In “The Shape of Things to Come” two weeks ago, Ben’s confrontation with Charles Widmore hinted at the concept of a temporal chess game in which the two of them have specific parts to play while adhering to a certain set of rules or standards. Widmore “changed the rules” of the game by killing Ben’s adopted daughter, as if to say Charles didn’t follow the script laid out for the players. Knowing what we know from the many flashbacks, flash forwards and sheer coincidence that brought all the castaways together, can we infer everything that’s played out in four seasons of Lost was all preordained, to a certain degree? Are all of the characters locked into a destiny decided for them long before they ever took their first breath out of the womb? Tonight’s episode certainly wouldn’t dissuade one from thinking just that.
A jump in the way-back machine takes us to John Locke’s premature birth to an underage mother who miraculously survives getting hit by a car. Little John is stricken with all manner of ailment right off the bat, pneumonia and infections, etc. But he somehow survives; the doctor calls him a “fighter,” the youngest preemie who’s ever survived there. We’ve seen that stubborn, fighter mentality throughout Locke’s story; always retorting to his doubters with “don’t tell me what I can’t do.”
Is it that mentality that’s led him to the Island? Or are greater forces augmenting the fight in him–the forces that decide the destiny of the players in this particular game? Dr. Alpert’s appearance shortly after John’s birth would cause me to lean toward the latter. We all know the doc’s been around for a while; he looks the same now as he did at John’s birth and when he met a young Ben Linus in the jungle, so we won’t dwell on that for now. But, did he know when and where John would be born, and seek him out? Was John on one of Jacob’s many lists already (we know from Ben that he was on Jacob’s List after the 815 crash)? Or was Alpert’s appearance more a product of a broad search for “special” kids born in somewhat extraordinary circumstances? Can I compose a paragraph made up of nothing but rhetorical questions?
Alpert shows up again when Locke is about eight years old, offering the chance at a special summer camp for–here’s that word again–“special” kids, put on by Mittelos Labs (clearly another division of the corporation that houses Mittelos Bioscience, the group that hired Juliet in the flashbacks in episode 3×07). [MITTELOS = LOST TIME] He appears to test Locke by laying out a number of items and asking John which of them already “belong” to him. I’m guessing Alpert didn’t sneak into the house and nab some of Johnny’s possessions, so this was more of a personality/potential test to see where the kid’s interests lay.
John examines the vial of sand-like material (which looks very much like the material that made up the border/boundary around Jacob’s cabin on the island), the compass and then, much to Alpert’s dismay, chooses the knife. Young John opts for the one item that could be used for less-than-enlightened purposes. Killing, hunting, etc. A tendency toward violence. At that point, Alpert decides he’s targeted the wrong kid and leaves. Does he leave to pursue the alternate for Locke’s spot at the “summer camp,” one Benjamin Linus?
Continuing the theme of destiny, Locke meets up with Matthew Abaddon while in rehab, the man who later claimed to be an Oceanic Airways lawyer to Hurley, and the man who contracted Naomi and the rest of the mercenaries on the freighter expedition. The purpose of the mysterious man’s visit seems to be forcing Locke to recognize he has a greater purpose to fulfill. More specifically, he recommends Locke go on a walkabout in the Australian outback. Was it to get John to discover something about himself? Or merely a way to get Locke onboard Flight 815 and to the island? Either way, Abaddon is playing a part in shaping Locke’s future.
Where does this leave us going into the season finale, and for the next two seasons? Are the characters still locked into a path already set for them? Or is it really possible for them to force that train off the tracks and “change the rules,” as Widmore has done? Yeah, I’d say so.
- Not much cabin in an episode called “Cabin Fever,” but there’s plenty to chew on. Christian Shepherd, who tells Locke he speaks on behalf of Jacob, tells John to forget about the many questions he probably has about the cabin and Claire and the smoke monster et al, and ask “the one question that matters,” which turns out to be, “how do I save the island?” Come on, Christian, I think you had at least a few minutes to lay out the inner workings of Smokey the Wonderdog.
Claire also happens to be there, and is pretty content for someone who left her baby at the base of a tree last week. I suppose if you’re dead, trivial matters like who’s taking care of your only child don’t matter too much. She’s gotta be dead, right? Blown to kingdom come in the explosion that destroyed the house in Otherville. Christian sure was, and whether he’s a re-animated corpse or made up of black smoke, Claire’s in the same boat.
My lingering question, then, if she’s dead and Kate is raising Aaron, won’t that lead to the certain disaster the psychic foretold of when Claire paid him a visit? Claire doesn’t seem all that concerned.
- Oh yeah, one minor detail, Locke can save the island by MOVING IT. Is there a giant lever he can pull to fire up the place’s engines and get underway? Does he use the power of his mind to put up yet another shield around the place? What this does mean is that the island has been in a stationary position in the Pacific (since the 815 crash?) and not moving around, as some have surmised in previous years.
- What the heck is on Keamy’s arm? It appears to be linked to a heart monitor of some kind and looks like a radio transmitter of some kind. Maybe it’s an iPod loaded up with Mama Cass’ greatest hits.
More than likely it’s a transmitter designed to set off a metric crap-ton of explosives if Keamy’s heart stops. Is it a load of dynamite that’ll go off or something bigger? A nuke?
- While we’re talking about Keamy, he unlocks the safe that contains the “secondary protocols” for the expedition, using the second key he takes from the once-feared Captain Gault to open the safe in the latter’s stateroom.
