Hello my dear friends -
Not to kick things off on a depressing note, but did you realize that we are now officially past the halfway point of Season Five? Only eight hours of Lost remain this year. The bright side of this is that it's pretty fair to assume, based on everything we've seen so far in 2009, that what's left to be dished out on the show between now and May 13 is going to be awesome.
The latest installment, "Namaste," was my favorite kind of episode: fast-paced and interesting to watch, but not especially intense or confusing. From what I've seen around the blogosphere, most fans are in agreement that this was very much a set-up episode. Let's start with what happened in the "present time" (meaning early 2008)...
NO NEED TO ASK
HE'S A SMOOTH OPERATOR
How cool was it that we actually got to see Ajira 316's landing on Alcatraz Island? Even though we already knew that the main characters ended up safe and sound, it was still very tense to watch... or at least it was for me. But I shouldn't have been worried, because Clean-Shaven Lapidus is all business, all the time. Granted, he was clued in to the fact that the plane would probably be taking a little detour, and I'm pretty sure he hadn't broken out his margarita mix for a mid-flight cocktail just yet, but regardless... I still applaud how quickly he was able to think under pressure and avert a mountain collision.
Then we got confirmation that the Others had in fact finished most of the runway on Alcatraz in time for 316's arrival (it still wasn't long enough... but it's the thought that counts, right?). As a refresher, when Kate and Sawyer were held captive and forced into physical labor by the Others in Season Three, they were shown clearing away and breaking up boulders and whatnot. In that season's finale, Sawyer asked Juliet what the end goal of the project was, and she responded "we were building a runway ... for the aliens."
At the time, most of us -- like Sawyer -- laughed it off as a joke and didn't think twice about her comment. But upon a review of that exchange, it's clear Juliet wasn't kidding about the runway part:
SAWYER: So, when you pulled us out of those polar bear cages and put us on the chain gang, what the hell'd you have us breaking all those rocks for anyway?
JULIET: We were building a runway.
SAWYER: Runway, for what?
JULIET: The aliens. [Smirks] I don't know what for, do you think they told me everything?
We last saw the runway near the end of 2004, when the Others had just begun working on it. Contrary to a few comments I've seen on some message boards, Ben did not order the runway project to be "moved up two weeks." I reviewed the transcript for "I Do," in which Juliet and Pickett had a conversation about something being moved up two weeks, and I really don't think they were talking about the runway:
[Kate is shown breaking rocks. Juliet and Pickett stand off to the side, talking in hushed tones.]
PICKETT: I don't understand. It's supposed to be two weeks.
JULIET: Our schedule's been moved up.
PICKETT: That's an order?
JULIET: It's coming from him.
PICKETT: It's stupid.
JULIET: It's not my call. It's the way it is, Danny.
[Juliet walks over to Kate.]
JULIET: [To Kate] I would like you to put this on, and come with me. Please. [Hands Kate a hood]
Either way, the two bigger questions are:
1) Can we safely assume that the Others continued to work on the runway during the three years the O6 were off of the Island and the Left-Behinders were back in the '70s?
I think we can, because, um, how else could the runway be there for Frank's convenience in 2008? And I think could still be the case even if the Losties altered the course of events back in 1977 (more on that later).
2) Who ordered the runway to be built, how did they know it would be needed, and why exactly did they decide the project should begin in 2004?
Apparently the producers answered the first part of this question in March 19th's audio podcast, so if you want to know, go listen to that (and please don't leave it/refer to it in the comments, as I won't publish anything spoilery). I can only assume the answer will be revealed on the show in due time, too. My guess for now is that someone who is aware of the time loopiness that's going on and has retained at least some knowledge from all of it would realize the need for a landing strip... and the most obvious person is Ben -- especially since he was on the plane that used the runway and was the leader of the Others in 2004.
Overall, though, I'm just impressed that what most of us had deemed to be a throwaway comment from the middle of Season Three was tied back into something fairly major in Season Five.
WAS IT SOMETHING THAT HE SAID...
