By Jeff Jensen
THE TEASE!: WHO WANTS AARON'S BLOOD?
The episode is called ''The Little Prince.'' Among tonight's developments: The Norton & Agostini lawyers are back, seeking Kate's proof of biological ownership (read: DNA) of Aaron. Doc Jensen Tangent! I'd love to see a story set in Kate's post-Island years that explores how she became so comfortable with the whole notion of playing substitute mom to Claire's creepy little goober. Did she adapt quickly to it? Did she ever resent it? Has she nursed the quiet hope that one day Claire would walk through the door and take Aaron off her hands? If not, at what point did she really fall in love with the kid? I think their tale would be a neat, relevant story for Lost to tell...as long as they do it better than that crappy Cuddy-and-kid subplot on this season of House. Did you see that? And did you catch that I called it crappy? That means I didn't like it. In case that wasn't clear.
Any-hoo, back to Dan Norton (The Dad From My So-Called Life) and Mr. Agostini (Pursed-Lip Quiet in the Background Guy). They're working for someone — but whom? Doc Jensen gives you the odds!
BENJAMIN LINUS Remember, Ben promised to help Jack with his Kate problem — i.e., persuade her to go back to the Island. He'll likely start by giving Kate an incentive to abandon the security of her off-Island life. Threatening Aaron would do that. ODDS: 2–1
CHARLES WIDMORE Penelope's dastardly dad is searching for the Island — and he's going to force Kate to help him find it. The court-ordered blood sample is prelude to a blackmail deal. Kate's choice: Work for Widmore, or he'll expose the truth about Aaron, and by extension, the Oceanic 6. ODDS: 4–1
SUN She wants vengeance for Jin's death. And while she says she doesn't blame Kate, I'm not convinced, judging from that vaguely menacing scene in ''The Lie.'' Threatening Aaron would certainly destabilize the nice life Kate now enjoys at the late Jin's expense. ODDS: 7–1
AARON'S FATHER (Reader's Choice!) Cathy Cordova writes: ''We know that everyone on the Island pretty much has daddy issues. So my theory is that Dan Norton must represent Aaron's father, whom we have heard nothing about thus far.'' Well, that's not entirely true. In Claire's first flashback episode, ''Raised by Another,'' we met the XY half of Aaron's chromosome set. His name is Thomas. He's a painter — all that art in Charles Widmore's office looks a lot like Thomas' work — and he got cold feet about being a dad and abandoned Claire during her pregnancy. The idea that Thomas is Norton's client does make sense: As a member of the Oceanic 6, Aaron must be world-famous too, and I can imagine Thomas seeing the kid's mug on the TV and thinking, ''Wow, that boy looks an awful lot like my own baby photos...'' — and then beginning to wonder about the truth of the matter. Given Thomas' possible Widmore connection, perhaps his scheme is being backed by the terrible tycoon. The more I write out this speculation, the more I like it. Thanks for the suggestion, Cathy! ODDS: 3–1
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LITTLE PRINCE. BIG SIGNIFICANCE.
What the title of tonight's episode might tell us about 'Lost'
''Oh! I understand you very well,'' said the little prince. ''But why do you always speak in riddles?''
''I solve them all,'' said the snake.
Since the title of tonight's episode is ''The Little Prince,'' Lost must surely be referencing the famed Native American chief Little Prince, who lived in Broken Arrow, Okla. This carries forward the season's fixation with arrow symbolism, which has been evident in the ''broken arrow'' incident of ''Jughead,'' the flaming arrows of the Others, the ''arrow of time'' family of theories about time — [cue record-scratch, sample from Prince's ''Housequake''] —''SHUT UP ALREADY! Damn!''
All right, all right, I'll be serious. If I were a betting man, I'd gamble a couple of pennies on the strong likelihood that ''The Little Prince'' is a reference to the classic French children's novella of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It's short — 83 pages of spare prose broken up by illustrations — and I would strongly recommend that you read it today. Not necessarily to prep for Lost, but for the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of its profound, soul-stirring whimsy.
