Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 20 - Season 6, Episodes 1-8

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.

I am using the Lost plot summaries from Wikipedia, sometimes fleshed out. I'd previously written each one myself but to be honest the time it was taking to do this had become unsustainable. Wikipedia permits the re-use of such material if the original source is linked as follows: LA X, What Kate Does, The Substitute, Lighthouse, Sundown, Dr. Linus, Recon, Ab Aeterno.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

 This isn't quite right. 

601: LA X

Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 2 February 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Characters: Jack, Kate, Locke, Hurley, Charlie, Jin, Sun.

1977: As the DHARMA Initiative "Incident" takes place at the site of the Swan Station, Juliet manages to detonate the Jughead nuclear device. A tremendous white light engulfs everyone present.

Flash: When the light fades, Jack is back on Oceanic Flight 815 as it flies over the Pacific Ocean. He strikes up a conversation with air hostess Cindy and then fellow passenger Rose, as he did before the crash. The plan experiences turbulence but this then halts and the plane continues on its way to LA X Airport in California. It appears that the attempt to change history has succeeded: as the plane continues on its way, the Island is revealed to now lie at the bottom of the ocean, suggesting it was destroyed following the detonation of the Jughead bomb.

On Oceanic 815, most of the characters' situations remain the same: Kate is still being transported in custody of U.S. Marshal Edward Mars; Jack is transporting his deceased father; and Locke is still paralysed. However, there are significant differences as well: Boone is returning to Los Angeles without his stepsister Shannon; Hurley claims to be the luckiest man alive; Locke claims to have participated in his walkabout; Desmond is a passenger; and Rose reassures Jack while experiencing turbulence rather than vice versa. During the flight, Jack is called upon to save Charlie, who has asphyxiated while attempting to swallow a small packet of heroin. Jack, with the help of Sayid, resuscitates him; Charlie is arrested for drug possession.

After the plane lands safely at LAX, Jack is informed that the airline has lost his father's coffin. Kate escapes custody of the marshal and hijacks a taxicab in which Claire is also a passenger. Jin is detained after he fails to declare a large amount of cash on his customs form. His travel partner, Sun, who claims she can't speak English, does nothing to help the situation. Jack speaks with Locke, who notes that his own luggage has also been misplaced. They discuss Locke's condition, which Locke tells him is irreversible. Jack responds that nothing is irreversible, reveals that he is a spinal surgeon, and offers Locke a free medical consultation.

On the Island, 2007: When the light fades, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Jin and Miles find themselves at the site of the Swan Station after it imploded. Sayid is still dying from his gunshot wound. The DHARMA personnel have vanished. Sawyer realises that the plan did not work and that Juliet's death was for nothing. He hits Jack, but is stopped by Kate, who can hear noises from under the wreckage of the Swan Station. They realise that Juliet is still alive and dig her out. They use the DHARMA van, which travelled forwards in time with the group, to help clear the wreckage. The survivors eventually free Juliet and Sawyer comforts her but she dies soon after. She tries to tell Sawyer something important but passes before she can do so.

Hurley tends to Sayid. Jacob appears to Hurley and explains that he (Jacob) has been killed and that Hurley must take Sayid to the Temple in order to heal him. Hurley must also bring the guitar case that Jacob previously gave him. The survivors split up, with the majority going to the Temple while Sawyer and Miles stay behind to bury Juliet. Sawyer forces Miles to use his medium skills to talk to Juliet. Miles relays her message: "It worked", which leaves Sawyer confused.

At the Temple the group encounters the remaining members of the Others. Those present include Flight 815 stewardess Cindy and the two abducted children, Zack and Emma, who have been missing since they were taken in by the Others. The survivors are captured and brought before two men, Dogen, a Japanese man and apparently the leader of the Temple Others, and his translator, Lennon. Hurley tells them that Jacob sent him, and offers the guitar case as proof. Inside is a wooden ankh, which Dogen breaks open, revealing a note that tells the Others they will all be in trouble if Sayid dies. Sayid is brought to a pool inside the Temple, but the Others are concerned that the water (usually clear) has turned dark and murky. Sayid is held underwater until the time of an hourglass passes and apparently drowns. The Others restrain the rest of the group when they try to intervene. Jack administers CPR, but Sayid does not respond and is apparently dead Sawyer and Miles are brought into the Temple, having been captured after burying Juliet. Dogen questions Hurley in a separate room, where Hurley reveals Jacob is dead. Shocked by this news, the Others sound an alarm, prepare their defences, and send fireworks into the air in preparation for an attack. Lennon insists on speaking with Jack privately. Jack refuses, leading to an altercation, when suddenly Sayid comes back to life.

Inside the pedestal of the statue, the Man in Black, who has taken the form of Locke, sends Ben to get Richard Alpert. Richard, however, refuses to go inside and instead shows Locke's body to Ben. Bram and his team from Flight 316 enter the statue with Ben. The Man in Black transforms into the Smoke Monster and easily kills Bram and his men, but spares Ben. The Man in Black then tells Ben what Locke's final thoughts were ("I don't understand!"), and explains that his own true goal is to return home. The Man in Black finds this ironic because Locke wanted desperately to stay and live on the Island. Outside, Richard sees the fireworks from the Temple. The Man in Black then confronts Richard, who knows who the man is, but the Man in Black quickly knocks him out and announces that he is disappointed in the Others as he carries Richard into the jungle.
Major WTFery: There was a lot going on at the time, but it's a little bit harsh that no-one thought that changing history would condemn Rose to death from cancer.

