Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Lost Reviews: Part 19 - Season 5, Episodes 9-16

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: Namaste, He's Our You, Whatever Happened, Happened, Dead is Dead, Some Like It Hoth, The Variable, Follow the Leader, The Incident.

Without further ado, let us continue after the jump.

A picture which hung on the walls of the DHARMA Barracks for twenty-seven years, during which time Ben apparently never looked at it even once.

509: Namaste
Written by Paul Zbyszewski and Bryan K. Vaughan, directed by Jack Bender
Airdate: 18 March 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: none

2007: Ajira Airways Flight 316, a transpacific flight piloted by Frank Lapidus, crash-lands on the Hydra Island. Frank spots the runway that the Others were working on and is able to put the flight down relatively safely, but the runway is too short and the plane comes to rest in in the jungle beyond, mostly still intact. However, the co-pilot is killed by a tree branch that comes through the window and impales him. While the passengers begin to debate what to do next, Ben Linus plans to travel to the main Island. He is followed by Frank and Sun, who believes her husband Jin is there. After reaching a group of outrigger canoes left behind by the Others, Sun knocks Ben out with an oar and travels with Frank to the abandoned barracks of the Dharma Initiative. Waiting there is Christian Shephard, who shows Sun and Frank a picture of new recruits to the DHARMA Initiative from 1977, including Jack, Kate and Hurley. He also tells her that Jin is with them in 1977 and if she wants to rejoin them they have a long trip ahead of them.

1977: Sawyer reunites with Jack, Kate and Hurley. He explains to them that they are in 1977 and that he is part of the DHARMA Initiative. Aware that the submarine is bringing fresh recruits from the mainland, and that everyone is kept drugged and separated on the sub to mitigate the disorientation which comes from crossing the Island's boundary, Sawyer is able to arrange for the three of them to join the Initiative. Jack is assigned to janitorial work (by Pierre Chang, whom Jack has already seen on DHARMA Initiative orientation films), Hurley to the kitchens and Kate to the motor pool. Juliet helps forge the necessary documentation. Juliet also learns that Amy has named her baby Ethan and becomes disturbed, aware that he will one day join the Others. Jin learns that Sun was on Ajira 316 and travels to the Flame Station because he believes that its occupant, Radzinsky, will know if Flight 316 crashed on the island. Radzinsky - who is working on a scale model of the unbuilt Swan Station - thinks Jin is crazy but agrees to look for the plane. Soon, an alarm is set off and Jin finds Sayid wandering in the jungle. After a brief moment of reunion, Jin is forced to act as if Sayid were a Hostile to placate Radzinsky, who would not understand where Sayid really came from. They imprison him at the Flame, but Radzkinsky becomes concerned that Sayid may have seen the drawings and model of the Swan, which is being planned to be built deep in Hostile territory, beyond the truce line. Sawyer is summoned to the Flame and moves Sayid to a jail cell at the Barracks while he decides what to do.

Later in the evening, Jack visits Sawyer and Juliet's house to discuss the situation. James tells Jack that he is in charge and has a different approach to leadership than Jack had with the survivors of Oceanic 815: Sawyer prefers to carefully plan out his actions, as opposed to Jack's more impulsive style of command. He suggests that Jack sit back and take it easy for once. After a brief hesitation, Jack agrees to let Sawyer take charge. Meanwhile, at the jail, a young boy brings Sayid a sandwich and introduces himself as Ben. After a few moments of shock, Sayid says that he is very happy to meet him.

Major WTFery: This episode confirms that Ethan Rom was born in 1977. This makes him twelve years younger than actor William Mapother during the first season.

The question of why Sun did not travel back to 1977 with the rest of the 316 crash survivors remains debatable. A possibility is that she was still "tied" to 2007 through her daughter Ji Yeon, or that Jacob had a hand in events and decided it was more important she remain in 2007.

Frank and Sun sail from the Hydra Island directly to the main dock at the Barracks in relatively little time. This seemingly contradicts the placement of Hydra Island on the central-eastern side of the Island, twenty and maybe closer to thirty miles from the Barracks.

Christian gives Sun a DHARMA photograph from the wall of the Barracks cafeteria. As mentioned before, this means that that Others had a photo on their wall showing Hurley, Jack and Kate in 1977 sitting in plain view for the sixteen years between taking over the Barracks and the events of Seasons 1-4 of the series.

Hindsight: The DHARMA Initiative uses code 14J to signify danger. This is the same warning code that Alex sends to the Barracks in The Shape of Things to Come, and suggests that the Others inherited DHARMA's security codes and warnings when they took over the Barracks eleven years later.

Sun hears the sounds of the Monster as she and Frank approach the Barracks. Sun recognises them but says there is no danger. Christian then appearing indicates that the Monster is certainly Christian.

Review: Another excellent episode, following hot on the heels of LaFleur and showing the new, confident and in-his-element Sawyer taking charge of things and thinking on his feet. There's a lot of fun to be had from Jack coming to face-to-face with the guy from the DHARMA videos but what the episode benefits the most from is the writers slamming down the accelerator on the story. What was once the slowest-moving show on television is now churning through story at an impressive rate and keeping everything moving briskly. (****½)

" this irony?"

510: He's Our You
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Greg Yaitanes
Airdate: 25 March 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Sayid

Flashback: As a child, Sayid watches as his older brother is forced by his father to kill a chicken as a rite of passage. He is unable to do it, so Sayid does it for him; this greatly pleases Sayid's father. In 2007, While working for Ben, Sayid kills a man in Moscow. This is the last man on Ben's hit list, leaving Sayid uncertain about how to continue living his life. After John Locke dies, Ben visits Sayid and encourages him to go to Los Angeles. Sayid meets Ilana at a bar; she skillfully seduces him and then takes him into her custody at gunpoint. She turns out to be a bounty hunter who has been employed to take Sayid to Guam by the family of Peter Avellino, who Sayid previously killed for Ben. After seeing some of the Oceanic Six preparing to board the same flight, he begs her to take the next plane, but she refuses. On the plane, after he sees Ben and asks Ilana if she is working for him. Ilana seems puzzled. Sayid describes Ben as a monster and Ilana asks Sayid why she would work for a man like that. Sayid replies, "I did."

