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5.01/5.02: What Nikki Noticed

By Nikki Stafford,

  Filed under: Lost Recaps
  Comments: 23


Hey y’all, and welcome to season 5 of Lost! A big thanks to DocArzt for inviting me to post on his excellent site. I’m sure the last couple of days have been a squeefest at your house as well as mine, and last night did not disappoint. I’ve been fielding the lively discussion that followed my episode guide post to last night’s two episodes over on my blog, and my readers are as perceptive as ever (thanks to them for helping me shape this column with some of their comments!).

And what a way to start the season! Lies, reunions, the return of characters we thought we’d never see again… and wicked ninja moves in a safehouse. (Seriously… forget ADT. Just have lots of chef’s knives sticking up in the dishwasher and keep it open. Of course, it might not be the best idea if you have a toddler and a preschooler. Hm… I need to call ADT back and reinstate that service.)

I’d say the biggest question mark from last night’s episodes was the time traveling island. How is it working? Is there any explanation for it? Daniel tries to explain it as plainly as he can – just like a record is supposed to be moving forward and playing a song, occasionally the needle skips, hitting something in the groove, and can’t move forward, or it moves back, or it jumps around and goes forward, but the needle itself, not being stuck to the record, will have to make the jumps. Perhaps this is an explanation for why the time travel is having a different effect on different people on the island.

In this corner are the Others. When the island blooped the first time, Richard and Co. disappeared, leaving Locke standing alone. Later, Locke encounters both Ethan and Richard at different time periods. In the other corner are the survivors, who are witnessing the island’s time jumps and becoming discombobulated as they go. (Seriously, I need to use that word at least three times a day.) My big question was, why are the Others jumping around, and the natives aren’t? I’m starting to think the natives might actually be extensions of the island itself, all manifestations or mouthpieces for the island. If they are literally a part of it, they’ll go with the island (which may be moving forward on a singular temporal trajectory), while the survivors, who are separate from the island, are jumping around like the needle on the record jumping backward, forward, or coming back to the middle, because they are still detached from the island.

The wrench to that is that the island is moving, too. It’s creating the jumps (and the blinding light and the screeching noises) that is causing the survivors to go nuts. We saw the island disappear at the end of season 4, so it’s definitely moving. But is it just moving temporally, or physically? If the island moved to 2007, wouldn’t it still exist in 2004? Why isn’t it physically in the ocean?

As I said on my blog comments this morning, a book the writers evoked in season 4 was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and I urge you to read this. The book is about a man, Billy Pilgrim, who has become unstuck in time (just like the survivors and the island itself seem to have) and he’s living out his life throughout the book, but not chronologically. Just as Daniel says quite urgently that there are rules that must be followed, Billy repeatedly steps onto a plane that he knows is going to crash into a mountain, killing everyone on board except himself, because he doesn’t believe there’s any other way around it.

Richard is one of the people who doesn’t seem to be affected by the jumps. One of the best lines of the night came from him. He hands Locke a compass (the same one he laid on the table in front of him when he visited him as a five-year-old) and Locke asks incredulously, “What does it do?!” To which Richard replies, “It… points north, John.” Richard appears in this sequence and says John has to die. He knows that John has been shot in the leg even though Locke didn’t say so, but he’s insisting that Locke told him. The understanding, of course, is that John DID tell him, but it was at another time. In the future he’ll tell Richard that he was shot in the leg, allowing Richard to be at that place in the jungle at the moment he then knows Locke will bloop into that time period, and he can help him fix the leg.

