Friday, June 06, 2008

Season 4; Episode 13: "There's No Place Like Home, Parts II & III"

It had it all....battle scenes, explosions, heart wrenching goodbyes, guilt ridden flash fowards, ghosts, clues, answers, evidence of what puberty does to a boy, and of course - giant ice cave time moving donkey wheels. It doesn't get much better than that people. But what to make of it all? Well, I don't really know, but let's try and figure it out.

It Starts Where it Ends

I absolutely loved that the episode opened with Kate coming to a screeching halt after Jack's now famous cry of "we have to go back!" that ended Season 3. Talk about full circle. We spent much of Season 4 finding out what led up to that once shocking scene and to pick up right from there could not have been more perfect. But Kate's having none of it. She's not going back anywhere. Sure, she was contacted by Jeremy Bentham - just like the rest of the O6 - and was told that the Island needed her to return, but as far as she's concerned, that part of her life is over with. Of course, that's what she thinks. She doesn't know it yet, but she, Aaron, and the rest of the O6 will be returning sooner than they think. But we'll get to that later.

First off, what about this Jeremy Bentham? After last season's finale, predictions of who was in the coffin ranged from Walt to Ben to Jacob to Michael...well, to anyone really. Hell, I think I called out "it's Vincent!" at one point just cause I had already shouted out just about everyone else's name. But no, in the last seconds it was revealed that our dead mystery man was none other than John Locke. While the revelation is not necessarily a jaw dropping surprise, it's a fitting place for him to end up. It's clear that Locke, for better or worse, was the "chosen one" to succeed Ben and protect the Island. So knowing that the only way the Island can be fully restored, or "safe," one of his final tasks was to personally recruit the O6 and convince them to return. His death could be viewed as an act of martyrdom, a necessary sacrifice in order to band them together for their return. Furthermore, as Ben notes ("he's coming with us"), Locke may know that he will ultimately return to the Island as well to "resurrect" just as Christian seems to have done (empty coffin in the jungle, anyone?). No better way to be one with the Island than to its number one resident Ghost, right? Move over Christian, there's a new Jacob in town.

(And for you name buffs out there, Jeremy Bentham shares his name with an influential 19th-century English philosopher, whose works are mentioned in the same breath as other famous "Lost Relevant" philosophers David Hume (aka Desmond Hume) and John Locke (aka....uh.. John Locke). For people smarter than I, this was a pretty big clue to who was in the coffin.)

But exactly how all 6 survivors are 1) going to be convinced that going back to the Island is a good idea, and 2) how they are going to GET to the Island are a couple of the biggest questions moving into season 5. As expected, Ben's already "got a few ideas" on the matter, but who does he need to work on the hardest? We know that Jack, Hurley, and Sayid are probably already convinced to go back (I know Hurley expressed doubt in this episode, but he's also admitted that he thinks they made the wrong call and need to go back to Jack), so the biggest problem resides with Kate and Sun. And while they haven't yet been persuaded, there are plenty of strings that could easily pull them back.

First off, in this episode, Kate dreams of receiving a very Island-induced whispery phone call, that when played backwards says "The Island needs you. You have to go back before it's too late.." Furthermore, let's not forget that that baby in the other room isn't hers and that his mother - for all Kate knows - is still alive and well on the Island. And finally, there's the Sawyer factor. Not only did he ask her to check up on his long lost daughter before his heroic jump from the chopper (exact quote: "I have a daughter in Alabama. You need to find her. Tell her I'm sorry"), she also kind of has a thing for him. I'd say that's plenty of material for Ben to work with on Kate.

And as for Sun, well, I think she already has ideas of returning. She took control of her father's company and approached Widmore, proposing a strange alliance with the goal of working together to find the Island. We can't be sure of her true intentions (revenge?, working for Ben already?, or plotting to try and kill Ben?), but it's not totally unthinkable that Jin jumped off the Freighter before it exploded and that Sun wants to return to him. After all, what better tid bit of info for "Jeremy Bentham" to dangle in front of Sun than that Jin's survival? We know that he made the rounds, and therefore have to assume that he got to her before meeting his maker.

But enough about all these future questions, let's review what happened on the Island before all the shit went down.

The Others - Old School Style

So with all of their automatic weapons and mercenary training, Keamy and his crew were no match for a good 'ole fashioned Others ambush. Combine poison darts, trip wires, and Others in rags, and you've got yourself an ass kicking.

After his rescue, Ben expresses his thanks to Richard, but from their icy exchange you can tell that their time together is limited. Richard cared enough for Ben (or maybe cared enough for "the rules") to save him, but they both know that Ben's time is over and that he will soon be banished from the Island. Regardless, Kate gets a free pass, and Ben trots off to the Orchid to resume the task that Christian gave them - move the Island.

In the meantime, Jack arrives to the Orchid to find Locke looking for the entrance and another "Science vs. Faith" sparring match begins. Locke predicts that Jack will have "to lie" in order to save his people. Locke tries to persuade them to stay, but really, he doesn't have time for the argument this time. He seems more sure of himself and his destiny than ever. Maybe that "chosen one" stuff is getting to his head. Not for long though, as Ben comically shows up to point out Locke's inability to even enter the station. Then later, he basically sits him down like a child in front of the TV to watch yet another orientation video (it must be Locke's "Blue Clues" or something...that guy eats that shit up), so that he can do the big boy work...which is to get himself to the real deal: the frozen Donkey Wheel ice cave.