1977: Sayid is interrogated by the leader of the DHARMA Initiative on the Island, Horace Goodspeed, and Radzinsky, DHARMA's head of research. Sawyer, in his guise as LaFleur, the head of security, is also present. Sayid does not say anything and is later visited by a twelve-year-old Ben Linus with a sandwich. Ben's father Roger witnesses this and hits him. Sayid is later confronted one-on-one by Sawyer, who in an effort to save Sayid, tries to convince Sayid to give a false confession of being a defector from the island's native population, the Others. Sayid refuses and is subsequently taken to Oldham, DHARMA's resident interrogation expert ("He's our you," as Sawyer describes him to Sayid). Oldham gives Sayid a truth serum which forces Sayid to reveal his knowledge of DHARMA's stations, including the future Swan Station, and that he has previously been to the Island. However, he also tells them that he is from the future, which discredits his story. He tells them that Sawyer can confirm the story, but because the others don't know who "Sawyer" is, his cover remains intact. Upon returning to the jail, Sayid is once again visited by Ben, who pledges to free Sayid because Ben wishes to join the Others. Sayid agrees to take him, saying that's why he is there. That evening, several members of the DHARMA Initiative take a vote to decide whether to execute Sayid. After an impassioned statement from new mother Amy, they all vote in favour of execution. Sawyer attempts to let Sayid escape, but Sayid refuses, stating he has found his purpose for returning to the island.

Meanwhile, at the Barracks, Juliet expresses her concern to Sawyer that their relationship will be jeopardised because of Kate's return. Kate learns of their relationship from Hurley. Later in the evening, Sawyer goes to Kate's house and asks her why she came back to the Island. Before she can answer, however, a flaming DHARMA van crashes into one of the houses. While everyone is distracted by the fire, Ben helps Sayid escape from the jail. They run into Jin during their escape, so Sayid knocks Jin out and steals his gun. After saying to Ben "You were right, I am a killer" Sayid reluctantly shoots Ben in the chest and runs off.

Major WTFery: Ben says that he met Richard four years ago, when he first arrived on the Island in 1973 (as seen in The Man Behind the Curtain), but he doesn't look that much older. Of course, this is down to only two years passing between the scenes being filmed.

The DHARMA Initiative uses 1980s-vintage Apple Lisa computers, stun guns and mini-CCTV cameras, and 1990s-vintage in-car CD players, indicating that either the DHARMA Initiative was many years ahead of the curve in its use of technology, or (more likely) the props department had problems sourcing 1970s-vintage equipment in Hawaii at short notice.

It's not entirely clear why the DHARMA Initiative feels it needs a full-interrogator, especially with the Hostiles pacified by the treaty. Presumably Oldham has some other function or job on the Island.

Hindsight: Actor William Sanderson (Oldham) is of course best-known from his roles in Blade Runner and his then-recent regular role on Deadwood.

Radzinsky threatens to call Ann Arbor, which the rest of the DHARMA team wants to avoid. Season 2 established that the DHARMA Initiative is actually based out of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where the founders of the organisation, Gerald and Karen DeGroot are based. The fate of the Ann Arbor command team following the 1977 Incident and the 1988 Purge is unclear, although the Swan Station blast door map suggests that they did visit the Island in 1985 and were involved in second incident at the Swan.

Review: Sayid's bewilderment at what is going on ("A 12-year-old Benjamin Linus just brought me a chicken sandwich, how do you think I feel?") is well-played by Naveen Andrews and fuels a rather horrible idea in his head that his destiny is to change history by killing Ben, which of course just sets everything in motion. Previous seasons would have likely had Sayid as a prisoner for 3-4 episodes whilst people angsted about what to do, so it's great to see the story moving forwards so decisively. However, it's possible it might be moving forwards a bit too fast. The rapid pace of events leaves some characters - most notably Radzinsky - feeling a little too lightly sketched. But it's still all compelling viewing. (****)

Hurley theorises that he may be about to disappear based on his knowledge of Back to the Future.

511: Whatever Happened, Happened
Written by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Bobby Roth
Airdate: 1 April 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Kate

2005-07: Kate develops a friendship with Sawyer's ex-girlfriend Cassidy and Sawyer's daughter Clementine. Kate tells Cassidy the truth about everything that happened on the Island, including that baby Aaron is not her son. Cassidy eventually leads Kate to realise that the reason she took Aaron as her own, is because Kate needed him in order to get over her emotional attachment to Sawyer. After this realisation, she decides to return to the Island with the others who left. She leaves Aaron in the care of Carole Littleton, Aaron's biological grandmother. Kate also tells the shocked Carole that she is returning to the Island to find Carole's daughter, Claire, and bring her home.

1977: Jin wakes up and discovers that the young Ben has been shot by Sayid. He brings Ben to the Barracks so that his injuries can be treated by Juliet. Juliet is unable to perform the necessary surgery on Ben and sends Sawyer to retrieve Jack. Jack, knowing what Ben does in the future, refuses to help. This drives Kate to do everything she can to help Ben. Meanwhile, Hurley and Miles debate the nature of time travel, a particular point of confusion being why the older Ben, after meeting Sayid in 2004, did not seem to remember being shot by him as a boy.

Kate goes to the sick bay where Ben is being treated and donates her blood because she is a universal donor. She strikes up a conversation with Ben's father, Roger, who is upset that Ben stole his keys and freed Sayid from the jail. Once it becomes clear that Ben will succumb to his injuries without further intervention, Kate decides to take Ben to the Others, the Island's native population. Sawyer comes to Kate's aid and they bring Ben to Richard, who warns them that if he heals Ben, he will not remember what has happened and will never be the same again. They agree anyway. Richard carries Ben into the Temple. Another Other urges Richard to inform Ellie of his intentions and implies that Charles will not be pleased if he finds out, but Richard says he doesn't answer to either of them.

2007: In the Hydra Station Ben awakens from being knocked unconscious by Sun and is greeted by John Locke. He appears to be horrified to see that Locke is apparently alive and well.

