Well, kids, did you catch “Cabin Fever”? (The only prescription? More Dharma cowbell!) I’m tempted, based on the last line alone, to give this episode a review akin to a 13-year old girl reviewing the latest Jonah Brothers’ CD, with the caps lock on and variation text-message based superlatives liberally peppered into the recap. But as a whole, as a complete episode of television, it was far from perfect, and perhaps the greatest victim of the writer’s strike that we’ve seen since Lost started re-airing new episodes in this generally stellar Season 4.
Everything Locke-centric? Pretty much solid gold. Everything freighter-centric? Well, a little bit of freighter goes a long way. I think we solidly learned that lesson tonight. But with a few scant hours left in the season, the show clearly tried to shoe-horn in about three episodes worth of freighter story into roughly 11 minutes. The seams showed, and thus had me itching to get back to the Island. But let’s accentuate the positive, and leave the negatives for the end, shall we?
So let’s go to the Island, and its version of The Three Musketeers. (Or should I call them Jacob’s Trio?) Locke, Ben, and Hurley spent the majority of the episode essentially playing hot potato when it came to claiming ownership over Jacob’s pet. Locke set out to finally answer the nagging questions that have haunted him since holing up at the Barracks, Hurley set out to figure out why he had previously seen the cabin, and Ben set out looking as if his puppy had just died. And as they traversed the main streets and back roads of the Island, the notion of fate kept cropping up. To quote Shakespeare, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” And all three men are trying to figure out where they fall in that configuration.
Locke may not have been borne into greatness, but he was born three months premature. And that time frame sticks out to me, because if you’ll recall, that’s right around the time when babies on the Island start dying. Locke’s miraculous survival attracts the attention not only of the hospital staff, but a certain Mittelos Biosciences as well. Seeing the back of Richard Alpert’s head made me squeal with glee, and his decades-long testing of John Locke adds huge dimensions to Locke’s back story as well as the mythology of Lost as a whole.
I don’t know about you, but I assumed that Mittelos Biosciences was established by Benjamin Linus or, at the very least, by the Hanso Foundation as a way to conduct discreet work out of the public eye. Looks like tonight at least rules out the former, and while the latter is still likely, we really should start looking as the Island as ultimate employer of Richard Alpert. All along we’ve been trying to establish the loyalties of people in terms of Team Linus/Team Hanso/Team Widmore, but perhaps we now need to add Team Jacob to the mix, with Jacob as the “true” conduit through which the Island can disseminate information.
Most interesting of all the tests was a scene that will be analyzed as much as the Blast Door Map: The Drawing of the Three, a phrase I use in direct homage to the Stephen King novel of the same name. (Lost writers are nothing if not huge King fans.) Locke successfully chooses a vial of ashen stone, a compass, and then incorrectly selects a knife. Alpert, while disappointed by Locke’s failure, nevertheless continues to test Locke throughout his life, waiting for the moment at which Locke is fully ready to assume his ultimate role as Island Protector.
But why? Well, my brother astutely emailed me at episode’s end and pointed out this Drawing of the Three was eerily similar to the way in which Buddhists locate the Dalai Lama by having him identify objects from his previous incarnation. The person who helps him identify? The Panchen Lama, whose reincarnation is identified by the Dalai Lama, thus forming a never-ending circle by which one ensures the continuation of the Other. One can look at Richard’s testing of Locke and Ben as his way of locating the next Dalai Dharma, looking for that one person who is truly meant to protect the Island. The Purge was an unsuccessful attempt at this, and in the aftermath, Alpert realized that Ben was the wrong choice, and needed to bring John Locke to the Island.
(Apologies if I completely butchered bunches of Buddhism there, folks…please go easy on me in the comments!)
