The Moth Chase

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

Lost is Back, Better, and More Confusing Than Ever!

with 14 comments

Dear Kathryn,

Seriously, how many times do I have to watch Juliet die?!  I’m glad my previous theory held, though – if a nuke goes off, no one in the vicinity survives, so there’s no difference between Juliet and all the rest present at the detonation. So here’s my new Juliet theory: her “let’s get coffee. We can go Dutch” was so reminiscent of Charlotte’s “I can’t have chocolate before dinner” that I am convinced we’ll see old Jules again.  And I’m guessing it’s going to happen back in the real world.  When Miles hears her, “it’s worked,” I had to wonder what trans-temporal, trans-spatial information she has about the way things really are now.  You can’t get coffee on the island – she’s going to make an appearance back home!

So let’s hit the fun returns…Boone and the awkward explanation for Shannon’s absence (seriously, that actress didn’t want to come back? What’s up with that??  Even Boone reappeared and he’s got a great gig running on The Vampire Diaries!).  We also have Claire in the taxi with Kate. And how wonderful to see Charlie again, even if he was doing his heroin in the bathroom, necessitating the return of hero-Jack to save him.  Is it just me, or was Charlie’s, “I was supposed to die” pretty ominous and overly fraught with meaning?  Between that, Rose’s dramatic “Looks like we made it” which reminds us that at that moment she is dying of cancer, Desmond’s appearance and disappearance, and Jack’s obvious disorientation and neck bleeding, I got the feeling that whatever arc of time they’ve managed to create or resume back in the real world with the safe landing of Oceanic 815 is not as good as it might appear at first glance.  Oh, and let’s not forget that in this safe-landing story arc, we see our beloved island buried like Atlantis – the lost, pre-historical island made famous by Plato’s dialogues.

And if we follow this line of thinking – that things just aren’t right back in the real world – I’m left to wonder once again what the nuclear explosion really accomplished.  Recall that Miles asked last season if the detonation would be the aversion of The Incident, or The Incident itself.  The return of the hatch, I think, makes it possible that the detonation was in fact The Incident, and the thing that re-created the safe landing of 815 might relate more to Jacob’s death than the detonation.  There’s a stream of unease running through each narrative: all those weird signs on the plane I’ve already mentioned, and then of course the disruptions on the island related to Jacob’s death.  Surely the dirty water in the temple connects to that?  If Jacob is the connection between the real world and the island, then surely his death impacts both.

So with regards to that temple:  What fun to see the flight attendant who we remember was kidnapped from Ana Lucia’s gang by The Others.  Apparently she’s integrated into their clan now?  And what extreme fun to finally witness a real resurrection.  We’ve had so many moments when we think someone’s back from the dead – Christian, Claire, Locke’s dad, and certainly, Locke himself.  But Sayid is a special case.  For the first time the coming-back-to-life isn’t hidden somewhere, but we actually get to see it. But why does Jacob need Sayid saved? I couldn’t help but notice the cruciform positioning of his body as they lifted him out of the water, and the way it not only foretold his resurrection, but also harkened back to his cruciform position that time he was tortured in the woods, pinned to a tree (can you get any more cruciform than that?).  We’ve had so many Christ-tropes in this show – I guess it’s finally Sayid’s turn!  When the episode closed on his words, “what happened?” I couldn’t help but think – “Sayid, don’t you know by now? Whatever happened is what happened!”

We also finally have confirmation on the rumours we’ve all been considering – that the man in black is the smoke monster.  And the clan of The Others is terrified of him!  I was captivated by their colony.  The temple of course mimicked ancient ziggurats.  And in so doing, it mimicked the architectural style to which the Biblical Tower of Babel is often related.  That story relates the myth of an ancient people prior to ethnic and linguistic division – a primordial people who will spread over the earth as different ethno-linguistic groups.  Those Others were by far the most racially (and linguistically) diverse group of folks we’ve encountered on the island so far (even more diverse than previous depictions of The Others).  And so I wondered if that imagery was drawing us back into some sort of dawn-of-time, pre-historic, birth of the nations kind of narrative.  This would certainly explain or relate to all the different religious and philosophical traditions we’ve seen depicted on the island over the last 5 seasons!

