IT TAKES A VILLAGE
It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a lot of blood.
It is an awesome responsibility. Adults have the power to form children.
And to deform them.
The great chain of cause and effect all starts back in the womb. So, who exactly is responsible for the masterpiece that is Benjamin Linus?
Because Roger beat him, he was filled with anger, so he turned to Sayid.
Because Sayid shot him, he was dying, and Jack Shephard was the only man who could save him.
Because Jack refused to save his life, Juliet sent him to the hostiles, seeking their magical healing powers.
Because Kate and Sawyer delivered him to Richard, he was forever changed.
And because he was forever changed, he could not ever be anything other than the Ben we know and love. So who is to blame for Ben?
"Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen happens again. All of this, however, doesn't necessarily happen in chronological order. "- Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless
Our Losties can only wish the answer was something as simple and quaint as fixing the flux capacitor.
Instead the time loops that are spinning them around in eddy currents of cause and effect are starting to morph into growling ethical whirlpools. The dominoes of cause and effect are going to rattle on relentlessly regardless of what any of them do.
Ben is always going to grow up to be Ben. Because he already has grown up to be Ben. If whatever happened, happened...and if it's going to happen whatever you happen to do...then what difference does it make if you decide to do nothing?
You can see why Jack has just decided to check out. Having survived the fires of drug addiction, Jack is just going to spend some time here reconnecting with his inner asshat. You can't really blame him. He's smart enough to realize a time loop when he's trapped in one. It seems like only yesterday Kate was begging him to save Ben's life, to help Sawyer,
and now here he is again, back on this motherbugging Island, living in one of these tacky yellow cottages, and here's Kate doing it AGAIN!!! Again he's being asked to save the evil dweeb's life. And this time, Sawyer's not only back in the picture, he's running the whole damn show!
Jack's midlife crisis is happening at a most inopportune point in his personal timespace continuum. Since he can't fix the course of history, he's just going to fix himself a sandwich and a nice hot shower instead.
Since nothing he does matters, he decided to do nothing. He's gonna just turn on, tune in and drop out, man. Let's stick with Lost's Alice in Wonderland subtheme and give the Namaste Nihilist a nice mushroom to feed his head on.
Can you make nothing happen? Or do things just keep happening, only now they're happening because you decided to do nothing? Jack refusing to save Ben's life only brings Ben into Richard's sepulchral clutches, changing Ben forever into the monster who one day will bring Sawyer and Kate together in the cage o' love, just so he can scam Jack into saving his life anyway. See, Jack! You have only yourself to blame!
But New! Jack! doesn't have to deal with any of that. He's not bothering his mind on piffle like the physician's Hippocratic Oath. He's got enough to do. I'm sure it's keeping him plenty busy maintaining that waxy smooth fishbelly chest, while he waits around for the Destiny Express to come clattering down the tracks and give him a clue.
It's a good thing Jack's not a parent. Nihilism is not an acceptable parenting strategy. Above all else, parenthood is an act of faith. Faith in the future. No one knows for sure that their little bundle of joy won't turn out to be the next Hitler, but parents are in love. The little buggers first grab hold of your heart with those adoring toothless grins.
Next thing you know, they're dragging you around a megastore in the middle of the night demanding consumer goods,
but by then they've got you owned. It is almost terrifying to love someone the way a mother loves a little child.
When Kate lost Aaron in the store, it was every mother's primal fear, but for Kate it was worse than that. Her subconscious coughed up a chaser of guilt to go with the panic. The sight of her trusting, vulnerable toddler walking away with Claire's body double triggered something in Kate that, in a flash, made her get right with the universe.
It all became tragically clear to her. She had taken something that didn't belong to her and now she had to give him back. It wasn't for nothing that a Patsy Cline song was played again in this episode. Patsy Cline songs are Kate's theme music, and the song that played in this episode has been played before - as background music in the last scene Kate ever shared with Claire, the living ghost who has been haunting Kate's happiness with her little son.
"I've got your picture.
She's got you. "
Even Kate's lullaby to baby Aaron was a reminder that she needed to make things right. "Catch a Falling Star", the song we heard Kate singing to her baby son, was not only the song Claire had a dim memory of daddy Christian singing to her, it was the song that played on the Oceanic plane mobile that played in the nursery Ethan had prepared for Aaron, in The Staff Hatch, back in Season One.
Getting right was what this whole episode was all about. When Kate left Aaron, the theme from Exodus played. Was this Kate's great Hero moment, her redemptive epiphany?
It was great to have an episode where we could feel for Kate again, cheer for her even. Kate busted back out through that looking glass she's been trapped in, where everything - even our friendly neighborhood numbers - have been all backwards and mixed up.
Finally Evangeline Lilly's Kate was given a chance to do something besides simper and bawl in Jack's shadow. I think even the myth fans might agree that, for a shippy episode, this was a damn good one.