Major WTFery: The last we see of young Ben is him being carried into the Temple. It is not made clear at all how he is returned to the Barracks, although we know he is because he is still there in 1988.

Hindsight: This episode has one of Lost's most obscure literary references. The episode aired on 1 April - i.e. March 32nd - and is based on the central thesis of the short story March Has 32 Days from issue 40 of Mystery Tales (dated April 1956), which features a time-traveller agonising over whether he can change the past, in a similar manner to Miles and Hurley's discussions. Issue 40 of Mystery Tales was the comic that Richard Alpert gave the young John Locke in Cabin Fever to test him to see if he should become an Other. The DHARMA Initiative recruitment game that played out between Seasons 4 and 5 also used March Has 32 Days as a clue and the comic appears again in The Variable.

This episode establishes a chain of command for the Others. There is one leader, who in 1977 is Charles Widmore and later, of course, is Ben Linus. Richard Alpert stands apart from the chain of command, respecting the leader and following most of their commands but he himself is acting under the direct authority of Jacob. Ellie, as Charles's lover, also appears to have some kind of authority.

This episode also establishes that to become truly an "Other" you have to visit the Temple. Since Juliet never visited the Temple she technically was never really an Other, only allied to them. This may explain why she moved through time with everyone else whilst the other Others, including those from Flight 815 like Cindy, remained behind.

This episode establishes and wraps up a major Lost mystery in record time: why does Ben not remember Sayid or being shot by him? Because the Temple heals him both of the wound and the memory of the trauma that caused the wound. However, Ben's failure to remember Sawyer, Juliet, Jin or Miles suggests that his memory of the entire preceding three years was affected as well.

This episode features the last flashback of an original Oceanic 815 survivor to something that happened previously, although it is still to a post-crash (and indeed post-rescue) timeframe.
Review: Another fast-moving episode, although the ease of Sawyer and Kate getting Ben to the Others and the utter lack of concern that results afterwards (Roger doesn't even seem to raise the alarm) is bizarre. However, the discussions between Hurley and Miles poke fun at time paradoxes and the show's own hardcore theorist fans, and it never hurts to drop a Back to the Future reference. (****)

Ben is judged by the Smoke Monster.

512: Dead is Dead
Written by Brian K. Vaughan and Elizabeth Sarnoff, directed by Stephen Williams
Airdate: 8 April 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Ben

1988: Ben kidnaps Alex as a baby from her mother Danielle Rousseau, whose life he spares. Before leaving, Ben tells Rousseau to run the other direction if she hears whispers. He returns to the Others' camp with the baby, which disappoints their leader, Charles Widmore, who wanted Ben to kill both mother and daughter.

Early 1990s: Several years later, Charles is banished from the island for breaking the rules by leaving the Island frequently, building up a life and company in the outside world and fathering a daughter with an outsider. Before he leaves the Island by submarine, Charles tells Ben that Ben will ultimately be banished as well, because he was unable to sacrifice Alex's life.

2007: Just before boarding Ajira 316, Ben confronts Penny Widmore, Charles's daughter at a marina in Los Angeles. He shoots her husband Desmond. Ben states his intention to kill Penny in retribution for his own daughter's death, but hesitates upon seeing Penny's son, Charlie. Ben's hesitation allows Desmond to recover and severely beat him, throwing him into the water.

A few days later, after the crash, Ben wakes up after having been knocked unconscious by Sun. He is greeted by Locke, whom Ben previously murdered. Ben tells Locke that he has broken "the rules" by returning to the island after he left it in the episode "There's No Place Like Home", and that Ben must be judged by the Smoke Monster. Locke agrees to accompany him to the main Island. Before leaving, Ben retrieves a picture of his adopted daughter Alex from his old office at the DHARMA Initiative Hydra Station. Ben also tricks one of the other survivors from Ajira Flight 316, Caesar, and steals his shotgun. When Ben and Locke try to leave the smaller island on a canoe, they are halted by Caesar, whom Ben shoots and kills.

Upon arriving on the main island, Ben and Locke travel to the DHARMA Initiative Barracks, where they find Sun and Flight 316 pilot Frank Lapidus. Sun shows him the photograph of Jack, Kate and Hurley, who have traveled back in time to 1977 and joined the DHARMA Initiative. Sun also tells Ben that Christian instructed her to wait for Locke because together they will be able to rescue the others from the past. Frank decides to return to the Hydra Island where he is taken prisoner by Ilana and several of the other 316 survivors, who ask him if he knows "what lies in the shadow of the statue" and become hostile when he says no. Meanwhile, Ben, Locke and Sun travel to the Temple. They don't enter the Temple itself, instead entering the tunnels located beneath it (where Montand was dragged by the Monster in 1988). Underneath the Temple, Ben is separated from Locke and confronted by the Monster, which replays several of Ben's memories of Alex. The smoke dissipates and a manifestation of Alex appears to Ben, telling him that she knows of his intention to kill Locke again. She warns him to follow Locke's lead without question if he wishes to live. Ben agrees and his life is spared.

Major WTFery: Danielle not remembering Jin in the present after meeting him in 1986 is dubious but perhaps believable. However, it seems highly unlikely that Danielle would not remember the face or distinctive voice of the man who kidnapped her daughter sixteen years after the fact. There is also an odd discrepancy where Danielle said in Seasons 1 and 2 that she's never seen an Other, but has a conversation with the younger Ben when he takes Alex.

This episode strongly disproves the suggestion that the Purge actually happened in 1992: Danielle's arrival on the Island and Alex's birth are both fixed in 1988 by many dozens of references and Ben is clearly a full-time and influential member of the Others by this point. In addition, Widmore is repeatedly said to have been looking for the Island for almost twenty years, which makes more sense if he was exiled in the early 1990s (as the age of Alex indicates) than the middle or latter part of the decade, which would be required if the Purge was in 1992.

Hindsight: At this stage Ben does not know that Locke is the Smoke Monster. Locke conveniently disappears just before the Monster appears and reappears afterwards.

