Alright, I’ve voiced my complaints on this season’s “treading water” episodes enough. In light of last week’s exceptional, Ricardo-centric episode, one would assume tonight couldn’t be anything less than a comparative letdown (short of sudden ninja attacks taking over the plot — who doesn’t love sudden ninja attacks?), especially since “The Package” was billed as a Sun/Jin episode. Blech, right? Well, color me pleasantly surprised we got an episode chockful of good stuff to analyze, and a fairly entertaining plot to boot. Ricardus’ journey to eternal life, it ain’t, but I thought it worked pretty damn well. Let’s get on with our customary thematic exercise.
I’d view tonight’s episode as consisting of two plot threads woven throughout. The more tangible of the two was the continuing battle for hearts and minds being conducted between Esau, Jacob, and now Widmore. This is assuming there’s more than two sides to this battle — we don’t yet know where Widmore’s allegiances lie, though his intimations in the past were that he served the Island above all else. I’d tend to place whoever’s looking out for the Island on the “good” side of things, but not necessarily on Jacob’s (assuming he’s good). We don’t yet know who represents good and evil between Jacob and Esau as of yet, and who’s to say either of them is good? Our perceptions are never truly on solid ground.
Perhaps they’re both just using the Island as a means to an end, conducting “exercises” in human morality and corruption in a debate of Biblical proportions, all the “candidates” simply pawns in that activity. Let’s break out your reach-o-vision glasses and assume with me that Widmore is actually the good guy attempting to save the Island and its power from the two warring entities. Widmore tells Jin he’s out to stop Esau from ever leaving the Island, lest the human race would “simply cease to exist” as the proverbial cork is removed and the wine that is hell allowed to spill forth and spread.
The other–and more intriguing–thread was that of our old friend destiny. We’ve talked about it at length many times, and at episode’s beginning, Sun echoes a refrain we’ve heard over the course of Lost about being fed up with destiny and higher purpose and faith and all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo Locke (and now Jack) loved to spew so passionately. Jack now believes their destiny is to unite under the banner of Jacob, striving to destroy Esau to ensure good triumphs and the human race endures. Sun’s had enough of the struggle and just wants her husband back. It’s been three years since they were torn apart, and she’s been on her own with their child, Ji Yeon. The eventual discovery that her husband was still alive has been tempered by the numerous road blocks she’s hit since getting back to the Island, events that seem ordained to keep them separated. As Keamy tells an uncomprehending Jin, “some people just aren’t meant to be together.” It’s almost as if the Island is trying to tell Sun and Jin the very same, in its own way (a bit of Ms. Hawking’s “course correction” at work). But if one’s destiny is pre-ordained and unchangeable (“whatever happens, happens”), why bother living at all? What’s the point? That’s where choice comes in. “No one told the tomato it was supposed to die.”
Prior to his (un)timely death, Faraday reversed his hypothesis that the future was set in stone and one could choose to plot their own course toward an altogether unknown but welcome destiny of a different kind. This led to their attempt to prevent “The Incident” in last season’s finale and the current state of our story (present day vs. flash-sideways). And perhaps the flash-sidewayses represent exactly that: the choice to live the lives they want, for better or worse. That’s not to say the flash-sideways are just hypothetical, imaginary flashes of what could happen; we’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary to assume that at this stage. The cut on Jack’s neck; his appendix scar; Claire’s sudden naming of Aaron; Sun’s odd hesitation when gazing into the mirror.
Ah yes, another mirror. This is the 4th or 5th time this season we’ve seen our castaways gazing into mirrors and having some sort of flash of deja vu or recognition that something is just a bit “off.” The obvious reference is the looking-glass Alice steps through to enter Wonderland in the second Lewis Carroll novel we talked about a few weeks ago. Our flash-sideways reality isn’t just a dream. Consider this: Sun bumps her head while running from Locke/Smokey and is suddenly no longer able to speak English, though she is still able to understand it. Among several other differences, the flash-sideways (X) version of Sun had not yet learned a lick of English. Sawyer tells a distracted Kate near episode’s end that it looked like her brain had taken a “stroll.” I think we may have seen that concept in action with aspects of Sun X’s self intermingling with Island Sun. We have a tangible connection between the two “realities” if so. If I was fortunate to have no job to go to tomorrow, I’d be eager to go back and watch all of the mirror scenes this season to see what aspects of the X characters and Island characters intermingle directly afterward. And I’d probably spend some time thinking about Room 23, subliminal messages, mind control, panopticons, remote viewing and its relation to our flash-sidewayses if I had more time, too.
So, where does this leave us? Well, about six episodes from the end of Lost, that’s where. I don’t have an answer as to what’s going on, but I think you’d all agree that we’re getting new pieces of the mosaic each week and getting very close to an answer.