'Lost': Confirmed Dead
Even though this is only an hour-long episode, this is one of my longer recaps, people. And if I'm warning you ahead of time, you know that I must be telling the truth. If you take public transportation to and from work, as I do, print this bad boy out and read it on the way. Then again, in this economy, maybe you should save yourself the ink and just read it onscreen. But trust me, Lost fans: it's worth getting through, as buried in here is the answer to everything that's going to happen in Season 5, beyond, and behind as well. Don't worry: it'll all make sense by the end. Maybe.
(Curious about my first take? Look no further!)
4) In Short
"It's the chronic(what)cles of Dharmia!"
8) On the Island
Well, over the Island, really: panic ensues on the helicopter as an Asian man pushes a man he calls "genius" off of the vehicle. Looks like they're going down, and going down fast. We watch from his perspective as he falls, opens his parachute, and crashes on the ground below. He cocks a gun, puts it in the back of his pants, and greets Jack and Kate. He introduces himself as "Daniel Faraday," and announces that he's there to rescue them. Riiiight.
Jack and Kate's initial happiness at finding Faraday soon gives way to "ruh row" as they spy the gun while he talks to Minkowski on the freighter on Kate's sat phone. The fact that Minkowski wants Faraday to talk privately, not on speaker, doesn't help matters much. Faraday tells them that their blinking beacons are in fact GPS signals, and the boat will transmit detailed info on the other survivors to the phone as soon as they receive them. One can't help but notice that Faraday looks at the Island with a mixture of fear and "best...lab...ever."
Locke's all happy, doing his best Phil Collins impression and letting it rain down on him. He tells Sawyer they are going east, not south to the barracks, because he needs to make a pit stop to the cabin. Ben and Locke are shocked to hear Hurley mention the cabin, and that it's in another direction all together. This won't come in handy later in the season or anything. Sawyer wants to know who Locke is taking orders from. "Surprisingly tall and old Walt," says Locke. OK, I'm paraphrasing here.
On the beach, Sayid and Juliet team up to shore up defenses. There's a pairing you thought you'd never see. When Sayid asks Juliet why Ben would tell them the Freighter Folk mean harm, Juliet points out the Ben Conundrum effectively: you can never really tell when Ben's lying or not. But she DOES ask Sayid how many guns they have, so something about Ben's message in fact has scared her sufficiently.
Jack and Kate come across a dented metal case while following Faraday. Inside? Hazmat suits and masks. Whoa. Jack calls Faraday on his gun in light of this new info, with Faraday admitting, "Rescuing you and your people...can't really say it's our primary objective." Before Jack can find out what their primary objective actually is, Faraday picks up the signal of a man names Miles, and heads off after it. Boy, if this episode doesn't tell us what that objective is by the end of the hour, I'm gonna be right peeved.
Sawyer's still caught up on the whole "taller Walt" thing, skeptical that John saw anything at all. Locke shows Sawyer his bullet wound from Ben's attack: turns out it went in one side and out the other, thanks to the lack of kidney on that side of his body. The continuity gods are pleased by this detail, oh yes, verily. Locke walks on, and the newly spooked group follows wordlessly.
Faraday tracks the signal to a rocky cliff, where Miles lies on the ground, seemingly lifeless. OK, maybe not so much, as he gets the drop on Jack when Crazy Eyes approaches. While holding Jack at gunpoint, Miles asks Kate to take him to Naomi's dead body. Ruh row. Turns out that whole "tell my sister I love her" thing is code for "I'm totally screwed." Miles insists that Kate take him to Naomi's body.
As Locke's Clan rests by a riverside, Ben has something to say to Alex. Karl tries to be all manly, but Ben quickly decimates him with his words. Because that's what Ben does. Sawyer tells Karl to walk it off, which gives Ben the opportunity to screw with Sawyer as well. It's like a two-for-one deal, as Ben helpfully points out that off-Island Sawyer isn't nearly as Kate-friendly as on-Island Sawyer would be. Sure, here Sawyer's competition for her affection, but would a con man really beat a surgeon in the real world?
And now with the punches and the kicks and the anger. Locke asks Sawyer to stop, with Sawyer wondering why they are even keeping Ben alive at all. Locke insists his time on the Island makes him useful; Sawyer thinks it's only a matter of time before Ben springs his trap and kills them all. Locke offers Sawyer the chance to execute him there, on the spot, in public, in front of Alex no less. Hurley silently shakes his head at Sawyer, which is enough to stop Sawyer from following through. But Sawyer does tell Locke that it's now John's duty to walk him through the jungle.