It looked like Caesar was being built up as a character with a past and some kind of significance, but he doesn't appear to be part of Ilana's team and his offhand death with no repurcussions suggests that sometimes, even in Lost, a spade is just a spade. However, the actor later revealed that he'd been asked back for Season 6, suggesting that maybe his backstory would be explored or he'd appear in the sideways world, but had to decline citing other commitments.

Review: There's a certain grim satisfaction in seeing Ben, the (alleged) master manipulator, being played like an instrument by the Man in Black, who ruthlessly turns his own guilt and his love for Alex against him. It's also satisfying to see a lot of dots finally being connected together and Desmond's storyline for Season 6 being set up. (****)

When not recording intructive DHARMA videos under random aliases, Dr. Chang likes to terrorise his son with work-related reading material.

513: Some Like It Hoth
Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor and Greggory Nations, directed by Jack Bender
Airdate: 15 April 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Miles

Flashback: As a child, Miles discovers that he can hear the voices of dead people, so long as their bodies are nearby. When his mother, Lara, is dying of cancer several years later, Miles questions her about his father. She tells him that his father died when Miles was still a baby and that he never cared about her or Miles. Some time later, Miles is approached by Naomi Dorrit who, after ascertaining that Miles is not a fraud, offers him $1.6 million to go to the Island on the freighter. He agrees. However he is later kidnapped by a group of people who claim that the owner of the freighter, Charles Widmore, is on the "wrong team." Miles says he will not go to the island if they can provide him double the money ($3.2 million). Their leader, Bram, who is later a passenger on Ajira Airways Flight 316, asks Miles the question, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" Miles cannot answer, so he tells Miles that he won't be ready to go to the Island until he can. They then let Miles go. Meanwhile, Miles has also been employed by a man to speak with his dead son. Since the boy's body was cremated, Miles lies to the man and says that the boy knew his father loved him. Miles later returns the man's money, saying that he lied and that the man should have told his son that he loved him before he died. 

1977: Kate and Sawyer return from bringing Ben to the Others. Kate returns to the infirmary where Juliet had been treating Ben for a gunshot wound. Ben's father, Roger, arrives and notices that Ben has gone missing. Sometime later, Kate approaches Roger, who has been drinking, and tells him that everything will be okay. He grows suspicious of her and demands to know what happened to Ben. He later tells Jack of his suspicions, leading Jack to tell Sawyer and Juliet. After dismissing Jack, Sawyer is confronted by one of his security guards, Phil, who has seen the video of Sawyer taking Ben. Sawyer knocks Phil unconscious and tells Juliet to get some rope to tie him up.

Miles is sent by Horace Goodspeed, the DHARMA Initiative's leader on the Island, to the construction site of the Swan Station to retrieve a dead body and bring it to Dr. Pierre Chang at the Orchid Station. Before he can bring the body to Dr. Chang, Hurley tries to take the van containing the body, in order to deliver food to the Orchid Station. Since they are both going to the same place and there are no other vans available, Miles reluctantly agrees to let Hurley accompany him. On the way, Hurley finds the body and realises that Miles is able to communicate with dead people, an ability Hurley also possesses. After discussing the differences between their abilities, they arrive at the Orchid Station, where Miles transfers the body to Dr. Chang, who, after disposing of the body, requests a ride to the construction site. Miles tells Hurley that Dr. Chang is his father, so Hurley makes attempts to get them to bond, to no avail. After dropping Chang off, Miles discovers that Hurley is writing the screenplay for the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back, from memory, in order to give it to George Lucas. Hurley compares Miles's relationship with his father to the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, as well to the relationship between Hurley and his father. Hurley says that the best thing he ever did was forgive his father for abandoning him and suggests Miles do the same. Miles goes to Dr. Chang's house and briefly observes him interacting with his three-month-old self. However, Dr. Chang is on his way out and takes the older Miles to the dock, where a submarine is arriving with DHARMA scientists, among whom is Daniel Faraday. Faraday recognizes Miles and mentions that it has been a while since they have seen each other.

Major WTFery: The cans used by the DHARMA Initiative have litter-free ring-pulls. The producers noticed this themselves, justifying it by saying that DHARMA invented the concept.

The DHARMA workers move the prop of the Swan Station door around with ease. This is an error as the door is supposed to be one foot thick and made of steel: both Locke and Jacke had problems moving it in the Season 1 finale.

Hindsight: This is the first episode since Season 2 to make a big deal (if only briefly) about the Numbers.

Review: Given the criticism of Lost's slow pace in the first couple of seasons, it's unsurprising that by this point the producers want to keep the pedal to the metal in their storytelling. It's a shame because Season 5 actually opens up a whole new avenue of side-stories that could use some further exploration. LaFleur was a good example of that and so is Some Like It Hoth, which has some excellent character-based moments and humour that work without all hell breaking loose around them. As it stands, it's a nice break from the frentic pace of the season and gives Miles some much-needed character development. (****½)

Daniel explains complex time travel theory to Jack. He'd probably be better off trying it with one of the polar bears.

514: The Variable
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, directed by Paul Edwards
Airdate: 29 April 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Faraday

Flashback: As a child, Eloise asks Daniel if he knows what destiny is and then tells him that he has a special gift: his brilliant mind. She discourages him from pursuing an interest in music, insisting that he study science and mathmatics instead. After Daniel graduates from Oxford University, Eloise gives him a journal as a gift and again reminds him of his destiny. Meanwhile, Daniel has received an enormous research grant from Charles Widmore, whom Daniel does not know is actually his father. Years later, following the crash of Flight 815, Daniel has suffered severe psychological effects from performing experiments on himself: he has lost his mental acuity, and now lives with a caretaker. While watching the news coverage of the discovery of the Flight 815 wreckage in the Sunda Trench, Daniel is visited by Charles, who tells him that he faked the found wreckage and that the real plane actually landed on the Island. Charles invites Daniel to go to the Island, which Charles claims will cure his psychological problems. Eloise later visits Daniel and further encourages him to go to the Island.