A similar thing happens between Daniel and Desmond. Daniel tells Sawyer to get away from the Swan door because he wasn’t meant to see Desmond at this time (and despite my love for Desmond, I REALLY wanted Radzinsky to open that door!) but then Daniel checks his own journals, et voila, he runs to the door and bangs on it. Was there a record in his journals of him talking to Desmond at this time? Did that meeting always happen, and he was simply playing out what was meant to be? Or is he breaking the very rule he’s insisting everyone else follow, and he’s trying to lead Desmond to his mother (whom I’m convinced is Mrs. Hawking) to help her locate the island and save them? If we assume Daniel is talking to Desmond around 2003 (Des came to the station in 2001, and as he holds the gun to Daniel he clearly looks like a man who’s had enough), and this event always happens, then Desmond should have known who Daniel was when he first saw him in 2004. But he didn’t. Only when Daniel approached him and talked to him at the hatch does present-day Desmond wake up and have a sudden memory of this encounter.

So CAN you change history? According to the time travelers on the show, the rule says NO. Daniel insists it’s a rule. Mrs. Hawking insisted it was a rule in “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” Dr. Chang insists it’s a rule when he’s talking to the construction worker at the beginning of the episode. But in “The Shape of Things to Come,” Ben watches in horror as Keamy guns down Alex and he says, “He changed the rules.” Maybe this was the very rule Widmore changed – Alex wasn’t meant to die at that time, and Ben knew that. Maybe, like Keamy, Daniel just changed the rules, too.

Okay, I’ve yammered and yammered about “Because You Left,” but “The Lie” was equally good and was more of a story and less science than the previous one. I love Jorge Garcia. He goes from hilarious (when he whipped a Hot Pocket at Ben I was screeching with laughter) to emotional in an instant. The stand-out scene with his mother is one of the best he’s done. As his mother tenderly asks him if he’d lied, there are a dozen emotions that flit across his face – an urge to tell the truth, a loyalty to his friends, doubt that he’s been doing the wrong thing and lying ISN’T helping anyone, weariness that he’s been holding onto this for so long, guilt that he left the people behind, worry that he’ll be deemed crazy for what he’s about to say – and then his voice cracks as he tells his beloved ma the truth. And one second later, he launches into the most fantastical and unbelievable story a person could imagine (and as I said on my blog, the look on her face matches the ones I see every day as I rave about Lost to people who’ve never seen it – “What is she TALKING about? Time traveling bunnies? Polar bears on the island? People coming back to life? I’ll stick to CSI…”). He’s SO funny as he does this, and despite everything, his ma believes him. I LOVED that scene.

And that’s why I love Lost. One minute they’re presenting me with the craziest conundrum imaginable, and the next they just give me a good old-fashioned story that has me welling up in tears. Sigh… how can there be only 32 episodes left?

For more detailed point-by-point analysis of each episode, visit my blog entry this week!

So tell me what YOU thought! Oh wait, I have a few more things to say… first of all, THANK YOU Daniel for not letting Sawyer have a shirt, because it made me SO happy to… wait, why is the sky all white? What a weird… sheesh, is that feedback? I don’t know what *bloop*

Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 4 is about to hit stores now. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.

  • spinflip

    >Richard is one of the people who doesn’t seem to be affected by the jumps.

    Why not? He’s affected as the other Others, i.e. he stays in place during the jumps. He even warns Locke that he might not recognize him after another jump (if the jump is into the past).
    Desmond is the one whos conciousness is spread throughout time, hence Daniel wants him to come.

    >Only when Daniel approached him and talked to him at the hatch does present-day
    >Desmond wake up and have a sudden memory of this encounter.

    Well, Desmond simply remembered. You can’t put a ‘when’ into that sentence, these events were simultaneous only in the narrative presented to us. 😉

    >But in “The Shape of Things to Come,” Ben watches in horror as Keamy guns down Alex
    >and he says, “He changed the rules.”

    I always thought that he referred to some rules in their fight for the island, like which actions are allowed and which are not. I don’t think that Ben can look into the future to know what’s going to happen.

    • Great points! But I’m not suggesting Ben is “looking” into the future with a crystal ball. I believe he’s gone there, many times. When he went to Tunisia, it certainly wasn’t the first time he’d jumped there, and that made me think time travel is the norm for him. I believe he’d been forward, backward, you name it, and knew of a time in the future when Alex was still alive, which is why he’s so confident Keamy won’t do anything to her in that scene.