Ok, I have to mention – did you notice that the book Hurley found in the cave was a French copy of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling?  Kierkegaard’s book title references the Biblical verse, Philippians 2:12, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.  We’ve noted before themes of belief and the requirement for leaps of faith by characters in Lost.  Fear and Trembling is, of course, where Kierkegaard introduces his character, the Knight of Faith; the figure in Western philosophy who epitomizes that leap.  And so I love that our friends picked up that book just as they were about to take their own leap of faith to find mystical healing for Sayid.

Ok, I’ll stop – leaving so so much for you to talk about: Ben’s lying and team switching; John’s development; Kate’s escape; Hugo stepping into a leadership position; Jin and Sun now finally being in the same time and place; the death of Jacob’s bodyguards and the implications of the ashes; the fact that in the new arc, Christian’s body never made it onto the plane; and what it means that the man in black in John’s body wants to “go home”!

Moth Chase friends, we can’t get it all.  Please help us out – what did you think?

ox,
Natalie

—-

Dear N,

Thanks for getting us started! So much to say and so many new mysteries to ponder. I want to start with the one thing the episode gave us for sure: the identification between the Man in Black and the smoke monster and the awareness on the part of the Others at the Temple and of Richard that this Man in Black is their nemesis in some way. Like you, I was struck by the diversity of the Temple dwellers and definitely caught resonances of a lost civilization compiled of a hodge-podge of ancient philosophies, rituals, and practices preserved over many, many years and protected to a degree from the incursions of history and time. The real question for me is, what is the relationship between these Temple folks, who are clearly the Others too, and the Others who camp out in Dharmaville and prowl the jungle led by Ben? Do they ever come together? Do they think of themselves as one people? Was Ben the leader of the Temple dwellers too, or are they autonomous in some way? We have reason to think that perhaps Ben and his whole crew are a renegade off-shoot of the Temple dwellers, or perhaps, to use ancient/biblical distinctions, the Temple dwellers are a priestly cast set apart from the interactions with the world that lead to corruption, or at least confusion. Because let’s note, Ben doesn’t seem to know much about this Temple and he certainly seems to know nothing about the Man in Black, whom Richard and the Temple dwellers both seem aware of and fear. Richard takes Ben to the Temple to be healed when he is a boy and Ben goes to the Temple to be judged – but let’s note that Ben never makes it to the actual Temple. The smoke monster confronts him in the tunnels under the outer walls. And what is up with the relationship between the smoke monster and Ben? Ben treats the smoke monster as a kind of demi-god: now that we know that the smoke monster is one incarnation for the Man in Black, it makes me wonder how it is Ben got swindled into dealing with him and why Ben doesn’t seem to know about the counter-force to Jacob’s power. Maybe Ben and his people were exiled from the Temple years ago – i.e. there was an actual rift of some kind and while they think they are preserving the original traditions they are cut off from the source of their people’s wisdom, etc. represented by the Temple. Or maybe they are the group that is supposed to live “in the world” – outside the Temple, protecting it from invaders. But in their distance they have wandered from the traditions that are alive in the Temple, and fall into relationships with the Man in Black and his proxies, mistaking them for Jacob. If either of these is even somewhat true, I really want to know what that means about Richard. And what did the MiB mean when he referred to Richard’s “chains” – a metaphor for his enslavement to Jacob, or an actual time when Richard was a prisoner?