1977: Daniel has returned to the island after spending most of the past three years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, conducting research for the DHARMA Initiative's mainland team. He has returned because Jack, Kate and Hurley have managed to travel back in time and become part of the Initiative. After learning from Jack that they were sent to the island by Daniel's mother, Eloise, Daniel visits Dr. Pierre Chang at the Orchid Station and warns him of a catastrophic event that is to occur at the Swan Station in six hours. Dr. Chang does not believe Daniel when he says that he is from the future, and Miles does not affirm Dan's story, even after Daniel informs Dr. Chang that Miles is his son.

At the Barracks, Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, Hurley and Miles decide that they will flee to the survivors' original beach on the far side of the Island, abandoning DHARMA. But Kate, Jack and Daniel decide to visit the island's native population, the Others and get help to prevent the impending disaster. They arouse suspicion from Dharma's head of research, Radzinsky, while trying to steal weapons and a gun fight ensues. The survivors are able to escape; however, Radzinsky brings his team to Sawyer and Juliet's house, where they find DHARMA member Phil tied up in the closet. Meanwhile, Daniel explains to Jack and Kate that he intends to detonate the hydrogen bomb that had been buried on the island in 1954 in order to prevent the construction of the Swan, which in turn will ensure that Oceanic Flight 815 never crashes on the island, which means it never becomes visible to Widmore's team, so he never sends the freighter which brings himself and Charlotte, therefore Charlotte doesn't die. Daniel enters the Others' camp with his gun drawn and demands that Richard Alpert take him to see Eloise; Eloise shoots Daniel in the back as they argue, a move which provokes hostility from Richard. Before Daniel dies, he tells her that he is her son.

2007: Desmond is brought to a hospital, having been shot by Ben. While waiting, his wife Penny, is visited by Eloise, who apologizes for involving Desmond in everything that has happened. Penny later visits Desmond, who is expected to make a full recovery. Charles, who is also Daniel's father, speaks with Eloise outside the hospital, but does not visit his daughter.

Major WTFery: Daniel's abrupt heel turn on deciding that it is possible to change the past appears to be outright desperation as he tries to find a way of saving Charlotte. The arrival of Jack's team in the past spurs him to think it is possible to change things.

Only a few days have passed since Jack and co arrived on the Island but Daniel has already received a copy of the photo and has had time to get from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the Island. The sub has also had time to return to the mainland and get back again. It might be that in 1977 the window leading to the Island is conveniently located in the Atlantic Ocean or even Lake Michigan itself, would make travel times much faster than if the access point was still in the middle of the Pacific.

Daniel storming into the Others' camp and waving a gun around seems to be irrational behaviour and out of character. It might be that away from the healing effects of the Island, Daniel's previous instability and loss of control had returned.

Hindsight: Issue 40 of Mystery Tales (dated April 1956) can be seen in Daniel's house. This is the comic that carries the story March Has 32 Days, which appears to be a primary influence and inspiration for Lost's treatment of time travel.

This is the 100th episode of Lost. The cast celebrated the occasion on-set with a cake. Producer Damon Lindelof later admitted when they started planning the first season he was 100% convinced they'd never make it past the thirteenth episode.

The scenes with Charles Widmore and Eloise take place more or less in real time with the on-Island action, which is a highly unusual event.

Review: A companion piece to The Constant, but a notably weaker episode. This is because it's a much jumpier piece, moving around haphazardly through Faraday's life before he gets himself killed a very odd manner. We also don't get an explanation for why Faraday so abruptly changes his mind about time not being malleable. The idea of a woman killing her own son and then giving birth to him, raising him and going through life knowing what will happen to him is both powerful and haunting, if not sold altogether well. (***½)


515: Follow the Leader
Written by Paul Zbyszewski and Elizabeth Sarnoff, directed by Stephen Williams
Airdate: 6 May 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Richard Alpert

1977:  Jack and Kate witness a young Eloise Hawking kill her son in the Others' camp. As Jack and Kate debate whether they should follow through with Faraday's plan to detonate the hydrogen bomb in order to change future events, they are captured by Charles Widmore. After reading Daniel's diary and finding her own handwriting in the dedication, Eloise believes their claim of being from the future and decides to take Jack's advice to detonate the bomb. They travel with Richard Alpert to a pond which leads to a series of tunnels in which the bomb is stored. The tunnels lie beneath the site of the DHARMA Initiative's barracks. Kate does not want to take part in Jack's plan and leaves. However, an Other refuses to let her go, prompting an unseen Sayid to shoot the Other. Sayid agrees to Jack's plan, but Kate still refuses and compares Jack to John Locke, whom Jack once regarded as crazy. She leaves for the Barracks and the others enter the tunnels.

At the DHARMA Initiative Barracks, Sawyer and Juliet are being held captive by Horace Goodspeed, Stuart Radzinsky, and Phil. Sawyer does not answer any of Radzinsky's questions, even after he is severely beaten and witnesses Phil strike Juliet. Meanwhile, Dr. Pierre Chang confronts Hurley, Miles and Jin as they ready their escape to the beach. He wants to know if Faraday was correct concerning time travel. Chang asks Hurley time-specific questions which he fails to answer correctly; Hurley then concedes they are indeed from the future. Miles confirms that he is Chang's son, and supports Faraday's request for the island to be evacuated. Chang informs Horace and Radzinsky of this, and Sawyer makes a deal to leave the island on the submarine in exchange for telling them what they want to hear. Sawyer and Juliet, followed by Kate, are placed aboard the submarine in handcuffs. The sub departs.

2007: Locke meets with Richard at the Others' camp and tells him that he now has a purpose. Sun confronts Richard about the fate of her husband and the other survivors stranded in the past. Richard grimly informs her that he watched them all die. Locke, Richard, and Ben Linus travel to the location that the time-jumping Locke will appear, so that Richard can remove the bullet from his leg and tell him what needs to be done. They return to camp, where Locke speaks to the Others and tells them that they are going on a trip to see Jacob, from whom they take orders but have never met (apart from Richard). Locke tells Sun that Jacob will know how to save their friends. However, he later admits to Ben that his plan is not to ask Jacob for help, but to kill him. This shocks and stuns Ben.