      • > Richard is one of the people who doesn’t seem to be affected by the jumps.

        I agree that the Others are not affected by the jumps because of their existing connection to the island. Maybe the island was moved with them on it previously.

        One thing I found strange was that Richard seemed to know where John was going to jump next.

        >Only when Daniel approached him and talked to him at the hatch does present-day
        >Desmond wake up and have a sudden memory of this encounter.

        I don’t think Desmond simply remembered. I think that Desmond’s “miraculous” thing is that he is somehow unchained from the normal time continuum and does have the power to change the past and the future.

        >But in “The Shape of Things to Come,” Ben watches in horror as Keamy guns down Alex
        >and he says, “He changed the rules.”

        I think the rules are some sort of agreement between Widmore and Ben, not because of the rules of time travel.

      • Eh

        But the “Others” aren’t all natives. Remember, quite a few of the survivors joined the others. So when Locke was sitting among the Others’ camp, if natives stay stuck in time, how did the kids and Cindy the flight attendant stay stuck in time as well?

        • Michel

          Cindy and the kids also bought what the Others were buying extremely quick, so maybe they underwent a certain kind of experience during their time with the Others that made them impervious to that time radiation thing that dislodged the losties from time. Also, Juliet was an Other but se moved as well. Two possible explanations: either she did not underwent such an experience among the Others, or she didn’t repeat it and the effects it had on her dwindled.

          Maybe it has something to do with the vaccines? 🙂

  • I agree with spinflip.

    Daniel very clearly states that Des has some immunity to the rules of time. He’s the only one who can actually change the path. (his resemblance to Jesus is now less of a coincidence…)

    I loved loved loved the return to true Sci-Fi, and the fact that they created plot holes and then immediately filled them in. It felt like they were expecting us to say “gotcha,” to which they replied “oh really?”

  • John was told to move the island. Ben did it instead, that’s the source of the island’s time continuum problem. I’m still not sure if it’s John or Ben who is not supposed to be brought back, ala the warnings to Kate.

    And, of course, I side with Ben being the one not meant to return. He wants to control the island (some would argue serve it, but like the Jewish/Christian God, I don’t put much stock in the holiness of genocide by Ben. It can be argued that “The Island” is simply trying to survive like any living creature would. But I’m human, not an island, so I side with humanity, not Islandity.

  • Desmond is indeed special because of his location to the time-blast in the tunnel when he turned the key (too late?). He could be immune to time now – either because he died that day, or was transported into a future that must be fulfilled, hence making him immune to death.

    Or could be he just has special powers now.

  • The Son of Locke

    Nikki: “The understanding, of course, is that John DID tell him, but it was at another time. In the future he’ll tell Richard that he was shot in the leg, allowing Richard to be at that place in the jungle at the moment he then knows Locke will bloop into that time period, and he can help him fix the leg.”

    I am not sure John told him in the future, but rather the past. This reminds me of the events that happen at the end of “Back of the Future Part II”. The Doc was hit by lighting and blasted to the past. In the past he writes a letter to Marty and gives it to Western Union and tells them to deliver it on such and such a date by such and such a time. In a matter of a few seconds during Marty’s time in the fifty and right after the Doc disappeared he (Marty) receives this letter written a hundred years in the past. Hence I believe Locke jumped back in time and told Richard at such and such a time on such and such a date he will be shot. Now in order for Richard to believe Locke, Locke must provide Richard the compass. Which would create an interesting Lost question and time paradigm. How could Locke send Richard to the site original without the compass? An alternative to this, but less interesting one, Locke jumps back into the not too distant past where Richard knows who Locke is and will be willing to save him.

