Monday, February 16, 2009

LOST 027: Smokey and the One-Armed Bandit

Wow. I'm late with this, first because I was away on business and with horrible wireless service last week, and then because I'm still trying to figure out everything that we learned from this most recent episode. We've stayed fairly character-centric so far here. An episode for Jack, one for Hurley, one for Desmond/Faraday, one for Kate. Now we get one for the overall plot. I found it less emotionally engaging than you'd expect from an episode that features the death of a major-ish character, Jin sacrificing his happiness for his family's safety, and a pregnant lady shooting the father of her unborn child, mainly because it was the big picture, as opposed to character study, that was front and center. At least my brain hurts, in a good way.

OK, let's dig in.

The Really Big Stuff

- The Temple. Yep, it's the famed temple from Season 3, the one that the Others all left Locke behind for, the one that has gone unmentioned long enough that I'd forgotten it was a mystery. And we've learned that Smokey lives in this temple. Perhaps most importantly, we've learned that once it takes hold of people, it possesses them in some way, or exerts some form of influence over them. At first I thought it might have been Smokey posing as Robert in that showdown of former lovebirds on the beach, but then she sure enough shot him, so he seemed pretty solid to me. I'd say that Rousseau's paranoia was well-placed. But what does that mean? I'm not entirely sure, but I'd guess that it explains some of the more overt cultish religious-y overtones we've been getting from the Others. I think I would postulate that there are Others and then there are Others, and the higher-tier ones, like Ben and Richard, probably even Ethan and Tom, have been "chosen" by the island.

And John Locke? Let's remember a couple things about old Locke. First, he's been obsessed since nearly day one with protecting the island above nearly all other considerations. It's really the best interests of the island that has motivated him from the beginning, not any of his more temporary alignments. He blew up the submarine. He conked Sayid on the head. He lied to Jack about Boone to protect the secret of the hatch. So Locke's an island nut, seriously plugged in to the spirituality of the island. That's the first thing. The second thing is that, as I've mentioned in this space many times, Locke came face to face with Smokey very very early in the game . . . and we never saw what happened. Nor did he ever tell anybody about it.

What's very interesting to me is that the unfortunate Frenchman who got nabbed by Smokey got dragged along the ground like he was on some kind of winch. We haven't seen that trick from the beast since Season 1, when it grabbed . . . Locke. Who was ANGRY with Jack for saving him from it just as he was about to go underground. Locke seemed to understand even back then that he was being chosen for something, and he wanted in on it.

What I'm driving at is that I think that whatever happened to the Frenchmen, whatever gave them the indoctrination that turned them against Rousseau, which she interpreted as a sickness . . . I think that Locke has gotten at least a taste of it already. That's why he's more of the island than the rest.


- Donkeywheel redux. Wow, Ben did not turn that wheel properly, did he? So now we are left to wonder if, when Locke set it back on its axis, the timejumpery stopped. If that is the case than I'm sure many fans may breathe a sigh of relief (and all the characters with nosebleeds certainly will), but not me. I was loving it. I mean, I'm sure we'll get a chance to see the island at other points in time, but it was just so clever and so perfect. Anyway, IF they are no longer jumping, then WHEN are they? The Orchid isn't there, and even the well has yet to be dug, so I am guessing the far past. Far enough even for our Heroes to be the progenitors of the original Others? That'd be sweet, wouldn't it?

- Christian. This is the episode that cemented Christian as a major player in all this. His nature is still a major mystery, but I think the fact that he can't help Locke and His Amazing Compound Fracture to stand indicates that he's incorporeal. A ghost, or spirit realm, or however that plays out. Now he's with Claire (safe to say, anyway) and Charlie and Eko and Ana Lucia and Tom and Boone and Shannon and Michael and Libby and Artz and Paulo and Nikki and MAN there have been a lot of deaths on this island. Some more thoughts on Christian. (1) He came to the island dead and in a coffin. Now the coffin is empty and he's walking around all Ghost World. Now . . . Locke is coming back to the island dead and in a coffin. I think Christian is giving us a few clues about what it is going to be like for Locke when he returns. (2) He's not Jacob, but he speaks for Jacob. Why won't Jacob speak to Locke? I think there is a pretty simple reason for that, actually, if you think about it. I've said it before, and the show is driving straight for it. I'm pretty sure that the rules of time travel preclude you from speaking to yourself.

Now how do the ghosts manage to appear to people when they are OFF the island?

- Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Quantum Theory. So do all the O6 need to go back, or will they just take who they can get? Huh? Does Des NEED to go back? If Penny and Charlie go back, does it screw things up? What about then in-utero Yi Juen? Can some go back now and then others later? We need answers. I think we'll get them, but right now it's all muddy. One thing that isn't muddy is the fact that Ben was VERY surprised to hear Desmond reveal that Hawking was Faraday's mother. Another stellar piece of acting by Michael Emerson, it was all right there on Ben's face. Also not muddy is how upset Desmond is going to be to find himself back on the island.

Things We Know

- Yep, Eloise Hawking is Faraday's mom.

- Yep, Charlotte was a Dharma kid. And now she's dead, Jim. Miles knew Charlotte had been on the island . . . why? Well, because he had been there with her, of course. But who was Charlotte's dad, the one they left behind? And how did she know about the well?

- Yep, Locke got off the island by turning the wheel.

- Yep, something happened with Sayid and Ben. I suspect we'll get an answer to what that is in a Sayid-centric episode shortly.

Things We Should Suspect If We Are Paying Attention

- Ben's status as Voice of Jacob and Leader of the Others is complex at least, given Christian's dismissal of him. Also it is very likely that he knew full well that it wasn't supposed to be him turning that wheel, but he had an agenda of his own and off-island revenge to plan.

