Posted by: cousinbrandon | February 11, 2009

LOST – Season 5, Episode 5: “This Place Is Death”

Talk about foreshadowing.  As it turns out, this place is literally death for one of our pals.  Another banner episode for LOST, though I did find last night’s episode problematic for several reasons.  Maybe it’s me, but I’m starting to feel like all of those affected by the time jumping.  Is my nose bleeding?  On that note, let’s do this thing:

1. The French Connection.  As hinted at last week, we got quite a bit of time with Rousseau and company this week, as she, Nadine, Bruno, Brennan, Lacombe, and Robert so “graciously” welcomed Jin into their gang.  We learned that that they left Tahiti on November 15, 1988 and were apparently now lost at sea.  I can’t remember, though, if they were actually looking for the island, or just happened upon it?  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the radio transmission of the numbers (which we heard way back in Season 1), which is almost glossed over as we see the crew attempting to establish just what in the heck is happening to them and where in the heck they are.  Best of all, though, was Danielle’s interplay with…

2. Jin.  First, I still find it bothersome that his English is at times brutal, and other times clear as day.  Now I understand that if you’re immersed in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you will, over time, pick up quite a bit.  I just want Jin’s broken English to be consistent, is all.  I know I’m being nitpicky, but so be it.  So, did anyone else notice the parallelism (again, a common motif on the show) between Jin and Danielle vs. Jin and Sun?  I mean, here he is, once again, playing caretaker, in a manner of speaking, to a pregnant woman, thinking first of her and the baby.  It’s no accident that Jin’s the one to encounter Danielle in the past.  (And by the way, should we make anything of the Alexander/Alexandria conversation?  That is, is that merely playful banter between two expecting parents, or is there a different timeline where Alex is a boy?  I guess it’s the former, since the show is all about course correction, right?  Right?)  But if Jin met Danielle in the past, why doesn’t she recognize him when an older Danielle encounters the Losties following the crash “in the future”?  Does her “madness” simply intrude, whereas her ability to function as a rationale human being is no longer within her reach?  Is she so completely “gone” by the time she meets the Losties that either A) she doesn’t “remember” meeting Jin; or B) her mind no longer works correctly?  And speaking of her insanity…

3. Smokey.  Welcome back, guardian of the island.  First we see (well, hear) Smokey when a missing Nadine falls from the sky after the “Monster” had his way with her.  Shortly thereafter, Smokey reappears and snatches up Brennan (I believe) before dragging him into a hole, only to have his arm ripped off.  (If memory serves, wasn’t there a reference to this a while back, about one of Danielle’s team losing his arm?  And if that’s the case, Jin was part of the “team” involved in the tug-of-war with Smokey, thus helping to create the “future” of the arm.  Course-correction or straight ahead narrative?  That is, is this “how it happened” or is this course correction?)  And then…

4. Jin is Jumping.  So here we see Jin “leaping” as well, with a decayed arm in tow.  (By the way, was he actually holding the arm when he “leaped”?  If not, shouldn’t it have “stayed” in the past, or was it simply never moved from that spot on the island?)  He comes to the beach to find not only two more (dead) members of the French Connection, but Danielle holding Robert at gunpoint.  Robert tries to convince Rousseau that he’s Robert, but as soon as he gets the chance, he attempts to murder Danielle, who aptly puts a bullet in his brain.  So, is Robert, here, inhabited by Smokey and not really Robert, or is he merely suffering from “the sickness”?  What’s more, I think, if memory serves, Danielle is responsible for murdering her crew.  Was it the crew who went “insane,” or were they all inhabited, at one point or another, by Smokey, and she acted in self-defense?  And was it the murdering of her crew, as well as her husband/lover, that drove her nuts?

5. Jin and the Island.  So Jin jumps again and, woo-hoo, he’s reunited with Sawyer and company.  (I think we can assume that Jin has been jumping along the same timeline as the rest of them, but seeing as how he was unconscious and at sea, there was no need to verify this.)  Even a curmudgeon like me was somewhat touched by Sawyer’s jubilation upon seeing Jin.  That was pretty great, really.  What’s not so great, though, is that the jumps are coming faster, and the nosebleeds are spreading.  And speaking of nosebleeds…

