Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 10 - Season 2, Episodes 21-23

Welcome to the Lost rewatch project. I am currently rewatching all 121 episodes of the TV series which aired for six seasons from 2004 to 2010. This is very much a rewatch thread, with the show watched with knowledge of what is to come in later seasons. If you've never watched Lost before, you definitely do not want to read this blog series.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

A concise summary of the entire season.

221: ?
Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse
Airdate: 10 May 2006
Survivor Count: 49 (following Ana Lucia's death in the previous episode)
Days on Island: 64-65 (24-25 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Mr. Eko

Flashbacks: Mr. Eko is serving as a priest in Australia, but is planning to leave for a new life in the United States. A forger, Caldwell, has prepared a forged passport for Eko and offers to hook him up with contacts in LA but Eko is not interested. Before he can leave, Eko is asked by the senior priest to investigate claims that a young woman has died and come back to life. Her mother is convinced it is a miracle. Eko is highly sceptical of the claim. He talks to the girl's doctor, who says that she was brought to him having drowned and been in the water for two hours. When he started the autopsy, she woke up. He plays Eko the audio log of the autopsy. The girl screams in a disturbing manner when she is "resurrected". Eko goes to see the girl but is intercepted by her father, Richard Malkin, who is the same psychic who told Claire to go to America. Richard says that he is a fraudster and his wife has staged the whole thing as a way of exposing and discrediting him. Eko, eager to be off to the America, agrees to drop the matter.

At the airport before boarding Flight 815, Eko is met by the young girl, Charlotte. She tells Eko that she did come back from the dead and that when she was "between" places she saw Eko's brother, Yemi. She says that Yemi forgives him, has faith in him and says he is a good priest and a good man. Eko becomes upset, causing Libby (behind him in the line at the airport) to enquire if everything is okay. Charlotte leaves and Eko gets on the plane.

On the Island: Eko is chopping trees on the beach to assist in the building of his church. Ana Lucia suddenly appears and asks what he is doing. Eko says that the idea of building the church came to him in a dream. She asks "like this one?" A gunshot wound appears on her stomach and she starts bleeding. She tells him to find Locke. Eko travels to the Swan Station, but instead of Locke finds his brother Yemi manning the computer. Yemi tells him that he has lost his way and needs to find "the question mark". The room starts shaking and the countdown clock runs out, but instead of hieroglyphics a set of question marks appear. Yemi enters the code, although all the letters and numbers on the keyboard have been replaced by question marks. Yemi tells him again to find Locke and the question mark, and to bring his axe. Eko wakes up, disturbed.

Locke, Jack, Kate and Sawyer are returning to the Swan Station, Locke having reported that "Henry Gale" had tried to strangle Ana Lucia. As they approach, Michael staggers out with a gunshot wound to his shoulder. He says that "Henry Gale" shot him whilst escaping. To their horror, the rest of the group find Ana Lucia and Libby's bodies. However, Libby starts coughing and shaking. Michael is horrified, fearing he is about to be found out.

Eko arrives and grieves briefly for his friends before talking to Locke. Eko suggests that as the best trackers in the group, they should pursue "Henry Gale" as he only left twenty minutes or so earlier. Locke agrees. Jack wants to come, but also knows that only he can help Libby. Reluctantly, he stays behind. Locke and Eko race after the escapee, Locke at first impressed by what appears to be Eko's superior tracking skills. However, Eko has merely been drawing Locke away from the Swan. A safe distance away, Eko demands that Locke take him to "the question mark". Locke says he doesn't know what he means. Eko then knocks Locke out with a head-butt. When he wakes up, Eko again demands to be taken to the question mark. Locke reluctantly shows Eko the diagram he drew from memory of the blast door map, showing a question mark to the north of the Swan assuming the diagram is a literal map. Eko suggests it is. They head north, Locke expressing surprise that Eko would want to tear off on this random mission after two of his friends have been shot. Eko telling him that Ana Lucia appeared to tell him to do this around the time she died, meaning it is important. He asks Locke if he ever followed instructions from a dream.

