The Wife:

Don’t mistake this as a complaint, but “Night of Desirable Objects” reminded me of a couple of X-Files episodes, hybridized into one. It took a little bit of the Flukeman from Season 2’s “The Host,” a little bit of the Peacock family from Season 4’s famously banned episode “Home,” but it also married that horrible family genetic secret arc and that mutant killer underground arc with two of its own similar conceits from season one: the albino bat boy and the chimera. For a MOTW episode, this was pretty entertaining, though because it’s mostly an MOTW, it doesn’t have a lot of value to the series overall.

Construction workers go missing from a field near the Hughes farm, grabbed from the ground by a shiny, blue-ish claw. Fringe division pokes into these disappearances, allowing Walter to analyze the residue found on the ground at the latest disappearance and discover that it’s a paralytic. On a visit to the Hughes farm, Olivia, who has developed occasional super hearing, hears an additional person breathing despite Dr. Hughes’ insistence that no one else is there. He is alone, because his wife died in childbirth about 20 years ago, and gave up doctoring shortly after that incident. Agent Jessup picks up a bible at the Hughes house and finds a note from the pastor telling him not to blame himself for the death of his wife and child, which leads the team to believe Hughes might have killed his family.

Wow, I’m so glad Jessup got a scene in this episode that’s so crucial to the plot or her character. I have no problem with Jessup’s existence in the series, but why write her in to a case she wasn’t originally part of? That scene with her struck me as very odd and out-of-place. Maybe her arc in this episode was a victim of editing. If so, I’m sure they could have reshot the scene with the Bible featuring, oh, ANYONE ELSE. Peter. Olivia. Evil Agent Francis. Dude, I’d sooner believe that they let Astrid go out in the field than insert Jessup for one lame scene.

Don't mind us, we were just exhuming some caskets!

Don't mind us, we were just exhuming some caskets!

Walter exhumes the bodies, only the baby casket doesn’t contain a body. Something tried to claw its way in or out and has stolen the bones. By examining the remains of the mother, though, Walter learns that she had lupus, and it is therefore a medical impossibility for her to have given birth, as the bodies of expectant women with lupus attack fetuses as though they were diseases. Through this, they realize that Hughes, who is in the process of hanging himself from the fluorescent light in custody, genetically engineered a child that could survive in hostile environments, such as:

Peter: He altered his baby’s DNA to survive its mother’s lupus.

Astrid: That’s sick.

Walter: That’s genius! He’s created the superbaby!

It’s part scorpion, hence the paralytic, and part mole or some such other underground creature. Armed with this knowledge, Olivia and Peter try to find it in its underground lair, where it snatches Olivia and then dies when one of its surface tunnels collapses, sending a police car crashing down atop it. Poor little scorpion mole boy, done in by the advancements of a world he could never be part of.

If there’s one really poignant thing I can say about this MOTW, it’s the Hughes desire for a son is very nicely mirrored in the act of Walter taking V2 Peter from the other side to replace the son he lost. They’re both about men who, at their cores, just really wanted to be fathers. And that scene at the end, where Peter talks about wanting to take his dad fishing as a boy but never could because Walter was always too busy? That broke me heart, especially when Walter invited himself to attend the trip with Peter and his “friend,” not realizing that the story was about him, or that he was invited all along. “You know, Walter,” Peter says, “that might just make the trip.”

Meanwhile, mytharc-wise, Evil Charlie Francis is told by his magical mirror typewriter that he needs to find a way to make Olivia remember the other side, and Nina Sharp sends her to see a “therapist” to talk about her accident and subsequent side effects of visiting the other side. This makes me wonder if Nina’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent bionic arm replacement were a result of her business with the other side. She has a really great speech about her cancer and her body becoming “a foreign thing, a threat” to her that engages with my work and connects very neatly to the origin story of the MOTW. Not Fringe’s best episode, but serviceable, and not without a few great moments.