Now, just a quick diversion here...the reason everyone is calling this apparatus the "Frozen Donkey Wheel" is because the writers literally code named this year's finale the "Frozen Donkey Wheel" episode. Ironically enough, a name that everyone just dismissed as tomfoolery turned out to specifically describe the apparatus that apparently moves the Island. Pretty funny.

Also, a lot of folks aren't quite sure what to think of this rather outlandish development. I mean, a wheel moves the Island? Really? But in taking a step back, it isn't all that out of the blue . We have to remember that we've been shown a number of ancient-like relics on the Island. Between the four toed statue, the hieroglyphics on Ben's secret door, the Black Rock, etc...we know that folks have been around on Island for some time. So just like how the building of the Pyramids holds plenty of mysteries for us even in this day and age, I can let it slide that a frozen donkey wheel can access and manipulate some of the Island's abilities.

But more importantly, the big question here is where the hell did the Island go? Well, there are a couple of theories. First off, many folks think that the Island didn't move in spacial terms, but instead moved through time - precisely to the time that Ben moved to (Oct of 2005). So in this scenario, the Island is still in the same location, but has jumped ahead to a different time in the future. I'm not a big fan of this theory because it doesn't fix the problem of "hiding" itself from people like Widmore who are trying to find it. Furthermore it brings up a whole slew of "how can two entities reside in the same space even if there on a different time line" stuff that I can't even think about without hurting my head.

Another interesting theory is that the turning of the wheel simply "hid" the Island in its current space by changing the bearing of which it can be accessed. So, in the same way that the Island became visible when Desmond turned the fail safe key at the end of Season 2, Ben's turning of the Donkey Wheel subsequently cloaked the Island once again. Both events seemed to have caused a similar reaction: the sky turned purple in both, and while the Island all of sudden "appeared" to Penny's scientists at the end of Season 2, it similarly "disappeared" to Jack and the survivors in the helicopter. Additionally, if we assume that the Island's "property" expands beyond just the land mass itself (which we know it does because the small "othertraz" Island with the Hydra station disappeared as well) and extends to the water around it, there is a chance that Jin jumped off the freighter and swam close enough to the Island to be "hidden" along with it. There are plenty of other theories out there, but so far this seems the most likely to me. For example, another quick one is that the Island was replicated (like the bunny), and that two sets of Islands and inhabitants exist simultaneously (which could explain how one Locke could still be alive and one might be the dead Jeremy Bentham). But this one too makes my head hurt so I try not to think about it.

Moving Forward

Regardless of what happened to the Island, we know what happened to poor Ben. He ends up in the Tunisian desert with a mouth full of cold air, banished from ever returning to his home. (An interesting side note - remember that Polar Bear Charlotte found in the desert? Well it's likely that the Polar Bears were used to turn the wheel in the past. Knowing that who ever turns it cannot return, what better thing to do it than an 800 pound bear? Why sacrifice a scientist?). But we also know that it's certainly not the last time we see him. Coming full circle, Ben creeps up on Jack in the funeral home, looking both younger and quite pale (intended?), and lays out the plan for Jack: get the six of them and Locke back to the Island.

Ben's already gotten started...he's recruited Sayid to kill a bunch of people, visited Widmore to declare war, and who knows, maybe he even fit in a visit with Locke as well. But he wouldn't be responsible for his death.....right??

And with that, I think we've entered into the third act of Lost. If you look at the show like a play, it follows the formula nicely. In Act I we deal with immediate conflict and eventually are presented with the premise for survival. It ends with a glimmer of hope as the turning of the fail safe reveals them to the rest of the world. But in Act II, we see only tragedy. Rescue turns out to be a false hope, the group turns against itself, and of course, death is seemingly everywhere. As we enter Act III, we see evidence of what can only be a redemption, a return to the Island to provide the ultimate salvation to those that remain. Whether this tale ends up "happily ever after" or as a classic tragedy with blood on its hands is still very much a question.

(And not to get too nerdy, the writers are known to be huge Star Wars fans...take a look at the original Star Wars episode titles in the trilogy: A New Hope; The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Coincidence?)

Finally, there is one last theory out there that is gaining some momentum. With the revelation that the O6 will have to return together with the coffin that holds Locke's body, it has been theorized that the first scene of the whole series was actually chronicling Jack's "return" to the Island. In those scenes, Jack wakes up in the Jungle and encounters an empty coffin. At the time we are lead to believe it's his father's, but could it have been Locke's? This theory has a long way to go, but the main points offer that they may just be in a time loop that never ends, and that when it loops back to square one (Jack waking up in the jungle), the characters start fresh again, forgetting what happened in the previous loop and ready to try and survive all over again. It is important to note that the writers have always said that a MAJOR clue to the series mysteries resides in the very first scenes of episode one. Sure, there are plenty of holes in this theory (how would they all return, what about Aaron, etc), but all in all it does seem very Lost-ish. It's plausible that the last episode of Season 5 could be a close up shot of Jack's eye opening, and could end with someone off in the distance echoing Charlie's famous line..."guys, where are we?"

A very familiar object lies next to him in this's thought to be very similar to the baton that Ben had when he jumped to the desert....

So I think that'll do it for this season. I know I probably missed a bunch of stuff (and I did...Michael's death, too tall Walt's Hurley visit, Miles' potential to unlocking a WHOLE lot of answers next season, Charlotte's return to her birth place, the beginning of Juliette's drinking problem, Desmond and Penny's tear jerking reunion, etc), but I'm tapped...and this is long enough already. Please chime in and let me know what you thought and we can keep the discussion going. We certainly have quite a bit of time to talk it over before February of 2009! Till then, thanks for reading!