Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LOST 042: All In All, We're All Just Names On The Wall, Or: I Have Become Comfortably Numbered

Wow, this was a mindbender. I've read that Mr. Lindeloff and Mr. Cuse stated that this would be a big episode for explanations, but I am not feeling that. It seems more that this is an episode that allows us to have a more finely distilled sense of confusion. We can ask better questions, perhaps, but we don't have a ton of answers yet.

The big reveals? How about the fact that there is a cave with all (or most) of the Losties names scrawled on the walls? How about the fact that each name has a number assigned to it? How about the fact that the numbers assigned to some of our Prime Losties (Sayid, Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Locke, and either Sun or Jin) are THE numbers?

What does it mean? I don't know. Look at me. Now look at your man. Now look at me. Now look at this. What is it? It's Sawyer. Now look. He's with a man who could smell like your man if your man smelled like John Locke. Now he's smoke. I'm on a horse.

We're deep in the weeds, now. But we are so close. It would be a shame to turn back now.

What should we do this week? How about . . . a bunch of quotes and what they might mean? Good? Good.

But first, Sawyer, wise up. Friends don't let friend climb rickety death ladders drunk.

Come on, intro title card. Do your intro title card thing:


". . . your dad . . ."

Oy. If the parallel story is meant to act as counterpoint to the main story, things just got muddied up.

Last week we saw that Kate's fate is essentially the same at best with or without the influence of Jacob and the pull of the island. This time out, however, we see an example of some Losties who seem to have found some better cards on the redraw. Our goodbuddies alternaLocke and alternaHurley seem at least somewhat better adjusted. Hurley Vista is actively engaged with the businesses he owns, full of confidence, and is a halfway snappy dresser with Wolverine Chops. But the real improvements are on display with Locke, who is still dealing with major denial issues regarding his paralysis, but who has managed to hang on to his ladylove, who helps him work through them.

And why is that? Why, because Locke has a nice healthy relationship with his dad, Anthony Cooper. Who apparently is not a bad guy and thus will not be stealing a kidney (may still have been donated) or breaking up Locke's relationship, or pushing him out a window and paralyzing him. Oh, and will also presumably not be leading Sawyer's parents to the inevitable murder/suicide, one presumes. So that's nice for Sawyer. Maybe he installs air conditioning units or something.

Oh yeah, and Ben Linus didn't die when the island submerged, even though he was in Others camp at the time. You know, if it was the bomb that "sank" the island while leaving all the structures on it intact. He's a middle school history teacher, and a bit a douche about the coffee filter.

Also interesting is that Locke, despite not having a murderous rampaging asshole for a father, remains paralyzed for some other reason. Time course corrects, it seems. And, despite all these differences, these people still wound up on that plane for some reason. And furthermore, we keep seeing this parallel universe for some reason. Whatever that reason is, I think it will help us sort out a nasty tangle's worth of confusion. At least I hope it will. I hope. I hope.

I just started talking like Morgan Freeman. Blame the commercials for the Olympics.

Last few thoughts about the parallel universe.

1) I think we need to consider the very real possibility that Season 6 is not the first time that we've observed scenes from a parallel reality. If there is one, there may be many. It was noted that the season premier was titled "LA X" with a space, instead of "LAX", the name of Los Angeles' airport. I am now taking as a possible reading that this is the tenth (as in the Roman numeral X) parallel iteration. LA. X. The one we are committed to is perhaps LA IX.

2) I think that the episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes", in which Desmond experiences the crucial moment in his life when he decides to leave Penny, tries to change it, and is intercepted by Eloise Hawking, is possibly one of these parallel realities, with the notable difference that Desmond had awareness of his other life in another reality. "See you in another life, brotha," indeed.

"Inside joke."

White stone and black stone on the scales in the cave. This was a fun callback to those white and black stones Jack found in the skeletons by the caves in Season 1. Remember those skeletons? They haven't yet been ID'd. But they're going to be. I betcha. Right now in the office pool I have my money on Benjamin Linus and his yet-to-be-revealed evil twin, Linus Linus.

"John Locke was a believer. He was a man of faith. He was a better man than I'll ever be. And I'm very sorry I murdered him."

