Friday, April 02, 2010

"The Package" Analysis

Call off the dogs and put away your torches and pitchforks. It’s time to defend my “Instant Reactions”.

"The Package" wasn't a "bad episode". I never said it was. I said it was “annoying” - and a big reason why it was annoying was due to something totally outside the control of the creators of Lost. Do I blame them for the annoying V countdown at the bottom of the screen? No. Did it bother me while I was watching the episode? Yes.

The second thing I found annoying was Sun's sudden inability to speak English after hitting her head. I really, really, really hope that the writers are about to prove me wrong on this one by having this plot point come back and have some deeper importance to the overall storyline of Lost. But even after reading everyone's potential explanations for it, I'm still not sold on it. We'll get there in a moment.

Lastly, I was annoyed that this felt like another "setup" episode - you know, where nothing really happens but the characters talk about doing things instead? It's not like Lost hasn't had its fair share of these episodes over the years, and I don't need huge mythological reveals or action scenes every week - but it seems like the actual on-Island action is moving really slow considering there are so few episodes left. Think about it - what has actually happened since the raid on the Temple? Characters have moved around, talked to each other, and new ones have come to the Island… but up until this point, they haven't actually done anything (aside from smashing magical lighthouse mirrors).

That's my annoyance.

I'm sure that after this week's episode (a Desmond-centric outing, so you pretty much know it's going to be one of the best episodes of the season), I'll all forget about these minor annoyances. Once Lost completes its final season, all these middle episodes will blend together and I'll look at the overall season storyline and be totally happy with it. But for now, for this week, this episode didn't do a lot for me.

When I reviewed the episode to see what needed to be discussed in my analysis, I came up with a few points - but nothing major, so this should be a pretty quick analysis. I'll get you out of here in plenty of time to enjoy the Easter holiday, bask in the glory of the University of Dayton NIT Championship, and come back rejuvenated and refreshed for the final stretch of Lost episodes. Many others have said it, and I tend to agree - this is probably the last "slow" Lost episode we'll ever see. I think from this point on, it's full speed ahead.

Flash Sideways. When you think about it, this week's Flash Sideways action didn't really advance the plot too far - only by a few minutes at the very end. We already knew that Jin would end up in the freezer of Keamy's Restaurant, so the primary focus of the Flash Sideways action showing how he got there was pretty anti-climatic. It turns out that Sun and Jin's Flash Sideways starts out much happier than in Reality #1, and if it weren't for the "surprise" ending, I would have easily put them in the "Happy Ending" category. Think about it - Sun and Jin, while not married, were totally happy and in love with each other. Sure, Jin still told her to cover herself up (on the plane), but he wasn't the controlling, demanding jerk that he was pre-Oceanic 815 in Reality #1. Even better, there's the chance that Sun was pregnant with Jin's baby in the Flash Sideways, meaning he didn't have the same impotence that was cured by the Island. Of course, there's also a chance that Sun was still a cheating hussy in Reality #2 and it's Jae Lee's baby (bald guy who Sun was having relations with on the side) - but let's assume it wasn't. Sun and Jin were happy, close to running away with each other, and perhaps about to have Ji-Yeon.


Then Sun got shot in the stomach.

The good news, as many have noted, is that this gives Sun and Jin a reason to go to the hospital - the same hospital where they might run into Jack, Sayid, Claire, or even Juliet (if we're really lucky – there is a baby involved, after all). If you want to get really crazy, you could even come up with excuses for Locke, Kate, Ben, and Sawyer to end up there too. Finally, all our characters back together in the Flash Sideways!

Wait a minute, why is this such a big deal again?

It seems like everyone is hoping – and even expecting – that all our Flash Sideways Survivors are going to come together at some point before the season ends… but why? While this might prove that even without Oceanic 815 crashing on the Island, all these characters would eventually slightly interact with each other – but there’s no way that they are going to form the same bonds in the Flash Sideways that they have with their On-Island counterparts. Plus, from a storyline perspective, to have the “end point” of the Flash Sideways be the convergence of all the characters seems pretty dull. I suppose Locke could be healed by Jack, Juliet could deliver Sun’s baby, then hit things off with Sawyer, Claire could give birth to Aaron, etc – but I’m still hoping for something bigger from these Flash Sideways

The "Happy Ending Theory" is popular because it works, and deep down most people want to see these characters happy - but it's far from the most satisfying. The “Deal with the Devil Theory” is interesting because it could give a slightly sinister twist to the seeming happy endings we’re seeing – but it’s still missing something. What’s left?

