In the end, it wasn’t complicated at all. As we watched Jack’s butt sail off the cliff, in not one but two dying duck dives, the truth about Lost suddenly became stunningly clear…We’ve been waaaaaaaay overthinking this thing.
After three years spent on the wrong side of the looking glass, three years of Sayid killing people and Sun chasing some ill-defined vendetta and Hurley locked up in recreational rehab and Jack and Kate becoming ever more wretched together….after three years of this misery, all they needed to do was trot on over to their Science Fair-y Godmother and pick up a flight schedule. It turns out the answer to the million dollar question – how can the O6 get back to the island? – was no more complicated than Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo!
They just FOOMED there.
It was so easy, it was kind of an anti-climax. But we aren’t going to all this trouble just to pick nits. With Lost these days, it’s not about digging under the surface so much as enjoying how pretty the surface really is. Like this awesome set they built.
As anyone who has ever seen one knows, a Foucault Pendulum is an impressive sight. The long pendulum oscillates in a fixed vertical plane, but since the plane in which it oscillates is moving along with the rotation of the earth, the end of the pendulum draws a pattern on the ground which is rotating beneath it, proving once and for all, in lovely geometric patterns unique to each latitude on earth, that the earth does in fact rotate about its axis once each sidereal day.
The blue line represents the constant, fixed oscillation period of the pendulum, and the green line represents the design that is drawn upon the ever spinning land beneath its swing. I don’t know why I’m bothering with all this because truth be told, it doesn’t seem to have frak all to do with how the O6 got back to the Island, but it’s an example of the elegance of science, of the way that science and art and mystery can find a beautiful alignment.
As Mrs. Hawkings detailed, in her twee Mary Poppinish way, the Earth is pockmarked with certain “unique pockets of electromagnetic energy”, which pockets are connected to other similar pockets, holes, vents, vortices through which one may enter the magical world of the ever moving Island. So a “clever man”, whose very clever identity will no doubt soon be revealed to us, built this arcane temple blending Science and Faith, where Grandma Time keeps track of the interdimensional subway schedule in case any raggedy stragglers like our O-suckers need to hitch a ride back to their misremembered destinies.
It’s akin to the energy portals described by Isaac of Uluru, to Rose when she was seeking her cancer cure. Uluru is an actual “Island Mountain” in the Australian desert, a place famed for its alleged magical properties.
One of the most interesting legends of Uluru is that those who steal rocks from it – much like Jack stole rocks from Adam’s corpse in the cave – will be doomed to disaster until they return and put the rocks back where they belong. We didn’t get to see Jack put the rocks into his baggage, as he packed for his one way journey, but then, we didn’t really get to see anything much of what such a melancholy and mysterious sort of day this would have been. The writers chose not to structure this episode as that kind of character piece.. We did instead get to see the inside of Mrs. Hawkings’ office and catch sight of a few familiar Easter Eggs: A presumably drug free Virgin Mary. And a snow globe from the Land of Totally Cool but Thoroughly Debunked Theories About the Island.
Mrs. Hawkings’ Church-Lab was named The Lamp Post and indeed, as one would guess, it is a creation of the ubiquitous Dharma Initiative.
The clues weren’t being buried very deep this week. Lamp Post = Narnia. That’s an easy one. In C.S. Lewis’s story, the children use the lamppost as a guide back to the location of the Wardrobe, their portal back to reality.
And so it may be assumed, our runaway Losties are using this Lamp Post as a guide back to their reality which, like it or not, seems to be Craphole Island. And the way back to the Island indeed was no more complicated than the prosaic way the Pevensie children went back and forth. They walked through a musty closet.
Our kids just jumped on an airplane from the make believe airline known as Ajira and got FOOMED out – sans that messy crash business this time – as it passed over the opened portal. Which means, quite astonishingly, that when Jack was taking drunken redeyes back and forth across the Pacific, he was actually, incredibly, on the right track.
Speaking of Jack, this was of course the Annual Jackisode of our fifth season of Lost. And that meant we got to enjoy…lots and lots of Jackiness. We got to see him visit Mrs. Hawkings’ secret office, where this keeper of all secrets brought her very special teacher’s pet to tell him all the innermost details of Mystery Island’s arcanum.
