Lost


The Wife:

Please bear with me, as I’m trying to process everything that happened in “The Incident” as I write this. Finally, we meet Jacob, ye most mysterious of island god-figures, and in addition to being a great weaver of the tapestry of fate (which is what I believe he is, as the metaphor of fate as woven exists in several ancient mythologies, as well as in Wanted), he’s also Mark Pellegrino and cooks up some mean orange roughy on hot-ass rocks. He also has a friend, a friend with no name who seems to be slightly at odds with Jacob as they sit, looking out at the clipper ship on the ocean that will undoubtedly be revealed to be the Black Rock and will likely carry one Richard Alpert, helper to island gods and island leaders.

Jacob’s unnamed associate asserts that he knows that Jacob brought the Black Rock here, specifically to prove him wrong about, I assume, humanity. Since I just went back and watched this intro, let me give you the rest of their conversation from this point:

Dude: “They come. Fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”
Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that, it’s just progress.”
Dude: “Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?”
Jacob: “Yes.”
Dude: “One of these days, sooner or later, I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.”
Jacob: “Well, when you do I’ll be right here.”
Dude: “Always nice talking to you, Jacob.”
Jacob: “Nice talking to you, too.”

It seems pretty clear to me that my husband is right about the battle of the gods that’s taking place on this island, with Jacob and this other dude trying to prove something to one another about human nature (I think). To facilitate that argument, Jacob has started bringing people to the island, setting up a tropical microcosm in which to prove his point. I think Jacob is trying to prove that there is some inherent goodness in humanity, hence why we spent the first season of this show examining how being marooned on a tropical island with total strangers can somehow serve as atonement for sins of the past. And just as he brought the Black Rock to the island, so, too, he brought the castaways, as seen through a series of flashbacks:

  • Kate: Saved her from juvie as a child when she and young Mackenzie Astin stole an NKOTB lunchbox. He makes her promise that she’ll never steal again.
  • Sawyer: At the boy’s parents’ funeral, Jacob gives young Sawyer a pencil to finish the letter he will carry with him until the day he kills Anthony Cooper. Sawyer’s uncle tells him that what’s done is done.
  • Jin and Sun: As the only white man at their beautiful wedding, he reminds them to never doubt their love for one another, a compliment to Jin’s moving vows, which promise that he and Sun will never be apart because that would be like the sky being apart from the earth.
  • Locke: When his father tosses him out a window, Jacob is nearby reading Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Arises Must Converge (perhaps a subtle nod to assure the viewers that, yes, everything brought up on this crazy-ass show will make sense in the end). He revives unconscious Locke with a touch and tells him everything will be okay.
  • Sayid: Jacob distracts Sayid while crossing an L.A. street while Nadya gets hit by a car and dies, and I gasped out loud because it was so horrifying.
  • Jack: After his father gives him hell during his first surgery, Jack tries to get an Apollo bar out of the machine. It gets stuck and he confronts his father. Jacob makes Jack feel better by getting a second candy bar and giving one to Jack. “I guess it just needed a little push,” he says, which isn’t just about the candy bar.
  • Ilana: As she lies wounded in a Russian hospital, Jacob comes to ask her to help him.
  • Hurley: When he gets discharged from jail, Jacob is waiting to share a cab with him. He asks Hurley why he won’t go back to the island, to which he replies that he’s cursed. Jacob suggests that his ability to talk to the dead is a blessing and tells Hurley he has a choice to be on A316 and leaves him Charlie’s guitar. (Or the guitar that will replace Charlie’s on the plane.)


This is not the order in which these Jacob flashbacks occur, but I listed them in this way because the first three people didn’t seem to follow the path Jacob set for them. Kate still became a criminal. Sawyer lives his life with the goal of killing the real Sawyer. And Sun and Jin do doubt their love. But, as with the rest of the people Jacob visited, they do come to the island. They do, ultimately, end up where Jacob wants them. Because Ilana is part of this group, I believe this lends some credibility to the theory that Oceanic 815 was not the plane that was supposed to come to the island, but that Ajira 316 was. However, I can’t totally buy that O815 was never meant to be because it allowed so many people to redeem themselves and atone for their pasts: for Jin and Sun to save their marriage, especially.

Look how happy they could have been if they had just listened to that nice white man!

Look how happy they could have been if they had just listened to that nice white man!


So what about that H bomb and Jack’s quest to reset history and erase everyone’s stories of redemption? Alpert, Sayid, Swayer and Eloise puzzle over how to transport a giant bomb across the island, and Sayid finds instructions in Faraday’s journal that indicate they only need to use the core. Sayid, who can now add dismantling atomic bombs to his ever-growing skillset, removes the core and carefully wraps it. Richard moves a wall in the tunnel that leads into the cellar of a Dharma house (just like Ben has a secret closet that leads to his Smokey-calling device; also his magical Schrödinger’s cat box in which he kept Anthony Cooper). Eloise insists that she wants to lead the way because she will not hesitate to kill any Dharmites that get in the way. Richard reminds her that she’s pregnant, and then knocks her unconscious, instructing Jack and Sayid to go on without them because he has helped them as much as he can. Because of all the hullabaloo going down in Dharmaville, Sayid and Jack try to hide in plain sight by donning Dharma uniforms. This works, until Roger Linus recognizes Sayid and shoots him right in the gut, despite Sayid’s protest that he’s kind of carrying a nuclear device. (Roger Linus douchebag points just keep on adding up.) A giant shootout ensues, and Jin, Hurley and Miles swing by in a Dharma van just in time to pick up Jack and Sayid, which pleases Jack to no end. Sayid, who is pretty certain he’s going to die, tells Jack that he just needs to stay alive long enough to rewire the bomb to detonate on impact.

As for Kate the Romance Ruiner, she informs Juliet and Sawyer that Jack is planning to blow up the island and erase history. Sawyer seems totally fine with this because Kate returning to the island totally fucked up his great life as LaFleur. But Juliet decides that they can’t let everyone die, so she engineers an escape from the sub and the three of them row back to the shore after instructing the sub captain to stay on his course and get away as quickly as possible. Once on land, they begin their quest to stop Jack by running in to Vincent, who takes them to the fantastic little island cabin where Rose and Bernard have been living for the past three years. (Best use of “Son of a Bitch” ever: Bernard, upon seeing the trio for the first time since the flaming arrow attack.) Rose and Bernard want nothing to do with this whole crazy stopping Jack plan. They’ve been living happily in the jungle and show great disdain for all of the fighting factions amongst their former people. My theory: when whatever happens at the end of this episode happens, Rose and Bernard become Adam and Eve, the skeletons in the cave from season 1, each of which held a white and a black rock. I don’t know how that would work, necessarily, but I like it, especially because Rose and Bernard both agreed that they’d be totally fine with dying should someone fail to stop Jack. Kate, Sawyer and Juliet head off on their way, despite Rose and Bernard’s assurance that none of this really matters, and stop the van.

Son of a bitch! Its those damn meddlesome kids again!

Son of a bitch! It's those damn meddlesome kids again!

Meanwhile, Locke, Ben, Alpert and the others continue on their path to Jacob. Alpert marvels at how Locke is alive, given the recent information he receive that Ben had strangled him to death. Alpert tells Locke that he is immortal because of Jacob, which Locke reckons is how he came to be alive again, as well. He also mentions that he plans to “deal with” the rest of the Ajira passengers once he’s done killing Jacob. Ben informs Locke of his promise to his dead daughter, who instructed him to do whatever Locke says, no matter what. Locke grins from ear to ear upon hearing this, because now he won’t have to convince Ben to kill Jacob. Ben will simply do it. Ben tells Locke what he already knew: that Ben was faking his conversation with Jacob the first time he took Locke to the cabin. He admits that he has never seen Jacob, the man who gave him orders for all those years as leader of the Others. “So yes, I lied,” he mutters. “That’s what I do.” He asks Locke why he has to be the one to kill Jacob, and Locke simply says that after all his years in service to the island, he got cancer, saw his daughter die and was banished – shouldn’t that be reason enough?

As for Ilana, Bram and the rest of the Ajira passengers, they’ve taken an unconscious Lapidus on their journey to whatever lies in the shadow of the statue, along with a giant-ass box. Lapidus wakes up to hear Bram dismiss him as unworthy of being some kind of sacrifice, and they show Lapidus what’s in that thar box, leading me to squeel, “What’s in the box!? What’s in the box?!” at every commercial break. Bram assures Lapidus that he and his cronies are the good guys as they cart that box to Jacob’s cabin. Ilana enters and finds the place trashed. She tells everyone to burn it down because Jacob’s not there (but his dog man portrait is; so much for the Jacob the Dog Man theories) and someone else has been using it. When Bram questions her motives, she hands him a piece of the tapestry Jacob had woven and pinned to the wall.

