Saturday, February 14, 2009

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE



"Down, down, down. Would the fall NEVER come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?' she said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. " - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland



The theme of the week was HOLES. Holes in the head.



Holes in the heart.



Holes in space.



Holes in time.



This week's stellar episode plunged us deep into the middle of Lost's journey, into that shadowland between life and death, between good and evil, between then and now, the mysterious undefinable spot in timespace where this puzzle continues to unravel around us. We opened where we left off last week, with the arrival of the doppelganger French castaways.



It's not a coincidence (because remember, nothing's a damn coincidence on Lost) that this doomed group of Frenchies consisted of a pregnant girl, a sarcastic blond tough guy, a string instrument player and a guy who leaves no one behind. Ok, there were no incestuous siblings, no lame man finding his sea legs, no angry little boy with a dog. It's not exactly the same. But there is a befuddled Korean man trying desperately to comprehend a foreign language. In fact it's the exact same befuddled Korean man, more confused now than ever.



With this opening sequence, the spiral of the story began to loop around us, reminding us that there is no beginning or end to this tale. It is all constantly circling around the one great truth at the center of it. This week we experienced the danger and the beauty of the Island of Mystery anew, through the eyes of freshly shipwrecked castaways. Rousseau's music box danced forlornly on the beach, abandoned as we watched her be swept away into her sea of madness.



We have seen that music box before, in Season One's episode Solitary, when a captive Sayid repaired a piece of Rousseau's fragile sanity by setting the dancers spinning again in their futile endless spiral.



In many moments such as this, the story this week cycled us back to Season One, to little remembered details and story fragments that are now being brought into new focus. Remember in Exodus Part I when Rousseau stopped and ominously mused that "this is where Montand lost his arm?" Well, what do you know? VoilĂ ! Montand's arm!



And how about when she told Sayid in Solitary that she removed "the firing pin" from Robert's gun? Like a little play within a play, we were eyewitness along with Jin to the end of the affair between Alex's young parents, just a few bittersweet moments after we had seen them bantering over baby names. Was Robert going to kill Rousseau because he had "the sickness" or was he killing her because she had gone on a mad killing rampage?



We saw Jin re-experience the same ominous plume of black smoke from the once dreaded Others, seen now with wiser eyes.



The scene where Montand is dragged into the well was a deliberate replay of the scene in Exodus Part II when Locke is dragged into a similar subterranean vent.



Only this time there was a much less successful outcome.



This episode revived a great deal of speculation about the nature of the beast affectionately nicknamed as Smoky. Is he a shapeshifter like the primordial underground creature in Stephen King's "It", who lured children into sewers by mimicking the voices of their lost friends? Was it a coincidence that Montand's call from the depths was "Help me", the same plea that Jacob first rasped out to Locke in Season Three? And when the team jumped in all Live Together Die Alone to save him, did they re-emerge as evil manifestations of the chimerical beast, perhaps as Yemi did before Eko was destroyed?



The Monsta! is one of Lost's great mysteries.



It sounds sort of like like an antique rollercoaster being pulled along on chains, but it also tends to growl or groan a bit like an anguished ghost and it wasn't entirely incidental that Rose from da Bronx thought it sounded familiar in Pilot, Part I, since urban podcast legend has it that part of the sound was recorded from a New York City taxicab's fare meter. The Monsta! is named, most descriptively, after Cerberus, the three headed dog that guards the gates of Hades, granting entrance, but never exit, to the doomed souls who arrive there.



The blast door map on the Swan Hatch is marked with the notations CV at various places, which indicate the locations of the Cerberus Vents from which Smoky can enter and exit the world of the living.



Perhaps the Temple under which he dragged Montand is his home base, his doghouse penthouse.



It's decorated with an Egyptian glyph theme, just like the door where Ben entered the secret room when he wanted to sic Smoky on the armed intruders to Othertown.



Some have tried to decipher the meaning behind the hieroglyphs, an alphabet that seemed to be trying to make a whole lot of language out of bird pictures. But the only symbol that struck me was this one



because it looks exactly like this item in the infamous Hatch painting:



It is the Egyptian symbol for the Sun, alternately, possibly, the symbol for Time. But it is a symbol well used for many other meanings. For Boy Scouts who have "Gone Home"... or died.



As a symbol of the eternal spirals within the universe.



And, not coincidentally (never coincidentally) for Oceanic Airlines as well.



“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” - Einstein

The thing is, for our leftover Lostaways, it's getting to the point where everything is happening all at once.