Unlike you, I’m not so sure I trust Sayid’s resurrection. Yes, I was the cruciform position and the echoes to his earlier torture. But I kept thinking of Ben’s words to Sun: dead is dead. You can’t come back from that. The fact that the Temple dwellers seem to agree and are shocked to see Sayid rise again, really got my suspicions going. Isn’t there some part of you that wonders if the MiB isn’t using Sayid’s death as a proxy too? We know the MiB can appear as anyone who has arrived dead or died on the island – Christian, Locke, Alex (when she confronts Ben after the smoke monster leaves). In that latter case, he appeared as Locke, then the smoke monster, then Alex again. Then again we have no reason to think he can be in two places at once and it seems like a big loophole if he can suddenly just pop up in the Temple, but the fact that Jacob is so insistent that Sayid not die, made me wonder if there won’t be some nefarious consequence to his death.

But let’s get to the real mystery of the episode: the parallel universes. I like your theory that it was Jacob’s death, not the bomb, not the Incident, that led to our characters being back on that plane, and clearly whatever happened caused the island versions of themselves to move through time and we know that these movements through time represent some sort of misalignment of the island. Or maybe,since they appear to have flashed to the time they were always trying to get back to, this flash is a strange re-alignment of the island – an undoing of the time-wrinkles that have been screwing things up and keeping our characters from one another. And at one and the same time, did they go back in time three years in the real world (to the time when there plane was first flying to LAX) and are now living out an alternative past to their current present? You are so right that not all is well in normal-ville. While Jack does not seem to have any memory of his alternative island life, he does experience intense fear/premonitions as the plane hurtles through turbulence and he has that weird deja vu with Desmond. And Desmond?!! What in the world is he doing on that plane and where does he go?! That was perhaps the biggest mystery to me – and what made me suspect that we aren’t in the simple past at all. This isn’t what would have happened, but is either a “do-over” that is in some latent way still affected by all that already happened on the island over the last three years. Or is what would have happened if the island was no more – like, for instance, buried under the sea! In which case, Desmond was never there and his appearance on the plane is just coincidence. I did like seeing all our characters interacting with each other, repeating relationships and connections we saw on the island. But I kind of hope they explain what is going on with this parallel universe or resolve it pretty soon, cause I’m not sure I want the split narratives to last all season.

There is still so much more to say, but I am going to save it for other weeks and other mysteries. I will end with echoing Natalie’s request – help us out, dear readers. What did we miss? What should we be thinking about? What did you think?

let the games begin!
K

Read the entire Lost conversation from start to finish.

Written by themothchase

February 3, 2010 at 12:23 am

14 Responses

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  1. It’s not that simple…we are assuming Jacob to be ‘good’ and MIB to be ‘evil’. But a key thing to consider is that if the temple folks were Jacob’s followeres and ‘good’ they wouldn’t have ordered the immediate shooting of the losties.

    Something bigger is at play here than Jacob good and MIB evil..it will be more about mankinds choices in general.

    Faradays Law

    February 3, 2010 at 8:24 am

    • Good point.

      Is it possible that Jacob should be considered evil since he has been bringing people to the island knowing that will most likely destroy each other (as said by the Man in Black)?

      Is it possible the MIB wants to destroy Jacob because he is tired of the senseless violence and death Jacob’s experiment is creating?

      If the Smoke Monster (MIB and John Lock) is actually good, then maybe Smokie killed the people in the temple because they were evil and supporting Jacob?

      I’m not sure it’s a done deal that Jacob is all good and MIB evil.

      Just saying…

      🙂

      Bryan Hulse

      February 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  2. I am so lost

    Michelle

    February 3, 2010 at 8:27 am

  3. Could Sayid be Jacob?

    Darren

    February 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

  4. I’ll pitch three things:

    1. In the LA X timeline, notice how disoriented Jack was. Notice how their lives still managed to weave themselves together: Jack & Locke, Kate & Saywer, Kate & Claire, etc. They can’t escape each other and there is some kind of fate drawing them together.

    2. What are Jacob and MiB? Are they humans with a deep communion with the island the grants them a kind of agelessness? Are they incarnations of the island? I’m trying to think back to the first couple of episodes with Locke and the backgammon pieces as well as Adam & Eve. What are they?