Bleeding Realities. Did “The Package” actually reveal that there is some connection between Reality #1 and Reality #2 that will make us all care about and examine the Flash Sideways much closer? The popular Internet theory of the week is that Sun's inability to speak English on the Island means that her consciousness from Reality #2 is bleeding over into Reality #1. Recall that when Desmond got hit in the head with a bat in "Flashes Before Your Eyes", his consciousness seemed to jump from a reality that was similar to his past… but with slightly different events, back to the Island. Hmmmm – characters re-living their past with some of the details slightly changed? That sure sounds like our Flash Sideways, doesn’t it? When Sun hit her head on a tree branch, did she “go Desmond” and jump to another reality?


With Desmond it was much more of an "all or nothing" thing - both in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant" - he was either there, or he wasn't. He retained memories from both realities, but was only “awake” in one at a time. For Sun, we’ve seen no evidence of this – and it’s a little weird that the one thing that would bleed through the realities would be the inability to speak English, even though she is still able to understand and write English. One would also think that this "bleeding" would be a two way street between the realities… so shouldn’t the Sun in Reality #2 have suddenly been able to speak English, even though she didn’t understand it?

For now, I think the argument is a little weak.

In my mind, the most logical explanation for this plot point is that it forced Sun to have to slow down and trust someone else (Jack), rather than her running off on her own after Jin. She's now onboard in following Jack's mission (which is really Alpert’s plan – to destroy Ajira 316 to keep SmokeLocke from leaving the Island), a stark contrast to her comments earlier in the episode about not caring if she was a Candidate or about destiny. It also was a cute throwback to Season One - where Jin couldn't speak English but Sun could. Well, now Jin speaks great English and Sun does not. Cute, right?

But that’s the best I’ve got. I really hope that I get to revisit this topic next week, and we all realize how silly it was to complain about what ended up being a legitimate plot development prematurely – but for now, it’s pretty bad. The good news is that as of right now, the whole Nikki and Paulo storyline looks downright reasonable and worthwhile in perspective.

But enough about Sun – what happened to the other Kwon this episode was far more interesting.

Jin. It turns out that Team Widmore didn’t kidnap Jin to simply keep SmokeLocke from gathering all the Candidates – but because they wanted to pump him for information on the Island – information that he gathered during his time with Dharma in the 1970s. Specifically, they seem to be looking for the “pockets of electromagnetism” on the Island. The first time Widmore sent a team to the Island, they were led by Keamy, and their mission was to kill everyone on the Island aside from Ben. This time, Team Widmore is seemingly led by Zoe, a geophysicist – so what is the mission this time?

I think the key is to understand Widmore’s motivations… which are a bit puzzling. Three years ago, his goal was to extract Ben and kill everyone else – which one could theorize was a vendetta against Ben and attempt to claim the Island all for himself. That obviously failed. Since then, he’s seen Locke and the Oceanic Six come back from the Island – but aside from that, there’s been no way he could have gathered any new information about what was happening on the Island, has there?

…and yet, he seems to know exactly what’s happening with SmokeLocke. He told Jin that if SmokeLocke gets off the Island, everything will “cease to be”. This is an interesting twist on our former theories of “evil spreading to the world” (which is pretty tame in comparison), and given that Widmore couldn’t have gathered any new information since Ben killed Jacob (which was only days ago in Island timeline) – he must have known about this danger all along.


Perhaps Widmore’s intention with Keamy and the Freighter wasn’t some personal grudge against Ben, or attempt to monetize the power of the Island, but to prevent the Loophole? Maybe by killing everyone on the Island, Widmore thought he could eliminate any “candidate” that Anti-Jacob was using to carry out his plan? It’s a stretch – but it seems to me that the Freighter was Widmore’s attempt to use brute force to triumph over SmokeLocke. This time, he’s going about it with a little more finesse, using the electromagnetic properties of the Island to best SmokeLocke.


One of the other things we learned this week was that Smokey is limited to the main Island. He can’t even use his Smokey form to get to the Hydra Island. It stands to reason that the SmokeLocke’s Smokey powers are directly tied to the unique electromagnetic properties of the Island… and once he’s off the Island, he loses those powers.

For one, this seems to prove that Widmore killed all the remaining Ajira 316 Survivors, since SmokeLocke probably wouldn’t have had time to do so stuck in his much slower human form.