The Little Prince is about two castaways lost in a section of the Sahara desert. The narrator is a pilot who has crashed his plane, and I should note that Saint-Exupery, an ace pilot himself, crashed a few times, including into a ditch in the Libyan Desert. In 1944, while serving in the French Air Force during WWII, he took off from the island of Corsica and was never seen alive again. The book's other castaway is its titular hero: The Little Prince is an explorer from a very small meteorite who abandoned his tiny rocky home because of his complicated relationship with...a rose. Yes, I said a rose. All of this is perfectly sensible within the reality of this lighthearted allegorical fantasy. The rose is beautiful but tricky, by turns beguiling and manipulative, yet altogether well intentioned. The Little Prince is alternately smitten by and frustrated by it, and the dissonance is too much for him to reconcile; he wants to run away from it. Not a bad metaphor for the relationship between Lost and its viewers. Or is that ex-viewers?
Lost name-checks book titles for any number of reasons. This column has often treated these citations as clues to Island mysteries or plot direction, but in truth, my default thinking in regard to all of the show's literary references is that the show is either having fun with us or calling out inspirations or embellishing its own themes by linking to thematically similar works. But sometimes they do serve as signposts that point to where the Lost saga is headed. The classic example — corroborated by the producers — was An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce in season 2. If you recall, Locke found this book in the Hatch. Thematically, this twist-ending tale was a perfect reference for a season that was full of what English professors like to call ''unreliable narrators'': the orientation films, Henry Gale/Benjamin Linus, Sawyer the Con Man, Michael the Traitor. More to the point, Owl Creek Bridge was intended to wink at fan theorists who believed in the ''It's all a dream'' argument, and to foreshadow an episode that was designed to debunk said theory: ''Dave,'' the Hurley-flashback story that introduced us to his bad-influence imaginary friend and ended with the infamous Libby was a patient at Hurley's mental hospital reveal.
With this in mind, consider the broad strokes of The Little Prince's plot. Spoiler alert! After a series of stops on other meteorites, the Little Prince is marooned on Earth. He is full of regret. He now realizes he should never have left his meteorite and his complicated little flower. At one point, the Little Prince learns from a wise fox that ''you become responsible for what you've tamed.'' The fox explains that these tamed ''things'' are your friends — the people who've come to trust you, love you, and depend on you because of the amount of time you've invested in their lives. In the final chapters, you get the sense that the immense distance from the place where he truly belongs is literally killing the Little Prince. As the troubled hero's wisdom and maturity grow and his existential/physical crisis intensifies, I get a strong whiff of Jack — especially when you reach the part where the Little Prince makes a risky pact with a deadly, duplicitous snake (read: Ben) that will resolve, once and for all, his homesick alien blues. Might this conclusion foreshadow — thematically or literally — Jack's (or someone's) ''Return to the Island'' story line? Something to consider over the next few episodes.
I love the following passage; it speaks to the elusive, ephemeral coolness of both the book and Lost, not to mention any number of really important real-life things.
''What makes the desert beautiful,'' the little prince said, ''is that it hides a well somewhere.''
I was surprised by suddenly understanding that mysterious radiance in the sands. When I was a little boy I lived in an old house, and there was a legend that a treasure was buried in it somewhere. Of course, no one was ever able to find the treasure, perhaps no one even searched. But it cast a spell over that whole house. My house had a secret in the depths of its heart.
''Yes,'' I said to the little prince, ''whether it's a house or the stars or the desert, what makes them beautiful is invisible.''
