It’s been a season of ups and downs; of glimpses of the series’ past glory and a general descent into something so convoluted and ridiculous it’s hard to remember what I thought of the series back in the old days. For most of that time, I’ve been horribly behind in blogging it, and only about three people probably ever read my posts, but even so, it’s been fun in its own way, and I wish I had done this for at least season two. Still, what’s past is past, and I hope you’ll join me again in season four.
To the radio tower
As Jack continues to lead the survivors to the radio tower, they are met with an unpleasant surprise when Ben and Alex show up in front of them. After Kate checks their tracks to confirm that they are alone, Jack agrees to talk with Ben, although he does take possession of the other man’s walkie-talkie.
Once they have stepped away for a private talk, Ben tells Jack that everything is not as he thinks it is (when is it ever?). According to him, Naomi is an agent working for the ‘bad guys’, an unspecified faction who have long been searching for the island. Unless Jack gives Ben Naomi’s satellite phone, chances are high that they will find the island, and everyone will be doomed. Naturally, Jack refuses to swallow this, and in an attempt to force his hand, Ben calls Tom on his walkie and tells him to shoot Jin, Sayid and Bernard if Jack does not cooperate.
As it turns out, even this is not enough to sway Jack, and after both men hear the sound of three shots, he takes out his frustration on Ben by wrestling him to the ground and repeatedly punching his face.
With Ben as their prisoner, and Alex having been told that Rousseau is her mother, the team continues to the radio tower, although along the way Hurley contacts them to say that Jin and the others are fine (more on that below). Just as they get there, the jamming from the Looking Glass turns off, and Rousseau’s message becomes audible on the satellite phone. Entering the tower, they switch off the sixteen year old distress call, enabling Naomi to establish a communications channel.
Even as she searches for the signal from her boat, however, Ben insists that Jack must stop, and when he refuses to listen, Locke suddenly appears, disabling Naomi with a knife throw to the back. As the phone drops to the ground, Locke shoots in its general direction in an attempt to stop Jack from picking it up, but Jack ignores the danger- and even though he has his gun pointed directly at him, Locke cannot bring himself to fire. Instead, Jack is free to answer the satellite phone as a call comes in from Naomi’s boat, enabling him to request rescue for everyone…
Having begun to question Ben’s authority, Tom and the remaining Others decide not to kill Jin, Sayid and Bernard after all, instead just shooting three times into the sand to make it sound like they did. Watching from the jungle, Sawyer and Juliet try to decide upon on their next move, but with no weapons, no options seem forthcoming.
To everyone’s surprise, however, Hurley comes driving out of the jungle in the Dharma van, knocking over one Other and providing the cover needed for Sawyer and Juliet to make a move and pick up their guns. Whilst Sayid snaps the neck of one Other with his feet, Juliet shoots another, leaving only Tom, who surrenders. Not believing him, Sawyer shoots him anyway.
After finding Tom’s walkie-talkie, Hurley decides to contact the Others, although as it turns out, Jack is on the other end. After confirming that everyone is fine, Jack tells them to stay put and keep an eye out for Desmond and Charlie.
Underwater antics with the man who never dies and the man who is destined to pass away
Having received his orders from Ben, Mikhail is quick to act, shooting Gwen and Bonnie before he is brought down by Desmond’s dart gun. Turning to Bonnie, Charlie and Desmond try to get the jamming deactivation code out of her, and having been betrayed by Ben, she is persuaded to give it. Unfortunately, she starts reciting it too quickly for either man to remember or write down, and when it becomes clear that she doesn’t have the strength to repeat it, she tells them that it is the opening bars of a particular song.
As the musician, Charlie takes it upon himself to type out the notes of the code, whilst Desmond prepares diving gear for the two of them. The code is successful, but once the jamming signal is switched off, an incoming transmission is received- from a certain Penelope Widmore. As he talks to her, however, Charlie realises something is amiss- not only is she not on a boat, but she has never heard of Naomi.
Unfortunately, this is not all that is amiss, for Mikhail has vanished, and when Charlie turns to the porthole, he sees him in the water- outfitted in diving gear and holding a grenade. Realising that Mikhail intends to flood the place, Charlie shuts himself in the communications room. Unable to get in, Desmond can only watch as the grenade shatters the porthole and the room fills with water. In his last moments, however, Charlie uses his pen to write a message on his hand for Desmond- “Not Penny’s boat”. Acknowledging the message, Desmond is powerless to act as Charlie drowns.
Flashback: Call this a flashback? It’s a flash forward!
It’s not very convincing now that I’m talking with the benefit of hindsight, but I did briefly wonder last episode if this segment was not a straight flashback, but some sort of alternate universe (it’s not quite that either, but even so, at least I deduced something was up).
Jack’s life is still a mess; his drinking problem is getting worse, he’s become reliant on prescription drugs, and everyone around him can see that he’s becoming increasingly unstable. After finding himself the only visitor to the viewing of a body of someone he knows, but is supposedly neither friend nor family, he finds a need to call someone and ask them to meet him.
As it turns out, that person is Kate, for this is not the past, but some time after they have been rescued. Jack tells her that he has been on numerous plane flights since then, each time hoping it would crash- because as far as he is concerned, they never should have left the island. Kate disagrees, and tells Jack that she must go, because “he” (presumably Sawyer) will be wondering where she is. Jack remains certain, however- they have to go back…
Observation and Speculation
- I forgot to mention this in the relevant episode, but the man in the Dharma van that Hurley and the others found was Ben’s father.