Man, it is sad to see John Locke laid in the ground with a crab skittering on his head. Good thing I remain convinced he'll be back by the end. And I do think that Ben is feeling true remorse as he delivers what is without doubt the greatest graveside eulogy in the history of anything.

Ben's kind of been on the sideline lately, hasn't he? I bet that won't last.

"You mean you've been doing everything he told you all this time, and he never said why? I would never have done that to you. I would never have kept you in the dark. I would have treated you with respect. Come with me, and I'll tell you everything."

Here (and with the Nemesis' man-cave conversation with Sawyer) we get a nod to one of the more prevalent pre-season theories: That Jacob is actually the bad guy and the Nemesis is the good. Shocker! Holy white and black reversal, Batman! It's still possible, though I'm not feeling it, but that doesn't matter. One of my favorite things about this episode and what we are learning about the Nemesis is this: Whether or not Jacob is the good guy or the bad guy, the Nemesis really does think that Jacob is the bad guy. He really does feel badly treated by Jacob. He claims that he was once a man; I'm getting the sense that once upon a time, back when he truly was a man, Richard knew him.

Meanwhile, we discover that Richard, for all of his insider status, doesn't appear to know or understand about Candidates. And in true Genesis Serpent fashion, this is what the Nemesis offers him: knowledge. Knowledge that has been withheld. He may have been hiding his knowledge from the Locke-ness monster, but he truly seemed baffled, not just by talk of Candidates, but also by the very fact that the Nemesis could appear as somebody else. But Aldo and Justin, of the "Jin is one of them!"/"Oh come on, he might be one of them." / "Ouch all the bullet holes in our torsos!" conversation from last week . . . even they seem to know about Candidates. And so did Illanya and Bram, seen last season speculating whether or not Bram is a Candidate. Since they were speculating, I am guessing they hadn't seen the wall. But they knew the concept.

Speaking of Illanya . . .

"He's stuck that way."

Reeeeally? So old Smoke can't change from Locke to Christian to Ben's mom to Yemi no more? He's all Locke all the time? How come? Huh, show? Is it because Jacob is dead? I suppose we will have to wait and see, but I reckon that we can take this as fairly likely to be true.

While we're at it, check out the big brain on Illanya! She sure does love knowing stuff; stuff that even Richard Alpert with his Live4Ever line of bath salts doesn't know. Like Candidates. And at least a little something about the rules under which Nemesis/Locke operates. And apparently about collecting Jacob's ashes. I can't be the only person who saw that and thought about rings of Smokemonster containment ash. Is this the genesis of the containment ash? With parallel universes and time travel, such a thing isn't off the table. If, as I suspect, this has all played out many times before, that ash may have been Jacob all along. It certainly seems possible that the function of the island is to contain the Nemesis. Is Jacob in his death the very method of containment?

Here's the thing about Illanya that we know. Jacob has visited her, and identified her as such, which is a fairly unique occurrence. We've actually only seen the Nemesis and Hurley interact with him knowing it is him. (Well, Ben, but . . . stabstabstabstabstab.) She was in a burn ward, and appeared to be extra crispy. It probably isn't a huge speculative leap to say that Jacob healed her, and probably gave her some instructions and rather highly privileged information.

Such as . . .

"He's recruiting."

So, Nemesis tells Richard that he wants what he's wanted all along: For him (Richard) to come with him (Nemesis) off the island.

Richard tells him to blow. Nemesis seems OK with this. He just goes and snags Sawyer. So the Nemesis, who claims that Jacob is a right prat for recruiting other people to meet his own selfish ends, goes out and recruits other people to meet his own selfish ends.

But he's recruiting for . . . what?

We know that the Nemesis wants to get off the island and go home. We don't know where "home" would be. But it seems safe to say that he needs a willing person to help him leave. Does that person need to be a Candidate? Or just a warm body?

"You don't understand what you're dealing with, he doesn't just want you dead, he wants everyone dead."

So these are the stakes. The man who appears to know the Nemesis best, Richard Alpert, comes out of the jungle, with his perfect-form "don't shoot me" hands, and drops this line on us.

Who does the Nemesis want dead? Everybody. Everybody on the island?