Also, I love how The Little Prince has a deep empathy for unfulfilled lives and thwarted destinies. The opening chapter introduces us to the narrator as a boy who liked to draw pictures inspired by a book about the jungle called True Stories. One day, he decided to show the adults in his life a drawing of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant. He hoped they would like it. Instead, they scratched their heads: To them, it looked like a misshapen hat. So he showed them another picture — same thing, except the snake was transparent, so the adults could properly appreciate the creepy comedy of an elephant inside a serpent's tummy. Instead, they told him to put his colored pencils away and do something respectable with his life. And so he did, but the child in him remained forever embittered: ''Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.'' Later, as a respectable but melancholy adult, he would test those fellow adults who claimed to be ''enlightened'' by showing them his silly childhood drawings. They would always identify his creepy-funny snake as a crushed hat. ''Then I wouldn't talk about boa constrictors or jungles or stars. I would put myself on his level and talk about bridge and golf and politics and neckties. And my grown-up was glad to know such a reasonable person.''
Here in this freak-flag-waving season of Lost, I am grateful for a show that isn't afraid to draw us pictures about boa constrictors and jungles and stars, even if sometimes we can't figure out what those pictures are. And I'm grateful for a show that resists the urge to be reasonable and explain everything to us small-minded, imagination-challenged adults.*
*The author reserves the right to change his mind next season, when the adult in him will demand answers. For EVERYTHING.**
**The author is just joking. Kinda.
THE LOST LIST!
New! A weekly ranking of what's hot and what's not
1. DANIEL FARADAY
The Oxford time-travel guru/reallyreallyreally bad boyfriend came into his own as a major player in the Lost saga in last week's episode. Jeremy Davies is all kinds of wonderful in the role: quirky, funny, touching, smart, and utterly credible.
2. ISLAND HISTORY
Charles Widmore was a neck-breaking, Latin-spouting Other during the 1950s! Which means that Present Day Widmore has known of the castaways much longer than they've known of him. That has implications for theory makers. You now have to wonder to what degree and for how long Widmore has been manipulating castaways in pursuit of his mysterious goals. We also learned that there's a hydrogen bomb buried somewhere on the Island — you know that's gonna come back into play at some point. (Although I'm not sure it was located in the cement-slathered catacombs of the Hatch, as many are speculating. If that's true, what happened to the bomb when the Hatch imploded? Shouldn't there have been a much bigger, deadlier boom? Or did fate interfere with course correction, neutralizing the bomb for the sake of keeping Locke and Desmond on their respective paths o' destiny?) A question about bomb testing on the Island: Did the U.S. military have to travel through the offshore, time-travel, sickness-inducing anomaly...or was said anomaly a consequence of something yet to come at that point in the Island's history?
3. THE ELLIE/ELOISE/MS. HAWKING DEBATE
My vote: Ellie the Other = Eloise Hawking = Daniel Faraday's mom.
4. LOCKE AND ALPERT
I love their chemistry. They're the quantum-leaping Bill and Ted of Lost. So excellent.
5. THE OCEANIC 6/HURLEY IN JAIL
The Oceanic 6? Who needs 'em? Okay, I'm kidding. A little. I'm very interested in the ongoing story of their return to the Island, though I'm dreading an episode devoted to springing Hurley from the joint. In retrospect, that plot device smacks of creating obstacles just for the sake of creating obstacles, perhaps to pad out the O6 story line. I'm all for some build in this arc — I want to know some more about Ben's colleagues, some more about what Sun and Sayid have been up to in their off-Island lives — but when it comes time to go get Hurley, I hope they make quick work of it.
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And that's the column for today. I'm getting lots of e-mails filled with head-scratching questions about the time-travel stuff on the show; next week's column will be devoted to sorting all of them out. In the meantime, I submit for your amusement/bafflement the newest episode of Totally Lost, starring yours truly and Dan Snierson — and introducing our Los Angeles bureau chief Sean Smith in the role of...Los Angeles bureau chief. In this installment, our fearless leader reveals that the audience response to last week's installment was not what the Powers That Be hoped it would be, and offers a suggestion to goose our ratings. Nope, that can't be good. And it isn't. Brace yourself for geekery, tomfoolery, and Totally Lost's first cliffhanger ending. Enjoy. Please?