Posted by: cousinbrandon | February 18, 2009

LOST – Season 5, Episode 6: “316”

Perhaps it’s not hyperbole to say that LOST is, currently, the greatest show on television, yet would it be hyperbolic to state that it is, in fact, the greatest show ever?!  I mean, even in its worst moments [See:  the Jack episode in Thailand], is it not still head and shoulders above everything else that’s currently flooding our airwaves?  I say this because “316” managed to do something pretty remarkable:  it managed to kick my ass.  And when you’re five seasons in and still making me say “Holy hell!” at various points throughout a single episode, you, my friends, are exceeding expectations considerably.  With that, I give you “316”:

1. The Opening/The Eye.  We begin with two common/previously seen opening motifs on LOST.  First, there’s the close-up of an eyeball opening, from which we pull back to find one of the characters (in this case, Jack), a technique used time and again on this show.  Second, we find Jack, in suit and tie, sprawled along the jungle floor.  This harkens back to the series premiere, which opened in the exact same manner (which was no accident as this was the result of Jack’s return to the island).  Getting back to the opening eye, I’ve always wondered why, exactly, the writers chose this motif.  My guess is two-fold:  first, as the saying goes, the eyes “are the window to the soul,” and by allowing us to “look inside” the characters, we are, in fact, more in touch with their motivation and true selves.  Secondly, and perhaps incorrectly, perhaps the eyeball is the writers’ nod to the fact that we, too, are implicit in all of this.  That is, we are active participants who are not only watching but watched.  Just like the Pearl Station (I believe) inhabitants whose purpose was to monitor those within the other stations, perhaps we, too, are not only monitoring but suggestively being monitored?

2. The Second Opening.  In the second part of the opening sequence, which actually happens prior to the first part of the opening, we are back at the church with Ms. Hawking.  (As a side-note, am I being overly critical when I point out how much I dislike the lack of continuity between the last scene of one episode and the first scene of the next?  What I mean is that last week’s episode ended with them entering the church, Ms. Hawking slowly turning around, and her exchange with Ben, capped off with her saying something along the lines of “Let’s get started then, shall we?” and a long pause.  When they “flawlessly” return to this scene in “316,” Ms. Hawking is turning around as they enter the church, and her pause is much shorter and less deliberate.  Now I realize it’s a question of re-shooting this bit, but I find it bothersome, as it screws up the flow and continuity of how it happened the first time.  Mini-rant now concluded.)  Not only do we discover a new Dharma “station” (“The Lamppost”), but learn that this is where the Dharma Initiative tracked the movement of the island in hopes of finding where it would be.  So what, then, must they do to return to the island?  Why, recreate the flight by boarding Ajira Flight 316 from Los Angeles to Guam, of course.  Wait, what was that flight number again?…

3. Ajira 316.  This is interesting on so many levels.  First and foremost, as earlier prognosticated, Ajira Airlines is the airline which will return them to the island, as speculated after our pals on the island discovered the Ajira water bottle inside of the boat they used to paddle out to see in search of the Orchid.  Second, and perhaps obvious, we’ve got them once again traveling on a flight containing one or more of the numbers (Flight 815 and Flight 316 contain 8, 15, and 16, obviously).  And finally, and most enjoyable/interesting, is the flight number itself:  316.  Ever see those numbers anywhere else?  How about, say, in The Bible, or at just about every sporting event since the dawn of man?  I’m talking, of course, of John 3:16, which reads as follows:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

So, what do we have here?  Sacrifice (Christian told JOHN Locke just last week, “I guess that’s why they call it sacrifice”).  Faith (a constant theme, which we even heard tonight when Ben (I think) said, “I guess that’s why they call it a leap of faith”).  And, of course, everlasting life.  Could this be the real secret of the island?  Could this be what everyone’s vying for?  Where’s Richard “You haven’t aged a bit” Alpert when you need him?  And speaking of The Bible…

4. Thomas the Apostle.  Interesting guy, that Thomas.  Apparently he became known as “Doubting Thomas” because of his resistance to believing in the resurrection of Christ.  And as our pal, Ben, explained, Thomas needed to touch the wounds of Christ before his faith was restored.  Interestingly, though, Thomas was forgotten for his initial valor, in suggesting that they go and die at Christ’s side, almost depicting two very different, very opposite sides of the same person.  Well, not only does this sound like Jack, known for his mantra of “Live together, die alone,” but the newfound Jack, whose faith has been/will be restored.  Incidentally, “Thomas” is Hebrew or Aramaic for “twin,” another common motif in the LOST pantheon.  So if Jack is Thomas, does that mean Locke is Christ?  And speaking of Locke…

