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Looking at the Little Things — 5.01 “Because You Left”/5.02 “The Lie”

By SonyaLynn,

  Filed under: Lost, Lost Recaps, Lost Theories
  Comments: 37

Ye gods, what a long, agonizing wait! Did they have to move the Island so many months into the future in the real world, too? (I know, I know..bitch bitch, moan moan.)

But the wait is over at long last, and we have a whole new smorgasbord of Little Things™ for me to look at for you. Also, watch this space for fun new stuff from me. I’ll help you look all stylin’ in your very own DHARMA Jumpsuit, for example.

But let’s get on to the nitpickery, shall we? Fair warning, though…this is going to be a double-length post (if not more!). Ready? OK. Let’s start with “Because You Left.”

Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey

Is there a Doctor in the house?I know this isn’t a “little thing,” but bear with me because it actually does tie into my precious theme. In the grand tradition of Lost’s many recontextualizations (Is that a word? It is now!) of “past” events, we now officially have not one, not two, but three entirely separate ways in which the audience needs to keep track of time in the story…

1. Objective time. What date is it in the real world?
2. Subjective time. Where in a given character’s personal timeline are we seeing them?
3. Even more subjective time. Are certain characters engaging in Slaughterhouse-Five/”The Constant”-style consciousness-hopping along their personal timeline in a given on-screen moment? (Well, maybe this is sort of a “2a,” but still…)

So, for example, where along Locke’s personal timeline is he when he fells a mysterious (to us) army-looking guy in the jungle, saving Sawyer and Juliet? (Oh, dear…that was “The Lie”…I must have time-skipped!) Where was Richard Alpert along his (and Locke’s) personal timeline when he handed 11/04 Locke the dossier on Anthony Cooper and his relationship with one James “Sawyer” Ford? Hell, where is Alpert along his personal timeline any of the times we’ve seen him looking so decidedly ageless? Do I even need to mention the always plan-ful Ben? Didn’t think so.

We’re going to have to be watching very carefully for clues in the environment for objective time and in anachronistic-seeming knowledge or reactions on the part of our characters when gauging subjective or “even more subjective” time. We’re also going to have to go back and re-watch pretty much everything again under this new lens for clues left in seasons past.

I can honestly say that not since Primer or Futurama: Bender’s Big Score have I seen a time-skein quite so deliciously tangled. Why, you’d need a Doctor to sort it all out! Luckily, our involuntary chrononauts happen to have just such a man with them in the person of action-physicist Daniel Faraday. More on him in a minute, though. First…

This is mutiny, Mr. Christian!

Looks like the till of a ship, doesn't it.This little thing comes right out of the delightful opening sequence. When Pierre Chang (he of the many candle-related pseudonyms) was handed the x-ray/MRI/sonogram/whatever showing the frozen donkey wheel in a chamber behind the Wall of DHARMA Work Man Death™ on the site of The Orchid’s construction. OK, yes, we knew it was there and we knew that at least the higher-ups at DHARMA knew it was there, but this scene crystalized a thought that had been brewing in my head for quite some time.

Namely, how is it that both DHARMA and the Others/Hostiles knew about the wheel and the temporal mechanism it controls? Clearly, DHARMA knew exactly where to build the Orchid station and why. Equally clearly, this knowledge was not known by everyone in the DHARMA Initiative…why else give it the cover of a botanical station? It’s not like they were fooling the Hostiles. They already knew. The only people they could have been fooling at the time were DHARMA personnel who for some reason didn’t have “need to know” or any unexpected and unwanted visitors to the Island.

To me, this smacks of Widmore and his need to control. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say that Widmore is a lot older than he seems. My current working theory is that the men we know as Charles Widmore and Alvar Hanso were on board on the Black Rock at the time it ended up in the middle of the Island, and that Alvar is in reality Captain Magnus Hanso and Widmore the mysterious First Mate whose ledger was later bought by Widmore at auction (thus reclaiming his own possession).