We learned a lot of things we didn't know before about our characters and their intertangling 'ships.
We found out that Juliet and Jim LaFleur will do the right thing by each other a little while longer, or at least until their fairytale village completely implodes around them.
There was a tease of a possible new ship on the horizon, with the unexpected bonding of this pair of dysfunctional semi-parents. Wasn't it weird to see Uncle Rico flirting with Kate?
We saw that Juliet really would have loved a chance to kick Jack's saggy ass, but she settled instead for trying to shame him. To her surprise, however, she found out that Dr. Dropout has become truly shameless since last she saw him.
He didn't even flinch flashing his shrinkage, and nothing Juliet had to say was able to sway him from his path of self involved detachment.
We found out that not only does Kate not like new flavor Jack, she didn't like old flavor Jack either!
No idea what took you so long, but better late than never, girl. Besides, looks like you might be eligible for an upgrade pretty soon.
We found out that all those Sassidy shippers hoping for Sawyer to reunite with his true love Cassidy are in for a big letdown. Sawyer's ex is bittah!
It was funny to hear her refer to Son of a Bitchin Sawyer as "that sonuvvabitch". She plans to nurse that grudge all the way to the grave. She had Kate thinking that maybe Sawyer wasn't in fact the shining knight who jumped to save her life. Maybe, according to Cassidy, he just didn't want her. Cassidy was selling her old con-buddy short, but you could see the seeds of doubt planted in Kate's mind, and we got, however belatedly, an explanation for Kate's apparent apathy about her lost cowboy all these years.
It was easy to see why Kate responded to Cassidy. She was reading Kate like a book. She knew right away that Kate was lying. About where Aaron came from. And about where all Kate's feelings for Sawyer had been buried.
Just as Kate had told Jack she "had to" beg him to save Sawyer's life back in the Hydra, she told Cassidy she "had to" lie about her love for him now.
And so began the many years of her becoming Kate's confidante.
She was like a combination heart-of-gold barmaid and cruel-to-be-kind psychotherapist. All this time, even after it meant violating parole, Kate has been traveling to Cassidy's New Mexico home, watching Sawyer's little one grow into his spitting image,
and sharing boozy girls' nights with her BFF, cracking each other up and crying it all out.
Like the disrespected seer Cassandra, Cassidy was forcing Kate to face the many truths she'd been in denial about.
Kate may have known all along that she was guilty about taking Aaron, but it wasn't until Cassidy opened her eyes that she realized she had been clinging to Aaron to fill the hole that Sawyer's leap from the helicopter had torn in her heart.
Kate may have gotten a free pass at her clown trial, but judgment day came anyway.
She finally told Claire's mama the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The verdict was Guilty and the penalty was a life sentence of heartbreak. But she did the right thing. Not because she had to, but just because she finally understood it was the right thing to do.
And it turns out that doing the right thing might just be the only thing a person ever really has a choice about in this life. Charlie's death was predestined, and Desmond couldn't change that. Still, Desmond didn't just let Charlie die. He kept trying to save him. Because it was the right thing to do.
If Charlie had taken the arrow in the throat, as Desmond originally envisioned, whose tragically beautiful death would have brought Penny to the Island?
Now, sure, Charlie's heroic act also served to bring Widmore's Death Ship to the Island, but it turns out that's all beside the point. A virtuous act, as Aristotle would have told us, is virtuous in and of itself, regardless of consequence. The universe may be absurd and maybe everything we do is futile and irrelevant, but the choice we are given is actually very simple. You must act. You are going to die someday, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bother to get out of bed. You must do something. And even if you know it's all in vain, even if you don't get to choose the choices you get to make, the thing you must always choose to do is The Right Thing.
"I refuse everything which, for good reasons or bad, leads to death or justifies putting someone to death". - Albert Camus, The Plague
When Daniel told Sawyer it didn't matter what he did when they saw Amy being attacked, Sawyer immediately did the right thing and ran to Amy's rescue.
When Sawyer saw that the child who would grow up to torment him was dying, he did the right thing and saved him anyway.
We have seen Sawyer carry a child to safety before.
The same child Kate is now mourning. I loved seeing these two share scenes again. I know it's too early for any hints of romance, and it will be a long time before we get to see them hot and heavy, but don't tell me the phallic imagery of this shot was entirely unintended.
Nor the parental tableau they made carrying their future nemesis through the jungle, ferrying him from boyhood to manhood in the most literal of ways.
Sawyer and Kate have been on parallel journeys all the years they've been apart. Juliet has taught Sawyer the meaning of commitment and Aaron has taught Kate the same thing. The last time they had a heart to heart at this creek they were like two mutes trying to communicate in dolphin language,
but they are both real grown ups now.
Kate was achingly vulnerable asking him to explain why he jumped from the chopper.
And Sawyer's discomfort on hearing that his daughter looks just like him was sad and real.
