The Wife:

When you’re writing about time travel, its hard to know exactly where to begin, but I guess I can start by saying that I loved the cold open to “Because You Left,” where we get to intimately know one Dr. Chang a.k.a. Marvin Candle and his daily routines of donning lab coats with different names and listening to skipping records, a nice visual metaphor for what will later happen to those who were left behind. While filming one of his videos Chang, is told that there’s a problem with the workers down at the Orchid station. They’ve found some disturbance in one of the walls, and their sonar imaging reveals that frozen donkey wheel sits behind the rock. The workers want to know if they should remove the wheel and bore through the wall, but Chang expressly forbids this, warning that should they cross into that cavern they will be in some seriously deep shit. The Orchid station is meant to be built there to harness the island’s power, not be fucked over by it. But while this discussion of what Chang knows about the island (and ostensibly what Dharma folk do not) is fascinating, the most interesting revelation is that a certain scruffy physicist really does know an awful lot about time travel. Why? Because he was there, in the 70s, building the Orchid station.

From there, the narrative splits into two distinct segments. As always, its what’s happening on the island and what’s happening off the island. But gone are the days of flashbacks and flashforwards, for everyone off the island is trying to get back there and those left behind are stuck in 2005 . . . or are they? When the island moved, Locke suddenly found himself in the rain and without his people, while Bernard, Rose, Sawyer and Juliet (and some douchebag named Neil) realized, suddenly, that their camp was gone. Farraday tells them that their camp isn’t gone, but that he needs to get to something man-made, as soon as possible. He suspects that they may have gone back in time, to before the castaways arrived.

“Your camp isn’t gone. It hasn’t been built yet.” – Farraday

He explains to shirtless Sawyer that the island has become unstuck in time, like a skipping record. Either they or the island will keep moving through time until someone fixes it, adhering to Newton’s first law of motion. Meanwhile, Locke wanders around the jungle alone, trying to find his people. Instead, he sees Eko’s brother’s plane crash, dropping little Virgin Marys full of heroin all over the place before landing in its fateful perch. This is one of the most interesting revelations in this episode because I think it may finally answer the question as to how exactly the plane ended up there. We know that Oceanic 815 crashed on the island during one of its time-shifting explosions of white light, so it only made sense that the same thing grounded Eko’s bro’s plane. Now we just know for certain which time-shifting explosion of white light it was. Suddenly, Locke takes a bullet to the thigh and Ethan appears from behind the reeds. He doesn’t know who Locke is, so Locke sounds extra crazy when he claims that Ben Linus has declared that he should be the leader of the others. (Locke’s leg wound: yet another thing that is finally accounted for.) Just before a disbelieving Ethan is about to execute Locke, the island flashes white again and, suddenly, it is night.

I am sad to report that, eventually, Sawyer did find a shirt.

I am sad to report that, eventually, Sawyer did find a shirt.

Farraday cannot tell if they are in the past or the future, so they again look to the hatch, which is now destroyed, meaning that they, not the island, are the things that have become unstuck in time. It also means that they exist in a time after 815 crashed and the hatch was destroyed. Juliet wants to got o the beach and warn everyone not to trust the people on the freighter, but Farraday tells her no. Time travel just doesn’t work that way; you cannot change what has already happened.

Now near the wreckage of the fallen plane that killed Boone, Locke sees Richard Alpert. Alpert, it seems, in addition to being immortal and looking like he’s wearing eyeliner when he isn’t, is also omniscient. He knows Locke has been shot in the leg and that the bullet is still there, even though Locke mentions nothing of the shooting. (I mean, hey, that very well could have been a stab wound or twig impalement.) Alpert hands John a compass and tells him that he must give it to him the next time they meet, because Alpert will not know him. I always knew the compass was the item that already belonged to John. Nothing else made as much sense. He is a man of faith, so the book of laws wouldn’t be fitting, nor the knife that he chose as a young boy, nor the comic book, nor the hourglass. The only item meant for John Locke would be the compass rose, a thing that points you in the right direction, although the execution of that journey is entirely up to the faith in the fact that you will, one day, get there. It occurs to me now that if Daniel Farraday were given Locke’s Dalai Lama test, the thing that already belonged to him would have been the hourglass. It just makes sense. Aside from the compass rose, Alpert also charges Locke with a mission: get back the ones who left. It is the only way to save the island, and the only way for John to do that is to die. Heavy.

The next time the castaways jump, they find the hatch as it was before it was even discovered. Sawyer, knowing Desmond is in there pressing that damned button every 108 minutes (Miles is very amused by this entire prospect when Juliet explains it), wants to go to the backdoor of the hatch and convince Desmond to give him some Dharma supplies. Farraday warns him that this won’t be possible. Were Sawyer to attempt this, it would fuck everything over completely, because that’s just how time travel works.

