Namaste, y'all! Wednesday's episode of Lost sheds new light on how Ben convinced the Oceanic 6 — or at least part of it — to return to the island and how Locke came to his fatal decision to assist in that very same mission. We see how Jin flashed his way back to a reunion with his fellow Lostaways. Oh, and somebody dies!
THE HARD SELL
Ben has his work cut out for him with the fussy Oceanic 6, as Jack appears to be the only one who's really on board with his plan to go back to Funhouse Island. For her part, Sun has pulled a gun on Ben out at the Long Beach marina, just seconds from offing him because she believes he caused Jin's death. Kate screeches off with Aaron when she finds out that Ben is the source of her recent legal trouble. Sayid similarly beats feet, as he doesn't want any part of Ben's plan.
But! Ben has proof that Jin is alive, and if Sun gives him 30 minutes, he'll show her that proof. But first, they have to go see a person who's going to show them how to get back to the island. Sun agrees, but her trigger finger is no less itchy. On the way, Jack says if Ben is lying, Jack will kill him himself, which sends Michael Emerson into a signature tizzy in which he affirms that he's the good guy and that he has done so much to help them, blahblahblah. At this point, I've reversed my position on Ben so many times, my nose is bleeding. By the episode's end, this little speech is cast in a much different light, so I have good reason not to trust him, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The motley trio arrives at Mrs. Hawking's church/house/cult headquarters in a van labeled Canton-Rainier (which is an anagram for "reincarnation," by the way). Ben gives Sun Jin's wedding ring, which he says John gave to him. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but in terms of rock-solid proof that Jin is still alive, this is a little iffy, no? Anyhow, it's sufficient for Sun, who is a little more receptive to Ben's "go baaaack!" pitch this time.
But hey now, here's Desmond! "You're looking for Faraday's mother too?" he asks them, which gets a particularly interesting reaction shot from Ben. It didn't seem like he knew, right? Inside is our beloved Eloise Hawking, who amusingly berates Ben for not bringing all of them, but seems OK with it when Ben says it was all he could get on short notice. "I suppose this will have to do for now," she purrs. "Let's get started." So as the group gets fitted for their own creepy cloaks, let's flash back to this week's significant island-based developments, shall we? Hold on to your noses!
JIN NE SAIS QUOI
Jin quickly discovers that it's 1988, and that one of his French rescuers is a young Danielle Rousseau. His disorientation is justified. Naturally, his thoughts are of Sun's welfare. "I need... go find my camp," he pleads. He asks if they've seen a helicopter. "First a boat. Then a helicopter. Next thing you know he'll be talking about a submarine," says one of the Frenchmen in subtitles, which is a pretty random thing for him to have said, considering at one point there was a submarine on the island. Do they know more about the island that they're letting on? Rousseau & Co. agree to help him find his camp, but not before he helps them find the radio tower, from which they can send out Danielle's ominous broadcast.
Along the way, someone gets thirsty, which is unfortunate because, you see, Nadine has the canteen, but... where's Nadine? I actually don't even remember seeing another woman in their party, do you? Well, it doesn't really matter because it's at that moment that they hear "the monster" and see all those weird explosions from the ground like we haven't seen since Seasons 1 and 2. A mort Nadine falls from the sky, and Smokey shows up to drag the blond Frenchman into one of his underground pits. They grab his arm and attempt to save him from the monster's plant-like tendrils, but to no avail. His arm comes off doll-like, and he gets dragged away. In a decision as misguided as "hey, let's do an episode about Nikki and Paolo," they decide to go into the pit after him, which Jin, who knows from island-based monster life forms, strongly advises against.
It's at this moment that Jin and Danielle have a sweet exchange about her staying behind because of the baby, and I'm left wondering: Did Danielle ever remember Jin? Or was she already too deep-woods crazy for such slippery details? But there's no time for pondering now, as Jin says au revoir to Danielle with a flash.
He's alone, standing amidst ruins that I don't remember seeing there before. He sees the decomposing arm of the blond guy, grabs a little hydration off a giant jungle leaf and makes his way to a beach. A forlorn jewelry box plays a sad melody as Jin discovers — sacre bleu! — two dead, bearded French guys who kind of stink. He also soon comes upon the source of their deadness, as Danielle and her beau, Robert, are in some sort of Mexican stand-off, rifles drawn. She says he isn't Robert, that he's sick; he attempts to explain. "It's not a monster; it's a security system guarding that temple," he says in subtitles. For a moment, she touches her pregnant belly and appears to thaw a bit, but when he pulls the trigger on his gun and misfires, she shoots him dead.
Now featuring the signature crazy eyes we know and love from Mira Furlan's sympathetic portrayal of older Danielle, young Danielle (by the way, this Melissa Farman is quite an actress too — hmmmm, same initials, weird) quickly whirls on Jin and aims. "You disappeared! You're sick too; you're a carrier," she shrieks. Just as she's about to make the newly alive Jin not so, there's a flash and...
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
Sort of. Rose?! Bernard?! Where are you?! It's like that episode of The Brady Bunch where Bobby and Cindy get lost in the Grand Canyon, except I'm the only one calling, and there are no friendly native people to give them cute nicknames.
Ahem. So Jin has another gun pointed at him, but this time it's Sawyer's! Hooray! It's reunion time, and for a brief second, things are happy on Funhouse Island. Daniel surmises that he was blown within the radius. Jin has a lot of questions obviously. In his excitement, he lapses into Korean and asks someone to translate. Everyone racistly assumes he means Miles — "He's Korean; I'm from Encino," Miles snarks — but as we already know, Charlotte is somewhat of a linguist.
