By Jeff Jensen
Jeff Jensen, an EW senior writer, has been despondent since the cancellation of ''Twin Peaks''It was the kind of episode Lost doesn't usually do, the kind of episode that the series is sometimes criticized for rarely giving us: an episode in which the characters stop and talk about what the hell is going on. The tone was set with Juliet at her soothing deadpan best, shushing up a roaring Sawyer and shooing him away so she could create some safe space — physically and psychically — to softly, gently quiz freaking-out Faraday about the time travel sickness turning Charlotte's brain into runny cherry Slurpee. The abundance of candid info-swapping, soul-baring, heart to hearts — Jack and Kate talking about The Aaron Problem; Miles and Faraday puzzling through the time travel nosebleeds during the Orchid (death?) march; Locke and Sawyer meditating in the necessity of one's past; Sawyer sharing his broken heart with Juliet in the darkness of the beach — imbued the proceedings with a sense of cool quiet and moving intimacy. After three hours and three episodes of confusing quantum leaps and dense mythological downloads, we needed an episode like this to get our bearings. It was like a long sip from a canteen full of cold water offered by a kind new friend after being lost at sea for who-knows-how-long. And yes, that was a Jin is alive! reference. (It just wouldn't be a Doc Jensen recap if I didn't try force a few things.)
Stuff actually happened in this episode, too. The Oceanic 6 portion of the Season 5 saga got an adrenaline shot to the heart. Dan Norton, the lawyer who wanted Aaron's blood, was revealed to be working for Ben, who was clearly trying to destabilize Kate's secure Los Angeles life so as to motivate her back toward the Island. (The beat with Claire's Mom provided for some momentary misdirection.) Sayid survived another abduction attempt by The Tranq Dart Goons. By the end, the whole crew minus Hurley had reassembled, at least for the moment — Kate's WTH?! reaction to Ben's presence didn't bode well for permanent reunion. Neither did Sun lurking in her car with her chocolate-box revolver, preparing to spoil the party by popping a cap into Ben. Meanwhile, back on Record Skip Isle, migraines exploded and master plans unfolded. Charlotte survived her time flash hemorrhage that concluded last week's episode (though showing signs of more memory damage), Juliet and Miles started brain cramping, and Locke found a light bulb blinking over his head. The Man of Faith figured that if they all trekked back to The Orchid — the Island's proverbial engine room — maybe he could play Scotty and put the breaks on this runaway enterprise. Of course he will: My guess is that Locke will discover the frozen donkey wheel and crank it back to the OFF position, which will send the Island into a skid (i.e., come to rest at a certain in space and time) and send him out the wormhole windshield and into his Jeremy Bentham off-Island moment. (I worked much too long on that paragraph.)
As they made their way to The Orchid, the Left Behinders bounced through time three times. I know these leaps can be confusing to some viewers. When are we? Where are we? Do I remember enough of Lost's history to recognize the markers that answer both questions? Never fear: I am here... to make things 100 times more confusing.
Departure Point: 1954, the Others vs. the H-bomb testers era of the Island. (As seen in last week's episode, ''Jughead'')
Arrival Point: November 2004 — the night Boone died and Claire gave birth and Locke made the Hatch throw a blazing bat signal into the sky.
Departure Point: November 2004
Arrival Point: Hard to say. Clearly not a moment we've seen yet in the series — so I'm going to theorize that this moment has not yet happened: The castaways landed on a point in time after the departure of the Oceanic 6. That ''Ajira Airlines'' water bottle? I'm thinking it came from the airplane that's going to bring the Oceanic 6 back to the Island. Which means that it's possible that the other party in the other outrigger — the ones that started firing on Locke and company — was Jack and company.
Departure Point: TBD. ''Thank you, Lord!'' Sawyer bellowed as the screaming came across the sky to carry the castaways away from their attackers...
Arrival Point: Only to drop them in the middle of a storm at sea sometime in 1988. (''I take that back!'' Sawyer retorted to the skies.) According to most Lost sources, 1988 was the year that Danielle Rousseau, 16 and pregnant, washed up on the Island with a bunch of French scientists. More on them next week.
BURNING TIME TRAVEL QUESTION NUMBER 1: How come the castaways got to keep the outrigger when they did the time warp shuffle? Shouldn't that have been left behind in the previous time zone?