And the person who puts Locke in the proper position on the global Risk board that is Lost? Matthew Abaddon, back from obscurity, and apparently back from a walkabout, putting the nugget of information/inspiration that will eventually put Locke in a position to board Oceanic 815. This connects Alpert and Abaddon, apparently, although I will confess at this moment I can’t figure out exactly how. I’d assumed Abaddon worked for Widmore, but I can’t quite see why somehow working for Widmore would want to push the Island Savior into position to thwart Widmore’s plans. It’s a conundrum wrapped inside a riddle all wrapped up in blueprints for Jacob’s cabin.
So let’s talk about the cabin, shall we? Let’s set aside the events inside the cabin and instead focus on its origins. What we saw tonight suggested that the cabin was constructed by the Dharma Initiative, not a leftover byproduct of Black Rock survivors. More importantly, we learned who built the cabin: Horace Goodspeed, a mathematician. Not a carpenter, mind you. A mathematician. I’m curious why a math whiz was assigned the construction of a log cabin. Seems a pretty weird thing to me, unless you assume that sometimes, a log cabin is more than a log cabin. (It’s like the opposite of a bracelet that way.)
Maybe it’s high time to think of it less as a log cabin and more like a psychic log station. In other words, it’s in fact part of the Dharma Initiative’s original plans, and maybe the high point of those plans: the construction of a place to inhabit and control the essence of the Island. The Drawing of the Three thus becomes a search for someone who can liberate “Jacob,” who is either someone we know unstuck in time or an unlucky Dharma Initiative employee “volunteered” to be the vessel for the Island’s consciousness. (And you thought working at The Tempest sucked.) In other words, Richard Alpert groomed Locke from Day One to assume his status as the newest version of Jacob and move the Island.
And yes, I said “move the Island,” because well, that’s what Locke said after walking in on the creepiest father/daughter reunion this side of Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie on the set of Tomb Raider. I guess this sets in motion the series of actions that render the Island “missing” from Widmore’s vantage point in the future, renders the Oceanic 6 unable to go back, and renders my brain matter leaking out of my ears. “Move the Island”??? I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to analyze along what axes Locke intends to move the Island. Perchance the Orchid will enable such a move?
As far as Christian and Claire in the cabin…well, I’ll give Lost credit. I can’t believe they answered a nagging question (“Where did they go?”) in the following episode. That HAS to be a record, right? Claire seems pretty darn content to be with this version of Christian, the non-blue suit-wearing version, the Jacob-translating version, the creepier than all get out version. And Aaron is “where he’s supposed to be?” Oooookkkkkk. So unless Christian and Claire are illegally squatting in the cabin, we can assume Jacob wants Aaron separated from Claire. I’ll try to parse the meaning of this next week in Zap2It’s Guide to Lost.
I’ve tried to avoid the freighter material, because it was entirely mechanical, pushing the plot along with gears that creaked not unlikely those actually aboard the Kahana. Of most interest? Plan B, which I’m gonna dub “Light ‘Em Up.” How metaphorical was Keamy when he stated he was off to “torch the island”? The answer may lie in that crazy contraption on Keamy’s arm. Also, more time wonkiness was confirmed when we saw the doctor alive on the ship while on the Island he was deader that Lindsey Lohan’s career. Why is this crazy? Well, Faraday’s rocket took longer to arrive from Island perspective than freighter perspective. The doctor’s dead body? Faster, from Island perspective. That means that we can’t assign a singular ratio of time traveling between the Island and the real world. The barrier may merely be a function of entry angle, but could also be a fluctuating, random system or, more intriguely, as something that’s constantly degrading through the tremendous entry/re-entry that’s been going on in recent days on the Island.
I’ve only dedicated one paragraph to the freighter storyline, but it took up an extraordinary chunk of episode time. I wanted more of Locke’s story, Alpert’s constant testing, and more creepy Claire dialogue. Hopefully, having gotten all the major players into a position to enact the final scenes of this season, the narrative needs have been met and we can enjoy three hours of uninterrupted awesomeness to close out an overall fantastic season.
What did you make of Locke’s backstory? What is Alpert’s true motivation? Does Ben truly think his time on the Island is over, given what we’ve seen in “The Shape of Things to Come”? And how would you go about moving an entire island?