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"Turn It Up, I Love Geronimo Jackson!": The Castaways Learn the Island is a Place of Death on "Lost"

"This place is death."

Never were truer words spoken on this series than poor Charlotte's terrified plea to Jin not to let Locke bring Sun back to the island. After all, this island has been death incarnate for many who have had the bad luck to set foot upon it and before the series ends I fear that many, many others will also lose their lives.

This week's episode of Lost ("This Place is Death"), written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, continued to flesh out the backstories of both Danielle Rousseau and Charlotte Staples Lewis while in the present day the Oceanic Six debate just what to do with Ben as his plot to return them to the island seems to fall apart, the castaways left behind deal with increasingly more frequent flashes, and Locke puts the wheel back on its axis.

Excited? Confused? Let's talk about "This Place is Death."

Smokey. I was just thinking the other day that it's far, far too long since we've seen a return of the smoke monster and--bam!--there it is in all of its terrifying glory. Not sure why it killed Nadine in the same fashion that it did Oceanic 815's pilot in the, well, pilot but it plucked her from the back of the group and then shredded her and dropped her from the trees. Its MO, however, was very different with regard to Montand, who was dragged by the thing through the underbrush and into a hole beneath some ruins. Its grip was so strong, in fact, that Jin and the scientists actually pulled off Montand's arm. (Ouch.) So just what is beneath the temple then? And was that hole one of the Cerebus Vents that appeared on the map of the island inside the Swan?

Rousseau. It appears that Rousseau may have been telling the truth about what happened to the rest of her team, after all. Though there is still a missing chapter that we haven't seen, in which the team comes back up through the hole and makes their way through the Dark Territory to the Black Rock. Just when they turn on her and what they want remains a mystery, though it's clear that Robert has definitely changed and now harbors some sort of murderous rage against Rousseau... who was smart enough to remove the firing pin from his rifle. I have to say that I am loving this look into the history of Danielle Rousseau, who begins to show signs of becoming the near-mad Frenchwoman we all know and love as her lover and team are infected with the sickness and come after her.

The Sickness. I'm now thinking (in a reversal of last week's theory) that The Sickness now isn't the same thing as what's happening to the Losties, but something very, very different. The team goes into the Cerebus Vent in order to rescue Montand... except Rousseau, who is prevented from going down by Jin. What happens to them while down there remains a mystery. Rousseau believes that the monster has corrupted them somehow, either possessing them directly or driving them insane. She kills the other two members of her party and is forced to kill Robert as well before he shoots her. Rousseau claimed that her comperes got sick two months after they arrived on the island, so there's still a sizable amount of time seemingly between their exposure to the monster (and whatever "changed" them) and their deaths at Rousseau's hands. If this is The Sickness, then I'm not sure how the vaccine in the Swan would prevent against infection. But clearly, we haven't seen all of the pieces of this puzzle just yet.

Jin. Clearly, the only reason Rousseau is spared being infected is because of Jin's intervention. We know that Rousseau wasn't infected (as she survived to tell the story), which means that Jin always stopped her from doing down... which adds some extra weight to the sense that they are destined to do certain things. Jin couldn't have been killed aboard the Kahana because he hadn't yet gone back in time to stop Rousseau from following Robert into the vent. And yet his actions point to the fact that they are affecting events in the past in meaningful and important ways by their sheer presence. Although...

Charlotte. Poor Charlotte. I knew she was a goner but I have to say that I'll miss Rebecca Mader as I thought that Charlotte was a fantastic addition to the cast. Before her death, she reveals to Daniel Faraday that she grew up on the island before she and her mother left (without her father, whom she doesn't remember) and that a scary man told her that if she ever came back to the island she would die. That scary man is, of course, Faraday himself. Which means that while the time-travelers can influence events, some are outside of their control. Even with the warning, Charlotte does come back to the island (for which she's been searching her whole life) and she does die there.