Alt-Desmond is wearing a wedding ring, but Happily Ever After confirms that he is a bachelor. This is either a continuity error or the producers changed their mind.

The destroyed Swan Station looks rather different to its previous appearances from the start of Season 3 onwards. In those scenes the imploded hatch was CG, and it has to be said that it was not very well-designed or implemented CG. In this episode an actual set was built for the cast to interact with.

Hindsight: Maggie Grace was set to reprise her role as Shannon in this episode but her schedule clashed. The aircraft scenes were rewritten to account for her absence.

Jack says that he finds Desmond familiar. At first it was speculated that Jack had still met Desmond at the stadium when he went running in 2001 (as seen in the opening episodes of Season 2), but in this timeline Desmond had never met Penny and never went on the round-the-world boat race, so didn't need to train. Whilst it's still not impossible he met Jack, it may be that this some memory of their association in the main timeline bleeding through. 

The customs official calls Sun "Miss Paik" rather than "Mrs. Kwon". The Package confirms the Jin and Sun are not married in the alt-world, but are having an affair.

This episode sees Emilie de Ravin (Claire) restored to the regular cast, having sat out Season 5 (aside from a brief guest appearance).

This episode indicates that the Others were previously divided into two groups, a more spiritual group led by Dogen and based at the Temple, rarely leaving, and a more materialistic group led by Ben. Both groups were guided by Jacob, through messages delivered by Richard.

Jacob tells Hurley to take Sayid to the Temple even after he is dead. This suggests that Jacob planned for Sayid to be put in the murky water and become "evil". Or it might be that Jacob was unaware of this consequence.

It can be presumed that the young and dying Ben was also taken to the Temple and put in the (then presumably clear) water to be healed in Season 5.

Bram protects himself from the Smoke Monster using a circle of salt. The Monster then weakens the wall so it collapses on him instead. This confirms that salt can be used to repel the Monster. That suggests that the salt circle around the cabin was either keeping the Monster imprisoned or it out. If it was keeping the Monster imprisoned, clearly there was a break somewhere in the line as we saw the Monster at large on the Island in the very first episode of the series.

The water seems to be a reflection of the state of the Island: pure and clean when a protector is in place (like Jacob and presumably later Hurley) and murky and dark when not, perhaps due to the influence of the Man in Black and the time his body floated in the water. From this we can assume that the Temple was built around the spring, and the spring taps into the Heart of the Island.

The Man in Black says he only wants to go "home" but Beyond the Sea confirms that he was born on the Island. His definition of "home" is therefore open to question.

Review: A busy opener for the final season which covers a lot of ground. The Sawyer-Jack animosity is restored (even if not for very long), a whole new timeline is introduced and we meet a new branch of the Others. It's all interesting stuff, justifying (if barely) the double-length runtime, but the foreknowledge that the "alt-timeline" is completely irrelevant to the on-Island story makes it feel redundant, with the time perhaps better spent on the Island storyline. However, it is fun to see Charlie and Boone again. Overall, a promising start to the season. (****)

Claire after going Full Rousseau. Never go Full Rousseau.

602: What Kate Does

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Paul Edwards

Airdate: 9 February 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Kate

Flash: Kate flees LAX in a taxicab she has hijacked, in which a pregnant Claire is a passenger. The cab driver flees at the first opportunity and Kate lets Claire go, keeping all of Claire's possession in her haste. She drives to a chop shop, where a mechanic frees her from handcuffs. While searching for a new outfit in Claire's luggage, Kate learns that Claire is pregnant. She returns to where she left Claire, returns her luggage and offers her a ride. She drives Claire to the house of Lindsey, the woman who was supposed to adopt her baby, but Lindsey's husband has left her and, devastated, she no longer wants the child. Claire goes into labour on the doorstep and Kate takes her to the hospital, where Claire's doctor is Ethan Goodspeed. The police later come looking for Kate in the hospital, but Claire covers for her, allowing Kate to escape.

On the Island: Sayid reawakens in the Temple after apparently dying. He is confused by what has happened. Dogen and Lennon, wish to speak with Sayid privately. Jack wishes to go with them and starts a fight. Sawyer seizes the opportunity to obtain a gun and announce his departure from the Temple, explicitly telling Kate not to follow him. The Others send Kate, Jin and two of their own to bring Sawyer back. Meanwhile, Dogen brings Sayid to a room, where ash is blown on him, followed by being given an electric shock and then burned with a poker. Dogen later explains to Jack that he has diagnosed Sayid as being infected and gives Jack a pill for Sayid to take. Jack refuses and takes the pill himself, which Dogen hurriedly forces him to regurgitate, revealing that the pill is in fact poison. He explains that the infection, upon reaching Sayid's heart, will remove any trace of the person he once was, and adds that it has happened to Jack's half-sister, Claire.

In the jungle, Kate, Jin and the Others come across a trap; Kate activates the trap and overcomes the Others. Jin and Kate split up; Kate follows Sawyer's trail, while Jin begins to search for his wife, Sun. Kate finds Sawyer at the DHARMA Initiative's barracks, in the house where he and Juliet had previously lived for three years. He retrieves an engagement ring he had hidden. He explains that he planned to propose to Juliet and that he blames himself for her death, saying that he convinced her to stay on the Island with him because he was lonely. He throws the ring into the sea in grief. Meanwhile, Jin is recaptured by the two Other escorts, who want to kill him instead of taking him back. A wild and unkempt Claire suddenly appears and shoots both Others.

