was working with Widmore / Ms. Hawking, Ben killed him - as if he was an "opposing side" in the "war". However, he worked to accomplish the same goal as Widmore - getting the Oceanic Five back to the Island, even going so far as to work with Ms. Hawking, which Widmore would have done as well (so it seems). So what's the deal with this war?

Widmore. So we confirmed this week that Widmore used to be the leader of the Others (who he just calls "his people") - at least in his mind, until Ben tricked him into leaving the Island. Apparently Widmore was in charge of his people for over three decades, putting him in charge from 1954 to at least 1984... and maybe right up until the Purge, when Ben took over. This makes us question the logic of Alpert reaching out to Ben in the first place. Was he dissatisfied with Widmore as a leader, and thought that Ben could do a better job? Only to find out that Ben sucked too, leading him to reach out to Locke?

According to Widmore, "A war is coming, and if you're not back on the Island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win." As well as stating that he is "deeply invested in the future of the Island." 

Abaddon. I guess we all should have seen this coming, given that Abaddon is currently starring on another show on another network (in fact, I guess we were lucky Fox let him do this episode in the first place). According to Abaddon, he gets people where they need to go... and now we understand how and why Abaddon was in the rehab center with Locke back in the day. Since Widmore met Locke at the age of 17, once he "grew up" and got "tricked" off the Island, he probably was on the lookout for this "John Locke" character - and sent Abaddon after him to ensure he ends up on the Island (although, again - if you can't change the past, there was really nothing to worry about, right?)

Third Boat. This episode seems to confirm that the Skipping Survivors killed one of the Ajira Survivors, who chased after them when they suddenly appeared - but who? The good news is, with "the Pilot and a girl" taking the third boat (who I assume is Frank and Sun), they seem to be safe. This leaves Ben, Locke, Caesar, Ilana, or some stranger as the potential casualty of Juliet's return fire. 

Walt. I hate to say it, but I think we're done with the Walt storyline. Locke said "he's already been through enough" and seemed to make the executive decision to spare him from any future trama with returning to the Island. If Locke is indeed the future leader, I think he'd have the authority to make such a decision, just like Ben could decide that Michael and Walt were allowed to leave the Island. Although, it's scary forshadowing that Walt talked about having visions of Locke in a suit being chased by people (or something along those lines). It doesn't seem like it's going to be an easy return to the Island for Locke.

So the big question is - where do we go from here? If we have half of our characters in the "present" (2008) and half in the past (1970's), it looks like Faraday working to get our characters back into the proper timeline will indeed be the major storyline to carry the rest of the season. As for characters like Desmond, Walt, and Aaron? I'm afraid they're going to be delegated to the background for now. I have a hard time believing the writers will juggle a THIRD storyline , location, and timeline in the mix right now... but again, Lost thrives on super-complicated multiple storylines - so you never know. I would bet they are bigger players next season than this one. 

Holy crap - that was basically a full analysis of the episode. My bad. I'll try to think of something new to write for the analysis :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lost - "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham"

Apparently I’m a big liar and you can’t take me for my word. Less than 48 hours ago I told you there would be no episode preview this week, and maybe no more episode previews from this point forward. I put forth a logical argument to explain axing them, reasoning that no one would really miss them since based on the Comments Section, more people seemed to complain about them than enjoyed them.


But just like that one time in college when I said “I’m never drinking again”, yet was drinking again less than 12 hours later, here I am, writing an episode preview. Turns out that people really do enjoy them, have nothing but hatred for those that complain about them being “spoilers”, and without them the Lost experience for thousands of people would be much less enjoyable and their lives would lose all meaning. I can’t handle that on my conscience. Who am I to deny people such happiness and life fulfillment during a Global Recession?


However, my arguments against the episode previews were still pretty sound. It does seem like we’re getting less and less to go on each week as the season progresses, leaving me with less and less to analyze without just making stuff up. So I am going to make a concerted effort to make these things a little shorter and sweeter, as dictated by each episode’s title and description. As you’ll soon see, there was a reason I picked this week to attempt this experiment – it’s one of the most straight-forward and episode-description-less episodes of Lost of all time.


Episode Title: “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”


Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: So we all know what’s going to happen this week… or so we think. We know the episode is going to start with Locke getting off the Island after turning the FDW, he’ll pay a visit to the Oceanic Six, and will end with Locke dying. But something tells me there’s going to be some pretty amazing scenes filling in the gaps between these overall episode tent poles. As for the episode title, there’s nothing deep about it – no reference to a book, movie, song, or historical event… except for the symbolism of Locke choosing to go by the alias of “Jeremy Bentham” in the first place. So who was Jerry Bentham?


According to the Internet (so it has to be true), Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and political radical. He was primarily known today for his moral philosophy, especially his principle of utilitarianism, which evaluates actions based upon their consequences. The relevant consequences, in particular, are the overall happiness created for everyone affected by the action. Influenced by many enlightenment thinkers, especially empiricists such as John Locke and David Hume, Bentham developed an ethical theory grounded in a largely empiricist account of human nature. He famously held a hedonistic account of both motivation and value according to which what is fundamentally valuable and what ultimately motivates us is pleasure and pain. Happiness, according to Bentham, is thus a matter of experiencing pleasure and lack of pain.


So what does that mean?


Aside from the blatant John Locke – Jeremy Bentham connection, Bentham’s utilitarian views are all about doing “the greater good”. Even though he also believed in pleasure over pain, (and I have to think that killing yourself would hurt at least a little), there’s nothing like suffering a little pain in order to create a lot of pleasure for lot of other people (that sounds dirty). You know, like sacrificing yourself to save a mysterious Island, helping the Oceanic Five find peace in life by returning to said mysterious Island, or helping to prevent the space-time continuum from ripping apart… any or all of which could be argued to be John Locke’s “mission” off the Island.


Hello utilitarianism!



Episode Description: Locke's fateful mission off the island as Jeremy Bentham is revealed.


