316 was easily the best episode of the season thus far, and personally one of my favorite episodes ever. We see that Locke gets new pants (and shoes). Jack's "science" finally gives in to "faith." And Jin's driving that stupid Dharma VW Bus around the island.
Exhibit A- The new Dharma station The Lamp Post. Also a landmark from Lewis's Lion, Witch, Wardrobe by which the children gauge their own relation to the area that exists between their world and the world of Narnia.
Exhibit B- The theme of "windows" of time/space that allow one to jump between worlds is straight out of the Narnia tales as well.
Exhibit C- Ben's explanation of the Doubting Thomas story to Jack (which was also CS Lewis's nickname among his close friends) hints at Lewis's own conversion story. He was a brilliant atheist and academic who for many years simply could not get his "mind around" the idea of a loving God, of a savior named Jesus, of miracles that couldn't be explained by science. Things changed for both Jack's.
But let's get to the story and more on this later.
Hurley is found in the same lagoon where Kate found the Marshall's briefcase and Nikki/Paulo found their diamonds. He's clutching to a Charlie-inspired guitar case, something we will find out later was needed to help re-create as much of the original Flight 815 crash as possible. Kate is laying near-by looking like she got up (and out) on the wrong side of the plane, and we learn that they are "back" on our favorite island. Now some might say "But why did they tell us so quickly that at least 3 of them got back to the island?" To this I would respond with, "Have you ever watched LOST?" They love this style of story-telling and all it means is that we'll find out more and more exciting pieces of information about HOW and WHY the return happened as it did. The writers are simply letting us know that the fact they did make it back isn't as important as the story that surrounds the event itself.
Next we are led by Ms. Hawking to an under-church Dharma station called the Lamp Post that Ms. Hawking has revealed to be the place that Dharma originally located the island from. The island, she says, is always moving and a "very smart man" developed equations to locate where the island was "going to be" in time. We see pictures from the US Military that are labeled "top secret" so we can assume that either the US Military and Dharma (working together) knew about the island and was in fact involved with locating and going to it....or that Dharma took that info from the government when they started off on their own island plans. What a great line from Ms. Hawking and reaction from Ben when Jack asks her if Ben is lying about knowing about the Lamp Post prior to that day and she says "Probably."
Desmond Hume tells Jack and the others present not to listen to Eloise and despite being warned that the island "is not finished with you yet, Desmond", he bolts. Something tells me we'll see him again real soon, and he won't be happy. David Hume, the philosopher, was a big promoter of determinism and the idea that things are out of our control in this life. Our Hume seems to be breaking with his namesake somewhat and maybe taking some of Faraday's advice that Dez is "special" and that "the rules don't apply" to him.
Moving right along, Jack is told that Locke died to serve as a proxy for their return to the island and that Jack would need to get something of his father's to put on Locke to, again, re-create the original plan crash (with a Christian Shepard in-tow). Doubting Jack, for the first time in a long time, is ready to begin accepting some of the mysteries and miracles that have surrounded him all along. The Man of Science is being forced to see that the Man of Faith had some legitimate points all along. After being called to his grandpa's retirement home and finding a random pair of his dad's shoes before the flight, Jack settles it in his mind that he is ready to take that "leap of faith" Ms. Hawking talked about.
The scene with Ben and Jack in the church was all I could ever hope for in a show like this (and more). I won't break down what they said too much because it was pretty clear from their words alone. But as a Man of Faith myself, it did my heart good to hear in such clear and honest dialogue the story of Thomas the Apostle told to a man (Jack) who has doubted himself (and the craziness surrounding the crash and their time on the island) the entire time. We all lose faith. We all struggle and doubt and worry and suffer. But, as Ben said, I believe we all too are faced from time to time with the reality that there IS something bigger out there. That our lives do have a purpose and that miracles do indeed occur. Now what we do with those profound realizations differs, and some choose to ignore it and to not "get on the plane" as it were. But Jack can't ignore what he's known for some time any longer.
