The Little Prince
So this episode takes us squarely back to the Oceanic 6 and the race against the strange astronomer/scientist/mystic woman’s clock – as well as various other side plots and machinations that promise to stand in the way of any easy unified return to the island. Kate learns that Ben is the one trying to take Aaron away from her – and just when you can feel the tension on the pier heat up (is even Jack beginning to second guess his new discipleship?), we see Sun looking calm, cool, collected and poised with a deadly weapon and an assassin’s mission just a few feet away! We still don’t know who attacked Sayid or why the fake nurse had Kate’s address in his pocket, and we don’t know how the group will get Hurley to join in. Though Mr. Norton assures Ben that Hurley will be out of lock up by morning, presumably in time to be kidnapped or persuaded to join whatever return-to-the-island plan comes next.
On the island, somewhere or several moments in time, we learn that Charlotte isn’t the only one affected by the flashes. Miles starts to suffer from nosebleeds too, and very enigmatically and poignantly, Daniel asks Miles if he has ever been to the island before, suggesting that duration of exposure might cause more severe reactions. We know this is the case with Charlotte, who already told Daniel she was trying to find where she was born when she first arrived back on the island, and it was the case with Desmond, who was also badly affected by a kind of time-induced vertigo in season 4 – he spent years on the island in the hatch. When Juliet’s nose starts bleeding, the duration hypothesis seems pretty well-near proved, leaving open the question: when was Miles on the island before and why doesn’t he know it?
We also get another fun twist in the time-travel/can you change fate debate when Sawyer stumbles upon Kate helping Claire deliver Aaron in the jungle. Were you as struck as I was by her speech about Aaron belonging to all of them now? A definite nod to the current custody drama and a reminder that Kate’s loyalty and love toward Aaron are not just a latent maternal instinct but spring also from a deep communal sense of responsibility. Locke and Sawyer are the only two who realize when they are in time – and both of them refuse to interact with their former selves or the former selves of their friends and lovers, but for very different reasons. Sawyer embraces a fatalism – what’s done is done and there’s no changing it. Locke embraces a similar fatalism, but out of respect for the particular passage of time that has made him who he is now. This is another whole wrinkle in the time traveling dilemma – even if you could change the past, should you want to? What constitutes a person, anyway? A continuous consciousness? A single cortex? A sense of memory? The actions that we engage in and suffer throughout our lives? Our relationships? Can you have any one of these things if your experiences are substantially altered? On the other hand, as we saw last episode, at least one of the experiences that made Locke who he is now includes Richard coming to him in foster care as a young boy. But we know that that only happens in the course of Locke’s life because the future Locke tells Richard to do so back in time. Meaning the action of interfering is integral to the person Locke is, who is a person who will interfere with the course of time if it means fulfilling his destiny (getting Richard to trust him and tell him how to leave the island).
Finally, we have two strange occurrences on the beach: 1) the remaining island survivors head back to the beach only to discover their old camp in ruins, clearly abandoned at some point back in time. When they realize the zodiac is gone (I thought the objects they had with them in the flashes stayed with them??), they discover some fancy looking multi-person canoes, and they take one of them to head around the horn of the island, only to be shot at by an angry group of unidentified people, following them in the other canoe. [Is it a spoiler or just a hint to say “pay attention to the Ajira airlines water bottle found at the bottom of the canoe”?] Thankfully, there is another flash that takes the group into a raging storm. They aren’t the only lonely soles fighting to survive on the open sea – there is a group of French-speaking survivors of some kind of crash in a life boat, who pull a water-logged Jin from a floating piece of wreckage. Presumably poor Jin has been floating at sea since the boat blew up, flashing through time unconsciously. The episode ends with the revelation that these French rescuers are the scientific team including Danielle Rousseau, who is heavy with an unborn Alex (giving the final lie to any claims of Ben’s to be her father). I have to say, it was shocking all over again to see the fresh, innocent face of this Danielle and to think of the wild jungle woman she will become.
OK, this is going on too long and has mostly dealt with plot synopsis and a few intriguing questions and points. It is so hard to speculate or ask too many questions without giving away things you don’t know yet! But I look forward to hear what you might have thought, watching for the first time…especially what you are making of the time-traveling dilemmas.
No, it’s not a spoiler to tell me to watch that water bottle – I was already tempted to do so after the Indian art references in the last episode, and am glad to have the affirmation. Don’t laugh, but like Desmond, Daniel and our other time-spinning characters, any ‘constant’ I can catch in this nosebleed-inducing mess is welcome! Hint away, my friend!
I have to start with Sun. Her chilly, tough-chick self is totally scary and totally awesome to me. I even found myself wondering if she was the one seeking to expose Kate’s false maternity. As she pulled that gun out of the box of chocolates, I thought how far she had gone down a path into the ruthlessness that Jin too had once trod. And I found myself wondering that if her and Jin were ever reunited, would she be able to find the love again that had driven her to such a willingness for brutality? I recalled Jin’s slow return from killer to lover after they landed on the island, and how beautiful that process of redemption had been, and wondered if we would see something similar happen with Sun if she were afforded the chance (and found herself willing) to return also.
Of course, all these thoughts were silly thoughts because as far as we knew, Jin was dead…which was why it was doubly satisfying when the French crew found him. I felt that with his rescue we encountered not only his salvation, but also the possible salvation for Sun from this drastic woman she has become (while still all along loving the current arc of her drastic brutality!).
The central line in the episode for me – played for humor, but I think revealing something deeper – was Sawyer’s shout into the sky as they shifted through time: “Thank you Lord!” and then as they shifted to a torrential downpour, “I take that back!” I wonder if there is some sort of fate or will to the way in which the shifts occur. There is always this play in Lost between the idea of destiny or blind fate and the idea that something, someone, is in control of everything (bolstered of course by our discussion of the Panopticon in previous episodes, but also connected now with Kate’s address on Panorama Crest – another location named for an all-seeing quality).
Shifts through time happen at significant moments: just as John Locke is about to figure out how to leave the island, or just as someone is about to be shot or killed. And the weather on the island-shifts tends to match the weather back in our world (note the storm on the island as the scene shifted to Kate and Jack outside the hotel with clouds gathering overhead). And so the repeated maternal references in the episode also seemed to connect shifts through time – Claire birthing Aaron revealing Kate’s belief in a communal responsibility for him, as you said, as well as the maternity battles back home and Danielle’s arrival on the island full with Alex (not to mention the previous episode labor of Penny with her and Des’s kid). Am I reading too much into these narrative parallels? Is this just for effect and literary play, or does it too have a deeper meaning? Or are they trying to say that even in utter randomness, the human desire for narrative will produce a pattern?
On that parenting note – I have to say that in the scene on the boat between Kate and Jack as she is trying to convince him that she should pretend that Aaron is hers and they are preparing to prepare to lie to the world, her stellar parenting move of sitting at the edge of the boat, holding a baby without a lifejacket in the middle of the night did make me laugh out loud!
But perhaps the funniest line of the whole episode was Ben’s straight-faced admission to Sayid in the van: “that’s my lawyer”. It’s not supposed to be funny but, oh my, it is! Ben’s almost inhuman way of operating in the world with a dryness atypical of American shows cracks me up…and I love it!
Ok, I’ll stop there as this might be the longest post we’ve ever written!