Sawyer takes Jack aside and requests five minutes to convince him not to change what had happened by telling him that last year, in 1976, the other Sawyer killed his parents. At any time during his tenure in Dharmaville, he could have taken a sub off-island and stopped it. But he didn’t because what’s done is done. Sawyer urges Jack to admit why he’s doing this, and Jack says he wants to erase time because he fucked up his relationship with Kate. Sawyer casually reminds him that if what he does works out, he won’t even meet Kate and she’ll spend her days in handcuffs. So Jack and Sawyer solve this the only way they know how: a super bloody fistfight, later broken up by Juliet, who now believes that they have to allow Jack to do what he wants to do. Why did she change her mind? Because Sawyer bothered to look at that freckled homewrecker when she descended into the sub. Just because they love each other, Juliet says, doesn’t mean they should be together. “If I never meet you,” she tells him, “then I never have to lose you.” (This revelation was mitigated by a flashback to her parents divorce, and was the only flashback not involving Jacob in this episode. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? It strikes me as odd.)


After the fight, Kate and Jack reenact their first meeting on the island as she cleans his wounds. She tells him she came back to save Claire and Aaron, because if Jack’s plan works, then Aaron would never be away from his mum. Even though she planned to give him up for adoption, she never would have gotten on that plane and maybe, just maybe, she’d have had a choice about what to do with her son. Hearing Kate’s belief in his plan, Jack insists that nothing in his life has ever felt as right as what he is about to do. So while Phil alerts Radzinsky to Sayid’s presence, Radzinsky remains on the warpath, insisting that he must keep drilling at the Swan site, no matter what the cost. Pierre Chang, who has tried his damnedest to get as many people off the island as possible, tries to convince Radzinsky to stop drilling, but he won’t do it. Jack takes the bomb, ready to drop it as close to the site of electromagnetism as possible and as he heads off, Miles suddenly points out to his companions that maybe, just maybe, Jack is going to end up causing the very thing he’s trying to prevent. “Maybe that little nuke IS the incident?” he questions. “Glad you guys thought this one through.”

With Hurley driving the Dharmavan, everyone in the group pulls up shooting to give Jack and clear path to the drilling site. As he drops the bomb, they all brace for their imminent death . . . but nothing happens . . . until suddenly anything metal gets sucked down the drill hole, including the drill itself, which collapses and crushes Pierre Chang’s left arm (thus confirming the theory that he would lose it in he Incident, which is why his left arm looks strangely immobile in all the Dharma videos). Phil gets impaled with rebar, which made me really happy.

I was going to try to be serious about this, but, holy wow, is not the most awesome, hilarious still youve ever seen?

I was going to try to be serious about this, but, holy wow, is not the most awesome, hilarious still you've ever seen?

Worse, though, is that a metal chain wraps itself around Juliet’s waist and drags her down into the hole. Kate, a woman she spent some time handcuffed to once, tries to save her, but loses her grip as Juliet calls out for Sawyer. He begs her to hold on, but the pull is too strong and she lets go, assuring him that he loves her and I AM SO COMPLETELY SAD IN THAT MOMENT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF! Why wouldn’t it have taken Kate!? No one likes her!

Richard leads Locke and crew to the statue, where he says Jacob lives now, but as Locke leads Ben in, Richard protests and insists that no one but the leaders get to see Jacob. To which Locke suggests that, since he’s the leader, he’s sure Richard can make an exception. After they enter, Ilana and her crew arrive at the statue. She calls Alpert “Ricardos,” and asks him what lies in the shadow of the statue. Richard responds, in Latin, “”Ille qui nos omnes servabit,” which, according to the good folks at Lostpedia, is Latin for “He who shall protect/save us all.” Because he passed her test, she reveals to him, and us, the contents of the box. Just like last season, it’s Locke’s corpse, which prompts Sun to ask: if that’s Locke, then who the fuck just entered Jacob’s house?

The answer is that Jacob’s frenemy from the opening sequence, his rival island god, found his loophole. As Not-Locke urges Ben to do as he says and kill Jacob, Jacob insists that Ben has a choice. He can kill him, or he can simply leave. But Ben, finally in the presence of the man he worked so hard for without any recognition, becomes a simpering, wounded child and wonders aloud why this is the first time in his 35 years Jacob isn’t ignoring him. (Although, I would venture that it’s not the first time, being as Ben was brought back to life and all.) So Ben does what any mild sociopath would do and stabs the shit out of Jacob, allowing Not-Locke to incinerate him in his own fireplace as Jacob whispers, “They’re coming.”

E tu, Ben?

E tu, Ben?

But finally, before I ruminate on some stuff, there’s one more piece of information that’s necessary here. It seems the bomb didn’t detonate at all, as Juliet lies at the bottom of the Swan pit, only a few feet away from the bomb. And so, desperate, I think, to be sure that what was supposed to happen happened, she reaches for a rock and smashes it against the bomb as my television screen went white and the title card appears.

We’re left here with the big question: can you change the past or not? I believe still as I have always believed that what’s done is done, whatever happened, happened and so Juliet’s sacrifice was entirely the way things were supposed to go down. I’ll spend the rest of today reading the opinions of those who say otherwise, though, because that would be a really interesting turn of events. However, because I believe that Jacob wanted to prove human goodness to his unnamed assassin, these events serve as a proof of that. I think this Incident is the thing that’s supposed to send everyone back to 2007 (except for Juliet and Sayid, who I think are pretty much dead). And next season, everyone will have to unite in a front against Not-Locke and fight against the new island god. There are, of course, multiple ways to interpret Jacob’s last words, but I take them as a warning to Not-Locke about those who follow Jacob, those who will avenge him in his name.

I do not, however, have any thoughts on what exactly Not-Locke’s loophole is (other than borrowing the image of a dead body) or its necessity in convincing a follower to kill Jacob. As always, a riveting finale, which is everything I’ve come to expect from Lost and it’s only a bummer that I have to wait until 2010 (dude, how weird is it that next year is 2010?) to continue the journey. Now I’m going to go write about something easy, like Top Model. Because Lost makes my brain hurt.

The Husband:

Lost did something incredible this year.

Despite the awesomeness of the time travel and the paradoxes it created, the philosophy getting thrown down hard over the last 16 episode, the tragic and unflinching hand of fate, the battling timelines and the fact that it’s amazing that we as audiences can accept that we can follow Richard in two concurrent timelines 30 years separated without thinking it’s even remotely weird, it did one thing that I consider amazing.

It turned Sawyer into the show’s greatest tragic figure.

Whats done is done.

What's done is done.

Sure, I loved Sawyer before, playing an incredible foil, both dramatic and comedic, to Jack’s honor, Locke’s faith and Kate’s “goodness,” and he was responsible for just as many badass moments as the one and only Sayid (to quote Drew McWeeney over at HitFix.com, “I love how Sayid’s so badass he can just walk around the jungle with a hydrogen bomb slung over his shoulder”). His backstory, true, was indeed tragic, but had been so clouded by dark revenge, seemingly from the moment his own personal Incident occurred, that the emotions were buried under so many layers of hate.

Here’s something I wrote for the eight episode of this season, “LaFleur”:

But what I loved was that it gave Sawyer, for once, his first uplifting storyline of the entire series. We’ve been smacked with his terrible life again and again – his dead parents, his bloodlust on his search to find the original Sawyer, his destructive cons, and all the bad decisions he’s made on the islands – so it’s just such a breath of fresh air to see a happy, productive, non-thieving, non-growling James Ford/James LaFleur. His redemption as a person, or as much as what can be called redemption, drove my emotions in this episode more than most of Jack’s entire arc, and that’s impressive.

Hell, I teared up twice during the last ten minutes of the episode, first when he and Juliet kiss and the second when Sawyer spots Kate Austen coming out of the blue VW van only moments after revealing that he couldn’t even remember her face anymore. And these tears are for the guy who stole items out of people’s luggage for bartering purposes in s1. Come on, man. Give some respect.

In short, he evolved into an honorable and overall good human being. A leader. A decider. A lover. A faithful man. And a potential family down the line after having fucked up everything with Cassidy and Clementine back in the real world.

But here’s Jack to fuck everything up, playing a part in destiny’s cruel game. And every step moves Sawyer and Juliet closer to the collapse of their relationship, disallowing Sawyer from any semblance of happiness no matter how hard he fought to make it otherwise. And no moment is worse than Juliet’s hand slipping from his, as she plummets down into the Swan hatch, where a hydrogen bomb waits for her. Sawyer was given everything he ever asked for, and it’s been ripped away. And there’s no question that he’s going to rage against this next season. He may not have believed in destiny before, but he might now.

I am completely in the dark about what next season entails, and I like it that way. I avoid spoilers, I avoid little nuggets of clues, and I tend to even avoid most speculation. Just give it to me good in 2010, and I’ll be happy.

The Wife:

Even though they were in two different time periods, this episode felt very much like the Jack vs. Locke leadership quests in season three. Only here, Jack, desperate to try and change the past so that the 815ers never crash on the island, puts himself in Faraday’s place to carry out the instructions in his journal. Locke, on the other hand, is at once following the timeline and, perhaps, totally destroying it in his final act in this episode: leading the Others to Jacob’s cabin . . . so they can watch him kill Jacob.