“If it didn’t happen, it can’t happen. You can’t change the past, James.” – Farraday

Ready to give up on getting supplies, Juliet and Sawyer head back to the beach. (At least they can fish there.) Miles and Charlotte are set to follow, but Dan notices that Charlotte’s nose has started to bleed. Where the hell is that woman’s constant??? I am now certain that she will die soon if Farraday can’t find a constant for her. I wonder: will this start to happen to other Losties, too? I doubt it will affect Miles, because nothing seems to actually have an effect on him. But what about Juliet and Sawyer? Clearly worried, Farraday cleans Charlotte’s nose and sends her off to the beach with the others while he goes into the woods to consult his time travel journal alone. In reading his notes, he decides to try to Dharma door and solicit Desmond’s help. Desmond opens the door and asks Dan if he is his replacement, but Dan tells Desmond that he is special, outside the rules of the island and time. Dan begs Desmond to go to Oxford and find Dan’s mother, providing that everyone who got off the island got off alive. As the white lights flash across the island, Desmond wakes up on his boat next to his wife Penny (!), fresh from the memory of what Dan told him to do in the past. In a frenzy, Desmond hoists anchor and sets sail for Oxford, which is a pity, because I’m really jealous that Des and Penny live on a boat in the Mediterranean.

As far as the adventures of those off the island are concerned, Ben is playing puppetmaster to Jack, carefully orchestrating the collection of the Oceanic Six and organizing their return to Lost Island. Before Locke died, he told Jack that everyone would need to return to the island or else those left behind would die. Meanwhile, a law firm called Agostini & Norton drop by to visit Kate and Aaron, demanding that the two take a blood test to confirm their relationship. When they refuse to reveal their client, Kate refuses to comply. Instead, she packs up her life in a single suitcase and tells her stolen son that they’re going on vacation. (I have never seen any woman pack as light a suitcase as Kate Austin.) Sun gets in a tiff with Widmore at the airport and Hurley and Sayid have apparently become some crazy buddy picture in which Sayid springs Hurley from Santa Rosa and starts killing people, which the news frames as crimes committed by escaped mental patient Hugo Reyes. Sayid tells Hurley that he’s been working for Ben for two years and that Ben isn’t trustworthy. They head to a safehouse that isn’t very safe at all, where Sayid gets into a pretty ridiculous fight that involves him throwing dudes off balconies before getting tranqued and still managing to impale someone on the cutlery on an open dishwasher door, a bad-ass move that I can honestly say I’ve never seen before. Outside, Hurley is spotted by some witnesses holding a gun, thus making the situation all the worse for him.

The second episode flashes back to three years ago on Penny’s boat when the Oceanic 6 agree on the lie that they will live by for the remainder of their lives. Jack insists that they must do this to protect everyone they’ve left behind, but Hurley is hesitant to participate in the lie. Sayid calmly agrees to go along with it, and Hurley turns on Sayid, saying that he will never help him in the future because he agreed to go along with Jack’s lie . . . and then cut to Hurley and Sayid’s buddy action adventure, years in the future, in which a tranqued Sayid is passed out in Hurley’s car and they get pulled over by an imaginary AnaLucia. AnaL grills Hurley about pulling over, telling him to avoid the cops as much as possible, considering there’s a warrant out for his arrest and he’s the prime suspect in three murders.

“Don’t get arrested. Oh, yeah. Libby says hi.” – AnaL

Following AnaL’s advice, Hurley and Sayid stop at a gas station so Hurley can change out of his bloody clothes, replacing them with an “I Heart Shih-Tzus” tee shirt. He is almost recognized by the cashier, doing her best Lizzy Caplan impersonation, but she fails to notice the news report blaring on the television behind her and he gets on his way. Hurley and Sayid continue on to the only place Hurley knows: his parents’ home, where he finds his dad Cheech Marin chowing down on a heavily-caviar laden sandwich and watching Exposé. With Sayid over his shoulder, Hurley begs his dad to lie to the cops about his whereabouts should they show up.

Just as Hurley and Sayid leave the gas station, Kate and Aaron pull up and Kate gets a call from Sun, asking to see her while she’s in L.A. When Kate and Aaron meet with Sun, baby pictures are exchanged and tea is had. Not much else happens, expect that Kate apparently feels guilty for Jin’s “death” and Sun forgives her, saying that she never blamed Kate at all – a fact that I never thought would even be an issue. Kate tried to get Jin off the freighter, but someone else pulled her into the helicopter and took off without her. Totally not her fault. Get over your shit, Kate. You’re only responsible for killing your stepdad and anyone else you killed on the island. Not Jin.

