And the hits just keep on coming! From the moment Jack's eye opened in the Jungle (a direct lift from the very first scene of the entire series five years ago), I knew that this one would be a keeper. And sure enough, when Jin hopped out of the Hippy Dharma Bus and noticed his old friends return to the Island, the chills so totally consumed me that I had to reach for another blanket (it's cold in our house). "316" was certainly one for the ages, filled with questions, answers, action, mystery and all dipped steeply in Lost mythology. But the one theme that shined the brightest was the show's most prominent: faith.
46 hours before Jack wakes up on the Island Ben, Desmond, Jack, Sun, and Ms. Hawking are gathered in the basement of the LA church, which we learn is actually the first Dharma station ever built - the Lamp Post (yet another shout out to C.S. Lewis, who used a street lamp as a portal in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). It is here where we learn a "very clever fellow" (Pierre Chang, or Faraday maybe?!?!) built the station to observe electromagnetic pockets around the world. As we know, the observations eventually led the Dharma founders to the Island and the rest, as they say, is history. But for this exercise, Ms. Hawking has figured out exactly which flight the Losties need to take to be sucked into one of these portals, and if you spent any time on Ajiraairways.com last week, you may have figured out that the flight was in fact #316 from LA to Guam. Desmond, after learning that his former Island castaways are actually trying to GO BACK to a place that caused them so much pain, goes on a well reasoned tirade before storming out to return to his family. Specifically, he gives a bit of a lecture to Jack ("whatever she tells you to do, ignore it"), which is interesting because Jack is the one person that in the past would have shared Desmond's feelings of shock and disgust. But after a few years of pain, neglect, confusion, and addiction Jack is starting to come around. He's on the edge of converting from a man of science to a man of faith...and just a few more nudges are needed for the transition to be complete.
The first comes in his after school session with Ms. Hawking, where she tells Jack that he must recreate the circumstances of the first Island arrival as best he can by giving Locke something of his fathers. In response to his initial knee jerk refusal, Ms. Hawking says imperatively, "stop thinking how ridiculous it is, and start asking yourself whether or not you think it is going to work. That's why it's called a leap of faith, Jack." As a parting gift, Jack gets Locke's suicide note and heads up to meet Ben who details the story of Thomas the Apostle to him...a story about a man that didn't believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he was able to touch the wounds of Jesus to be convinced. When asked if Thomas changed his mind, Ben responds, "Of course. We're all convinced sooner or later, Jack." And whether he knows it or not, Jack's transition to believing is well on its way.
Proof of that transition comes in the humorous scene where he is tying his father's shoes onto Locke's dead feet in the coffin. (A brief aside, many Lost junkies have long wondered why Christian has been depicted in tennis shoes since the first episode of the series...now, five years later, we have our answer...anyone who says that these guys are "making it up as they go" are very, very wrong). Jack incredulously says, "where ever you are John, you must be laughing your ass off....cause this is even crazier than you were." Even though he's outwardly expressing his disbelief to Locke, the proof that he is starting to believe lies in the fact that, while crazy, he's still actually tying his dead father's shoes on to Locke's feet. That being said, his next move is to give John back his unread suicide note, saying that "I've already heard everything you have to say, John...you wanted me to go back, I'm going back." Jack's close to the edge of that leap, but isn't jumping just yet.
Speaking of faith, how do we see it affecting the rest of the O6 on the journey? If all of them need to believe that going back is the right thing to do, how are they exhibiting examples of this conviction? For starters, Sun has to believe that Jin is alive, and trust Ben in doing so. Kate had to give up Aaron, the only think in her life that she loved completely. Hurley had to overcome his own demons and put his trust in righting a wrong that he never believed in in the first place ("The Lie"). Sayid, even with all of his "I'm done with you" talk knows that he can't abandon his friends on the Island; his sense of loyalty is too strong. And most of all, Locke actualizes his long enduring faith by committing the ultimate act of sacrifice by dieing so that they can all return.
[John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.]
Similarly, in accordance with "recreating the conditions of the original flight," there was some role reversals happening on the plane. Sayid takes on Kate's role as the resident convict (and how so? well I don't know, but the guy did kill a bunch of people around the globe while working for Ben so it's not unreasonable to think that the authorities got to him eventually). Hurley is posing as Charlie the musician via the guitar case (good choice over the sack of heroin by the way). Ben is posing as Hurley with his huff and puff late arrival on to the plane (but don't forget, Hurley "wasn't supposed to make" flight #816 based on his lateness...is this a clue into Ben's future seeing that those who turn the donkey wheel can't return to the Island?). Locke is obviously playing the part of Christian, serving as his "proxy." And Jack may be Locke, a man of weak faith, seeing that on the original flight Locke was in distress about being refused to participate on the walkabout ("don't you tell me what I can't do!"), but will soon turn into a believer once he stands for the first time in years on the beach following the crash. And conveniently enough, Jack's own full conversion is soon to come.