    • I love it. This makes perfect sense. The reason I didn’t want to commit to one or the other is because Daniel tells future-Desmond to go back to the past to tell him something at Oxford so that his future self can benefit from it. So the instruction came from the future, and the telling was in the past. So I never want to bet on one or the other, but you’re right: it would certainly make more sense to be in the past! 🙂

  • Johnerie88

    I’m pretty positive and willing to bet that Ms. Hawking is Faraday’s mom.

  • brent

    Faraday may not be quite honest yet about the time jumps (and string theories). You can change the past but you may not be able to change the past enough. For example, each footstep may not be in the exact correct spot. But Faraday did/will have a conversation with Desmond outside the Swan. The point in that scene was that Desmond couldn’t open the door until Sawyer and everyone else left the scene. Because he ONLY talked to Faraday. Desmond made a point of “why you been bangin’ my door for 20 minutes?” to Faraday. It’s weird. So there can be divergences from the string but how far can they push it? Also, a big question we should be asking is how far left and right on the string can we go?

    I contend that “present time” is actually 2010, which is not coincidentally the end of the show but also the end of their timeline, that is, the furthest right they can go. Our viewer perception of “future” doesn’t mean anything. While it’s all theoretically impossible, time travel into the future doesn’t make sense, only time travel into the past. So if we assume everything on the show is actually in the past, those with knowledge of the furthest right point, ie Ben, have the most power.

    The next big question is what is the left limit? I’m not sure if there is one. At first, I wondered if each person could only move within their own lifetime (akin to “The Time Traveler’s Wife” but I don’t think that’s the case. I bet they can move anytime into the Island’s past.

    Now, the reason for the skipping. Ben may have enabled it but the Island is just doing what it needs to do in order to connect the dots. The drug plane ALWAYS crashed on the Island. The only way for that to happen would be if the Island was in the Indian Ocean somewhere in the late 1990s so Poof! It was there for a few minutes and jumped back to a time/place to meet the next objective.

  • Hi, love the post and love your blog!

    What stood out for me in the opening episodes came right at the end of “The Lie”. What is this I see before me? Benjamin Linus dithering like a subordinate not knowing what to do next? This coming from the man who supposedly always has a plan? Brilliant twist if you ask me for us to see him like this. It was as though he’d become Henry Gale again. Can’t wait to find out more about Mrs Hawking/Faraday’s role in all of this (Faraday could of course be her maiden name).

    • Totally! I loved the look on Ben’s face. Sayid goes along with him, Locke ends up going along with him, even JACK decides he’s ultimately on Team Ben… and it’s HURLEY who is able to stand up to him and throw a wrench in his plans (or should I say Hot Pocket)?? Awesome. 🙂

  • HumaneBean

    Great post, as always, Nikki!
    I’m still sifting through the details of the opening episodes and wanted to get your thoughts on a couple of things:
    The Hostiles/Natives – what is it with them and their wardrobes? They love them some earth tones, eh? We’ve seen Richard in other garb but generally the Hostiles are clothed in brown and subdued hues. Even the Others, when they were play-acting as the Hostiles to convince Michael to turn on his fellow Losties, dressed in these same tattered brown duds. And, are we to believe that they were behind the rather well-coordinated fire-arrow attack on the beach? That was some serious flamin’ rain pain that was inflicted. Something about that sequence of events bugs me – our Losties are attacked with those arrows and flee into the Jungle, where Sawyer and Juliet are captured by the brown-uniform clad soldiers (for lack of a better term). Their leader, Jones, demands “what are you doing on OUR island?”. If they aren’t behind the fire-arrows, then wouldn’t the soldiers assume that Sawyer and Juliet were part of THAT group? Also, how close were the archers that they discovered the Losties on the beach and coordinated that attack so quickly?