- Hawking is probably related to Widmore in some way, since the clues are fairly hard to miss that she is the young Ellie on the island on the 50s with Widmore. So their relationship is more complicated than mere adversary, I imagine. Brother/sister, maybe. Husband/wife, maybe. Secret lovers, perhaps. It's fun that all the really major players (Hawking, Widmore, Richard, Ben, probably Abbadan) have been on the periphery, and most of the characters we've known and loved from the beginning are basically pawns -- though Locke and Desmond seem to have crossed to the far side of the board. It seems that these major players are less like separate and warring countries, and more like bitter factions, rivals from different political parties within the same government.

- Locke just keeps hurting his legs. It's a motif at this point. I bet he loses a toe at some point. Oh yeah.

Outstanding Questions

I'm just going to keep going with the questions. Whatever I can think of; all I can eat.

- So is this stuff happening because the O6 left, or because Locke let Ben move the island? I thought I knew the stakes and was starting to sense the rules, and now it's jumbled again.

- How are we going to get the remaining O4 (presuming that Sun and Jack and Desmond are in fact going to the island ahead of schedule) on the island, exactly? Because I thought if we couldn't, God save us all. Sayid is getting pretty stabby at the sight of Ben. Hurley would rather be in lock down. Kate scarpered with Aaron. It's all katty wampus and only a few more hours left. Let's give it up for Ben, though. The one person he is able to bring over is the one who had a gun pressed to his neck. And she's willing to leave her precious little girl behind, too, just for one more chance at craphole island.


- Why did Eko say "you're next"?

- Was Sawyer's greeting of Jin one of both character's finest moments ever?

- Who told Richard to meet Locke and give him a compass?

- Who made the donkey wheel in the first place?

- Why wasn't the wheel room freezing cold this time? I suspect it's because the island, still moving constantly through space (perhaps not moving as the earth rotates?) is not in a cold place right now.

- Who was shooting at the island crew?

- What is the magic box that Ben spoke of, out of which anything can come?

- Why do Dharma people arrive in a submarine?

- Why was there radio jamming equipment underwater?

- How many fibers are intertwined on a shredded wheat biscuit?

- Why doesn't Richard Alpert age?

- What was going on with the bomb and the Swan station?

- Where ARE Rose and Bernard?

- Which came first, the numbers or the hatch?

- Who was reading the numbers at the beginning of this latest episode Some say Hurley, but others say not Hurley.

- Do you think that Ben and Richard had such thick files on the Oceanic survivors because Richard had started compiling them back in the fifties?

- Do you think that Ben and Richard live together as wacky room-mates, and one is messy and one is neat?

- Do you think that Ben and Richard will ever double-date Mohinder and Parkman?

- Am I crazy yet?


Mike Maloney said...

Ha, I like watching your list of questions quickly devolve into Heroes questions.

I mentioned Ben's surprise that A. Desmond showed up in LA, and B. his revelation of what he was doing there. Seriously, can we get this man an Emmy?

I also noticed that Locke can't keep his legs healthy to save his life. No appreciation of his second chance at walking, obviously.

Matt said...

My thoughts:

- I like the connection between Smokey possession & Locke's actions. Seems to me that some of the visions, especially in Locke's case (Taller Walt, Bloody Nose Horace) are perhaps Smokey from the possessed's POV.

- On the other hand, what kind of threat did a pregnant Danielle pose that made a Smokey-possessed Brennan want to kill her? And aside from Naomi getting a knife in the back, I don't recall any other instance where even a possible Smokey-possession resulted in attempted murder.

- My best guess is that the island has stopped in early Dharma time, and we will start down the path that leads to the first scene from Season 5, with Daniel infiltrating Dharma. At this episode's end, there's nothing but a rope where the well once was, so I can't see it being any time after that first scene.

Julius_Goat said...

Oh and a question I meant to ask and didn't.

What convinced Sun that Ben was to blame for Jin's "death"?

I mean, she knows Widmore sent the boat. She doesn't know that Ben stabbed stabbed stabbed stabbed stabbed Kearny, which caused the Michael Jin Boat Explosion.

But even if she did (which would have to come through Locke), isn't that kind of secondary to sending the crazy kill-machine mercs in the first place?

I don't know, I feel like I HAVE all the information, and I would place Ben at a very distant third place (behind Keamy and Widmore) for the boat explosion. So what's her motivation?

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I am definitely with you on the smokey thing. It seems that smokey possesion equates to making you some kind of an obsessed advocate for the island at all costs. Maybe it turns you into a part of the island in some way.

This would be completely consistent with Locke's actions basically through this entire show ever since smokey first got him. Blow up the sub, do everything he can to thwart the helicopter rescue. Locke is simply acting as an agent to advance the island's purposes it seems.

HighOnPoker said...

A couple of points, Goatness.

1. Are you sure about the Temple? I didn't see anything indicating that the hole from whence Smokey came was "The Temple" but maybe I missed something.

2. Miles may know about Charlotte being from the island by talking with the dead people on the island who remembered her. He doesn't seem to have any independent recollection of being on the island himself. My guess is he (Miles) was conceived there, but born abroad.

HighOnPoker said...

One more thought:

I thought it was too convenient that Rousseau's lover's gun jammed just as he pulled the trigger. I figured the island was actually PROTECTING HER, similar to the way that Michael couldn't die off-island. If that's the case, it throws the possessed-by-Smokey theory out the window. But I like the Smokey-possession possibility, so who knowns?!