Miles is kneeling silently over Naomi's body. Kate's more than a little freaked out. Faraday's in his own little world, fascinated by the fact that the light doesn't "scatter" quite right. Hot damn I love me some Faraday. As Kate tries to get Faraday to put the gun down, Jack stares into the jungle, almost as if he sees something.
Miles comes back and tells Faraday that Kate and Jack were telling the truth. They then pick up a signal from a woman named Charlotte 3 kilometers away. But when Miles tries to leave, Jack stays behind. He wants them to put their guns down, as their friends are in the jungle holding guns on their would-be rescuers. Miles is skeptical, and gets shots fired at him for his skepticism. Sayid and Juliet emerge from the jungle, having one-upped the Freighter Folk. Score one for Crazy Eyes, people!
Charlotte comes to, and finds herself hanging upside down from a tree overlooking a river. She manages to cut herself free, splashing down into the river below. Upon emerging from the water, she has a look that says, "I'm home." Then she gets a look that says, "Who's the crazy bald guy?"
Kate's annoyed no one clued her in on the "cavalry" in the jungle. Jack humorously wonders why she didn't get that from his wink. Dude, who slipped the cool juice into Crazy Eyes' cup? He's all sorts of awesome all of a sudden. Up ahead, it's Three's Company, Island-style, with Sayid interrogating Daniel and Miles. Dan's a physicist, but doesn't like being pigeon-holed into one field. Miles doesn't like last names or Daniel's loose lips. Sayid doesn't like the fact that Miles isn't on a rescue mission yet isn't surprised to see supposedly dead people alive and well.
Charlotte's amazed to meet survivors. Least, that's what she said. Watch the demeanor of the Locke's Lostaways, and you see the pattern emerging for Season 4: the choice of the word "Others" was a brilliant masterstroke on the part of Lost, as it's a word that literally defines any two groups of strangers, irrespective of morality. Anyways, I digress: Locke wants to move on with Charlotte, Charlotte wants to stay put, and Ben wants Charlotte's gun in his bloody hands.
Sayid is trying to use the phone when Charlotte's signal starts approaching quickly. Jack ascertains that she's running from something, which sets their group a' runnin' towards the signal. When they get to the midpoint, they see not Charlotte, but Vincent. Clever, Locke.
Frank Lapidus makes his way along a steep hill. His face is bloody, and his breath is short. When he reaches the top of the hill, what does he see? Mikhail's cow. Hiya, cow! Nice to see that Locke didn't blow you up. Lapidus notices that his sat phone is busted, and with great effort, Lapidus sets off a flare into the sky.
Charlotte's happy to see the flare, but Locke's insistent that Charlotte come with them. In their arguing, Ben shoots Charlotte twice in the chest with a gun lifted from Karl. Sawyer tackles him and beats Ben, which makes this like the 11th time that's happened to Ben in the last 72 hours on the Island or so. Locke's shocked to find Charlotte wearing a Kevlar vest, meaning the bullets didn't in fact kill her.
Jack and Company find Frank unconscious. Miles and Daniel want to know where the chopper crashed; Frank's offended, and notes that he landed it safe and sound over the hill. The Lostaways can't believe what they are seeing. Kate and Faraday carry Naomi's body to the chopper as Sayid inspects the chopper. Miles asks for the phone back. When he calls the boat, a woman named Regina answers instead of Minkowski. Looks like he's unavailable at the moment. Hmmm.
Miles is angered at seeing Naomi being carried to the chopper. He doesn't want to bring her back. Lapidus concurs with Miles, but for legit reasons: they burned up most of the fuel on the way in, and want to travel light before refueling and getting her on the next pass back. While Juliet tends to Frank's wounds, he asks her for her name. He realizes her name was not on the manifest, and calls Miles over. He tells him she's "native," which sets Miles off. "Where is he?" he screams. The "he" in question? Benjamin Freakin' Linus, a fact we see supported by a photo of what looks like Ben in an airport. Holy...