The Husband:

Maybe it was the Indian food racing through my digestive system last night, but I’m already becoming a little impatient for MOTW episodes that don’t really wow me, preferring as usual to see a mytharc episode while still realizing that too many mytharc episodes in a row would overload the entire show. I just didn’t need to see John Savage being creepy yet again and living in a house that I am pretty damn sure appeared in the second episode of Chris Carter’s failed 1999 show Harsh Realm. (Which I can come close to proving, as Fringe moved its production city from Brooklyn to Vancouver between seasons 1 and 2.)

And now, more haiku.

Charlie Francis has
A kickass magic mirror.
Will it say “redrum”?

If this ep is true
Bowling represents more worlds.
Kingpin
has meaning.

Olivia is
Reliving Smallville, s1
Will she get to fly?

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The Wife:

In the pre-season buzz articles about Fringe, I’ve been reading a lot about the show embracing its comparison to The X-Files, and was told to watch for one very explicit reference to the iconic series during the season 2 premiere of Fringe. I’ll tell you what that reference was, in case you didn’t catch it, but I’d argue that there’s a larger structure in place meant to mimic the sci-fi juggernaut that caused many an infatuation with David Duchovny.

As Olivia is missing somewhere in another world (and brought back through the window of the car she was driving by some special Walter radio-tampering), the pressure is being brought down on Broyles’ head by the FBI brass. Like its X-labeled predecessor, the Fringe division will be shut down unless some quantifiable results can be delivered.

Officially, this causes some major hiccups in Peter’s rouge investigation to find out just what happened to Olivia, and why agent in charge Jessup keeps finding bodies with three holes in their soft palates. Fortunately, Jessup, piqued to curiosity by Peter’s refusal to discuss his work at the scene of Olivia’s accident, did a little digging and hacked into the Fringe division’s case files. Despite all the weird shit she just witnessed, she’s more than willing to help Peter out while Olivia lies in a vegetative state.

The good news is that she’s not in that vegetative state for very long and bursts out of it in Peter’s presence, muttering in Greek. She has no idea where she was, but she does remember that she was going somewhere to meet with someone, although she can’t recall if that meeting actually took place or what its contents were if it did.

This week’s MOTW, who hit Olivia’s car and fled the scene of the crime, only to steal another man’s appearance, turns up in a curiosity shop to use one of the mirror-portal typewriters they keep in the back, where he learns that his mission to kill Olivia has not gone according to plan. The mirror-typewriter delivers unto him a new mission: interrogate the target, and kill her. (If anyone can find me one of these mirror-typewriter things, I would like one. Totally beats an Ouija board, am I right?)

But nothing says brand new season like a cow in a birthday hat!

But nothing says "brand new season" like a cow in a birthday hat!

Walter, examining one of the cast-off, water-logged bodies the shape-shifting soldier had to electrocute in order to resemble it, finds the three holes in the roof of the corpse’s mouth and remembers something. Back in the day when he and Belly were producing psychotropic drugs that made Timothy Leary jealous, they put together experiments that would cause a subject’s brain to see the divine. When one such subject was being recorded, she uttered a few key phrases regarding how “the three nails go in the mouth” and how, with their machines, “they can look like anyone.”

Because of this, it takes some clever observation on Peter and Agent Jessup’s part to track down any bodies with holes in their palates and follow anyone who looks like that person. Eventually, the suspect makes his way to the hospital where Olivia is under observation. They get the alert from security just as he steals the appearance of Olivia’s attending nurse. With the floor on lockdown, the nurse interrogates Olivia and, when she runs out of information, attempts to suffocate her just as the team arrives, chasing her down into the bowels of the hospital, where Agent Francis eventually kills her . . . or should I say, until she eventually kills Agent Francis and steals his appearance? I should say that, because that’s what happened.

Peter manages to find the shape-shifting machine in the midst of all of this and, although it is broken, he hands it to Broyles as proof that Fringe division does get results. He instructs Broyles to tell the government that this device will allow them to have an army that can look like anyone and that the only way they’re going to be able to develop this alien technology is if they keep Fringe division alive so Walter can find a way to fix the broken tech.