Hindsight: Sayid's claim not to be a zombie is both a reference to "The Zombie Season" (which producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had been joking about since the start of Season 2) and also part of a running joke to get respected, serious actors in the cast to say extremely silly things. Nestor Carbonell's later claim of "I am not a cyborg!" to explain how Richard doesn't age is in a similar vein.

This episode marks the first on-Island appearance of Claire since Cabin Fever in Season 4, nineteen episodes earlier.

Some of Claire and Kate's scenes were reshot. Due to actor availability, they could only be reshot in Los Angeles, making these only the fifth time the series had shot outside of Hawaii. The previous occasions included two scenes in Season 4 filmed in London and the Oceanic 815 scenes for the pilot episode, which were also shot in Los Angeles.

Aldo, one of the two Others who goes with Kate and Jin, previously appeared in Not in Portland in Season 3, during the events of which Kate knocked him out (when she went with Sawyer and Alex to rescue Karl). He reminds her of this in this episode - to her bafflement - just before she knocks him out yet again.

This episode marks the final appearance of Ethan Rom and Edward Mars, having both intermittently appeared since Season 1 despite both dying very early on in the lifespan of the show.

Review: A middling episode, enlivened by Hiroyuki Sanada's wonderfully stoic performance as Dogen. However, I do feel we are a long way past the adventures of "Kate Austen, Fugitive" at this point and revisiting them is a little tedious. However, Josh Holloway's performance as the grief-stricken Sawyer is very impressive. (***½)

After two thousand years imprisoned on the Island, the Smoke Monster decided to take up cave painting.

603: The Substitute

Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Melinda Hsu Taylor, directed by Tucker Gates

Airdate: 16 February 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Locke

Flash: Locke arrives at his home after returning from Australia on Flight 815. He is greeted by his fiancée, Helen, whom he is set to marry shortly. Locke returns to work, where his supervisor, Randy, confronts Locke about Locke's failure to attend a company conference while in Sydney. Locke attempts to apologise, but Randy abruptly fires him. As he leaves the building, Locke comes into contact with Hurley, the owner of the company, who refers Locke to a temp agency that he also owns. At the temp agency Rose sympathises with Locke's handicap because of her own battle with cancer. Rose denies his request to work at a construction company because his handicap will make this impossible and eventually finds him work as a substitute teacher at a school where Ben Linus also works as a history teacher. In addition, Locke tells Helen why he lost his job and admits that he went to Australia to go on a walkabout, but was not allowed to take part. Helen encourages Locke to call Dr. Jack Shephard, who previously offered to evaluate Locke's condition at the airport. Locke declines to do so because he doesn't believe in miracles and wants Helen to love him for who he is; they reaffirm their love for one another.

On the Island: The Man in Black, in the form of Locke, attempts to recruit both Richard Alpert and Sawyer for his quest to leave the Island. Sawyer realises that the Man in Black is not Locke, because Locke was always scared and the Man in Black is not. He separately promises each of them answers about the Island; Richard refuses and Sawyer agrees to travel with him. While in the jungle, they both see a young boy (the Man in Black is surprised that Sawyer can see him as well), whom the Man in Black chases. The boy tells him, "You know the rules; you can't kill him." At this, the Man in Black becomes angry and loudly declares "don't tell me what I can't do," a phrase that the real Locke frequently used in the past. Taking advantage of the distraction, Richard speaks with Sawyer, claiming that the Man in Black's true intention is to kill everyone on the Island, but is forced to leave before he can explain further. Locke leads Sawyer to a cave, inside of which is a set of scales holding one black and one white stone. Locke takes the white stone and throws it into the sea, referring to it as an inside joke. Locke leads Sawyer deeper into the cave, where there are several surnames written on the ceiling and walls. The names include his own, Jarrah, Shephard, Reyes and Kwon. Several other names are scratched out and the Man in Black crosses out "Locke". Additionally, six names correspond to one of the Numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 for Locke, Reyes, Ford, Jarrah, Shephard and Kwon, respectively. The Man in Black says that Jacob had "a thing for numbers". He explains that the survivors were brought to the Island by Jacob as candidates to replace him as the guardian of the Island. The Man in Black claims that Jacob has manipulated the lives of all of the candidates in order to bring them to the Island. Sawyer now has three options: to do nothing, to accept the job and protect the Island, or to leave the Island with the Man in Black, who claims that protecting the Island is pointless; Sawyer agrees to leave with him.

Meanwhile, at the remains of the statue, Ilana and Ben discuss what happened to her companions; Ben tells her that the Man in Black killed them all, including Jacob. Ilana, who is visibly upset, takes some of the ashes of Jacob's body and informs Ben that the Man in Black is now "stuck" in the form of Locke. Outside, she tells Sun and Frank that they must travel to the Temple for protection. Sun insists that they must first bury Locke's body and travel to the survivors' original campsite at the south beach to do so. They hold an impromptu funeral, where Ben delivers a short eulogy and apologises for murdering Locke.

Major WTFery: It seems "unlikely" that the Barracks would still have functioning electricity after three years of being left in disrepair shortly after being shot up with machine guns and bazookas.

Ilana says that the Smoke Monster is now "stuck" in the form of Locke, despite the fact we've seen him shift into his Smoke Monster mode several times. Presumably she means that Locke is the only other appearance he can take on, not Christian or the horse or anything else.

