I would like to now officially recant the statement — in full — that I made a couple of months ago regarding my then-view that Frank wouldn’t go out of his way to help the survivors of Flight 815. If it wasn’t clear last week, it certainly is after this past week’s episode. Not only did he essentially rescue Michael, he also refused to return Keamy and his men to the island when it became clear that the mission was to kill everybody, and when that resistance ultimately failed, he presumably dropped a little care package for the survivors, again presumably for them to find the helicopter so that he can (again, presumably) get them off of the island before The Purge: Redux.
I still don’t feel completely comfortable proclaiming Frank as “more good” than Daniel, though. I stand by my opinion last week, which is that they’re a different kind of good. Daniel lacks the spine and fortitude to do certain things, like — for example — refusing to fly the helicopter to the island. But I do believe that his intentions are noble and true, and that he would do everything within his capabilities to help the survivors (like going to retrieve the medical supplies so that Juliet can perform Jack’s surgery).
For that matter, the past few episodes have really drawn a line in the sand regarding where the freighter crew stands. As I previously noted, Frank and Daniel have been solidly identified as good. Obviously, Keamy and the rest of the soldiers appear to be “bad” or at the very least “absolutely insane.” In a bit of a surprising turn, the captain actually ended up being a pretty good guy, and in another twist, in my opinion Miles CAN be distinguished as “more good” than Charlotte. Charlotte appears to be in the mindset of “these people don’t trust me, they don’t like me, and they keep expecting me to turn on them. So screw them!” Miles, on the other hand, has seemingly sided with Team Locke (despite the whole grenade incident) in the midst of the literal war with Keamy. Instead of reuniting with his freighter brethren — as I assume he could have easily done — he joined Locke and crew in one of the barrack houses. He then condemned what Keamy and his men had done, and explicitly stated that he’s not one of them. While he’s probably not going to risk his life to save the survivors — from what I’ve seen, anyway — it does seem like he’s doing what he can, albeit minimally so, to help Sawyer, Claire, and Aaron return to the beach.
Before I delve into the awesomeness of this episode, I want to mention the utterly hilarious Three Stooges-esque interaction between Locke, Hurley, and Ben at the beginning of the episode. I’m paraphrasing here, as I can’t remember the exact wording.
Locke (to Ben): How much further?
Ben: I have no idea. (Looks at Hurley). I’m following him.
Hurley: Following me? I’m not even in front!
Now, lets delve, shall we?
While the flash forwards have been incredible — and they couldn’t have come soon enough, as the flashbacks as a whole were getting VERY redundant and were really hurting the flow of the episode — it was neat seeing flashbacks again. We learned that Locke was born prematurely — three months, if I remember correctly — and probably should have died, but instead defied odds and survived. Much like Walt, who exhibited supernatural abilities even before his stint on the island, it seems that Locke’s miraculous healing capabilities are not exclusively due to the island’s weird powers. Indeed, Locke was a miracle baby, and was likely destined (fickle bitch) to achieve the seemingly impossible.
Even more interesting, we discovered that Richard Alpert — and, one must assume, The Others — have been monitoring Locke since the day he was born. I especially enjoyed his interaction with Locke as a young boy. First off, we saw that Locke had drawn a picture of the Smoke Monster attacking some poor sap. After marveling at that for a moment, Alpert placed several items on the table, including a baseball glove, a mystery comic book, a compass, what appeared to be a vial of sand, and his trusty knife. Alpert merely says to young Locke, “Which one of these belong to you?” Locke is clearly confused, so Alpert specifies “which one ALREADY belongs to you?” After much pondering, Locke eventually grabs the knife — which, again, bears a striking resemblance to the one he uses later in life on the island. Curiously, Alpert reacts with anger and frustration, insisting that Locke got the answer wrong and is not ready to join their “special” school.
This scene was rich with so many possibilities that I do not even know how to approach it. We’ve seen a few instances of time travel, but the only characters that seem to have a grasp on how to control the ability are Ben and, perhaps, Alpert. They seem to be able to say “I want to send my present day consciousness to the future” or “I want to send my present day consciousness to the past.” They may even have the ability to say “I want my future consciousness sent to my present day body.” The time traveling appears to be arbitrary in other instances (one time Desmond’s present day consciousness was sent to the past, in another instance his past consciousness was sent to his present day body. He was unable to control the ability either time). In this episode, Ben stated that he WAS the chosen one, but that the distinction doesn’t last forever. With that in mind, maybe Alpert was the “chosen one” before Ben arrived. And much like how Alpert passed the torch to Ben, it is now Ben’s time to pass the torch to Locke. Consider the following: In their first interaction, Alpert indicated to Ben that he wasn’t yet ready to join them. This seems to echo his sentiment to Locke following the test. And recall that in this very episode, Ben told Hurley that he wasn’t always the leader of The Others.