For two, if his powers are tied to the electromagnetic properties of the Island – that might be the key to defeating him. Perhaps if Widmore drops some well timed explosives into these pits of electromagnetic matter, it’ll damage / kill SmokeLocke. Remember in Season One, when Smokey was dragging Locke into the ground, but was temporarily defeated by throwing a stick of TNT into the ground from which he came from? That’s what I’m thinking about.

If you want to take it a step further, maybe blowing up these electromagnetic properties is precisely what is going to lead to the Island sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Everyone knows that it’s impossible to sink an Island since it’s not as though it’s some floating object on top of the water – but is the tip of an underwater mountain. But once you introduce the Island’s “unique electromagnetic properties” to the equation, anything goes. It’s like the wild card for all weird things on Lost!

The bad news about this theory is that it would eliminate my long-standing theory about Widmore wanting to exploit the Island for monetary gain… and would make him a “good guy”… albeit a “good guy” who has killed a bunch of people, and been a total jerk to Desmond for years, which pretty much makes someone “bad” in my book, right?

Speaking of which…

Desmond. Desmond David Hume, how we’ve missed you for the better part of the past two seasons. Speaking of the “big picture” theory about Widmore and his motivations, one has to wonder if he knew exactly what he was doing with Desmond all along. Was he a dick to him to drive him to enter his sailing competition, knowing that it would put him on the Island? Or is this just a huge twist of irony – that Widmore has to go to Desmond, a man worth less than a bottle of MacCutcheon Whiskey, to help him… and save the world.

Why Desmond?

Given his “connection” with the unique magnetic properties of the Island (again, the wild card!), the writers could use him in a number of ways – from being the only person who can get close enough to the electromagnetic pockets to detonate some type of charge, to being the only person who can hurt SmokeLocke (since he is also electromagnetically “charged”) to needing him to jump around between various Realities to manipulate the past to save the future… or some combination of all three. Given that we only had a minute of Desmond screen time this episode, it’s probably better to save our Desmond theories for next episode’s preview. I’m such a tease.

Wrap Up. A few quick hits to wrap things up this week:

  • Since Widmore has this master plan to defeat SmokeLocke / prevent him from undoing existence, he was probably lying to his face when he said “obviously you’re not John Locke. Everything else I know is a combination of myth, ghost stories, and jungle noises in the night.” He knows exactly what SmokeLocke is… although it would be interesting if Smokey actually kept such distance from the Others that they never really interacted with him, making him more of a “bogey man” that the Others would use to make young Others eat vegetables and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Note SmokeLocke’s promise to Claire from this week: “I’m three people shy of getting off this Island”. It’s not as though he actually needs to bring them to Hydra and have them board Ajira 316 – he just needs them dead before he can get onboard and leave the Island. Kate’s name is already crossed off, but he obviously needs her to help him kill Sawyer / Jack / Hurley / the Kwons… then she’s fair game for Claire to get Crazy on her ass.


I think that’s all I’ve got for this episode. Truth be told, I wasn’t super motivated to write this one, so I apologize in advance if it was extra crappy. Consider it my “setup” Blog post, just like “The Package” was a setup episode.

Until Monday night!


Anonymous said...

Okay did we talk about the fact that Jin is the one who gave the Russian guy the patch?

Sawyer5665 said...

I don't think that Widmore's plan with the mercenaries 3 years before was to "kill everyone on the island". THink about it. Who really said that was their plan? Ben, right? I think that Widmore's plan with the freightor was to extract Ben and after that Daniel and CHarlotte were to probably start doing the work that this new group of scientists is now doing. I just don't think that there is sufficient evidence to say that Widmore was planning to kill everyone on the island. Ben said that so everyone would fear and oppose the new people on the island. All we've heard from Widmore on this subject is that he wanted Ben extracted. My point is....Widmore's motivations now are the same as they were 3 years before.

jack said...

Sawyer; if your point is correct, how do you explain the explosives on board the freightor?

As for Flocke NOT killing the Ajira survivors, wasn't there dialogue in a past episode from Flocke linking him to it?

Malcolm said...

Would Smokey's death restore "balance" to the scales and to the "world," perhaps even precluding the need for "good" candidates and a potential replacement to Smokey?

Thus the island -- however it's destroyed -- could sink to the bottom of the sea, its role as the cork complete.


Unknown said...

... But how does Widmore knows all these?

Unknown said...

