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Truth and Consequences: Subs and Subterfuge on "Lost"

Dead men do walk, apparently. At least on the island.

This week's episode of Lost ("Follow the Leader"), written by Paul Zbyszewski and Elizabeth Sarnoff, placed the storyline's focus on the seemingly resurrected John Locke as he connected with Richard Alpert and set off on a mission that underpinned his new purpose in life and on the splintered group of time-tossed castaways who contended with interrogation back in the Dharma camp and formed an alliance with the hostiles in order to detonate the hydrogen bomb.

With less than a week to go before the two-hour season finale, I was hoping for some more earth-shattering twists than we received in last night's episode, but I will say that it did a good job at setting up what promises to be a mind-blowing showdown between the castaways and (perhaps) the fabric of time and space itself and moving the various factions (of which there are many this season) into place for the final act of the season.

Those of us hoping that last night's episode would be a Richard-centric one are sore out of luck, but I really didn't think that Team Darlton will tip their hand about the so-called "adviser" to the Others before the final season but the writers did offer an installment that focused on the will of the leader, exploring the role that Locke, Ben, Horace, and Jack have over their followers.

So what did I think of last night's episode? Put on your Dharma jumpsuit, handcuff yourself to the bridge of the sub, take a deep breath, and let's discuss "Follow the Leader."

John Locke. I have to begin this week's discussion by talking about the new and improved John Locke. He's no longer content to be a mindless follower but is taking the reins of leadership with both hands now. Hell, he even brings his people a boar, a symbolic gesture of breaking bread and, well, providing that bread for them. He proves that he is reestablishing his rightful place as their leader and is just as much a master of the jungle as they are. I'm a bit worried about the almost Machiavellian way in which he seems to be moving the pawns into place, however; he blatantly lies to Sun about why they are going to see Jacob and he doesn't even seem all that worried about what is happening in 1977 to the castaways or whether he and Sun will ever really see them again. Locke is upfront about the fact that he has a purpose and has been once more communing with the island itself. (I think we can assume this is what he was doing when Ben went to summon the smoke monster.)

So what is his purpose? I assumed at first that he wanted to unmask Jacob and prove to the hostiles that there is no unseen leader issuing commands from afar (even though Locke himself heard and saw him) but then Locke shocked even this jaded television viewer by announcing to Ben--of all people--that he intends to kill Jacob. I think we can look at this proclamation in two ways. One is that, yes, he intends to kill Jacob in order to take his place; Locke doesn't intend to take orders from anyone, least of all some enigmatic man in a cabin whose will is invoked every time a leader wants to do something unpopular or unethical. The other is that Locke is fulfilling Jacob's plea for help: that by killing him he can release Jacob from his unnatural prison. But if Locke is following the will of the island, why would the island want him to kill Jacob?

Jacob. Which brings me to Jacob then. Just who is he? What does he want? And is actually he working at cross-purposes to the island itself? Why has he seemingly accepted Christian Shepherd into his confidence when he hasn't even appeared to Ben? And is there a deeper connection between the two of them than just the fact that they seem to inhabit the same cabin? Is Christian an avatar for Jacob? Curious...

Richard Alpert. As I thought, Richard's role is to act as an adviser to the leader of the Others, a role that he has fulfilled for quite a long time. As Juliet told us earlier this season, Richard is always here. So is he a human with longevity or is there more to Mr. Alpert than meets the eye? I loved the scene where Locke instructs him to remove the bullet from himself, bringing his journey through time with Richard full circle and giving us a new perspective on that scene at the beechcraft (as well as cementing just when that scene occurred). And yet Richard is suspicious of Locke as well. He clearly did not want to take Locke to see Jacob right then and is ill-at-ease with the notion of Locke bringing the entire camp to see Jacob... or the lack thereof.