Major WTFery: This episode features a self-sustaining temporal paradox. Richard gives the compass to a time-shifting Locke in 2007. He takes it back and gives it to Richard in 1954, and the loop continues. This means that the compass basically gets infinitely older and older. This seems to break the laws of time travel as established on Lost so far. Alternatively, it is possible (and maybe probable) that the watch is actually lost or destroyed at some point by Richard and he bought an identical one to replace it.

This episode confirms that Daniel Faraday was born in early 1978 (his mother has only just learned she is pregnant in July 1977). Actor Jeremy Davies was born in 1969, making him nine years older than the character he's playing. This isn't unusual in Lost with William Mapother (Ethan Rom) and Michael Emerson (Ben Linus) also being significantly older than the characters they are playing and Rebecca Mader (Charlotte Lewis) being significantly younger.

When the sub departs the Island, it is shown moving way from the dock adjacent to the Barracks. But as the camera swings around we see only open ocean. The Barracks dock is actually on a lake or large river that runs from the Barracks (which is otherwise well inland) north for several miles to the sea. Other shots of the dock clearly show this. Presumably the geography was adjusted with CGI to make it appear more dramatic, at the expense of logic.

Richard says that he saw all of the time-travellers die in 1977. However, in The Incident Richard is not present. A scene written but never filmed had that episode ending with Richard witnessing the small nuclear explosion from several miles away, explaining Richard's certainty.

Hindsight: This episode is judged by some to be Richard Alpert-centric since Richard's presence in both time periods is used to anchor the storyline and many of the transitions from 1977 to 2007 and back use Richard as a linking factor.

In Namaste Hurley panics at the thought of someone asking him who the President is since he knows that will trip him up and expose the truth. Prophetically, this is what happens in this episode (note: the answer is Jimmy Carter).

Review: Hurley getting tripped up by the time travel conundrums is quite amusing, but otherwise this episode is mostly scene-setting for the finale and sees Jack taking charge once again. If Jack was the sceptical man of science in the first few seasons, here he is seen embracing faith that Daniel knew what he was doing, and thus becoming more Locke-like. It's an interesting development for Jack's character and improtant set-up work for Season 6, also drawing on his development through the Oceanic Six storyline in Season 4 and 5. (****)

Hey everybody, it's Jacob! After 103 episodes we're finally going to meet, oh, he's dead.

516: The Incident
Written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, directed by Jack Bender
Airdate: 13 May 2009
Survivor Count: 16
Flashback Character: Jacob

Flashback: Jacob, now revealed as a blonde-haired man in his early forties, is weaving a tapestry inside a temple-like room. He is then shown on the beach of the island eating a fish near the large (and still-intact) four-toed statue of the Egyptian god Taweret, where he is visited by a man in a black shirt. The man comments on a sailing ship on the horizon, suggesting that Jacob has brought it to the island. The man states that no matter who comes to the island the same thing happens over and over, and that the man will eventually find a "loophole" so he can kill Jacob.

As a little girl, Kate is visited by Jacob - who still appears to be the same age as he was hundreds of years earlier - when she is caught shoplifting a lunchbox. He pays for it to placate the shopkeeper and tells her to be good.

At age eight, Sawyer is attending his parents' funeral. He has begun writing his letter to the con man "Tom Sawyer", but his pen is out of ink. Jacob appears and gives him a replacement.

In late 2005 Jacob is in Los Angeles. He bumps into Sayid and Nadia on the street and asks Sayid for directions. As they start crossing the road Nadia is hit by a car. As she dies, she begs Sayid to bring her home (to Iraq for burial).

While recovering in a Russian hospital, Ilana is visited by Jacob. He asks for her help and she agrees.

In 2001 Sun and Jin are visited by Jacob during their wedding and he tells them that their love is very special in fluent Korean.

In 2000, immediately after being pushed out of an eighth-story window by his father, John Locke is severely wounded and on the edge of death. Jacob arrives and touches him on the shoulder, and Locke reawakens.

After performing his first solo surgery on a young girl, Jack tries to buy a chocolate bar from a vending machine, but it gets stuck. Jack argues with his father Christian for interrupting him during the surgery. Jacob buys the same chocolate bar and when two come out, he gives Jack one.

In 2007 Hurley is visited by Jacob after he is released from prison. Jacob tells him that he may not be cursed or crazy, but blessed, and that his ability to see dead people could be a gift. He tells Hurley about Flight 316, giving him the choice of boarding it. Jacob leaves a guitar case behind for Hurley to take. One thing all these flashbacks have in common is that Jacob makes physical contact with each of the characters in his or her respective scene.

As a young girl, Juliet's parents tell her and her sister that they are getting divorced, greatly upsetting her; they claim that though they love each other, they were not meant to be together. Notably, Jacob does not visit Juliet or touch her.

1977: Kate, Juliet and Sawyer are on the submarine leaving the Island. Kate convinces Juliet and Sawyer that they need to stop Jack from detonating the hydrogen bomb. They force the captain to surface so that they may leave, instructing the captain to continue on course away from the Island. They arrive at a beach near the north shore, where they are greeted by Vincent the dog, who has been in the care of Rose and Bernard Nadler for the past three years. Rose explains to the trio that she and Bernard are now retired and live a quiet life near the beach, scavenging food and avoiding detection by the DHARMA Initiative. Kate and Sawyer start discussing what's going on, but Rose says "It's always something with you people" and tells them firmly that she and Bernard have left all of their nonsense behind him. Rose points them in the direction of the DHARMA Barracks and they leave.

At the same time, Jack and Sayid dismantle the hydrogen bomb in the tunnels under the DHARMA Barracks, in order to remove its core. Richard Alpert and a younger Eloise Hawking assist Jack and Sayid in entering the Barracks via the basement of one of the houses. Richard knocks out Eloise to prevent her traveling with them to detonate the bomb, because she is pregnant. Sayid dons a DHARMA jumpsuit in order to fit in at the barracks; they have almost escaped when Roger Linus recognizes him and opens fire. Jack and Sayid, who is wounded, escape in a van driven by Hurley, Jin and Miles. Hurley drives to the construction site of the Swan Station, while Jack treats Sayid's wounds; however, they are stopped by Juliet, Sawyer and Kate. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Pierre Chang is forced to continue drilling into the energy source beneath the construction site of the Swan station on the orders of Stuart Radzinsky, despite his growing misgivings about the idea and Faraday's warnings.