Or, maybe, everybody.

Think he should get off the island?

"Don't tell me what I can't do!"

All right, you're the Nemesis. You've just arranged for the time travel of an island, the thrall and death of one of his Candidates, the thrall and murderous rage of the leader of his people, and a willing accomplice to get off the island.

Oops! Glowing Ghost Child!

Looks like you forgot to carry the 2 when you worked out the math in your murderous plan. Don't you hate it when that happens?

So what does Nemesis J. Smokemonster do when told he's in breach of Da Rules and is due for a celestial moving violation? He busts out John Locke's old catch phrase. Might be the writers getting cutesy. Or maybe there is more Locke in the Nemesis than he knows.

Hey, you got Locke in my Nemesis! You got Nemesis in my Locke!

Oh yeah, and while we're on the subject of "things Richard Alpert doesn't know" . . . he doesn't see the Glowing Ghost Child, though the Nemesis does. And so, interestingly, does Candidate Sawyer.

Who's the GGC? Smart money would seem to indicate it's a young Jacob, if only because this is the only entity all episode long that ever breaks Nemesis' cool. On the subject of cool, let's take our weekly bath in the awesomeness that is Terry O'Quinn's performance. Aaahh, refreshing! Let's move on.

"You know the rules. You can't kill him."

What does this mean? Who is "him"? Locke? Jacob? Ben killed them both. Besides, it's not "You knew the rules, you couldn't kill him," it's "can't" and "know." Present tense. Sawyer? Possibly, though we both know that Sawyer has a utility to the Nemesis for getting off the island.

Maybe that utility involves killing him at some point.

"There's NOTHING to protect! It's just a damn island."

If this doesn't make you suspicious about what the Nemesis says, nothing will. Just an island? Just a time-traveling, moving island with amazing pockets of electromagnetic energy.

Given what we've seen, though, I'm guessing that it's not that Jacob is protecting the island from the outside world. It's that Jacob is protecting the outside world from the island, and what's on it.

Is the island a prison? It's too early to say.

But yes.

"He wants you to replace him."

This is what the Nemesis proposes is Jacob's intention for Candidates, but let's keep in mind that the Nemesis has an agenda, and also definitely is the Serpent from the Garden of Eden (whoops, pet theory got off the leash again), and thus should be trusted to tell only enough truth to get the person to whom he's speaking to do his will.

But this is Jacob's cave, right? His names? His numbers?

He definitely calls them to the island. Nemesis isn't lying about that. We've seen it. In fact, it's quite likely that the Nemesis doesn't think he's lying about any of it. The Nemesis might be presenting the truth of Jacob as he sees it. How does the prisoner see the jailer? As a good guy doing a necessary job? Doubt it.

So, what is Jacob doing? Why is he writing all of his CaveBook friends on his wall and inviting them to join his Mystery Island network?

Let me make a speculation about repeating timelines. Let me speculate that in the previous Iteration of the timeline, there was also a cave. And a Nemesis. And a Jacob, but a Jacob who looked like a different person. And there were Candidates.

Let me speculate that one of those Candidates was eventually deemed suitable. And that Candidate was a man who looked exactly like the man we know as Jacob. And that man took on the totality of the Entity known as Jacob, and became him, while remaining himself in many fundamental ways. And this Candidate took his place as this Iteration's guardian. As this Iteration's Jacob.

How long has the Nemesis been trapped? Universes of time.

Let me speculate that one of these Candidates will be deemed worthy in this Iteration of the timeline.

Finally. let's speculate that, by the time we get to the end of this long story, we will see Jacob alive again, perhaps in a different Iteration of the timeline.

He'll look like somebody we know.

I'm guessing he'll look like John Locke.


As always, images are property of ABC and arrive via the great Lostpedia.


Riggstad said...

Nice write up. I tend to agree with most of your suppositions. However, this has to be one big pimp.

I think the final show will have Locke on an operating table, waking up after a terrible dream, due from an incorrect dose of anesthesia, in excruciating pain, with Dr Jack Shephard standing over him holding a piece of his spine scratching his head and pining for a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Sawyer will be seen through a glass window peering from the adjacent operating room, wearing some type of janitors uniform, while sweeping up the remains of Kate's entrails after her failed surgery to remove an FBI agents 9mm slug.