Guest Stars: Malcolm David Kelley as Walt, John Terry as Christian Shephard, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Lance Reddick as Matthew Abaddon, William Blanchett as Aaron, Said Taghmaoui as Caesar, Zuleikha Robinson as Ilana, Ammar Daraiseh as Hajer, Grisel Toledo as Susie, Stephen Scibetta as foreman and John Jamal Bradley as kid.


Guest Star Breakdown: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLTTTTTTTTTTT! Our favorite special-powered man-child is back, and it’s about damn time. If this is going to be our token “Walt appearance for Season Five”, I hope it’s a worthwhile one, where Locke explains why he was so special, if he really needs to return to the Island or not, and hopefully squeeze in a quick game of backgammon for old time’s sake. Everyone has kinda assumed that Walt would return to the Island and factor into the endgame of Lost – but with each passing season without reference to him, I think that’s becoming less and less likely. Unless some foundation is laid for Walt’s reappearance in the future, we might have been wrong about Walt’s overall importance to the show all along.


On the other hand, back in Season One most of us would probably thought that Christian Shephard appearances would remain a rare occasion – mostly when Jack was hallucinating / drunk – or in his flashbacks. Yet Christian Shephard has become one of the most prominent and mysterious guest stars this season, so his appearance isn’t too surprising… until you remember that this episode will probably take place 100% off the Island, and 100% from the perspective of John Locke. I’m guessing this means that even though Locke turned the wheel and ended up off the Island, he still doesn’t know what he actually needs to do – and will need a little spiritual guidance from the Island in the form of Christian Shephard as he goes about his “mission”.


You’ll also note that Caesar and Ilana appear in this episode. I’m assuming that this episode is 100% “flashback”, meaning Locke probably interacted with them before Ajira Airways Flight 316… increasing the likelihood I posed last week that they were Outcast Others, who had been “helping” Locke on his mission off the Island over the past few years.


But for me, the most exciting guest star this week is Matthew “That Guy Now on Fringe” Abaddon. He’s the creepy tall black guy equivalent of Ms. Hawking, someone who seems to know a lot about everything, could potentially be a former Other, and might be a major player in orchestrating some of the major events that have occurred on the show thus far. Remember, he was the one who inspired Locke to go on the Walkabout which lead him to the Island in the first place and put together Naomi’s crew on the Freighter, which brought Charlotte, Miles, and Faraday to the Island.


Perhaps the most creepy and intriguing detail of all? Remember the last words that Abaddon said to Locke when they first met – that if Locke did go on the walkabout, when they met again, Locke “would owe him one.” With all of the dichotomy we’ve seen on Lost, it’s possible that Abaddon represents one side in “the battle for the Island” and Ms. Hawking represents the other… much like Ben vs. Widmore… and both sides might be fighting for control and influence over John Locke... I mean “Jeremy Bentham”. When Abaddon comes “collecting”, here’s hoping he’s got the best interests of our Survivors at heart… and isn’t trying to bring about the end of the world. Remember, in the Bible “Abaddon” means "A place of destruction", "The Destroyer", "Depths of Hell" and is the King of tormenting locusts and the angel of the bottomless pit.


Sounds happy!


Episode Breakdown: After over a full season of waiting, Locke's fateful mission off the island as Jeremy Bentham is finally revealed. 

We’ll find out what he said to each member of the Oceanic Six as he visited them (or if he visited all of them), as well as what led him to the decision to kill himself (if he really did kill himself). It’s probably the most anticipated episode of the season thus far, needing an extra 6 minutes to tell its tale (check your DVR now to make sure it’s going to 10:06 pm EST!) but ironically is the one episode we’ll have all season where we already know what’s going to happen in the beginning, the middle, and the end. We’ve all discussed countless theories about what happened during Locke’s time off the Island over the past year, but it’s finally time to find out the truth.

You all should probably be pretty excited about it.


…and there you have it, a half-assed, quickie episode preview for an episode that really didn’t need one. But I aim to please.


Happy Losting!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"316" Analysis!

I have to admit, this one was a tough episode to break down. A lot of stuff happened, but a lot of it was pretty tough to analyze – not because it was confusing, but because it didn’t “fit” with things that we have seen over the past few seasons. But here’s my best attempt!


Time. Once again this week, we better start with the question of "time" on Lost, specifically in regards to the jaw-drop-tastic ending. Here is what we know:

  • Fact #1 - At some point in the past, Locke turned the FDW, sending him off the Island.
  • Fact #2 - When Jack, Kate, and Hurley return to the Island, Jin is wearing a Dharma Jumpsuit, driving a Dharma Van, and listening to Dharma Music.



Shockingly, outside of those two details, it's all conjecture. So everything from this point forward is based on assumptions and guesses on my part - but could be totally wrong. We just don't know enough. The writers have cleverly left out large chunks of the storyline, allowing the viewer to slowly discover them over the next few episodes. My guess is that next week's episode ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") focuses 100% on Locke's time off the Island, and we have to wait two weeks before we return to the Island to get answers about the timeline. So this will have to hold us over until then.


Assumption #1 - Our Skipping Survivors moved in time when Locke turned the FDW. There was a bright flash of light that accompanied Ben's turning of the FDW, and we all know that caused the first skip, so it seems logical that Locke turning the FDW would cause another skip.


Assumption #2 - Locke not only turned the FDW, but "fixed it". He got it back on its axis and properly aligned. I'm guessing that the reason for the repeated, sometimes rapid skips through time were a result of the FDW being off its proper axis, wobbling between spokes instead of staying on one.


Assumption #3 - This would mean that our Skipping Survivors had "one last skip" that sent them back in time, but have experienced none since then.


Assumption #4 - Since we saw Faraday on the Island when the Orchid was being built, and now Jin on the Island in a new-looking Dharma Van, this skip sent them back to at least the 1970's, if not earlier.


