'Lost' Dueling Analyses: There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3
In which the verbose Jen Chaney and I attempt to wring every last bit of significance from last night's two-hour season finale. Join us online at 2 p.m. ET to talk about all this and more. Oh, and warning: There are spoilers here.
Jen: At approximately 11:05 p.m. last night, I found myself with the Pixies CD "Doolittle" in hand, perusing the lyrics to "Gouge Away." That was the song Jack was listening to in the final few minutes of what can only be described as a tremendous, revelatory finale. The fact that the Pixies came before and influenced Nirvana -- the band blaring from Jack's car stereo during last season's finale -- suggest that our Losties still have lessons to learn from their pasts. Jack should have heeded the warnings of our coffin inhabitant, the dearly departed John Locke. And instead of taking Ben at his word, Locke should have questioned why he was loading up the vault with metallic objects and so easily ceding control of the island to him, the Artist Eventually Known as Jeremy Bentham.
So much material to mine today. With this finale, which was just as strong as the now-legendary one that closed season three, we: learned that Charlotte is on a quest to find out where she was born (hmmmm); got to catch up with Manly Non-Ghost Walt; saw Sawyer act as the hero by jumping from the helicopter, thereby demonstrating a selflessness Jack has yet to achieve; witnessed creepy cameos from Claire and (whoa) an invisible Mr. Eko; cheered as Desmond (who lives!) and his beloved Penny finally, finally reunited in a kiss that blew the Skater smacker to shame; felt our hearts sink as Sun mourned the last-minute loss of Jin (yes, he's really dead); and discovered that it's Locke, aka (note the name of another philosopher) Jeremy Bentham inside that coffin in the Hoffs-Drawlar Funeral Home. (No, it wasn't Michael after all, although he appeared to kick it, too.)
Personally, I reveled in the many nods to "Lost" history that dominated the episode. Every finale that came before was referenced in some way last night -- from the lights of a rescue boat shining across darkened waters (see end of season one) to the whiteout that occurred as the island seemingly moved, a nod to the turning of the hatch key in the season two closer. All of this good stuff reinforces the notion that the writers really are telling a story that connects all the way back to the very beginning of the series.
Speaking of which, perhaps the most crucial question of the episode came up during that excellent scene between Locke and Jack, which hearkened back to season one's "White Rabbit": "There's no such thing as miracles," says Jack. But Locke insists there is and that, "We'll just have to see which one of us is right." With Jack hopped on goofballs and Locke dead, the only one who seems "right," or at least to have a solid sense of "the shape of things to come," is Ben. As for Jack, Mr. Let Me Be in Charge of the Lie, I quote from that Pixies song: "I break the wall/and kill us all/with holy fingers." The Doc needs to redeem himself, stat.
Liz: I can see you've given this some thought. Question: Do you sleep? Well, only makes sense that a two-hour show gets a super-wordy analysis. (Anyone planning to actually "work" today, please give up that illusion starting... now).
Much more after the jump...
Liz: You've nailed most of the points we need to pay attention to from last night's show. But maybe we should go back and look at a few of these a bit more closely. Why not start with the man of the hour (or two-hours) -- none other than the dearly departed John Locke, or as I now like to call him "Locke Box." As promised, we found out who was in the coffin, but getting that piece of information only spawned more questions. Chief among them: How did he end up in a low-rent funeral parlor stateside when he should be leading Alpert and the rest of the Others around his precious island?
Jen: Exactly. We need to know what "bad things" happened on the island -- and for that matter, where the island went -- after the Oceanic crew left. Which is why I couldn't get that sad about Locke's demise because I feel 100 percent confident that Terry O'Quinn, who was brilliant last night, will be back next season. I also must give a shout-out to the writers for the choice of the name Jeremy Bentham. Many people probably assumed that was code for Ben, since his name is embedded in there. (You know, kind of how I call you Liztham sometimes, to keep things interesting.)