Ben linus actually turns out to be the actual anesthetists and Hurley is seen walking through the halls recruiting physicians and nurses for the new 615 bed hospital being built in San Diego.

The final scene shows Locke slowly slipping away while the camera pans to the respirator which has black smoke seeping out of it.


Julius_Goat said...

Am I the only one who really wants Riggs to start recapping this show?

HighOnPoker said...

Great recap. Here are some additional thoughts:

1. They spent too long explaining the cave through Nemesis/Locke to just say after the fact that Nemesis was lying. At least that is my impression.

2. I get a sense that the ghost boy is not Jacob, but something altogether different. Whoever he is, he is more powerful than Nemesis, and is probably the "gamekeeper" to this little battle between Nemesis and Jacob. Perhaps he is God in this scenario. He was bleeding from his hands, ala stigmata. This god-like being set the rules by which Jacob & Nemesis "play." Interesting stuff.

3. Jacob appears to be the gatekeeper that can bring people to the island and let them leave (i.e., stopping Nemesis from leaving; possibly allowing the Oceanic 6 to leave). Therefore, Nemesis needs his successor, which may or may not be Sawyer, to help him leave. If Sawyer cannot help him leave, then Sawyer fails as the candidate and will likely be killed by the Nemesis.

4. But I doubt Sawyer is going to help the Nemesis leave anyway. The whole Alpert scene where he informs Sawyer of the Nemesis' true goal and then Sawyer covers for Alpert shows that Sawyer recognizes that the Nemesis is a bad guy. Sawyer goes along with him, but I get the sense that he is just playing along with Nemesis. In the end, I doubt he'll actively help the Nemesis.

5. My wife and I both found it odd that Kate was not one of the uncrossed out names. I wonder if this has any significance, since she was the only O6'er to not make the list of Candidates.

Julius_Goat said...

Jordan --

1) I don't think the Nemesis is lying about all of it. For example, I doubt he's lying about it being Jacob's cave, or at least partially his cave (remember there is a black stone in there too), and I doubt he's lying about Jacob being the one who drew them all to the island, but I do think he is not a reliable narrator, particularly when it comes to Jacob's motivations or what the stakes are regarding his leaving the island.

2) I like that theory.

3) This suggests that the Candidates are the Nemesis' candidates as much as they are Jacobs, and I agree.

4) Yes. Sawyer is, when the chips are down, one of the best of them all. He won't turn evil.

5) I meant to mention this. Yes, it is notable, but easily explained. It's because Kate sucks.

Dawn Summers said...

I thought the boy was Aaron. Did anyone pause the cave scene, were there names we don't recognize? What about Michael's son? Or is he just forgotten about? And that crazy dog? I bet Vincent's behind everything!

APOSEC72 said...


I didn't pause it long enough to look at the other names on the cave - probably should have.

Julius_Goat said...

@Dawn. If you ask me over on Formspring, I'll tell you every single name that was on that wall, and what number was next to them, too.

You've come so far, Summers. It would such a shame to turn back now.

Anonymous said...

"There's NOTHING to protect! It's just a damn island." in a anesthesia induced dream.

Dawn Summers said...

Nice try, Goat, you forget, I'm a poker player. I know that once you're beat, there's no sense throwing even a single chip more into the pot - even if you only have one chip left. Plus, I've asked you questions on formspring. I was one of the first. Now, admit it...this is all Vincent's fault, eh?

Julius_Goat said...

Yes. Vincent and the Hurleybird are behind all of it.

In the interest of keeping the table friendly, I'll show my hand.

Don't say I never done nothin' fer ye.

Anonymous said...

"You don't understand what you're dealing with, he doesn't just want you dead, he wants everyone dead."

Queue music to - "You. All. Everybody."

Love the prison theory. It made me think of a quote from another great work of art that I messed with to prove a point: "The D.I. dug too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum... shadow and flame."

Where there's smoke...there's fire.

Suddenly, I have a great urge to eat a Reeces Peanut Butter cup.

~a LOST ATTN fan and advid reader of your recaps.