I feel pretty confident about all those assumptions, even though any could be incorrect. But based on the facts and assumptions above, here's my theory:


After Locke turned the FDW, the remaining Skipping Survivors (Sawyer, Jin, Juliet, Faraday, Miles) end up in the late 1970's.


Yes, I know that you could argue that they went back thousands of years, which could conveniently allow these characters to see things like the four-toed statue being built and the Black Rock arriving on the Island, but I think it creates a lot of complications. Even if you suppose that they wouldn't age until they hit their "proper time period" of 2004, I have a hard time believing they would be able to survive on the Island for so long without going crazy, starving to death, falling off a cliff, or being killed by Smokey.


Instead, if you have them end up in the late 1970's, it could coincide with Dharma first showing up on the Island. Knowing that they would need food and shelter to survive in this new timeline, they would sneak into the crowds of people arriving on the Island and signup for random jobs on the Island. The Skipping Survivors would do their best to get by while trying to understand what happened, all the while trying to figure out how they could return to their proper timeline.


I know that last week I proposed that Faraday would become the "big bad" of the rest of the season by messing with the FDW to try and change the past to save Charlotte… but this week I'm thinking the exact opposite. Aren't theories fun? What if instead of doing something sinister in the Orchid Station, Daniel Faraday was doing something heroic - like trying to figure out how to help everyone get back to 2004? That would be a pretty logical explanation, and would keep fan-fave Faraday as one of the "good guys"!


To take it one step farther, you could even have the Skipping Survivors spend three years living on the Island and working for Dharma until the Oceanic Five arrive - that way all of the remaining Survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 would have aged the exact same amount of time as well. The Oceanic Six spent three years off the Island, and our Skipping Survivors spent three years skipping / living on the Island. It's actually a pretty nice and neat explanation for their storyline… almost too convenient to actually be correct.


The Oceanic Five. Luckily, there are all sorts of questions about the Oceanic Five. Before we analyze, let me get one thing out of the way...


I didn't realize it when I wrote my Instant Reactions Review, but Ms. Hawking actually used the phrase "leap of faith" when describing what was required for Jack to return to the Island - and that's exactly what is required for the viewer as well. It's pretty funny, but as comfortable as I am with accepting things on Lost like Smokey, Skipping Through Time, or Non-Aging Alpert, when Ms. Hawking started talking about recreating the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 as closely as possible, it came across as cheesy and ridiculous, and as a whole just didn't sit right with me.

There's no way it can be explained with science, which is fine (although we were promised at the start that everything would be "pseudo-science") - but I would have much preferred some generic reference to "fate" bringing them back rather than Ms. Hawking's attempt at an explanation. When Jack shouted "this is ridiculous", that's exactly what I was thinking, and was glad to hear a character voice my opinion. I know a lot of people are trying to find ways to correlate Ajira Flight 316 to Oceanic Flight 815, but I'm going to intentionally overlook them because I'd simply rather put this part of the storyline behind us, and in my head, I'll pretend that Ms. Hawking just said "there's no way to explain it, Jack. That's why it's called a leap of faith." Tell me that wouldn't have been a thousand times better?!


(Note: this is also how I pretend that Seasons Four and portions of Season Five of Alias never happened, and have a totally different story in my head to replace them)


But I digress. We're moving on! The important thing is that the Oceanic Five ended up on Ajira Airways 316, which allows the story to move forward. As with the Skipping Survivors, it's easy to make assumptions about what happened - but in reality all we know for sure is that Jack, Kate, and Hurley ended up on the Island. So let's address that question first - how did they get from sitting on a plane at 30,000 feet to being on the Island?


We saw that they started to experience turbulence on the plane, followed by a bright light similar to when a skip would happen on the Island. A skip would provide the cleanest, and most convenient explanation, allowing the Oceanic Five to get back to the Island without killing a bunch of innocent people in a plane crash and putting them in the same boat as the rest of the Survivors who never left. Plus, you could argue that if a skip on the Island was happening directly under them at the same time they were flying over, they would be "sucked in" and skip in time, just like our Skipping Survivors.


Note: the suck must have a lot more height to it than it does width, since the Oceanic Six were on a helicopter fewer than 30,000 feet from the Island when Ben turned the FDW, but weren't sucked in at that point.


However, this still doesn't explain how they ended up on the Island. As we have seen through our Skipping Survivors, when the flash happens, you move in time - but not in space (like Locke ending up underground). So if the Oceanic Five were at 30,000 feet in 2008 - they should have ended up at 30,000 feet in the 1970's. Falling that distance to the Island could explain how they ended up so far apart, even though they were a few feet away on the plane - but you would think it would also kill them. I guess we have to chalk this up to "the Island doesn't let you die until it's good and ready".


There’s also the pesky detail that their arrival on the Island didn’t seem to coincide with a “skip” on the Island. Jin’s position inside Dharma seems to indicate that he has been in that time period a decent amount of time… which makes me think he has been “skip-free” for a while. Does this mean that the skips are suddenly only affecting certain people, instead of everyone? Or did it only affect Oceanic Five since they weren’t in the “right place” in the Island’s eyes? Or is this just payback since they didn’t suffer through any skips yet like their fellow Survivors? No answer here, other than “it got them back to the Island, which is the important thing – don’t worry about it!”


We've verified that Jack, Kate, and Hurley end up on the Island. But what about Sayid, Sun, Ben, Frank, or any of the other passengers on the flight? I think it's safe to assume that Sayid and Sun are back on the Island (somewhere), since there is nothing that would make them different than Jack, Kate, and Hurley. To some extent, this would also make you think that Frank ends up on the Island, since he would seemingly be in the same category as Faraday, Miles, and Charlotte - who have been skipping on the Island all along. That leaves us with three wild cards - Ben and the two other mysterious new passengers sitting in first class. They were included in the "Guest Star" listing for the episode as Caesar (creepy guy that talked to Jack) and Ilana (Female Marshall).