Furthermore, I posit that Widmore, Hanso, Alpert, and others joined and lived with the rest of the “indigenous” population (castaways all from various points in history, no doubt) of the Island, becoming privy to its secrets, before eventually falling out into a civil war of sorts. I expect they were defeated and banished (probably by means of a turn of the wheel) by the group we would eventually come to know as The Hostiles or The Others, led by Alpert and whoever was the predecessor to Ben Linus…probably Jacob. And that’s the grand chess game into which our poor survivors crashed thanks to dear, “special” Desmond failing to press the button in time on that fateful day.

Whew! That’s a lot from a scan printout, isn’t it? I’m full of those right now, actually.

Buh-ba-ba-bapa, buh-ba-ba-bapa…I wanna be sedated

Xanax is a bit gentler...Next up, the tranq darts in the guns of the men who lurked in the “safehouse” waiting for Sayid. Why not regular, deadly bullets instead of drug-induced stupor?

To me, this indicates that they’re working for Ben rather than Widmore. Ben’s the one who wants to ensure that all the Lostaways make it back to the Island, while Widmore’s the one whose men Sayid was rubbing out in Ben’s service for about two years.

Now, some of you may be thinking that Widmore would conceivably want Sayid alive as a bargaining chip with Ben or because of the importance of the Oceanic Six to the Island, but I don’t find myself swayed by that logic. If Widmore were going to send men after Sayid at all, I expect it would be to kill him in order to destroy Ben’s plans. Otherwise, a man with Widmore’s resources would have already known that Sayid was no longer Ben’s bag-man and would have just as soon let someone as resourceful as Sayid lead Ben in a merry chase rather than try to hold onto Sayid himself.

Hell, Widmore may very well have been the one to finally convert Sayid from Ben’s service. Or, perhaps, as I have theorized since “The Shape of Things to Come,” Sayid did Widmore a solid by refusing to kill Widmore’s daughter, Penny, preventing Ben’s revenge for Alex from being carried out. Though I suspect that had to do with Sayid’s affection for Desmond (his comrade) and Penny (his rescuer at sea) rather than any consideration for Widmore himself.

Destiny’s calling collect…will you accept the charges?

First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers...Every recapper I’ve read so far seems to think that the lawyers who turned up on Kate’s doorstep can only have been the catspaws of either Ben or Widmore. But I don’t think that either is actually the case. No…it was the timing of a subsequent, unexpected phone call in “The Lie” which gives away the mysterious client: Sun.

After all, is it even possibly coincidence that, all of a sudden and out of the blue, Sun reaches out and touches Kate almost immediately after she goes on the lam with Aaron? Not bloody likely.

Sun knew exactly the response that that sending Dewey, Cheatham & Howe to Kate’s doorstep would provoke, and that Kate would seek the safe harbor of any familiar port in a storm as provided by her friend and co-conspirator.

And why? Revenge, pure and simple. Kate told Sun that she would go back to get Jin and never did. So please disregard any soothing words spoken by Sun to the contrary. No, it’s just that her revenge doesn’t stop with Kate. It has a distinct hierarchy and Kate is at the lowest level, followed in ascending order by Jack for insisting on getting them off the Island and therefore putting Jin in a position to be blown up, and Ben for being the point of origin of the bomb itself.

Our own version of Lady Vengeance has become something of a badass, and I have to say I’m rather liking it. I just hope she finds her way onto the side of the angels because of finding Jin still alive, which I’m both hoping and thinking will happen before too long. I’d lay odds that he managed to hop overboard from the freighter before it blowed up real good, and either managed to swim into “the radius” described by Faraday or get picked up some other way since he didn’t end up on the Zodiac raft with dear old Dan.

With a bit of a mind-flip, you’re into the time-slip…and nothing can ever be the same

Would YOU wanna be held in a space-zoo by these?All of which brings us right back to Faraday and to Desmond. Two of Lost’s many, rich literary allusions come into play with Dan and Des: Slaughterhouse-Five and the works of Charles Dickens. I’ll tell you how Dickens figures in when we get properly into “The Lie,” but for now, let’s stick with the Vonnegut.

Flashes Before Your Eyes” and “The Constant” had established Desmond as being not just Lost’s Odysseus, but also its Billy Pilgrim. But now, Faraday’s trying to make him more of the anti-Billy Pilgrim.