Uh, well actually it was more like she told him he had to go find “something borrowed, something blue, something old or something new” from his dead father and put it on Locke’s frozen carcass. In order to duplicate some of the conditions of the original flight, Jack needed to get something of Christian’s and give it to John. Now, Jack could have just gone home to his Mom who probably has an old handkerchief or something of Dad’s, especially considering Jack is never ever going to see her ever again, but … Nah.
Instead, Jack used his last hours on Planet Reality to not-drink some whiskey while waiting for a phone call from his never before seen random family member, Granddad Ex Machina.
Who looked way too young to be 42 year old Jack’s Granddad, but who just randomly had a pair of his mythically dead son’s shoes in his suitcase. Which allowed our resident John the Baptist to visit our resident Jesus Christ and perform a small sacrament upon the yet to be resurrected Savior.
I baptize you with water, for repentance; but the one who comes after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to take off his shoes; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” – Matthew 3:11
What is up with all the Christian symbolism on Lost lately? They aren’t even being coy about it. The episode title, 316, while a reference to the Flight Number, was also a not so subtle reminder of the Biblical quote from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And, as noted in last week’s review, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Time has within it Caravaggio’s magnificent painting “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”.
Pious Ben, pausing in his prayers, took the time to explain to Jack, who apparently never attended Sunday School, the famous story of Doubting Thomas.
While all the other apostles took it on faith that the Christ who appeared to them three days after his death was the same man who they had just seen murdered on the cross, only Thomas needed to touch the wound for himself in order to believe. Jesus was a sport about it, and let Tom stick his fingers into the hole in his side, but it wasn’t like he respected him for his analytical curiosity. Instead, Jesus admonished him.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
And in much the same vein, the lesson of this episode was that those who believe, those who have faith, are the heroes we should admire. The story seems to have taken a firm stand against the concept of rational scientific analysis and logic, which I do believe is a first for a story that has been aggressively hyped as a Science Fiction genre show. Instead, it seems that we in the audience are being admonished, much like Thomas was, to “Stop thinking how ridiculous it is”. In other words, sit down, shut up and just enjoy the ride.
And I think this is good advice. The story probably will never make sense, but it doesn’t have to make sense any more than Alice in Wonderland made sense or The Wizard of Oz made sense. It’s a fantasy, a fun one, with clues and puzzles and anagrams and self referential jabberwocky galore. The fun of it is surfing through all the cultural bric-a-brac and watching the loose ends of past seasons resurface as threads of a crazy quilt that’s constantly darting off into new patterns. It wasn’t an accident that our ubiquitous White Rabbit showed up this episode to remind us that white rabbits don’t just run down holes into Wonderland, they also serve the strictly utilitarian purpose of disappearing at rec center magic shows.
So let’s enjoy! Jack was certainly having a good time. Seriously, have you ever seen this guy so happy?
It’s like drinking the Faith Koolaid suddenly turned returning to the Island into a dream come true for Jack. He was practically giddy at the airport, greeting the old gang like a gladhanding cruise director or something. And Sun! She was happy too. Which was pretty WTF. Why is she happy to be leaving her daughter behind forever? Does she know she’s leaving her daughter behind forever? Did Jack not bother to share that bit of information? I’m guessing that was one of the many Scenes That Ended Up On The Cutting Room Floor.
There were a lot of those kind of scenes I’m thinking. They do have to keep the show trimmed down for time. So they probably had to cut this scene
And this one
No need to explain how all these semi-deviants were able to board a trans Pacific flight with so little scrutiny.
Or why suddenly no one recognized the formerly notorious group of famous plane crash survivors. Or why those who DID recognize them didn’t get up off the plane and run for the exits. I mean, would you get on a plane with these people?
And I’m sure they just didn’t have time to run this scene:
Though I think they owed us this one:
It’s ok that they can’t always show us what’s happening in linear time. It leaves plenty of fodder for message board combat and sets up the future cross currents in the plot. I’m sure we’ll find out that Sun’s promising storyline as Widmore’s accomplice hasn’t been dumped in the wastebin.
Right, guys? You wouldn’t just flat leave us on that one, would you?
And we’ll likely find out what turned Hurley around about going back, what ghostly visitation convinced him to pack up Charlie’s essence and bring him back to his spiritual home.