As many have point out, if there were random, one-off guest stars, they probably wouldn't have names - and Caesar wouldn’t have talked to Jack this week (in what was a pretty awkward scene)… which kinda makes you think they are going to end up on the Island as well. For those who watched the preview for next week, you already know the answer to part of this question - since it appeared to feature John Locke talking to Ilana on the beach. Her inclusion is actually pretty easy to explain. We have seen that whatever our Skipping Survivors are in contact with skips with them - and if she was sitting next to Sayid, they very well could have been touching, and she would be taken along for the ride. However, Caesar was sitting by himself on the flight, so this explanation wouldn't apply to him. And what about Ben?


Much like the Oceanic Five, I think there has to be some unifying element that ties all three of these characters together. Assuming that they skipped, but everyone else on the plane stayed, they must all have something in common that made them unique… and the most likely explanation is that they have all been to the Island Before.


Outcast Others. Say hello to my new character grouping title for this week. I'm going to call Caeasar, Ilana, and Ben "Outcast Others". Although I think it's possible that some characters voluntarily left the Island to "serve it" from the Real World at various Dharma Stations around the world (like Ms. Hawking), I think it's just as possible that there is another group of Others who didn’t want to leave in the first place, and would do anything to go back to the Island. These Outcast Others have been told that they can never go back to the Island, but can't accept it - and spend their nights dreaming about "the good ol' days" back on the Island. They would be willing to do anything to go back. Anything.


My wacky theory of the week is that Caesar and Ilana are Outcast Others who have been working for Ben (a fellow Outcast) to help get the Oceanic Five back on this particular flight, possibly even helping him keep the Oceanic Five safe over the past three years (from Widmore / The Economist). It's likely that In return for doing so, Ben has promised to take them back to the Island with him.


This would provide an explanation for how Sayid ended up on the plane. Ilana, who has been working for law enforcement ever since she left the Island years ago, gets called on by Ben to "arrest" Sayid and bring him on this particular flight. As for Caesar, maybe he has been simply acting as a "henchman" for Ben, helping him kill people, spy on people, manipulate people, etc - you know, do "Ben Stuff". It still doesn't explain all the logic behind the skipping - we still don't know why someone like Ben would skip but the other Others do not. But if the skipping only applies to people who have been to the Island before, it would conveniently get the Oceanic Five, Ben, Frank, Ilana, and Caesar off the plane without killing all the innocent people on board.


In fact, if Ben is orchestrating all of this, he most certainly knew this, which explains why he said "who cares about them" when Jack asked about the other passengers on Ajira 316. It wasn't that he was cold and heartless, but that he knew they would be fine.


I think the more worrisome part of this is that we have been told that once you leave the Island, you can't come back. This week, we also had Hurley tell Jack that Ben "is not supposed to come". This might be the second time that Ben has blatantly disobeyed the wishes of the Island. The first was turning the FDW, and that started the skipping in time in the first place. The second might be returning to the Island when he isn't supposed to… which makes me worry about stuff like the Outcast Others running into themselves. We don't know what the repercussions of such an event might be, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be good.


Ben. Speaking of "not good", it's not looking good for sweet Penelope Widmore. Ben told Jack that he "made a promise to an old friend of mine" (Charles Widmore, when he promised that he would kill Penny since Widmore's men killed Alex), followed by "tying a loose end that needs tying up" (which might be literal, if he tied her up and threw her into the ocean), concluded by Ben calling Jack from a pay phone at Long Beach Marina (where Penny and Desmond likely were, since they were living on a boat). If you think about it, Ben has been working for years to orchestrate this plan of getting the Oceanic Five back to the Island - probably from the minute he turned the FDW. What could possibly have come up so last minute that would cause him to risk being on that plane?


How about Desmond suddenly showing up at Ms. Hawking's church, which suddenly tells Ben that Penny is close. The next scene with Ben shows him "praying" in church, but I think it was more of "soul searching", as he's wondering if he can go through with his promise and kill an innocent Penny to get his revenge. 


The fact that Ben was bruised and bloodied gives me hope that Desmond was able to fight off Ben and save Penny… but Ms. Hawking's statement that Desmond "isn't finished with the Island" without going into any detail makes me worry. Note that she didn't say "The Island isn't finished with you", but rather "You aren't finished with the Island" - as if the Island doesn't care one way or the other if Desmond returns, but Ms. Hawking knows that Desmond will be back.


After making numerous promises to never return to the Island, the only reason I can think that Desmond would return to the Island would be for revenge - to hunt down Benjamin Linus for what he did to Penny. Something else fun to think about? We might be looking at both of the "special people" on the Island who can change the past (Desmond and Faraday) looking to avenge the death of the one they loved. Desmond trying to kill Ben in revenge, Faraday looking to change the past to save Charlotte. Either action could cause a lot of trouble. If Ben and Desmond are fighting it out in the 1980's, a fatal blow to either would have huge repercussions on the past. Desmond wouldn't be on the Island in 2004 to turn the Swan Hatch failsafe, and Ben wouldn't be on the Island in 2004 to turn the FDW the first time. If "whatever happened, happened", either of these results may accidentally bring about the end of the existence. Yikes. Should we be more worried about Faraday or Desmond?


Lamp Post. This week also showed us the first (and I’m guessing ONLY) off-Island Dharma Station, “The Lamp Post”. Apparently, The Lamp Post was created by Dharma as a way to find the Island. According to Ms. Hawking “they knew that it existed but not where it was.” This indicates that the Lamp Post was the first Dharma Station, required to find The Island for the very first time. The first question a logical person would ask is “how did they know about the Island in the first place, to know to be searching for it?”


Well keep in mind that Dharma didn’t arrive on the Island until the 1970’s – but there were plenty of people on the Island before that point (Charles Widmore). Although we don’t know when – or why – people like Widmore (and potentially Ms. Hawking) left the Island, they might have enough information about it to help Dharma build the Lamp Post to help find it.  I doubt it’s a coincidence that there was a military surveillance picture of the Island from 1954 hanging on the chalkboard. It was “proof” that the Island existed – the goal that Dharma was working towards finding.