Myth-arc stuff:

  • For once, Walter’s fixation on foods is actually really crucial. As Peter’s birthday is soon approaching, he plans to make a custard for his son. Peter insists he doesn’t like custard and never has, but Walter corrects him and says that he loved custard as a child. This is obviously a disconnect between the Peter we know, who was stolen from the other side, and the boy Walter lost in that car accident.
  • The Greek words Olivia woke up with were something Peter’s mother said to him before bedtime: Be a better man than your father.
  • Agent Jessup notices that all of the events of the Pattern correspond to passages in the “Book of Revelation.” I roll my eyes a little bit at the thought of exploring this hackneyed trope.

Funnies!

  • Astrid stirring custard over a dead body.
  • Walter wanting to eat said custard with bloody glove hands.
  • Gene wearing a birthday hat.
  • Peter: Walter, will you forget about the custard?
    Walter: I refuse!

And The X-Files reference I promised you:

When Peter questions Agent Jessup’s commitment to this case even after seeing the Fringe case files, she quotes Hamlet to him:

“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Scully quoted this line to Mulder once, as well. I believe it was during the third season, but my memory (and the internet) fail me. You’ll also see this phrase crop up in reviews of The X-Files, as a basic philosophy to describe Agent Scully’s dedication to science.

The Husband:

And so I shall continue into this second season of Fringe with how I approached most of last season — with haiku!

Shape-shifting is here.
Heroes
, True Blood, and now this.
Mystique would be proud.

In case you forgot
Walter likes sweet confections.
You must taste his pud!

Where is Mr. Spock?
I’ve questions. He has answers.
Stop jumping through time.

Kirk Acevedo
Has survived worse things than death —
Anal rape on Oz.

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:


You guys all remember that car accident whence the Observer allegedly saved Walter and Peter? Well, he actually only saved Walter. Because Peter did done died. And he has no memories of his early childhood at all, because the Peter we know was stolen from another dimension to replace the son Walter lost in this life. Snoo! I thought I’d just get that big revelation out of the way because it was super good. We’d long been discussing that Peter might be a clone or a cyborg like Nina Sharp, but because there’s more than one of everything, he’s actually just his other self. At least, this is what I believe we are supposed to infer from the coin he doesn’t remember flipping, his grave and Walter’s lengthy discussion of how he started looking into parallel dimensions after he lost something very dear to him.

But before that revelation, Nina Sharp, shot at the end of the last episode, is rushed to surgery, requiring lots of specialists because she’s more cyborg than we previously thought. After analyzing the audio recorded by the security camera during her shooting, Olivia et al realize that it was David Robert Jones who shot her. He removed something from her arm, a super cell, powerful enough to make whatever he’s doing unstoppable. Olivia is ready to chase down Bell, but Nina assures her that Bell is not the enemy in this case. Jones worked for Bell 15 years ago, and was fired, so she posits that these actions, The Pattern, are Jones’ way of getting back at Bell. Nina tells Olivia that if she stops Jones, she will arrange a private meeting for Olivia with William Bell.

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

I know there's a pattern here, but what is it?

Meanwhile, Jones and his crew are out trying to open up other dimensions, using the super cell to power a device that rips open windows to other worlds. Only it isn’t totally working right, ripping things in half that try to enter or exit. (See: truck missing its back half, soccer player missing half of his body.) Olivia starts doing some hardcore paranormal research and realizes that The Pattern really does form a pattern, a series of incidents radiating out from the places in which Jones tested his ability to break down soft spots in the fabric of the universe. Conveniently, if you rearrange the way you look at those patterns, they form a new one, pointing to Jones’ next target: Reiden Lake.

Walter has been missing while all this has gone down, taking some sweet mind trips with The Observer to graveyards and beach houses and whatnot. The Observer reminds him of Peter’s otherworldly origins by giving him the coin the boy used to flip, asserting that there is more than one of everything. He tells Walter that he should now know what he has to find, and Walter goes searching his old beach house. Peter eventually catches up to him there, remembering at the least that they used to go there when he was a child, and Walter tells his son about all his old acid trips with Bell and how they thought they were seeing other dimensions and spent their lives trying to find ways to access them without LSD. In a box, he uncovers Peter’s other coin, as well as a plugging device that will stop any rifts between dimensions from opening.

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

I stole you from another dimesion when you were a child, don't you remember?