Their path takes them to the crashed Beechcraft, now a charred wreck after Charlie and Eko torched it some days previously. Eko suggests they make camp and "await further instructions". Locke has a bizarre dream where he imagines himself to be Eko. A priest appears to him and climbs up the rockface above the crashed Beechcraft, only for Locke/Eko to fall off the rocks. Locke wakes up, confused, and tells Eko about the dream. Eko immediately scales the cliff. Reaching the top, he only sees more jungle and hills stretching away. Turning around he sees that, from above, the Beechcraft wreck lies at the lower tip of a large stretch of circular earth that resembles a massive "?".

Descending again, Eko and Locke push the plane out of the way and locate another hatch. Eko allows Locke to open it and they descend into what appears to be another DHARMA Initiative station. This station is smaller than the Swan, consisting only of a large, octogonal room filled with viewscreens. One of these shows real-time images from the Swan Station (they see Jack walking around). They also find a pneumatic tube. Locke puts his map in the tube and it sucked up, indicating it is still functional. They also locate a DHARMA Initiative training video, presented by the same man who introduced the Swan video, Dr. Marvin Candle. However, on this video he instead introduces himself as "Dr. Mark Wickmund". The man states that they are in Station 5, the Pearl, and their purpose is to monitor people working in another station. These people are not aware that they are the subjects of a psychological testing experiment. All observations are to be written in a notebook and then sent via the tube to the DHARMA headquarters. They also find a printer which is recording a detailed log of whenever the button is pushed in the Swan. Locke becomes angry and distraught, believing that the Pearl proves that the button doesn't do anything and it's all been a massive trick. Eko disagrees, saying that they push the button because they believe they are meant to, not because they are told to. He now believes that pushing the button is more important than ever and, if Locke won't do it, he will. Eko takes the print logout with him and returns to the Swan.

At the Swan Libby is in extreme discomfort and pain. She is unable to talk and is drifting in and out of consciousness. Jack can't do anything for her. He asks Swayer for some of the heroin from the statues to help end Libby's life as comfortably as possible. Sawyer agrees and Jack sends Kate with him. Sawyer realises that this means giving up the location of the guns as well as the drugs, but agrees. Kate is startled to see that Sawyer was simply hiding his stuff under his tent, but Sawer points out that she never thought to look for it there. Hurley approaches them, puzzled by Libby's disappearance. They give him the bad news and return to the hatch. Hurley comforts Libby as she dies. Her last word is "Michael," but Jack reassures her that Michael is fine.

The survivors grieve and Michael looks guilty and angry as the timer countdown begins.

Major WTFery: Yemi appearing to Locke and Eko is a clear headscrew. But more intriguing is Yemi appearing to Charlotte Malkin in Australia. The Monster/Man in Black is imprisoned on the Island and cannot leave or influence events off the Island. This suggests that, although Yemi on the Island is clearly the Monster, Yemi off the Island may be a genuine posthumous manifestation.

Hindsight: This is a notable episode for the first appearance of the Pearl and the first-ever mention of the Barracks and the Pala Ferry. We see the Pala Ferry in the Season 2 finale and the Barracks in the Season 3 opener.

In its original American airing, an advert for the Hanso Foundation aired during one of the commercial breaks as a tie-in to the then-ongoing Lost Experience game.

Candle/Wickmund (real name: Pierra Chang, of course) is actually lying: the people in the Pearl Station are the ones being monitored, and the guys in the Swan are actually doing really important work. Sadly, Locke reaches the opposite conclusion, with explosive results.

The episode The Cost of Living in Season 3 is a direct sequel to this episode, picking up on Eko and Yemi.

Assuming that the vision of Yemi that appeared to Charlotte Malkin in Australia is genuine, this is the first episode which suggests that some form of life-after-death is possible in the Lost universe. This becomes more important after the introduction of Miles in Season 4 and of course in the flash-sideways in Season 6.

This episode was written with the intention that Darren Aronofsky would direct it, hence the prevalence of unusual, dream-like scenes. Even the use of the symbol instead of a name was a homage to his 1998 movie π (also called Pi). However, Aronofsky had to drop out of the gig due to scheduling issues. This episode also has Sawyer refer to Ben/Henry as "The Artist Formerly Known as Henry Gale", a reference to Prince who was also using a symbol (Prince logo.svg) as his name at the time.

