Lost season 3 episode 12: Heavy Metal is Bad for the Ears

There are thrills, spills and revelations in this episode of Lost- and even if there weren’t, I couldn’t think of a better way to begin this post.

The Birds
Having spotted what seems to be a tagged flock of seagulls flying ahead, Claire realises that they can attach a message to one of the birds in the hopes that whoever is studying the birds will find it. She manages to get Sun and Jin to help her construct a trap for the birds, but Charlie seems oddly reluctant to assist- could it be something the ever-present Desmond said to him? Worse yet, Desmond actually seems to be sabotaging their attempts to collect the birds, even discharging a gun to scare them off whilst supposedly hunting a boar.

Determined to find out what is going on, Claire trails Desmond, only to find him climbing across the cliffs to find a nesting bird. Upon confronting him, Desmond eventually explains about his visions of the future, and how he took action in an attempt to stop Charlie from falling off the cliff and dying whilst trying to get a bird.

Having thus learnt the truth, the strained atmosphere between Claire and Charlie is repaired, and the couple write a letter, attach it to a bird, and let it fly free in the hopes that the message will bring help.

The Continuing Search
With Mikhail as their prisoner, Kate’s team follows the map Sayid found of the electrical cabling on the island, hoping it will lead them to the Others’ settlement. Despite growing friction between Locke and Sayid, the party continues onward, until they reach a strange line of pillars with sensors at the top- clearly some kind of security system. Mikhail insists that the system stopped working years ago and that there is no way to go around it, but Locke ‘just happens’ to shove him between two pillars, causing them to activate and kill him via an intense sonic pulse.

In an attempt to clear this obstacle, the team lays a long branch from the ground to the top of the pillar so that they can climb over without triggering the sensors. Kate is the first to go, and after she safely makes it through, the rest of the party follows. Once they are safely over, they continue onwards and indeed find the Others’ village. Concealed in the undergrowth, they watch what appears to be Jack running towards them, but when Sayid stops Kate from calling out to him, they realise he is only running because he is playing American football with some children! Just what exactly has happened to Jack?

Flashback- Claire’s parent troubles
Back in the days when Claire dyed her hair black and worked in a tattoo parlour, she and her mother got into a car accident that left her mother brain-damaged and in a coma that she would likely never wake up from. Amidst her grief, Claire is surprised to learn that her mother’s hospital fees are being paid for by a mysterious benefactor- a man who later comes to her claiming to be her father. This man is actually Jack’s father, but he once had a fling with Claire’s mother, resulting in Claire. Now he has come to see his daughter in the wake of the accident, but he quickly alienates her by suggesting that he use his medical knowledge to end her mother’s suffering in such a way that it looks like a natural death. Claire reacts badly to this, and they part on poor terms.

Years later, a heavily pregnant Claire talks to her unconscious mother just before getting on the fateful flight, telling her for the first time that she is pregnant- and that she is going to give up the baby.

Observations and Speculation

  • We learned a while back that Jack had a half-sister, and really back then only Claire or perhaps Shannon could have been candidates out of the main characters; therefore this episode’s revelation is more a confirmation of previous suspicions than something new.
  • Many of the cast members seem to have suffered family related tragedies, with numerous close relatives dying (Jack’s father, Kate’s father, Shannon’s father, Juliet’s husband, Ana’s unborn child, Eko’s brother, Sawyer’s parents and Hurley’s granddad to name the ones that come to mind), whilst even surviving relatives are usually estranged in some way. Is it significant that many of those on the island are ‘alone’ in this way, or is it just a consequence of needing dramatic back stories for them all?
  • Although we may never get it, I’d like to know more about the sentry pillars, such as how they kill so accurately without really affecting bystanders. Also, why didn’t the designers put sensors on top to stop people climbing over?
  • What exactly has happened to Jack? For a man initially so unwilling to play along, it seems odd that he is now co-operating, although we mustn’t forget that Ben has offered him a way home, which probably entails jumping through a lot of hoops first.
  • Why did Claire only attach a message to one bird? There’s always a chance that that particular bird will get blown off course or killed- capturing 3-4 birds would have been better.

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