It's going to take a while. Right now, Kate and Juliet are all mixed up in Sawyer's confused heart,
but I've got no doubt the truth will set them all free soon enough. After this beautifully written chapter in their ongoing story I think all the Sawyer and Kate fans can take a chill and just enjoy the rest of this ride.
Some people are finding it hard to believe that Kate has been in love with Sawyer all these years. I don't know why that's so hard to accept. What woman isn't in love with Sawyer these days? Juliet, Kate, Cassidy...I'm sure if Carole Littleton met him, she'd be heels over head as well.
Besides, we Lost fans take far more unbelievable things in stride every episode. Like how the hell did Sawyer tell Kate his daughter's name, address and serial number during that whisper in the helicopter? That gives an entirely new meaning to fast talker.
And why wasn't Kate surprised to discover that Sawyer's kid's mother was - mother of all coincidences! - Kate's very own longlost pal, Cassidy?
How did Kate get back and forth from Albuquerque to L.A. (an 11 hour drive according to Google Earth) in just 20 hours time, with room for a good long cry in between? We've got license plate evidence that she did in fact drive her CA registered car to a cactus-y neighborhood full of NM registered vehicles, so how do we explain that?
How did Miles know about the Frozen Donkey Wheel that Ben turned in the Orchid? I know the writers wanted to give Miles some meta facetime ragging on our time travel induced befuddlement, but seriously, guys...pay attention! Miles would not know that.
Why do the high security Dharma-bots give the keys to the prison cells to Janitors? Better yet, why do they give the keys to Janitors that just arrived the day before? All that big brother surveillance and they're letting drunks and newbies have the keys to the kingdom?
Why did the entrance wound on Ben's left chest cause him to bleed profusely from his right side?
Do Dharma guns have crooked bullets?
Is nobody in Dharmaland at all suspicious about the fact that their truck mechanic is equally at home taking apart human transmissions? Do they just expect this kind of multitasking from all their recruits?
Most importantly, how did Juliet know that Richard would be able to heal Ben? This is one question I hope they have an answer for. Richard was very serious when he accepted Ben's broken body. He gave Kate and Sawyer the choice - let the boy die or allow Richard to transmogrify him into a soulless gremlin. They had already decided that there was only one right thing to do - that no matter the outcome, it was wrong to let a kid die.
And so Richard took him into the temple from which he will emerge as One of Them. The jokes about Richard taking Ben's innocence write themselves, and they're way too icky for me to write out anyway, so I'll just let your wicked imaginations come up with your own punchlines on that one.
"Give us a room, close the door
Leave us for a while.
Your boy won't be a boy no more
Young, but not a child." - The Who, Acid Queen
But what does go on in that freaky Temple? Is it like a sarcophagus near a Stargate, where illness can be healed, even recent deaths reversed?
Does that explain why Richard never ages? Is he an avatar of the Island, an incarnation of its spiritual power? Or is the Temple something like a vampire's crypt, where bloodstreams mingle to create demonic beings?
Does that explain why, when Kate woke up on Hydra Island, her blood had been taken?
She has shared blood with Ben Linus before, and never even knew it. Kate's blood has been running in Ben's veins since thirty years before she gave it to him!
Perhaps the Temple is also the source of The Sickness that caused Rousseau to execute her crew after they had been inside it. Did they return as demons, the way she always thought?
What happens inside the Temple?
One thing that makes it so confusing is that Richard himself just doesn't seem evil. He almost seems paternal, like a sexy hot, underworld dwelling Daddy.
He sounded a little testy about Eleanor Hawkings and Charles Widmore's claims to authority. So those two are still living on the Island at this point in time. And Richard is not necessarily their ally.
Who was this eager young man, the one who reminded Richard about Charles and Ellie's authority? Is there any chance we just saw our old friend Tom, circa 1977?
Are we misunderstanding the "loss of innocence" comment? Perhaps the change Ben undergoes is akin to eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. It may yet turn out to be true that Ben was born on the Island, as he originally claimed. Whatever happens in the Temple stays in the Temple, I guess. They never speak of it, but they worship it. It makes me wonder, given Juliet's preternatural knowledge of the Others and their mysteries, has Juliet ever been to the Temple?
Do the Right Thing was a nice, clear message to take away from this episode, but it's not as if it exactly clears anything up. Doing the right thing can very well lead to a very wrong result. Just like doing the wrong thing can lead to something very right.
Next week Ben is welcomed back to the land of the living by the man he just killed dead. So it's not as if this is getting any less confusing anytime soon. But for this week, they went easy on us. A lovely episode to remind us, that underneath all the puzzlement and riddling and undecipherable clues, Lost is also about something very simple. It's about the love between crazy freaks and their beloved freaky Island, between men and women, between parents and children.
Deep down, Lost is always, in one form or another, a love story.