ALL THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD
Let's rewind just a bit to something that happened mid-air when Frank was struggling for control of the plane. While his ill-fated co-pilot was hollering "Mayday!" into the radio, a spooky, deep, automated-sounding voice reciting The Numbers could be heard in the background at the same time. If you didn't catch it, the audio from that scene is here (it's quick!). This is most likely the same message that Sam Toomey and Leonard Simms heard when they were stationed at a Naval listening post in 1988. If right now you're like, "Who the hell are Sam and Leonard?" then I ask you to think back... way back to the first Hurley-centric episode... Season One's "Numbers." And then read the first full paragraph here and I'm sure it will all come back to you.
Rousseau's team had also heard a transmission of the numbers -- it was actually what led them to crash on the Island.
So why it is a big deal that Lapidus and his co-pilot heard it as well?
It's a big deal because we know that by the time Oceanic 815 crashed in 2004, Danielle's French transmission (the one the Lostaways heard in the pilot episode) had replaced the Numbers Transmission. So what is going on?
I think there are two possible scenarios:
1) The plane was just picking up a broadcast from an earlier point in time because weird crap like that tends to happen on and around the Island. It could be comparable to when Sayid and Hurley heard what seemed to be a radio transmission playing big band music from the 1940s as they were monkeying around with the two-way radio found by the Tailies in the Arrow Station ("The Long Con," Season Two).
2) Something the Losties did during their time-skipping or Dharma-infiltrating changed the past, and as a result, Danielle's transmission was never recorded.
I'm leaning toward the latter explanation. Especially after seeing how different the Barracks looked in this episode. Once again, more on that issue later.
However, there's actually something even more puzzling -- on this same topic -- that is really throwing me for a loop. And that's how different the Numbers Transmission sounded when we heard it for a brief moment during "This Place is Death" compared to what came over the radio in "Namaste."
In a scene where Jin and Rousseau's team were walking through the jungle, we heard the numbers through Montand's receiver. Many people thought that the voice sounded like Hurley's, especially during "23" and "42." Thanks to reader EB for this link, where a Lost fan put together a quick audio/video clip of the scene in question (the audio will replay twice... just keep listening).
Regardless of whether or not you think it's Hurley rattling off the numbers, it's definitely not the same voice that could be heard through Ajira 316's radio. Though I believe there were a few other goofs in this episode, I don't think the production crew would make this kind of mistake -- someone obviously went through the effort of recording two different transmissions.
So what does it mean? Before you leave a knee-jerk explanation for me, think it through... because I have thought it through and can come up with no reasoning that makes sense as to why Montand would hear one voice that sounded like Hurley in 1988 and Frank would hear a different one in 2008. If it was Hurley (or someone else who sounded like him) that recorded the message in the '70s, shouldn't Montand and Frank both have heard the same thing?
I'M STILL A ROCK STAR
I GOT MY ROCK MOVES
AND I DON'T NEED YOU
After Ajira 316 comes to rest on Alcatraz Island, Caesar approached Ilana to see if she was OK. As he calls her "lady," I guess we can assume that they didn't know each other before the flight. Some people thought she said "Sarah?" when she first woke up (the only Sarah we know of on the show is Jack's ex-wife... unless you count the fake name Ana Lucia used during her little fling with Jack's dad), but others heard "Jarrah?" -- as in Sayid's last name. I think that makes more sense, as she was accompanying him.
From "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham," we know that Caesar followed through with his plan to search the Hydra buildings, while Ilana chatted up No Longer Dead Locke. In the meantime, Frank took off after Sun, who took off after Ben, who must at least be in semi-favor with the Island, as his injured arm had already healed.
While those three were having their stand-off near the outriggers, I kept thinking, "Something's gotta happen because we know Locke finds Ben alongside the other injured passengers." However, I was not expecting Sun to treat Ben to a Kwoncussion-by-oar, of all things. Her expression afterward, combined with her "I lied" reply to Frank, was my favorite part of the episode.
Sun and Frank made it to the other Island and found the pier in shambles. When something started moving in the brush, I was like, "VIIIINNNNNCEEENNNNTTTT!!!!! YESSSSZZZZZ!!!!!" But alas, our favorite yellow lab did not grace the screen with his presence. There were whispers, quiet monster-sounds and even some wisps of smoke/fog all throughout the Main Island scenes, so I think it's fair to assume that ol' Smokey was nearby.