So who is Charlotte's father? Clearly someone important and influential in the whole Lost endgame. Given her red hair, many have surmised that she could be the daughter of Ben's playmate Annie. So would that make Ben her possible father? Curious... How utterly heartbreaking was Charlotte's death? Seeing her consciousness travel through time back to childhood and whisper "I'm not supposed to have chocolate before dinner" before dying? Utterly heartbreaking.

The Temple. Jin seemingly discovers a hieroglyph-covered temple in the jungle on top of the Cerebus vent that Montand was pulled into. So is this the same Temple that Richard made reference to at the end of Season Three when Richard took the Others to the "last safe place on the island"? Was it safe because of the smoke monster, which Robert explains is the Temple's "security system"? Is it the same place that Jin finds himself in front of or a different temple altogether?

The Orchid. I'm glad that Locke realized that they had to go back to the Orchid in order to fix the time-jumps. Loved the fact that Juliet had to say how lucky they were to have ended up in the same time frame as the Orchid Station... only to have it disappear right in front of them. (Gotta love irony.) Not sure why/how Charlotte knew about the existence of the well as it likely predated her own time on the island as a child but perhaps it's something that the Others all know exists... a way down into the cavern below the Orchid. I loved that Locke didn't want Sawyer and the others to lower him down into the well (what would be the fun in that?) but wanted to do it himself... and then found himself trapped when the well itself disappeared after another time-jump. Sawyer still holding the rope? Genius.

Locke. Finding himself with a compound fracture, Locke is suspiciously crippled once again as he drags himself in the darkness beneath the well... until he's greeting by Christian Shephard (which would have been a surprise if John Terry's name hadn't been in the credits!). Apparently, Christian seems to exist outside of time as he's clearly aware of events in the future and the past. He also seemingly lacks a corporeal body as he refuses to help Locke up... or just wants Locke to prove he can do it himself. I knew there was a reason that Christian told Locke specifically that HE had to move the island and not Ben. Ben's actions have thrown the frozen donkey wheel off of its axis and Locke is tasked once more with turning the wheel... which will return him to the mainland, where he can start his quest to reunite the Oceanic Six and bring them back.

Christian. Christian's role here once more makes me think that he's definitely an Other who either had been to the island before or had been born there... which make his children Jack and Claire very important indeed. Additionally, his journey seems to parallel that of Locke's. He died on the mainland and was seemingly reincarnated when his corpse arrived on the island. So was he an important destined hero in the Locke-ian mold? Hmmm.

Ben. The fact that Ben turned the wheel knowing that Locke was meant to--was in fact destined to--make me distrust Ben all the more. Was it hubris that compelled him to attempt to usurp Locke's own destiny and thrust the mantle of hero upon himself once more? Was there a reason he wanted to be the one to get off the island? And he seems genuinely surprised when Desmond turns up and asks if they're all at the church to find Faraday's mother. (Gasp!) Did he not realize that Eloise Hawking was Faraday's mother? It's never a good thing when master manipulator Benjamin Hawking is blindsided by something and the look of shock on his face reveals that he may not quite realize just who he's dealing with here.

The final scene was absolutely fantastic as Ben brought Jack, Sun, and Desmond inside the church to meet Eloise Hawking... and Desmond came face to face with Hawking herself. What remains to be seen is whether Hawking recognizes him. Have those moments between the two of them even happened yet? Or were they future attempts to ensure that Desmond ended up on that island... so he would be in place to come see her later on? Curious.

All in all, a fantastic installment that once again ramped up the tension and drama and pointed the way for the Oceanic Six to make their way back to the island. As a sidenote, I thought that Yunjin Kim did a fantastic job portraying a side of Sun that we've really not seen to date and her sadness when she got Jin's wedding ring was heartfelt and poignant. After this week's episode, I'm even more anxious than usual to wait another week for a new installment.

What did you think of this week's episode? Were you sad to say good-bye to Charlotte? What do you think The Sickness actually is? And what is Ben's true role in the endgame? Discuss.

