'Lost': Deus ex Machina
Having recapped "Numbers" last week, I have a new number for you: 108. Lost fans will know that as the sum of all the Numbers themselves, but it also represents something more: the new goal for the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. We destroyed our last goal, more than doubling the group in less than a week. This time around, we only need 20 new members to sign up. 20. As in, 4+16. It's fate. And not the kind that ends with us all finding heroin. Hopefully.
With that little plug out of the way, onto the next recap in the "We Have to Go Back" series. Incidentally, if you're semi-new to the endeavor, click here and catch up on them all. Tonight: Locke loses his mind. And his legs, for a bit.
Deus ex Machina
4) In Short
"Oh wait, I'm the mouse? Now that's just great. Really great."
8) On the Island
Locke and Boone are at the hatch, newly excavated from last time we saw it. Looks like they've built themselves a trebuchet in order to bust the hatch open. This is where Locke and my dad would differ. Locke uses a trebuchet; my father would have used his fall back tool of "flat-headed knife." The guy used it to fix loose screws, re-roof the house, and even pave the driveway. Wasn't nothing that flat headed knife couldn't do, except, you know, anything.
Locke's convinced this trebuchet will be the key to opening the relentlessly impenetrable hatch, but all it does is send shrapnel into Locke's leg. That'll make Dharma's Funniest Home Videos. Oddly enough, it takes Boone to point out the large, bloody object in Locke's leg, which freaks both of them out a bit. That night, as Locke bandages himself up, he realizes he feels absolutely nothing below the waist. Not good for a guy who was until only recently paralyzed.
The following morning, Locke starts rebuilding a newer, stronger trebuchet. Boone's skeptical of more work. Locke tells Boone, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" which is your signal to drink if you're playing at home. Locke thinks it's their fate to open this hatch, that their faith is being tested. He insists there will be a signal. What signal? How about a plane suddenly appearing in the sky? And a suddenly bloody Boone, mindlessly intoning, "Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs"? And how about Locke's mom suddenly going, "Zee plane! Zee plane!" in the background as Locke finds himself back in his wheelchair? This is NOT Ace of Base's idea of a sign, but it is a rather creepy dream had by Locke in the middle of the night.
The following morning, Locke conveys the dream to Boone. Shannon's stepbrother is skeptical until Locke mentions Theresa, which messes up Boone big time. While walking towards the plane Locke saw in his dream, his legs give out from under him. In an incident Alanis might call "ironic," this happens in exactly the place in which a rotten corpse sits just above them, located via a rosary on the tree nearby. Locke and Boone identify the body as Nigerian, based on the currency found on the body. Boone thinks he was a priest, but the gun belies such a profession.
The further they walk, the worse Locke's legs get, until finally, he's back to his crippled state. Locke finally tells Boone everything (well, except how he became crippled in the first place), which convinces Boone to press on further. Boone reveals that Theresa was his nanny, a woman he would torment by making her come upstairs even if he didn't need anything, until one day, she fell down the stairs and died. Locke, naturally, laughs his head off. What the...? The camera pans back to reveal the plane in the near distance. Creepy, creepy moment where the light turns on in your head that Locke might not be completely sane within his.
With Locke out of commission, he sends Boone up the perilous journey towards the contents of the plane. Boone scampers up, and eventually inside the plane itself. Boone finds a map of Nigeria, a whole lot of skeletons, and one teetering plane. The contents of said plane? Virgin Mary statues, filled with heroin. Boone's pissed. Locke's crushed.
Boone presses on, however, eventually arriving in the cockpit. First rule of the Lost Island: do NOT go into the cockpit of a plane on the Island. He turns on the radio, and, well, read for yourselves, courtesy of the Lostpedia transcript:
BOONE [into the radio]: Hello. Hello. Anybody out there? Mayday, mayday.
LOCKE: Boone, there's no time. Get out now.
RADIO VOICE: Is someone there?
BOONE: Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?
RADIO VOICE: Repeat your transmission please.
BOONE: Hello. We're survivors of the crash of Oceanic flight 815, please copy.
LOCKE [overlapping with Boone]: Boone, get out!
RADIO VOICE: Hello. We're the survivors of Oceanic flight 815.
And just then, the plane decides to give in to gravity, with Boone inside. Cue 15 million jaws dropping across America when this first went down. NO ONE saw this coming. Lost meant business, y'all. I actually missed the ensuing scene where Locke manages to pull Boone from the wreckage with newly working legs, as I was scrambling about the apartment looking for where I'd dropped my jaw.
Locke brings Boone back to the caves, where Jack starts immediate medical care. He asks Locke what happened, only to discover he's already left the caves. He's headed back to the hatch, pounding on it, screaming in pain, until suddenly, and unexpectedly, a light goes on from inside. Ooooh. Pretty.
B Story Alert: Sawyer wants to know if he's using the right herb for headaches he's been having recently. Sun insists it is. Kate's curious, and goes to the one person who would care the least if Sawyer has a headache THIS BIG: Jack. Jack spends the majority of the episode toying with Sawyer's mind, until finally diagnosing the problem: dude needs glasses. There's a reason I'm only spending one paragraph on this plot. But I will say: guys in glasses are generally sexy creatures.
15) Off the Island
We're in a Wal-Mart type store, with Locke working the children's toy section. A young boy, around Walt's age, asks him about the game Locke's standing near. The game? Mousetrap, a game which sounds loaded with meaning the way Locke describes it. As he is telling the rapt boy about the game, a mysterious red-headed woman appears nearby, looking as if she's smuggled a Tonka trunk under her faux fur coat. When confronted, she asks where the footballs are. Aisles 8 and 15, natch. Nearby, the mouse gets trapped.