I’m guessing that Charles Widmore will once again prove to be the key to all of this. He was kicked off the Island, and became obsessed with finding a way back. He bought the Hanso Black Rock Journal and gave Dharma the money they needed – but more importantly he gave them the information he had gathered from his time on the Island, information that would prove critical in helping them find the Island. So is Charles Widmore the “clever fellow” that developed the wacky pendulum inside the Lamp Post?


I don’t think so. Charles Widmore is a lot of things – rich guy, powerful guy, grandpa on the OC – but I don’t think mathematical/science nerd is one of them. Even if he did spend a good deal of time on the Island, I don’t how we would discover unique electromagnetic energy at the location of the Lamp Post, or use this energy to help find the unique electromagnetic energy of the Island.


The problem is, thinking through the cast of Lost characters available to fill this role, I’m having a hard time coming up with anyone that would be able to figure this all out. It could be someone we haven’t “met” yet like Valenzetti, Alvar Hanso, or a totally new person, but the only person I can think of that we already know on the show is Daniel Faraday, which doesn’t make any sense. Or does it? Maybe, in his heroic / foolish actions to get our Survivors back to 2008 / save Charlotte, Faraday accidentally gets kicked off the Island and winds up in the past. It gets a little too “circular” in the space-time continuum when I think about it, but I would definitely describe Faraday as a “clever fellow” – and his ability to help Dharma find the Island would go a long way in explaining his connection with Widmore, who was funding his research.


Note: I don’t love this theory since there are too many holes in it, but that’s my best guess for now.


Moving. Although there are definitely still big questions surrounding the creation of the Lamp Post, the bigger question for me is Ms. Hawking’s insistence that the Island is “always moving”. What? Doesn’t all of the Freighter stuff from last season totally contradict this comment?


Let’s remember that the reason that the Freighter was stationed anywhere between five and eighty miles off the coast of the Island for over a month – with crew members of the Kahana taking multiple trips to see the Island, helicopters coming to and from the Island, etc. If it was “always moving”, none of this would have been possible. In fact, everything we saw last season – from the fake Oceanic 815 wreckage in the Sunda Trench to the Oceanic Six ending up on Sumba and Membata during their return to the “real world” all take place within the same general area, which happens to be pretty close to the path that Oceanic Flight 815 was taking from Sydney to Los Angeles in the first place.


All of these details seemed to confirm that the Island was in the same place all this time, and didn’t move until Ben turned the FDW, don’t they? Based on what we saw in the first four seasons of Lost, which took place over the course of three months – the Island did not move in space. This doesn’t sound like “always moving” to me. The only way I can reconcile this is to assume the Island actually only moved once every four or five months – and our Survivors just happened to miss any of the moves during their time there. The ocean is a big place, and it’s reasonable to think that even if the Island was in the same place for a few months, that wouldn’t be enough time for someone to find it (especially if it also had a “cloaking” mechanism that didn’t allow mechanical devices to pick it up thanks to those wacky “unique electromagnetic properties”).


It’s a stretch for me, but you could argue that Dharma used the Lamp Post to predict where the Island would be for those Periodic Ration Drops – and would only travel to and from the Island when they knew it would not be moving. If you argue that the mechanism that makes the Island “move” is the FDW (which, is actually a kinda cool thought – like a giant captain’s wheel for a moving Island), that would explain why a move in space suddenly happened when Ben turned the FDW, instead of periodically happening in four month intervals when the wheel moves another spoke (or something).


I guess this is logical enough for me right now, although it still seems like an inconsistency. Stupid Ms. Hawking, you caused a lot of logical trouble this episode!


Wrap Up Thoughts. Quick and dirty (that’s what she said!)


Jin. So it looks like Jin is some type of “Dharma Sheriff” based on the five-point star on his jumpsuit. I wonder what “jobs” our other Survivors have? I’m guessing Sawyer is “Official Dharma Nickname Giver”.


Suicide Note. How did Ms. Hawking end up with Locke’s “suicide note”? I’m guessing that Ben is present at Locke’s suicide and passes it along to her… but then why wouldn’t Ben give the note to Ms. Hawking directly? Or did Locke pay a visit to her pre-death as well? And what does it mean? Is it simply Locke saying “I wish we didn’t have to go through all this hassle thanks to you not listening to me about staying on the Island?” Or is there something deeper there?


Ray. I find it hard to believe that the Lost writers would have introduced Jack’s grandfather Ray for no reason. Although I won’t go as far as some people (who have wacky theories about Ray being a “future version” of Jack), it wouldn’t surprise me if he had been on the Island on some point in the past (with the 1954 military mission?). All I know is, I’ll be disappointed if his character was included for the simple sake of giving Jack his father’s shoes… which could have just as easily been sitting in Jack’s closet back home all these years.


Kids. When Jack asks Kate why she changed her mind and where Aaron is, she tells him to never ask her that question again. I think easy explanation here is that Kate gave Aaron back to Claire’s Mom. She told her the truth about Aaron, and now has to “run” back to the Island to avoid being arrested / exposed for fraud. The good news is, this makes her character’s inclusion in “The Little Prince” a whole lot more meaningful. The bad news is, Aaron isn’t back on the Island (at least not yet). Personally, I’m pretty shocked that Aaron, Ji-Yeon, and Walt are thus far absent from the main storyline.



Episode Previews. There’s one last thing we need to discuss. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a lot less enjoyment from writing the episode previews than in previous years. We’re getting a lot less to go on (see this week’s episode description of “Locke's fateful mission off the island as Jeremy Bentham is revealed.”), which means I have to do a lot of “guessing” about what is going to happen in the episode. This results in one of two outcomes:

  1. I’m correct. Which kinda sucks, because then there’s no surprise in the episode.
  2. I’m wrong. Which sometimes sucks, because sometimes I liked my ideas for the storyline better than what actually happens.


Either way, it takes some of the enjoyment out of the episode for me – and with so few episodes of Lost left, I’d like to enjoy each as much as possible.