In 1977, Widmore rounds up the nearby Jack and Kate after Faraday is shot, and Eloise meets with them in her tent. She wants to know why Faraday needed to find the bomb, telling them of how she remembered meeting a man who told her to bury the bomb when she was 17. Jack tries to convince her, and Kate, that they need to follow Faraday’s plan and reverse what is about to happen on the island. Because Jack is a total moron and I’ll never understand why Kate was attracted to him in the first place, he rambles on about how great it will be to have erased all the misery of being stuck on that island from their lives, not realizing at all that he’s basically telling her that he wishes they were never together. (A fact that still doesn’t seem to sink in, even when Kate protests that the 815ers time together “wasn’t all misery.”) Way to go, Jack. You are a fucking dumbass and you are never sleeping with Kate, like, ever again. Eloise, however, seems more keen to follow her dead son’s journal and agrees to take Jack to the bomb, which is now buried under Dharmaville, it seems.

Jack, youre a bitch. And I am done with your bitch shit. You will never, ever tap this again, understood?

Jack, you're a bitch. And I am done with your bitch shit. You will never, ever tap this again, understood?

Jack just can’t seem to shake that hero complex, even though we’re all well aware that the real leader of the castaways in the 1970s is Sawyer, who has his own trials now that Ranjinsky has taken up torturing him in front of Juliet in order to get information about where Kate took young Ben Linus. Sawyer refuses to divulge any information, so Phil takes it into his own hands to get Sawyer to talk by busting Juliet’s lip. (At which point I had a flashback to the scene in Mad Men where Jimmy Barrett takes Betty Draper aside and quietly, metaphorically punches her in the face by revealing the affair their spouses are having. Patrick Fischler is really good at making women hurt.) In greater Dharmaville, Hurley is busy stealing food to bring on his trip to the beach with Miles, Jin and, presumably, Sawyer and Juliet. Dr. Chang catches him and follows him out to meet with his companions, checking the veracity of Faraday’s claim. Miles tells his father that Faraday has been right about everything so far, and that it would be best if he followed the slain physicists instructions and got as many people off of the island as possible.

Chang heads down into the security station to get Horace to call off the imminent drilling at the Swan station, but Ranjinsky steps up and declares himself to be in charge, and when he’s in charge, everything will be completed on schedule. Sawyer tells Chang to get all of the women and children on the island on that submarine, and promises to tell them whatever they want in exchange for a place for himself and his Juliet on that vessel. Ranjinsky agrees to this deal, and demands that Sawyer give him a map to Hostile territory.

Meanwhile, Widmore tries to prevent Ellie from taking Faraday’s friends to the bomb. We don’t get to hear their conversation, so I’m just inferring all of that from hand gestures. Another thing I’m inferring from hand gestures: did anyone else notice the way Widmore held his hand to Eloise’s stomach during that unheard conversation? Because I did, and now I think that she must have been pregnant with Daniel at this time, thus carrying her son at the very moment she would shoot him. But whatever Widmore might have said to her, she goes on anyway, taking Richard Alpert along with Jack and Kate. Once they get to a stream, Eloise tells them that they have to swim through a passage in order to get to “the tunnels,” and Kate refuses to go. Eloise’s bodyguard/red shirt shoots at Kate, but he is felled by a stealthily concealed Sayid. (Well, played, Sayid! We kind of forgot you were just roaming around in the jungles, being the new Rousseau and shit.) Jack explains to Sayid that they’re going to change the timeline by detonating Jughead, and Sayid, smugly informs them that he already has changed the timeline by killing Ben Linus . . . at which point Kate bursts his smug assassin bubble. Jack tries one last time to convince Kate to help him change things, but she’s not having any of his newfound Faraday Fervor, and informs him that he’s starting to sound an awful lot like his old crazy nemesis, John Locke. So she leaves to return to Dharmaville, while Ellie, Sayid, Jack and Richard swim to the tunnels, which appear to be an extension of the Temple.

There’s an interesting similarity here in the entrance to the tunnels being through water to the pool of water Ben drains below his house. Some astute folks have noted that water seems to act as a barrier for the Smoke Monster (as in smoke cannot pass through water, so, if you want to keep Smokey at bay, fucking put a moat around your shit), so this part of the Temple, the tunnels, appear to be an No Smokey Zone. Can we not trust Smoke Monsters with hydrogen bombs? (Probably not.) I am, however, curious about two things now. 1.) How far do the tunnels go? Is there a subterranean system of catacombs under the surface of the island, connecting virtually everything? 2.) Was this really the safest way to bury a hydrogen bomb? I’m pretty sure Faraday would have preferred to have the thing literally encased in concrete, not just casually resting on its side in a subterranean lair. But what do I know. I’m not a time traveling physicist.

Kate continues her bubble bursting when she returns to camp and Ranjinsky orders that she be put on the submarine, totally ruining Sawyer and Juliet’s plans to have a happy life off the island when they disappear once the sub docks. Elizabeth Mitchell’s “aw, hell no!” face is so amazing, and I definitely wouldn’t want to be stuck on a submarine for God knows how long with Kate Austen, either. I feel for Juliet. She and Sawyer had a good thing going, and then the A3 showed up and totally ruined everything. And now that bitch your man used to pine over is all up on your love submarine? That shit’s no good, yo. That shit’s no good.

Does this remind anyone else of that song from Peter Pan? Because thats all I can think of right now.

Does this remind anyone else of that song from Peter Pan? Because that's all I can think of right now.

As for John Locke, he’s taking his “I’m the leader” business very, very seriously, becoming almost as cocksure and manipulative as his comedy partner, Ben Linus. He drags Richard Alpert away from his fun-time activity of building ships in a bottle (I think there’s a beautiful metaphor there, but I’m not sure what it is yet) to go and visit Jacob. Alpert is astounded to see Locke alive, and he promises to tell the immortal Other all about his resurrection on the way, but not before Sun can interrupt this reunion and as Alpert about Dharmaville ’77. He tells her that he does, indeed, remember meeting everyone in that photograph “very clearly, because I watched them all die.” Ominous portents of certain doom aside, Locke assures Sun that he’ll find a way to keep everyone from meeting that fate, which seems to pacify her enough. (She’s not so lady vengeance on the island, is she? Where is the Sun with the balls to stand up to her dad and, maybe, shoot Ben Linus? I miss that Sun.) So Locke leads Ben and Alpert out to the biplane that night and gives Alpert very detailed instructions about how to remove bullets, giving old men who think they’re special compasses and, most importantly, telling said old men they have to die in order to bring all of their friends back to the island. Ben is very impressed by watching Locke watch himself get set on his path to destiny and asks how he knew exactly when to be there, resulting in my favorite Locke and Linus Comedy Moment of the evening:


Locke: The island told me. Didn’t it tell you things?

Ben: No, John. It didn’t.


Seriously, the hilarity in that is entirely up to Locke’s smarminess and Michael Emerson’s brilliantly sarcastic line reading.

When they return to camp, Locke insists that he speak to everyone there, and Alpert acquiesces, because his capacity as an advisor seems to be “let the leaders fuck shit up however they want.” John, like Nietzsche, has a “God is Dead” moment where he announces to the camp that he questions Jacob’s capacity as an omniscient leader, and even his existence. He intends to take everyone to Jacob’s cabin so that they can witness whether or not Jacob exists. En route, he tells Ben that they’re not going to see Jacob to fulfill his promise to Sun of reuniting with their friends in Dharmaville ’77, but to kill Jacob.

I’ve long said that Locke’s resurrection has made him a kind of deity figure, someone semi-omniscient, perhaps on the level of Richard Alpert, but now I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been wrong about that and Locke’s resurrection has actually changed him into a non-believer, merely enacting things he knew would come to pass to mock Ben and the giant cosmic game that ultimately got him killed. If he is able to kill Jacob, the island’s mysterious God-like figure, would that destroy the cosmic order of the island, thus fulfilling Nietzsche’s nihilist philosophical stance with a lack of cosmic or moral order (since it’s a human invention, anyway)? And can a man that cannot be seen even be killed, anyway? This new Locke is puzzling, and I don’t really know how to read him or his actions anymore, but I have a feeling that whatever he’s set off to do cannot be good.

The Husband:

While I’m not surprised that Hurley, when put under pressure and questioned by Dr. Chang, couldn’t keep up the façade that he belonged in 1977 and declares that he was born in 1931 (dunno where he got that number), I am surprised that he was unaware of the Korean War. Dude watches a lot of television, so I would assume that he’s seen his share of M*A*S*H. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

And so the mindfucker just got mindfucked, as John Locke sent Richard Alpert to talk to injured alterna-Locke, and the deity situation on this show becomes increasingly more complicated. Are we going to have a battle of the Gods next season? Is all of this going to look like the climax of All Dogs Go to Heaven?

