Three Lost-ish things happened related to me in the past few days that were more exciting than this week’s episode of Lost to begin with. First, I found out that my hero John Locke and I — okay, the John Locke from a television show…okay okay, the actor, Terry O’Quinn that plays John Locke on a TV show — well, I found out we have the same birthday. To me, this was roughly equivalent to finding out you and Superman were both born on Krypton. Second, in Tuesday’s episode, Jacob instructed Hurley to turn the dial in the lighthouse to 108 degrees. 108 also equals these numbers added together — numbers you might be familiar with: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. As we recently found out, those numbers represent names, and the 108th name on the dial was Wallace.
Wallace! Now I know my name is Josh Moorhead, but in the bowels of Paramount where I work in the mail-room, my nickname is Wallace! DA-DA-DUM! Cool, but a bit of a stretch, sure. But then yesterday, in the mail-room I got a Facebook notification from a Lost scholar and friend of mine telling me that I should re-watch that whole dial scene again ASAP. And guess what! Moorhead was number 22!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot type enough exclamation points. This was an awesome revelation. Of course, I was crossed out as a candidate — and I’m not even sure what I did, but I’m guessing it has something to do with turning in this article a day later than usual.
THEORY BUMP: My editor runs the island.
So really, whether by theory or proof, there’s nothing you can do to deny it: Lost and I were destined to be together. *Sigh* Lost is sooooooo dreamy.
But that relationship won’t be without its rough patches, and in some ways, Tuesday’s episode, “Lighthouse,” was like that. Roughly a third of the way through this final season of my beloved, it’s apparent that this season is suffering, unfairly maybe, from being a last season. The weight of expectations and demands on the series is chipping away at what would otherwise be passable if not great episodes. Kate’s episode two weeks ago? Passable. Maybe. Jack’s episode this week? Perhaps great in another season. After all, there were great beats of action, great Hurley dialogue, unexpected twists, and new locales and revelations…but I sense, as an audience (or is it just me?), that we want Lost to do away with the teasing and just put it all out there. Lost is old-fashioned and wants to wait, and I suppose if we really love it, we’ll respect its wishes and be patient.
“Lighthouse” wasn’t as interesting, answers-laden, or just plain bonkers as the instant classic Locke episode of last week, but it was solid. As a lot of characters have this year, we saw the focus of the episode, Jack, spend lots of time focusing on himself in mirrors and other reflective surfaces — and not out of vanity or confidence but confusion. Ultimately, by episode’s end, when Jack shattered the glass of Jacob’s lighthouse, it was an extension of Jack’s own broke-ness and not the seven years but the eternal bad luck anyone can guarantee themselves with deconstructive confusion and anger as opposed to repair.
First thing’s first, though: We opened in off-island alterna-reality where Jack is dealing with his dead lost poppa and staring at himself in the mirror (see, I told you so!) and wondering where that conspicuous appendix scar came from on his abs — a conveniently located scar for you ladies out there. Jack’s mom told him he got it taken out when he was seven, but Jack wasn’t quite buying it, nor should he. We all know he got it chopped out about a season and a half back by someone very close to him — close even in this off-island reality. Then we found out something we didn’t know or expect about this Jack — he’s got himself a kid named David, and David has inherited roughly the same daddy issues that are like heirlooms in the Shephard brood.
Zapping back to the island, we find the Jack we’ve known for six years staring at a blurry version of himself in a pool of water in the Others' temple. This is a fractured, uncertain Jack, with nothing clear to be gathered from the present moment or the future. Then we got the driving force of the episode, Hurley, playing tic-tac-toe with Miles, resulting in a cat game for what was the many-th time in a row.
Theory Bump: While this tic-tac-toe moment can be taken as nothing, I believe it’s a hint at the struggle Jacob and Smokey are trapped in — one where there are rules, a field of play, and where anyone ever winning outright is nearly impossible. If you’re playing tic-tac-toe with anyone above the IQ of an ape, you realize it’s a lost (see what I did there?!) cause. You try and distract them by throwing your X or O down on the other corner of the board, away from your next move — but that board is so small that it’s hard to do, and you’re pretty much always going to come up even.