Hindsight: The group at the statue travel quite quickly to the original beach camp. This is actually in keeping with the previously established geography, which puts the statue only a few hours north of the camp along the west coast of the Island.

Thirty-four episodes elapse between the earliest mention of Locke's death, in the Season 3 finale (although we didn't find out it was Locke until the Season 4 finale), and his body finally being buried.

The Man in Black says that he was trapped so long ago he barely remembers what it was like to be free. Across the Sea reveals that he has been in the Smoke Monster form for approximately two thousand years. He is presumably referring to this rather than being stuck on the Island, as he has spent his entire life on the Island and has never been anywhere else.

Jacob is said to have had "a thing" for numbers, suggesting that the values in the Valenzetti Equation are arbitrary as Jacob assigned them to the candidates almost randomly.

Review: A solid episode, even if the excursion to the cliff cave feels a bit pointless. However, we get a fresh insight on the Numbers (and more in the following episode), Terry O'Quinn delivers yet another killer performance and Michael Emerson sells Ben's moment of self-realisation at the beach tremendously well. (****)

The visit to the lighthouse leads to - surprise! - more questions.

604: Lighthouse

Written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 23 February 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Jack

Flash: Jack arrives late to pick up his son, David, from school. Returning home, Jack is asked by his mother to visit her house and help her find his father's will, leaving David alone. While there, they discuss David, who was quite upset when his grandfather died, but never showed it to Jack. She suggests that perhaps David is "terrified" of Jack, just as Jack was afraid of his father as a child. Finally, they find the will, but Jack's mother is surprised to see that someone called "Claire Littleton" is included on it. Jack returns home to find that David has sneaked out. Jack goes to David's mother's house, where he learns that David is at an important piano recital. Jack goes to the school, where David performs a stunning interpretation of Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu on the piano. Jack also runs into Dogen, another proud parent at the event, who praises David's skill and believes he has a gift. Afterwards, David admits that he didn't tell Jack about the recital for fear of disappointing him. Jack explains his complicated relationship with his father and reassures his son that he can never be a disappointment to him.

On the Island: At the Temple, Hurley is approached by the deceased Jacob, who sends Hurley on a mission. Someone is coming to the Island and Hurley and Jack must travel somewhere in order to aid their arrival. Hurley has free rein to complete the mission because he is a candidate and even Dogen cannot stop him. Hurley uses the phrase "you have what it takes" to recruit Jack. Along the way, Jack and Hurley encounter Kate, who tells them that she will neither return to the Temple nor go with them, but continue her search for Claire. Jack and Hurley eventually pass through the caves, rediscovering Jack's father's coffin and the "Adam & Eve" skeletons. Hurley speculates that due to time travel, the skeletons could be someone they know in the present.

Jack and Hurley arrive at a lighthouse, at the top of which is a large dial and a series of mirrors lined up. Jack is puzzled how they've never seen the lighthouse before, but Hurley suggests that they were not meant to find it before now. Each notch on the dial has a name listed next to it, corresponding to the surnames and numbers seen in "The Substitute". Hurley begins to move the dial to 108 degrees as instructed by Jacob, but Jack turns the dial to the 23 mark, where his own surname is listed, revealing Jack's childhood home in the reflection, causing Jack to become extremely upset as he realises that Jacob has been watching and manipulating all of them. He angrily interrogates Hurley, who is unable to answer any of his questions, leading Jack to destroy the mirrors. Outside, Jacob reappears to Hurley, congratulating him on bringing Jack to the lighthouse. Hurley realises that Jacob did not want them to send a signal from the lighthouse, but instead needed Jack to see into the mirror and realise that he is important to the Island. Jacob also divulges that he needed to get Jack and Hurley away from the Temple because "someone bad" was coming there.

At the same time, Jin is rescued by Claire from her trap, taking him and an injured Other, Justin, to her hideout. She treats Jin's leg injury and then threatens to kill Justin unless he tells her the location of her son Aaron. Justin helplessly says that he has no idea where Aaron is and the Others never kidnapped him. Claire believes that the Others have her baby because both her father and "her friend" told her so. Jin informs her that Kate has been raising Aaron off the Island. Claire murders Justin, regardless, claiming he would do the same to her given the chance. Jin, wary of Claire's apparent instability after living on her own in the jungle for three years, then claims that he was lying about Aaron earlier. Claire is relieved, as she would have killed Kate if it were true. Later, Claire's "friend", who turns out to be the Man in Black, shows up as Jin and Claire discuss how to return to the Temple.
Major WTFery: Claire discusses "her friend" and "Christian" as working together rather than being the same person. Since Claire can identify the Man in Black in whatever form he takes, this suggests that she might be really having visions of her father. This accords with the Season 4 premiere where Hurley sees Christian in Jacob's cabin and also another man (presumably the Man in Black). Later on in Season 6 the Man in Black confirms that he did take Christian's form to lead Jack to the caves and water but doesn't mention any of the myriad later appearances on the Island (or Christian's appearance to Jack in LA, which would not be possible for the Man in Black).

Hindsight: This is Jack's last-ever solely centric episode.

This episode sees the return of the Adam and Eve skeletons for the first time since House of the Rising Sun, a massive 101 episodes earlier. This episode is also the first time we see the caves since Adrift, 76 episodes earlier. However, the caves were still being used as a source of water for the survivors at the beach camp until the end of Season 4 (the Swan Station took over the job for a while, but the survivors started using the caves again after the destruction of the Swan) according to dialogue.

