The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

This Place is Death

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Episode 5 – “This Place is Death”

Hey Kathryn,

Oh my, too many questions!  This was a packed episode (aren’t they always?).  On the island we have Jin and the French getting to know each other as the French are pegged off one by one, either by the monster or by Danielle.  We knew from the first season that Danielle killed her friends because she thought they had ‘caught the disease,’ but to see her do it – that was painful.  Your observations in your last post were dead on.  It’s difficult to encounter the fresh faced – even childlike face – of the young Danielle and imagine the hardened woman she becomes.  It’s also confusing to wonder if the Danielle of season 1 showed any signs of having known Jin all those years ago when she first landed on the island…does he become a part of her history (like John sending Richard to see him as a child), or does Jin get implanted into her memory in some version of meta-time (as Daniel manages to do to Desmond)?

Jin’s next flash takes him back to Sawyer and the crew and, I gotta say, their reuniting misted me up a little!  One question plaguing me this season is why the shift in Sawyer’s character?  For the first three seasons he only looked out for himself, but with his heroic leap from the helicopter at the end of season 4, he seems to care more about others (all others, not The Others) than anyone else in the show now as he gradually steps into more and more of a savior role.  Ok, so our band of flight survivors and scientists head for the Orchid where Locke is told by Jack/Claire’s ghost-dad that he (i.e. not Ben) needs to move the island, spin the wheel, whatever.

Of course, in this process Charlotte dies, only after recovering a memory (like Desmond did in his dream?) of Daniel warning her of her death on the island.  Which makes me wonder again how these implantings of memories work.  At first I thought Daniel could give a memory that awakens Desmond mid-dream because the two were each other’s ‘constant’s.  In other words, their connection, in a strange way, transcends time, and so they are able to play with time as they are in relation to each other.  But if Daniel can do that with Charlotte too, does that mean that they too are each other’s ‘constants’ or does it mean that time (in Lost, anyway) can be transcended by anybody?  At least time in the sense of points of time that connect to each other…ack, now my nose is bleeding.

So, anyway, while Charlotte is now dead, with Lost we know that death isn’t always the end and so we still have hope that she’ll come back…as a memory; as a ghost; in the real world; God knows where!  Oh, and right before she dies she makes reference to Geronimo Jackson, the band that gets continually referenced throughout the series, but which also remains a mystery.  So now we’ve got two characters – Charlotte and Widmore – who lived at least portions of their early lives on the island and who have made it their life’s mission to get back.  But why?  Is it just curiosity for Charlotte and greed for Widmore, or is it something else?

Back in the real world, Kate storms off on Jack, as does Sayid.  Sun postpones killing Ben for proof that Jin is still alive, which he gives in the form of Jin’s wedding band, procured from John (and which, ironically, Jin had given John to prove that he was dead, not alive).  Ben takes Sun and Jack to a church to meet with Eloise Hawking to find out what they should all do next.

Of course, we’ve all figured out by now that Eloise is also Farraday’s mother (sure, different last names, but both the last names of prominent physicists – Daniel taking the name of 19th century physicist Michael Farraday and Eloise taking the name of 20th century theoretical physicist, Steven Hawking).  The surprise, in fact, is not that the jeweler is the mother is Eloise – but rather that Ben looks surprised when Desmond shows up and makes this connection for him!  It turns out there are things even Ben doesn’t know!

Now, here are my questions about Eloise/jeweler/sorcerer/mother/… – The actress portraying Eloise looks an awful lot like the young actress who played Ellie in the previous episode.  Ellie was the ‘other’ who led Daniel around by gunpoint…and so now I wonder if Daniel was being led around by a younger version of his own mother.  Ellie. Eloise.  I don’t know, but I think this could be the same person.

Also, what’s going on with the continually prominently displayed lettering on the van that Ben is driving around: Canton-Rainier carpet cleaners?  A quick internet search has yielded numerous sites pointing out that this is an anagram for re-incarnation. Seems worth noting.

