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Connecting the Dots – 1.16, 1.17, 1.18 and 1.19 “Outlaws”, “…In Translation”, “Numbers”, “Deus Ex Machina”

By Fishbiscuit,

  Filed under: Lost Recaps
  Comments: 57

Lost may be set on an Island isolated from time, space and the laws of common physics, but there is no single piece within this puzzle-story that exists in isolation. Everything, everyone, is connected to something, someone, else. By now we’re familiar with these connections. We’re old hands now at the Where’s Waldo game of looking for them in episodes, but back in Season One we were just starting to deke them out. Sometimes it’s a name, or a book title, or an object in the background that cues our attention. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not these hidden trinkets, these Easter Eggs, are anything more than bonus prizes for the super obsessed, but either way, we wouldn’t be half as LOST without them.

This was also the first time we put an ‘Easter egg’ into the show – Hurley on the tv in Korea – and we thought maybe two or three people would catch it. But our audience is so dialed into detail, it didn’t get past them. – Damon Lindelof, TV Guide, May 29, 2005

If Damon ever doubted the OCD level of apophenia in this fandom, he shouldn’t have.

We didn’t just notice the connection between Hurley’s lottery win and the Korean Secretary for Environmental Safety’s living room, where Jin had come to deliver a beat-o-gram courtesy of Mr. Paik.

Some of us even noticed that Locke’s long lost mom had once been a patient in Hurley’s institutional home sweet home.

Some of us may have caught the throwaway connection made when Hurley’s financial advisor informed him that he had just bought a box factory in Tustin, CA, the same town where the box factory regional manager Locke had been sentenced to his cubicle gulag.

But there was no way for us to connect the body that flew by during their conversation in the California high rise …

… with the Californian named John Locke, whose paralyzing eight-story fall we wouldn’t even learn about until two years later.

Now that we have the luxury of hindsight, the connections run as deep as a viewer has the energy to pursue them. We might have expected that we’d someday see the corpse of the drug smuggling Nigerian priests made flesh,

and we did

but we could never have imagined the half of it.

We had no way of knowing back then that when Boone made joyous radio contact with another human voice,

the man on the other end of the line, identifying himself as a “survivor of Oceanic Flight 815”, was none other than Bernard Nadler, DDS.

Why was Locke temporarily lame during Boone’s climb up the terrifying tree-root cliff?

We may have thought it was because he’d been wounded by the metal shard from the trebuchet, but now we have to wonder if he wasn’t sort of existentially lamed by Ethan’s gunshot during his future journey to the past, in order to prevent him from being the one to climb the tree roots and die.

He wasn’t the sacrifice the Island was demanding just yet. It’s like Ethan was there to make sure Locke didn’t jump ahead in line and steal Boone’s ticket to the death lottery.

We’ve gotten so hyper-connected within this convolvulating story that the connections no longer help us find our way. They only leave us more lost than ever, on shakier and shakier ground.

They were already leaving us clues back then, even if we hadn’t yet learned to read them. Like this one telling us that Time would soon start Wrinkling on us.

We can’t have been expected to notice that Sawyer was a Madeleine L’Engle fan. We were all still Easter Egg neophytes at this point. Season One was before anyone thought of things like that, before we ever conceived of time travel and course corrections , before the Dharma Initiative and the Others and Widmore Corporation and Benjamin Linus, before we ever imagined there was a godlike Egyptologist weaving a magical tapestry inside a hollow four toed foot who was destined to be killed through a loophole deviously engineered by his ancient metaphorical nemesis who had long conned John Locke into donating him his body.

In Season One we were still making Connections 101. The connections were mostly simple, even primitive. We learned how all the characters ended up in Australia and why they were all collected inside the fragile hull of the doomed Oceanic Flight 815 on that fateful day. We were learning their backstories. One basic connection fast became obvious:

All of them were hopelessly, helplessly LOST.

Jin had lost his marriage and his moral compass.

Hurley was losing his mind under the incessant attack of the cursed Numbers.

Locke had lost his kidney, his dignity and his last shred of self respect.

Sawyer, conned into committing his first horrifying murder, had lost his soul.

in Season One LOST was a show that was accessible to everyone. It was still keeping its sci fi colors under deep cover. We all knew there was something askew with this story-verse, but we were hypnotized by the carousel of humanity spinning around us. The connections that we noticed in Season One, the connections that most fascinated us, were the ones being made between the characters.

The survivors were becoming a community. When Sawyer needed glasses to heal his splitting headache, it took a village to make him well. The whole gang pitched in.

You can almost hear the Smurf tune in the background, can’t ya?

Or was that just the redshirts starting up their own Blue Man troupe?

Jin wanted to connect to the community, even after they treated him like a terrorist and beat the living crap out of him. He even learned the word for the thing he wanted to do: Boat.

Walt felt so connected to the Island that he burned the raft that was going to disconnect him from it.

Jack, a/k/a The Keymaster, was starting to feel mighty connected to his new job as Boss of Everyone.

After all, nobody got a gun unless Jack let them have a gun. Suck on that, keyless losers.

Sayid decided to cut the Nadia connection that meant so much to him mere days before,

and connect up with the hot, hot blonde who was ready, willing and right there.

Carpe diem, Sayid.

As we approached the back end of Season One, the quality of the storytelling was picking up. Two of the episodes in this group were cited as the favorites of the original creators – J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof – in the May 2005 TV Guide wrap up.


(click to enlarge)

I concur with their choices. It’s an all stellar lineup: The Pilot (J.J.), Exodus (Damon), White Rabbit (Damon), Do No Harm (J.J.). Both Sawyer-centrics made the list: Damon chose Confidence Man, J.J. picked Outlaws. Unsurprisingly, both loved the transcendent episode Walkabout. Surprisingly, they both also chose …In Translation.