Charlotte's less than pleased by these developments. John apologizes to Sawyer for not listening to him earlier, and agrees to clean up his own mess. Ben pleads with John, saying he has answers and information he needs. John's first question? "What is the monster?" Whoa, he just totally asked that. Ben's more shocked than we are, and says he doesn't know. Locke cocks the gun and says, "Goodbye, Benjamin." Ben responds by rattling off Charlotte's entire life history, in addition to salient information about the other Freighter Folk. And he knows they are after him. Charlotte's face falls flat. How does Ben know all this? "Because I have a man on their boat," he says.
Of course he does.
15) Off the Island
We're peering at the floor of the ocean through a ROV. What the...? We switch feeds to another ROV, and as it comes over a ridge, we see...Oceanic 815. Wow. It's one thing to hear about this discovery, and another to actually see it.
Perspective shifts to a news broadcast, reporting the discovery of Oceanic 815 deep inside the Sunda Trench off Bali. The camera pans from the television to Daniel Faraday. He's in Essex, Massachusetts, and his face is wet with tears. When his female caretaker asks him why he's so upset, he replies, "I don't know."
Miles Straume pulls up to a house in his car. On the radio, he listens to reports of the discovery of Oceanic 815. He enters the house of Ms. Gardener. He tells her that his upfront fee for his work is $200, double the fee agreed to on the phone. The increase, he says, is due to the fact that he found out her grandson was murdered. He takes the money, assembles a bizarre contraption involving a Dirt Devil, and goes up to her grandson's room.
Once in the grandson's room, he turns on the device and sits on his bed. He looks around, and starts to shake a bit. He then starts to converse with the dead spirit of the grandson, telling the spirit that he wants to tell his grandmother he has left the house, but can't do so until the spirit tells him where "it" is. A sound is heard from behind the dresser; upon moving it, Miles finds a bag full of cash and drugs. He unplugs the device from the wall, and just before leaving, caustically says, "You can go now."
Miles gives Ms. Gardener half her money back after looking at his pictures on the wall. This prompts her to hug him spontaneously, which further prompts a hysterical "um, er, ugh" look on Miles' face. Lordy be, this ep rules.
The scene? Medenine, Tunisia. The person? Charlotte Staples Lewis. The time? Day after the discovery of Oceanic 815. The reason? An archeological find. The importance? A Hydra station logo on the collar of a fossilized polar bear. The result? A smile on Charlotte's face. (Who says I can't rehash in succinct manner?)
Frank Lapidus watches a toy plane sink inside an aquarium inside his office in Eleuthera, Bahamas. He's watching the television reports about Oceanic 815's discovery, when he notices something strange amongst the footage of the rotting bodies inside the plane. He calls the Oceanic Hotline and says the man onscreen is most definitely not the pilot. That man, he says, always wore his wedding ring. How does Frank know this? Because he was supposed be piloting Oceanic 815, that's why.
Matthew Abaddon and Naomi Dorrit discuss the team he has assembled for their mission. She's skeptical why such these four were selected for such a dangerous mission. Abaddon states all four have a specific purpose, and that she has to ensure all four get in, get out, and stay alive. When the topic of Oceanic 815 survivors comes up, Abaddon flatly states, "There were no survivors." A firmly held belief, or a firmly stated warning?
16) The Mythology
In the mid-20th century, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov started to pen the Foundation series. At the heart of this series lie a man named Hari Seldon, who foresaw the imminent demise of mankind through his work in mathematics. His particular branch of study was called psychohistory, which could accurate predict the future using mass psychology. In other words, he could mathematically represent group think on a massive scale.
In order to avoid a Dark Ages of thirty thousand years, he created two separate Foundations, which were essentially repositories for all human knowledge. Creating such secluded bastions for learning would, in Seldon's equations, reduce the Dark Ages to a mere thousand years. In other words, he couldn't actually prevent any collapse of humanity, but he could reduce it by a significant order of magnitude. There was, however, a huge flaw in psychohistory: while it was excellent at predicting how masses of people would act and react, it could not factor for an individual's actions. One person could, in essence, render all of Seldon's work null and void.
I bring all of this up not to urge you all to read the Foundation series between now and the start of Season 5 (although it's EXCELLENT), but to try and look at the Freighter Folk as ways that various forces in the world of Lost seek to circumvent the inherent flaw with psychohistory. In some ways, Ben Linus aligns nicely with the character of the Mule in Foundation. The Mule, like Ben, uses peoples' emotions to control them, although the Mule is literally a psychic and able to reroute people's emotional responses mentally. But both men seem to have singularly altered a greater intended destiny.
