You should know I spent about 20 minutes trying to translate a hilarious post title phrase containing the word “panda” into Korean…and failed. So instead, I went for “In Distress.” Just assume the translation is accurate. Don’t let that divert you from the true importance of the panda(s) Jin so desperately needed, though…the stuffed panda might actually be the best evidence yet of what this show is truly about–it’s the ultimate metaphor for the island’s true nature and its relationship to our castaways.
Anyway, instead of analyzing the symbolism inherent in stuffed pandas juxtaposed with the birth of a child, I shall leave that for another day and move swiftly to…
- Early in the episode, Keamy stops Lapidus on his way to the captive Desmond and Sayid to tell him, “don’t be late, Frank.” Late for what? While vague, the helicopter’s later disappearance seems to indicate Frank (and passenger?) had a scheduled appointment.
Back to the island? That wouldn’t make much sense, as why would there be a need to get back there at a specific time? Another ship nearby then? Perhaps Widmore is in the vicinity but on the outskirts of whatever sphere of influence the island has, so as to maintain his sanity (the current crew of the freighter don’t seem to be doing too well in the mental health department).
- We finally meet Regina, who looks to be losing aforementioned sanity, subtly at this point in the episode. The book she’s reading (upside-down) is The Survivors of the Chancellor, by Jules Verne.
(The book) is an 1875 novel written by Jules Verne about the final voyage of a British sailing vessel, the Chancellor, told from the perspective of one of its passengers. At the beginning of its voyage, the Chancellor carried eight passengers and twenty crew members. By the end, only eleven people (five passengers and six crew) remained alive. [Wikipedia]
Regina later straps herself in heavy chain and takes a leap off the side of the freighter to join the denizens of Davey Jones’ locker. Unlike Minkowski, she didn’t appear to be suffering the effects of a time-traveling consciousness; it was more a case of being a bit “off.” Or a “heightened case of cabin fever,” as the ship’s captain puts it. Was she perhaps depressed after learning of Minkowski’s death? The conversations between she and George and the team on the island hinted a bit at a rapport between the two.
- Shortly after Regina takes her leap, we meet Gault, the oft-referred to captain of the freighter. Despite the ominous nature of the previous references to the man, he doesn’t seem to be the avatar of evil malevolence the rest of the crew made him out to be. Of course, we haven’t seen him angry yet.
The obligatory namesake analysis, then. I doubt his name is a reference to Willie, the former NFL wide receiver. So:
The Gault Clay is a formation of stiff blue clay deposited in a calm, fairly deep water marine environment during the Lower Cretaceous Period. The Gault Clay yields abundant marine fossils, including ammonites, belemnites, bivalves, gastropods, solitary corals, fish remains (including shark teeth), scattered crinoid remains, and crustaceans (such as the crab Notopocorystes). Occasional fragments of fossil wood may also be found. [Wikipedia]
Well, uh, yeah. I guess that means Captain Gault is a zombie-like creature composed of marine refuse and crabs. Leave it to Lostpedia to set me straight:
Captain Gault is a fictional sea captain created by English writer William Hope Hodgson. A captain for hire – Gault is a morally ambiguous and mysterious character. A collection of his stories can be found in the book Captain Gault, Being the Exceedingly Private Log of a Sea-Captain, published in 1917. [Lostpedia]
I was kinda partial to the crab zombie explanation.
- The Captain shows Des and Sayid what is purported to be Flight 815’s “black box,” and tells them that Widmore went to considerable effort to get the box from the (fake) crash site. That gave me pause, as why would Widmore want to go to such lengths to get that box if he knew the crash was a fake. Does this mean he isn’t behind the 815 hoax after all?
- In the first flash-forward of the episode, we learn Sun is the fifth member of the Oceanic Six, joining Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid. The assumption early on, of course, is that Jin is the sixth and final member. Along with the reveals of the freighter being Charles Widmore’s and of Michael being Ben’s “man on the boat,” it struck me that this season has been among the more predictable in recent memory (which isn’t to say it hasn’t been great). Color me pleasantly surprised then, when we learn we’ve been seeing both flashforwards AND flashbacks, and Jin is dead as a doornail. Or is he?