One episode that I’m guessing just missed the list was the well titled Deus Ex Machina. Episode titles in Season One were so beautifully chosen, I find myself drawn to interpreting each one. In literature, “deus ex machina” – the god out of the machine – refers to a literary device that is not generally much respected. It derives from the custom in Greek theater to have a god literally lowered down onto the stage. By a machine.

It was the ancient Greek equivalent of a WTF! ending. Aristotle considered it to be a cheat, because nothing the audience had already seen prepared them for it.

“It is obvious that the solutions of plots too should come about as a result of the plot itself, and not from a contrivance.” – Aristotle, Poetics

But despite its bad rep, WTF! is not an unusual method of turning around a story that has gotten itself lost. It’s not always a bad thing. I mean, without gods coming out of machines, where exactly would LOST be?

And we all ended up liking that twist, didn’t we? Even Aristotle had to admit it was often unavoidable.

“it is probable that improbable things will happen. – Aristotle, Poetics

The sepulchral light that lit up the hatch window felt like a sign to the bereft and desperate Locke. But that wasn’t a god down there. It was only Desmond Hume, buried under the earth with his button to push, shining up a light to see what was causing all that racket.

Locke was connected to Desmond before any of us even knew that Desmond existed. At times it almost seemed like Locke had become the hub in the connective wheel.

In just the few short weeks since the crash, Locke had turned Guru. We’d watched Walt seeking him out, admiring him. In these episodes, Locke deepened his connection with the young grasshopper.

To Walt’s amazement, Locke knew that he’d burned his father’s raft, and to Walt’s relief, the secret was safe between soulmates.

Locke knew it was Claire’s birthday. He even gave her a present! A cradle for the baby who would soon be born, another kindred spirit to Locke – the son of a child mother who hadn’t wanted to keep him.

Locke was so tapped into the Island grapevine by this point, he was even giving advice to Shannon on her love life.

But the person Locke had become most closely connected to was his devoted acolyte, Boone, whose faith in Locke was about to become a waking nightmare.

They were a kind of Master and Apprentice … except that it wasn’t clear what exactly Locke might be a master of.

Every day Boone went out into the jungle with Locke and dug holes and pounded fruitlessly on the sealed up hatch. He helped him build a trebuchet.

“It’s called a trebuchet because it’s a trebuchet.” – John Locke

Boone gave a lot more than just blood, sweat and tears to Locke. He put up with a constant stream of crazy shit.

But more than anything, Boone listened to the old coot. And Locke had a lot to say. He filled their working days with long dissertations on The Meaning of Lost Island.

The Island had made him whole. They were supposed to be on The Island. The Island would tell them what it wanted them to do. The Island had given everyone a new life. The Island would test their commitment but if only they kept faith, the Island would show them how to open the hatch. Everything breaks if you apply enough force.

Boone knew Locke was pretty much batshit insane. Still he couldn’t help but absorb some of his rabid intensity. It was all SO clear to Locke. Maybe it was that certainty alone that convinced Boone to follow his leader.

Straight over a cliff.

Before that tragedy, Locke and Boone, for their brief wrinkle in time together, had become a kind of father and son.

And father and son, as we have seen time and again on LOST, is a connection that matters. A lot. Daddy issues were equal opportunity in this story. As Locke told Walt, everybody’s got a dad. It’s a universal connection. Everybody’s got a mom too, of course, but on LOST mothers don’t seem to be quite as important. Unless they’re filled with heroin.

Or have a funny accent.

Mostly on LOST, it’s the Y chromosome that counts.

Locke had been so hungry to have a real, live dad all these years that he was a sitting duck for the slimy conman who claimed to have donated a sperm on his behalf 40 years before. All it took was some drinkin’ and some shootin’ and Locke was ready to hand over his internal organs. Anything for dear old Dad.

Jin had a sweet, wise father, loving and forgiving – a true anomaly on LOST.

But to make up for it, he had the father in law from hell, a mean sturgeon faced psychopath who had Jin by the balls and didn’t plan on ever letting go.

Sawyer’s father was a pair of pointy toed, high heeled cowboy boots.

That’s all we ever saw of him, making it all the more sadly ironic to hear Sawyer referred to so often as a cowboy, or to hear him tell someone to “cowboy up”. The cowboy who killed himself on his little boy’s bed was an animal.

And Sawyer had been chasing the wrong man rather than deal with the fact that the enemy he should have been hating on all these years was his own daddy.

Since this is a story of connections, it stands to reason that the connection between Locke and Sawyer would be made through a Dad.

The same coldblooded con man who had snatched Locke’s kidney was the same ruthless creep who had conned this little boy’s family into oblivion.

We knew nothing about any of that then. But all the seeds had been planted for the story that was yet to unfold.

Perhaps the most memorable connection made in these episodes was the one forged between Sawyer and Kate in one of Lost’s signature scenes from Season One – the great “I Never” fireside chat from Outlaws, about which J. J. Abrams had this to say:

“I loved the dynamic between Sawyer and Kate. It proved to me that two people talking in the jungle could be as compelling as running from a monster.” – J. J. Abrams

“I Never” is a drinking game that lets you tell the things you’ve done by only admitting to what you have not. It started light and teasing. The tomboy had never worn pink. The redneck had never kissed a man.

It was just a game, a way to catch a much needed buzz after weeks of staggering hardship.

Quickly, the revelations turned personal. Kate had never had a one night stand. Sawyer had never been in love. Kate had been married, for at least a New York minute.

What made them slip into such sudden, unexpected intimacy? Why were they telling each other these things? They began to needle one another.