This episode breaks one of Lost's unwritten rules, that during a character's centric episode that character is assumed to be the primary POV in all scenes involving them. This episode breaks the rule by shifting the POV to Locke during his dream sequence in which Yemi appears to him (with Locke thinking he is Eko). This was very much a deliberate decision, designed to unsettle the audience without them quite knowing why.

Review: A very good episode that confirms that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is one of the best performers on the show. His interactions with Terry O'Quinn are excellent, as always. It's also an episode which puts the regulars through the emotional wringer, with Ana Lucia and Libby's deaths impacting on them horrifically. It's horrible to see Hurley having his happiness snatched away, and the look on Libby's face as she realises that Michael has "gotten away with it" just before she dies is genuinely unsettling. The episode is fascinating for how the revelations at the Pearl impact Locke and Eko in different ways, with Locke losing his faith and Eko finding his strengthened. (****½)

Michael and his list.

222: Three Minutes
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Airdate: 17 May 2006
Survivor Count: 48 (following Libby's death in the previous episode)
Days on Island: 65 (25 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Michael

13 Days Ago: Michael approaches Locke in the armoury and offers to borrow a gun and ammo for target practice. He then knocks Locke out with the butt of his gun. He rushes to the computer and swaps messages with Walt, telling him he is on his way. Walt - or whoever is manning the computer - tells him to head north until he sees a beach with a strange rock formation with a hole in the middle. Michael hears Jack and locks him in the armoury as well.

He heads north across the Island but is intercepted by several of the Others, including "Zeke" - whose real name is Tom - and another man named Pickett. He is taken prisoner and placed in a clearing with Kate, who has been gagged and had her hearing blocked. A young girl - Alex - keeps him prisoner. When Tom goes off to confront Jack, Locke and Sawyer, Alex asks him if Claire made it back safely and if she's had the baby. Tom calls for Alex to bring out Kate, but Alex gets Pickett to do it instead.

11 Days Ago: Michael is marched into what appears to be the Others' camp. It is located on a rocky stretch of shore, in the shadow of a large rock formation with a hole in it. The people are dressed shabbily and living in tents. There are two men guarding a door with a DHARMA logo on it. Pickett takes a blood sample from Michael. A woman named Ms. Klugh approaches and interrogates Michael. She particularly wants to know if Walt has appeared in places he shouldn't be. She notes that Michael doesn't seem to know a lot about his son. 

3 Days Ago: Ms. Klugh offers Michael a deal. He will be allowed to leave, with Walt, if he returns to his camp and arranges for the escape of "Henry Gale" and for four people to be sent to their side of the Island where they can apprehend them: Kate, Sawyer, Jack and Hurley. Walt agrees, but only if he can see Walt. Klugh agrees, but only for three minutes. Walt comes in and tells his dad he is okay, but the Others are making him take tests and are not who they appear to be. Ms. Klugh tells Walt that he will have to go back to "the room" if he can't behave. Michael agrees to Klugh's terms but wants one more thing: their boat.

Now: Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Michael make plans. They agree to tool up and go after Walt. Michael wants just the five of them to go, no-one else. Jack is mystified, but then agrees with the reasoning they don't want to spread any panic and a small group can move faster than a large one. Also, with Ana Lucia dead and no-one really interested in joining the planned army, they don't have enough people with firearms experience. The rest of the group is more dubious, but Hurley suggests that they bury Ana Lucia and Libby first before making further plans.

Eko returns to the Swan and he and Michael scrub the bloodstains off the floor. Michael, knowing Eko is a priest, asks him if he believes in hell. Eko instead tells him a story about a young boy who beat a dog to death in self-defence. He wanted to know if he would go to hell because of this. This wasn't because he was feeling guilty, but because he wanted to know if the dog would be waiting in hell for him. This story leaves Michael feeling even worse and he runs outside to throw up. Jack finds him and they discuss the plan further, agreeing that just the five of them should go.

Charlie approaches Claire on the beach. She is still cold towards him, but he gives her some medicine from the palette drop. This is apparently an inoculation against the mysterious "sickness" that was reported by Danielle Rousseau and the DHARMA Initiative. According to the instructions the medicine is supposed to be taken once every nine days. There is enough to last both Claire and Aaron some considerable time. Claire is touched that Charlie would think of them.