But first, what about all the rest of the people on the flight? Sure, Hurley bought the remaining 78 seats but there are still plenty of people back in coach. I think it's too soon to tell, but I certainly hope that they don't end up on the Island as well. There is a theory that maybe the crash that Widmore supposedly placed in the ocean to pose for Oceanic 815 is actually the Ajira Airways crash (and that when Frank Lapidus is looking at the dead pilot with no wedding ring on TV he is actually looking at himself!) meaning that everyone on the plane except the O6 died. Or there is another theory that the runway Kate and Sawyer were helping the Others build in Season 3 was actually a runway for the eventual Ajira flight, but I tend to think that neither theory is correct. My take at this point is that when Ben answered Jack's question of "what about the rest of them?" with a wry "who cares," it was the writers' way of telling us "hey...don't worry about these people...there is WAY too much else going on and we are going to ignore them, ok?" Hey, works for me. That being said, we WILL be seeing more of the two strangers that accompanied the O6 is first class. I don't know who they are (Widmore agents?), but they are here to stay...for now.
But getting back to our troubled hero, halfway through the flight Jack is finally becoming convinced. He can't explain for all the signs: the fact that all (save for Aaron) of the O6 made it onto the flight, the fact that our old buddy Frank Lapidus is the pilot (best line of the night: "We're not going to Guam, are we?"), and the fact that no matter how hard he tries, he just can't shake the shadow of Locke's last piece of advice: the note. After a Good Will Hunting reassurance scene from Ben ("it's not your fault, Jack....no, really, it's NOT YOUR FAULT") Jack takes the plunge and opens the note...it reads: "I wish that you believed in me." Upon reading it Jack finally fulfills John's wish - he believes - and at the moment the Island brings them back. With John's sacrifice complete, it's now Jack's turn to fulfill his own destiny...and in his hand after landing in the jungle is the torn note...leaving only the appropriate phrase "I wish."
But enough of the melodramatic analysis...let's quickly try and explain some mysteries that 316 so graciously provided us. First off, what the F happened to Ben? Well, I'm thinking that the promise he needed to keep to an "old friend" was the threat that he would punish Widmore by killing Penny in revenge for the death of his daughter Alex. It seems to fit. He called Jack from the docks (and Penny and Desmond live on a boat), and it's certainly no stretch to think that Desmond would beat the shit out of him if he even laid a pinkie on Penny for any reason whatsoever. It could also explain Desmond's eventual arrival back to the Island ("the Island is not through with you yet"). If Ben did in fact kill Penny, then Desmond would stop at nothing to finish the job that he started and kill Ben. And don't forget, Des originally ended up on the Island because of revenge: he was going to win Widmore's sailing race to show him how wrong Widmore was about him...and if you need to "recreate the conditions" of original Island embarkations, then having the need to avenge his wife's death is no better substitute.
Next up, what did Kate do with Aaron? A couple theories here...one is that she sent him to live with Sun's mother and daughter. Sun continuously mentioned Aaron and Ji Yeoung in the same breath so I wonder if the pay off of that is to have Aaron grow up with her. An alternative theory is that Kate gave Aaron to his more "rightful" owner, Claire's mother. This theory seems to make a bit more sense, seeing that Aaron is related to Claire's mother (obviously) and that he was never supposed to be raised by anyone other his mother. Well, hopefully "grandmother" can pass for "mother" in this case. It's important to also note that Claire's mom was actually in LA during this time so the transfer would have been relatively simple.
And finally, in the last scene we see Jin fully suited in a Dharma jumpsuit, confirming the theory last week that the Island crew did in fact go through one more jump after John turned and set the wheel on its axis. I'm going to take it a step further and say that they have been in this time period for a while now...say about 3 years - the same amount of time that has passed off Island. Think about it, all of the initial flashes they originally had were quick and probably took place over the course of a few days. But once the wheel was properly placed on it's axis, the flashing most likely stopped (and really, it had to...otherwise Juliet, Sawyer, and Jin would next in line for temporal displacement deaths). And for Jin to be driving around a Dharma van, (and for Daniel to be vetted as a construction worker), they probably needed to be around for a bit to gain the Dharma folks' trust. How that all went down will be interesting to see (along with the knowledge of where the hell Rose and Bernard are), but I don't think it's impossible to think that they've been in one place for a good chunk of time. After all, it's been 3 years for the off Island crew, so time - no matter how confusing it is on this show - needed to go by in some capacity for the two groups to reunite properly. The jump to Dharma time also explains Hurley's transmission of the numbers from the tower, as well as Daniel's cryptic message to Charlotte. What else it may uncover is yet to be determined, but I can't wait to find out.
Wow...well, I think that will do it. Thanks for getting this far and as usual, chime in below. A quick note: the next two weeks of posting might be inconsistent/delayed due to some time off, but we'll see. I do have some flights to get shit done, so I'll try and put down my copy of Ulysses and get to work ;)