Next week on Lost ("316"), the members of the Oceanic Six learn the way back to the island, but there's trouble when not all of them--especially Desmond--wish to return; Eloise Hawking discusses windows; and Kate and Jack get smoochy.


Anonymous said…
Wow. Another incredible episode! I think it's very suspicious that Ben turned the wheel when it was Locke who was supposed to do so and wonder if Ben is truly trying to help those who were left behind on the island or if he has another end game in mind. And it seemed so crucial that they have all the Oceanic Six to return that I'm confused as to what will happen with only some of them willing to go back.

And poor Charlotte! I thought that Rebecca Mader did a beautiful job with the role and her death was truly heartbreaking.
Anonymous said…
So, now that we know the smoke monster can possess and/or take the form of its captured castaways, could the island "ghosts" actually be the smoke monster? Mr. Eko's brother? Christian? etc. Or are they something else all together?
Anonymous said…
I loved how we got a little "Jin story" in the first part of the episode without too many cut aways, it was nice to see him off on his own adventure, especially following his previous absence.

So far the pacing of season five has really impressed me, only five episodes in and already Locke's fixed the island and wound up (presumably) in his casket in the future. I have to admit I was betting they were going to string that one out all the way till the finale.

Poor old Charlotte and Daniel, they were such a cute couple. I really hope he can prove his own theory wrong and save her somehow when they meet in the past. Either way, it's bound to be another heart-wrenching scene.

And what ever happened to Claire? Arguably she's hardly been the most crucial character in the series, but it does feel like she was just brushed into a corner of the cabin and left there while more interesting things take place.
Sooz said…
I'm wondering now if the "whispers" heard in other episodes are the conversations of the time jumpers.

I had been thinking Dan was Charlotte's dad, but now . . .
Jace Lacob said…

Yep: I've thought since the season opener that the whispers in the jungle were the time-tossed castaways. If so, points to Damon and Carlton for embedding those whispers so many seasons before the action here.
Anonymous said…
Wow! That is a great idea on the whispers. Echoes of time travel since the beginning of the series!

Does this mean Walt was time travelling too?
Ally said…
Loved this episode. This was a good Wednesday for me as I feel that Damages and Lost are finally back on track (after good, but disappointing starts). And Top Chef was good, too. :)

I think you know my favorite line, but if not - "I'm not Korean. I'm from Encino."

What a great ep. I think my favorite moment (there were so many) was Sawyer holding the rope over a grassed-in well. Great visual.
Anonymous said…
Daniel said that the Losties cannot affect the timeline, or more succinctly, they can try but the end result will be the same (Desmond is the only stated exception). So Jin's arrival in the past is a revision to the original timeline. He told them where the radio tower was and thereby affected the course of the past. It was due to his influence that the French crew were in a position to be infected. His stopping Danielle from going into the temple was merely righting the timeline. We'll never know the specifics of how they were infected in the Jin-less past, i.e. when they made their way to the radio tower, when Nadine died and why Danielle didn't enter the temple.
Other example would be Locke trying to get Richard Alpert to affect the past with the compass. Young Locke chooses the knife, fails the test and the timeline is righted. Ultimately Locke isn't changing anything about the past.
Of course, just because they cannot change fate doesn't mean they won't try. Hence, Daniel in his future trying to save Charlotte in her past. Sad.
Anonymous said…
I'm living in denial about Charlotte. Faraday has stated that the rules don't apply to Desmond -- he's different -- and has enlisted Desmond to save them all. Now, you could argue that this was always meant to happen. But I choose to believe that Desmond's involvement will somehow allow Daniel to save Charlotte. (Or, that's probably what Daniel is hoping and why he will, in his future, still tell a young Charlotte not to return.)
Greg M said…
Definitely in agreement about the whispers being time travelers' conversations, somehow, and the copy of "Slaughterhouse Five" lovingly shown at the beginning of Season 2 confirms, to me, that Damon, Carlton et. al. had time travel in their minds for some time.

Charlotte's death was very well done--gave me flashbacks to "A Hole in the World" in Angel.

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