Michael and Jack arrive on the beach and the rest of the survivors are happy to see Michael, but are upset by the news of Ana Lucia and Libby's deaths. Jack and Sawyer tool up with guns to prepare for their expedition and are approached by Sayid. Jack confirms that "Henry Gale" has gone and Locke and Eko have gone after him. Sayid volunteers to join their mission, but Jack tells him that Michael only wants five them on the mission. Sawyer says that's stupid as Sayid, a trained soldier, will be more useful than Hurley or even Kate in a shooting situation. He gives Sayid a gun and tells him he's welcome to join them. Sayid confirms with Michael, but Michael becomes angry and says it has to be the four who originally agreed to come with him and no-one else. At first Michael flounders to find a reason but then says it's because Michael is planning a rescue mission whilst Sayid wants revenge. Sayid says that he understands and shakes Michael's hand.

Eko arrives at the Swan Station and takes up the task of pushing the button. Charlie arrives to look for him and ask what's going on with the church. Eko apologises as he has another purpose now. He asks Charlie to get his things for him from the beach but Charlie declines. Charlie returns to the beach and is found by Vincent, who has taken one of the Virgin Mary statues from Sawyer's stash. Charlie follows the dog back and finds all of the statues. Fed up with them haunting him, Charlie takes them all to the beach and throws them into the ocean one after the other. He turns round to find Locke watching him from further up the beach. Locke later removes his crutches (which he's been using since sustaining injuries in the lockdown incident) and heads back to the Swan Station.

Jack returns to the Swan and learns from Eko that they were unable to find "Henry". Jack advises him that they will be burying Ana Lucia and Libby at sunset. Eko says he will mourn them in his own way. Jack returns to the beach and Sawyer confides in him that he slept with Ana Lucia. Jack wants to know why Sawyer decided to tell him and Sawyer, caught off-guard, says it's because Jack is the closest thing he has to a friend.

Michael tries to talk Hurley into joining the group as they dig the graves, but Hurley is too upset. Kate is mystified at why Michael wants Hurley to come. As the rest of the survivors gather, Sayid draws Jack off to one side. He tells Jack that he thinks Michael has been compromised, that he released "Henry" and that he was blackmailed into doing so for Walt's sake. Sayid suggests that they keep this knowledge to themselves to create a tactical advantage, although he needs some more time to work out how. The survivors hold their funeral service and Hurley becomes angry as he talks about Libby's death. He tells Michael he is coming with him. Then Sun shouts "boat!" and the survivors turn to see a sailboat heading towards the shore.

Major WTFery: It is unclear why Claire would use the vaccine given that there has been no evidence of "the Sickness" and this may be the very same medicine Ethan used to make her groggy and docile during her imprisonment in the Staff Station (Maternity Leave).

Hindsight: This is the third episode of Lost to take place entirely on the Island (after The Other 48 Days and Maternity Leave) and the second to feature a flashback within the timeframe of the series itself (after Maternity Leave).

Some fans got annoyed after this episode and the season finale, as Walt's special gifts are not expanded upon. Comments by the producers suggest that Walt's special gifts are in fact completely unrelated to the Island and its mysteries and rather dangerous, leading to the Others' decision to let him go. How this factors into the later decision (in The New Man in Charge, the show's epilogue minisode) to have Walt return to the Island is unclear.

This episode marks the first appearance of the thoroughly unpleasant Pickett, who (along with Mikhail) puts Ben's claims that the Others are the "good guys" into serious question. This episode confirms it was Pickett, rather than Alex, who took Kate out to be returned to her friends in The Hunting Party.

This episode also features the first appearance of Bea Klugh, a senior member of the Others. She was supposed to feature prominently in the Season 3 storyline, but availability issues meant that she was replaced by the new character of Colleen instead. The producers were able to secure her for a guest appearance in Enter 77 to resolve her character arc instead.

The four people on Michael's list - Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley - are the only four of Jacob's candidates who are still alive and well in the final two episodes of the series. Sawyer even calls them "candidates" in this episode, although this is more likely a coincidence than deliberate foreshadowing.

Review: A pretty solid episode, which takes some time out for exposition (if only to the audience, via Michael's flashbacks), character building and clearing away some dead ends. Getting rid of the fricking Virgin Mary Heroin Statues of Tediousness is also way past due. However, there is the feeling of some wheel-spinning and that maybe this episode should have been combined with the finale to clear out some of the filler moments. (***½)

Another one of Jack's plans works out flawlessly.