We’ll find out what Ben was doing that landed him bleeding at a payphone in a marina, the kind of marina where his “old friend” Widmore’s daughter Penny might be staying on her posh circumnavigating yacht.
And we’ll see if Sayid was truly boarding the plane under duress or if his arrest was another choreographed sham. Most importantly though we need to find out what happened to poor Kate. As happy as Jack the Baptist was to be going back to the hood, Kate was looking exactly that much ruined and broken.
Poor Kate. What depths of despair drew her to land in Jack’s apartment looking like Drusilla after a bad night of feeding? And that kiss!
I was pretty surprised that Jack didn’t pull a wooden stake out of his back pocket rather than go for the gusto like that, but I guess he’s a changed man these days. He’s the kind of loving uncle who just relies on faith that his tiny toddler nephew didn’t get drowned in a lake someplace. After all, Kate only seemed like she wanted to take a nap in a gas oven because of whatever happened, so it’s not like it could have been anything serious.
Apparently, all you need to function in Lostworld now is faith. Plus, it’s obviously a lot easier for Jack to get laid, now that he’s decided not to give a frak.
It wasn’t a good morning after though, more like one of those walks of shame after a dreadfully illtimed one nighter. Jack started in on the “here’s another funny story about my Dad” stuff and Kate wisely made a rapid escape.
It seems like old science based Jack didn’t think his dad’s corpse was worth a nice pair of shoes, which explains why the first thing he saw when he woke up after the 815 plane crash were his own old tennis shoes that had been wrenched off his dead dad’s feet.
But Locke is going back in styling black dress shoes. Christian’s shoes. Because Locke is a proxy for Christian on this flight. Mrs. Hawkings explained to Jack that the flight conditions for Ajira 316 should duplicate as closely as possible those of Oceanic 815. Even though they were flying the entirely opposite way, but whatever. Apparently this message got out to the rest of the gang as well.
See Hurley was reading a Spanish comic book on both flights, which makes him a proxy for…Hurley.
But also maybe for Walt ’cause Walt liked Hurley’s comic books. And he brought a guitar case, in homage to Charlie the Great. So Hurley is also a proxy for Charlie. And for Walt. And for Hurley.
And then we have Sun fingering her wedding ring, like Rose.
And Sayid in handcuffs like Kate. And Jack escorting another body like … Jack.
But also reading a letter like Sawyer. And also getting the brushoff from last night’s creepy one night stand, like Boone. So Jack is Jack and he’s Sawyer and he’s Boone. And Kate is Aaron’s mom, so she’s Claire. And also running from a crime, so she’s Kate.
And also icked out by last night’s creepy one night stand, so she’s Shannon.
So Sun is Rose and Sayid is Kate and Kate is Claire and Kate and Shannon. And Jack is Jack and Boone and Sawyer. And Hurley is Hurley and Walt and Charlie. And Ben is….Glory?
No, sorry, wrong show.
Ben is Hurley because he was running late the way Hurley did, and he’s also maybe Sawyer since he maybe killed someone the night before and he’s also maybe Locke since he has an incapacitated limb and he walked to the front of the plane just before the crash so he’s Charlie. So Ben is Hurley and Sawyer and Charlie and Locke and Locke is Christian and the swarthy new non American is maybe Sayid.
Or maybe he’s Jin and…b-b-but what about Michael?… And for the love of God, where’s AARON??? This can never work out!
And most probably that was exactly the point. Not surprisingly the silly proxy concoction didn’t work at all. Mrs. Hawkings said if the duplications weren’t sufficient, the result would be “unpredictable”. And the most important proxy figure of all, the forgotten nephew, the Island’s child, little He Who Must Not Be Named, was not there.
As we saw, only three of the passengers ended up in the waterfall for their obligatory rescue by the newly baptized Hero Jack.
What happened to Sun, Sayid and Ben? Did they get stuck in the plane when the rest of them FOOMED out? Did they get FOOMED to some other part of the Island? To some other TIME on the Island? Did Ben walking to the front of the plane mean that he FOOMED separately from the rest?