She teased him about chasing a boar. He challenged her for wanting to take off into the night and be alone with him.

She lashed out about his letter. She was teasing, but it cut deeper than she’d thought.

He asked her flat out if she had ever killed a man. She looked him in the eye and told him yes.

Darkly, brokenly, he confessed that he had too.

There was silence, maybe shock, that they’d exposed themselves so utterly to one another. In the morning they were back to snarking and bitching at each other,

but the encounter had left its mark. For reasons we have yet to discover, the writers had decided to give this love story the slow burn.

Kate was there to witness the moment when Sawyer let escape the boar he’d gone into the jungle to hunt. She didn’t know exactly what she was seeing when it happened, had no idea yet of the thing that was haunting Sawyer, but she could not look away. She was connecting to him. And we would see this connection continue to build, in ways big and small, past and present, on Island and off it.

In the Season Five finale, we saw another connection. Of all those he touched, Jacob chose only two children. He helped one child to see that, for her, crime might just pay.

And he encouraged the other child to hold tight to his anger and pain.

Why did Jacob choose only two children and why did he make a point of teaching them exactly the wrong life lessons? It was almost like he wanted to be sure they both ended up getting lost in the lives that were ahead of them, like he wanted to make sure they grew up to be a couple of Outlaws.

The “I Never” scene was notable, not only for Season One but for LOST in general, because it contained something very rare for this show – actual communication.

Connection after all takes language. And asking questions, giving answers – that’s something that doesn’t happen too often on LOST.

Jin let himself be beat almost into brain damage rather than signal to Michael that he had not burned the raft. Miscommunication leads to assumptions.

Watching Sun and Jin wrestle over her bathing suit on the beach, everyone assumed that Jin was a brutal abuser. No one suspected that he was instead the gentlest and most trustworthy of men.

Sun could have helped connect him to the larger group if she’d only revealed she spoke English, but Sun, for reasons known only to her, was hoarding the power of language to herself.

Sun and Jin parted bitterly in this episode, a reminder of just how fragile our connections to one another really are.

At the end of this episode, Hurley also loses his connection to the word. When the batteries on his CD player run down, he takes off the headphones with calm resignation. It was a poignant moment, not least because it had been inevitable for some time. It was a powerful reminder of just how alone and disconnected the survivors really were.

… In Translation, another great title, might be taken to mean “(LOST) … In Translation”. Or perhaps it’s a reference to “In Translation” by James Merrill, a poem about (I think) a child putting together a jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t seem to know what picture it wants to be.

Lost, is it, buried? One more missing piece?
But nothing’s lost. Or else: all is translation?
And every bit of us is lost in it
.
– James Merrill, “In Translation”

There is a scene in … In Translation where for a minute we are inside Jin’s head, listening to the quarrels of the people around him, not a word of which he can understand. We get a chance to experience briefly what it has been like to be Jin. The voices are actually the soundtrack being played backward in that scene. It’s very short, and it’s the only time Jin’s language problems ever gets that much consideration, but it brings home the point. Without language, Jin is disconnected, as any of us would be.

The Island has its own language, and not just the one Locke is trying to hear. When Sawyer chases the boar into the jungle, he is suddenly engulfed in a swirl of hissing, whispering voices.

Like Sayid in Solitary, Sawyer can’t hear most of what the whispers are saying. However if only he had the the proper decoding audio software, he could have heard them saying a lot of creepy things, like “I knew he was American” or “He’s been in a plane crash” or “Hide against the bushes” or “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry”. The voices seem to be talking about Sawyer as he stumbles around mesmerized and confused:

Female Voice: “Maybe we should just talk to him”
Male Voice: “No if he see us it will ruin everything”
Male Voice: “What did he see?”
Female Voice: “They could help us”
Male Voice:“Can’t trust”
Male Voice: “Come back around”

Sawyer’s whispers differed from Sayid’s in that there was one clear phrase repeated in the middle of the otherwise indecipherable murmurs. There were the dying words of the innocent man Sawyer wrongfully murdered in cold blood, to his own immeasurable horror.

“It’ll come back around.”

Karma. The ring of birth and death that never ends, that none escape.

The incessant, inexorable wheel of causation and consequence.

After watching Sawyer’s tragic tale in Outlaws it felt like Sawyer’s soul was doomed to damnation. But no moral quandary on LOST is ever that clear, especially not when Sawyer is involved.

On his first pass, we saw that Sawyer hadn’t been able to bring himself to shoot the shambly old Yank, the nice enough dude who only wanted to cook him up some hot shrimp, half price. He ran. His soul would have been saved, he could have gone home with his conscience clean.

Except that he had the misfortune to run into a certain sozzled Boston doctor, in a bar bathed in an almost beatific light, who convinced him to get on with his business, and put that bullet into the man he thought deserved it, and finally get to read the letter that Jacob had helped him write. What was it with Jacob and his emissaries giving Sawyer very, very bad advice just when he was at his most vulnerable?

Sawyer’s story, in Outlaws as in Confidence Man, is a black diamond of exquisite moral contradictions.

No child in the Lost-verse has ever been more grievously harmed than Sawyer. But the murder he committed was the act of a grown man.

He had been conned into committing the murder, a karmic justice right there. We saw the horror and regret break instantly across his face when he realized what he’d done. But he couldn’t have ever been conned if he hadn’t been nursing evil in his heart.

He remains haunted, by the evil he has done and the evil done unto him.

In the years since, we have come to see that there is a world of good inside Sawyer, so what does his story mean? How are we to take it?

After freeing the boar Sawyer seemed to feel lighter, happy again, back to needling Lord Jack. Did that mean his guilt had been exorcised? Is it ever possible to be free of that kind of guilt?