Jughead. I'm still not sure what Jack is playing at. Yes, he believes that detonating the hydrogen bomb will solve all of their problems; by annihilating the island, he believes that he will ensure that Oceanic Flight 815 will never crash and will land in Los Angeles as planned. But it's not as simple as that... we know that the bomb never went off because the island is still there in the future. So if Jack does actually succeed in blowing the island to kingdom come, he will in fact be creating a divergent timeline where he and the other passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 never arrived on the island... but it wouldn't in theory change his own timeline at all. Because the Jack in 1977 is the sum totality of all of his experiences on the island. He wouldn't be in 1977 at all had he not crashed in the first place. I don't think that they can alter the future at all and that Jack is dead wrong.

And how did Eloise and the other hostiles manage to get Jughead down into the tunnels beneath the island? I love the fact that Jughead is now actually right under the Barracks, build unknowingly right on top of the ancient tunnels that belong to the Others. (It explains why there was a secret panel in Ben's house that lead right into the tunnels themselves.) Could they have summoned the smoke monster and had it move the bomb? Otherwise, I'm not sure how they were able to get the massive hydrogen bomb underwater, through some narrow passageways and up into the tunnels without, you know, detonating it.

Jack. Throughout the series, Jack has been a compelling and complex character but his behavior in recent weeks have left a bad taste in my mouth. I get that the man of science has made a huge leap of faith and begun to believe in the unknowable and mysterious quality of miracles rather than the cold logic of science. And, honestly, being dropped into 1977 and seeing the things he had might make me do the same but Jack has become so unlikable this season and so hellbent on doing the wrong thing nearly every time (not saving Ben12, blowing up the island) that I am now questioning his very sanity, just as he questioned Locke's. How is obliterating the island (with them on it, I might add) a Good Thing? In what universe could this be a positive development? And why would headstrong and resolute Eloise Hawking and Richard Alpert follow Jack's inane plan and detonate the bomb and wipe themselves out? If anything, Jack's demented plan to "fix" things will result in the very Incident he's seeking to avoid: a rip in the fabric of space and time itself, one that propels the island outside the bounds of physical reality and reestablishes the castaways' place in the timeline.

Hurley and Miles. I absolutely roared with laughter when Pierre Chang began to question Hurley about what year it was, asking him the very questions that Hurley was terrified someone would ask him upon arrival in 1977. And sure enough, Hurley hasn't done a very good job at creating a cover story for his new role in the Dharma Initiative, unaware that Jimmy Carter is POTUS, that the Korean War has already happened, and that he's not 46 years old. And sure enough Chang has his own role to play here, convincing the women and children--including a young Charlotte Staples Lewis and Miles--to leave the island with the sub. Which is a Good Thing as we knew that this moment had to come to pass. Charlotte and Miles aren't on the island when The Incident occurs so they had to leave and Chang fulfills his mission by being the one to get them to leave. It was blatantly obvious for weeks now that Chang's viciousness towards his wife is a ruse to get them to leave. (Duh, Miles.) Chang was clearly willing to do whatever it took (even if it meant his family hating him for the rest of their lives) to get them off the island. Which means that things are continuing to unfold as they were meant to, as they always had. (However, it now appears that that Comic-Con 2008 video with Chang and Faraday is now considered non-canon, given the fact that Faraday is dead.)

Radzinsky and Horace. Am I alone in wanting to punch Radzinsky in his face? The most irritating and shrill character on Lost to date, Radzinsky now usurps control of the Dharma folk from Horace at the most critical time the island has ever seen and refuses to let Chang stop drilling at the site of the Swan Station, despite Chang's warnings that it will unleash a destructive energy. Radzinsky is so focused on his own agenda that he's blindly willing to disregard Chang's warnings of disaster. So does he pay for it by pressing the button for the next dozen years or so? It would seem that way.

I'm still not sure which Dharma folk stick around after The Incident or what happens to them between this moment and The Purge, though we do know that Horace is still in charge at that point and has built Jacob's cabin between 1977 and 1992, when The Purge occurs. It's clear that Ben has to return to Dharma at some point after his time with the hostiles but just what happens to Amy and Ethan post-Incident? Hmmm. Why weren't they on the sub that was leaving?