I also hope that characters stop proclaiming that they can change the order of things — I’m looking at you, Jack — because I’m under the impression that last week’s The Lamentable Death of Faraday episode pretty much solidified this as being a fool’s errand. So next week should be the last mention of this, o the show’s going to start repeating itself and annoying those of us who pretty much understood the time travel concept from the get-go. (Thank you, once again, time paradoxes put forth in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.)

The Wife:

We still don’t know exactly what Daniel Faraday was off doing in Ann Arbor, but we do know that because 1977 is the present for the Freighties and O6ers, they can die.

And my beloved scruffy physicist is dead. Shot by his own mother. Which is, like, totally harsh, dude.

We do know, though, that during his time in Ann Arbor, Faraday got to thinking about his whole “whatever happened, happened” hypothesis and returns to the island thinking that he might be able to actually change the future. He tells Jack and the rest of the A3 that they “don’t belong here,” and proceeds to sneak into the construction site of the Orchid station to vainly warn Pierre Chang against releasing the island’s electromagnetic energy. He warns him that one day, an incident will occur at the site of The Swan, which he knows because he’s from the future. He also informs Chang that Miles there is his son, all growed up, which Chang doesn’t seem to have much of a reaction to other than cementing his assumption that Faraday is batshit crazy. Faraday explains to Miles that he’s just playing agent of destiny, telling Chang all of these things so that he does what he’s supposed to do (i.e. get people off the island prior to, possibly, what is known as “The Incident,” which we’ll learn all about in the finale – two of those people being his wife and son). He later sets little Charlotte on her path, telling her that she needs to leave the island on the submarine with her mommy and not return. (I greatly appreciated the detail where she announces she isn’t allowed to eat chocolate for dinner, which was my favorite part of her dying ramblings. It really cemented that her mind collapsed back to this moment when she was set on her “destined path.”)

With Phil tied up in the closet, Sawyer and Juliet realize that their time amongst the Dharma Initiative has to come to an end soon. He provides the A3 and the Left Behinders with a choice: they can get on the sub and leave the island without incident, or they can go back to the beginning and disappear into the jungles. Jin refuses to leave if there’s even a chance that Sun is on the island, and Faraday bursts in, wanting to know how he can find the Hostiles. He needs to talk to his mother, he says, and get her help in getting everyone back to their correct place in time. Juliet gives Dan the code for the fence (141717) and Sawyer sends Jack and Kate to steal a motorpool van and take him out to Hostile territory. Once they’re out the door, Sawyer and Juliet send Hurley to pack a bag and, hand in hand, the LaFleurs begin to pack up the life they’ve made together.

Worst. Mod Squad. Ever.

Worst. Mod Squad. Ever.

Once Dan, Kate and Jack hit up the motorpool, they’re stopped by Ranjinsky, who is rightfully suspicious of their activities and starts a shootout with them, grazing Faraday’s neck with a bullet, which, once the trio are safely off to the fence in a Dharma Jeep, having distracted Ranjinsky et al with explodeys, causes him to ruminate on the fact that the things happening to them in 1977 constitute their present, so they are not infallible, in a nice bit of foreshadowing. He explains that he’d spent a lot of time thinking about what is constant with time travel, but never about the variables. People, he supposes, are the variables. People like himself, Kate and Jack, trapped in a time in which they do not belong. If that’s true, then perhaps they can change things before they start to happen. There will be an incident involving a release of energy, which causes Dharma to build The Swan to contain that energy by pressing a button every 108 minutes which, one day, Desmond David Hume will fail to press, releasing a burst of energy that brings down Oceanic 815 and sets the castaways past in motion. But if Faraday can prevent that incident from occurring by detonating a hydrogen bomb (Jughead, which he conveniently told the Hostiles to bury), he might be able to stop all of that from happening.

Ranjinsky and his men head to LaFleur to report what just happened to them and find that he’s packing to leave. Once they discover Phil in the closet, Ranjinksy holds the two hostage and threatens to shoot them as the alarm sounds over Dharmaville, putting everyone on high alert. Faraday enters into Hostile territory brandishing a gun and demanding to see Eloise. Alpert tries to calm him down, seeming to recognize the scruffy physicist but not quite sure from where until Daniel tells him he helped him bury a bomb in 1954 (which really freaks Alpert out, presumably because he thought he was the only person in the world that doesn’t age). But before Alpert can help Daniel get to that bomb, he’s shot in the back, by his own mother. As he dies, he mutters: “You knew. You always knew this was going to happen. Yet you sent me anyway.”

In fact, Eloise had been pushing Daniel toward this destiny all along. Although he loved music as a child, she pushed him toward mathematics, citing his natural ability for numbers, demonstrated by the fact that, even as he plays music, he knows exactly how many times the metronome has moved since he began. I really loved the following exchange between Eloise and her young son, which I found eerily prescient and indicative of Daniel’s character arc for this episode:

Daniel: I can do both. I can make time.
Eloise: If only you could.

At Oxford, Faraday’s mother tried to push him away from girlfriend/lab assistant Theresa Spencer, warning him that every woman in his life will get hurt, but covering by suggesting that they’ll come to that state by always feeling like they’re second to his work. (Not, you know, because their minds will time travel and then collapse, leaving Theresa in a coma and Charlotte, well, dead.) Later, to commemorate the receipt of his doctorate, Eloise gives Daniel the beautiful leather journal we’ve seen him cling to throughout his tenure on Lost. Its inscription reads, “No matter what happens, remember that I will always love you.” That day, he also receives a $1.5M Pound Sterling research grant from one Charles Widmore, the research that eventually puts Theresa in a coma and turns Daniel into a gibbering mess of what he once was when he tests his theories on himself. Widmore pays him a visit after the crash of Oceanic 815, which the then-addled Daniel feels strangely, emotionally connected to, and tells the young scientist that he faked the wreckage and that people from that flight are still alive on a mysterious island that, if Daniel can help him find it, will heal him and make him capable of doing research again. Although he isn’t sure he can do what Widmore wants him to do, Eloise convinces him to go along on Widmore’s journey, promising him that it will heal his broken mind.

Totally invariable: my love for Daniel Faraday.

Totally invariable: my love for Daniel Faraday.

The exchange between Faraday and Eloise at his childhood piano and her inscription in his journal, I think, are really the touchstones for this episode. As I mentioned before, Daniel’s childhood wish that he can “make time” ends up being exactly what he tries to do before being shot down by his own mother figuratively (in that childhood exchange) and literally in his final scene in Hostile territory. She goes to visit Desmond and Penny in hospital to explain to Ms. Hume how her son is responsible for Des getting shot in the groceries (which, by the way, do not stop bullets – Des is just totally badass and fought Ben through the pain), which is, I think, her way of admitting her own responsibility for the hand she had in Faraday’s fate. Later, after Penny has gone in to talk to her husband (who is A-OK thanks to that grocery shield), Eloise runs into Widmore outside the hospital. He tells her he won’t go in to see Penny because he had to sacrifice his relationship with his daughter to do his work, a claim which angers Eloise so much that she feels the need to defend her actions toward her son, because while Widmore may have sacrificed his relationship with Penny, it was Eloise who sacrificed her son. She guided him on the path of his destiny, which was ultimately to be shot by her own hand. (By the way, Widmore is Faraday’s dad, in case you were wondering. And he is rather unmoved by this whole situation.) Yes, Daniel’s dying words were correct. She knew. And yet she sent him anyway because that’s how things had to happen. Death was Faraday’s present, but there was no way he was going to be able to change the island’s past – Eloise was always going to stop him. Whatever happened, happened.

This, along with Eloise’s sweet, but sad, “If only you could,” feeds in to Lost‘s greater themes about fate and destiny, in adding more proof that they are constant. But I’m struck here by the similarity between Eloise and the Virgin Mary, both of whom lived their entire maternal lives knowing that their sons were born to die as sacrificial lambs for God, Fate or the Greater Good. I’ve never thought of Eloise as sympathetic before or even really relatable (even though she is played by the wonderful Fionnula Flannigan). But here, in seeing her relationship to her son, I think I finally got to know her, and I do believe that the cold, manipulative face of the Agent of Fate is indeed tempered with a heavy amount of maternal sadness. That “if only you could” is as much mourning her son’s eventual death as it is mourning her own inability to prevent it, in spite of the fact that, as a loving mother, she should do what she can to protect her son, to be a Warrior Mother like Kate.

I may not have been moved to tears by “The Variable” as I was by its clear partner “The Constant,” but I think it’s a pretty brilliant, poetic and moving addition to the Lost canon. Yet another stellar episode in a stellar season. I will be forever haunted by the image on young Daniel’s futile protest of his destined path, wanting to sit at that piano and make time, as he unconsciously counts the movements of the metronome, keeping time the way it is and was, not the way he wants it to be.