Answer: The question was actually asked and answered two episodes ago in ''The Lie.'' If you recall, Juliet theorized that time travelers get to keep the stuff they're holding or sitting in when they jump. (Also see: the compass that Time Indeterminate Richard Alpert gave John Locke to give to his 1954 self.) In other words: How about we just roll with this?
BURNING TIME TRAVEL QUESTION NUMBER 2: It appears that only the castaways are traveling through time. Which means that the Island isn't traveling through time. Maybe. But we saw the Island disappear in the season finale. So...uh...huh?
Answer: I know this issue baffles many of you. Let's make an appointment to discuss all things time travel in next week's Doc Jensen column, posting Wednesday morning.
The episode was called ''The Little Prince,'' no doubt named after the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It's about an alien boy who crashes in the Sahara and meets another castaway, a French pilot, who becomes responsible for the boy's welfare as his health erodes and his angst intensifies with the realization that he was never supposed to leave his magical little meteorite home, his community, and his one true love — his constant. Like the book, last night's Lost doted on themes of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, community, and commitment. Those values were repeated throughout the night through so many like-minded lines. ''It's about protecting the ones we love.'' ''Are you with me?'' ''I have always been with you.'' ''It's what any friend would do.'' ''This is all happening because they left. I think it will stop if I can bring them back.'' ''We are responsible for your actions.'' ''This baby is all of us.'' ''It doesn't matter what I want.'' (By contrast, we were made to distrust Ben thanks to a line issued by Sayid that articulates the total opposite of these values: ''The only side he's on is his own.'')
In his book, Saint-Exupery articulates all of these sentiments with one classic line: ''You become responsible for what you tame.'' The word ''tame,'' we are told, simply means ''to create ties.'' For me, last night's Lost was all about the taming thing.
In yesterday's Doc Jensen column, I expressed a desire to see Lost give us some insight into how Kate bonded with Aaron, how she embraced the role of mother to him. Well next week, I'm going to express a desire to see Lost give us the origin of Smokey, because apparently, the show has decided that it will now do whatever it is I ask it to do, for ''The Little Prince'' actually attempted to flesh out Kate's attachment to Claire's creepy little goober. On the boat, she told Jack that she wanted the job of taking care of Aaron because she couldn't bear the thought of losing another castaway to an awful or uncertain fate. So she felt a little survivor guilt. But we also got that nice scene that revisited the Season 1 moment when Kate helped deliver Claire's child, and we were reminded of what she told Claire: that ''this baby is all of us.'' Apparently, Kate takes this whole family of man/'live together, die alone' stuff pretty seriously. So why did she take on the burden/privilege of raising Aaron? Identification. Commitment. Responsibility. ''You become responsible for what you have tamed.'' Yeah, kinda corny. Yeah, kinda idealistic. Probably a total Obama girl. Which means I'm totally down with her.
I liked Kate's scenes with Jack. Here is a woman who not so much fell out of love with Jack but rather fell out of trust with him, if that makes sense. We saw her want to trust him again, and he seemed well on the road to earning that trust, too...until Kate saw Ben drive up and heard Jack say, It's okay, he's with us or something and she looked at him like, Are you freakin' high?! More on this next week.
Can Season 5 Sawyer be any more dreamy? First, the shirtless thing. Then the tears over fallen friends and departed Kate. And then, last night, that face on him as he watched Kate coach Claire through Aaron's birth, and then — and THEN! — he went and opened his heart to Juliet with his whole she-was-close-enough-to-touch thing. (To which, Juliet responded by bleeding out her nose from time travel sickness. Did you wonder if maybe Sawyer broke her heart a little bit — or at least disrupted their budding 'constant' rapport — with that speech?)
I don't know if Sun is the worst babysitter in the world or the best. Guess it depends on if you're the child or the parent. Entrusted with Aaron while Kate took care of business with Dan Norton, Jin's not-widow reassured Kate that she knew how to take care of a kid. ''There's candy in the mini bar and over 100 channels on TV,'' she said. Is this how she's raising Ji Yeon? (Cut to: Sun's house in Seoul, where a 300-pound 3 year-old is stuffing her face with Apollo Candy Bars and watching Old Boy.) Maybe she was joking. But after Kate left, Sun left Aaron to his ketchup and room service french fries while she sifted through surveillance photos of Ben and Jack and played with the gun that came hidden in a box of chocolates. Don't think I'll be sending my kids over to Sun's house anytime soon.