Walter and Peter meet up with Olivia et al at Raiden Lake, where Jones is already working on opening a hole to get to the other side. Peter manages to shut down the hole just in time, which is extremely helpful, as the transporter made Jones impervious to bullets, but not impervious to being sliced in half by straddling two dimensions.

Nina sends Olivia to NYC to meet with Bell, after informing her that Bell’s research with Cortexafam was to allow gifted children to travel in and out of other dimensions without widening soft spots. Bell, it seems, has been hiding out in another dimension this whole time, and after Olivia waits for about eight hours to meet with him and he never shows, she hops in an elevator and leaves. But during the 15th and 16th floors, something weird happens: suddenly, other people appear, and then disappear, and when the doors open, she’s welcomed into a bright, white hallway and taken to Bell’s office . . . which happens to be in one of the Twin Towers . . . in another universe where 9/11 never happened. (But Obama is still president, if the New York Post on Bell’s desk is to be believed.)

This was a great season finale, and I’m very excited for the possibilities for next season. I think there will be a greater focus on the mytharc of The Pattern and interdimensional travel/alternate realities. If there’s one thing J.J. Abrams does really well, it’s peering into alternate realities or altering the time line, and I can see Fringe doing very well down that route.

Questions still unanswered:

  • Why, exactly, is Nina Sharp a cyborg? I mean, I love her even more now that I know she has Kevlar ribs, but since I’m so into cyberpunk now, I’d love to learn more about that.
  • What happened to Peter’s mother?
  • Why did the folks at ZFT do so much experimentation with hybridity and diseases? Are these experiments also to prepare soldiers for the war against people from other dimensions?
  • Everyone seems very fearful of other realities, but if Bell is hanging in one where 9/11 didn’t happen, that somehow doesn’t seem so bad to me. Where are the horrible realities filled with people with no orifices and swamp monster chimera thingies? (Husband Note: The Post did mention a New White House, which may indicate something horrible happened to the old one.)

There are definitely more questions still unanswered, but I’m sick currently and am amazed I was able to lucidly discuss that episode at all. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed geeking out with you all about Fringe, and I think we can all agree that the show has gotten to a really good place and can only get better during its sophomore season.

Until then, I leave you with my favorite Walter line this week:


“We’re trying to plug a hole in the universe. What are you doing here?”


The Husband:

Even in this post-Lost television landscape, I was still damned surprised that Fringe got away with such a slow burn during its premiere season. Did they really do that good of a job keeping me away from learning about these alternate dimensions, a maaaaajor game changer, and how they related to The Pattern? Did they actually trust in the intelligence of its viewers to keep 20 episodes in mind, many standalone and seemingly unimportant?

Between this finale and Star Trek, I am genuinely impressed with what Kurtzman and Orci cooked up. Yeah, the dudes who wrote the fun-but-dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Transformers figured it out, along with help from the justly maligned Akiva Goldsman, the man who helped turn the Batman universe into a peacock explosion of neon, codpieces and puns about ice.

And what of alternate realities? Is this show now going to become Sliders? (I actually never watched Sliders, but I do know two things about it. 1. It starred the O’Connell Brothers and my beloved Sabrina Lloyd. 2. It was about jumping between dimensions. Good enough, right?)

And hey, to that jackass that gave me shit for my negative review of The Mentalist pilot and gave me some numbers that the Mentalist pilot scored more viewers than Fringe, I’d like to point out that as of last week, Fringe surpassed that CBS crap to become the highest-rated new series of the 2008-2009 television season. Premiere numbers are one thing, but returning viewers are another, and so Fringe proves that it has legs and drawing power. There’s nothing better than word-of-mouth, especially those words that brought back a good deal of viewers once Fringe realllly got cooking several episodes in. Suck it, hater.

And so, I will leave you with how I began writing about Fringe – with a haiku!

Alternate worlds are

Tricky. Good: David Lynch films.

Bad: James Wong’s The One.

(Wife’s note: Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about the time I spent Easter in James Wong’s living room. I usually don’t get to name drop like my husband the former entertainment journalist does, but I’ve been to James Wong’s house. And that’s fucking awesome.)