5. The Note.  It’s hard to believe that the Christ-figure Locke could hang himself, as that would almost, seemingly, disqualify him as the resurrected Christ for committing such a sin.  Yet Locke also knew that he would have to die, per Richard’s instructions, to save the other, thus forcing him to sacrifice himself — to play the role of the martyr — in order to benefit the greater good.  What’s more, it’s a pretty safe bet that, like Christ, Locke will be resurrected.  After all, his corpse was being carted around in a van sporting an anagram for “Reincarnation.”  But what about that note?  Has there ever been such chilling, gut-wrenching resonance contained in six simple words:  “I wish you had believed me.”  Ugh.  What an absolute killer (no pun intended).  (Additionally, I liked that the episode was essentially bookended with the note, or at least the “I wish” scrap.)  Interesting, too, that Jack couldn’t get rid of it, as though John was still trying to get it to Jack.  And it’s that sort of thinking that might, in fact, define a man of faith, no?

6. Jack’s Mission.  So in order to return to the island, Ms. Hawking informs Jack that he must recreate the original flight to the best of his ability, with Locke serving as a stand-in for Christian, which in itself is a springboard for speculation.  Jack, of course, is initially skeptical, but of course comes around, discovering he must include something of Christian with Locke’s corpse.  This leads us to Ray (who, by the way, didn’t look nearly old enough to be Christian’s father), who, after another failed escape from the nursing home, is watching a magic show involving a white rabbit.  Should I be reading anything more from that, or is it simply a nod to the other white rabbits (not to mention the episode “White Rabbit,” in which Jack saw Christian on the island) that have appeared to this point in the series?  After seeing it was Christian’s shoes that Jack would take, I knew — hoped, really — that we would learn the explanation of the white tennis sneakers.  (Thanks, writers.)  I loved, too, the scene in which Jack placed the shoes on Locke’s feet, telling him, “You’re probably laughing your ass off right now.”  Good stuff.

7. The Airport.  Everyone (well, Kate, Jack, Sun and Ben) agrees to meet at the airport to board flight 316 to Guam.  Jack had to handle getting Locke there, as Ben was tied up with a “loose end” (which I’ll get to in a minute).  One of my favorite elements of this scene was the sort of impatience displayed by Jack at the ticket counter, as if the idea of transporting a corpse was no big deal.  And why should it be, right?  For one thing, we’ve already seen him do this exact same thing in the transporting of his father’s corpse back from Australia.  And for another thing, Jack couldn’t care less, as he knows this is all a formality, as the corpse will never reach Guam.  But there was something else about the airport scene that seemed like a bit of a callback…

8. Locke’s Vision.  Remember way back when Locke was still alive on the island, lost his voice, and built a make-shift teepee to go on a vision quest?  In that episode, Charlie stood outside Locke’s tent while Locke induced a hypnotic vision in which Boone wheeled him around the airport.  In that vision, Locke learned he still had work to do, that he needed to find Mr. Ecko.  Additionally, though, we saw a good deal of the passengers of flight 815 (not to mention Ben Linus as a security guard and Desmond as a pilot) scattered throughout the airport in various roles that weren’t quite them.  Hurley, for instance, was working at the ticket counter.  So, flash-forward to last night’s episode, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of this vision, as we see Sayid being led through in handcuffs, Kate not in handcuffs, Hurley with a guitar (Charlie’s, or an attempt to “recreate” the original flight), and so on.  (On a side note, Hurley’s reaction to the stand-by tickets and explanation that he had already bought them all up was fantastic.  He really is one of the good guys.)  So everyone boards the plane in preparation for their flight.  Well, everyone, that is, but…

9. Ben.  Um, what happened to Mr. Linus?  What, exactly, was this loose end he needed to tie up?  I have two guesses, though I can’t assume either is correct.  My first guess revolved around Sayid.  Knowing that Sayid walked away from the rest of them and essentially refused to return, I guessed that Ben somehow confronted him, and forced him into some sort of assault that resulted in Sayid’s arrest and subsequent booking on flight 316.  Why he would be bound for Guam, though, I have no idea.  My second guess, though, has to do with one Charles Widmore.  More specifically, his daughter, Penny.  We learned last season that Widmore “changed the rules” when his man, Keamy, killed Ben’s “daughter,” Alex.  As a result, Ben promised that he would kill Widmore’s daughter, who, coincidentally, just happens to be in Los Angeles with Desmond.  Now, Desmond refuses to return to the island, as he’s done with it despite the island not being done with him.  Could it be that Ben, in that short window of time, tracked down Penny, murdered her, and went on the lam via Flight 316, which will, in turn, force Desmond to return to the island after all in order to seek revenge against Ben?  Kind of makes sense, no?  And speaking of Ben (or at least his choice of reading material)…

10. Ulysses.  So who here has read Joyce’s book?  Even I must admit that I’ve not read it, having only read bits and pieces of it along the way.  Still, in checking out CliffsNotes’ synopsis of the book, I came across the interesting bit, which is very much LOST-like: 

Ulysses stands as an inventive, multiple-point-of-view (there are eighteen) vision of daily events, personal attitudes, cultural and political sentiments, and observations of the human condition. It is written in a number of differing literary styles, ranging from internal monologue to first-person speculation to question-and-answer from a catechism to newspaper headlines.