Lost likes to throw the word "destiny" around a lot, both in its promos and in its dialogue. It also seeks to rationally explain certain seemingly unbelievable phenomenon (ie, polar bears on a tropical island). It is another way to circle back to the "man of science, man of faith" debate that's been ongoing since Season 1. But just as Eko warned us all that we should not mistake coincidence for fate, we also shouldn't mistake one man's history for another man's future. Here's what I mean.
In Foundation, Seldon's equations dictate rational mass human response to certain stimuli over the course of the following thousand years. But those thousand years are contained from the point Seldon makes his mathematics going forth: they don't take into account any action that might have happened before his work. If time were graphed out in the Seldon universe, they would look much like any timeline we're accustomed to, moving left to right. But time in Lost does not work that way.
I'm going to try and reframe what I said on last week's podcast in a more succinct and less baffling way. There are events in Lost that have both already happened and have yet to happen. It all depends on the perspective one has in viewing them. Let's take Adam and Eve, for instance. I am firmly convinced we know who these people are. Moreover, I am convinced they are alive on or off the Island at this moment. Forget that it seems insane that Jack would find two bodies dead for seemingly fifty years yet also people he might have interacted with: in the world of Lost, this is exceedingly possible.
Many people noted early on that Charlotte's name was a direct shoutout to C.S. Lewis, a fact confirmed by Darlton. Moreover, on the Season 4 DVD, Lindelof expressly points out how Prince Caspian shows that you can go back to the Island much like Narnia, to find a major dissonance between the time lapse off the Island and time lapse on the Island. It also means that it's possible for people to experience things in the nominal past AFTER experiencing things in the nominal present. Let's take two examples.
- Walt visiting Locke at the end of Season 3. He's super tall. He's super old (for a kid). And he saves Locke's life at that moment. However, I'm convinced that Walt did not telepathically visit John until after a visit from one Jeremy Bentham. At the time, I thought that Walt was in fact "Walt," just an Island-produced vision that would psychologically exploit Locke's connection with the child in order to get Locke moving. Now, with the introduction of an older Walt into flash forwards, I'm not so convinced.
- Why show Faraday crying at the site of Oceanic 815? Is it because he's naturally empathetic, or is it because that moment occurs AFTER the events to come in Season 5? We've already learned that his brain-frazzled self couldn't remember meeting Desmond Hume, even though his journal clearly dictates that he had. Is it completely out of the realm of possibility that he's dumped off the Island with no memory of where he was? (You could make this argument with any of the Freighter Four, but his in the most interesting example.)
The takeaway I think is this: there's little difference in the selection of the Freighter Four and the Island's pull on several characters. Abaddon's team is just one aspect of the greater tendency to put people inextricably bound up in the time-twisting tale of Lost into play. Whether that's the inexorable pull of destiny, or the inescapable precision of mathematics, I'll leave up to you.
23) The Moment
You're making me choose? So not fair! Um, Ben having a man on their boat. No, Faraday's introduction. No, the Hydra collar in Tunisia. Ack! Brain gone 'splodey!
42) In Retrospect
- It's stunning to see how quickly and completely formed all four Freighter Folks are from Minute One. It's not as if we don't have more questions about them, but they are sharply sketched and all have personal attachments to the Island. It's a marvel of writing economy to introduce such distinct characters all in one episode. Hell, it took approximately seventeen Kate episodes to learn as much relevant info as we did on any one of the Freighter Four in this ep.
- More stunning? The show asked a major question ("What is your primary objective?") and actually answered it within the same episode. I think about 40,000 people went to the emergency room, suffering from shock, the night this originally aired.
108) In Summary
In case you couldn't already tell, I sorta love this episode. I would SO ask it to prom, people. Instantly interesting characters are dropped into the mix, each confounding my expectations of the eeeeeevvvviiiilllll people I expected to land on the Island. And the cliffhanger? One of the best the show ever dropped. It was both shocking and yet "I should have known that!" at the same time. God bless Ben, every one of us.
Next up: a German girl goes breakin' Sayid's heart, and a super secret someone tries to put him back together again.
Leave your thoughts about this episode below!
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he'll have as many platforms as Freighters have cool backstories.