    Everything about Faraday fascinates me: when he separated from Sawyer and the others, running back to check his pack and then start knocking on the Swan door – we watched him overtaken by a timeshift while talking to Desmond. When he reappears on the beach, Sawyer says he’s been gone for two hours. Two hours? Even taking into account the ‘twenty minutes’ he may have been hammering on the door (if indeed Desmond wasn’t referring to Sawyer’s pounding as well), what happened with the extra time? And, if that timeshift took him forward in time again, wouldn’t the survivors camp have been back on the beach when they arrived, presuming that they are skipping back and forth between the two time periods? Yes, my mind was blown by the season openers and I am clearly still searching for the fuse box …

  • brent

    There should be a lostpedia entry this season for every time someone mentions seconds, minutes, hours or whatever. I’m sure they’re taking great care to make it all add up juuuuuust right.

  • El Yerbero

    The key to everything is Aaron Littleton – Claires son. He must grow up to be a savior or a threat in some huge sense. His grandfather is Christian Sheppard – and his father – is virtually Identical to Ben.

  • Bezmina

    Hi watching in UK (not streaming so can only come here today!)

    Great review but I have a theory that adds to it. I concur that Mrs H is Mama Faraday totally. Further to that though I think when Daniel was rifling through his notebook he couldn’t find the entry that said “if anything goes wrong Desmond Hume is my constant”.

    So I think that he had to speak to Des, to tell him to find his mum so somehow his mum could tell him to write it into his notebook, so he would be saved from nose bleedyness? What do you guys think?

    • Bezmina: Very interesting theory, but Ganiman posted a screencap here of Daniel’s journal, and you can still see that entry there:

      But I definitely think something circular is happening here, in the same way that future Daniel told Des to go back to past Daniel in order to save future Desmond. 🙂

      • Bezmina

        Well spotted! I thought that was why he was being so shifty in the woods but am happy to be shown wrong.

        Good old Dessie, he won’t let Faraday down knowing what he knows!

  • Michel

    I don’t think Aaron is TOO central to the plot. I completely bought Doc Jensen’s theory of the warnings about Aaron being warnings against bringing someone back from the dead (or to the Island, which in Locke’s case may be the same thing).

    Also, I think it’s obvious at this point that Faraday is Ms. Hawking’s son. No doubt about that. Charlotte was born in the island, so her folks may have been related to the island in an important way. Add to that the recent speculation of Miles being Pierre Chang’s baby (that would be an out of control kid) and you have the common denominator for the freighter three (not counting Lapidus here, I can’t figure him out yet). They are all princes, heirs to the big guns in Lost mythology. Even if Miles heritage is not this one, he certainly has an extra-sensorial skill that gets strengthened in the Island, which would be reason enough to send him there.

  • Kevin

    I enjoy this site very much. I just wanted to post here, and say the reason I think the Island disappears from the ocean at the end of last season, and the reason there is a wheel deep inside it to begin with, is it’s some sort of ancient ship. I was careful not to use the word spaceship, because I’m not suggesting anything extra-terrestrial. However, that would be a plausible theory and would explain a lot of the unexplained. I would think five seasons in, I’m probably not the first person to think of that…but it’s what I’ve started to believe since the room where Ben ‘used’ the smoke monster, with symbols on the door, and the wheel were both shown.After all Indiana Jones tried to do it…but in the end was criticized in the last movie for suggesting ancient before us..etc. IF I’m right, I have complete faith in the creators of LOST that they will make the journey to that reveal MORE than entertaining.

  • A.G.Wooding

    I also loved Richard’s line about the compass, it was like a gag from Police Squad but it could also be pointing to something else. Richard knows Locke needs to find him so maybe he says, “it points north,” to tell him where to go. However he could also just get Juliet to give him a nudge in the direction, as she probably knows where the temple is or where the others go in a crisis.
    I also loved the Ethan scene. If you think back to, “Solitary,” it seemed that Ethan began tagging around with Locke for no reason, suddenly taking part in the hunting but if you think about it in terms of the new episode, perhaps Ethan recognised Locke. Is it probable that Ethan and Locke were destined to have this encounter and that when Ethan infiltrated the survivor’s camp, he recognised Locke and realised he had been telling the truth all along. I hope there is a bit more ellaberation on this.