2007: Locke, Ben, Sun and the Others travel to the remains of the Taweret statue, where Jacob resides. Locke assigns Ben the task of killing Jacob, and provides motivation by reminding Ben of all the bad things that have happened to him. Ben admits that he has never seen Jacob and was lying about talking to him in the cabin, because he was embarrassed he had never met Jacob. However, he has no idea what was going on when all of the items in the cabin started flying around. All communication with Jacob has actually been through notes brought by Richard, including the lists of people to be taken from the Oceanic 815 survivors. Locke asks Richard how old he is and Richard says that he is "this way" because of Jacob.

At the same time, a group of survivors from Ajira Flight 316, including Ilana and Bram travel towards Jacob's cabin, with Frank and a metal crate from the cargo hold of the plane. They find the cabin deserted and the salt circle surrounding it broken. They set the cabin on fire after realizing that someone else has been using it. They then travel to the statue.

Their group arrives shortly after Ben and Locke enter a chamber in the base of the statue's remains. Ilana asks Richard the question, "what lies in the shadow of the statue", and Richard replies, "Ille qui nos omnes servabit" (Latin for "He who will save us all"). Ilana reveals the contents of the crate: John Locke's dead body. A shocked Sun asks if that is the real Locke, then who is in the statue?

Inside the chamber, Jacob deduces that Locke is really the Man in Black from the opening flashback and that he has tricked Ben into trying to kill him. Jacob suggests that Ben refuse and they can talk. Ben seems almost swayed, but then points out how miserable his life has been and all the things he's done for Jacob, starting with betraying his own people as a young man and arranging their deaths. Ben angrily asks, "What about me?" Jacob, looking puzzled, replies "What about you?" in a dispassionate way. Enraged, Ben stabs Jacob repeatedly. Jacob's final words are a warning or promise: "They're coming." Locke's imposter then kicks Jacob's body into the fire and watches it burn.

1977: Jack and Sawyer discuss the situation away from the other survivors, with Sawyer expressing his opinion that "what's done is done" and that they shouldn't try to change the past. Jack claims that it is his destiny to change the past and that John Locke has always been right about the Island. Jack and Sawyer get into a fist fight, which is broken up by Juliet, who now agrees with Jack that they must detonate the bomb. She tells Sawyer that although they love each other, they are not meant to be together (echoing her parents), and that if they never meet then she will never have to lose him.
With everyone now in agreement, Jack enters the construction site at the same time that security officer Phil arrives with a team of armed men.

A massive gunfight ensues, wherein the survivors gain the upper hand, allowing Jack to drop the bomb into the pit at the same time that the drill hits the energy source. The nuke fails to go off, and the pocket is breached, attracting every metal object in the area. In the ensuing chaos, Dr. Chang's arm is crushed by part of the drill mounting, Phil is stabbed by a rebar, and Juliet is dragged into the chasm by a metal chain. Sawyer attempts to pull her up in vain, and Juliet professes her love for him before falling. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Juliet survived the fall. She finds the undetonated nuke and begins hitting it with a rock as the screen cuts to white.

Jack tries to solve a complex problem he doesn't understand by blowing it up, showing that he has learned a lot from Locke.

Major WTFery: It is unknown how Jacob can leave the Island: Beyond the Sea and Season 6 in general seem to suggest that the Protector of the Island leaving whilst the Man in Black is around is a bad idea. However, The New Man in Charge establishes that Hurley can leave after receiving his promotion (and the MiB's demise) so it's clearly not impossible.

It's also unclear by what mechanism Jacob can depart or arrive on the Island, given his dislike of technology. He can't use the windows or the donkey wheel as others would notice and this involves a time displacement effect that would give the MiB unfettered access to the Island in his absence. It is also possible that Jacob never leaves the Island directly, instead projecting manifestations across the outside world (this may also explain how Jack sees Christian in Los Angeles when the MiB/Smoke Monster cannot leave the Island).

After this episode, what happened to the people back in 1977 is not directly explored. This annoyed some fans, given their prominence for the whole of the fifth season. However, earlier seasons had already filled in the later history of the DHARMA Initiative in some detail (see below).

Hindsight: This episode was originally meant to end with Juliet hitting the bomb and setting it off. The camera would then cut to Richard Alpert and the Others seeing the explosion from a distance. This would confirm Richard's statement to Sun that he watched everyone who travelled back in time die. However, the scene does not appear to have been filmed. It is possible the writers decided to change it because the bomb actually detonating would have killed Radzinsky and possibly Chang, when we know that they both surived the Incident. In the end, canonically the ending is left ambiguous whether the bomb exploded as such or if it and the EMP pocket cancelled one another out.

Fans assumed that the ship in the opening scenes is the Black Rock. The Season 6 episode Ab Aeterno later established that the Black Rock arrived at the Island in the middle of a fierce storm at night, not during the day in calm weather. For that reason, either the boat is not the Black Rock or the ship was merely passing the Island and driven back a day or two later by the storm.

This episode marks the last time ever in the series that Jack, Kate, Hurley, Jin, Sun, Sayid, Locke, Sawyer or Juliet have flashbacks.

In each flashback, Jacob is careful to touch the person, even if briefly. This is probably what marks them as "Candidates". It is notable that he never visits or touches Juliet, and this may foreshadow that she is expendable.

Dr. Chang receives a severe injury to his arm during the incident, explaining why later DHARMA videos show him with a prosthetic arm.

The Season 2 finale had already confirmed that Radzinsky survived the Incident and in fact would survive the Purge. He'd spend the last few years of his life trapped in the Swan Station pushing the button, apparently going mad and eventually blowing his brains out with a shotgun.

This episode confirms that there are ancient tunnels below the Barracks, including the "Monster Summoning Room" that Ben later creates a route to via his house.