Oh, and why, why is Jack/Claire’s dad John’s guide?  What is up with that?!  He seems to embody Jacob at times, so they are playing with Biblical images of a great patriarch, but also a failed patriarch as he fails both Jack and Claire.  But how is John connected to this?  Is it an affirmation that he is ‘the chosen one’ for lack of a better term?  If memory serves me right, we’ve had two real-world dads appear on the island in ghost type form – Jack/Claire’s and John’s own in season 3.  So why is an island on which conception equals death also populated by ghost-dads?

Which leads me finally to wonder, who is Charlotte’s dad?  Is it Richard?  Her mother left the island, but her dad could still be there (in as much as ‘still’ has any meaning at this point).  Between all the characters now shifting through time and space, we’re verging on that awful possibility with such narratives that someone is going to accidentally end up hooking up with/falling in love with their parent, child or sibling without knowing it.  Eeps, I sure hope not!  But as both Charlotte and Daniel remain seemingly fatherless characters with mothers who were possibly both on the island at some point and now are not…I have to wonder if there is a reason we never saw them kiss after he admitted his love for her!

Ok, let me know what you thought!
ox,
Natalie

Hello Natalie,

Yes, this was quite a packed episode! Whatever brewing guesses we might have had about the identity of Faraday’s mother are confirmed in Eloise Hawking (and yes, very weird about Ben seeming surprised at this info. Hold that thought for an episode or two!!). And we learn, perhaps most interesting to me, that Charlotte grew up on the island as part of the Dharma Initiative. I am with you on the strange mindbender of her memory of Daniel, but I wonder if something a bit more straight-forward is going on here (straight-forward for time travel that is): since we know that Charlotte grew up on the island so that she was really there at some earlier moment, and we know that Daniel is moving through time, perhaps he will encounter the young Charlotte in the midst of his time travels. It is hard to say why she never remembered this before, but if she were very young, perhaps it was one of those buried and latent memories that only came to her as she is mentally wandering through her whole life (her final words, after all, are the words of a small girl: “I’m not allowed to have chocolate before dinner”).

But as we see how this sequence might play out, we still have the question of why she and Charles Widmore want to come back. The fact that Widmore was on the island as an Other and Charlotte was there as a Dharma Initiative person raises new questions for me about the relationship between these groups. In earlier seasons, it was a big revelation to the Oceanic survivors that the DI folks were not, in fact, the Others. I am curious to see what we might learn in the series finale about the relationship between these groups, and potentially how this might map on to the cosmic struggle between Ben and Widmore.

Like you, the sudden appearance in season 4 of Christian Shepherd (talk about a loaded name!!) is some kind of spiritual guide to Locke and either Jacob himself or a proxy for Jacob. I have a suspicion that his role as Jack and Claire’s father (and Aaron’s grandfather) will matter – and this is not a spoiler hint, but a real guess about season 6 – but it is not clear to me what it is. I am also not convinced that he is Jacob, but if he is a proxy for Jacob than the name symbolism is even more interesting – Christian is pointing the way to Jacob, not vice versa as we might expect in traditional Christian typology.

Final two points in response: Rousseau and Robert on the beach was truly terrible. As Robert tries to talk her into lowering her gun, I was totally on her side, imagining her already as the slightly deranged wild woman of earlier seasons. It was easy to imagine that somehow the trauma of the smoke monster and the abandonment on the island nearing the term of her pregnancy unhinged her. But when she does start to lower her gun and Robert pauses only for a second before raising his own, I was shocked (and I’ve seen this before!). She is not suspicious and paranoid for no reason: her lover/husband was just as prepared to shoot her. No wonder she is coming unhinged! Secondly, Sawyer! Yes, something very cool is happening here as he comes into his own as the group’s leader.

Having already seen the season, I have no comment on the Eloise/Ellie hypotheses…

More soon!
K

Written by themothchase

January 6, 2010 at 9:34 am

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