One person who was definitely there was Zombie Dad -- and Sun and Frank could see him! How eerie was it when that door creaked open and he was standing still in the shadows? I would've busted out in the other direction immediately, but Sun was all, "Hey freaky dude, where's my husband?" and then proceeded to follow him like it was no big thang. I am sure this was not meant to be a funny moment, but I was laughing because Sun was all, "Whatever, I've seen everything at this point."
THROUGH SPACE AND TIME
ALWAYS ANOTHER SHOW
WONDERING WHERE I AM
LOST WITHOUT YOU
From what I can tell, the scene in which Zombie Dad shows Frank and Sun the 1977 Dharma Recruits picture is the hottest topic of debate from "Namaste." Why? Because the Barracks seem to be in much worse shape than they should have been.
This has sparked disagreement amongst Lost fans about when exactly Ajira 316 landed. I was surprised that there was any controversy about this, because I thought the "Thirty Years Earlier" note that was shown after Ajira 316 touched down should have killed any questions about the year in which the Frank, Locke, Sun et al had returned. Sawyer told the Returnees that it was 1977. 1977 + 30 = 2007... except that we know it's got to be at least half-way through January of 2008 since Locke/Bentham's passport wasn't issued until December 12, 2007...
... and then we know that Jack told Ben that it had been a month between the last time he'd talked to Locke and Locke's death. But it would've been lame if they noted "Thirty Years and One Month Earlier" or "Slightly More than Thirty Years Earlier" or "Three Hundred Sixty-One Months Earlier"... so we've gotta just roll with it!
However, some people can't let this one go, claiming that the fact that it went from night to day when the plane's controls started failing meant that all of a sudden it was a different year. I would remind those people, though, that we have proof that when the 815ers crashed the first time around, it remained the same year on-Island as it did off-Island for them. From Daniel's experiment we know that there may be some small glitches in the passage of time on and off of the Island, but overall, I think the "Thirty Years Earlier" message was meant to help clear up the time line.
Perhaps one reason why some remain unconvinced that Sun and Frank could really be in 2008 is that the Barracks looked so drastically different than when we last saw them in 2004. At the end of last season, Keamy's group had blown up a few buildings, but otherwise things had been kept fairly neat and tidy by the Others once they took over the neighborhood after 1992's Purge. We had certainly seen no evidence of Dharma logos on doors or old Dharma initiation photos on walls or registration signs hanging off of their hinges. So what is going on?
There seem to be three schools of thought on this one. (Before anyone gets offended and flames me, these are not my personal thoughts... I'm simply conveying the gist of what I've read across various message boards.)
1) "Thirty years earlier" message be damned! They've GOT to be in a much later point than 2008 in order to explain the condition of the Barracks. Daniel said that "what happened, happened," so the Losties couldn't have changed the past!
2) Sun and Frank weren't even AT the Barracks, you fools! The Barracks are inland and within the sonic security fence, which we did not see those two cross. (Want proof of the Barracks' location? Check out Ben's map from the Season Three finale.) Sun and Frank only made it to the old Dharma Processing Center, which is right off of the pier and which the Others probably left alone after the Purge. So the Losties didn't change the course of time, Ajira landed in 2008, and people are freaking out about nothing.
3) The average viewer thinks "Barracks" when they see yellow houses. Millions of Lost fans who don't read any blogs or message boards aren't going to know the location of the various Dharma buildings in relation to the rest of the Island... when they see Sun and Frank amidst yellow buildings, they would assume they're at the Barracks, and therefore that's probably what we superfans were meant to assume, too. And since the Others had been living at the Barracks for twelve years until Keamy's men showed up, there's no way that any of the structures would've been in such disarray after just three years. The Lostaways changed something when they went back in time.
I'm not sure where I stand on this issue, except that I definitely don't agree with theory #1.
#2 does make a good point about the location of the processing center versus the rest of the Barracks. However, the first thing that came to my mind when Frank and Sun approached the Dharma buildings is that whatever the Losties did back in the 70s must have set off a domino effect of change. For those of you holding on to something the producers said on a past podcast about how the rules of time travel for the show wouldn't be like on Heroes where someone could go back in time and affect the future... I gently remind you that these are the same guys who said during Season One that, "As the show progresses, it won't venture too far into science fiction as its mysteries unfold. Nothing is flat-out impossible. There are no spaceships. There isn't any time travel." My point is, if I were one of The Powers That Be on the show - I would definitely be throwing out half-truths left and right in order to keep people guessing. What fun would it be if they just told us exactly what to expect all of the time?