In one of the episode commentaries from last year’s DVD set, the creators of Lost discuss the interesting relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. According to their explanation, the Panchen Lama’s sole job is to find a replacement Dalai Lama after the presiding one passes away. In turn, it is the Dalai Lama’s duty to find a new Panchen Lama following the death of the current one. In that sense, maybe Alpert’s never was the leader. Perhaps he is the Panchen Lama, whose responsibility is to track down and find the next “Chosen One” and determining when he is ready to undertake that responsibility. It should also be noted that the test that Alpert gave Locke is eerily similar to the one given to determine the new Dalai Lama. Incidentally, it has been brought to light that Ben was born five years after Locke, and that Alpert’s test took place when Locke was five. It has also been noticed by some that the year Locke refuses to go to the science camp (which would perhaps take him to the island), Ben and his father join the Dharma Initiative. Perhaps Ben had to take his role of leader before Locke could, essentially, usurp him. As Ben alluded to several times this episode, this HAD to happen. Locke NEEDED to meet Ben in order to take his metaphorical throne.
We also received confirmation that yes, indeed, Alpert does not age. But how? While it’s already been established (or majorly hinted at, at the very least) that time travel is possible, it’s not your physical body that travels through time, it’s your consciousness. So even if Alpert has the ability to go back to the 1950’s, it would be his present day consciousness in the body of his 50’s self. So there must be something more to it than that. Is he Jacob? No — I don’t believe so. It also probably has nothing to do with the island, as Ben has lived there for 30 or so years and has clearly aged. And Alex, who was born on the island, has aged as well. Very intriguing character indeed.
I’m a bit surprised — and very grateful — that we saw so much of the scene in which Locke walks into the cabin. Much of me expected him to walk in, only to show Ben and Hurley’s reaction (or to jump to another scene), and then later show him leaving. Instead, we did see inside, but Jacob wasn’t there. Instead was a non-suit wearing Christian — who confirmed that he is NOT Jacob, but can speak for him — and, strangely, Claire. Following this scene, I now fully believe that Claire is dead. Looking at the scene superficially, if Claire were still alive, she would have been MUCH more concerned about her baby. Here, she seemed very nonchalant and coy, even as Christian vaguely noted that Aaron is taken care of. I believe that Claire is dead, and dare I suggest that she is now aware of the fact that Aaron DOES get off of the island (and soon), and ultimately that’s all she cares about? It’s actually quite reminiscent of Charlie’s scenario: Yeah, dying sucks, and he didn’t want for it to happen, but if it ensured that the people he cares most about are safe, then so be it. That said, what is Christian’s connection to the island? Is it merely that his dead body and casket were on board when the flight crashed? Or is it something deeper? Several characters, both major and minor, have died on the island, yet none of them have appeared to the extent that Christian has. Then again, maybe it’s no coincidence that he is so deeply intertwined with so many of the central characters (Jack, Claire and by extension Aaron, Sawyer, Ana Lucia….anyone else?)
Finally, I also really liked the idea that both Ben and Widmore’s minions have been trying to groom Locke to do their bidding. Alpert was present throughout all of Locke’s life, and was actively trying to recruit him during that time. However it was Widmore’s man, Abbaddon, who focused in on Locke when he was most desperate and, arguably, most vulnerable. Along with that, Locke clearly does not remember the role Alpert played in his life (understandable since he was so young, and it was likely a relatively minor and brief occurrence in his otherwise tragic life). He likely will recall what Abbaddon had done for him. Perhaps most significant of all, it was Abbaddon’s influence that ultimately led him to the island and, in turn, a life of significance and meaning. This may go a long way with Locke when the two are inevitably reintroduced.
Back to the subject of time travel, there were some more trippy scenes elsewhere, most notably between the island and the freighter. It has already been determined that time exists on a different plane — we don’t know much more than that. But, interestingly, at the moment that the doctor’s body drifted ashore on the island, he was still alive on the freighter. I believe that Daniel understood this, as he seems to have a deeper understanding of this time/space continuum than anybody else. Therefore, when he received the response that the doctor was still alive, and lied about it, I don’t think he did it to deceive anybody. I think it was more a case of him not being able to, or simply not wanting to, explain the time disparity.
Speaking of the freighter, things are getting awfully hostile there. I was glad that the captain referred to the fact that past crew members had gone insane, as it added a little bit of depth to Keamy’s murderous behavior. More than anything else, though, I was deeply intrigued by the fact that Michael is apparently still bullet proof. It had previously been theorized that Michael could not die so that he could fulfill his role on the freighter. But hasn’t he done that by now? As such, shouldn’t he no longer be protected? This would suggest that he still has something to do, and one would think it’s pretty significant. But what? Very interesting stuff.
Next week kicks off the three-part season finale, and holy crap has it been a phenomenal season! One must assume that we find out exactly what leads to the Oceanic Six leaving the island, and based on the previews, we actually SEE the Oceanic Six returning to civilization.