Time was spasming at an ever increasing clip this episode. There was a moment of giddy man love when Sawyer and Jin found each other again..



...and I do mean a minute. There was no time to be wasted on huggies. The timespace continuum was barreling towards total meltdown. No sooner had our weary time travelers flashed to the Orchid



(which seemed to be to a future point where the Orchid is in ruins, because it looked a lot lusher last time Jack and Locke were squabbling there.)



...but the Orchid disappeared almost instantly leaving only the well that Charlotte had somehow known would be there,



the well we had seen Ben crawl down, the well the Orchid was built above,



and then disappeared again, leaving only the rope sticking out of solid earth.



Where did this last flash take them? Did the rope only travel with them because it was inside Sawyer's hand? Is this the future, where the well has been filled in? Or the past where the well has not yet been dug? In fact, does it turn out that they dig a well right there, at just that magical spot, because there's a rope bizarrely sticking up out of the ground? Does the rope create the need for a well rather than the well creating the need for a rope? I'm not ruling anything out these days. I don't care what any of them say. It's not only possible to change the past, it's looking more and more likely that the future is creating the past.



Jin stepped into Rousseau's past and kept her from leaping into Smoky's dungeon with the rest of her crew. He saved her life and created the opportunity for her to murder her friends. But Jin wasn't really there the first time, so why didn't Rousseau just jump down the rabbit hole when she wanted to? Was Jin always there when the Besixdouze was shipwrecked?



Did Danielle remember removing the firing pin but forget the crazy Korean man who kept hopscotching in and out of corporeality? Did we get hit with the paradox stick again or are we just thinking too hard? It seems that Jin is directly responsible for the existence of Alex on the Island, but did he enable a birth that only had to be brutally course corrected 16 years later?



Then again, doesn't every birth eventually course correct itself into a death?



The collapsing sequentiality of Time finally crushed Charlotte's brain. As she shuffled off the timespace continuum, her eyes were looking off to that place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.



And since we must never mistake coincidence for fate, nothing she said in her death rattle poem should be written off as gibberish. Her mind was floating back to wondering why "daddy can't come with us", when her mother left him behind on the Island and tried to indoctrinate her daughters that the Island had only happened in their imagination. She said "you know what Mummy would say about you marrying an American", so I'm calling dibs on a future plot line where one of Charlotte's sisters shows up married to an American. She said she knows more about ancient Carthage than Hannibal himself, and that reminds us where we first saw C.S. Lewis - in Tunisia, home of the little known ancient Roman polar bear, and one of the entrance portals of the Vile Vortices. She warned Jin in no uncertain terms not to let them bring Sun back to the Island, in the very same words Claire used to warn Kate not to bring back Aaron. And then, it all ended very pleasantly, as she apparently went off to a heaven where Geronimo Jackson music was playing while little girls all get to eat chocolate whenever they want, even before their dinner. Not a bad way to go.



A beautifully acted scene by the underused Rebecca Mader, and in keeping with the Season One homages of this episode, it echoed a very similar scene when Shannon mourns her lover/brother Boone. The same musical theme was playing, in a deeper tone, one more lovely moment where the richness planted in the earlier seasons is creating an endless harvest of self referential memories.



R.I.P. C. S. Lewis. We barely knew ye. I don't know if they'll ever tell us how or why you learned Korean, but at least you did your part keeping the female Island population course corrected.



Of course the most crucial bit of information Charlotte passed before her passing was the revelation to Daniel that, when she was a child, she had met a creepy, scary man ... who was HIM. And this scary man warned Charlotte, just as Charlotte has just warned Jin, just as Claire warned Kate, to never come back to the Island, because - sure enough - she would die there. I'm guessing this is another one of those moments that lies in Daniel's consequential past but his sequential future, one of those special only on Lost kind of moments, and we'll see it play out just like that. At some point Daniel will be back in Charlotte's past, and meet her as a freckle-faced redheaded girl, know that she is the one who will someday die in his arms, know that his warnings won't prevent anything, and yet he'll warn her anyway. He will try to change the past, and he will fail. Free will may not be good for anything, but damned if people just can't keep trying to use it.