The Husband:

A terrifying, tragic episode in a season of slow burns and emotional catharses. While many of the episodes this year may not be the most exciting or adrenaline-pumping, they are the most intellectually stimulating, not only for their deep dive into metaphysics and time travel but also their storybook-like acknowledgement of destinies both spiritual and scientific. As Faraday struggles to get a grasp on the past, present and future, doing everything in his power to rationalize the impossible, we as viewers see a different plot of a desperate man railing against what he knows in the back of his mind is incapable of being changed. The bright, brilliant man who has helped the Losties so greatly with his exposition and knowledge of the island and all of its physics-related qualities now becomes the helpless pawn in a game he is all to familiar with, and it’s startlingly upsetting.

The worst moment, in terms of pity, comes when Daniel approaches young Charlotte and proceeds to tell her what we already knew, that one day a strange man came to her and told her to never come back to the island for fear of death, and it’s Faraday’s sadness that truly makes the scene incredible. Nothing he could say to Charlotte could make her not return to the island, because we all know she will. Faraday knows it too, but it’s as if he thinks that if he believes it enough, he can change both their destinies. Alas.

I’m not sure if I can handle Faraday being dead. If there’s any other character in this show that I would love to be resurrected Locke-style, it would be him. But if this is the last we see of him, we know he went out on a great episode overflowing with emotion, information and the cruel hand of fate.

The Wife:

Finally, everyone’s favorite ghost whisperer (seriously, nobody actually watches that show, right?) got his feature episode, in which we learn just how long Miles Straum has had his spectral communicative abilities, and a whole lot about his relationship with the island and how he got back there. That’s right. Back there. As I (and pretty much every other Lost blogger/amateur theorist out there) suspected, Miles was that wee Asian baby whom Pierre Chang/Marvin Candle/Edgar Halliwax had to tend to in the middle of the night in the season opener, soothing the child to sleep with that skipping Willie Nelson record (although his wife would have preferred jazz). We now know that Miles and his mother were forced to leave the island before the boy was four or five, and that by that time, he had already developed his ability to hear the voices of the dead. I loved the scene where, on the first day in his new non-island apartment building, little Miles finds the body of a man who had committed suicide in his apartment, and keeps screaming “He’s still talking!” when asked how he knew to find the man.

Over the years, Miles started using his ability to talk to the dead for money. Only, as he later explains to Hurley on their fateful road trip to what will soon be The Hatch, Miles can only hear the thoughts the dead were carrying when they died, as their brains cease to function. Hurley, on the other hand, has entire conversations with dead people. He even sometimes plays chess with them. I wonder if the differences between Miles and Hurley’s spectral connections have to do with the presence of bodies. Hurley, it seems, is visited by ghosts as we traditionally know ghosts (or the island’s special brand of ghosts, whatever that may be), but Miles really isn’t a ghost whisperer at all. He has a psychic connection to the dead, but only in the presence of their corporeal form. Without it, he can’t do his job, per the scene with Mr. Grey, who asks Miles to speak to his dead son (now ashes) and tell him he loves him. Miles tells the man that it won’t work without the body, but takes his money anyway, only to much later return it, not because he lied to give the man closure, but because Miles’ own daddy issues got the best of him. “If you needed your son to know that you loved him,” he says, “you should have told him while he was still alive.” Pair that with the scene of cute young punk rocker Miles (seriously, how cute is Ken Leung with a labret and snake bites?) visiting his mother on her death bed to ask about his father, and his recoiling from her touch when she tells him that his father had kicked them out, and was now dead, but that his body, cryptically, was “someplace you can never go,” and you have the emotional core of this episode: Miles’ aptly referenced Skywalker-like quest to know his father.

That douche is my dad.

That douche is my dad.

But there’s also, I think, a hint in that scene as to why the good Man of Many Names sent his wife and son away. I think he discovered his son’s ability to read corpses long before his wife ever did, and sent them away for two reasons: 1) So that little Miles wouldn’t inadvertently learn many of the islands secrets that he wasn’t supposed to know, and 2) to protect them from that knowledge, whatever it might be–especially if Chang himself were to die and his son were to read his corpse. It’s precisely to learn the island’s secrets from its numerous corpses that Widmore sends Naomi to recruit Miles for the freighter mission. She alludes to the many people Ben has killed, and, I think, specifically to The Purge. She tests him by having him read the corpse of Felix, Widmore’s ex-delivery boy, who was bringing him papers, photos, pictures of empty graves and a purchase order for an old airplane . . . you know, for when Widmore faked the wreckage of Oceanic 815. Miles isn’t so keen to go, but he’ll do it for $1.6 million, only to shortly thereafter be kidnapped by Bram, one of the beachies (Choke‘s Brad William Henke), who warns Miles that if he doesn’t know the answer to the increasingly Sphinx-like riddle, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” that it’s probably not a great idea to go to the island. (It is perfect, by the way, that that character’s name is Bram, pronounced Brom, because Henke’s physical appearance reminds me of Brom Bones in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”)

That right there blew my fucking mind: Ilana, Bram and those other beachies clearly found their way onto Ajira 316 with the intent to make it to the island. Why they’re there, I haven’t a clue, but I’m beginning to think that the war Widmore was alluding to in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” wasn’t the Ben vs. Widmore war we’ve been preparing ourselves for, but perhaps a war between whatever weirdo cult Ilana and Bram belong to and people like Ben and Widmore who have had a long history with the island. I do get the sense that it will be a war for control of the island, just not between who we think it will be between. Either Ilana and Bram are “Old Ones” like Alpert who are coming back to lay claim to their ancestral heritage (although, really, why leave the island in the first place, if that’s the case?), and are not pleased that Alpert has relinquished control to effective outsiders like Widmore and Ben, or they’re as new as we know them to be and are indeed part of some weirdo island-worshipping cult. Whatever it is, I’m excited to find out. That shit is gonna be crazy.

Other things to note about this episode:

  • Kate is totally fucking everything up by trying to be nice and flirt with Roger Linus. Thankfully, Jack isn’t totally retarded and manages to quell Roger’s suspicions that Kate kidnapped his son and did away with him somehow. It’s only a matter of time, though, before Roger “Work Man” Linus flips his lid and has to die.
  • Hurley still doesn’t understand time travel and has been writing The Empire Strikes Back to try and sell it to George Lucas . . . except that Empire was totally already in the works after A New Hope came out. Dude, Hurley, when are you going to get this whole whatever happened, happened thing down? (Husband Note: Maybe Hurley goes by the pen name Lawrence Kasdan, and both Body Heat and The Big Chill turn out to be lies. He also manages to write Raiders of the Lost Ark in this period.)
  • Apparently, Daniel Faraday has been partying it up at Dharma HQ for the past three years in Ann Arbor, MI. At the end of the episode, he makes his glorious return on the sub, which is good, because he needs to build some shit (see first episode of season).
  • In keeping with Miles’ emotional core in this episode, my favorite bit is when, after much goading from Hurley about taking this opportunity to get to know his father, Miles looks in at Pierre Chang’s house and sees him reading to baby Miles like a loving father should. Miles is overcome with emotion as he realizes that his father didn’t hate him and that, like Mr. Grey, he should have been aware of that love when it mattered. Chang gets a call, however, that forces him to leave baby Miles and exit the house, calling out to the man he doesn’t realize is his grown son: “Miles, I need you.” To which Miles replies, his voice breaking, “You do?” Even though it was really about going to get that Ann Arbor sub, those were, in that moment, the exact words Miles needed to hear from his dad.

The Husband:

To me, the issue isn’t so much why the beachies were on the plane and why they were all up in Miles’ business, but how they knew that Ajira 316 was going to bring them to the island at all. There’s some massive conspiracy madness happening, and it’s pretty hard to believe that they could have managed to know that all the members of the Oceanic Six would have been on that flight (with coffin-locked Locke in tow). But I’m okay with that. This is a show of smoke monsters old enough to have hung out with Anubis, science-relative time travel and electromagnetic displacement. There’s a lot that’s hard to believe. Cuz it’s a sci-fi show, dammit.

But I did the new group, because nothing makes a terrible situation worse than a group of religious zealots. Organized religion SLAM!

I am, however, surprised that it took them this long to make a reference to Star Wars. I expected it to be the first thing out of Hurley’s mouth when he was told that they were in 1977. Like Firefly and Futurama, Lost seems to exist in that world where both Star Wars and Star Trek are both equally revered, and that’s kind of geek’s paradise. What makes it more of a geek’s paradise? Hot chicks who can throw down a beating.

The Wife:

I think this episode has officially put asunder any fears that Ben’s childhood accident with a man named Sayid and the barrel of his gun were in some way rewriting the island’s history. Alpert does indeed take Ben into the temple to be healed, and he lives, but a slightly older young Charles Widmore (who, despite the fact that it’s 1977, confusingly rides around the island on a horse in chain mail and sports a haircut popular with medieval knights) informs the boy that he must return to Dharmaville.