So, for this week we’re going to do an experiment. No episode preview, only Instant Reaction and Episode Analysis. The good news is, these are clearly the two most popular posts each week based on site hits and comments, so most people probably won’t care. It’ll also make all those people happy who complained that I spoiled episodes by guessing what would happen correctly.


If no one misses them, we’ll make the episode previews a thing of the past. If enough people complain that they really love them and want them back, we can discuss again next week


So – until Wednesday night’s “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” Instant Reactions, Happy Losting!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"316" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Three Word Review: Leap of Faith.

I have to admit, for the first half of this episode, I was thinking "this is a tad ridiculous". Everything that Ms. Hawking said just begged for analysis - but the more I thought about what she was saying, trying to find logical / science explanations for it, the more absurd it sounded. Trying to recreate the crash? Giving something that belonged to Christian Shephard to Locke? It was crazy! I spent most of the episode thinking, "you know what, I'm going to give Lost the benefit of the doubt because the writers have yet to let me down - no matter how illogical this sounds to me." I was willing to take a leap of faith and see where they were going with the story.

Leave it to Lost to totally win me over by the end of the episode.

It turns out all of the stuff that Ms. Hawking said might have had some truth to it... but it seems like in reality, Ajira Airways Flight 316 might have just passed over the Island when a "flash" happened, causing the members of the Oceanic Six... er "Five" to "skip" - suddenly disappearing from the plane and ending up on the Island... and as illogical as that sounds (try to prove that with science!), somehow I'm a thousand times more comfortable with this explanation than if the plane had crashed on the Island to bring our Oceanic Five back to the Island.

So here are the questions:

  1. Where is Aaron? Based on Kate's crying and promising Jack to never ask about him, my immediate thought was "Oh God, she killed him" - but that seems too crazy, even for Lost. Does this mean that Aaron isn't considered one of the Oceanic Six since he was simply an unborn child inside Claire during Flight 815? Or would his character just get in the way of the storyline, and leaving him off is simply a matter of convenience? For that matter, there's no Walt or Ji-Yeon on the Island as well. We're still due for some resolution to the Walt storyline, right?
  2. Speaking of me thinking the worst possible thought, when Ben showed up beaten up and bloody after "taking care of some loose ends", I have this terrible fear that he "took care" of Penny Widmore, fulfilling his promise to Widmore that he would kill his daughter as payback for Keamy killing Alex. The broken arm could have resulted from a fight with Desmond. With Desmond not on Ajira 316, this could provide a good excuse for Desmond to hunt down Ben and return to the Island... for revenge.
  3. Yes, I was disappointed that Desmond didn't question Ms. Hawking any more. She is some future-seeing mystic who he finds out has a connection to the Island and all he does is yell at her for costing a few years of his life before storming off? How about asking some questions about how this is all possible? But props to Desmond for calling everyone out for how crazy this all sounds.
  4. So who skipped off the plane and who didn't? It's safe to assume that Dead Locke, Sun, and Sayid would skip (since they are no different than our other Skipping Survivors). But what about Ben? The true "Others" haven't been skipping, but transplants like Juliet have. Which group will Ben fall under?
  5. It looks like when Ben turned the FDW, the Skipping Survivors went back pre-1980... who knows how far - but have been on the Island long enough to BECOME MEMBERS OF THE DHARMA INITIATIVE! Hello explanation for Faraday in the Orchid! Hello way for the writers to finally give us our long overdue look at the Dharma Initiative from the inside! But this means that all our characters are effectively "living in the past" right now. Is the skipping done? Are they eventually going to meet up with themselves in 2003? Do they need to worry about surviving the Purge? 
  6. At first, I was thinking "shouldn't someone have recognized the Survivors immediately in 2003 since they have been on the Island since 1980?" But then I realized the only person who survived the Dharma Initiative is Ben... could this somehow be the key to his ability to always be one step ahead of everyone? I need to think about this...
  7. Who built the Lamp Post Dharma Station? If Widmore knew about the location of the Lamp Post, why couldn't he have just used it in his "race for the Island" with Ben? If the Island is constantly moving (I assume in space), how were the Periodic Ration Drops possible? How did the Others come and go from the Island in their submarine? So much to think about.
  8. Who were the two new characters sitting in First Class with the Oceanic Five? It looks like one was taking the place of the Warden with the fugitive Sayid (taking the place of Kate), but what about the other guy? His talking to Jack in the airport was a little too obvious and convenient for him not to be in on this somehow. I'd expect both to end up on the Island, although based on the rules we've seen for the skipping so far, I don't know how this is possible unless both were already on the Island in the past at some point, right?

What initially seemed like a straightforward - almost rushed - episode to just get the Oceanic Five back on the Island actually opens the door for us to question A LOT of what we've seen and thought about the past few seasons. 

For those who complain about discussion of the next episode preview, stop reading here! For everyone who watched it, a few more points. Don't say I didn't warn you!

  1. It looks like the Female Warden accompanying Sayid DOES end up on the Island, and is seen talking to a very much alive John Locke.
  2. It looked like Widmore was actually working WITH Locke to get him back to the Island. Again, this doesn't mesh with the Ben / Widmore rivalry and race for the Island, does it? Unless it's like "whoever can win over Locke can get back to the Island" and Ben won?
  3. Was that Ben kneeling down in front of Locke before he hung himself? Creepy suicide worshipping? That's kinda messed up, even for Benjamin Linus.

Okay - Top Chef calls. I'll get cracking on the analysis tomorrow. Fow now, discuss!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lost - "316"

Welcome to what may be the shortest Blog entry since my hilariously brief Season One entries (which actually were just Emails I sent to my coworkers and friends). Why, you ask? Well, the combined episode title and description amount to a whopping twenty-two total words. I know that I’m pretty good at yapping on for hours about minor details, but to stretch twenty-two words into a normal-sized Blog post might even be beyond my powers.


