It’s all about family, and to a lesser extent it’s about growth, but mostly, I think, it’s about family. As Miles O’Brian said on DS9 once, “You can choose your job and your friends, but your family - that’s in the stars.” And sometimes the stars are extremely pissy when you try to second-guess their decisions. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
This week’s action was divided between Team Ben and Team Locke. Team Hume is entirely absent this week.
When last we saw Team Locke, Daniel Faraday’s lantern-jawed girlfriend who’s name I can never remember dropped dead of a time-travel-induced brain aneurism. This week we find that she isn’t actually dead, she’s just really bloody. Also, her name is Charlotte Staples Lewis, as many of you have repeatedly reminded me. (Get that? C.S.Lewis, in keeping with the show’s tradition of naming major characters after authors and philosophers). Locke and Sawyer discuss what to do while Juliet and Faraday discuss exactly what Charlotte’s problem is. Faraday thinks their unstuck-in-time Billy Pilgrim status is gradually tearing their brains apart physically, and this is at least reasonably consistent with what we saw last year when Desmond was briefly time traveling around. It also seems consistent with what happened to Faraday’s pretty young lab assistant that is now a vegetable back in England.
Locke decides to head to the Orchid and try to get off the island the same way Ben did, and bring the others back. Well, not the ‘Others’, but the ones who left. You know what I mean. Sawyer agrees, and Team Locke head off that way, deciding to take the Zodiac from the season finale to cut around the horn of the island. En rout, Sawyer stumbles across Kate helping Claire give birth in the form of stock footage from season 1. Shaken, another time jump happens, and they make it to the beach to find the camp destroyed and abandoned, and the Zodiac is gone. In it’s place are a couple outrigger canoes. They steal one to head around the horn to the Orchid in a plan that strikes me as excessively stupid, and quickly proves me right: they’re attacked by unidentified folks in the other outrigger. Juliet shoots one of them, a time shift happens, and suddenly they’re at sea in the rain. They head to shore and find bits of wreckage with French writing on it. Meanwhile, most of Team Locke are showing greater or lesser signs of what I’ve decided to call “Time Sickness.”
Meanwhile - no, more like “Meanwhen” - in the (relative) present, Team Ben is getting together: Kate and Sun discuss her options. Kate goes to the office of the lawyer who wanted to prove Aaron isn’t her kid, and offers to give her blood if she can meet with the client. The lawyer agrees to convey the message. She intends to follow him. Elsewhere, Jack has helped Sayi’d out in the hospital. While he’s recuperating, a man attempts to assasinate Sayi’d, but once again the Iraqi Jack Bauer kicks his ass and discovers the guy was working for someone at Kate’s address. Jack calls Kate and asks to meet with her, and they stake out the lawyer to find out who the client is. Meanwhile, Ben and Sayi’d head off to do super secret spy stuff.
Jack talks to the client, who turns out to be Claire’s mom, and she had no knowledge of the whole Aaron situation, this is just misdirection on the part of the lawyer. The Lawyer, meanwhile, meets with Ben and Sayi’d in a garage to let Mr. Linus know that the state has no case against Hurley.
Everyone rendezvous at the marina, and Kate freaks out when Ben shows up, quickly realizing that Ben is the one who initiated the whole Aaron-crisis, and catching everyone else flatfooted by her insight.
Meanwhen, in the past, some French survivors find Jin (!) floating at sea and take him to shore. One of them introduces herself as a young version of Daniela Rousseau, the Crazy French Lady from seasons 1-4.
Again with the very fake baby-bulge! Is this the same fake baby padding they used on Penny a couple episodes back? Sheesh!
The Young Rousseau looks not terribly much like the old Rousseau, does she?
I totally called it a couple weeks ago when I said that Ben was the one who sickec the lawyers on Kate. Well, I didn’t totally call it - I listed it as one of two possibilities: Either Ben did it, or Penny’s dad did it. Either way, it was with the same intention in mind: to flush her out and get her on the run again, where she’d be easy pickin’s for ‘em.
Speaking of which, what was Kate's plan with the lawyer anyway? Clearly the whole "I'll give my blood if I can meet with your client" Thing was a ruse so the lawyer would lead her to whomever had set this thing up. But what then? Whatever it was, it didn't end up happening because Jack showed up and expressed good judgement for once, thus derailing whatever it was that she inteded to do. But what *did* she intend to do? I'm *pretty sure* she was gonna' kill Claire's mom. I base that on Sun telling Kate that she had to "Deal with" these people in no uncertain terms. Kate was gonna' whack her!