First, he spins an eerily familiar version of how little time travelers can affect the course of events—one of which the Tralfamadorians would no doubt approve—but then he turns right around and tells us that our very own Desmond is the lone exception to this fact, providing us with proof in the form of altering Des’ own memories retroactively so that future-Des would know to track down Faraday’s unnamed mother at Oxford.

OK…now on to “The Lie” because I’m just about to do something in my pants if I don’t get on to this next bit.

I’ve read everything Mr. Charles Dickens has ever written…every wonderful word

I never liked Bloody Dickens!Charles Dickens just loved himself a great big coincidence. And that’s one of the two biggest reasons I’ve come to what I imagine to be the same conclusion as most of the rest of you, which is that Mrs. Hawking is Faraday’s mum in Oxford. The second reason is that they’re the only two characters on the show known to be named specifically for famous scientists (for the record, Minkowski’s namesake was a mathematician).

I realize that sounds like much flimsier evidence than the in-show manipulations of Desmond’s timeline in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” and her obvious work in “The Lie” to locate the Island and otherwise analyze the interconnectedness of all things, but hear me out.

Those are certainly strong points. Clearly, Mrs. Hawking (and her catspaw, Brother Campbell) was making sure to put Desmond on the Island and into the Swan to push the button, turn the fail-safe key, etc. And, yes, that can obviously include his conversation with Daniel in the past during his stint as the Swan’s sole caretaker.

But literary references on Lost are important. They wouldn’t have made Desmond such a big Dickens fan, as evinced in the quote above, for no good reason. Darlton knew full well that Desmond’s path would be strewn with coincidences of Dickensian proportions, and one of Dickens’ favorite coincidences was to have just about everyone in a given novel somehow end up related to everyone else. Anyone ever forced to slog through Great Expectations as a frosh in high school is actively repressing this fact!

And that, more than anything else, is why I don’t think they’re pulling a fast one on us and just leading us to think that Hawking is Faraday’s mother before pulling a bait and switch. Don’t forget that some of the people who watch Lost aren’t as eagle-eyed or obsessed as those of us who read (or, um, write for…*looks around all innocent*) blogs like this one. They’re the ones who actually needed to see that Virgin Mary statue to be reminded of just which plane it was that Locke saw crashing in “Because You Left.” They’re the ones who’ll actually be gobsmacked by that reveal.

That said, I still think it’s very cool even if not surprising to most of us anymore, and has the effect of casting Faraday’s participation in the mission of the doomed ship, Kahana, in a whole new light. I suspect I’m inordinately proud of my reasoning on this one given that it ties back to my college major (comp. lit.), unlike most other things in my life. We’ll just have to see if I’m right.

(Author’s note: This got published before I meant it to…so, there was a bit more. I wasn’t done yet!)

…they always wore red shirts. And they always got killed.

Alas, poor Frogurt...we barely knew him. A man of infinite snark and limited use.Pardon this aside…I know it’s a truly little thing, but I have to say that I really love the fact that so many meatsocks on Lost have been killed while wearing a red shirt. And now its was poor Frogurt’s turn to suffer this deeply ironic fate. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, either. And, yes, it was perhaps a little trite that he’d just made a snarky remark about fire before being hit with a flaming arrow, but it still drew a chuckle out of me anyway.

Let us take a moment of silence for all of Lost’s redshirts, past, present, and future.

Right. Done. On to more important things…

Smooooooke on the waaaater, and fire in the sky!

THERE'S the Locke we love!So, like I was saying earlier, I have to ask whether the version of Locke we saw saving Juliet and Sawyer from the roughly mid-20th-Century vintage Army men after the rain of fire-arrows (presumably from the Hostiles) is the same Locke who’d just been shot by Ethan in the previous episode or a more clue-ful Locke who’d undergone a few more time-skips. Why? Well, mainly because he was certainly looking a lot more like the swaggering, boar-hunting Locke of old than the confused Locke who got a compass, some deadpan snark, and a rushed explanation from Alpert shortly before (or at least “shortly” before in subjective time from the main group of Lostaways’ point of view, anyway).