6. Charlotte.  Yep, this place is literally death, Charlotte.   I found the scenes with Charlotte slipping in and out of consciousness both fantastic and irritating.  On one hand, I loved seeing her suffering that same stream of consciousness thought pattern where she randomly spits out moments of her own timeline, thereby verifying that her consciousness is moving along its own timeline, a la Minkowski.  What I didn’t like, though, is that she was, at times, way too lucid in her delivery of information to Jin, Daniel and the rest of the gang.  I mean, are you a vegetable or what?  Despite that, though, let’s consider a couple things we learned about/learned from Charlotte:  1)  Charlotte speaks Korean, which initially confused me before remembering that she’s an anthropologist and, as discovered last season when she was in Tunisia(?), she speaks several different languages; 2) She tells them not to bring them back, that “this place is death.”  Not only does this employ yet another common LOST motif — that of the repetition of dialog already uttered (Claire basically tells Kate the exact same thing in Kate’s dream sequence, when Kate finds Claire in Aaron’s bedroom) — but forces you to wonder if she isn’t, in fact, channeling Claire or someone else, or perhaps reliving another moment from her own timeline; 3) She’s a Geronimo Jackson fan.  Again, is there any real significance to Geronimo Jackson, or is this simply Easter Egg material for the fans?  I’m pretty sure Widmore, say, didn’t play bass; 4) She knows about the well (which we’ll get to) because; 5) She grew up on the island.  This deserves some space…

7. Charlotte Lewis, Island Dweller.  As we’ve suspected for quite some time, Charlotte was, in fact, on the island previously.  Who, then, were here parents?  Anyone want to fathom a guess?  I’m still not opposed to the thought that Ben, perhaps, is her father.  Okay, so this part was already pretty much confirmed.  The kicker, though, was her story of the crazy man, the one who frightened her, the one who told her to never come back to the island or she would die.  And who was that man?  One Daniel Faraday.  Now, was she just realizing that it was Faraday who warned her, or has she always known this yet never revealed it to him?  Seems like a pretty big secret to carry around with you when the man who warned you of your own death is part of your “search and rescue” team.  Still, perhaps she was having a moment of clarity in that she was at death’s door?  Or maybe, in jumping through her own timeline, she returned to that point of her childhood and recognized Daniel, whose memory she blocked out?  Either way, she knew Daniel when she was a child, yet he was a man both then and now.  We already saw Daniel in the season premiere at the Orchid Station dressed in Dharma gear.  How, then, has Daniel managed to time travel “physically” from one point in time to the next, at will?  The Island 6 seems to be moving, physically, along different points in their own timelines, without aging?  Daniel, too, would appear to be doing this, but we must also realize that he’s been doing this (or will later do this?) of his own accord, thus appearing in the soon to be built Orchid Station.  Ouch.  My brain hurts.

8. The Well.  So Locke and crew manage to find the Orchid Station, only to have it “disappear” once they jump.  Fortunately, though, the well remains, and Locke intends to climb down in order to fulfill his destiny and stop them from jumping.  Before he can, though, Jin, convinced that Sun and his unborn baby must not return, threatens to cut the rope if Locke doesn’t promise not to bring Sun back.  However, if you go back and watch this scene, Jin actually ends up saying, “Promise not to bring my baby back” (my italics), to which Locke agrees.  Seeing as how we learn that Sun’s baby is in Korea (thank God, by the way; I thought something terrible happened to the kid), and knowing what takes place off island this episode, it’s safe to say that Sun is returning.  To prove that Jin is dead, he gives Locke his wedding band to give to Sun, as a means of convincing her not to return.  It’s fascinating, really, because we see this same band off island, and it’s exactly what Ben uses to convince Sun to come back — to make her believe that Jin is, in fact, alive.  Nice job, writers.  So, as Locke descends down the rope, yep, another jump, which results in the well being filled up and Locke falling to the bottom and, of course, injuring his leg.  And who should he find at the bottom?…

9. Christian.  Dang, I never get tired of seeing this guy.  Three great moments of dialogue/story in this scene.  First, Christian informs Locke that he told Locke to move the island, which of course is not what happened.  Immediately we not only see Locke’s uncertainty creep back across his face, but once more have to ask ourselves if Locke is a leader or a pawn?  We continue to see Locke manipulated throughout this entire series, and now, finally, when he knows his destiny, we learn that he was again manipulated, and perhaps not acting out of his own destiny but someone else’s.  Second, I adored this bit of dialogue between the two of them:

Locke:  “Could you help me up?”