"Broken, like a sailor washed ashore, who lies wasted yet still gaping in awe at the deadly deep, I stared back as if drawn to the grim crossing that parts all from life". - Dante's Inferno



When Locke falls through the well hole into the Underworld, he is met by the most backloaded walking metaphor on Lost - good old Christian Shephard. Just in this one scene, how many personas does the Ghost of Binges Past embody? The centerpiece of Season One's White Rabbit episode is there with his Cheshire Cat grin to welcome Alice into Wonderland. But he's not dashing off for any important dates and he doesn't really seem to be at all distracted. He's focused in like a laser on John's failure to communicate properly last time they met. Ben wasn't supposed to turn the wheel. John was. And Boone wasn't the sacrifice the island demanded at all, John! Nope, it was you. All along it was Locke that the Island wanted.



"His voice was hoarse, as if from long silence: "No, no man but once a man." ...."Follow me," he said. "I will show you the path beyond time. " - Dante's Inferno



Like Virgil leading Dante into the Inferno, Christian holds up a lantern to guide Locke to this most dreadful and unavoidable step on his journey. All the fun is gone out of this now for poor John. With his leg re-broken, Locke is headed out with a one-way ticket off this mortal coil. The Christian symbolism is heavy. Sent by the ghost named both Christian AND Shephard, to find his Master's only begotten son, to make of himself a human sacrifice, to not have the cup pass from him but to do as the Island wills, sent to find the woman who is practicing the black arts of time sorcery in a church built under a towering statue of The Sacred Heart of Christ.



"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16



That's a heck of a lot of religious metaphor to be loaded into one pop culture tv show in ABC primetime. But is it religious or religulous? Who are the good guys here anyway? Can anyone say? Christian remains morally undefined. Is he Jacob's captor or Jacob's friend? Is he Jacob himself? Is there any such creature as Jacob or is this all a big metaphysical fake out? And, since there's a lot of Bible study going on this week, does it mean anything that two of our characters are named for Jacob's many sons, the founders of the tribes of Israel, the Lost kingdom that the exiles must be returned to? Jacob had one son named Daniel. He had another, the youngest, named Ben.



When Ben hilariously pulled over to yell at the squabbling brats in the back seat, he seemed very adamant that HE is the good guy. He's been working himself into a lather trying to keep these snotty O-suckers alive and safe, and how do they repay him? By bickering about which one of them wants to kill him more. What ingrates. We know that Ben Linus thinks of himself as a good guy. But is he?



Ben is bringing the kiddies to Mama Hawking's cloister so she can give them a seminar in Wormhole-ology and help them all get their kits together for TimeSpace Camp. Daniel was pretty certain that if he could just get back in touch with his Mommy, she'd fix everything. So is Eloise Hawking a good Mommy or a bad Mommy?



Christian warns Locke in no uncertain terms that he must never trust Ben. But he is also sending Locke to visit Eloise, so it seems he must trust her.



Ben and Christian may not be allies but they are connected through this one woman. Are we seeing a new kind of AARP triangle emerging here? Not a messy love triangle this time, but just a three sided hat of moral equivocation and ambiguity where right and wrong and good and evil all depend on which one of the three corners it's currently balanced on.



Christian tells Locke that he believes in him. Of course those are the golden words that Locke has been waiting all his life to hear. Faith is what makes Locke tick. This man just wants to believe. His rendezvous with the Time Witch awaits him, but look at the painting she is standing in front of here.



Caravaggio's “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas." I know that Cantor-Rainer clue was rather encouraging when it comes to predicting Locke's chances at Re-incarnation, but perhaps a little of Thomas's doubt would have served Locke well here. Re-incarnation doesn't really fit into the parameters of this story the way they're shaping up. And doubt seems like a very healthy attitude to have, even though it's in increasingly short supply. Sayid, in his 30 second a week flash of badassery, shows that he still isn't buying it.



And Kate's an emotional wreck who is being yanked around by everyone she turns to.



Sun was bought off rather quickly, in a clever flip of irony, where the ring Jin sent to convince her of his death was used to convince her instead of his life.



And Jack still seems to be hitting the oxy if you ask me, because he's about as limp as an overcooked ramen noodle, doesn't even seem to have the energy to take his hands out of his pockets or to move any of the muscles of his face.



Given what we know of the situation on the Island, given the fact that not one of the mommies or daddies in this story seems entirely trustworthy, it's a big gaping question as to whether the O6 really should be going back at all. But whether or not any of the O-sux should be asking questions is a dropped plot line best left untroubled, because they are boooooooring me already. Locke is headed back to his beloved homeland, in a coffin, the same way Big Chris got there.



What exactly has he managed to accomplish with his painful sacrifice?