Hurley calls Dogen "a samurai", likely a reference to actor Hiroyuki Sanada's frequent appearance as a samurai in films such as The Twilight Samurai and The Last Samurai; during the filming of the latter movie Sanada almost decapitated Tom Cruise when the mechanical horse he was riding failed to move as anticipated. After Lost, Sanada would play a similar role in 47 Ronin.

Jack asks how they never found the lighthouse earlier and Hurley suggests that they were never meant to find it until now. However, the survivors were stuck on the Island for only 100 days and spent a lot of that time clustered around the beach camp and later various DHARMA facilities. They never conducted a circumnavigation of the entire Island. Various trips by boat also failed to completely circle the entire Island. Fan maps and in-episode dialogue also place the lighthouse in the far south-eastern corner of the Island, at the opposite end of the Island to the Temple. This area has not been explored in prior episodes, with the tail section survivors cutting across the Island well to the north of it. It is therefore plausible that the Oceanic 815 survivors never found the lighthouse before. Less plausible is that the Others or DHARMA Initiative never discovered it either.

This episode confirms that the Numbers were assigned to certain people who could be candidates to replace Jacob. This suggests that the idea behind using the Valenzetti Equation to save the world was correct but DHARMA's failure to change the value of the equation was down to them not knowing that the numbers referred to specific individuals rather than scientific principles. By successfully replacing Jacob and saving the world from destruction, Jack (#23) and Hurley (#8) (and arguably Sayid (#16), who sacrifices himself to save the rest) would fulfil the role the equation was created for, just not in the way anyone could anticipate.

Review: An episode of two halves: the stuff on the Island with the lighthouse is interesting but Jack's off-Island storyline is, as usual, sleep-inducing. Do we really need to see how good (or not) Jack would be as a dad? (***½)

Sayid joins the Dark Side.

605: Sundown

Written by Paul Zbyszewski and Graham Roland, directed by Bobby Roth

Airdate: 2 March 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Sayid

Flash: Sayid arrives at the home of his brother, Omer, and Omer's wife, Nadia. Late one night, Omer tells Sayid that he recently borrowed a substantial amount of money from a loan shark but has paid it back. Nevertheless, the loan shark has told Omer that he will owe interest forever. Omer asks Sayid to help with his problem. Sayid refuses because he no longer wishes to be a violent person. The next day, Omer is severely beaten and Nadia begs Sayid not to get involved. Nadia and Sayid discuss their feelings for each other, leading Sayid to tell Nadia that he doesn't deserve her. Later on, Sayid is taken to see the loan shark, Martin Keamy; after a short conversation, Sayid kills him and his men, including Keamy's henchman Omar. While leaving the scene, he stumbles across Jin, who is tied up in a freezer.

On the Island: Sayid angrily confronts Dogen about the poison pill. Dogen claims that Sayid is evil. They get into a struggle and Dogen beats Sayid but refuses to kill him, instead banishing Sayid from the Temple. At the same time, the Man in Black sends Claire into the Temple to ask Dogen to parley. Dogen refuses to leave the Temple and imprisons Claire. He then gives Sayid a dagger and instructs him to kill the Man in Black, in order to prove that he is still a good person. To kill him successfully, Sayid must strike before he speaks. Sayid does as instructed, but the dagger has no effect; the Man in Black did have time to say "Hello, Sayid," first. The Man in Black explains that Dogen never expected Sayid to succeed, only to get himself killed in the attempt. He then says that if Sayid cooperates, he can have anything he wants, including the return of a dead loved one. Sayid is sent back to the Temple with a message for the Others: any who do not leave the Temple before sundown will be killed. This causes a panic among the Others, most of whom, including Cindy, decide to leave. Amidst the chaos, Kate returns to the Temple. She confronts Lennon, who takes Kate to Claire. Kate explains that she has been raising Claire's son, Aaron, for the past three years but is unable to continue speaking with her due to the chaos.

Meanwhile, Sayid confronts Dogen, who reveals how he came to the Island: several years ago, he was a businessman in Japan who became drunk one night and caused a car accident that killed his 12-year-old son. Jacob visited them in the hospital and offered to heal Dogen's son in exchange for Dogen coming to the Island and never returning. After Dogen finishes his story, Sayid tackles him into the spring and drowns him. Afterwards, he kills Lennon by slitting his throat. Dogen's death allows the Man in Black to enter the Temple and attack the Others in the form of the Smoke Monster.

Ilana, Sun, Frank and Ben arrive at the Temple shortly after the attack begins, searching for the other candidates. While there, Sun learns that Jin is alive. Ben goes looking for Sayid, but flees when he sees that Sayid has killed Dogen and Lennon and no longer seems to be himself. Kate is separated from the group and goes after Claire. Ilana, Sun, Frank and Miles flee through a secret passage. After the attack, which leaves almost everyone dead, Sayid, Claire and Kate join the Others with the Man in Black outside the Temple.

Major WTFery: In one of the more obvious continuity errors in the show, a man is shown being thrown against a wall as if by the Smoke Monster in the background of the scene where Miles and Kate split up, but the Monster itself is not CGIed in. Either this was a goof, the episode went over-budget or the presence of the Monster in the shot would have made Miles and Kate's escape more implausible.

Hindsight: Sayid fails to kill the Man in Black. It is possible this is because, contrary to Dogen's instructions, Sayid was unable to stab him before he spoke (although he only had time to say "Hello, Sayid").