All that being said, I still remain in limbo about whether or not I think the future has been changed.
Four more quick things about this scene, and then it's time to get our groove on in the '70s:
- I don't think the random chick behind Sun is Claire. I think it was a production error. And even if it was Claire... then what? I'm not sure that would really be important, either... we've seen her with Zombie Dad before, after all.
- There is not a missing person in the Dharma photo. I rewatched this scene, and the guy in question steps out from behind the woman in front of him a few seconds later. He was short. That's it.
- Now that it's been confirmed that Sun, Ben, Frank and Locke didn't end up in the same time period as the others, the question becomes, why? I've seen tons of theories floating around about this issue, but quite frankly, all of them have gaping holes. Since I get the sense that the majority of this season, if not the rest of the series will revolve around reuniting everyone,
I have a feeling we might get more clarity on this subject soon. It may also be one of those mysteries that never gets explained and we'll just have to deal with it!
- Zombie Dad told Sun, "I'm sorry, but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you." What does that mean? To the bullet point above, does Sun need to find a way back to the '70s, or does she need to roam around the Island until she finds a 60-something-year-old Jin, or does she have to wait a long time before Jin returns to the present? My brain seriously cannot handle trying to think of how any of these scenarios (or other variations) could play out. So on that note, let's rejoin the other 815ers in Dharmaville, where life was a lot simpler.
I'D LOVE TO CHANGE THE WORLD
BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO
SO I'LL LEAVE IT
UP TO YOU
I'm glad we got to see a little bit more of the reunion with Hurley, Jack and Kate. As soon as Jin heard that Sun had been with them, however, he wanted no part of the hug-fest... he took off for The Flame to see if a plane had been spotted. Did anyone else notice how the group neglected to mention that Ben was also along for the ride?
Anyway, there's not a ton to comment on about the trio's induction into the Dharma Initiative. As I said at the start of this post, it was fun to watch, but didn't necessarily advance or create any theories. Therefore, allow me to cover the bulk of my observations from the 1977 scenes in bullet point format:
- The reunited Lostaways quickly confirmed that three years had passed (for everyone) since they'd last seen each other. Don't think too much about how that could work, or else you'll drive yourself crazy like I did. I would venture to guess that Locke definitely lost three years of his life, though... which is I guess a small price to pay for being brought back from the dead. And Ben would have lost ten months when he flashed from the end of 2004 to October 24, 2005 after turning the FDW.
- "I gotta find a way to bring 'em in before somebody else finds 'em and they screw up everything we got here." This is what Sawyer told Juliet when he finally spilled the beans that the others had returned. I think he obviously was talking about the fact that he didn't want the Left-Behinders' covers to be blown... but I think his words might take on another meaning as things go forward. Let's face it, who would you feel closer to: people you knew for three months, or three years? How much motivation will Sawyer have to return to his rightful year or give up the life he's created with Juliet -- despite what he knows about the fate of the Initiative?
- How HILARIOUS was it that Jack was assigned janitorial duty? I'm sure it took everything in him not to blurt out, "But I'm an MD, dammit!" And did Juliet make Kate sweat it out for a few moments there on purpose, just to mess with her? What would you have done? (For the record, I have no idea why Chang had on a Swan jacket in the Dharma orientation video the new recruits watched... when that station hadn't yet been built.)
- So Amy and Horace's baby is Ethan. I've seen a lot of people riled up about this as he clearly looks a lot older than 27 in 2004. I'm more interested to learn why/how Ethan survived the Purge when we know his father and the rest of Dharma did not. And why did he grow up to have such super-strength? One guess is that, unbeknownst to Amy, Horace actually agreed to give his son to Richard as yet another (extreme) goodwill gesture to make up for Sawyer killing two Hostiles. That would mean Ethan was "raised by an Other." Hee, hee. Anyway, how priceless was Juliet's expression when she learned who she was cradling? That was my second-favorite moment of the night. Also, I really, really do not like Amy. Something about her just screams "evil bee-otch."