I am sure this has been brought up before but I have not seen it yet. Also, I am not an expert on the timeline, but is it possible that Desmond entering the numbers most of the time while he was on the island was in fact "containing" the man in black? And once that was stopped, it allowed him to roam free and also happened to take the plane down. Or does the timeline not add up?

jack said...

Why would Whidmore try to deceive Flocke regarding knowing of the existence of Smokey?

Joel said...

I agree with Sawyer5665 and think the explosives on the freighter were to keep smokey from using it to get off island...though then I wonder why Widmore didn't just destroy the Ajira plane.

Unknown said...

@patience: interesting thought: if patchy loses an eye in the sideways flash, why is he on the island in the "original" storyline with the same condition. Are things just happening in the same way or are the sideway flashes and the on-island story somehow interconnected?

Unknown said...

also important to note that with the freighter team that with miles, charlotte, and daniel. Charlotte was a geologist correct? Here is widmore bringing another geologist. I remember being struck at how weird it was that this killer team had a lot of scientist on it. Maybe Widmore has the same plan both times? Keamy was the one who messed it up by getting a little aggressive...

I just don't know anymore. The writers mentioned the hurley bird again in their podcast. Im wondering if we are going to get some explanation of the weird stuff soon.

p.s. way to go beating UNC. Anyone but them.

Sawyer5665 said...

The C4 was not meant to be used to kill everyone on the island. There just wasn't enough of it. And look at what it was actually used for. It was used to blow up the freighter. It was a big explosion, sure, but it was nowhere near enough to do any real damage on the island. The only way that C4 could have killed everyone on the island would be if they gathered everyone on the island in one spot and then....boom. But if they were going to go to that trouble, why not just shoot everyone.

Mathias (regarding Patchy losing his eye in the alt) Think about Locke's alt story. He's still paralyzed, but it happened some other way....meaning his father wasn't the one that caused his paralysis, but it still happened by some other means. You could apply that to Patchy losing his eye....BTW...did Patchy lose the same eye in the alt that he was missing in the island timeline? I'm just curious.

Hope said...

Two questions. Why is Kate's name crossed off the list? Why was Locke chasing Sun and then just left her there when she hit her head?

timcourtois said...

1. Agreement that Widmore never intended to "kill every living thing on this island". That was a load of bull.

2. Weren't the explosives just Keamy's way of being a total jerk and guaranteeing that if he died, then everyone else would be screwed too?

3. I think Widmore was just a jerk to Desmond because he was hoping to separate Des and Penny, trying to protect his daughter from getting caught up in all this island drama. I think we're in for a reconciliation between W. & Des, w/ Widmore saying tearfully, "I'm sorry Desmond; I did it to protect Penny"

Anonymous said...

This may seem small, but sayids part in this seems to be huge! First, him saying that he cant feel anything anymore, unlike claire, who still feels...something. So they arent the same level of claimed or whatever. And then, hes swimming to hydra island for what i can only assume is to a)disable security and b)get jin. Anyone think sayid has a chance to turn or is he completely Flockes pawn? I mean, he does realize he isnt himself...

Sawyer5665 said...


The bigger question regarding Kate's name being crossed off is this: Why was her name crossed off at the cave, yet it WAS NOT crossed off at the lighthouse? That's what I wanna know.

Sawyer5665 said...

Also...Jacob said that there were only 6 candidates left. I think that everyone thinks that means Jack, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Jin and Sun. Only one of the Kwon's is a candidate. That means the six remaining are Jack, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Jin or Sun, and someone else. I think Kate's name not being crossed off at the lighthouse means that she is the secret 6th candidate. She could be Jacob's secret weapon against MIB.

Vidya said...

I wonder what Wildmore's reaction will be when he finds Ben Linus back on the Island.
Also...was Locke a candidate at some point? Maybe I missed it, but wa shis name on the cave or the mirror dial?

Unknown said...

An island isn't something floating on top of the water? Somebody better inform our politicians!

ronnage said...

good call oscar! we live on an island called GUAM!!!

ronnage said...

silly politician.

Unknown said...

i just remembered one detail. i was looking at past episodes.

how on earth, desmond's training bike in the hatch came to the explosion site in 1977. the hatch was not even built yet.

Anonymous said...

Here's a *really* tenuous idea about Charles Widmore: he could be an expository character to connect the Jacob/MIB storyline with the flash-sideways timeline.