Or is Sawyer trapped forever in a perpetual loop, both victimizer and victim, a creature inspiring equal parts of pity and fear? For Sawyer, will it always and inexorably come back around?

Karma is not an easy concept to understand, and it’s no easier when we’re all speaking the same language. Sometimes it’s a relief to just dispense with language entirely.

That brings us to the subject that is near and dear to the hearts of all original flavor LOST fans. When you really want to get lost on LOST, the thing to concentrate on is the Numbers. Mathematics is a unversal language, and Numbers are the indispensible building blocks of mathematical connection.

Hurley’s first great centric was a classic. Actually I think this one could have gone on Damon and J.J.’s list as well. The famous Numbers first showed up on Hurley’s lottery ticket. After that, they’d be popping up all over the place. At the end of the episode, we got an eerie glimpse of them stamped into the lid of the unopened hatch.

But that was just the beginning. In later months and years, we’d see them on the medicine vials.

On a girls soccer team.

On the odometer of Hurley’s Camaro.

On Eko’s magic stick.

The Numbers are the subject of endless fascination and speculation. LOST attracts a special breed of intellectually gifted interpreters, as any online fan knows. The things they have discovered about the numbers is truly awe inspiring. You might be interested to know that the numbers hold a valid Diophantine relation, that they appear in a mathematical relationship to the Flavius-Josephus sieve … and, what’s more, if you hold the ALT key in notepad/wordpad (font type must be “System”) and type the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42, and then release ALT, you will get the Greek symbol µ (Mu) which is the name of the lost continent Lemuria, which is similar to Atlantis! Don’t try and tell me that’s an accident!

But what do they mean to we of little brain? Anything? In a May 2008 interview with Kristin of E!, Damon Lindelof seemed to hint that the infamous Numbers didn’t actually mean a dang thing.

“There are some questions that are very engaging and interesting, and then there are other questions that we have no interest whatsoever in answering. We call it the midi-chlorian debate, because at a certain point, explaining something mystical demystifies it. To try and have a character come and say, “Here is what the numbers mean,” actually makes every usage of the numbers up to that point less interesting….You can actually watch Star Wars now, and when Obi-Wan talks about the Force to Luke for the first time, it loses its luster because the Force has been explained as, sort of, little biological agents that are in your blood stream. So you go, “Oh, I liked Obi-Wan’s version a lot better.” Which in the case of our show is, “The numbers are bad luck, they keep popping up in Hurley’s life, they appear on the island.” … But if you’re watching the show for a detailed explanation of what the numbers mean—and I’m not saying you won’t see more of them—then you will be disappointed by the end of season six.”

You know I just don’t think that explanation could ever be acceptable to the kind of obsessives who managed to connect the Numbers to the lost island of Atlantis via their keyboards. So in 2009, again with E!, Damon took another crack at it and this time he did better:

“Here’s the story with the numbers. The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn’t wipe it itself out.”

Muuuuuuch better. It’s important to give the literal minded among us something to connect with. Personally, I’m fine with swimming around in a sea of vague multicultural free associations. I enjoy it. When Michael started rhapsodizing about the architectural genius of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, it didn’t just strike me that the Flatiron was a triangle – LOST’s favorite shape – but I also recognized right away the location: 23rd Street!

It doesn’t mean anything, but gee, it’s kinda cool. Once you know the Numbers you can dig out Easter Eggs all over the place.

The numbers add up to 108 – the number of Penelope’s suitors when Odysseus was away, the number of names for each Hindu god, the number of beads in a Buddhist prayer mala, the number of times the bell is rung for Japanese New Year and in China, the most fortunate of lucky numbers.

Hurley wore a medallion on his neck with the Chinese symbol known as LU, which means Luck, specifically the luckiness of Prosperity.

There was cruel irony in that choice of symbol of course because Hurley never had a lucky day after the Numbers had made him prosperous. He became obsessed with discovering the source behind the curse. He was connected to the numbers via his pal Leonard from Santa Rosa,

who was connected to the numbers via his old Navy buddy, Sam Toomey.

Sam Toomey had built himself a house in the middle of nowhere, so as to be in a place where his numerical curse couldn’t hurt anyone but himself. Except for his wife, Martha, who had already lost her leg – in a car crash, the night after Sam had guessed there were exactly 4,815,162,342 beans in the jar at the Kalgoorlie fair.

Despite her loss and despite Sam being driven to madness and suicide by the Numbers, Martha refused to submit to the concept of a curse. She was emphatic in declaring to Hurley that bad things happen all the time, and everyone is still responsible for making their own luck. It was a classic Fate vs. Free Will dichotomy.

It was also in stark contrast to the philosophy expressed by Christian Shephard in the bar with Sawyer.

Christian’s core belief was fatalistic. Where Martha represented Free Will, Chris was a true believer in Fate. And in Curses. His slogan was “That’s why the Sox will never win the Series”, a reference to the once hapless Boston Red Sox who, as of September 2004, hadn’t won a world series since they’d sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920 and brought down the Curse of the Bambino on themselves.

It’s an interesting reference, and maybe a clue as to where the writers true affiliation lies in this perpetual debate between Fate and Free Will. The episode was set in September, 2004, about a month before the Bambino’s Curse was finally broken. On October 28, 2004, with a lunar eclipse adding a final surreal touch, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

After defeating the hated Yankees in the ALCS championship no less! After being down 3-0 and winning the last 4 straight. How’s that for Fate?

What to make of it? By the time Outlaws aired on Feb. 16, 2005, we all knew that Christian’s life philosophy had become permanently irrelevant. Was that a clue that fatalism was the false path? That Fate can sometimes bring good things? Or does it mean Free Will controls the outcome? Even if it takes 86 years to come back around.