- Sawyer told Jack that Daniel wasn't there "anymore." Since we know from the season premiere that at some point Faraday was in a Dharma jumpsuit as the Orchid was being built, the question now becomes... where did he go? One theory is that he left the Island in order to build The Lamp Post back in L.A... but the timing doesn't work. Dharma used The Lamp Post to find the Island in the first place. Another theory is that Daniel is physically there but is much like his old pal Theresa in that his mind is constantly jumping around. That would definitely suck, so I hope that's not the case. I have no other ideas as to where he could be, except that maybe he did leave the Island in order to keep himself from talking to Little Charlotte, and now he's chillin' in Tahiti or something.
- Sawyer isn't going by Sawyer or James anymore. It's Jim or LaFleur, thank you very much. And as that sketchy Phil guy told Jack, he actually hates being called James. Just one more reason to wonder whether Sawyer is going to want to shake up his present situation... looks like he's bid his past an emphatic "good riddance." And speaking of sketchy Phil... he definitely seems to be noticing that something's a bit off about the Returnees.
- The Sawyer/Jack showdown was another incredible moment of the night. I enjoy (and have always enjoyed) both of these characters, and scenes in which they go head to head never fail to be top-notch. In "Exodus, Part One" (which remains one of my top five episodes), I about lost it when Sawyer finally told Jack that he'd seen his father (Christian/now Zombie Dad) in Sydney right before he died. Their face-off in "Namaste" was at that level of intensity. Great, great scene. I personally thought that as Jack walked away, he truly was relieved to not be in control and to let someone else worry about what to do for a change. The question is, how long can he resist the urge to take charge?
WHY DO WE ALWAYS COME HERE?
I GUESS WE'LL NEVER KNOW
IT'S LIKE A KIND OF TORTURE
TO HAVE TO WATCH THE SHOW
This section's lyrical heading was taken from opening theme of The Muppet Show, which could clearly be seen in the top-left monitor of Radzinsky's video wall. Sure, Radzinsky may act like a badass, but really, how threatening could a guy who tunes into Kermit and pals be? Anyway, depending on how badly your brain aches after a given episode, those lyrics might apply to Lost every once in a while, too...
Back to Radzinsky, who many think looked like Minkowski or Crazy Leonard... but who I think more closely resembles actor Paul Giamatti. How can we not feel just a tad sorry for him, despite his rudeness to Jin, Sawyer and Sayid in this episode? I mean, we know that he's going to create the glow-in-the-dark Hatch Map and then end up killing himself in the Swan while stationed there with Kelvin, who will end up showing Desmond the blood stain on the ceiling as proof. In "Namaste," we got to see the model for that first hatch. Radzinsky started freaking out after a Hostile (Sayid) got a peek at his creation -- his main concern was that the mystery man might have seen where the hatch was going to be built.
The two main explanations I've read as to why Radzinsky would think this was such a big deal are:
1) Dharma was going to build the hatch somewhere outside of the area that their "truce" with the Hostiles allowed them to roam. Remember, there is a good chance that Amy and Paul were attacked (and Paul killed) by Hostiles solely because they were having a picnic outside the agreed upon boundaries. Which actually makes it hard to fathom how anyone in Dharma could think they'd be able to get away with building a huge underground structure in a forbidden location without the Hostiles catching on.
2) Dharma was specifically planning to build the Swan on top of/next to the buried Jughead bomb -- although they might not have known a bomb was there... they might have just detected crazy magnetic/radioactive forces and wanted to harness them for experiments. Radzinsky might have not wanted the Hostiles to mess with or know any details about Dharma's plans, even if the location was truce-approved.
Either way, the hot-headed, bespectacled spaz was not pleased when Sawyer wouldn't agree to just kill Hostile Sayid, and he threatened to tattle about the whole drama to Horace. Am I the only one who's starting to fear that this situation is not going to end well for Sayid?
WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS?
Seriously, since everyone in Dharma thinks Sayid is a Hostile, how could his return to the Island result in him living out any sort of normal life? Unless, that is, the group finds a way back to the present like now.