Liz: Right, right. Though this is probably a good moment to link again to the Wikipedia entry on the actual Jeremy Bentham. An interesting guy -- he championed "utilitarianism" and thought societal decisions should be made based on a "happiness factor" -- meaning whatever made more people happy should determine the course of society.
He also invented a prison concept called the "Panopticon." Again, from Wikipedia:
"The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched."
Which is interesting considering Ben's heaven-ward look when turning the frozen donkey wheel and saying "I hope you're happy now, Jacob." Certainly reinforces the idea that the Losties -- and the Others -- are all pawns being moved in some kind of game of chess.
Jen: Indeed. Bentham was also influenced by philosopher John Locke, ironically enough.
Liz: Speaking of chess, that was also echoed in Hurley's game with the invisible Mr. Eko.
Liz: I agree, by the way, that we'll see more of Locke. If only in island flashbacks to find out what those "bad things" were that happened once the O6 left.
Jen: Well, I also believe he'll get back to the island and be resurrected.
Liz: But to your point about Locke (man of faith) vs. Jack (man of reason). Last night we saw that shift in Jack. It happened on the raft when Kate said (of Aaron who came through the copter crash unscathed): "It's a miracle."
I think that's when everything started clicking into place for Jack. Suddenly he believed that they needed to lie to protect the island. That something larger was at play and that perhaps they were (again) pawns in a battle of good vs. evil.
Jen: Yes, he realized he was wrong. And now he really realizes it, given Locke's demise. Although the fact that Locke relied on faith and died also implies he might not have a clue either.
Liz: Indeed. As Ben said at the end of the penultimate episode two weeks ago: "I always have a plan." And I fully believe that his turning of the Frozen Donkey Wheel and leaving the island was his intention. Not a sacrifice, as he said to Locke. At that point, we'd already seen Ben cavalierly condemn the freighter to oblivion with a detached, "So what."
Jen: Also playing into the notion of a higher power. I think it was Kate who asked, "Do you have another explanation?" for the miracle when they were in the raft. At which point Lapidus, upon seeing the other boat, says, "God almighty."
Jen: Back to Ben, though -- it does seem to mean he can't go back to the island. And I have to think Ben would prefer to return.
Liz: We know that he's pulling the strings and will likely orchestrate the Oceanic Six's bid to return to the island. Perhaps his own return will be paved by theirs -- his price for re-admittance, perhaps?
Jen: Perhaps. Interesting, too, that Locke was so confident he would move the island. And he didn't. Ben orchestrated everything. Locke was pretty passive in retrospect.
Liz: Moving on, though: We learned something significant about Charlotte last night. Unless my ears deceived me, she was born on the island. Or thinks she was. Miles -- who has a sixth sense or two -- certainly seemed to think so. I'm guessing that will set Charlotte up to be an integral part of the next season. She may be one of the only children to be born on our island.
Jen: Yes. Which means Charlotte might have been an Other or, perhaps, on the Black Rock somehow? And poor Daniel. He clearly loves her.
Liz: Did Daniel survive, I wonder? We last saw him on the zodiac with a crew of red shirts. Would they have been swept up in the island move?
Liz: We lost some long-time characters last night -- Jin and Michael, who desperately tried to save the freighter and apparently kept it around long enough to satisfy Jacob -- or Christian Shephard -- who turned up to tell Michael his work was done.
Jen: No offense to Harold Perrineau, but Michael's return was a total letdown this season. The big reveal that he was Ben's mole wasn't much of a surprise. And, really, his character didn't do much other than finally succeed in dying. Oh, and dude, if I ever see the guy who plays Christian on the street, I am walking the other way. He is now officially the Grim Reaper.
The loss of Jin -- and I do believe he really is dead -- was just heartbreaking. One of the more wrenching moments on the show.
Liz: Well played by Yunjin Kim, who totally put her heart and soul into that scene and I'm sorry to see Daniel Dae-Kim succumb to the "Lost" DUI curse. Happy trails, bud.