“Just because you’re living with them, doesn’t mean you can’t be one of us.” – Charles Widmore


Now, what we do not know of Ben’s past was how he reintegrated into Dharmaville and his life among them as a young spy. In short, we are not yet told the events of The Purge, for the next time we see Ben, he’s been sent on assignment by Widmore to kill Rousseau. And, for some reason, he’s had to bring pubescent Ethan along with him. Ethan seems eager to prove his mettle in the hierarchy of the Others, but Ben won’t let him do the killing. Only, Ben won’t let himself do the killing either, not when he hears the cries of the girl who will become his daughter. Instead, he fires a shot to make it sound like he’s gone through with the execution, but takes baby Alex in his arms and warns Rousseau:


“If you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.”


Widmore is not pleased that Ben has failed to follow orders, sparing both mother and child. He questions that the death of an innocent could possibly be what Jacob wanted and tells Widmore that if it were so, he should kill the baby himself. Widmore merely walks away, leaving Alex to grow up in Ben’s care.

So, ABC only posted three shots for this episode, and theyre all close-ups of Ben. Heres what Ben looks like, for those who are unaware of the creepy power of his eyes.

So, ABC only posted three shots for this episode, and they're all close-ups of Ben. Here's what Ben looks like, for those who are unaware of the creepy power of his eyes.

For as much of a terrible human being Ben Linus is, he actually seems like a pretty good daddy. I mean, it’s not like a kid could get into too much trouble in New Otherton (providing she followed the rules and didn’t go starting wars with other people on the island or pissing off Smoke Monsters), but Ben apparently takes a lot of time out of his day to make sure that Alex has someone to push her on the swing as high as she wants to go. It only makes sense, though, that he would try to be a good father, knowing how shitty his own was and how hard it is to grow up without a mother.

He does take time away from Alex, though, to see Charles Widmore off when he is banished from the island, post-Purge. But what did Widmore do to deserve his expulsion from freaky island paradise? Ben tosses out his litany of sins as he says goodbye, chiefly that Widmore broke the rules: he left the island and returned multiple times, and he had a child with an outsider. These things are not allowed. Widmore threatens that, one day, Alex will die, if that’s what the island wants, and that Ben, too, will be standing in Widmore’s shoes, banished. “You cannot fight the inevitable,” he warns. Here’s my question about leaving the island: folks other than Widmore and Ben have done so and returned safely. I’m thinking primarily of Mr. Friendly, who seemed to return with no problem. And Alpert can do that pretty much any time he wants to with no consequence. I think it’s easy to argue that Alpert has powers outside of those of a normal human, but what of Friendly? Is there simply a limit on the number of times you can leave and return that Widmore exceeded? Or is there something to the fact that Widmore and Ben are chosen leaders, thus, it really is against the rules for them to leave? Frankly, I’m not really sure.

But this threat haunts Ben when he, too, finds himself expelled from the island after the death of his daughter and turning of the frozen donkey wheel. And he makes sure that he calls Widmore to gloat on the day he organizes the O6 to return, giddily proclaiming that he’s going back to the island and he’s going to make sure that Widmore experiences the very thing Ben experienced in the death of his child is also felt by Widmore. This was a very intense scene, even though I knew in my heart that the proceeding act of child-murder didn’t fall through the minute Ben realized that a young child would go motherless if he pulled the trigger. I knew Ben wouldn’t be able to kill Penny when he saw little Charlie. And, sure enough, even though he knocks out Desmond by shooting him in the groceries (not a metaphor; Ben really shot Des’ grocery bag), and points his gun at beautiful Penelope aboard Our Mutual Friend, he just can’t go through with it, and allows Desmond to beat the shit out of him, covering him in the bruises and cuts we saw him board Ajira 316 with, and toss poor Ben Linus in the water.

And heres what Ben looks like with blood on his face.

And here's what Ben looks like with blood on his face.

In current island time, it’s the Locke and Linus Comedy Hour as the two men trek to the temple, where Ben claims he wants to be judged because, as he told Widmore on the day he was banished, he broke the rules. Every one of Locke’s lines in this episode is delivered so superbly, edged with a knowing glint in the eye and an undertone of, “I know what you’re up to, you little shit.” In the interactions of these two chosen men, I thought, when the fuck is Michael Emerson going to get a goddamn Emmy for playing Ben? My husband pointed out that it was Terry O’Quinn as Locke who stole it from him in season three, but I think O’Quinn deserves that statue as much as Emerson. They’re amazing actors, and the tensions in their line readings in this episode were equally spectacular. I mean, really, how much better does it get than this?:

Locke: Well, Ben, I was hoping we could talk about the elephant in the room.
Ben: I assume you’re referring to the fact that I killed you.

Ben tells Locke that he needed critical information from John that would have died with him and after he got it . . .

“Well, I just didn’t have time to talk you back into hanging yourself.” – Ben

Locke jokes that he was just looking for an apology, but agrees to lead Ben to the Smoke Monster for judgment. But Locke knows that Ben isn’t exactly atoning for breaking the rules. Now kind of a demi-god, Locke knows that the thing Ben needs to be judged for is letting his daughter die.


“If everything you’ve done is in the best interest of the island, then I’m sure the monster will understand.” – Locke


The new regime at the beach isn’t too keen on letting Ben and Locke leave, though, so Ben steals Cesar’s gun and shoots him, delivering to Locke what I think is the funniest line of the night’s Locke and Linus Comedy Hour:

“Consider that my apology.”


On their way to the temple, they stop in New Otherton and catch up with Sun and Lapidis. Sun shows them the picture from Dharmaville 1977, and Ben claims he doesn’t remember the castaways being there, but Sun still heads off with Locke and Ben, hoping that John Locke can lead her back to her husband, while Lapidis heads back to the beach and gets dragged into Ilana’s scheme to find out what lies in the shadow of the statue. If Ben doesn’t remember the castaways as part of his childhood, is this because their existence in his mind was erased with the knowledge of the events leading up to his childhood death? And are they gone by the time he returns to Dharmaville as a spy? Or should I assume that, as always, Ben is unreliable? He lies about lots of things, so why not this?

And heres what Ben looks like when hes just said something way intense.

And here's what Ben looks like when he's just said something way intense.

After a failed attempt to summon Smokey from the hidden cesspool under his home, Locke leads Ben to the temple and they descend into its underbelly via the hole where Montard lost his arm. As they enter the sacred lair, Ben admits to Locke that he does need to atone for letting Alex die, an act that he allowed to happen and therefore committed. Locke allows Ben to head off on his own after this confession, and lo, Ben falls through the floor into Smokey’s true lair. He wanders through the cuneform-filled room (in my limited knowledge of Egyptian orthography, I saw no recognizable hieroglyphics) and finds Smokey’s altar, which illustrates the monster being called by Anubis. Smoke spills out around Ben and engulfs him in a tornado-like swirl, beautifully recapitulating the twister scene in The Wizard of Oz and reminding us of the man we once knew as Henry Gale, who came to the island on a hot air balloon. Smokey shows him the images of his past – everything we saw in his history narrative – and Ben must watch his daughter die again.

This scene was really moving for me, and it was beautiful to watch Michael Emerson’s crazy eyes well with tears when Alex falls dead before him once again. But Smokey’s judgment is limited to this display of images, and he rolls away, leaving Ben alone. And, more importantly, alive. Then Alex appears, and Ben begs her for forgiveness, after which she proceeds to strangle him and demand that he follow John Locke and do whatever he says. And so Ben concedes his former power and lets John hand him the rope, both symbolic and literal, to pull him from the darkness of Smokey’s lair.

Gorgeous, moving and well-written final scene, Lost writers. Ben’s fall into Smokey’s lair recalls John’s fall into the well, and using the rope as a transfer of power between the two men was a stroke of genius. Terrific performances in this one by both O’Quinn and Emerson, and I hope the Emmy committee recognizes that this year and gives Emerson what he deserves.

The Husband:

Penny and little Charlie are not dead, and I win.

Who else wins? The viewers. I may need to give myself some distance from this ep, but I think it’s in the top ten Lost episodes of all time. Disagree?