Also, we’d just had in that encounter with Alpert a sterling example of a character who was clearly a hop or three ahead of the Locke he found by the Beechcraft with a bullet in his leg.

The threads of this skein are crossing over one another repeatedly now, and I can only imagine that before even a single full Season 5 script was finished by Darlton & crew that they relentlessly mapped out those crossings and which iterations of which characters were meeting when.

Of course, the age of the uniforms and guns should incline us to believe that there have been repeated armed conflicts over the “ownership” of the Island. I count at least four now (though we only have direct on-screen evidence for only three of them)…

1. My hypothetical Widmore/Hanso vs. Alpert/Jacob battle (but I’m telling you, something like this has to have happened!)
2. The Hostiles and these soldier-boys sometime between 1936 & 1963, when their gear was current
3. The Hostiles vs. The DHARMA Initiative in the ’80s 
4. The Others vs. Widmore’s mercs in 2004

There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.

Giving new meaning to the term, 'inscrutable.'Moments of silence in the face of a perfectly valid question are often very informative in Lost. And even by this show’s standards, few people are as eloquent in their evasions and non-answers as Ben Linus. And ol’ Ben dropped a doozy of a non-answer in “The Lie.”

The moment was when Jack asked Ben why he needed to keep Locke”safe” when the man was a corpse, and Ben simply moved along toward his butcher friend, Jill, while letting that one hand out there in the air.

And in that moment, I feel more convinced of ever of a theory I developed about 0.1 microseconds after seeing that it was in fact Locke in the box at the end of “There’s No Place Like Home.” I’m betting more than a few of you share this particular theory, too.

Simply put, I think that Lost’s resident miracle man is being set up for the absolute sine qua non of miracles: Resurrection.

Everything about Locke’s story points to this. He miraculously survived as a preemie at a time that was all but unheard-of. He survived his fall from eight stories up. He got up and walked after being in a wheelchair for years and being in a plane crash. He survived being shot in the gut by dint of the fact that his father had conned him out of the kidney that should have been there, ensuring his death had it remained in place. He saw and heard Jacob.

Further, from a literary standpoint, fellow DocArzt blogger MerlboroMan has made a very strong case for Locke being the Island’s version of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With 1,000 Faces,” and a return from the underworld or death is an absolute necessity to the Western monomyth. (e of Long Live Locke is gonna plotz…and I think I will, too, since Locke has always been a big fave of mine!)

So, mark my words. Locke won’t stay dead for too long. Sometime in Season 6, he’s going to go all Gandalf the Sparkly White on us.

And, to close out this monster of a post…

Tiiiiiime is on my siiiide, yes it is!

MAN, is she ever creepy. I love Fionnula Flanagan!OK, maybe not. 70 hours to spring Hurley and gather the whole Oceanic Six? Woof! That’s a tight schedule even for an International Man of Mystery™ like our Ben.

But at least we have a definitive answer as to who Mrs. Hawking is working for (or at least as definitive as an answer gets on this show). I also think we have an answer about at least a small part of the DHARMA Initiative’s off-Island infrastructure. I’ll lay dollars to donuts that the facility in which Ben met Hawking was the mysterious DHARMA station with the lighthouse-themed logo. I suppose it’s only natural that the Others would have taken it upon themselves to staff the off-Island as well as on-Island (or near-Island) stations, but I also have to wonder why whoever was behind DHARMA wouldn’t have taken it back.

It’s purpose, though, is clear…it’s there to keep contact with and, in cases like the “last resort” moving of the Island, to find it again. And, for those of you doubting that an off-Island DHARMA station would have kept its Apple ][-based computer systems, let me assure you that in my day job as a techie, I’ve seen equipment easily that old functioning as dedicated control hardware for mission-critical instruments. It ain’t broke, so there’s no need to fix it.

Better than tea leaves!Now, the big question is whether or not Hawking, and by extension her suspected son, Faraday, are truly working for Ben or are only in an alliance of convenience. We’ll just have to keep watching and following those lovely pendulum chalk-scribblings to find our answer.

I really can’t wait for next week!

(PS: In case anyone was wondering, this is all my personal speculation and is 100% spoiler-free. I could be completely wrong about some or all of it.)