According to Lennon, Dogen himself was keeping the Smoke Monster from entering the Temple just by being alive. This suggests that Dogen had something done to him by Jacob to achieve this result.

Review: A very strong, creepy and unusually violent episode. Seeing the Smoke Monster cut loose on the Others is impressive but it's Naveen Andrews's performance as Sayid that makes the episode. His horrifically creepy smile as Ben finds him standing over Lennon and Dogen's dead bodies is chilling. Sayid going evil is a tiresome trope (especially given his problematic path towards redemption over the course of the season) but Andrews plays it excellently. (****½)

Ben confronts his school principal, Mr. Dickless.

606: Dr. Linus

Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Mario van Peebles

Airdate: 9 March 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Ben

Flash: Dr. Benjamin Linus is a history teacher at a Los Angeles high school. One day in the teachers' lounge, he has a particularly loud conversation with fellow teacher, Leslie Arzt, in which they complain about the lack of funding at the school, especially since Principal Reynolds has made Ben watch over the kids in detention, instead of chaperoning the school's history club. John Locke, a substitute teacher, suggests that Ben become principal instead. While tutoring his star pupil, Alex Rousseau, Ben learns that the principal is having an affair with the school nurse. Ben enlists Arzt's help in hacking the nurse's email account to prove this and tries to blackmail the principal with this information and take his job. However, Reynolds says that he will write a negative letter of recommendation for Alex's college application if Ben makes good on his threats. Ben, unwilling to sacrifice Alex's future, backs down. He does, though, use his new leverage with the principal to get out of covering detention and restart the history club. Ben is also seen at home caring for his sick father, Roger, who says he wishes he and Ben had never left the Island and the DHARMA Initiative.

On the Island: Ben, Ilana, Miles, Sun and Frank flee from the Temple. Ilana discovers that Ben killed Jacob, after Miles examines Jacob's ashes using his ability to read the last thoughts of human remains. After the group returns to the original beach camp, Ilana ties Ben up and forces him to dig his own grave, so that she can exact revenge. The Man in Black arrives and attempts to recruit Ben, stating that he wants Ben to take over the Island once the Man in Black leaves with his followers. He frees Ben and tells him of a rifle standing against a tree about 200 yards in the jungle. As Ilana is trying to recapture him, Ben finds the rifle and gets the drop on her. But Ben only wishes to explain why he killed Jacob; he was afraid of losing his leadership position on the Island and felt rejected by Jacob, was angry because he chose the Island over his daughter's life and was unable to forgive himself for letting her die. Ilana allows Ben to rejoin their group.
Jack and Hurley head back to the Temple, but Hurley tries to take them in a different direction after Jacob's spirit informs him of the massacre. They come across Richard Alpert, who leads them to the Black Rock. Richard has become suicidal since Jacob's death because he believes that his life on the Island has been meaningless. He attempts to kill himself using dynamite. Jack even helps, knowing the Island won't let him. When the dynamite fuse goes out, Jack convinces him that they are on the Island for a reason; they have a purpose. They travel back to the beach and reunite with Ilana's group. Meanwhile, Miles has dug up some of the diamonds from Nikki and Paulo's grave, having located them thanks to his ability to speak the dead.

The periscope from a submarine is then shown to be spying on the beach. Charles Widmore is revealed to be in command of the sub. He is asked if they should intervene on the beach but Widmore tells the crew to proceed as originally planned.

Major WTFery: Nothing too extreme, although Jack placing his trust in the dynamite not detonating feels like possibly a step too far. Although the Island won't let harm come to Jack, it might well let it come to Richard and find a way of letting Jack live whilst killing Richard.

Hindsight: Principal Reynolds is played by the excellent William Atherton, best-known for his antagonistic roles in 1980s movies such as Ghostbusters and Die Hard.

Due to scheduling, it was not possible to have Paulo or Nikki appear in Season 6. The producers included Miles's grave-robbing as a shout-out to the characters instead. Miles knows that Paulo and Nikki were buried alive by their unaware fellow survivors but chooses not to share the information with the others.

Richard indicates he has been to the Black Rock before and may have come to the Island on it, a supposition proven correct in the very next episode.

Review: An outstanding episode, probably Michael Emerson's strongest moment on the show and probably the finest of the flash-sidewasys stories. I would quite happily watch a full TV series about Ben, Locke and Arzt as teachers standing up to the dastardly Principal Reynolds. There's some great performances and the way the two storylines feed into one another emotionally is very well-done. Ben has veered back and forth between good and evil but in this episode he firmly comes down on the side of the good guys, seeking (and gaining) Ilana's trust and rejecting his old methods of gaining power through manipulation and murder. (****½)

Alt-Sawyer putting the moves on Alt-Charlotte.

607: Recon

Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Jim Galasso, directed by Jack Bender

Airdate: 16 March 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flash-sideways Character: Sawyer

Flash: Jim Ford is a detective for the LAPD, along with his partner Miles. He is searching for Anthony Cooper, the man who conned his parents, causing his father to kill his mother and then himself. He has recently traveled to Australia in his search, telling Miles that he was instead in Palm Springs. Miles arranges for Sawyer to go on a blind date with a British woman named Charlotte. The two hit it off rather well. However, after having sex, Charlotte discovers Sawyer's folder containing information on Cooper, leading Sawyer to angrily throw her out. Miles confronts Sawyer the next day for lying about going to Australia and decides to stop being Sawyer's partner. After realizing how lonely he is, Sawyer visits Charlotte, who turns him down. Sawyer decides to open up about his past to Miles, right when a car being driven by Kate, a fugitive, crashes into his own. He chases her down, leading him to recognize her from their encounter at the airport.