The Wife:

Usually, I hate an episode devoted to Kate, but for once I think the writers and Evangeline Lilly really found the emotional core of this episode by explaining how Kate Austen changed from an outlaw to a Madonna, and why she left Aaron behind. And when she said goodbye to the boy she fostered, peacefully sleeping in that motel room two doors down from Grandma Littleton, and my favorite of Michael Giacchino’s reunion/parting themes played in the background, I have to admit that I cried a little bit – tears I usually reserve for episodes about Jin/Sun, Charlie Pace or Desmond. This episode changed a lot of how I view Kate, actually, and I’m beginning to see her as another character fulfilling the archetype created by Sarah Connor, the Warrior Mother. But she only accepts that role on the island, because off-island, outside of the realm of fantasy and magic, she’s just the same as any other single mother, struggling to raise a child without any guidance, always minutes away from losing him in a grocery store to a woman who looks suspiciously like his Ghost Mom. Off-island, she hangs with Cassidy and little darling Clementine, bonding over the man that abandoned them (Sawyer) and learning to make that leap from outlaw to mother, raising children on their own. I have always been fond of the convergence of Kate and Cassidy, and imagine that the two of them could have made a good Thelma & Louise duo . . . and still could, should Kate ever return from that island and should Cassidy ever decide to abandon her daughter. (Unlikely. Cassidy may be a con artist, but I don’t think she’d be able to abandon Clementine. No one with a heart would leave that poor girl without any parents at all.) Instead, the two former outlaws share a kind of sororal love, bound together by their many common threads. But still, that isn’t enough to keep Kate from going back to the island. She’s not supposed to be with Aaron, and she knows it, especially when he leaves her for his Substitute Claire in that grocery store. So with a heavy heart, because Kate has, in fact, become a mother to this boy, she hands him over to Grandma Littleton, briefly explaining the complicated lie she’s been leading, and carrying the tears of a woman who’s left her child all the way to the airport. Those sunglasses she was sporting? They weren’t to look bad-ass, they were to hide the fact that she’d been crying all night.

Crying on the inside.

Crying on the inside.

So what am I saying when I say that this now-childless woman is taking up the mantle of the Warrior Mother? I’m talking about Kate’s instrumental role in saving Lil’ Ben’s life, and essentially doing everything to protect the boy the way she should have, would have protected Aaron had she stayed in L.A. As everyone debates their fate and the possibility of entering a time travel paradox should Ben die (thanks, Miles and Hurley, for playing the Great Internet Debate about the nature of time travel on Lost!), Lil’ Ben lies bleeding to death in Juliet’s OR. They need a real surgeon to save him, but Jack refuses, even when Kate begs him, just as she will 30 years from now to remove the tumor from Ben’s spine so that Sawyer won’t die. He’s saved Ben Linus once, Jack reckons. He doesn’t need to do it again. So Kate, perhaps seeing a bit of Aaron in the dying Ben, signs up to give the boy blood, because she’s a universal donor. And when Juliet tells her that she can do no more to save him, it’s Kate who heads up the rescue operation to send Ben into Hostile territory, hoping that she can plead with Richard Alpert to save the boy. Sawyer, who has become a hero contrary to Cassidy’s suggestion that he jumped off the chopper to get away from Kate and Aaron, arrives just before Kate has to cross that sonic fence of doom and agrees to help her deliver the boy to Alpert.


“Because no matter what he grows up to be, it’s wrong to let a kid die. I’m doing this for her.”


I assume that “her” Sawyer speaks of is his own daughter, for whom he would certainly give his life, now that living in 70s Dharmaville has taught him to grow up and accept his responsibilities. The two are soon captured by the Others, and brought before Alpert only at Sawyer’s threat of war should they refuse to help Ben. Kate insists on carrying Ben the whole way, like some kind of pieta, and finally hands Ben over to Alpert, even though he warns them that if he takes him, he will never be the same. His innocence will be lost and he will forget that all of this ever happened. And so he takes the dying boy into the temple, to become the thing he so desperately wanted to be: an Other.


“He will always be one of us.”


So, let’s take a second to talk about Miles’ explanation of time travel in accordance with this episode’s title. Miles asserts that whatever happened, happened, and so the folks who ended up in 1970 were always supposed to end up there and participate in what they are currently experiencing. Only, they’re not in the past. The “past” is their “present” because time is not linear. That’s why they don’t remember being in the 70s; for them, it hadn’t happened yet. So why, Hurley asks, wouldn’t Ben, who had met them all in the 70s, remember Sayid shooting him or remember meeting any of the castaways? Miles replies that he hadn’t thought of that yet, which was really funny for those amongst us who think that Darlton are just making shit up as they go along (for really, yo, you don’t think writers have massive mytharcs totally storyboarded?), but swiftly solved with Alpert’s announcement that the mystical act which will change Ben into an Other will remove his innocence and his memories of the events surrounding his near-death. It’s island magic, people. Sometimes, you just have to accept island magic. And I really hope they show us Ben’s apotheosis, his transformation from mere man to mystical, deified Other, because I am expecting some spectacular shit there.

I thought this was one of the stronger filling-in-the-story episodes, particularly because of the strength of Kate’s emotional performance and her island destiny of being the person who made Ben into what he is today. She’s the Warrior Mother for protecting him, that’s for sure, carrying on her off-island protect Aaron mission with yet another surrogate boy on-island. But there’s also an element of the Dangerous Mother in Kate, as well, because of what her mothering arc with Ben ultimately gives birth to (the monstrous Ben), and because of her abandonment of Aaron. There is a richness and a depth to this episode like I have never seen in a Kate-sode before, and for that I really appreciate it.

I also really appreciate that the writers are adhering to the reality of how time travel would work. Way to geek out, guys. None of that Back to the Future-disappearing bullshit. Whatever happened, happened.

The Husband:

And here’s the other major problem is the Back to the Future style of time travel. (I consider myself a completely amateur scholar of pop culture time travel stories, and generally adhere to the Bill & Ted Theorem.) In Back to the Future 2, Marty travels into the future and sees his future life as a father of two stubborn kids, but Present Marty doesn’t get busted when Father Marty sees him in his house, for Father Marty’s son looks just like Michael J. Fox and thus simply his son. But if we are to believe Present Marty’s timeline (living in the 80s, going back to the 50s, going into the future, going into the Old West and back into modern times), then wouldn’t Father Marty remember that he, decades earlier, had pretended to be Father Marty’s son when he traveled into the future? Brain explodey! Oh wait…there’s little Elijah Wood playing an arcade game at the diner. Explodey reduced.

I think the Lost version of time travel makes absolute sense, and I don’t really know how people would be confused, but I’m glad that Hurley is the one to be confused, so we could just get it out the way while at the same time mocking all y’all bitches who never bothered to ponder the inherent paradoxes of time travel.

No, dude, dont you see that time travel in Back to the Future doesnt make sense?

No, dude, don't you see that time travel in Back to the Future doesn't make sense?

And people are also complaining about the fact that, once Richard takes Ben, Ben will not longer remember all these incidents, and its being a complete cheat in the timeline of Lost. How convenient that he will forget Sayid. Well, while Ben may or may not have been lying in s2 (or was it early s3), he claims that he believes he was born on this island. So this “cheat” is okay. It’s far more thought out than the C-3PO controversy of 2005, where all of us Star Wars fans complained about the following fact – if C-3PO had already met Obi-Wan during the prequels and was INVENTED ON TATTOOINE by none other than Anakin Skywalker, why in Episode IV was he so confused by this planet and later meeting Old Obi-Wan? Well, at the end of Episode III there is a complete throwaway line where C-3PO is commanded to have his memory erased. There, it was obvious Lucas was just plugging up a hole. Here, I’m not so sure, because whether or not you want to admit it, there’s a whole lot more stuff going on over on Lost, mentally speaking, than there ever was in the six Star Wars films.

I do have to take umbrage with Kate, though, because while I get her mommy issues, I still don’t think she would have gone through all this trouble to save Little Ben knowing his future evil. Yes, Little Ben’s rescue was always bound to happen, but I think she might want to deal with a little less future guilt had she let the original Dharma people, along with the Hostiles, deal with Little Ben themselves and then, perhaps, give the Losties some big answers with how things were done on that island in any form or fashion. But instead of getting answers, she just asserted herself, because she’s Kate. (Stop making eyes at Roger “Workman” Linus. He’s a piece of shit.) Alls I know is that next week, which promises much Smokey the Smoke Monster, better have some ridiculous awesomeness happening.

Maybe I just love every single second Richard Alpert is onscreen. Because Nestor Carbonell is awesome, whether he is an immortal island deity (who may or may not have four toes on each foot), the mayor of Gotham, or even a money-grubbing brother on a shitty one-season CBS show about the sugar trade.

The Wife:

Finally, only 11 episodes into the season, we find out what the hell Sayid has been up to off island, and a little bit about how our favorite Iraqi torturer became the kind of man to kill for money. I’ll begin with that anecdote, and then try to put this together in some sort of chronological fashion. The opening scene asks us to question if Sayid was always meant to be a killer, as he steps in a wrings a chicken’s neck on his brother’s behalf, earning the accolade from his father, “At least one of you will become a man.” Sayid, it seems, has been indoctrinated with the idea that necessarily violence (killing one’s food, killing one’s enemy) is inherent to his masculinity. This brief intro into Sayid’s childhood cuts to our other favorite murderer, little Ben Linus, bringing his Iraqi hostile a chicken salad sandwich (presumably, no mustard). I adore this transition, where Sayid appeases his father by killing a chicken, little Ben tries to endear himself to the man he thinks will free him from his brutal, drunken father by bringing him another dead chicken (although minus the feathers and heavy on the mayonnaise). Ben’s got daddy issues, just like everyone else, and he desperately needs approval from a male authority figure. He knows he’s got Alpert’s approval, now he just needs someone to facilitate getting him to Alpert, and Sayid the Hostile should be that shepherd, something of a surrogate father.