Hurley’s quest to solve the secret of the Numbers had been in vain, until he finally met up with the crazy French chick.

He was driven to find her after he’d found her scribblings of the Numbers on one of her maps. Like Sam Toomey, Rousseau had heard the Numbers beaming through the atmosphere, repeated on an endless loop over a radio transmission. Her crew had followed the Numbers to the Island, as if they were magnetized by them, and been ruined there. Meeting Rousseau was a great relief for Hurley. Finally someone who understood what the Numbers had meant for him, how it felt to have your whole life stolen from you by a string of inanimate digits.

Rousseau listened to Hurley and then she agreed. They had both been cursed by the Numbers, the mysterious integers whose power had drawn them both to this same cursed place. That was all he needed, someone to understand him. They connected with a kingsize hug.

Rousseau’s belief that the Numbers were responsible for them landing on the Island sounds like an argument for Fate again. It’s a question that keeps spinning around and around. We all know by now we’re not getting the answer to that question until the bitter end, if then. In this game, we just have to accept we don’t know when or where they’re finally going to spring the trap.

In the Bible, the Book of Numbers tells the story of the Jews as they wandered in the desert, after they had left Egypt but before they entered the Promised Land. It’s also known as the Book of Aaron, because Moses’s big brother gets to play quite a prominent role in this part of the Exodus. As always, we are never far from Biblical allusions on LOST.

“When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. “ – Numbers 12:6

Locke, the visionary, the dreamer, ended his episode in a state of despair, reduced from mystical wise man to a traumatized, unhinged child.

But the behavior we’d seen from him didn’t lend itself to literal understanding. None of it made sense. How did he know why Sawyer had been out in the jungle?

How did he know it was Claire’s birthday?

What spirit told him about Boone’s childhood nanny, Theresa, who had fallen up and down the stairs and broke her neck doing the bidding of a tyrannical six year old Boone?

How did he know that Walt had burned the raft?

Why did he try to convince the rest of the group that unseen Others had burned the raft when he knew all along it was his little backgammon playing buddy?

What was Locke’s agenda, right from the beginning? Rewatching Season One, I often feel like I’m missing something, some connection between the Locke we saw then and the Locke we saw at the end of Season Five.

There is more to Season One Locke than just a quirky old nut who likes the scenery on Craphole Island. But what?

There is a moment while Locke is building Aaron’s crib. Hearing that he has made his own glue out of rendered animal fat, Claire is fascinated, as are we all, by Locke’s incredible array of exotic abilities. Without tools or measuring sticks or levels or squares he has put together quite a quaint little manger for the Island’s chosen one.

He explains to Claire that he is good at “putting bits and pieces together”. Connecting things. Now that is the same thing all of us are trying to do whenever we watch an episode of LOST. That’s the whole technique of the whole big puzzle-game. But for some reason that comment reminded me of this recent Easter Egg, one of the more in-your-face book titles we’ve been given during the history of LOST.

Everything that rises must converge. As we approach final landing, I don’t get the feeling that all this confusion is yet coalescing into anything. Is all this dizzying complexity going to connect in the end to form one unified, transcendent reality? We are still waiting to find out. But it won’t be long now.

It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

From TVFrenzy:

  • Major FX

    Well done, Mr. Biscuit. The right way to ramp it up to the beginning of the end. Thanks.

    • Eileen

      It’s Miss Biscuit…………the Fish is a female! A shark with snark.

      • Major FX

        Sorry, everybody is Mister to me, Mister. Unless proven otherwise. Mister Miss. Hee.

  • Leachpunk

    Great article, I enjoyed reading your connections and thought you did a very good job. Keep it up!

  • Eural

    Wow…just wow.

  • earl of cheddar

    Yet another awesome write up from Fishbiscuit. Thanks so much for doing these! They always remind me why we all love this show so much.

  • Eural

    Just a thought (or stupid question) is there anywhere on the web where all of these articles can be (or are) collected? I would love to have someplace to save ’em for future reference and reviewing.

    • marc

      Earl.. fishbiscuitland.blogspot.com fish thanks for chillin on the jack bashin for once

      • Eural

        Thanks a bunches!

  • K’ana heik

    A beautiful post, some of the connections you make here I’ve missed entirely, even though I’m on my fourth re-watch. Though I’m with Eural, is there a place on the site where these are collected?

  • These recaps are great!

    My only issue is that it wasn’t Locke that fell off of Hurley’s building.

    • KJJ

      Yes, that is my gripe too.
      Locke was pushed from his father’s suite in the year 2000. Hurley was speaking to his accountant, not in hotel or holiday resort, but in an office building in late 2003 or early 2004. Not to mention, there is no building across from Anthony Cooper’s suite, which there is from Hurley’s Accountant’s window. And, the angle at which Locke falls is different.
      Not the same person. But otherwise, great recap.

      • JimmyFord

        I don’t think fish was inferring that it was Locke. Just pointing out a bit of foreshadowing D&C used.

  • donuteyes

    that was pretty f***ing cool!

  • spinflip

    The Chinese character actually seems to be ? (Chinese FU, Japanese FUKU), but it means ‘wealth, luck, fortune’ too.

    Also, it seems that no one notices that Jacob actually said to Kate ‘you won’t steal again, will you?’ (or something like that) before tipping her nose. So he definitely does not encourage crime. I think one shouldn’t overinterpret here. Jacob believes that people will make the right choices by themselves and he doesn’t intervene much. To me, helping someone out with a pen is hardly equal to an encouragement to hold to anger and pain!