On the Island: The Man in Black leads the Others he has recruited, along with Sayid, Claire and Kate, to rendezvous with his other recruit, Sawyer, who is tending to an injured Jin. The Man in Black sends Sawyer on a reconnaissance mission to the smaller Hydra Island to spy on the survivors of Ajira Airways Flight 316. Back at the camp, Claire attempts to kill Kate while Sayid watches impassively, forcing the Man in Black to break up the fight. The Man in Black later explains to Kate that he told Claire the Others took Aaron in order to give Claire something to "hold on to". He also compares himself to Aaron, stating that his own mother was crazy. Claire later apologises to Kate and thanks her for taking care of Aaron.

On the Hydra Island, Sawyer finds all the passengers dead and encounters a woman named Zoe, who claims to be the only remaining survivor of Flight 316. Sawyer realises she is lying; a number of armed men appear and escort him to their leader, Charles Widmore. Sawyer makes a deal with Widmore: he will lead the Man in Black into a trap in exchange for safe passage away from the Island. Sawyer travels back to the main Island and tells the Man in Black about the deal he made, stating that he is loyal to the Man in Black. Sawyer later reveals his true plan to Kate: to turn both sides against each other and escape on the submarine while both sides are distracted.

Major WTFery: It's a bit unclear why or how Widmore knew to show up right at this very moment on the Island. Or why he helped Eloise and Desmond organise the massively over-complicated Ajira plan if he could have simply taken everyone back to the Island on his sub. Or why he did the freighter plan in Season 4 if he could have simply gone back on the sub. Or why he waited this long before returning (the only possible reason I can think of is because he couldn't go back whilst Jacob was still alive).

In a very pedantic continuity error, Sawyer is shown using Word 2007 in a scene set in 2004. Of course, the revelation of the nature of the sideways existence in the finale renders this moot. Maybe Word 2007 ended up being Sawyer's favourite word processing software in his lifetime.

Hindsight: The parallels between Claire and Rousseau are strong, right down to Claire's feelings for her missing child leading her into making questionably violent decisions.

Review: This is a good episode for Sawyer's talents, as he double-crosses and betrays his way through the Island story and then has to make a life as a policeman work in the flash-sideways. Josh Holloway is always great and pairing him up with Charlotte is a nice idea. Also, there obviously needs to be a Sawyer-and-Miles buddy cop spin-off movie at some point (as these guys clearly agree). If the episode falters a little it's that Widmore showing up feels a bit random and inexplicable at this point in the story. (****)

In the subsequent 140 years, Richard would discover the benefits of grooming.

608: Ab Aeterno

Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor and Greggory Nations, directed by Tucker Gates

Airdate: 23 March 2010

Survivor Count: 16

Days on Island:

Flashback Character: Richard

2007: Ilana is visited by Jacob in a Russian hospital, where he tells her to protect his remaining candidates. Ilana explains to the group of survivors at the beach that Jack, Sun and Hurley are candidates to replace Jacob. When asked what to do next, she says that Richard Alpert knows. Richard, who has become suicidal since Jacob's death, says he does not know what to do and leaves the camp in frustration.

1867: In a flashback from 1867, Richard Alpert, known as Ricardo, lives in Tenerife with his dying wife, Isabella. He travels to a doctor in order to obtain medicine, but the doctor refuses Ricardo's meagre payment, and Ricardo accidentally kills the man when they struggle over the medicine. Ricardo returns home to find that his wife has died, and he is subsequently arrested for murdering the doctor. In prison, he is visited by a priest, who, after learning that Ricardo has been learning English in preparation for beginning a new life in the New World, tells him that he cannot be forgiven and will be hanged. The priest, however, accepts a bribe and allows Ricardo to be taken as a slave to the New World aboard the Black Rock, a slave ship commanded by Magnus Hanso. The ship is caught in a violent storm and a tsunami sweeps it inshore onto the mysterious Island, first crashing through the statue of Taweret and smashing it to pieces.

The next day, the Smoke Monster kills everyone onboard except Ricardo. As he works to free himself, a vision of his wife appears and tells him that they are in Hell. She is then apparently seized by the Monster. After six gruelling days, the Man in Black, who unbeknownst to Ricardo is the human form of the monster, frees Ricardo from his shackles, and tells Ricardo that he must kill Jacob, whom he refers to as the devil, in order to get his wife back and leave the Island. Ricardo attempts to kill Jacob, but is easily outmanoeuvred. Jacob explains the function of the Island, using a wine bottle as an analogy: the Island acts as a cork that "is the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs." Without the "cork", the darkness would escape and spread. As the Man in Black sees it, people are inherently evil, while Jacob believes they are inherently good. To this end, Jacob brings people to the Island, so that they may disprove the Man in Black; however, he does not believe in telling people what to do, since this would negate their free will to choose. When Ricardo points out that the Man in Black will corrupt them as he himself was corrupted, Jacob suggests that Ricardo become his representative to the people he brings to the Island. In return, Jacob will offer him a reward of his choice. He eventually grants Ricardo immortality, after Ricardo reacts to Jacob's inability to bring back his dead wife, or absolve him of his sins. Ricardo returns to the Man in Black, who states that his offer is still open should Ricardo change his mind. He gives Ricardo the cross necklace that Isabella gave him just before she died, and Ricardo buries it on the Island.