Speaking of ghostly characters -- we also saw Claire again last night (as you mentioned in your opener). She came to warn Kate to not take Aaron back to the island. Which will of course set us up for a conflict -- convincing Kate to take Aaron into potential danger.
Jen: Claire freaks the hell out of me. Ever since she died and turned into a ghost, she's gotten so spooky. Go figure. It was also nice to see Walt again, who is now, apparently, 37.
Liz: Yes. Walt is apparently older than Hurley now and has grown into a strapping young man.
Jen: Maybe we should pause for a second to also verify the Oceanic 8 situation. I don't know if you got suckered into the re-airing of the first hour of the finale. But some additional information was in there that readers were curious about: The survivors have said there were other bodies that were not part of the Six. During the extended press conference, Jack refers to them: Boone, who he says suffered from internal injuries and died after the crash. Libby, who didn't make it through the first week after the crash. And Charlie Pace, who drowned before they could head to the island where they eventually were met by the fishermen. I am not sure why Jack highlighted Boone, Charlie and Libby, but didn't mention other casualties, like Ana Lucia. But that sort of answers the question about who the additional people were who allegedly survived the crash for a time.
Liz: And we have to assume that the Oceanic 6's detailed fictionalized account of their survival was hatched on the Searcher with Penny and Desmond.
Speaking of which: Their reunion was a teensy bit of a let down for me. I guess I was expecting a season-long build-up of Desmond and Penny slowly getting closer and closer -- certainly "The Constant" primed us for that. I felt like last night's reunion was a bit abrupt, though I did shed a few tears. (I'm not completely heartless).
Jen: Liz cried? Say it ain't so. They finally broke her!
Liz: There must've been something in my eye.
Jen: Yeah, probably some metallic particles that flew out of The Vault.
Liz: But I am glad to see those two crazy kids together and look forward to their role in eventually thwarting Penny's pop.
Jen: Sun seems to be working against them on the thwarting.
Liz: Or is she? We don't yet know what Sun's intentions are.
Jen: Well, good question. She's trying to get in with Widmore, but we don't know why.
Liz: She may be using that old tried and true strategy of keeping one's enemies close.
Jen: It's interesting -- everyone who left the island has turned into the opposite version of the person they were on the island.
Jack: Irresponsible addict.
Sun: Ballsy schemer.
Kate: Homebody and mother.
Sayid: Coldhearted killer.
Liz: Hurley: big dude with pithy comments. Oh wait...
Jen: Hurley: Crazy. (He was a little crazy before, but he was less serious on the island.)
Liz: Another definite "through the looking glass" effect. But, if that is the case -- does the formula also apply to Ben, who has left the island, too? Is he also his opposite? If so, what would that be?
Jen: Perhaps. Capt. Nice Guy? The Most Honest Person in the World? Someone who would never serve ham on a date?
Liz: Off-island Ben is a vegetarian? Cool!
Jen: So help me as I type here, I still, still, think Ben's reasons for being a maniac are actually positive. And when that turns out to be right, you can all send payments of $5 to me.
Liz: But, but... Ben killed Keamy without a thought for the lives of the freighter folk. When questioned about it by John, he said: "Sometimes good command decisions get compromised by bad emotional responses." He rattled this off as a mantra, perhaps it's his go-to excuse for dispatching with things that keep him from reaching his goals.
And, no matter his ultimate intentions, killing off a bunch of innocent people makes him a bad guy.
Jen: I didn't say his actions are good. The guy has done some horrible, horrible things. I am just saying his ends, whether they justify his means or not, may be for the greater good.
Liz: So you'd say he's a disciple of Jeremy Bentham? Bentham said: "That the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation."
Jen: Yes. Ben just wants to make people happy. If some people die because of it, you know, whatev.
Liz: I liked your characterization in the intro that Sawyer -- despite the fact that he's just a good ol' southern boy -- is more evolved than Jack. He also really looks smart when emerging from the ocean shirtless.