223: Live Together, Die Alone
Written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof
Airdate: 24 May 2006
Survivor Count: 48
Days on Island: 65-67 (25-27 November 2004)
Flashback Character: Desmond

Flashbacks: Desmond Hume is dishonourably discharged from the British Army's Royal Scottish Regiment. He has his possessions returned to him, including a copy of Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. The guard asks why Desmond didn't take the book into prison with him to read, but Desmond tells him it's the only work of Dickens he's never read. He wants to hold onto it so it's the last book he reads before he dies. The guard notes that this will only work is Desmond knows when he is going to die. Desmond leaves the prison in the pouring rain but is intercepted by a black car. He is told to get in the back. Inside is Charles Widmore, an extremely wealthy businessman. Widmore is the father of the woman Desmond loves, Penelope. Desmond is angry to learn that Widmore has intercepted all of his correspondence to Penny. Widmore tells Desmond to stay away from Penny forever. In return he will give him a very large amount of money. Desmond asks him why he thinks he will accept that deal. Widmore tells him he will because he is a coward.

In early 2001 Desmond arrives in the United States and goes to buy a coffee, but realises he hasn't changed his money yet. A woman, who turns out to be Libby, offers to buy him the coffee instead. Desmond tells her that he is trying to win back the woman he loves. He plans to enter a round-the-world solo sailing race bankrolled by her father. If he wins, he will regain his honour, impress her father and then he can ask Penny to marry him. Libby is touched. Desmond tells her there is a problem with this plan: he doesn't have the $40,000 he needs to buy a decent sailboat. Penny offers to give him one: her husband David recently died and left her his boat. Desmond is shocked and touched by the gesture. The boat is called the Elizabeth and was named after her.

Weeks or months later, Desmond is training hard before the race. He is intercepted by Penny, who tells him he doesn't need to do this and they can be together now. Desmond, however, is determined to do things "by the book" and they will be together within a year. Penny asks him if he has read his book yet and he says no.

Desmond's boast is caught in a heavy storm and he fears it will be lost. He puts his book and other items in a survival bag and ties them to his body as he attempts to save the ship. He is knocked out by a very heavy wave and wakes up on a beach. A figure in a hazmat suit drags him through the jungle and he wakes up in the Swan Station. The figure takes off his suit and reveals himself to be Kelvin "Joe" Inman, a Gulf War veteran (who interrogated Sayid) and former CIA agent. He left the CIA after too many men died following his orders and joined the DHARMA Initiative. He was sent to this Island and was assigned to man the Swan Station with another guy called Radzinsky. He and Radzinsky spent some time together pressing the button, during which time Radzinsky began drawing a chart or map of the Island and all the crazy stuff going on on it. Radzinsky didn't get very far with it before blowing his brains out all over the ceiling and carrying on with it. Inman tells him they need to push the button to "save the world". Inman also tells Desmond that there are people on the Island he calls the "Hostiles" who are dangerous and there is a sickness on the Island. Desmond asks if he can go outside, even just for a little while, but Inman says it is too dangerous and he must stay inside whilst Inman goes out to reconnoitre.

Two years later, Desmond wakes up to find the alarm going off. He enters the numbers and finds a hatch in the floor he's never seen before. He finds Inman under the floor next to a special control with a keyslot in it. Inman is wearing the corresponding key around his neck. The control is marked "SYSTEM TERMINATION". Inman tells him why they are pressing the button: behind the concrete walls is a source of electromagnetic energy. That energy has been constantly building up even since "the Incident". Every 108 minutes the buildup must be vented otherwise it would destroy the Island and quite possibly the world. There is an alternative: the failsafe key. This is designed to - hopefully - release all of the energy in one channelled blast and prevent it ever being a problem again. Desmond asks why they don't just do that and then leave, but Inman tells him it's not a guaranteed solution. If the failsafe process didn't work, the consequences would be disastrous.