In Jacob and Smokey’s cat game, Smokey’s possession of Locke’s bid is the elaborate diversion to finally trick Jacob, and on some level I believe Smokey thinks he has, but in the grand scheme of things, the island is that big of a board, especially for an omniscient like Jacob, and he has his own X to play. Either way, as this season seems to be telling us, what with all the candidate talk, it’s not clear that either Jacob or Smokey will finally “win” but that they’ll merely give up on the futility and new players will take to the game. What could make this a satisfying ending is if our new players, say Locke and Ben, or Hurley and Ben, or somebody else and somebody else, realized the futility of the tic-ing, tack-ing and toe-ing, and found a way to agree to disagree and co-exist.
After all, the frustration of a cat-game may be that no one wins, but at least nobody loses either.
Wilder Theory Bump: The cat game is a hint that no one can win between Smokey and Jacob because they’re the same dude!!!
Just one person’s light and dark natures actually divided, creating a rule where one cannot truly kill the other without in fact killing himself. An elaborate cat-game where you can’t win, but you don’t necessarily have to lose, if you can figure out a way to work the tie in your favor. I didn’t think of this one myself. Before I watched the episode, a girl in HR told me the one-in-the-same theory, which would be a hell of a twist, but I’m still leaning toward Jacob and Smokey being two separate and opposing identities, purely because this notion of antagonist/protagonist is narratively satisfying. But I also enter into evidence, as this theory does, that we’ve never heard Smokey’s real name, and now I’m sure there’s a reason for this — perhaps a shocking one.
Meanwhile, Hurley went about being Hurley, trolling the temple for food, running into the spectre of Jacob — he too studying a murky pool. Jacob gave Hurley specific instructions — instructions to get himself and Jack to the lighthouse. Hurley protested, citing the difficulty it takes to get Jack to do anything, and Jacob gave him the key phrase to trigger Jack: “You have what it takes.” So they embarked, and Hurley dropped references to Star Wars and Indiana Jones, as well as Lost‘s season 1. We saw Jack and Hurley cross the caves, Christian’s empty casket, Shannon’s inhaler and, importantly, Adam and Eve. Some interesting and important throwbacks.
Hurley speculated, as many in the audience have, that Adam and Eve are someone in our castaway bunch, what with all the time-traveling and dimension-paralleling and whatnot. The writers tipping their hat this way is probably a guarantee that it is a couple from our castaways (or absolutely not, hard to tell), but it’d be a heck of a lot more satisfying if it was. Also, we had Jack ruminating on his dad’s empty coffin, and how he once followed his dad’s ghost to these caves. Replaying this moment, as well as the rest of this cave side-quest, was important for a few reasons: 1) It’s a nifty way to play the equivalent of a graduation slide-show — “Look at where we’ve been! Look at how far we’ve come! Can you believe this show used to concern itself with things like asthma?! Whoo-boy!”; 2) It’s kind of important for Jack to be, after all these years, admitting to the surreality if not the supernatural aspects of the island, being that this is the requisite island man of faith; 3) I think it’s a hint that whenever Jack does catch up to his Dad’s coffin in the alterna-reality, it’ll be empty again.
Meanwhile, running amok in the jungle, we had Crazy Claire looking hotter (?) in her “I’ve gone native” garb, but definitely coming off as mad. Convinced her baby is in possession of the Others and unwilling to hear otherwise, she mended Jin but went and axed a pleading and honest Other right up in the stomach — one of Lost‘s more explicitly grisly moments and meant to show us that yes, this Claire is not messing around. I’m having a little trouble buying it, but we did just meet this Claire, after all, and ax stuff is meant to sell it. After Jin witnessed this, he laid off trying to convince Claire Mr. Other wasn’t fibbing. It’s noble to fight irrationality, and maybe even insanity with reason and truth, but when delirium has an ax, what would you do? Jin relented. Consequences will abound, the least of which being Claire’s promise that if Kate really was raising her son, she’d “kill her.” Yikes. Claire also told Jin she wasn’t alone, that her “father” and her “friend” were hanging out with her and her creepy skull and pelt baby dummy. We learned she too was cattle-prodded and poked by the Others in the temple like Sayid, but the ax-stomached other (well, before that happened) told her she was remembering “wrong.” Brief aside: Hurley’s references to Obi Wan and Indiana Jones aren’t necessarily throw-aways. Obi Wan was the guy in Star Wars who told a confused Luke things all depend on your “point of view.”