2007: Richard visits the site where he has buried his wife's necklace on the Island, shouting that he has changed his mind and wishes to join the Man in Black; “Does the offer still stand?” Instead, Hurley arrives and, using his ability to communicate with the dead, acts as an intermediary between Richard and his wife Isabella. She explains that Richard must stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island, or else "we all go to Hell." The Man in Black, in the form of John Locke, is watching them from a distance.

1867: Jacob visits the Man in Black and tells him that he will never let him leave the Island. The Man in Black insists he'll kill Jacob some day, but Jacob retorts that another will just take his place; the former responds that he will simply kill them too. Jacob then gives him the aforementioned corked wine bottle, which the Man in Black breaks by smashing it against a log.

Major WTFery: In the Season 5 finale it is implied that the sailing ship on the horizon is the Black Rock, although it is seen in daylight under bright, sunny skies. In this episode the ship crashes into the Island at night in a heavy thunderstorm. Although it could have been another ship (with Jacob bringing people to the Island repeatedly over many centuries), the producers confirmed it was the same vessel: the Black Rock passed the Island during the day and was thrown back towards the Island the following night by the storm.

The Black Rock was sailing from Tenerife, in the Atlantic Ocean just off the north-western coast of Africa, to the New World (presumably South America or Mexico). This suggests that one of the access windows to the Island was located in the North Atlantic in 1867. Although this is plausible, it does make it trickier to understand how Alvar Hanso and the DHARMA team located the Island, unless something in the boat's disappearance helped them understand the nature of the Island and how to locate it using the Lamp Post Station.

The reason for not giving the Man in Black/Smoke Monster a name appears to be feeling that this would humanise the character rather than leaving it as a mysterious force for destruction. However, it is a bit silly by this stage (and gets really stupid in Across the Sea). The Biblical-sounding name "Samuel", which was used as a cover during casting sessions for the character, would have been fine.

There are substantial inconsistencies between this episode and previous accounts (both in Lost itself and in The Lost Experience spin-off project) given of the Black Rock's origins and where it disappeared. According to The Constant, the Black Rock set sail from Siam (Thailand) in 1845 and was believed lost at sea in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. In Exodus Locke theorises the ship was a slaver headed east from Mozambique. The Lost Experience claims that the Black Rock disappeared in 1881 and may have been looking for the Island deliberately, using a gold mining mission to Papua New Guinea as a cover. Ab Aeterno is regarded as the canonical answer to the mystery, although it does retain the name of the captain, Magnus Hanso, from The Lost Experience.

The Black Rock demolishes the Statute of Tawaret when it is swept ashore. Assuming the statue was indeed of Egyptian construction, this isn't too implausible, as it would be well over two thousand (and maybe closer to three thousand) years old and likely suffering from weathering and erosion. However, the shot of the collision shows the bow almost level with the statue's head, dozens of feet in the air. This suggests that the storm that carried the boat onto the Island wasn't just a storm but a tidal wave or tsunami. Yet the rest of the Island does not show the damage associated with a tsunami. The Black Rock also ends up on the far side of the Island's central valley in thick tree cover, a dozen miles or more from the Statue on the far side of a mountain range. This seems excessively unlikely, even given the Island's general level of weirdness.

Hindsight: The episode title means "From Eternity" in Latin, which makes sense.

Richard asks Jacob if he is the devil, to which Jacob replies negatively. This may be a tip of the hat to actor Mark Pellegrino's then-recurring role as the devil on Supernatural. The fifth season of Supernatural aired simultaneously alongside Lost's sixth season and saw Pellegrino appear alongside Titus Welliver (the Man in Black), the latter playing one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War.

This episode marks the first time that someone calls the Man in Black, "The Man in Black". The name was retroactively applied to his previous appearances. The name is a reference by massive Stephen King fan Damon Lindelof to Randall Flagg, the ultimate villain of King's novels (most prominently in The Stand, Eye of the Dragon and the Dark Tower series) who is often called "the Man in Black". Matthew McConaughey will play Flagg in the forthcoming Dark Tower movie.

This is the final episode of Lost to have a traditional flashback device; Across the Sea is also a flashback, but the entire episode from start to finish is presented as a linear story. Ab Aeterno is the final one which features the standard structure of having on-Island material and then the flashback.

This episode is Richard's first (and only) flashback episode, taking place 52 episodes after the character's introduction in Not in Portland. This is the largest gap between introducing a character and giving them a flashback in the history of the show.

Magnus Hanso is the great-great-great (or so) grandfather of Alvar Hanso, the founder of the Hanso Foundation and the financial backer of the DHARMA Initiative. The Lost Experience suggests that it was his search for his ancestor's missing ship that led him and DHARMA to discover the Island in the 1960s and to undertake scientific study there starting around 1970-71. Although namechecked several times in this episode, Captain Magnus does not actually appear and is killed off-screen.

This episode explains both how the Black Rock was shipwrecked on the Island and how the Statue of Tawaret was destroyed, both long-standing questions that fans had been theorising about for years.

Review: This is a very fine episode, centred on an excellent performance by Nestor Carbonell (one of Lost's more unsung but still very fine performers) and explaining long-standing Island mysteries whilst telling a good story and keeping some element of mystery in play. This is dramatically at odds with the later episode Beyond the Sea, which tries to do a similar thing with Jacob and the Man in Black's backstories and fumbles in the attempt. This episode blends tragedy and religious horror together superbly and is the highlight of the final season of the show. (*****)

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