    • K’ana heik

      While Jacob does say “you won’t steal again,” he also rewards the young Kate with the lunchbox she was going to steal, illustrating that to get what you want, you can steal it, and even when caught, still get what you want.
      When Jacob gives Sawyer the pen, it can be assumed he knows exactly what just happened, and given his seeming omniscience about the survivor’s lives, knows that by finishing the letter, Sawyer will never be able to let go of that moment. From what we’ve seen, Jacob doesn’t seem to want anyone to make the “right” choices, as much as the choices that lead them to where Jacob wants them.
      I wouldn’t say it was overinterpreting as much as trying to uncover Jacob’s incredibly murky motives.

    • MoniquE

      Jacob doesn’t intervene much? I think that’s a huge misinterpretation. He may pretend he’s leaving them free choice, but the way he intervenes makes their final choice inevitable. And he obviously is intervening for a reason. He knows their future or what he wants their future to be. He’s not just a random guy passing through their lives. He got Kate off scot free AND she got to keep the thing she stole. If he hadn’t showed up, Sawyer’s uncle would have probably talked him out of doing the letter. He put the guitar case right into Hurley’s taxi! He basically got Nadia killed. I don’t know how you can watch those scenes and say Jacob isn’t intervening very dramatically. Though the Jack one was weird and didn’t make much sense, but maybe it will make sense later.

  • meems

    Fish! You are brilliant as usual. You are my very favorite Lost blogger, and I always anxiously await your posts. Thanks thanks thanks again for the insightful interpretations, connections, humor, and vision you share with us!!!!

  • Eural

    And let’s not forget some of the other touches. He grabs Sayid’s attention just in time to prevent him from seeing the oncoming car (and wasn’t Nadia distracted as well?). Hurley has just made a concentrated effort to break from the island and Jacob is waiting with the ultimate guilt/sentimental tool of Charlie’s guitar to pull him back. He blesses Jin and Sun’s wedding – a marriage destined to draw them to the island by it’s slow crash and burn, etc. etc. And remember, Ben did clearly state that they were good guys! 🙂

  • Zoriah

    Thanks Ms Fish for another insightful and entertaining recap. It’s too bad you had to review them in chunks as I’d love to read in more depth what you thought of each individual episode of that first stellar season. But, no matter, I simply am amazed at how well you are able to distill things down to such a concise and evocative article.

    You always seem to find things I missed the first time around, and offer connections and possible theories that get me thinking about the bigger picture of Lost. These recaps have definitely gotten me even more psyched for this final upcoming season, that’s for sure!

    I always thought the use of connect four in Hurley’s episode was a great larger metaphor for the show in the sense that there are connections between our major and minor players that we might not see immediately, but are there to be discovered.

    And I agree that it’s interesting that Jacob’s visits have a strange ‘enabling’ and interfering quality to them. Perhaps what he says to Jack is a clue? About only needing a nudge? In his case it would appear that he’s appearing at certain points in our Losties’ lives to ensure they are on a path which aids him in the final fight with his black-shirted companion. He showed Kate that crime could pay, and even getting caught doesn’t have to have consequences. He made sure little Sawyer had the ink to write his letter. Which reminded me of the time Claire tries to sign the adoption papers and the pen won’t work.

    Outlaws is one of my fave episodes of the season. I just love the crackling chemistry of Sawyer and Kate getting to know each other, but even more importantly, seeing into Sawyer’s haunted soul and the jaw-dropping revelation of Sawyer meeting Christian in the aussie bar.

  • lylebot

    I’m amused that you like Damon’s “Vanzetti equation” explanation of the numbers. Personally I thought it kind of proved his point 🙂

  • dm

    Ugh. Completely misunderstands deus ex machina (concept and episode). Distilling it to “wtf” and other sorts of internet gibberish is a shame.

    • SeeYouOnMadMen,Phil

      we’re talking about lost, dude, we ain’t no theater historians.
      To speak about greek tragedy in proper terms is very complicated.. are you Nietzsche?
      I think Fishby’s equation was accettable and gives us an idea of what DEM was.
      Otherwise, please explain us.

      • Andy

        Don’t bother with DM. He seems to have a strange love/hate obsession with Fish that’s quite transparent.

        • dm

          Yo, that doesn’t make her recaps any less flimsy. If anything, the response from SeeYouOnMadMen only serves as evidence of my previous argument against these things.

          For the other guy, here’s an example of deus ex machina that is delivered weekly by the show FRINGE:

          FBI girl and her pal can’t make any headway in the case. The scientist plays in his lab and confuses “hypothesis” and “theory” like they mean the same thing. After thirty-five minutes of helpless floundering, Massive Dynamic steps in and says “Oh, well, we always had this special device that could help you solve the case.”

          In the case of LOST, we see this with the drug plane. Locke believes it is some kind of supernatural intervention that will lead to glory or some fantastic fate, but all it does is kill Boone, sows distrust and hatred within the camp, and leaves him as confused and lost as ever. When he bangs on the hatch which leads to the light, we are led to believe this is some kind of hand of god touching this lost man and setting him back on his path– but in a giant reversal, we discover it isn’t anything of the sort. It’s just another scared man investigated something that is frightening.

          All of this should raise questions about what the show is really saying at about fate (or how people perceive what it means to be fated) and the mechanics of its realization. It is definitely not establishing “WTF!” or however simple and crassly stated, which is strange since the quote from Aristotle succinctly defines the concept. It’s an episode that has a lot for discovery. Wasn’t really properly explored in this write-up at all.

          • Lego

            I thought the “wtf!” comment was quite funny and in keeping with reaction of the audience when deus ex machina is used. He included the Aristotle quote which as you put it “succinctly defines the concept.” Why should he bother to redefine it again?

            Also, your example of deus ex machina from Lost is complete off.

            Stop being a douche.

          • DM: WTF are you talking about???