When last we saw the wheel, it was looking a little less frozen, and a lot more jittery and sputtery. Did Locke's painful turning of the wheel re-stabilize it on its axis?



Is the Island fixed in time for the moment? When in time is it fixed and what does that mean for our dwindling band of time warriors? The spiral is pulling tighter and it looks as if the Gang of Six (or so...is Desmond involved in this return trip?) are about to take a leap into the next scheduled Vile Vortex coming down the track. But how will they do it? And when will they land?



I think the French explorers were giving out clues like Halloween candy. Not only did we find that they were chasing down an Island transmission, we heard them listening to it on their radio. And who was it? Sounded a hell of lot like Hurley to me, reciting his trademark numbers, maybe on the Island radio station he DJs for when he jumps back to the future. And how will he get there? I don't know, I think one of the hot French guys gave that away as well.



So I'm putting my money down on the Yellow Submarine making a reappearance in the very near future.

But in the meantime, the most burning question is what will become of poor, brave, crazy, faith based John Locke? I loved that Juliet thanked him for his troubles, something so few characters bother to do around here. But The Passion of The Locke still awaits us. How will he die? When will he die? And then, of course, how will being dead give him an even bigger role to play in the story?



Just remember, John. You asked for this.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNO-dhk_iK4

Hoo boy, it looks like it IS Hurley reciting the numbers.... IN THE PAST. Creepy.

- A Fan/ Lurker

Sara said...

You're brilliant, you know.

mosquito wenzi said...

Great recap as always, but Jacob's sons were Dan and Benjamin, not Daniel and Ben.

Anonymous said...

Amazing analysis as always, but it's the Sacred Heart of Jesus, not the Sacred Heart of Christ.

Anonymous said...

This was definitely my favorite episode of season 5 so far... and your review was spectacular! Thanks for keeping up with these, it makes the whole LOST-watching experience so much funner!

Terry_O_Locke said...

As much as I love lost and as much as I have always been into it I do not think that it is possible for me to post SUCH an interesting, entertaining, and in depth review of the show on such short notice week after week ..... Fish you are nothing short of brilliant.

Whoever's good and whoever's bad we now know that Christian and Ben are on opposite sides.

O-Suckers
O-Sux
Lol, my sentiments exactly

Hurley repeating the numbers is a thought I have always had. He is so haunted by them because he started it. Sayid so easily fixed the hatch computer because he created it. Charlie so easily knew the looking glass code because he created it. Locke so easily beat the chess game in the Flame because he created it. That's what I have always thought.

Jack and Kate are SO annoying these days.

30 seconds of badassness each week - LOL

The oceanic airlines symbol - wow didn't even cross my mind.

God I look forward to this every Saturday.

laura-sk said...

"It sounds sort of like like an antique rollercoaster being pulled along on chains" - Thank you, I was beginning to think I'm insane for hearing those voices inside Smokey. I bet he has a metal skeleton to wrap his electrically charged particles around.

What interests me most right now is what the hell that temple is. Is it Jacob's jetset residence? Does it hold the island's powers within its walls? IAnd since "only fools are enslaved by space and time" - it is a teleportation device, aka the magic box?

Brilliant review, as always.

- Caprica

laura-sk said...

Soyry, I meant "noises".

Cyrus said...

Spot on! I enjoy your recaps almost as much as the show. The only good thing about having the 0-Sux's eat up screen time is that it provides you with a chance to make fun of Jack!

Flaknitter01 said...

Still wondering why Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly are getting paid $150k per episode. Their S5 work until this point hasn't proven to be worth scale.

... said...

Sarcastic Sawyer wannabe should have been wearing pink. XD Being the 80's and all.

James said...

Great recap Fish, as always. I look forward to reading on Monday morning in work (it softens the blow!).

Interesting if it is Hurley reading the numbers, as that explains a few things.

Also, If it was Charlie that programmed the 'looking glass' code then he must have done it before he died? ......I think....... In which case he would have known about it when he died? Does that make sense!? I'll leave that one to Fish as my head is hurting now.

James.

Rosanna said...

you have fans in Italy (Turin) too!!
after seeing the episode, i wait for your recap!

D. J. said...

Lol, Radinsky as a Muppet fan. That cracked me up.

Here's some trivia for you. The other video monitor in that pic shows the KABC Eyewitness News anchors Jerry Dunphy and Christine Lund over on the far right. The big guy on the left, I'm not sure, but it looks like reporter Wayne Satz. So there ya go. Just in case there's ever an obscure Lost trivia game.