I’m not sure what Faraday was talking about when he said he thought the Time Sickness was based on cumulative time on the Island. Miles said “I’ve only been here two weeks,” and Faraday replies, “Are you sure?” which confuses the issue even more. I wonder if that’s subjective or objective time he’s talking about. For instance, if Miles gets sent back in time and spends 5 years on the island *before* he ever gets there, does that get added to his present-day total? Does the rapidity with which you get a nosebleed indicate how much time the future you will spend in the island’s past? If so I reiterate that the surprisingly-not-dead Charlotte Lewis is not long for this world, since she’s got it much, much worse than everyone else. Conversely: Is Faraday simply implying that Miles’ ghostbuster powers might be in some way related to the island itself? Like he was born there and shipped off to the outside world, or something?
Sawyer is very interesting this season, though he hasn’t had much to do so far. As I pointed out a while ago, he doesn’t quite get what’s going on, but he keeps on going anyway. He’s a much more put-upon, haggard personality these days. The change started when he killed Locke’s daddy and essentially satisfied his own life’s mission, so he hasn’t got a goal, a reason to live, and the directionless Sawyer is considerably more dangerous than the happy-go-lucky surprisingly smart Sawyer of earlier seasons. In a few scenes in this episode, he’s positively lupine. Look at the surly barely-contained-anger glances he gives Locke, but at the same time he’s much less self-serving. He’s accomplished everything he wanted to in his life - sad as that might be - and everything that’s going on around him is denouement to his life’s story. Thus, having outlived his own usefulness, he’s far more willing to be self-sacrificial than he was before. Note how he dove in to the helicopter to save Kate, or the way he took charge when the 1950s others attacked the camp, or the way he follows Locke’s lead here. He seems to know his story is coming to a close, too, or if he doesn’t know it, then he seems to be sort of willing it to be so. Since we know that Kate and Jack *will* eventually get back to the island, that’s simply going to start the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle (or the Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet quadrangle) up again, which isn’t a good thing either dramatically for us in the audience or for Sawyer personally, so I’m thinking that Sawyer isn’t likely to survive this story. Like Charlotte, he’s giving signs of not-long-for-this world. His performance is much more nuanced and subtle, which makes how little he’s been given to do lately all the more remarkable - he’s all scowly and growly like a dog that’s been kicked too many times, but he conveys a lot by the ways he scowls, and the fact that he’s smart. Even a directionless, possibly semi-suicidal Sawyer is smart enough to be trying to figure things out. I think it’s also interesting the relationship that’s developing between him and Juliet: He’s willing to talk to her, but not the others. I don’t think this is romantic as some have implied. I think rather it’s simply because they’ve both walking wounded, emotionally speaking. They’ve both lost someone they love who doesn’t give a damn about them, and more to the point, they both lost that person to the person the other person was in love with.
Damn. That was confusing. Simplified version: Sawyer lost Kate to Jack, and Juliet lost Jack to Kate. By the commutative power of “My girlfriend’s boyfriend isn’t me” that gives Juliet and Sawyer a very real bond, even if it is simply the fact that they’re siblings of the same affliction. A family forged by common suffering. This is interesting because while Juliet is clearly part of Team Locke, she’s been increasingly aloof of late. I think she’s solidly one of the good guys now, so I’m wondering where this will lead them. I’m assuming that Juliet’s weighing-the-options stance will save all their bacon in a big way relatively soon.
This show has always been rigidly deterministic: fate is pulling the strings, and no one can escape it. This is entirely consistent with the time travel nature of the show, which seems to be going out of it’s way to preserve causality (Look it up). It’s interesting, then, that Locke and Sawyer both have the ability to change the past in this episode, but neither do it for their own overlapping reasons. Locke could avoid the pain he’s been through in the past several years, but he says he needed the pain to bring him to this point, kind of like childbirth, which, not at all coincidentally, we see Claire going through in the woods. Kate says that this birth isn’t just for Claire in the stock footage, it’s for everyone, all the survivors, it’s something they all need. This points out none-too-subtly that the pain of the present gives way (determinalisticaly) to a brighter future. Or if not a brighter future, at least a less-awful one. Either way, the moral of the story is pain = hope. Locke’s pain has brought him to this point, and I think this whole story turns on Locke and his impending sacrifice for the good of everyone on the island, but also for the world at large. Locke is gradually turning in to a Christ figure, I think. He'll save the world, that one will. Just you watch! And will Sawyer’s pain eventually bring him to hope and survival? I hope so, he’s a great character and he *does* have the bonus of not being satisfied with himself. Self-satisfaction is an E-ticket ride straight to death on this island, as we’ve seen again and again.