And what about the new Brillo scrubbed shiny Frank Lapidus? Was he piloting Flight 316 because he was meant to pilot Flight 815? Did he continue on to Guam or did he FOOM onto the Island too? I hope so, since this is shaping up to be one hell of a party when everyone finally reunites with all the lost souls they left behind and forgot about.
The last shot of the episode was the sight of one of those lost souls, Jin, who has clearly gone a couple of turns around the plot machine since last we saw him. He was spiffed out in a dorky Dharma jumpsuit, driving a late model VW Dharma-Blue van decorated with our favorite pseudo spiritual symbol, the Dharma dharmachakra.
In the meantime we are left with John’s wistful last message to Jack.
If Jack had only believed, so much pain and death might have been avoided. But Jack is making his amends now. He’s no longer asking any questions. He’s come over to the side of Magic and Fantasy and Make Believe, where it seems the rest of our story will be told.
It’s not cool to be asking questions or picking nits, but it’s an occupational hazard of delving into the intricacies of this overstuffed story. I can’t help it. I’ve got an enquiring mind.
If transport to the island is all about catching a ride on the next available telluric current, how did Ethan and Alpert and Tom travel to and fro so freely back in the day? Was the submarine a prop that they dumped bodies into after first drugging them and dropping them into the FOOM pockets?
Why Guam? Does it mean anything that it’s a major U.S. military encampment in the Pacific or that the roots of some Island mysteries seem to be connected to the U.S. Army, from which this photo was taken, exactly 50 years to the day before Flight 815 crashed into the Island?
What kind of spinal surgeon dives head first off a towering cliff into waters of unknown depth?
What was the significance of the headless boy in Jack’s apartment? Please don’t tell me that’s what happened to Aaron!!!
How did Dharma manage those food drops? And what happened to them anyway? Is there a whole bunch of unclaimed generic foodstuffs floating around the vast wastes of timespace, like space junk?
Why is Hurley the only O6 with any semblance of humanity left in him? That was so sweet of him to buy up 78 seats and keep all those eager Guam tourists from a fate worse than death, but why didn’t any of the other O-suckers think of that?
Why didn’t anyone ask about Ben’s meat face and busted arm? Is it because no one loves the cute little feller?
How did Mrs. Hawkings end up with Locke’s suicide note?
Who cleaned up Jack’s recently filthy apartment, but left all the gazillions of empties? Don’t forget, bro. People, places and things!
Wouldn’t it have been funny if the pendulum had knocked somebody over?
Don’t these two make the cutest couple? I’m thinking of shipping them but I’m not sure what to call them. What should it be? Jenjamin? Or Backass?
When did Kate suddenly become the kind of person who gives away the things that make her sad?
Are we maybe, just maybe, inching towards some kind of explanation about why she has seemed so coldhearted about Sawyer?
Does the fact that we have now revisited Jack’s race through the bamboo jungle mean that the series will not end with Jack’s eye re-opening?
Can we cross that one off the list of possibilities?
What is the significance of Ben reading Joyce’s Ulysses? I am going to go against the grain here and propose that the only reason for referencing this book (including encoding one of its lines in the Ajira Airlines Website) is to make the connection that Lost is filled with “so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant”, as James Joyce famously described Ulysses. Lost isn’t nearly as firmly grounded in myth as Ulysses is, but it’s the same kind of mulligan stew of games and teases, of self parodies and allusions, of seriousness and silliness…and it requires almost as detailed a guidebook to keep track of it as reading Ulysses does.
But what made Ulysses classic is the one thing I really hope Lost will keep a hold of as it starts to roll down its last takeoff runway. I think we got the message, or at least I did, that we can throw the Science part of Science Fiction out the window here. They not only don’t want us to pay attention to the science, they’re pretty much telling us that science itself is for suckers. Faith is where it’s at, baby. And I’m good with that. The only thing I ask for is that they never toss out the Fiction part. And good fiction, sci-fi or any other kind, requires true, real characterizations. Not human-ish playing pieces getting pushed around a chess board to set up the next convenient plot maneuver. So I’m willing to follow Locke’s orders here. I’ll believe. But I think the part of his letter that matters most is the little fragment that Jack was left clutching in his fingers.
When we wish, we believe in magic. Here’s hoping there’s still a way for everyone’s wishes for Lost to come true.