Keamy tells Gault the protocols tell him exactly where Ben is going, as if to say the protocol booklet is a script that defines what will take place in the near-future on the island. If Widmore and Ben are players in repeating sequence of events they’ve lived through many times over, Widmore would have the knowledge of exactly what Ben would do on the island. Nice of him to put it in book form for Keamy and his mercenaries, but if Widmore changed the rules by killing Alex, that may render those secondary protocols useless. Watch your back, Keamy.
- The cover to that book, by the way, has The Orchid station logo on it. Hmm. Maybe that’s the target of Keamy’s explosives. Is The Orchid the engine that can “move” the island?
- Presumably, the “Emily” who gave birth to John is the same woman, played by Swoosie Kurtz, he later meets in the Wal-Mart Locke was working at (before his job at the box company).
That started off the tragic turn of events in which he meets the father who steals his kidney and later pushes him out the window of his high-rise apartment building. Oh, and by the way, Ben’s mother’s name? Emily. Yet another similarity between the two men–they’re two sides of the same coin. Both ultimately want to protect the island, but by different means.
- The “passing of the torch” that started when Locke began being viewed as a messiah by the Others last season now appears to be complete, as Ben tells Locke his “time is over” as the leading force of protection for the island. The island made its’ will clear when it healed Locke and gave Ben a spinal tumor. “Destiny is a fickle bitch,” as Ben puts it. Ben chooses not to enter Jacob’s cabin, and sits on the sidelines while Locke has his encountered inside with Christian and Claire.
Knowing Ben as we do, can we really believe he’d so easily give up the mantle of control he’s wielded so ruthlessly? Maybe, maybe not. With John in charge of the island, perhaps Ben can protect it in his own way back on the mainland, starting with a guerrilla war against Widmore and his organization.
- Locke “dreams” of meeting Horace Goodspeed, the Dharma mathematician who stumbled upon Ben’s parents on a roadside while his mother was in labor, and eventually brought Ben and his father to the island. The bizarre nature of the encounter, in which Horace keeps introducing himself and chops down the same tree twice, felt like a recording-of-sorts. A message left playing in a loop for Locke to find. The Island apparently didn’t have the time for a live show.
After Locke wakes, Ben tells him he used to have dreams as well; another signal that Ben’s time has come and gone on the island.
- There’s some evidence that Horace actually designed the mysterious cabin Jacob calls home. Locke finds the blueprints for the place on Goodspeed’s corpse in the death pit, and uses them to find its’ location.
I’ve never really thought of mathematicians as having an aptitude for architecture, even if it’s just a small cabin. Perhaps, more than designing joist placements and roof framing, Horace was adding something a bit more advanced to the place, something that allows it to bend space-time and move about the island.
- I’m not sure I caught this before, but the Dharma logo on Goodspeeds’ coveralls is that of The Arrow, the station the Tail Section survivors first discovered.
We don’t know The Arrow’s original purpose yet; it looked like an abandoned stable or just a storage area in the looks we’ve had at it.
- Did another of Locke’s dreams as a boy involve the smoke monster? Alpert seems as surprised as we are by the picture John scribbled.
- Why doesn’t Locke recognize Alpert when he met him on the island in season three? He was young when he first met him, sure, but the odd circumstances in which Alpert introduced himself would seem to be the kind of thing that would stick in a kid’s memory. This may be a case of the writer’s coming up with new ideas and fudging what’s come before. Nestor Carbonell’s (Alpert) involvement in Lost was up in the air for this season, until his “hit” CBS show Cane was canceled, so it wouldn’t be much of a reach to think a bit of leeway was taken by the writers.
- Walt would have been a perfect candidate for the Dharma “summer camp” Alpert was recruiting for.
- Young Locke is playing backgammon before Alpert shows up, the same game he taught Walt on the island after the crash.
- Abaddon told Locke he went on a walkabout and the experience changed his life. Whether he means “walkabout” in the metaphorical sense, or if he actually went on one is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he made a visit to Ayers’ Rock, one of the places of “great energy” on the Earth (this, coming from the healer Bernard took Rose to in Australia) and had a religious awakening of sorts. Abaddon also tells Johnny that he’ll owe him one if they meet later on in life. Wonder what that favor will be.
- We’ve got a sequence of events (as much as you can have one in this temporally-challenged show) for the death of the good doctor.
Keamy’s mercenaries make their first landfall, kill Danielle and Karl, and kidnap Alex.
The dead doctor washes ashore.
Keamy confronts Ben and kills Alex.
Smokey attacks that night.
Keamy and wounded mercs meet up with Frank Lapidus the next day and head to helicopter.
Travel back to the boat, where the doc is still alive.
Omar, one of the mercs, receives Faraday’s Morse code transmission over the sat phone the next night (in freighter time).
Mercs prepare for second assault on the island.
Keamy slits the doctor’s throat and throws him overboard before departing for the island.
If you can figure out how that works out, give yourself a pat on the back.
- I’m pretty sure the music cue played when Sayid boards the Zodiac raft and leaves the freighter is the same cue used for the raft Jin, Sawyer, Michael and Walt departed on in season one. A nice little throwback.
- You know the drill:
Other Stuff from Other Sites
- The song playing in the first scene is “Everyday” by Buddy Holly. [Lostpedia]
- “Horace Goodspeed, in Locke’s dream, mentions that he has been dead for 12 years. This places the date of the Purge on December 19, 1992 (December 19 being Ben’s birthday).” [Lostpedia]
- Is Locke dead, too? Moreover, is Locke actually Jacob? A good read on EW.
Good God, if the length of this recap is any indication, the one for the show’s season finale is gonna take three days to write. I should guess at what’ll happen and start writing now. A scheduling reminder: part 1 of the 3-hour season finale airs next week, followed by a one-week break, with parts 2 and 3 airing back to back on May 29th. And then it’s an interminable seven months ’til season five.