Rose and Bernard confirm in The End that at the moment of the Incident there was another time shift that moved them and Jack's group back to the present.

During the Incident there are sound effects and phenomena (like metal objects flying through the air) deliberately meant to evoke the Discharge from the Season 2 finale.

This episode hints at the grand master plan behind everything on the Island: the Man in Black is trapped on the Island and wants desperately to escape. Jacob is acting as his guard or jailor. The MiB is prevented - somehow - from harming Jacob, which Jacob is well aware of. The MiB has been searching for a loophole for a long time. Taking John Locke's place and manipulating Ben Linus into killing Jacob is the loophole in question. But Jacob has prepared a contingency plan involving several of the Oceanic 815 survivors.

Review: Not one of Lost's best finales (in particular, the foreshadowing of Juliet's death is clunky as hell), but it's still an emotional, action-packed and revelatory episode that reveals the real stakes for the end of the story and also sets things up for the - highly controversial and variable - final season. In particular, revealing the true Jacob and then immediately killing him is a disarming, left-field move that works really well. (****½)

And Then...

The detonation of the Jughead hydrogen bomb did not destroy or even significantly damage the Island. Instead, the release of nuclear energy cancelled out the massive build-up of electromagnetic energy underneath the site of the Swan Station and prevented it from returning for at least three years. However, the DHARMA Initative quickly realised that the electromagnetic energy would return and would destroy the Island (and potentially the world) if left unchecked.

The Swan Station was built as planned and completed in 1980. A reactor was built to tap the electromagnetic energy and divert it into a vent. Every 108 minutes the vent would need to be activated to release the energy lest it start building up to dangerous levels again. During their experiments, DHARMA discovered that it might be possible to discharge all of the electromagnetic energy permanently and forever. They could not guarantee it would work safely, so installed the Discharge only as a last-gasp failsafe option.
Dr. Chang feared for his family's safety, so chose not to invite them back to the Island. Instead, he cut them off entirely. This scarred his son Miles, who grew up hating his father.

George Lucas released The Empire Strikes Back with no input from Hugo Reyes.

Ben Linus was returned to the Barracks by the Hostiles. He had no memory at all of the previous few days and his memories of the preceding three years seem to have become extremely patchy. His previous ambition to join the Hostiles had now solidified into a yearning and total dedication to them, but they required him to wait as a sleeper agent in the Barracks for another eleven years.

Shortly after the Incident, both the DHARMA Initiative and the "Hostiles" discovered that it had had an unusual effect on fertility. Women from both camps who tried to undergo pregnancy on the Island died in the second trimester. This inability to raise families on the Island seems to have made the Island far less attractive as a career and lifestyle option. Many people from both camps left, including Eliose Hawking who moved to the UK with her young son, Daniel Faraday. The young Charlotte Lewis had also been evacuated, but had distinct memories of the Island and would dedicate her life to finding it again.

By the mid-1980s the DHARMA Initiative was possibly in trouble: it had not yet come close to solving the Valenzetti Equation which was the whole reason for its existence, and the material benefits justifying its existence seems to have become questionable. In 1985 it appears that the DeGroots (the founders of the DHARMA Initiative) and possibly even Alvar Hanso, their wealthy backer, visited the Island. Around the time of their visit another Incident seems to have taken place at the Swan Station, possibly involving the button not being pressed in time. This seems to have damaged the station, but allowed it to continue operations.

In 1988 the fifteen-year peace treaty signed between DHARMA and the Hostiles expired, but the DHARMA scientists refused to leave. Using the experimental weapons at the Tempest Station, Ben Linus killed his father and all of the DHARMA scientists left on the Island. The Others took control of the Barracks and the DHARMA submarine. The highest-ranking survivor, Stuart Radzinsky, locked himself in the Swan Station to keep pushing the button.

The loss of contact with the Island and the loss of the expensive submarine seems to have encouraged a now-sceptical Alvar Hanso to discontinue funding for the DHARMA Initiative. The organisation effectively shut down. However, aware of the importance of the Swan Station, Hanso continued to bankroll supply runs and recruitment to keep the station manned. Some time after 1992 Kelvin Inman was recruited and sent to the Island to help man the station. He found that Radzinsky had become somewhat unhinged following the collapse of all his scientific dreams and plans, creating an elaborate map on the back of a blast door. Radzinsky killed himself a few years after Inman's arrival.

In late 1988, Daniell Rousseau and her science team arrived on the Island. Corrupted by the Monster, the team went mad and Rousseau had to kill them all. She gave birth to her daughter, Alex, but the girl was taken just a few days later by Ben Linus. Ben rose quickly through the ranks of the Others thanks to his intelligence and cunning, but he was also respected for raising his adopted daughter well. The only person unhappy with Ben was the Others's leader, Charles Widmore. They engaged in a brief power struggle. This ended when Ben discovered and exposed the fact that Widmore had been living a double life. Under the guise of protecting the Island, he had in fact been building up a business empire, wealth and fortune in the outside world. He had also had a daughter, Penelope, with an outsider. He had been using the Island for personal gain and power, against the principles of Jacob. Somewhere around 1991-92, Widmore was permanently exiled from the Island. He would dedicate the rest of his life to finding it again.

In the mid-1990s, Alvar Hanso lost control of his company. He was unseated in a corporate coup engineered by Thomas Mittelwerk, who had little or no interest in the Island but instead wanted to continue working on the Valenzetti Equation in the outside world. Although the supply drops continued, the Hanso Foundation ceased recruiting people to send to the Island. This made it extremely fortunate for Kelvin Inman that a boat called the Elizabeth ran aground on the Island in 2001. The only person on board, Desmond Hume, became the next person to push the button. Inman secretly planned to repair and steal the Elizabeth and did this over the next three years. Shortly before completing the project, he was followed by a suspicious Desmond who killed him. This nearly resulted in him not pushing the button in time, resulting in a brief electromagnetic surge...which "pulled" Oceanic Flight 815 out of the sky and brought it crashing to the ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

William Sanderson is best known as Larry, who had a brother named Darryl, and another brother named Darryl.