In some ways, this is pretty exciting (and admittedly makes my life easier) – plus it should please those people afraid that my episode previews “spoil” the episodes for them. I wonder if as we get closer and closer to the end of Lost, we’ll begin to get less and less information before the episodes air, which would maximize the surprise factor and payoff to mysteries... or maybe this week is just an exception. We’ll see.


For now, here goes nothing…


Episode Title: “316”


Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: The traditional pre-episode Google of the episode title reveals that 316 is the area code for Wichita, Kansas… but with most of our characters in Los Angeles, I don’t see how that would be relevant to the story.


On the other hand, if you add a little colon to make the episode title “3:16”, all sorts of deeper meanings. John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible, and has been called the most famous Bible verse of all time (narrowly defeating John 3:4 – “Now he had to go through Samaria”). John 3:16 has also been called the "Gospel in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity:


“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


The verse occurs in a narrative in the New Testament third chapter of John taking place in Jerusalem. Nicodemus, a member of the ruling council, comes to talk with Jesus, whom he calls Rabbi. Jesus' "miraculous signs" have convinced Nicodemus that Jesus is "from God". In reply, Jesus declares, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again". John 3:16 summarizes Jesus's lesson to Nicodemus: that belief in Jesus is the path to eternal life.


Hello, John Locke references galore!


Just like “The Little Prince”, it isn’t hard to see the themes of sacrifice, death, and resurrection relating directly to Locke’s current storyline. You could even stretch some of the “miracles” Locke believes to be happening on the Island to tie in with the “miraculous signs” that Nicodemus say from Jesus. In both cases, death was necessary to be born into eternal life. We all know that Locke dies, and we are all guessing that he’s going to somehow be “born again” when he returns to the Island.


So this must be what “316” is referring to, right?




Just like “The Little Prince”, it seems like we have an obvious explanation for the episode title – but just like “The Little Prince”, I don’t think we’re going to see any of these references in this week’s episode. With next week’s episode being titled “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”, it seems to be the episode that will finally show us exactly what happened from the point John Locke turned the FDW to the point where he died. I’m guessing the only Locke scenes we get this week involve him lying inside a coffin. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t learn what happened to our Skipping Survivors this week either. Odds are, “316” will focus solely on the Oceanic Six and their return to the Island.


As I said before this season began, I think that from a storytelling perspective, the best way to “payoff” the two parallel storylines of the Oceanic Six and the Skipping Survivors is to have the Oceanic Six be the ones to discover what “terrible things” happened to the Skipping Survivors once they return to the Island (as opposed to having the audience know exactly what happened on the Island beforehand). We’ve only gotten half of their overall story thus far. We know that they are skipping through time, Charlotte died, and Locke turned the FDW and left the Island. But then what? How much time will have passed between that point in time until the Oceanic Six return to the Island? What year did the Skipping Survivors end up in once Locke fixed the FDW? Have they aged? Lived a 1000 lifetimes on the Island? Or conveniently ended up in 2008 where the Oceanic Six reside?


It’s also worth remembering that with Locke leaving the Island, anything he told the Oceanic Six could only contain information up until the point in the story we have already seen on the Island. So although he talked about “very bad things” happening there, he has no idea what happened when he turned the FDW. If the skipping did stop, are the remaining Survivors really in any danger? Why is it so critical that the Oceanic Six return to the Island? If the skipping continued, what in the world could they do to stop it anyways?


These are the big questions in the overall storyline right now – and the best way to answer them with the most impact is going to be through the eyes of the Oceanic Six themselves… so the sooner they get back to the Island, the better!


But if “316” isn’t referring to some Locke / Jesus symbolism, what does it refer to? I think there are two easy, pretty shallow options:

  1. The flight number that the Oceanic Six take to get back to the Island is Ajira Airways Flight 316. Assuming that Locke is onboard, it would be pretty appropriate that Flight 316 is the vessel that brings him back to the Island, back to some sort of “eternal life” just like in the Bible verse.
  2. 316 is the bearing that the Oceanic Six need to take in order to actually reach the Island after they find it. Let’s remember that thus far we’ve seen bearings of 325 and 305 used (for Michael leaving the Island and the Freightors coming to the Island, respectively) – so 316 seems like it would fit right in the middle as an option for the new bearing. Remember how Faraday told the Skipping Survivors that they couldn’t leave the Island until he calculated a new bearing? I’m guessing that the bearing is somehow related to the date / time – which would explain why it has changed over the course of the past few seasons.


If you want to get really crazy, maybe both options will be true. Ajira Airways Flight 316 flies on a bearing of 316 to enter the Island and bring Locke back to life, John 3:16 style!



Episode Description: The members of Oceanic 6 discover how to get back to the island, but not all of them want to return.


Guest Stars: Fionnula Flanagan as Eloise Hawking, Jeff Fahey as Frank Lapidus, Said Taghmaoui as Caesar, Zuleikha Robinson as Ilana, Mary Mara as Jill, Raymond J. Barry as Ray, Kavita Patil as Rupa Krishnavani, P. D. Mani as Nabil, Rebecca Hazlewood as Nalini, Patti Hastie as barfly, Glen Bailey as magician and Ned Van Zandt as Mr. Dorsey.


Guest Star Breakdown: Expect this week to pick up immediately where last week left off – with Eloise Hawking-Faraday leading Desmond, Ben, Sun, and Jack down to her wacky pendulum room. Our good friend Ms. Hawking is due for some big scenes this week, as she will be responsible for explaining how in the world the Oceanic Six are going to get back to the Island, how her wacky machine works, and how she knows so much information (this would be a good time to reveal that she is Ellie from “Jughead”). Just like Faraday was responsible for explaining what was going on to our Skipping Survivors, it looks like his mom is going to be responsible for explaining what is going on to the Oceanic Six. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the “weirdo scientist” tree.