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:

I’m not sure if Fringe was trying to reference The Matrix, The Butterfly Effect or I Know Who Killed Me this week with its storyline about Olivia’s visions of alternate paths on the timeline of one’s choices (see episode title!) and twins who didn’t know they were twins who were made into weapons by ZFT when they were trained to become firestarters in childhood. (They kind of ended up referencing all three.)The only problem with this is that, like Olivia and apparently all other children experimented on by ZFT, these people are unaware until recently (their “activation”) that they possess these powers, which leads one of the twins, Susan, to burn up from the inside and spontaneously combust. As Olivia tracks down Susan and tries to discover why she may have blown up (as Peter so tactfully likes to put it), she keeps having visions of things being slightly different than they actually are. Where one charred body lies, she sees two. Where Broyle’s desk once was, it is not. In fact, she has glimpses of entire conversations with people before/differently than they actually occurred. This déjà vu, Walter supposes, is an ability given to Olivia by ZFT as a child, an ability to look into an alternate reality. I don’t feel like this side effect of the Cortexafam really adds much to Olivia or to her struggle, but it seemed to be marginally helpful to her here, once the confusion stopped, of course. By peering into the alternate reality, she was able to discern that Susan had a sister who might meet the same fate without some intervention.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

Yup. That's a real live dead alien.

In their search for Susan’s twin, Peter and Olivia pay a visit to conspiracy theorist Clint Howard, who proceeds to tell them about an American graduate student in Budapest that spontaneously combusted and blames it all on William Bell and Massive Dynamic, the latter of which he purports is merely a cover organization for all of Bell’s wholly unethical activities. He suggests Bell is activating his ZFT soldiers for an upcoming war, which is why, we’re supposed to infer, the events of The Pattern are occurring. And whom will this war be fought against? Why, only the Romulans! Because this show is produced by J.J. Abrams! And Star Trek is coming out this Friday! So, naturally, crazy Trekker conspiracy theorist believes the Trekverse is real and that he is, in fact, Spock. But he cannot be, you see, for Leonard Nimoy is William Bell! My exclamations of these facts are meant to mock the completely unwarranted, unnecessary and wholly unsubtle tie-ins to Abrams’ next project. Look, ya’ll, I will be seeing Star Trek this weekend because I grew up on that shit and I’ve been squeeing at the trailer every time I see it. I’m even okay with turning the Lost titlecard into the Enterprise beaming itself into a commercial (because that’s kind of a neat transition), but this was a moment that, while amusing because it’s Clint Howard, totally drew me out of the show. There were other ways to show us that Clint Howard wasn’t entirely right in the head without beating us over the head with Trek. Bad Robot, we’re watching Fringe. We’re excited for Nimoy. Chances are, we’ll be seeing Trek this weekend and giving you all of our hard earned geek dollars. You didn’t need to be so obtuse about this.

Anyway, while I was busy rolling my eyes but smirking at the Trek monologue, Harris is back and rubbing Olivia the wrong way by asking her to do things like take psych evaluations. She refuses, particularly because, in an alternate reality, Olivia is able to track down Susan’s missing twin who is still alive, but unfortunately, an Isaac Winters gets to her first in reality reality. At her apartment, there are signs of a struggle, and Peter notices that the glass has been melted on one of her windows, indicating her firestarting abilities. He pops out a nice little disc of glass and reveals his plan to use the new machine he’s been making out of Walter’s old machines to read the sound imprinted on the glass like a record. (Abrams is fond of comparing things to records, no?) This is a gift to his father, so he can copy all of his jacked up old albums, which truly pleases Walter. After adjusting the white noise and a bunch of other sound-related tinkering, they’re able to play the glass record and hear Susan’s twin Nancy being abducted. They also hear a phone being dialed, so Olivia asks Peter to clarify the sound so she can use her tone-dialing app to connect her to whomever the kidnapper called . . . and it’s Harris. That scene was really cool, and filled with the kind of super-fringey fringe science we were promised. This is probably my favorite use of weird science on the show, right alongside using homing pigeons as a GPS.