    3. Everyone that has come to the island has done so because Jacob has lured them there. MiB is assured that all human activity ends in death. So what are the Others? How have they maintained a long term presence on the island? And what is the temple? Is it MiB’s home?

    These last few episodes will be a roller-coaster.

    Thunder Jones

    February 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

  5. I found the parallel universe of the landing at LAX such a fascinating part of this episode — even though it wasn’t unexpected.

    One thing that really struck me is that the past has also changed for our gang on the plane that lands in LAX. There’s the lost luggage — the knives and the coffin — which we know from season one was all on the plane originally. There’s Shannon’s refusal to accompany Boone (even if this was a casting thing, surely they could have worked this differently). And there’s this weird new Hugo, saying he’s the “luckiest guy in the world”. And of course there’s Desmond showing up. Time has not just reset so the crash never happened, time has reset so lots of things in the past are different.

    Of course I have no idea what this means. But it’s so interesting!

    Darren, I love the idea that Sayid could be Jacob. If so, does this mean the MIB had to die before he could transform to others who had died on the island?

    So many questions.

    Nina

    February 3, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  6. I’m so glad you guys are covering Lost.

    Re Desmond on the plane, I suspect he’s there by his own design. He has the ability to move his consciousness through time and so it’s possible he’s able to exist in both timelines at once, and appreciates that LAX should’n’t be happening. I predict that Desmond’s going to be the force of integration this season.

    Time travelling consciousness could also eplain Juliet’s “let’s have coffee.” The blast could’ve effected her the same way the hatch explosion effected Desmond.

    jrcwoodward

    February 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm

  7. As far as Richard goes my thought is that he came to the island on the slave ship and was originally a slave, and that is why the evil Locke said he was in chains. Also the temple others look to me to be pirates, at least many of them seem to be. Maybe some of the French scientist are there as well??? Speaking of the scientists, remember how they changed once they went into the temple walls. I wonder if the black smoke monster changed them or if they actually got to the temple. Oh I cant wait for answers!

    Holly

    February 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

  8. Does anyone think JACOB is the evil one and MiB is the good one?? We are just assuming the roles based on their white/black imagery…..

    Why were they brainwashing Alex’s boyfriend (ala clockwork orange) into loving Jacob etc…..maybe all the others have been brainwashed and now the losties have been too

    Just a theory……. As the smoke monster is bad defense…..Gods have struck many people down throughout history….

    Matt

    February 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    • Great point! I’ve wondered that myself…I guess I like to think Jacob is good because he believes in the good of humanity, whereas the MiB believes in the essential evil and violence of humanity. Your point about the gods striking people down is certainly valid as well – indeed, the Western Judeo-Christian God can be more allied with MiB’s view of the evil of humanity than Jacob’s more positive view. Furthermore, Jacob’s staunch belief in progress might give us pause – That’s a particular Western Enlightenment view that, while it has produced some good, has also produced a lot of problems. I think you’re certainly right that it’s not all so simple as it seems!

      – Natalie

      themothchase

      February 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

  9. we think that sayid is Jacob too…did you notice the water had cleared in the spring in the glimpse of it just before he awakened?

    happy

    February 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    • I think the theory totally makes sense…the only problem with it is that the producers debunked it on Jimmy Kimmel later than evening. Their statement was ambiguous – it left room for Sayid to have something to do with Jacob or for Sayid to be something other than resurrected, but they seemed pretty clear that Sayid was not Jacob. Of course, they could have been lying just for fun!

      themothchase

      February 3, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      • WEll…whatever Sayed is or is not, it came from Jacob but I guess we don’t know if that is a good or a bad thing…

        Michelle

        February 4, 2010 at 8:17 am

  10. What if Flight 8:15 wasn’t the first time they’ve been to the Island?? What if they were on the Black Rock and keep getting sent to the island over and over after being ‘resetted’ until they finally get it right….. “It ends only once, the rest is just progress”

    Matt

    February 3, 2010 at 11:44 pm


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