In the parking lot, creepy Redheaded Lady once again stalks Locke. He gives chase, only to be hit by a car. So THAT'S how he...oh wait, no, he's fine, he's walking. He eventually catches up to...his mother. Locke's skeptical as to her intent. She insists he's "special," so special that she's never bothered to look him up until now, I suppose. She tells him he's part of a design, part of a greater scheme. Oh, and that he was apparently conceived by midichlorians. (OK, she says "immaculately conceived," but still, the Force is strong in Locke, y'all. How strong? As strong as a small pony.)
Locke's with the private investigator he hired to look up his mother, Emily. The PI confirms the DNA is 99% proof, and that she's been locked up a few times with non-violent schizophrenia. Locke's dad? Well, that's a thornier issue; one the PI thinks will NOT have a happy ending. Locke wants the horrific ending, thank you kindly, and gets a folder with the information about him.
This leads him to the gated abode of one of the great Lost daddies: Anthony Cooper. If you have to rank your all-time Daddy SOBs on the show, boy, he's gotta make the medal round each time, eh? Locke admires Anthony's hunting memorabilia while waiting. Anthony spins a long tale that I won't even recount, because the details matter less than the results: Anthony asks Locke to go hunting with him. Although not a hunter himself (interesting), Locke agrees.
Locke shows up for what seems to be one of several hunting trips the two have taken, to find Anthony hooked up to a dialysis machine. Turns out Mr. Cooper needs himself a kidney. While hunting that day, Anthony turns on the guilt trip to full 10. As a Roman Catholic myself, I know guilt when I see it. And wouldn't you know, next thing we see are the two of them side by side in a hospital room, with Locke ready to donate his kidney.
When he wakes up, he learns that Anthony's already checked out. Locke's mom appears in the door, revealing the whole thing to be a con concocted by Anthony from the get go. Emily agreed due to financial difficulty on her part. When Locke gets to Anthony's gates, he learns he's no longer welcome. If only he'd had a trebuchet handy, he could have busted through those gates.
16) The Mythology
Here's where thinking about a "dark" and a "light" side working on the Lostaways really, really sheds light on events, because honestly, first time around, I was as confused as John Locke. I mean, why would the Island send Locke a vision, then take away his legs, then kill Boone, then reward him with mysterious light? The answer is moot, since the question itself contains faulty logic. No one entity wants those things: two entities want different outcomes, and thus produce what seem to be contradictory results.
If John Locke is indeed the Island savior, the one sought by Richard Alpert as a child, then the "dark" side would seek to crush his kinship with the Island through the discovery of the hatch. When that wasn't enough, it sent him a vision to find a plane, a plane that would inevitably cause his doom. The light side of the island gives this plan a big bowl of "hell no," and takes away Locke's legs, effectively rendering him unable to go all Steve Irwin. While this means bad things for Boone, the boy that means much less to the future of the Island (and perchance the world) than Locke.
The plane itself also gives credence to the "Bermuda Triangle" theories of the show, which is to say that vehicles of all shapes and sizes seem to crash here. Planes, boats, and choppers: oh my!
23) The Moment
I know the light turning on is the easy answer, but Locke laughing in the face of Boone's most personal reveal yet wigs me out to no end.
42) In Retrospect
My wife astutely pointed out that Emily tells Locke, "It had to be your idea," regarding the kidney con job. It's astute in that it echoes one of my favorite moments of Season 3, as Ben reveals his spinal tumor to Jack in "The Cost of Living":
JACK: All of this... you brought me here to operate on you. You... you want me to save your life?
BEN: No, I want you to want to save my life.
That's a crucial distinction, one I've tried to highlight. Mere action isn't sufficient; the will behind it must not only be strong but pure. For some reason, this matters a great deal in the Lost universe. It's not mind over matter so much as mind into matter, quite often.
Four more things:
- Loved Emily calling Locke special. It's a total con line, but completely accurate in ways that woman could never understand. Luckily, there were a few people not in Portland who did.
- I honestly think if I saw the actor who played Anthony Cooper in real life, I'd punch him in the leg. That's how good he is in this role, and it's great to see the character so fully formed right here in his first appearance.
- Let's give a shout-out to the first appearance of Bernard, as evidenced by the man on the radio who...well, sounds nothing like Bernard so let's move on. Also, whaddup, Yemi? And Des...nice of you to turn the light on for good ol' Locke.
- Even though I knew it wouldn't happen, I got the same feeling from Locke driving away from Anthony's house at the end of the episode that I did the first time: "Oh, so THIS is how he gets crippled...any second now, he's gonna run a red light...awww, crud. Faked out for the eighth time this ep."
108) In Summary
When the plane crashed to the ground, the show put a big signpost down: "We mean bizzness." Charlie's resurrection earlier in the season? An anomaly. And while we don't get to see the full impact of the crash until next episode, it nevertheless represented a metaphorical tipping point for the show as it entered the final stretch of Season 1. No one was safe anymore.
It was a crucial move that raised the stakes of the show, as the show moved past its mid-season block of character-driven episodes into plot-driven ones that finally, slowly, started to reveal some of the mysteries of the Island. From here on in, it gets really good. (Until Season 2. But let's deal with that when we need to deal with it. Deal? Deal.)
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