Jin wants to know how Locke is sure that Sun made it off the island. Locke non-explains that he just knows — frustrating! — and that she never should have left. So, even though I know he's right, I find myself wondering why Locke hasn't faced more resistance in his quest to get to the Orchid.
It's then that we learn that Charlotte also speaks Klingon, a funny detail sure to fuel many the dirty-dirty fantasy of Trekker viewers everywhere. But like the hits on Wolfman Jack's radio show, the flashes keep on comin'! Two in a row, and Charlotte collapses again. She tells Jin, in Korean, not to let them bring her back, no matter what. Why's that, Charlotte? "This place is death," she cries, thus rendering moot my frustrating, fruitless Google searches earlier today. (It's just a line in the episode, stupid.) We'll contemplate the possibly wide-ranging implications of that statement later, but for now, let's hear what else Charlotte has to say. Because she has a lot to say.
HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE
Unstuckintime-itis presents a new symptom: Charlotte is talking like a little kid, much like Faraday's former squeeze back in Oxford. "Why can't Daddy come with us?" she non-sequiturs. Is it bad to point out how amusing all these asides were? To wit: "You know what my mum would say about me marrying an American." "I know more about ancient Carthage than Hannibal himself." "Turn it up, I love Geronimo Jackson." (Which, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that one of the albums found in Desmond's hatch way back in the day?)
Another flash (I'm losing track of them in the narrative now, but there were a lot), and the group decides to leave Charlotte behind; Daniel stays with her. But, before they part ways, they realize that they don't know when they are, thus the Orchid might not yet even exist. "Look for the well; you'll find it at the well," says Charlotte, in a helpful moment of clarity.
While the others are off finding said well (see below), Charlotte unleashes a monologue that answers almost all of the questions we've ever had about her character. She's remembering things. It turns out she grew up on the island as part of the Dharma Initiative, but left with her mum, who tried to get young Charlotte to forget it ever existed. "That's why I became an anthropologist, to find this island again," she exposits. "That's what I've been searching for my whole life." It's kind of sad, seeing as she's in the process of bleeding out. But before we shed a tear, wait, there's more!
"Why are you telling me this?" Daniel asks, and you expect her response to be something like "Because I'm dying" or "Because I love you." But no, this is Lost, so this brief, googly-eyed respite is not about romance; it's about information, damn it. Spill it, Charlotte, quick, before the thump! Here goes: When she was little, a scary, crazy man told her she had to leave the island and to never ever come back — or else she'd die. "Daniel, I think that man was you," she says. Thump! Well done, Charlotte!
Daniel tells her that he told Desmond to go find his mother, who will help them. But before Charlotte can get her mind around this really weird revelation, she's gone again. "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner," she squeaks. And then she appears to die. Well done, Rebecca Mader, who has really done some fine work on Lost. I'm guessing that even though Charlotte is dead (she is, right?) we haven't seen the last of her because, I mean, we still don't know why she speaks Korean. Maybe she'll pop up in a Sun or Jin flashback?
TRY NOT TO THINK OF TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY
After what appears to be a very brief hike, Locke, Jin, Juliet, Miles and Sawyer find the Orchid. "What are the odds that we'd end up here at the same time as this thing?" Juliet says. Ha! Guess what? There's a flash, and then it disappears. "You just had to say something," Sawyer grumbles. But that's OK, they find the olde-tymey wishing well (wish my love a wishing well/to kiss and tell — aargh!) to which Charlotte referred.
"How the hell did Charlotte know this is here?" asks Miles, because he isn't reading my recap. No matter: Locke is going in. As he says curt goodbyes, Jin — who knows a thing or two about not descending into dark, island-based pits this week — threatens to cut the rope. "This island is bad," he says. He doesn't want his wife and daughter to return. Locke promises not to contact Sun, but says that she might find him. "You tell her I'm dead. You buried me. Take the ring," he says. Fair enough! So down he goes, but — good gravy! — there's another flash, and when Juliet, Jin, Sawyer and Miles come to, the rope that formerly went down the well now ends at solid ground. "We can't help him," Juliet says gravely.
SIXTY FEET UNDER
Meanwhile, underground, Locke has fallen to the bottom of the now-sealed-in well, in the dark, and has some sort of spike sticking out of his leg. Boy, those appendages of his just can't catch a break, can they? Just as things look really grim (and that's saying something on this show...), Christian arrives. "I'm here to help you the rest of the way," he reports. Christian scolds John for not following his instructions: He told Locke that he had to move the island, not Ben. When John explains that Ben said he had to stay behind and lead his people, Christian gives this enlightening reply: "Since when did listening to him get you anywhere worth a damn?" Oy. Good guy, bad guy — who knows?
But there's good news! Christian tells him he just has to give the ol' donkey wheel a little shove, that it has slipped off its axis (will this also stop the flashes?), and then see Eloise Hawking in Los Angeles, who will tell him how exactly to get himself — and all the others — back to the island. He also confirms Richard's mandate that he's going to have to die in the process. So maybe that's not exactly good news.
"Can you help me up?" Locke asks. "No, sorry, I can't," Christian replies (because he's a ghost?). As the wheel turns and the screen fades to white, Christian says, "Good luck, John... say hello to my son." "Who's your son?" Locke asks, but there's the flash to end all flashes, and the episode ends. Thump.
So, what did you think of "This Place Is Death"? Did we get enough of Danielle's backstory or do you think there is still more to tell? Do you think Locke stopped the flashes? Is it too late for Charlotte? What will that mean for the narrative structure of the remainder of the series? Will we see the return of flashbacks and flash-forwards? How soon before we see the Oceanic 6 return? And do you miss Rose and Bernard as much as I do? I worry about them.