Mysterious butcher and body-keeper Jill is also back this week, probably delivering Locke’s body to the Oceanic Six to join them on the ride back to the Island. If I were Sun or Desmond, I’d be asking a LOT of questions once Jill showed up and told me to drag a dead body halfway around the world. Seriously, it’s not something normal people do.  


But for me, the most exciting news here is that Frank Lapidus is back. I was afraid that his throwaway scene in “The Lie” would be the last we saw of Frank, but his inclusion this week gives me hope that he will be the person that will fly the Oceanic Six back to the Island. How long he sticks around past that depends on one big question – is Frank simply a convenient pilot to hire, since he already knows about the existence of the Island, or is he destined to return to the Island with the Oceanic Six, seeing as he was supposed to be the pilot of Oceanic 815 in the first place?


The logical side of me thinks it’s probably simply the former, but the part of me that enjoys Frank’s pragmatic humor is hoping for the later.



Episode Breakdown: That brings us to the episode description - one simple sentence with not a lot of meat on its bones. It references Eloise Hawking providing an explanation of how to get back to the Island (which we were all counting on based on how last week ended), and that some of the Oceanic Six don’t want to go back (which we technically already saw last week when Sayid and Kate walked away). Not a lot to go on with the first part, but we’ll do our best with the second…


Fundamentally, would it be possible for only some members of the Oceanic Six to return to the Island, but not all of them? Based on the ending of last week’s episode, it made it sound like Ms. Hawking could “make do” without all six members. But if only some of the members of the Oceanic Six went back to the Island, what would happen to those left behind? It seems like it would effectively “write them out” of the show – at least for the foreseeable future. I suppose there is the chance for a second group of people to head to the Island that would include the Oceanic Six Holdouts (perhaps captured by Widmore and forced to go back to the Island) – but with as difficult as it seems to be to find the Island once – the chance of someone finding it a second time seems fairly unlikely.


With that in mind, is it possible that any members of the Oceanic Six stay behind, knowing that this would mean their storylines would be on the backburner for a good chunk of the rest of the season? Let’s look at them one by one:


Jack – pretty much the only character you can guarantee will be going back to the Island, he’s orchestrating this operation with Ben, and has more of a desire to go back than anyone else (besides Ben).


Sun – based on her going with Ben to see Ms. Hawking last week, it seems like she is committed to doing whatever it takes to reunite with Jin, even if it means going back to the Island and leaving her daughter behind.


Kate – although she stormed off with Aaron last week, I have to think that she returns to the Island, as she is a necessary part of the “love rhombus” storyline on the show between Jack, Kate, Juliet, and Sawyer. Chances are, when the Oceanic Six return to the Island, there’s going to be some “history” between Juliet and Sawyer in some fashion – and that is going to create serious jealousy and drama with Kate and Jack – who have had a lot of history themselves since they left the Island. You need all four of these characters back together so that you can shake them up and watch what happens, keeping the teenage girl audience happy. Count her in.



Aaron – so goes Kate, so goes Aaron. I suppose there is a chance she would leave him behind, heeding Claire’s warnings – but I don’t think she trusts anyone else with Aaron, and his return to the Island would provide the chance to see if he really is “special”, and find out the reason for Claire’s ghostly warnings.


Hurley – earlier this season, Hurley seemed to make his decision – siding with Sayid and not trusting Ben, no matter what anyone else said. If he sticks with his guns, there’s no way he would go back to the Island with Ben. On the other hand, if Hurley was going to stay behind, why not simply have the jail storyline stick, and have that provide the reason why Hurley doesn’t go back to the Island? By having him conveniently being released from prison in a matter of hours, it seems like the door is open for him to return to the Island. From a storyline perspective, he doesn’t have a ton of major connections to any of the Skipping Survivors, so you could argue that he could stay behind – although he does provide a lot of the “heart” on the show. The episode preview shows Jack talking with Hurley in a car, which may be the scene where he talks him into returning to the Island… but if not, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Sayid – much like Kate, Sayid ended last week’s episode by walking away from Ben and Jack – but he took it one step further, saying that he would kill them if he saw either of them again. I have to say, that doesn’t sound like the kind of thing he’s going to put behind him in the next day or so. Like Hurley, Sayid doesn’t have any major connections to our Skipping Survivors, meaning he could stay behind without sacrificing the story. Furthermore, he’s probably the one character that I could see having a relevant off-Island story as he continues to battle Widmore / The Economist – which I’m guessing is going to be the “big bad” and enemy of next season.


That gives us either 4 or 5 members of the Oceanic Six returning (plus Ben)… leaving just the Happy Hume Family.


With Desmond being “special” in the grand scheme of things, he seems like a lock to return to the Island, since he opens to the door to actually change the past, fix the future, and stop Faraday in case he starts messing around with the space-time continuum. Although Penny told him that she would go with him, I’m thinking Desmond realizes the danger involved in returning to the Island, and wisely decides that leaving his wife and child behind is the smart thing to do (plus, I’m pretty sure the actress who plays Penny isn’t signed on as a series regular from here on out).


The bad news is that I think it’s going to end badly for Desmond and Penny, no matter what happens. They are the only two characters on the show who have already received their “happy ending”, so there is no way to go but down. I have this sneaking fear that someone’s going to die, or someone’s going to end up stuck on an Island halfway around the world from the other. But having said that, I still think Desmond ends up back on the Island.


So that leaves us with Ben, Jack, Sun, Kate, Aaron, Hurley, and Desmond returning to the Island with Frank Lapidus behind the wheel of the plane… if my logic is correct.


…and that’s about it for this week. Even though we’re due for an Oceanic-Six-centric episode, I must say I’m pretty pumped for this week’s episode. Much like last week was “full speed ahead” in getting the storyline to the point where we knew it needed to go (Locke leaving the Island), this week will do the same for the other half of the storyline (getting people back to the Island). From here, who knows where the storyline is heading – but I can’t wait to find out.


Huh, turns out I wrote over 2700 words about those original 22 words. Disgusting.


Happy Losting!


(Alec - hook me up with a Message Board topic for me to link here!)