- Jack finally openly confesses his love for Kate; in this week’s Radio Times, Matthew Fox states his belief that Kate and Sawyer will most likely break up so that it can be Jack X Kate in the end (this wouldn’t be unsurprising as the girl usually has to date the ‘wrong’ guy first).
- Who is this faction who wants to find the island? Is that actually a bad thing, or just counter to Ben’s wishes?
- How did Penelope manage to send a transmission to the island when she doesn’t even know about it? Is the Widmore family connected to the island somehow?
- Since Charlie’s death has been discussed for so long, I was actually expecting him to survive somehow, but I don’t think even the island can do anything about drowning.
- Is Mikhail some kind of Bond villain-esque superhuman, never able to be killed until the very end (if then)?
End of Season Special: What we do and don’t know about the island, with the emphasis on the latter
A mysterious island in the South Pacific, the island seems to be a place that can be reached accidentally (indeed, most craft that do get there end up crashing), but which few people, if anyone can ever leave. On the island, the immune system and healing ability of the average human seems to be enhanced, to the extent of curing paralysis and cancer. The sperm count is also raised to five times its usual amount, whilst pregnancy is fatal to females (for humans at least) in the second trimester, when the body rejects the foetus. This only occurs for women who have conceived on the island; those who conceive elsewhere and come to the island during their pregnancy are unaffected.
The island itself seems to have some sort of consciousness, which usually manifests in a vision of a person from the past of whoever it wishes to communicate to. It is unknown whether this consciousness is an AI in charge of a simulation or virtual reality, a man behind a curtain, or some other phenomenon. One possibility is that it is what the Others know as Jacob, a localised consciousness that communicates with Other leader Ben, and was heard to say ‘help me’ to John Locke.
Some years ago, scientists were recruited into the Dharma Initiative, a drive to study the cutting edge of science in a remote location, i.e. the island. Various scientists were recruited and hatch stations were built around the island for their work. These included a medical station; the Swan Hatch, where occupants were told to enter a sequence of numbers into a computer every 108 minutes (a supposedly pointless task that actually seemed important in averting some sort of electromagnetic phenomenon); the Flame Hatch; the underwater Looking Glass communications hatch; the Pearl Hatch (used for monitoring the other hatches and sending reports) and others, including stations on a second island just offshore of the first. When off duty, both scientist and support staff lived in a specially built village on the first island, surrounded by security fence posts able to give off a deadly sonar pulse to trespassers. Another feature of the island is a mysterious smoke monster that acts to kill those who stray into its dimension, although the origin of this phenomenon is currently unknown.
Unfortunately, what the scientists didn’t realise was that there was already an indigenous population on the island, who made themselves known once the Dharma project was set up. After successfully defending themselves from the ‘hostiles’, the scientists were betrayed by a workman named Ben. Years after first coming to the island and believing themselves to be safe, the scientists are all killed, and at some point after that, Ben actually becomes the leader of the indigenous population, known as the Others. They take over many of the hatches and continue to recruit people from America to come out to the island and help with various issues such as the continuing pregnancy problem. Among those people is a scientist named Juliet, who is initially led to believe she is going to Portland for six months, but ends up staying on the island for three years.
Meanwhile, at the Swan hatch, a man named Kelvin continues entering numbers and pushing a button every 108 minutes, until he gains a companion in the form of Desmond, a Scotsman whose boat crashes during a round-the-world sailing trip. Kelvin keeps Desmond indoors by claiming that the island is home to an airborne virus, although this proves to be a ruse thought up to enable Kelvin to escape whilst Desmond behind to press the button. Desmond dutifully presses, and on the one day when circumstances mean he gets there late, the resulting surge in magnetic field causes Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney to LA to crash on the island, marooning the survivors.
Flight 815 is not the first thing to ever land on the island, however- a couple of centuries ago, a boat of slaves was washed ashore, whilst in more recent times a hot air balloon, a plane of drug dealers (pre 815) and a helicopter (post 815) have all crashed there, whilst a French woman named Danielle Rousseau has been stranded on the island for sixteen years. In that time, her baby was taken from her by the Others, her male team mates all went mad and died, and she recorded a distress signal at a radio tower, unaware that it was being jammed.
In the course of their 90 days on the island, the Oceanic 815 survivors are split into two groups, attacked by the Others, forced to press the button in the hatch until it explodes and endure various other situations, some of which claim the lives of certain members of the group. Their long ordeal seemingly comes to an end when they gain access to a satellite phone from helicopter crash survivor Naomi and arrange passage off the island- but is everything as it seems?
And finally, we must come to those enigmatic entities known as The Numbers, a string of (unsurprisingly) numbers which may be more than they appear. The sequence in question is 4 8 15 16 23 42, and aside from being the numbers that had to be entered in the hatch, they seem to have strange properties- when used in competitions such as the lottery, they guarantee a win, but in return the winner ends up suffering from unbelievably bad luck. What are the numbers? Are they the extended answer to life, the universe and everything; fundamental constants ingrained deeper into the universe than the speed of light et al, or something else entirely?