Some time later Desmond notices that Kelvin has a tear in his hazmat suit as he's leaving but seems unconcerned by it. Desmond pushes the button and discretely follows him out. Kelvin removes his suit and heads down to a rocky area of the coast with Desmond following. Desmond discovers that Kelvin has repaired the Elizabeth and kept it hidden in a cove. Kelvin realises that Desmond has been following him and admits that he's been slowly fixing the boat over the past two years. It should be ready to sail in another few days. He suggests they ditch pushing the button and leave together, but Desmond is horrified that Kelvin planned to leave him behind, condemning him to press the button forever alone. There is a brief struggle and Kelvin smacks his head on a rock, killing him outright. Horrified, Desmond grabs the failsafe key and rushes back to the hatch. The ground is shaking and a voice is saying "SYSTEM FAILURE" over and over again. Metal objects in the Swan start being pulled towards the concrete wall. Desmond enters the Numbers again and again and eventually the system accepts them and returns to normal. Desmond realises that the danger of not pushing the button is real.

Weeks later Desmond has reached the end of his tether and prepares to commit suicide. He opens Our Mutual Friend and a note falls out. It's from Penny. She put it in the book before he went to prison. She tells him that she loves him and will wait for him. Desmond then hears a sound from outside the hatch. He turns the light on, illuminating Locke just after Boone's death. Desmond realises there are people on the Island...and hope.

On the Island: Jack, Sawyer and Sayid swim out to the boat, which is called Elizabeth. Gunshots ring out, followed by the sound of someone running out of ammo. Going into the cabin they find Desmond, who laughs his head off at seeing them again. Back on the beach Desmond tells them that he sailed due west from the Island for two weeks. He should have reached Tahiti in a few days but instead appeared on the far side of the Island. He angrily says that they are in a "damned snowglobe". Jack confirms that they are still "pushing it". Desmond sees Claire injecting Aaron with the vaccine and tells her that he injected himself with the same stuff for three years. It didn't seem to do very much.

Sayid suggests to Jack that the appearance of the boat is fortunate. According to Michael, the village Walt is being held in is on the coast to the north near a distinctive rock formation which should be easy to find. Sayid plans to take the Elizabeth along the coast, locate the village and recon it from the sea. If it is safe to proceed, he can light a signal fire as a rendezvous with Jack. Jack agrees. Sayid asks Desmond to sail the boat, but Desmond refuses. Jin and Sun can sail and they agree to pilot the boat for Sayid.

The rescue party prepare to set off, but Kate (who doesn't know that Michael has been compromised) gets uneasy and reminds them about the Staff Station and the fake beards and theatrical glue, suggesting that the Others are not hillbillies and might more dangerous than first expected. Michael angrily says that they are hillbillies and he knows what he saw. They depart.

Locke reaches the Swan and angrily tells Eko it is time to stop pushing the button. Eko disagrees. Locke goes to smash the computer but Eko stops him and then throws him out of the hatch with force. Locke becomes angry and upset. Charlie finds him in the jungle and tells him that Desmond is back. Locke finds Desmond and tells him about the Pearl Station and the evidence that the button in the Swan does nothing and it was all a psychological test, with the Pearl scientists sending reports back to their HQ via the pneumatic tube. Desmond wonders if everything, even if the system failure, was a massive hoax. He agrees to help Locke take back control of the hatch. They trigger the audio system to lure Eko out of the computer room, sneak in and then prematurely trigger a lockdown by shorting the blast door control circuits (Inman showed Desmond how to do this so he could work on Radzinsky's map). This seals them inside the computer room with less than an hour to go. Furious, Eko rushes off to find Charlie. He asks him how they got into the hatch in the first place and Charlie tells him about the dynamite from the Black Rock, including the sticks they had left over. They try to use this to blast open the control room, but the blast doors hold. Much of the rest of the Swan is devastated, but the computer room remains sealed.

The Elizabeth sails up the western coast of the Island. Michael is disquieted to see what appears to be the remains of an enormous statue. The only thing that's left of it is a single foot, with four toes on it. Disregarding this for now, the ship reaches the north-western part of the Island where they locate the rock formation. Sayid swims ashore and stealthily approaches the find it completely abandoned. The buildings are empty and the DHARMA doors are fake, opening just to reveal rockface behind it. Realising that the rescue party is walking into a trap, Sayid sets the signal fire.