We know Jin didn’t die on 9/22/04 (the date of the crash), but I guess the date on the gravestone is just further proof that the Six aren’t telling the world-at-large the truth about the crash and the island. Sun’s sadness at graveside was certainly not an act. I suppose he could be with Locke. Also, I’m left wondering why the year 1980 is on that stone…
- I think I mentioned this last week, but the writer’s now have the freedom to break free of the bonds of flashbacks, and tell a story in whatever portrayal of time they want. It makes for much more interesting and unexpected plotting.
- That interesting plotting doesn’t apply to the ever-present “I’m sorry” talks like the one Juliet and Sun had on the beach. Along with the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle, I grow weary of the repetition of “heated conflict” followed by melodramatic “I’m sorry” moments.
How ’bout they just hate each other for more than five minutes, or even into the next week? The animosity between Sun and Juliet lasted about as long as Sun’s childbirth. I’m sure mothers everywhere were interested to learn Koreans are able to go through labor in approximately 45 seconds. I know I was. Now get off my porch, you damn kids! *shakes fist*
- Speaking of pregnancy, I found Bernard and Jin’s conversation about them being the only two married men on the island interesting. Not because of their witty wordplay, but because of the clear dichotomy between Rose and Sun. Rose was restored to perfect health by the island, while Sun’s (and her baby’s) would’ve been destroyed by it. Is that a hint as to one of the island’s powers? Does that healing quality get tbat power by stealing it from other sources–from unborn babies? Or is it simply a matter of that “property’s” power to eliminate all foreign infection/tissue from the host’s body? Kind of a crude way to put it, I know. One still must account for the fact that Ben’s tumor didn’t heal on its own as well. That healing power, whatever it truly is, seems to be selective.
- Michael’s long-awaited return is preceeded by a bloodstain on the wall of Desmond and Sayid’s stateroom, and appears to be from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Another episode of “cabin fever” of the suicidal Regina variety.
- Michael, meanwhile, has taken the alias “Kevin Johnson” while serving as the janitor aboard the Kahana. I’m going to make the leap and assume Walt is NOT onboard the freighter, and that would mean Michael may have rendezvoused with another vessel when he left the island at the end of season two.
I’ll engage the speculation machine and guess it was a vessel belonging to whatever nefarious organization Benjamin Linus may have back in the real world. They would undoubtedly keep Walt captive and force Michael to go undercover on Widmore’s freighter. Poor Mikey escaped one prison for another. I think the potential story of redemption for Michael will be among the show’s best plotlines in the coming episodes and seasons.
Other Stuff from Other Sites
- Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen has his own ideas on how Michael came to be on the freighter which, I’ll admit, are intriguging.
Theory: The coordinates Ben gave Michael and Walt led them not only to a place, but also to a time â€” in the near past.
Weird Science explanation: The Island is located within a time-space anomaly that extends out into the ocean. Different points along the boundary of the anomaly lead to different places and/or different times. For example, after the chopper flew through the perimeter, Lapidus, Sayid, and Desmond landed on the freighter a full day after they left the Island, even though they had spent just 20 minutes in the air. [EW]
- I liked this quote from Damon Lindelof in that same EW article:
”There will be more ON the Numbers, yes. But explaining WHY and HOW they are magic is like trying to explain why some magic kids are born to two muggles. The Valenzetti Equation USES those numbers, but trust me, they were around LONG before the early ’60s. But for fans waiting for an advanced dissertation on the mythic significance of the numbers, I direct them to Qui-Gon Jinn’s speech to Shmi Skywalker regarding midichlorians and pose the following question: Happy now?” [EW]
Join me back here next week for the last pre-hiatus episode of season four. Oh, and I hope you didn’t really take that panda stuff seriously.