Christian:  “No.  Sorry.  I can’t.”

This is great on a couple levels.  On one hand, it suggests that Locke is, in fact, “the master of [his] fate / [he is] the captain of [his] soul,” as so eloquently written in William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus.”  On the other hand, it suggests that to help Locke up would be to interfere with fate, and that the book is written.  Either way, I loved it.  The third, and somewhat comical moment to transpire was Christian telling Locke to “Say hi to my son,” only to have Locke respond, as he leaps, “Who’s your son?”  

10. Miles.  I have to interject with this moment, since Miles, once again, came through with the funniest bit of dialogue in this episode.  After they reunite with Jin and he starts rapidly spitting out Korean, Sawyer turns to Miles and demands to know what Jin’s saying.  Miles has no idea, claiming “He’s Korean; I’m from Encino.”  Good stuff.

11. The Oceanic 6.  It’s cool to see them “reunite” sans Hurley on the dock, as you forget that it’s three years since they’ve been on the island, and they’ve not seen one another in the same place.  So Saying and Kate head off, refusing to have anymore to do with Ben.  Sun, who was there to kill Ben, ironically ends up driving off with him (and Jack), since Ben can convince her that Jin is still alive.  (Great moment, by the way, when Ben stops the van to remind them that he’s the one trying to save them.)  So Ben, Jack and Sun arrive to the church (albeit late, because Ben failed to account for traffic), where who should step out of the shadows but Desmond.  Did anyone else happen to catch the fact that Ben clearly didn’t know that Ms. Hawking was Faraday’s mother?  I mean, they ask Desmond why he’s there, and he says something along the lines of “To find Faraday’s mother.”  Cut back to Ben, who clearly looks away and looks awfully confused.  Hmmmmm.  This all leads us to…

12. Ms. Eloise Hawking.  Okay, so here’s the confirmation of what I already said would be the case.  Ms. Hawking is Daniel’s mother, and is clearly Ellie on the island (even though they didn’t confirm it, but c’mon already, they will).  Now, here’s what I really did not like:  to this point, all we’ve heard is that all of them — all of them — had to return to the island, and we’ve made quite an investment into the idea of Ben rounding everyone up in order to deliver all of them, as promised, back to the island.  So what happens?  Ben tells Ms. Hawking there’s a problem, that this is all he could get, and she responds by saying, “This will have to do.”  Um, really?  They sure as shit better address this or my “angry” is gonna hit Incredible Hulk style.

13. This Place Is Death.  As is the case with any title, be it the title of a book, poem, film, painting, etc, its purpose is to guide the audience, and in most cases act as a touchstone or point of reference.  LOST being as calculated as it is certainly employs this principle, and always has.  I think it’s too easy, sometimes, to gloss over the actual episode titles.  In the case of last night’s episode, “This Place Is Death,” the title is, perhaps, an undeniable clue.  I know the writers have been saying forever that the island isn’t purgatory — that the characters aren’t dead.  But what if the island is where they come to die?  What if the island is Heaven (or Hell)?  What if it is the final resting place for redeemed souls?  At one point I considered that, perhaps, Christian wasn’t dead, yet considering the way Christian appeared to Michael on the freighter before it blew up, and in the cabin with Locke and Claire, and to Locke last night — well, the last time I checked, the living don’t just “appear” in places.  Considering Christian’s typically calm demeanor, not to mention the overt suggestion of his name (Christian Shepherd), can’t we possibly conclude that Christian is the island’s caretaker, so to speak?  That perhaps he’s the “man” at Heaven’s gate, allowing other souls passage into the beyond once they’ve redeemed their souls?  Maybe the Oceanic 6 has to return to die there!  Maybe we’re not seeing Sawyer and the rest moving through time, but rather their consciousness?  Maybe their physical bodies are in that comatose state on the beach, and only their minds are jumping through time, waiting to find peace, before they can be at peace, in one place, under the watchful eye of Christian and the rest of the “ghosts” that inhabit the island?  Maybe I’m entirely off here, but somehow it seems less and less crazy.

Okay, that’s it for now.  I’m sure, as always, I missed quite a bit, but my mind is mush.

Until next time, have at it, you vultures!




  1. […] redhead (Charlotte) he is in love with, yet doesn’t really know. (Again, if you recall in “This Place Is Death,” the last thing out of Charlotte’s mouth was that she wasn’t allowed to eat chocolate. Nice.) […]

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