Here's a few things about Widmore:
1) He was once leader of the Others. So maybe Jacob shared more info about MIB with him than Ben.
2) He knows that time travel is possible on the island (remember, 2007 Widmore knows Faraday traveled back in time and gets shot by his mother in 1977)
3) He knows what Jughead is (he discussed it with Eloise Hawking in the ep. "Follow the Leader")
4) He probably knows Jack and company exploded Jughead in an attempt to change the future (assuming Eloise Hawking told him -- she knew Jack's plan)

So, if you're in the "flash sideways timeline was created by Jughead" camp, then it's possible (again, this is tenuous) that Widmore knows about the flash sideways timeline existence. Maybe he hired smarter physicists than Faraday to figure out what happens when time travelers try to change their past.

Anyways, as a character, Widmore's in a position to move the story forward with one good monologue. Hopefully before Desmond kicks him in the ***, because I still think the guy's a major ******.

Gisele said...

The reason I find Lost so catptivating is that it can be read on several levels. Level one is largely discussed on this blog I read weekly with great interest. Excellent work Brian.

But I cannot help thinking of the island as our very own rock. All the religious references "maybe" helping us not to be "lost" on it. Those of us with faith "know" why we are here, the others being lost.

I FEAR the big secret behinf Lost could be something along those lines.

Remember the mystery of the polar bear on the island? This animal fuelled a lot of what made season one so intriguing. Yet when it came out it was simply an escapee from the Dharma zoo, for me that lost all it's magic.

Now when our writers insist Lost is no Science fiction I have to wonder. How will all this pan out?

Anyone read The life of Sophie? by some Danish philosopher? Turns out Sophie and the other characters in the book realize they are just that: characters in a book. With all the references to philosophy, what if our beloved Lost people are just that: characters in our TWO authorses heads. TWO authors as in Jacob and The Man in Black. I hope I am wrong about that because that would be an easy way to explain all the mysteries but as time goes on I fear it might work out to be something of the sort.

What think you Brian???

Khmer Rouge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Khmer Rouge said...

In the words of Agent Dale Cooper, I think I'm ready to lay the whole thing out....

The set up is this: all the 815'ers in Sideways LA will be brought together, by chance, where they'll all have to accomplish some task (as yet unknown to us) together - helped along by Desmond and his "specialness" - in order to save the world/restore the space-time continuum/"close the loophole"/insert your pet theory here. This will parallel the task they're currently undertaking On-Island (stopping SmokeLocke), which will either prevent something from happening -like the Island sinking- OR ensure that the Island sinks, in which case the Flash Sideways story is the "true" ending of the show (so long as the 815'ers accomplish their parallel task together).

Think of it in terms of the overall structure of the show - a group of strangers end up on an island together and discover that they're part of a destiny much greater than their individual ones. This remains true. The On-Island survivors have mostly figured it out, but the Sideways survivors have not yet, though there have been subtle clues - Jack's scar, Sun's bump on the head, and so on. Once all the Sideways survivors are reunited, Desmond (because his consciousness is not bound by space and time) will help them understand their connection to the parallel reality. The Sideways survivors will have some goal to complete, which they will work towards at the same time as the Island survivors, and in the end the two story lines will merge into one, final, permanent reality. "The End."

And there you have "The Circle." (Original title of the show)

Whadya think? I'd love to hear everyone else's opinions.

Gib said...

I think this episode was quite good. Not the best ever but it was entertaining.

I'm thinking Suns inability to speak English is a direct reference to the Stand. Which is a Stephen King book about the final showdown between good and evil. Sounds a lot like Lost is going in that same direction.

Gib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Harty said...

@ Brendan

I never heard that the original title of the show was "The Circle".

If that is the case, it would definately provide clues to the original concept of the show.

Chris DZ said...

If Smokey's powers are limited to the main island, why does Widmore have all the pylons set up at Hydra?

Also, that must be one gigantic sub to have enough pylons on board to encircle the entire Hydra island!

Khmer Rouge said...

@ Dave Harty

Can't remember where I learned the original title - one of the old podcasts I think - but it's a meme that's been making the interweb rounds for a long while.

Even without that title, the parallelisms and eternal recurrence on the show are, IMHO, the best clue we've got as to a potential conclusion.

Of course, I was wrong in my previous prediction, about Sun being killed in the Temple massacre. Though she did get shot last episode, so maybe I was kinda right? ;)

Unknown said...

Jin wasn't "impotent." He was infertile. Impotent would mean he couldn't give it up, infertile means shooting blanks- not being able to get a girl pregnant.