Ben, meanwhile, has become Jack’s personal valet, convincing him not only to shave his drunk beard in the last episode, but also packs a suitcase for him, suggesting that Jack bring anything he wants to take from this life with him because once he reaches the island, he is never going to return. Ben leaves Jack to gather his things and takes off to guard Locke’s body, telling Jack to meet him in six hours. Ben then heads off to a butcher shop, where he apparently has a minion named Jill who will watch Locke’s body until Ben comes back. It’s good to know that Locke’s body is the key to making this plan work, although, you know, he’s dead, so if I were Ben, I’d focus on the other living, thinking variables.

Back at Casa Reyes, Hurley’s mom comes home and asks the most important question of the evening:

“Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?”

Afraid that Sayid is no longer breathing, Cheech wants to take him to a hospital, but Hurley is afraid it will expose him, so he calls up the only doctor he knows to examine Sayid: Jack Shepard. Jack agrees to examine Sayid and wants to take him to a hospital, given the strength of the sedative. Cheech will only allow this if Jack agrees to never see Hurley again, which Jack agrees to. He stabilizes Sayid under his care and brings him out of his tranq-induced coma in the only way Sayid knows how, be immediately trying to strangle the nearest person. Back at Casa Reyes, Hurley confesses to his mother about why there was a dead Pakistani on her couch and exactly what happened when they left the island.

“He is my friend. But he’s also got this double life where he does crazy ninja moves and spy stuff.” – Hurley, giving the most accurate description of Sayid I’ve ever heard

As Hurley tells his story, his mother listens patiently and she says that while she doesn’t understand most of what her son just told her, she believes him. Relieved, Hurley returns to the comforts of his parent’s house, including nomming on some Hot Pockets. But this doesn’t last long, as Ben arrives to ruin the moment, causing Hurley to immediately launch a Hot Pocket at Ben’s head. Frankly, the look on Ben’s face when that Hot Pocket comes a-flying is priceless. It’s the kind of look that says, “Fucking really, man? Really?” As part of his Oceanic 6 gathering process, Ben tells Hurley that if he comes with him, he will never have to lie again. Thinking back to Sayid’s warning about Ben, Hurley says that he will never, ever go with Ben and, instead, runs outside to turn himself in to the police, smiling with the knowledge that he has thwarted Ben’s attempt to capture him.

Back on the island, Farraday and company are trying to figure out a way to leave the island. In order for them to do so, Farraday has to calculate a new bearing, and that can only be achieved if he knows where exactly they are in time. In the meantime, everyone else tries to cope with living on an island where they are never static in time, a concept that really irks Neil, this season’s newest redshirt. While Charlotte brings a couple of papaya for her and Dan, Rose and Bernard try to light a fire on the beach, which Neil can’t stop bitching about. Charlotte tells Dan that she has a headache and that she suddenly can’t remember her mother’s maiden name, a sign that time-traveling, even a little bit, has started to destroy her brain. I am now sure that she will be dead in about six more episodes, which is fine, because we know nothing about her other than she may have been born on the island, she speaks Korean, is a ginger kid and is kind of a bitch. When Bernard has success at lighting a fire, only to accidentally blow it out again, Neil loses his shit and starts screaming at everyone about their inability to make a fire, only to be felled by a flaming arrow to the chest, shot from the treeline and falling everywhere on the beach. The beachdwellers hightail it into the jungle, trying to escape the rain of fiery arrows. Juliet tries to save a man who is struck along the way, but Sawyer stops her. The others presumably escape harm, but Juliet and Sawyer are captured by some Dharma guards (I presume, given the uniforms and the nametags) and are about to be killed until John Locke emerges from the forest and takes out their captors. I know a lot of people turned on John Locke during season three, but I still think he’s a badass.

On dry land, someone in a mysterious secret lab is working really, really hard to find the island based on its emissions of energy-heavy events. Ben enters to question this mysterious person about the collection of the Oceanic 6 and the manner in which the plan is falling into place. The hooded figure removes her hood and reveals herself to be Miss Hawking, the psychic in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” who set Desmond on his path, and tells Ben that he only has 70 hours to collect the Oceanic 6 and save the island, and, maybe, the world.

I’m glad the show has decided to full-on embrace the time travel aspect and also glad that they’re actually doing it right, adhering to the major principle that you cannot change the past. I would, however, like to see a better balance of the stories that take place off-island. For instance, “The Lie” could have done entirely without that conversation between Kate and Sun that didn’t serve any purpose at all. What I do want to know is exactly when Sun encountered Widmore at the airport (as she was intending to leave L.A. when it occurred) and precisely what he wants from her. (Or, for that matter, what she wants from him.) The show has always worked best when there is one person focused on in flashback or flashforward, balanced against the actions on the island. And the narrative now has to find a way to still maintain a single character focus, somehow, while balancing everything else.