This has always been true of Lost and has granted the show its ability to continually surprise us and challenge our expectations.
Something as crazy as an Other branding could/should make total sense by season’s end. As for Indiana Jones, well, I was the one a few weeks ago who said we should be watching Lost as if we were Indy ourselves. Obviously Damon and Carlton read my column months ago, even though it was written weeks ago. Hey, the island travels in time!
So it goes, then, that we discovered that Claire’s “friend” is Smokey, who Jin saw as Locke (like we do), but Claire seemed to think that was silly. I wonder, what does she see him as? There was also the matter of a bit of dialogue that Claire had in referencing Jin’s wound: “If there’s one thing that’ll kill ya out here, it’s infection.” But didn’t the Others call Claire’s crazy streak an infection? Uh-oh… (Or, as has been speculated, is she already dead? More uh-ohs…) (For the record, I think, like Sayid, she’s kind of a life-straddler.)
Back in alterna-reality home, Jack passed a brick as he was having trouble finding his son David. As it was in week one for me, I was more compelled by this understandable off-island drama than the heady, untouchable island mythology which is slowly peeling back only to reveal more wrapping paper between us and the gift we’re hoping for. There was something heart-wrenching about Jack finding out his son was keeping his hidden talent for piano-playing from him, and the same goes for that message on David’s answering machine (in this alterna-reality, are there cell phones?!?!?!??!), where Jack wished only to hear his son’s voice after realizing his dad was dead and couldn’t reach him. The Shephards keep themselves at a distance and are often unreachable, even as Jack wished not to be with David.
Of note from the alterna-reality:
Of course there was Jack’s run-in with Dolgen at the piano audition. While it’s easy to brush this away as another example of “they’re all destined to know each other” proof, if not an unexciting one since we don’t have much identification with or sympathy for Dolgen, it’s an important one because it’s hard to gauge the Others' age or origin, and with the island not being in the picture and Dolgen being the same age in the alterna-reality, we can conclude Dolgen isn’t a timeless fixture of the island like Richard, Jacob, or Smokey…which raises the questions: How did he get to the island? Where did he come from? How was he so quickly promoted in the Others' ranks? Dolgen, too, had some interesting dialogue talking about the children, saying, “They’re too young for this kind of pressure,” and that “it’s hard to watch, unable to help.” Think Jacob feels the same way about his candidates? That perhaps they have some growing up to do too? Hmmm…
The address of what was Jack’s home (I’m assuming) before his divorce (we’ll get to that) started with 23. Cool! As for the identity of Jack’s alterna-wife? Well, I don’t think it could be his wife we’re familiar with, Sarah. The circumstances that lead to Jack marrying Sarah involved an accident she had with Shannon’s dad. There’s not really any solid proof, but I think this island-less timeline negated that accident, as Boone’s dialogue on the alterna-flight 815 seemed to say. But Jack also told Locke there could be miracles in this reality — in the one we know — that faith could have only come from Sarah’s miraculous healing. So what would give him this faith now?
I think, in this reality, Jack married Juliet, the fertility doctor he met as a surgeon — the doctor that was able to deliver her sister’s baby even though her sister had cancer — that then miraculously remitted after a miraculous birth. Boom! I say, boom!
Last week, I also focused a bit on the importance that names have in Lost. So the temptation would be to focus on David’s name, David. David Shephard, no less, Biblical David being a shepherd that slayed a giant. But I don’t think David is important besides being something to shock us and a device to further develop Jack’s character. However, Chopin as David’s composer of choice is interesting, as Chopin was a child prodigy and preferred to play solo. Wikipedia also tells me his compositions “though [being] technically demanding, … emphasize nuance and expressive depth rather than sheer virtuosity.” There is a lesson here.
But seeing a dark-haired, piano-playing child prodigy reminded me of another person and another place, one Daniel Farady and one Looking Glass, the Dharma station underwater that, amongst other things, controlled communication with the outside world. It had a code sequence programmed by a musician — lightbulbs! I’m relatively confident this was Faraday. And in the man-of-science/man-of-faith dichotomy of the show, the looking glasses scientific communications station is paired with Jacob’s lighthouse…
Vhwoosh! Back to the island. Jack and Hurley approached the lighthouse and perhaps illumination. Moments before they did, Jack confessed to Hurley that he came back to the island because he was “broken” and was “stupid enough to believe this place could actually fix me.” Then, up in the lighthouse, when Jack got frustrated, he went around crushing the place.