The rescue party crosses the Island. They spot two Others following them and scare them off with gunfire. Michael becomes agitated and Jack exposes him to the rest. Michael confesses he had to let "Henry" escape and kill Ana Lucia because it was the only way to save Walt. He says that Libby was a mistake and begs for forgiveness from Hurley. Jack tells them they have to press on: he has an advantage with Sayid outflanking the Others. Later they see the signal fire rising, but from many miles to the west (they're still in the north valley). Jack realises they are going somewhere else rather than the beach camp. Michael admits he was told to bring them to a different location. They stumble across a pneumatic tube rising out of the ground with hundreds of notebooks just dumped next to it. Sawyer finds Locke's map from the Pearl Station. They then hear the whispers and come under attack from the Others using tranquiliser darts. In short order the whole party is knocked out.

In the Swan Desmond wonders if they should open the door to investigate but Locke refuses. Desmond starts getting uneasy about Locke's zealotry and starts asking why Locke was so obsessed with getting into the station. As Locke talks about Boone and the hatch, Desmond realises that it was Locke banging on the hatch that night that saved his life. That was a few weeks after the system failure incident and Inman's death. Desmond asks about the Pearl and what was going on there again. He suggests that DHARMA was studying the people in the Pearl, how they'd reach to spending weeks at a time just reporting on the insane minutiae of other people's lives, and that the button is real. Locke is dubious. Desmond then goes through the print-out from the Pearl Station. He asks what time and date Flight 815 crashed. Locke replies that it was on 22 September 2004. Desmond shows Locke the print-out: the system failure after Desmond killed Inman took place at the precise moment Flight 815 crashed. Desmond says that he crashed the plane by accident by not pushing the button.

The Others take their captives to the Pala Ferry. Alex, Pickett, Tom and Ms. Klugh are there. Kate tells Tom she knows his bear is a fake. He laughs and takes it off. A boat arrives with "Henry Gale" on it. He disembarks and gives it to Michael. He tells him he can only escape the Island by following a compass bearing of 325 degrees. He warns him not to tell anyone what happened. If he does so, he may find his crimes coming back to haunt him. He also says that Michael will never be able to find the Island again after leaving, as it is undetectable from the outside world.

In the hatch, Desmond desperately pleads with Locke to push the button. Locke, unable to admit he might have been wrong, destroys the computer. Desmond triggers the blast doors again and rushes into the library to find his copy of Our Mutual Friend. Inside is the failsafe key. The counter hits zero and flips to the hieroglyphics. A loud hum is heard and metallic objects start flying towards the concrete walls. Desmond goes underground to the emergency venting system, telling Locke that he'll see him in another life. Charlie flees from the hatch as Eko recovers and staggers into the control room. A despondent Locke replies, "I was wrong." Desmond puts the key in the lock and turns, whilst saying, "I love you, Penny."

A massive electromagnetic field envelops the entire Island, turning the sky purple and filling the air with a titanic humming sound as the massive electromagnetic pocket under the Swan Station discharges. The ground shakes for several minutes before the Discharge ends and things return to normal. At the beach Bernard and Claire watch in horror as the hatch door comes tumbling out of the sky and crashes into the middle of the camp. As the survivors recover, Charlie staggers out the jungle and seems perturbed that Eko and Locke haven't returned.

Shrugging off the Discharge, "Henry Gale" tells Michael to leave. Michael asks him who the hell the Others really are. "Henry" just says that "We're the good guys, Michael". Walt is already on the boat and hugs his father as they depart. Ms. Klugh unties Hurley and tells him to take a message back to the camp: they are to stay away from the Others' side of the Island permanently. Hurley leaves as Jack, Sawyer and Kate are hooded and taken away.

That night Claire asks Charlie what happened. Charlie says that nothing happened, and is apparently unwilling to go back and check on the state of the Swan Station. He and Claire share a brief kiss and are reconciled.

In the Antarctic, an electromagnetic monitoring station goes on alert as it picks up a massive signal. The two men monitoring it scramble to record the signal. The last time this happened they missed it, but this time the event goes on for much longer. Following the signal, they are able to get a rough location for the source. They use the telephone to call someone to tell them, "We've found it." Penelope Widmore picks up the phone and takes the call.

Major WTFery: Based on the estimated location of the Elizabeth (in a cover near the rocky southern coast of the Island, near the crater), four or five from the hatch through jungle and then rocky terrain, it is debatable if Desmond could get there and back again in 108 minutes, even running all the way.