            Great job as always, Fish!

  • Dusk

    To DM – I’m kinda glad all this stuff you are talking about wasn’t talked about – it’s psuedo-intellectual gibberish – at least in your words. Hey, the university called, it wants its pretentiousness back.

  • MoniquE

    To DM – Does this dude even read these reviews before he starts whining about them?

    Here’s how he describes one scene: “When he bangs on the hatch which leads to the light, we are led to believe this is some kind of hand of god touching this lost man and setting him back on his path– but in a giant reversal, we discover it isn’t anything of the sort. It’s just another scared man investigated something that is frightening.”

    Here’s how Fish described the same scene: “The sepulchral light that lit up the hatch window felt like a sign to the bereft and desperate Locke. But that wasn’t a god down there. It was only Desmond Hume, buried under the earth with his button to push, shining up a light to see what was causing all that racket.”

    There’s no difference.

    As far as the WTF comparison, I liked it. Obviously the Aristotle quote shows Fish knows the stuffy, academic way to describe d-e-x. WTF is a nice succinct way of putting it in layman’s terms, to keep it light and fun, since most normal sane people seem to understand that’s supposed to be the point – of Lost and of recaps like this. I once asked DM why he didn’t write his own reviews but now that I’m familiar with his arguments, I’m really glad he doesn’t bother. Who would want to read them?

    • Ann

      No one would read them and he is too lazy to write them. Instead he hitchhikes his way onto the Fish’s work as a faux intellectual with an ax to grind. Don’t look now DM but your stupid is showing.

    • dm

      There is a difference– fb describes that as “wtf!” (creating a surprising event for suspense/cliffhanger) rather than plot resolution. In the show, however, it needs to be considered in junction with the Nigerian plane (the plane is the device that is supposed to produce resolution; it does not. The hatch is supposed to produce resolution; it does not. So, again, what does this say?)

      “WTF” has nothing to do with deus ex machina, stuffy or not.

      • MoniquE

        No I don’t think she was describing the hatch light as a wtf. I think she was just making another connection there and her description was a duplicate of yours. But who really cares? Are we curing cancer here or having fun with a tv show that’s on a long hiatus? Where does Fish ever pretend to be some kind of intellectual purist? That’s you, not her. Stop projecting. Alternate suggestion – go buy a sense of humor.

  • Funback Joe

    I gotta say, DM has a point. I love these write-ups, but I do agree that Deus ex machina wasn’t properly or correctly described. Its just a small issue within the whole write-up, which is once again brilliantly put together, and if DM does this a lot then that is a different issue, but in this case he or she has a point.

    Further compounding this is the backlash about his or her ‘pseudo intellectual’ argument. The problem is there is nothing pseudo about it. It is written and spelled correctly, and the point is valid, two qualities that can for some reason irk the bloggorati.

    Again, if this is something DM does all the time just to cause a stir, then that is a different thing altogether, but in this case I find the point he or she made to be worthy of discussion, not just angry rebukes.

  • Tom

    There are so many of these kind of connections in the storyline. Another connection that I don’t think is mentioned here is that in one of the episodes in Season 5, Jack says how for his father’s funeral, he could only find some old tennis shoes for his father to be buried in. And then in Season 1 when Jack starts to see his father, he is wearing old tennis shoes. Amazing. For the latest Lost Season 6 spoilers, trailers, theories and more, please take some time to visit my blog: Lost Season 6

  • GeigerCounter

    that guy Hurley saw falling out the window was not Locke

  • Very good point about there being more to Locke in Season 1 than in later seasons.

    The only explanation I can think of is that his encounter with the Smoke Monster early on gave him insight and put him in tune with the Island, something he mostly lost after his faith was shattered in Season 2.

    But then again, it seems the Smoke Monster might have been manipulating him all along, so why would his lack of faith even be punished since it might go against the plan of Jacob’s nemesis?

  • dm

    It’s not off at all. Locke tries to open the hatch. He can’t. He sees a vision of a plane (this is important). He believes this will resolve the conflict. The plane doesn’t resolve the conflict. Locke bangs on the hatch. He believes the light is some kind of supernatural intervention in his crisis of faith.

    Take note that we are talking about a vision which is introduced outside the normal efforts of the survivors.

    The implication of deus ex machina (in this episode) is later revealed to be completely ironic once we learn the light is meaningless.

    • Eural

      Maybe I’m reading you wrong but your complaint seems to be that there is no literal DEM in the episode even though the title and set-up clearly refer to one. My thinking is that, like much else in the series, things are not what they appear to be (hence the irony you commented on). For me the initial scenes produce a great WTF moment that then is repeated when we learn they were not what we thought they were. It’s also a commentary by the writers on the nature of faith and belief. So, yes, it is not a true DEM, but it is the use of the term and set-up for a different resolution and meaning – which only works in its irony because of the mis-direction from the classical reference. Why is that such a bad thing?

      • gripp

        Whether or not an actual Deus Ex Machina took place is irrelevant, since the title can easily be interpreted in terms Locke believing that the discovery of the machine-like hatch was a gift from God.

        Sheesh.

  • dm

    Yeah, I think you are misunderstanding what I am saying. I don’t have any gripe with how deus ex machina was approached in the how. I thought it was great. You also have to take into account that its function within the episode is based on how much we and the characters know up to that point in the episode. It isn’t until later that the whole perspective of those events are undermined. It’s very clever and effective in providing debate on the subject of fate.

    My gripe comes from FBs discussion and explanation of deus ex machina. It kind of misses and distorts what it means and what it employs.

    And to be honest, I stopped reading the review a little after that point. Usually I’m willing to give her reviews a concession or two because they do have a few valid or interesting perspectives. I was just soured after posing.

