I know you've been patient, Lost, fans. Not only have I not talked about Lost here since 05/24/2007, but the wait has been somewhat interminable between seasons as we've anxiously awaited brand-new episodes. Some of us spent the time making do as best we could. As both Daniel Faraday and Richard Alpert would tell us: time is relative. And while the traditional flashback/flash forward structure seems to be a thing of the past (relatively speaking, of course), what we're now seeing is something related yet even more insidious. To quote "Marvin Candle": time isn't merely OF the essence; it IS the essence.
To talk about what happened during this first two episodes in "chronological" order is almost pointless. Too many people are in too many time periods to try and reconstruct things in a linear fashion. That's what happens when everyone on the Island turns into a mixture of Desmond Hume and time-traveling bunnies, "dislodged" as Faraday puts it, ending up in various points along the string of time. There is however one constant: Sawyer's pecs. That'll stop anyone's nose from bleeding, except if you once were exposed to the Island's unique properties as a child.
That's right, I think we can now correctly assume Charlotte's a Dharma baby, born and raised back when such a thing was possible. She tells Daniel that she hadn't experienced a nose bleed since she was a child. Who else in this episode had a nose bleed? One of the original builders of the Orchid Station, once a massive edifice laid low by...well, a catastrophe of some sorts, once accurately predicted by "Marvin Candle," a man thanks to a video at Comic-Con really known as Pierre Chang. And leave it to Pierre to have a record player that skips through Willie Nelson's "Shotgun Willie" just like the Island is currently skipping through time.
So, why was Daniel Faraday one of those construction workers deep beneath the Orchid in its infancy? I think the clue lies in what was possibly the most mind-bendy of scenes all night: Richard Alpert's frantic instructions to a confused (and bleeding) John Locke aside the fallen Beechcraft. Alpert references an encounter between himself and Locke, one Richard remembers but Locke hasn't yet experienced. Methinks Daniel will eventually visit the Past Orchid in Faraday's Future, which is widely confusing and yet pretty sexy all at the same time. Kinda like Faraday himself. But I digress. And overshare.
Clearly, people shouldn't be passing through time in a non-linear way. There are consequences and risks associated with improper use of time manipulation. Thus, it's no accident that the two episodes tonight are bookended by people saying, "God help us all," in relation to the use and potential abuse of the endless energy stored in the Island. Chang uttered it the first time, and Ms. Hawking, who has a Ph.D. in Druid Mathematics, is the other. Or, should I say, she's the Other?
Some of Ben's off-Island activities, hinted at in the photograph presented by Miles Straume in Season 4's "Confirmed Dead," came to light in these two episodes. Looks like Ben has people all around the world sympathetic to his cause. It's unclear if the butcher was on the Island during the time of the Lostaways, but it's clear she wants to go back as badly as Ben. As for Ms. Hawking...well, looks like Ben's back to being middle management again. He's long hinted that he is not responsible for all of the Others' actions, and it looks like Ms. Hawking is his superior when it comes to the Others' hierarchy. Not THE superior, but superior to Ben all the same. On the level of Brother Campbell, for instance. Remember what Sayid told Elsa: "Everyone has a boss."
Naturally, this means we know all have to go back and rewatch Season 3's pivotal "Flashes Before Your Eyes," in which we met the enigmatic Ms. Hawking. Looks like she's manned what can only be described as an off-Island hatch, located underneath a church in Los Angeles. Emails sent out over the winter to those that participated in an ill-advised alternative-reality game learned of a new hatch (whose logo can be found here), but few could have imagined it would be off of the island. But I suppose it makes total sense: if you're building a series of hatches on an Island with the propensity to violate the space-time continuum, you'd want an off-Island station to find the darn thing if it takes your keys in the middle of the night and goes on a late-night Sonic run.
Using a very Dharma-esque computer and a version of Foucault's pendulum, she's determined an "event window" for the Oceanic 6+Ben+Locke+Butcher+Baker+(Marvin) Candlestick Maker to re-enter the Island. It's less important to question how she exploited the earth's rotation and the Island's electromagnetic properties and more important to question why she needs Ben and Company to head back to the Island. Is it because of a potential paradox, or simply due to some very bad people already there wreaking havoc? In either case, I'm thinking Ms. Hawking might have ordered the construction of that mysterious runway that dominated the early part of Season 3.
Speaking of very bad people: we learned that the Arrow Station isn't only good for storing edited film strips and glass eyes: it's also a military hatch, designed to develop offensive and defensive strategies against the Island's natives. Why use the moniker "Arrow"? Well, just ask Frogurt. That fiery display on the beach should answer your question nicely. Methinks the Island lets people die 1) when they've finished what work they need to do, or 2) when they are super naggy. As went Arzt, so went Frogurt. But while the Hostiles were acting...well, hostile, those military men weren't so chummy, either. And one man named "Jones" sure sounded a lot like a certain man currently looking for the Island.
That's right, a prediction both obvious yet eminently debunkable: Private Jones will turn out to be Charles Widmore. This is long before he had most of Oceanic Airlines in his back pocket: here's a young man with a fiery soul and a covetous heart. And that Island's already his preciouusssss. You can hear it in the way he loathes Sawyer and Juliet for being on "their" Island. And having Jones=Widmore makes the last scene in "The Shape of Things to Come" take on a whole new meaning.