Sawyer and Juliet. It was interesting to see that Sawyer would give up the location of the hostiles in order to secure a place for himself and Juliet on the sub... and that his greatest want right now is to share a life with Juliet and hold on to the time they've spent together. Hell, he's even cracking jokes about buying Microsoft when they get on the submarine and he hatches a plan where they ditch the Dharma Initiative members once they get to the mainland and live out the life of which they've been dreaming. Of course, things never go the way they are meant to and Kate joins them handcuffed to the bridge. The look of sheer annoyance, anger, and frustration that cascade over Juliet's face is a silent monologue of frustration. Given the scenes for next week, I'm still not entirely sure how the trio gets back to the island after the sub goes underwater (how awful was that special effect?) but get back they do: it looks like there's no Microsoft for Sawyer in the foreseeable future, after all.

What did you think of this week's episode? Were you let down by the lack of real movement in the storyline? Will Jack and the others successfully detonate Jughead? How does this all correspond to what's happening in the present day with Ilana and Bram? Just what is The Incident? Discuss.

Next week on the two-hour season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), Jack's decision to detonate the hydrogen bomb is met with resistance from those close to him; Locke assigns Ben a difficult task.

Comments

Amanda P said…
I'm fairly sure that Sawyer said "buy Microsoft" not "found Microsoft", but otherwise, I agree with everything you've written - ESPECIALLY the sub. That was worse than some of the old-school blue screens!
Wes said…
A pretty blah ep, IMHO. Every thing was really surface and obvious. Miles was surprised that his dad was mean to his mom to let her go? Really, that was meant to be surprising? Next week had better be amazing cause the last few eps have been treading water.
Anonymous said…
Will Locke assign Ben the task to kill Jacob?
Eric said…
@anonymous He could be doing that and trying to turn the tables on Ben who ordered Locke to kill his father. But why would Locke say that HE was going to kill Jacob if he is planning to then ask Ben to do it, knowing he's never seen him?

@jace Agree about the sub EFX. Awful, awful effect on it going beneath the surface. Laughably bad. Guess they ran out of money before the finale.
Matt Aggen said…
@jace - I didn't think Jack's plan was crazy. By detonating the bomb, he's not killing anyone. Everyone who's there is off the island (Dharma) and everyone who IS there (815'ers) will disappear the moment the bomb goes off since they're not there in 1977.
Jace Lacob said…
@Matt Not everyone is off the island, just the Dharma women and children, while most of the Dharma Initiative is still on the island, along with the Others, including Widmore and Eloise Hawking. Detonating the bomb would kill all of them... Or create a paradox that would rip a hole in space-time.
Anonymous said…
agree with the special fx ... it was comical. argh ... so many questions left to be answered! what is eloise and charles' plan??? did they know they would see the O6 in 1977? if so, why didn't they tell them exactly what needed to be done to save everyone? kate's character is so annoying to me now. Well, let's see what unfolds in the final episode. as sayeed said, either they will be saved or at least they will be put out of their misery.
Bella Spruce said…
I really loved the first half of this season but haven't been so crazy about the last few episodes. I just feel like everyone is too spread out and that, because of that, the story is spread too thin. All of the "twists" lately have been pretty obvious, which is not usually the case on Lost. Hopefully, the season finale will make up for it.
The CineManiac said…
I didn't see the scenes for next week as the local ABC had a line down the middle of the screen and the halves were off from each other, meaning I watched it online. But I assumed something would happen to get them back, I even thought they'd get a certain distance from the island and just disappear off the sub and reappear on the island.
As for Jacob, could it be that he's been Jack all this time. I mean their names are similar and Jacob has taken a liking to Christian, maybe he's finally spending some time with his dad and his sister, Claire. I'm interested to find out.
And the show has always been about Jack and Locke clashing, this could just be the final straw.
Workman said…
Speaking of everyone not being off the island, where the heck are Rose and Bernard? As far as bombs go, if they were to detonate one and have the plane never crash, then Locke wouldn't have grown to be the leader of the Others in present time...at least not in that reality.

Jace is right - the crash still happens.

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