  • MoniquE

    So DM just admitted that he only read enough of the article to find something to bitch about and then he ran to the comments section to give his “valid criticism” of something he didn’t bother to read. You are the type that gives intellectual poseurs a bad name. See you next week when you’ll be one of the first to read Fish’s article with bated breath. Poser.

    • dm

      So you’re not going to complain about FB reading just a portion of a wikipedia article and then pretending to understand concepts she obviously doesn’t?

      I didn’t discuss this whole review. I discussed a specific portion that I did read. I make no claim to anything else. I usually read through the whole reviews– but for this one? I couldn’t get myself to care enough to continue.
      And I’m honest enough to say that.

      • MoniquE

        So we know this about you DM-
        1. You hate Fish’s reviews yet you read them religiously.
        2. You don’t really read them, just skim them looking for something to be a prick about.
        3. You think this makes you superior to other people who like them.

        I think it kills you that other people enjoy these reviews and appreciate another fan’s hard work. I don’t know why but thats how it looks. You’ve lost the argument that you’re only offering valid criticism since you admitted you’re just looking for something to shoot down. Now the question is – what is your real problem? Why is such a serious intellectual bothering with such dreck? Maybe next time you get a break from the library, you could do something useful with your time instead of trying to feel important by being a petty bitch.

        • dm

          1) I don’t read them religiously. I read them leisurely. Some I complete with indifference. Some of her reviews are flat out wrong and kind of stupid, and those bother me. And, like I have already mentioned, sometimes there is something interesting.
          2) This was the first review I stopped reading.
          3) No, I think we’ve already dealt with this trite accusation.

          I never admitted I look for things to shoot down. I never even said anything of the sort. I said I stopped reading after she misinterpreted deus ex machina. Infact, here’s what I said:

          “I usually read through the whole reviews– but for this one? I couldn’t get myself to care enough to continue.”

          “And to be honest, I stopped reading the review a little after that point. Usually I’m willing to give her reviews a concession or two because they do have a few valid or interesting perspectives. I was just soured after [her] posing [with deus ex machina].”

          I’m not really sure what you were trying to do with those comments. A person should never be afriad to investigate alternate interpretations even if it is disagreeable. Multiple sources, understanding perspectives, that kind of stuff. I rarely agree with FB, but I still want to know how and what she and her fanbase discusses. Is there something wrong with that? I even disagree with writers I enjoy. You’re allowed to do that, you know.

          • MoniquE

            Dude. You lost the whole “trying to understand varying perspectives” argument when you admitted you stopped reading, yet ran to comments to bash. It’s plainly obvious that you read these reviews for no reason other than to bash them. You know you don’t like them, yet you need to make a point to bash them – religiously.

            You claim you are a serious, busy student. Really? And in your busy life you take the time to read a review you don’t like, about a pop tv show, to demonstrate some nonsense about investigating alternate perspectives? In this big wide world, with the entire internet at your fingertips, you need to KEEP “investigating” an “alternate perspective” you clearly despise and only look to denigrate?

            You are fooling no one, except maybe yourself. You are a pompous asstard with some kind of sick axe to grind against Fish. Why the hell does a serious, busy intelligentsia as yourself needs to know what Fish and her fans feel or think? Over and over and over and over, just so he can be a little bitch about it? There’s no good explanation and you’ve exposed yourself as a hypocrite. Case closed.

  • dm

    You must think taking three or four minutes to make a simple comment is wildly time consuming. And you must think some people don’t have free time.

    You’re blowing hot air. It’s strange. Nothing I said has been invalidated just because I stopped reading. I just lost interest and moved onto reading something else. The personal attacks are kind of boring. You wouldn’t know if you’re right one way or the other. But what does it matter: FB is still didn’t discuss deus ex machina in any useful fashion.

    I don’t know how many times I need to quote myself,but I know every time will be just as misread as the last. You don’t even seem to understand the word “religiously.” But here’s a tip: you have to learn to accept that people will disagree with you or people you like. You can’t defend everything (now is it even worth the time). FB is most often wrong about the things she says. But even within all the nonsense, she says something intriguing.

    That took a few minutes to write. I don’t think my day will be adversely affected while I goofed off before eating breakfast.

    • lostinurcrapz

      I can’t get back those 10 minutes, can I? Why did I read that thread! Holy shit! You are all pretty f*#%ing boring. I’m glad we don’t have a book club together. Please here, comment away, reply, bash, contrive your diatribes. I stumbled on this page and will never intentionally be back…tell me all about what you think about ME!! You should all try something. If you don’t agree with somebody..why try to change them..their loss, right?

      Ohhhhh, you’re afraid of losing the rightousness..that you think you have..but don’t really want..cuz that, that would make you bad. 🙂 Enjoy.

      • dm

        Yeah, the assumptive personal attacks towards someone you don’t know is pretty boring. I might as well start yelling at strangers for being visitors from Saturn or something.

        • MoniquE

          Honey, don’t look now but he’s talking about you too. Sigh. Are ALL fanboys such presumptive twits? Or is that confined to the pompous pseudo intellectuals among them?

  • marcus

    This is kind of funny. I too stopped after reading FB’s diatribe regarding deus ex machina. I went straight to the comments just to see if anyone had commented about these ridiculous notions, and low and behold DM is on the exact same page as me. Though much harsher than needed to be, DM seems to be dropping nothing but truth bombs!

    • MoniquE

      Diatribe? Lazy, self important snipes = truth bombs? LOL!

      Keep up the great work Fish. I’m glad you don’t ever bother to confront these asinine fanboys. You know you’re getting to them when they can’t discuss anything constructive and pick something as minor as this to harp on.

      • dm

        You fascinate me.

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