I didn't detect an iota of motherhood in that woman, did you? In fact, her incompetence as a caregiver and the cold deadness I sensed inside — it was enough to make wonder if Sun isn't really a mother at all. And when I thought that thought, a sick possibility dawned on me. A couple weeks ago, I speculated that there had to be something more behind her vendetta against Ben than just wanting to avenge Jin. I posited that maybe there was actually another man in her life — perhaps the never-seen '' Economist'' from last season's Sayid story — and she was desperate to protect her new post-Island family from Ben's scheming and destruction. But another creepy-chilling possibility crawled out the darkness of my morbid imagination last night: Where is Ji Yeon, anyway? Could she be...(gulp) dead? Did Ben do something to her, too? Has something so awful happened to Sun's only living link to her beloved Jin that it has pushed her over the edge into utter Lady Vengeance territory?
I loved his walk-and-talks with Sawyer. Loved the complex mix of emotions that washed over his face when he beheld the shaft of Hatch light blazing toward the heavens. But more than anything, I loved the moment when he reflected on his ill-fated Hatch digression. Recalling the night of Boone's death, and how it sent him into a Hatch-pounding tizzy, Locke said, ''I was confused and scared and babbling like an idiot asking why all this was happening to me.'' When the Hatch seemed to respond to his despair by shooting light up at him, ''I thought it meant something.'' Did it? ''No. It was just a light.'' (Locke's story is a metaphor for most of my off-the-wall theorizing. Me: When I heard the word 'nemesis' in conjunction with the word 'sun' in the episode ''The Long Con,'' I thought for sure it was a reference to doppelganger earth/K-8 extinction theory. My Shrink: Was it? Me: Nah. It was just a line of dialogue.)
With time and distance (literally) from the affair of the hatch, Locke has also gained wisdom. Sawyer asked him why he didn't race over and knock some sense into his past self. Locke: ''Why would I want to do that? I needed that pain to get to where I am now.'' This moment seemed a little forced to me, as if Lost was trying to shoehorn in an important idea that didn't quite organically fit. Still, the idea is important, so let's let it slide. We now have rationale for why characters won't be trying to change their past by interfering with their past selves — and why they might try to do just that, too. (We should note that Sawyer ultimately adopted Locke's wisdom as he came to grips with losing Kate: ''What's done is done.'' So maybe there's hope for Juliet yet....)
But I also wondered if Lost was setting up Locke (and us) for an awful twist of fate. Here is a man who has apparently made peace with his past, who has taken ownership of it, who values it greatly, all of it, good and bad. He doesn't want to change one little bit of his history, because if he did, he would lose all of his history. In other words, we now know what Locke stands to lose here in Season 5. And while he has no intention of losing it himself, I wonder if there's someone in the Lostverse who is conspiring to make sure he does. Bottom line: Is someone going to try and change John Locke's past? More on this theory in the upcoming issue of EW — the one with Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly on the cover — on sale in a few short days.
Some miscellaneous observations and thoughts before I let you talk:
1. Did you catch the words ''Rainier-Canton'' on the side of Ben's van? That's an anagram for ''reincarnation.'' Does that bode well for John Locke's dead body?
2. Faraday seemed to suggest that Miles has been on the Island before. We've speculated in this space before that the Ghost-Hustler is Pierre Chang's baby all grown up. But here's another question: Is Faraday playing detective and just being quizzical — or does he know far more about Miles than he's telling?
3. I loved the sight gag of Hurley in an orange jail jumpsuit. I was also relieved to hear we won't get a prolonged prison break plot...though I was really confused by it all. Norton seemed to suggest that Hurley was only in jail on suspicion of murdering the Santa Rosa dude. But he was caught on phone camera holding a gun on the balcony of the safe house — the one with the dead guy in the apartment and the dead guy splattered on the pavement. Those seem like tougher ones to explain away. Sooo...what's the deal?
4. You guys are going to make a big deal in the message boards about the synchronicities in weather between present day Los Angeles and time-flashing Island. Aren't you?
5. Who sent the gun to Sun?
6. Crazy Doc Jensen connection of the week: research ''Agira'' (form of ''Ajira'') and cross reference with ''Ariza,'' which was the name of the doctor played by Treat Williams' neighbor on Everwood at the hospital. A Doc Jensen no prize if you can show me how both those words lead you to Hercules, the mythic beast known as a Geyron (a monster that takes human form), and magical lands called sacred precincts. Seriously! It's easy.
7. Way cool that Jin's back. We will talk more about him next week