Later in the episode, I thought that’s how it was going to go, when Sayid refuses Sawyer’s help in hatching an escape plan and declares that he’s on his own because he finally know what his purpose is. Little Ben sets up a flaming Dharma van to speed through Dharmaville, distracting Phil and other security members so he can free Sayid, under the following conditions:

Ben: If I let you out, will you take me with you? To your people?

Sayid: Yes, Ben. I will. That’s why I’m here.

But, no. I was very wrong. Before that, though, here’s some stuff that happened to Sayid, off-Island:

In Moscow, he finishes his final assignment as an assassin for Ben. Seems they were killing people who worked for Widmore — people Ben said were out to kill Sayid’s family. But once freed of his obligation to work for Ben and simultaneously avenge his wife’s death, Sayid doesn’t know what to do with his life. Killing is all he’s ever known. Ben’s suggestion: “I suppose you should go live your life. You’re free, Sayid.”

Struggling to change his stripes, Sayid winds up in the DR building La Escuela de Isla. Post-Jeremy Bentham’s visit, Ben arrives to announce Locke’s death. He claims it was murder in retribution for the work that Ben and Sayid have been doing, a plot executed by none other than Charles Widmore. Ben tries to tempt Sayid into killing again by telling him that people have been watching Hurley outside Santa Rosa, and that Hurley need’s Sayid’s help. (This, by the way, is only the first in what I feel are several Sayid/Christ comparisons in this episode.) He implores Sayid not to rebel against the fate he was made for: killing. Sayid responds: “I am not what you think I am. I don’t like killing.”

I really like your hair in that ponytail, Sayid . . .

I really like your hair in that ponytail, Sayid . . .

At the docks with Ben and the other O6ers, Sayid realizes that Ben if a liar and that everything he’s said so far about Widmore and his friends being in danger was all a ploy to get them back to the island. He walks away, and winds up drinking alone in a bar next to Ilana, whom I will, at least for now, stop calling by the name of the actress who plays her since I’ve finally gotten an idea of her character. Sayid thinks Iliana is a professional, but she says she’s not a prostitute, she just likes to go to bars, drink expensive Scotch (always Scotch on this show!) and talk to sad men. He tells her he’s trying to change who he is, and eventually they wind up in bed together. As he takes off her hooker boots, she kicks him in the face and pulls a gun on him. She is a professional, she says, a bounty hunter hired by the family of the man he killed in cold blood on an Italian golf course last year to be brought to justice in Guam. (In retrospect, perhaps killing someone in such a public place with a membership roster was not the best idea, eh?)

Ilana takes Sayid to the airport in cuffs. As he sees the O6 in various parts of the airport, he begins to grow suspicious. He asks Ilana, “Can you do me a favor? Can we get on the next plane? I am very superstitious when it comes to flying.” She refuses, and they board that fateful flight to Guam, from which he gets sucked out during bright white flashy time.

Back on the island, the Dharmites wonder what to do with their captured Hostile Sayid. Horace offers to help him if he’s somehow in trouble with his people, but Sayid won’t talk to anyone by Sawyer, who makes the first of a few attempts to save his friend by asking him to pretend that he’s a Hostile trying to defect, and beg for protection within Dharma if he can provide information to them about his people. Sayid refuses, and stays in his cell for a fascinated Little Ben to chat with while the Dharmites discuss their next plan. Roger “Work Man” Linus catches his son bringing Sayid a sandwich, and Sayid witnesses young Ben being beaten, a moment in which I had such tremendous sympathy for a man I know full well to be evil. You just don’t beat up a kid, man.

The Dharmites take Sayid out into the woods to visit Oldham (Deadwood‘s William Sanderson), who, as it turns out, is Dharma’s version of Sayid — a torturer, of sorts. (“He’s our you,” says Sawyer.) Being a dirty old hippie who lives in the woods, Oldham’s version of torture is tying victims to a tree and giving them some kind of LSD/Saliva Divinorum/Truth Serum combo to peacefully make them talk. Under the influence, Sayid tells the Dharmites everything. He babbles about airplanes and being from the future and warns them all that they’re going to die. Oldham wonders, “Maybe I should have used half a dropper,” but Sayid insists that he used exactly the right amount. This scene had some Christ-like images for me, with Sayid tied to a tree as though it were a cross, spouting off about being from the future as though he were some kind of prophet or Messiah. I had hoped that the Dharmites might suspect him less and worship him as a god-figure for a time, but alas, they simply think he’s crazy.

Ill sit in that jail cell as long as you guys want; just keep giving me that LSD shit you gave me in the woods.

I'll sit in that jail cell as long as you guys want; just keep giving me that LSD shit you gave me in the woods.

Dharma votes, encouraged by new mom Amy, to kill Sayid, reluctantly forcing his one defender, James LeFleur into agreeing with them (because Horace would really like to say the vote was unanimous). And then the Flaming Dharma Van interrupts further planning and Ben lets Sayid out. They abscond into the jungle, and run into Jin out on routine Dharma patrol. Sayid lies to Jin and tries to convince him that Sawyer let him go, but Jin, suspicious, calls to confirm, and Sayid is left with no choice but to knock him out. Little Ben admires Sayid’s bad-ass killing skills, and looks on in awe as Sayid huddles over Jin’s body, to make sure his friend is still breathing and to turn his radio off. And then, unexpectedly, Sayid announces, “You were right about me. I am a killer.”

AND DRAWS HIS FUCKING GUN AND SHOOTS LITTLE BEN LINUS.

Sayid shot a child.

An evil child, but a child.

For as piecemeal as I felt the “filling in the background” sections of this episode were, I was deeply impressed by the struggle for Sayid’s soul. And I think it really ties in to the major mindfuck question we’re presented with at the end here. How much of our lives are destiny/fate/island magic/predetermined, and how much do we choose? And what happens if we go against what is predetermined? If we are to believe the basic principle of time travel that you cannot change the past without rewriting the entire future, then Sayid was always supposed to come back in time and kill young Ben Linus, which in turn somehow cosmically ties Sayid to his one-time victim. If this was always how it was supposed to be, then Ben’s gunshot wounds are definitely not the end of Ben Linus. The island, I doubt, is done with him yet. (Either the island magic will save him as it has saved others, or Jacob or Richard Alpert will breathe life into him like God creating Adam.)

But what Sayid doesn’t realize when he pulls that trigger is that very basic principle of time travel. He thinks he will change things and save lives by assassinating Ben before he turns out to be the liar and the great manipulator we’ve come to know and love, but it won’t change a damn thing because it already happened that way and will always happen that way. And I really, really like the idea of Sayid working for Ben in the future being some sort of cosmic debt paid, as though Sayid, who wanted so badly to not be so eager to kill (and even fought back tears when he assassinated Ben), had to make it up to the victim of his crimes who actually lived. (Yes, Ben, like Harry Potter, will be The Boy Who Lived. I also saw Sayid taking pity on dad-beaten Ben as a sort of Sirius Black-type figure. You know, until he shot Ben. That kind of destroyed the whole Harry Potter parallel for me.)

As for the nature of Sayid’s soul, I subscribe to that whole humanist “duality of man” theory, so it’s difficult for me to say that his true nature is that of a killer. However, he is certainly meant for it, skilled at it. But its the ability to resist that basic instinct that makes him so interesting and, I think, compares to the basic conceit in a narrative about werewolves (see one of my favorite Buffy episodes ever, “Wild at Heart,” in which Oz cannot resist his wolf side and breaks poor Willow’s heart, all the while Angel has to learn to be human again when Buffy realizes that he has returned from his stint in hell without an ounce of humanity left in him) as well as any story about a vampire who has chosen not to drink of human blood (Angel, specifically, but also Moonlight‘s Mick St. John, Twilight‘s Edward and other Cullens). All of these are stories about resisting something intrinsic and antithetical to what is deemed socially acceptable. Certainly, the instincts of a killer are something that society, as a whole, have tried to suppress in order to function. But that doesn’t make them any less innately human. I’m glad Naveen Andrews got to play with that here, because I could see that struggle in his eyes in two key scenes:

1. When young Ben returns to him with his glasses broken, and Sayid asks if they broke because of what Roger did to him.

2. As he is about to pull the trigger.

When I think about both of those looks, a part of me wonders if, perhaps, heroics were not the only reason for Sayid to believe it was his destiny to kill Ben. The boy hated Dharmaville and wanted out, and had been abused by his father in front of Sayid. Perhaps, at least in some small part, this was a mercy killing.

The Husband:

BEN IS A ROBOT!

BEN IS A ROBOT!

BEN IS A ROBOT!

BEN IS A ROBOT!

BEN IS A ROBOT!

You heard it here first.

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