One thing that gives me a little bit of hope is that we still have yet to learn what it was that Ben did to cause Sayid to quit working for him, head down to Santo Domingo a and take up a life of volunteerism. That would lead me to believe that another reunion of Sayid and Grown Ben still lies ahead. In the meantime, however, we got to see the first time that Ben met Sayid. Man, that kid can play "spooky" like a pro. On a personal note, Little Ben is especially unnerving to me because he looks exactly like one of my nephews -- I can't take it. Therefore, I hope we don't see too much more of him because otherwise it will be hard for me to act normal at family functions.
Anyway, I think it's fair to guess that the reason Little Ben delivers a sandwich to Sayid is because he's already met with Ageless Richard in the jungle and is developing Hostile Wannabe Fever. What will happen now? Will Little Ben report back to Richard that one of his men has been captured? Will Richard realize something strange is going on -- especially since Sawyer already alluded to his group's time-traveling adventures? Will Sayid be released and have no choice but to become "one of them"? Is that perhaps what Rose, Bernard and Vincent chose to do?
Who knows, but there's a part of me that wonders if Sayid's not above bumping off Little Ben and thereby saving some other iteration of himself the frustration of dealing with ol bug-eyes in the future...
... And yes, I guess that means that -- despite what Faraday kept insisting -- I do think the Lostaways can change the course of events. I'm sure we'll see if that's the case sooner rather than later.
BEST LINES OF THE EPISODE
LAPIDUS: Where's everyone else? Jack and... Kate and Hurley--where'd they go?
BEN: They're gone.
LAPIDUS: Gone? Gone where?
BEN: [Shaking his head faintly] How would I know?
SAWYER: We're in the DHARMA Initiative.
JACK: They came back to the Island?
SAWYER: No. We came back. And so did you. It's 1977.
[A moment passes as this news sinks in to everyone.]
HURLEY: Uh... what?
HURLEY: [To Jin] Dude, your English is awesome.
BEN: Why are you following me?
SUN: Where are you going?
BEN: Back to our Island. ...You wanna come?
KATE: So the woman who told you how to come back... did she mention that it would be 30 years ago?
JACK: No. No, she left that part out.
HURLEY: And... you guys are all members of the DHARMA Initiative.
HURLEY: Well, you do realize those dudes get wiped out, right? I saw where all the bodies got dumped.
SAWYER: What about it?
HURLEY: Well, aren't you gonna warn 'em? Aren't you gonna stop it from happening?
SAWYER: I ain't here to play Nostradamus to these people.
LAPIDUS: Sun. I want you to think about this, okay? This guy is dangerous. Sun, that boat I came here on--it was filled with commandos whose only mission was to get him.
BEN: And how'd that work out for everyone?
[Sun knocks Ben out with an oar.]
LAPIDUS: I thought you trusted this guy.
SUN: I lied.
DR. CHANG: ... You've been assigned to the Shed.
JACK: "Work man." What does--what does that mean?
DR. CHANG: Based on your aptitude test, you'll be doing janitorial work.
BOY: Are you a hostile?
SAYID: Do you think I am?
BOY: What's your name?
SAYID: Sayid. What's yours?
BOY: I'm Ben.
SAYID: It's nice to meet you, Ben.
A FEW PARTING NOTES
- Please don't leave spoilers in your comments. That includes anything from the "next on Lost" previews and podcasts as well as out-and-out spoilers. I won't publish them, anyway, so you might as well save yourself the effort and me the frustration. This has started happening a bit (I'm talkin' to you, all you "The baby is Ethan" writers!) so I figured I should remind everyone of my policy.
- If you're interested in the schedule for the rest of the season, it can be found here. Don't worry, episode titles are not listed.
- A few of you have asked if I'm on Twitter. The answer is: I am now. I'll probably leave any updates about the timing of my posts, and maybe even some early knee-jerk episode thoughts and reactions on Twitter rather than Facebook, as I am among the many who hate the redesign. But for those of you outside the U.S., fear not... I'll always keep everything vague and spoiler-free since I know you all see new episodes a few days later than we do.
- I usually don't even start writing my posts until the weekend... and I'll be spending this coming Friday - Sunday with my favorite person in the world -- my Grandma -- celebrating her 85th birthday. So my next write-up will be late, but it will still be published by Wednesday afternoon, April 1. (No, this is not an April Fool's joke.) Thanks in advance for your patience.
And as always, thanks for reading!