Olivia and Francis track Nancy to the warehouse where Harris has taken her and while they search for the girl, Olivia finds a board with pictures of various former ZFT experiment participants, including the twins and herself. Harris manages to surprise her and locks her in the conflagration room with Nancy, who, agitated, starts heating up. Olivia tries to calm her down and tries to get Nancy to direct her energy elsewhere, so that she doesn’t blow up. Nancy fares better than her twin sister and is able to light Harris on fire, killing him while saving her own life. Remember that light box Olivia had to know how to turn off with her mind? That was attached to Nancy, and I wonder why Olivia didn’t have to turn it off in order to remove Nancy from the machines she was hooked to in the conflagration room. It seems odd just to have it appear there and not be used.

Afterward, Olivia interrogates Walter about his involvement in ZFT and why there are so damned many kids from Jacksonville who are either dead or super fucked-up. Walter, who earlier finally showed Astrid and Peter his wonky y-ed typewriter and has spent the episode searching for a missing chapter of the ZFT manifesto which would prove the organization had some honorable intentions, insists to her that they were trying to prepare the kids in their experiments for something terrible coming. When pressed, Walter can’t remember what and breaks down, from a combination of Olivia’s bullying and his own terrible guilt. Later, in his lab, he finds the missing chapter, which proves that ZFT’s intentions were to better prepare humanity to survive the coming war (against persons from another dimension, we have been told), by producing stronger, better-equipped children who, when the time comes, will be the humanity’s hope. But Walter is given no chance to present these findings to his colleagues, as The Observer has come for him, simply stating, “Walter, it’s time to go.” Without questioning him, Walter goes to get his coat.

Nina Sharp drops by Broyles’ house to deliver a packet of photographs of The Observer, stating that something ominous happened the last time he appeared with such frequency. When she returns to her office, she is shot when she steps off the elevator. Which kind of sucks, because I think every Fringe viewer loved Nina Sharp and (maybe, secretly) hoped she would be revealed as Peter’s mother. I’m assuming Bell had Nina killed because, with the war coming, he no longer needs Massive Dynamic as a front, and, clearly, she’d caught on to some badness and needed to be put asunder. As for The Observer, I believe he’s taken Walter to meet with his former partner, at long last bringing ZFT back together.

So what do we make of this? On the whole, this episode was middling at best, plugging the mytharc forward by following a largely uninteresting Freak-of-the-Week story and giving Olivia a serviceable (though I presume not entirely always this helpful) power to see the other side of a timeline. It certainly wasn’t as strong as “Bad Dreams,” but was less engaging than “Midnight.” The revelation that ZFT was experimenting on children to make soldiers for good wasn’t all that telling for me, as that’s the vibe I’ve been getting from the kiddie experiments all along. The Observer taking Walter and Nina’s death were both good, surprising and eerie moments, and are probably the most memorable bits of this episode. I did, however, think John Noble was brilliant as Walter this week, digging right into the sadness of a man who knows he has done questionable things but is looking for something, anything that can exonerate him. More than anything, he needs to believe that his involvement in ZFT was for a good, if mad scientist-y, reason. And when he finds that missing chapter, he is assured of his own belief, after having it doubt casts upon it only hours earlier by Olivia, doubts so haunting it reduced him to tears.

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!

I told you I'd be Drew Barrymore for Halloween! I told you!


On another note, how happy do you think Stephen King is to hear his name and invention of the word “pyrokenetic” used on the show? I fully expect him to write about it in EW, because he loves, loves, loves pop culture and being a part of the zeitgeist.


The Husband:

While all the Trek stuff was, indeed, eye-rolling, I was satisfied enough in my head to know that Clint Howard, brother of Ron, also happened to be in one of the first episodes of the original Star Trek series, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” one of my favorites from season 1 of TOS, excluding, of course, the Athens-looking planet episode with the stationary gigantic ghost finger in the sky, as well as the Khan-focused season finale.

In it, the crew is toyed with by a silly, fake-looking alien on their monitor (or whatever it is you nerds call it), commander of a vessel intent on destroying the Enterprise, but by episode’s end, the Enterprise crew finds that they’ve been had – the alien was just a puppet, and the enemy ship is piloted only by a smart, tiny child who was testing the merits of the crew. Silly Clint Howard. The image of the puppet would be used frequently in the end credits of the show, and would be a super-inside joke during the credits of the Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before.”

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.