(Neither here nor there, but for some reason lately I’ve had the damnedest suspicion that some future version of Locke *is* the monster, shepherding the island’s destiny. I’m probably wrong about that, but it keeps coming to me subconsciously. Submitted for your consideration)
Meanwhile, Sun continues to play her dangerous game. She’s having Ben tailed, she’s got a gun, she’s not being straight with Kate, she wants Ben dead dead dead, and she’s always been considerably more dangerous than we tend to assume (Remember when she killed her boyfriend? Or took control of her dad’s company?). She could - and probably will - seriously screw the pooch for everyone. The black sheep in the family.
Which brings us to the ‘Family’ aspect of this episode: Daniela is pregnant; we see Claire give birth; we see Kate effectively adopt Aaron; we see and have seen all their pain when people try to take their kids away. Ben took Alex away from Daniela. Penny’s dad took Daniela away from Ben. Desmond took Penny away from her dad. The Others took Walt away from Michael. The list goes on and on. While there may be some other motivation to all this, a recurring and very strong theme to this show is the fear of having the defenseless ones you love taken away from you and corrupted or perverted in some way. Children are the most obvious, most easily-attacked beating heart possible to damage while it’s laying there thumping away on the table, and it’s always the one the bastards go to first when they attack. If Juliet and Sawyer are a family forged on their common lovelorn status, then Those Who Left are a family based on shared traumas and their Napoleonic version of history (“A set of lies agreed upon”). Team Locke is, likewise, bonding in to a somewhat familial structure, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when these teams or families or whatever meet up again, probably next season.
These two themes - family/babies and Pain are expressly tied together by the scene of Claire giving birth in the woods.
This de facto family structure is contrasted with Claire’s *real* family - her mom has no clue, is out of touch, pitiable, but not mean. She doesn’t know what’s going on, couldn’t really comprehend it if she did. She has no bond with Aaron, doesn’t even know he exists. Likewise, she’s got only the most tangential ties to Jack, despite the fact that she gave birth to his half-sister. There should be a bond between them at least on par with the one Jack has with his own mother, since he’s played a big role in his nephew’s life thus far. And where is Jack’s mom? She’s been conspicuously absent since the return. We didn’t even see her at the funeral. Jack has no family ties anymore beyond perhaps a degree of politeness.
But that’s not entirely true: Jack loves Kate, and he loves Aaron to some degree. He loves Sawyer like a pain-in-the-ass biblical rival of a brother. Locke is like a father or an uncle. He’s got a family that the stars of fate decreed for him, it just happens not to have been the one he was born in to. His biological family is irrelevant next to his real family.
We’ve seen the same thing from the others: Penny has rejected her own father. Desmond is coming to the aide of the people who need him. Kate rejected her own mother’s dying wish, and actually killed her own father. Locke had Sawyer kill his own father. In doing so, Sawyer effectively shut down the biggest (Albeit negative) formative influence in his life, putting him free from his past. Boone and Shannon were a hopelessly messed up incestuous family not worth being a part of. Alex rejected her “Father.” If the rejection of your biological family in favor of you spiritual family (For lack of a better term), is a major theme of the show - and I think obviously it is - then just as obviously the rejection and/or destruction of a father figure is also a very major part of the show. A first season episode title summed this up nicely: “All the best cowboys have daddy issues.”
Why? What’s it building to? I don’t know. Ben and Penny’s Dad are both bad fathers, jousting with each other to see who can hurt the other’s family the worst. Jack’s dad is a ghost, and I’m sure we’ll eventually see some kind of a showdown between them in which Jack will emerge triumphant. But I don’t claim to know where it’s all going.
I do know in my heart for certain that the fate of the entire world rests upon the outcome of this family tiff, though.
[Edit: Republibot 2.0 has asked "Who was 'The Little Prince' in this episode? Obviously we're supposed to think it was Aaron, but I don't think so. I won't tell you who he suspects it is, though, because I think he might want to do that himself. He makes a good argument.]