Why? As Hurley attempted to calibrate the dial so it would point at 108 degrees (because Jacob told him someone was coming, probably Desmond), Jack looked into the reflection of the glass once again and caught a few more things reflected than his face and the ocean. First was the place where Jin and Sun were married, then the church where Sawyer’s parents’ funeral took place, then, and this was the kicker for Jack, his childhood home.
Jack gave us some information about this looking glass, that Jacob had been watching them all from it always. But this looking glass was not just for observing but for communication, as I believe Jacob would go through this looking glass to interact with his candidates. This is another bit of Alice in Wonderland-alluding that coincides with David’s reading it earlier in the episode--the white rabbit holding the key at David’s mom’s house, and a million other little times the show has pulled Alice out of its hat.
Jack didn’t take kindly to this intrusion — no, not at all — and when Hurley said Jacob wasn’t there when Jack didn’t get the illumination he asked for, he decided to destroy the light.
He did so by picking up a telescope — another sort of looking glass — and destroying the mirrors of the lighthouse, making this a literal blind rage, failing to look through what was right in front of him.
And therein is why I call this episode “New Jack City.” You see, Jack’s father was addicted to booze, and that’s what crippled his relationship with his son and perhaps his purpose. Jack, on the other hand, is addicted to himself, to his ways, to his angst and rage in the face of uncertainty, to action when it isn’t always necessary. After this debacle in the lighthouse, Jacob told Hurley there was something Jack had to do but that evidently he’s not able to do it yet, not until he breaks the addiction. While destroying the lighthouse wasn’t cool, perhaps it was necessary for Jack to go over the top to realize what he had. But he’s done this before.
Off-island Jack seems to be a much better-adjusted dude--one that could talk through the rift between himself and his son. One that refuses a drink. One calm in crisis. When he looks in the mirror, the picture is clear — not the murky or cluttered reflections island-Jack is getting, but that murkiness is because island-Jack is in transition, almost ready to take that leap into his purpose, to leave his faults behind him. But first he’s got to get to New Jack City. He’s got to fuse with what alterna-Jack has got, and that, in some way, is what this season is about.
Jacob told Hurley sometimes you’ve gotta get in a cab and tell someone what to do, sometimes you’ve gotta let ‘em stare at the ocean. So there Jack sat staring again, at the ocean’s calm rolling but also its dreaded depth, and Jack will have to choose: sink or swim. While we’ve seen Jack rattled before, this is truly the first time his choice has been to go with the island magic mojo; the first time there is a clear purpose and candidacy.
Hurley is a candidate too. Observe their pros and cons. Hurley is open to any situation and approaches it relaxed, open, but he shirks at conflict or, sometimes, difficulty. See: getting Jack to the lighthouse. Jack’s all shoot-first.
We can see this when they arrive at the lighthouse and the door is locked. Hurley is willing to wiggle the handle; Jack kicks the thing down — there’s no patience. Both have things to learn, but Jack a lot more. His shortcomings are more dire and destructive. Jack’s got to move. Calmer, alterna-Jack doesn’t seem to be without adversity (see: divorce), but he seems more able to cope. Island Jack’s got that leap to make — a leap of faith.
The wiser Jack told his son, “In my eyes, you could never, ever fail,” and I wonder if Jacob sees his candidates the same way. My sometimes viewing Lost as a religious allegory makes me want to say yes, but Jacob crosses names off his list. We are reminded that the characters we discuss are “candidates,” not converts — failure seems to be an option. I should know — my name was crossed out!
I can’t say just yet if Lost, at least as it comes to Jack, is a story of redemption, but it seems that if the phantom menace of the island is going to be defeated, Jack will have to overcome his Anakin Skywalker rage, but we’ve always kind of known that. While I’m not sure if Jacob is a figure of total mercy, I know he’s one of options. When Hurley talked about his utter failure in the lighthouse, Jacob didn’t seem to mind and he said that whoever was coming “would find another way.” Even though Jack destroyed the lighthouse mirror, that telescope remains intact, and vision can still be had.
Was this a week of answers? Eh. But the preview for next week was anything but, saying so many answers were coming they couldn’t even show us footage.
Up to you now, viewer — blind rage…or blind faith?