Since Inman was in Iraq during the Gulf War in February 1991 (as per Sayid's flashbacks), he appears to have joined the DHARMA Initiative well after the Purge, which took place in 1988. The dating of the Purge was originally contentious, but post-series finale materials have confirmed the date as 1988 along with a multitude of in-show evidence (most convincingly, that Ben had to look after Alex full-time and could only do that after the Purge). This is actually backed up by the episode: Inman never mentions any other member of the DHARMA Initiative other than Radzinsky and doesn't mention the Purge, only the Incident which Radzinsky would have told him about. We also know from The New Man in Charge that DHARMA operations continued post-Purge, presumably bankrolled by the Hanso Foundation. However, the show never directly explains how Inman was recruited and why no-one was sent to replace Inman or Radzinsky later on.

The purpose of the blast door map remains unknown: Radzinsky himself built the Swan, knew about the Hostiles and the location of the other stations. Fans have speculated that Radzinsky was injured or afflicted with amnesia after the Incident, or went mad after the Purge and was using the map to try to rebuld his memories. More likely, Radzinsky was using the map to keep track of everything that had happened but killed himself before he could fill Inman in on everything, so Inman then continued it even though he was unsure of a lot of the details it was referring to. It's also unclear why the map was created to only show up under a black light.

The Others seem completely unconcerned by the Discharge. It might be that they knew that the Island would survive, or that they trusted that Jacob would protect them.

A map showing the rescue party's route (in red), Sayid's boat mission (in dark red) and Desmond's trip from the Swan Station to the cove and back (in blue).
Hindsight: This episode marks the first appearance of the mighty Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, an important character who will recur throughout the rest of the series. It also technically marks the first appearance of Penny. A picture of Penny was first seen in Orientation with a different actress (as Sonya Walger was not cast until this episode) but this was later changed to the correct picture for repeats and the DVD/Blu-Ray releases.

This episode also marks the first time regular characters leave the series without being killed off, when Walt and Michael depart. Of course, both make later appearances on the show.

This is also the first episode of the show to feature a flashback from a character who wasn't on Flight 815, and the second to focus on a non-regular (after Rose and Bernard in S.O.S.).

The first mention of Radzinsky, a DHARMA Initiative scientist specialising in electromagnetism and the designer of the Swan Station. Radzinsky appears in Season 5 of Lost as an antagonistic character. This is also the first time that we learn of DHARMA's designation for the Others, "The Hostiles".

Desmond says that it would taken an atom bomb going off on the site of the Swan Station to breach the blast doors. Oddly, this is (more or less) exactly what happens in the Season 5 finale.

The four-toed statue later makes additional appearances in the show and becomes a key location. It's entirely possible that Jacob and the Man in Black were sitting outside watching the Elizabeth sail past.

The geography of this episode is, as normal, slightly awkard. In particular, Sayid, Sun and Jin had to sail past the Pala Ferry to get to the fake village. Presumably Michael's directions were clear enough for them to avoid the western bay (and they had to avoid the atoll where Danielle's boat crashed in any case).

This episode confirms that the crash took place on the same day that the first episode aired, 22 September 2004, and that only two months have passed on the Island and the show so far. Desmond's supposition that he crashed Flight 815 with the system failure was greeted with some scepticism by fans, but was later confirmed by the producers.

The crash took place at 4:16. It is unclear if this was local time, but the inference in the pilot was that the crash took place in the morning, as quite a lot of time passed before nightfall.

Originally the episode ended with a scientist bursting in on Charle Widmore in the middle of a meeting to say that they'd "found it". This would have foreshadowed the freighter storyline of Season 4. However, the writers changed it to show that Penny was looking for the Island as well. This changed paid off with the "Not Penny's boat!" revelation in the Season 3 finale.

This is the first episode of Lost that features events happening in the present day off the Island.

Review: A very strong, revelatory episode that balances excellent character work (Locke's realisation that he was wrong, yet again) with Desmond's story, which is very well handled, and major backstory revelations. The minor dissatisfactions with the episode - those who wanted more in-depth info on the hatch and the Incident would have to wait three years to get it - are well in the past now. This may actually be my favourite finale of the series, or at least tying with Season 3's. (*****)

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