In that scene, you'll remember Ben and Charles casually noting that neither can kill the other. Many of you might have simply chalked that up to Island will: after all, Jack and Michael have both had suicide attempts swatted down by the Island. But are we talking about Island will or the effects of major players in the Lost universe being unstuck in time? Remember what the increasingly important Daniel Faraday notes: the universe won't allow the creation of a new "string" of history. "If it didn't happen, it can't happen."
But there's an unspoken corollary to that: Everything that did happen, will ALWAYS happen. That's what course correction means. In short: Ben and Charles can't kill each other in London in 2005...because one or both die in the past. A past that hasn't exactly occurred yet, at least from the perspective of those two people at that particular moment. It's all relative. And it's all relatively awesome. And yet, completely and utterly baffling if you take it to its logical conclusion.
The one exception to the rule, and possibly the most important person in the Lost universe? Desmond, brutha! He's the exception to the rule, both in terms of changing the past AND the future. Course correction in fact does NOT apply to him, which means he wasn't fated to push the button despite Ms. Hawking's warning. He's the violation of the show's central rules and thus uniquely positioned to make the impossible possible. This is why he could visit Faraday in "The Constant," and why Faraday looked with such awe at his journal at the end of the episode: he's unique, outside of math, time, space, and rules. And that in and of itself rules.
When Desmond wakes up off the coast of Greece, he remembers his encounter with Faraday as a memory, not a vision. Which means, essentially, that that particular memory only entered his consciousness in that dream, AT THAT MOMENT. The past changed for him with Faraday's encounter, due to his being "miraculously" special. Faraday's orders? To find his mother. Let's see...a semi-elderly woman...Oxford-trained....brilliant in math...can we get a "Ms. Hawking" from the crowd? TESTIFY!
You've probably noticed I've spent little time on the Oceanic 6 in this recap. That's because, by and large, they didn't do a whole lot in these two episodes. Jack had the sweats, Sayid took a nap, Kate took off, and Aaron colored outside the lines. A lot. Only Hurley and Sun had moments of real interest in these first two hours. Hurley's heartbreaking confession to his mother, in which he purged the weight of three years of lying, was both hilarious in a "here's the plot of Lost in 34 seconds" kind of way, but by the end heartbreaking as he spoke of those left behind. And it's that pain that sold his story to his mother, who, in true mom fashion, replied, "I don't understand you, but I believe you." Sounds like my Mom when I try to tell her about the Dharma Initiative over Sunday dinner.
As for Sun...let's just say I never, ever want to visit a 31-st floor hotel room for a one-on-one with her. Am I alone in thinking she's currently the most terrifying person on the show? We saw her inner strength in Season 4's, finale, but what we saw tonight was nothing short of monstrous. What made it even scarier was the way she delivered each menacing line with either a smile or a gesture of comfort. Did any of you think Ms. Austen felt relieved when Sun told her she did not blame Kate for Jin's death? Sun is on a vendetta, plain and simple, and I'm not sure she's got anything on her mind except for revenge.
A few random thoughts:
Who do you think the "client" is that sent the lawyers after Kate? My early money was on Ben, but by ep's end, I started to think Sun did it. If she's not happy, then no one's happy. She's like a passive-aggressive Vidal Sasoon that way.
Loved the shot of the massively tall Orchid. Looked like a damn office building was being erected atop that site, and yet something blew the whole thing to smithereens. Since the Arrow and the Swan seem to dabble in similiar properties, perchance the Incident caused the Orchid to blow sky high at some point?
If Ms. Hawking is Ben's superior, did she have a hand in ordering the Purge?
Nice to see Ethan again, and even Ana Lucia. I think he says something about her character that her two most interesting appearances on the show happened after she died. And that something is, "No one liked her when alive."
Note the appearance of the compass? Look familiar? It should: it was one of the three items Locke apparently "already owned" when Richard visited him as a child. Look for a vial of granules to appear soon.
Speaking of that scene, I think these episodes confirm what I've thought for a while: if Richard doesn't know Locke during the Dharma era of the Island, as he hinted during his frantic instructions, then he only could have visited Locke throughout his life AFTER Locke arrived on the Island. So, Richard went back in time, behind Ben's back, to see if he'd made an error in choosing the Island Leader. And yet, since Locke's within the rules, he'll always and ever choose the knife when Richard confronts him. God, this show rules all.
If Widmore has Oceanic seemingly in his back pocket, does that mean he'd have an easier time than Ben staging the fake crash at the bottom of the Sunda Trench?
Just think: if Sayid hadn't been so busy watching out for Hurley, he probably would have done the dishes. And had he done so, Mr. Dart Man wouldn't have died such an awesome death. Sayid's ninja skillz are only matched by Hurley's Hot Pocket shot putting.
As for Hurley's incarceration: seems like a convenient plot point to add drama to the Oceanic 6 returning. After hearing Ana Lucia's message from Libby, Hurley should put aside his fear and loathing of Ben. C'mon, they were sharing Apollo Bars just a few years ago, people!
The appearance of the Beechcraft flying over Locke's head helps identify why the Black Rock is so far inland, I feel. If the Island suddenly appears in a certain time, then anything within its magical "radius" gets stuck in there, almost like a fly in an overturned glass. I'm guessing the Black Rock was literally in the wrong place at the wrong time: it's not so much that the ship landed on the Island, but rather the other way around.