Jen: Here's the interesting thing about Sawyer: He embraced the island and didn't feel the need to leave it. But when everyone else got on the chopper, he was ready to face his life back home, too. He is comfortable with himself in a way that Jack is not. I still love Jack, precisely because his flaws make him an interesting character. But I actually now believe Sawyer is the better man for Kate. I have switched from Team Jater to Team Skater.
Liz: Thank you. Finally. Because, really, if Jack can't love himself, how can he love anyone else?
Jen: Wait, did you hear that on Oprah?
Liz: Hey, I don't need Oprah to come up with pithy emotionally fraught one-liners.
Jen: Enough about that, let's talk Orchid and bunny rabbits. First of all, the fact that Ben sat Locke down to watch an instructional video while he was throwing junk in the vault was just hilarious to me. "Here, little boy, watch Sesame Street while Daddy takes care of business." But that video may be important -- it was Dr. Halliwax, owner of Ben's winter coat, talking about the good 'ol Casimir Effect.
I would have to reread Hawking to fully understand all of the things re: four-dimensional space. But one thing's for sure: There is a time machine of sorts on the island.
Liz: Umm. Yeah. Thank you. And that time machine looks like a rejected set from an Austin Powers movie, but that's beside the point.
Jen: The Casimir effect has to do with metallic properties. I think the reference was further confirmation that there are electromagnetic issues on the island that make weird stuff happen.
Now, here is a question. When the videotape started to rewind, did it not look like Locke was moving in fast-motion? Did I imagine that? It seemed like everything, not just the tape, got knocked off kilter for a few seconds.
Liz: I did not notice that, no.
Jen: I rewound the rewind scene several times, and it really looked weird, and not just because Comcast stinks. Anyway, it was nice to have the Orchid video from last year's Comic-Con finally factor into the show.
Which brings us to the crazy commercial for Octagon Global.
Liz: Yes, which was a blatant advert for "Lost's" presence at Comic-Con -- which takes place July 24 - 27 in San Diego. The same dates as the alleged Octagon Recruiting event.
Jen: Right -- and maybe an entry into another alternate reality game. I'm totally signing up to be a janitor.
Liz: Good thing you and I will actually be in San Diego July 24 - 27. We'll be able to get a gander at Octagon up close.
Jen: Right. Don't forget your resume! Maybe this is how we can get into the Benjamin Linus Internship program!
Liz: So, the final seasons -- it's clear we're going back to the island.
Jen: Right. I think LindeCuse have said next season is about how the Six get back and the final season is about what happens on the island once they do. Apparently Helpful Ben wants to assist Jack in smoothing things over with Kate and rallying the troops. He insists everyone has to go back.
Liz: Yes, he -- as ever -- "has a few ideas." And Jack is just lost enough to take him up on his offer of help. Which feels a bit akin to relying on a serial killer to see you safely back home, but never mind.
Jen: Ben's a killer, but not a serial one. I mean, let's not go overboard here.
Liz: Remember that newspaper clipping -- the obit for Jeremy Bentham? Didn't it say he hailed from New York and had a son? How does that fit in with what we know of John Locke?
Jen: It doesn't fit in. Maybe when the island moved -- and I believe it moved in both time and location -- it changed Locke's destiny and his past.
Liz: Or perhaps he had assumed another persona to go along with his new name.
Jen: And if he doesn't get to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in time, he might never be born! Seriously -- I don't know what to make of this yet. The whole thing could be a lie. Or it could signify an alteration of some sort in Locke's life.
Liz: Another mystery.
Jen: On the whole, we both agree that last night kicked butt?
Liz: Yes, it kicked mucho backside. Now, for the hard part. We won't see this show again until January 2009. Luckily, we'll be assembling at 2 p.m. ET for our final discussion of the season -- to hear what we've missed here.
Jen: Excellent. I suspect the discussion will be supersized today. So load up on your Dharma saltines.
Liz: And your Dharma bourbon. See you then.
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