So it’s a book told from multiple perspectives chronicling multi-cultural, diverse states of the human condition.  Sound like any show you know?  What’s more, Ulysses owes its base to The Odyssey, which has appeared previously on LOST, particularly in the case of the story of Penelope.

11. “Who told you to be here, Hugo?”  This was Ben’s alarming/disarming response after Hugo freaked out upon seeing Ben board the plane.  Not only was Ben’s line fantastically delivered, but fantastically confusing, as well.  Um, who did tell Hugo to be there, then, if not for one Ben Linus?  As far as we knew, only Kate, Sun, Jack, Locke and Ben would actually be on board the flight.  Hurley and Sayid were just an added bonus, or so it seems.  (And by the way:  what exactly happened to Aaron?  Where is the elusive final member of the Oceanic 6?  And for that matter, what’s with parents, once again, abandoning their children?  (Bad child/parent relationships are a common thread on this show.  Just ask Locke.  Oh, wait.  You can’t.  At least not yet.)  Not only has Kate “lost” Aaron, but Sun is abandoning Ji Yeon, yes?  I mean, she’s decided to board the plane to return to the island in order to find Jin.  That’s all well and good, but I could have sworn she’s got a child now, rocking on her grandmother’s lap back in Korea.  You, ma’am, are the Mom of the Year.)

12. “Who cares?”  Another fantastic one-off by Mr. Linus.  This one on the heels of Jack asking Ben about the fate of the other passengers on board Flight 316, who are seemingly unaware of the fate that awaits them.  Of course we’re reminded of the scene in which Ben murdered Keamy, thus triggering the dead man’s switch and essentially killing everyone on the boat, to which Ben replied, “So?”  What’s troublesome in this moment, though, is not Ben’s expected response to Jack’s inquiry; rather, it’s Dr. Jack’s willingness to go along with this nevertheless.  I mean, this is Dr. Jack Shephard, the man who, time and again, selflessly did anything and everything in his power to save the lives of others!  This is the man who sacrificed his own well being countless times so that the others might survive and one day get off the island!  So is this, then, how jaded he’s become?  Is he now this self-involved?  Is this what three years of off-island living, carrying around the burden of the lie and so much death, does?  Apparently so.

13. Lapidus.  Of all the “holy hell” moments from last night’s episode, the announcement by Flight Captain Frank J. Lapidus was by far the holiest!  Sure, I’ve grown to accept and expect the recurrence of “coincidence” (or fate) within the LOST realm, but this one, for some reason, eluded me.  Never once did I entertain the idea that Lapidus might be in the cockpit for this doomed flight back to the island.  Er, Guam.  But there he was, clean-shaven and as shocked to see Hurley and company as I was to see him.  One thing I question, though, is this:  if he pointed out to Jack that, “We’re not going to Guam, are we?” then what would keep him from veering off course in order to keep himself and the rest of the passengers safe?  On the other hand…

14. The Island Redux.  We’re back to the island, and Jack dives into the bottom of the waterfall to save Hurley and revive Kate.  They astutely point out that A) Sun, Sayid and, specifically, Ben are nowhere to be found; and B) they don’t remember the plane crashing.  So while I’m convinced that they are, in fact, back on the island, where is the rest of their gang and why don’t they recall a crash?  All of this leads us to our final moment of suspense…

15. Jin.  For a split second, and I’m sure intentionally so, I thought, perhaps, they weren’t on the island after all.  I mean, there was music blaring in the background, and perhaps they weren’t on an abandoned, lost island after all, but some sort of inhabited tourist spot, a la Rick Moranis in Club Paradise.  But then, there it was:  the light blue VW Bus, and even though I thought it was Horace Goodspeed stepping out from behind the wheel, nope!  It was our old pal Jin, machine gun and all, poised to fire upon his old island chums.  How is this possible, you ask, that the bus was restored and running?  And why was Jin clad in a Dharma uniform?  Well, I have to wager that upon Locke setting the island back on its axis, he, as illustrated in last week’s episode, created another flash.  This final flash moved the occupants of the island back in time, to a period when the Dharma Initiative was still in business and the VW Bus was still in action.  This, then, is the “time” in which Jack and company landed.  What’s next?  God (or the island) (or fate) only knows.

That’s it for now.  Have at it, you vultures!

BD

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