The pieces of the puzzle begin to fall in to place after Jack is instructed by Ms. Hawking. Kate shows up looking like a mess at Jack's apartment and says she's in for an Island Reunion Tour, so long as Jack NEVER asks about Aaron. Someone got to Kate. Maybe she gave him up for adoption or put him in a basket made of reeds and floated him on the Nile for Pharaoh's daughter to find him. Whatever happened, Kate looks pretty shook up about it. She also looks like she's on , which if true, is perhaps in order to play the part of Charlie as the addict on the plane.
Ben calls Jack from the docks covered in and with a bum wing to ask him to pick up Locke's body at Simon's Butcher Shop. Before Ben left Jack at the church he said he was off to tie up a loose end regarding a "promise to an old friend." The safe bet is that this will be in reference to Ben's threat to his old "friend" Widmore, the one where he promised to kill Penny his daughter. This might make even more sense since he called Jack from the docks where Penny's boat would be. We aren't really given any more clues than these in this episode.
Jack picks up Locke's body, puts hid dad's shoes on him, and leaves Locke's in the casket with the smiling bald man. At the airport Jack has to admit to being a "friend" of John's, which was a call-back to the end of Season Three when at the funeral parlor Jack was asked if he was "friend or family" of Locke's. Sayid is brought in hand-cuffed while Jack is talking to the ticket agent of Aijira Airways and Sun, Kate and Hurley are both in the terminal as well. Jack is shocked by the fact that everyone showed up, and even starts to sound like a Man of Faith when he says to Kate on the plane something to the effect of, "Doesn't it mean something that all these people are here on this plane?" Heck, even good old Frank Lapidus is the pilot.
Locke's note finds its way back to Jack who, after given a pep talk by Ben, reads it. John says simply "I wish you had believed me." In the story of Doubting Thomas in the Bible, Christ tells those present after Thomas felt the wounds of Christ for himself that those who believe and did not have to see are "blessed." Jesus had just died and risen from the grave for the sins of mankind and many after that point would believe having never had to see the risen Lord in person. I felt like Locke was saying the same type of thing to Jack here: "I'm glad you are at this point of bringing us back to the island, but I wish I didn't have to die for you guys and that you had just believed from the start."
The white light eventually engulfs the plane and we see Jack/Kate/Hurley back in the lagoon from the opening sequence of the episode. This time, however, it is pointed out that the plane itself is nowhere to be found and that no other survivors are with them. But it is here, before the three of them go out searching for wreckage and survivors, that Big Daddy Jin rolls up in the VW bus and points his Dharma-wearing rifle at the soaked trio. Very interesting....
-Jin, Sawyer, Faraday, Miles, and Juliet got stuck in the 1970's Dharma world after Locke turned the frozen donkey wheel last week. They waited for rescue but eventually decided to infiltrate the Dharma people to find a way to speed up the "getting help" process. That is why we saw Faraday down in the Orchid to start this season. He was trying to find out more about the wheel's time-traveling powers. Assuming his life would be lived on the island, Jin enlisted as a worker as well and was given a van and gun.
-The Island brought Jack and the Gang back to this specific time period for a reason, and I think that reason is to bring Dharma down. To "purge" them, or help set a chain of events in motion that would eventually bring Dharma down.
-This week's episode is entitled "The Life and of Jeremy Bentham". Sounds boring. I wish they'd do more about the dynamics of Hurley's relationship with his dad while they build an old sports car together.
-Kate found the family that Aaron was originally supposed to be adopted by when Claire was flying to Los Angeles. She gave them Aaron and is torn up by that decision after raising the kid for three years on her own and becoming understandably attached. The visions of Claire telling her not to "bring him back" were too much for our forlorn fugitive gal.
-Ben was covered in either because of the Penny theory I stated above, or because he was doing something to set Sayid up for a crime that would somehow warrant his being arrested and on the plane with what appears to be a Marshall (like Kate's situation in Season One).
-The book Ben was reading, Ulysses, is a famous novel by James Joyce that has many parallels to Homer's Odyssey. Here is a fantastic article by Doc Jensen over at Entertainment Weekly about the episode and specifically regarding the placement of this novel in the episode.
-Jack's dad was wearing White shoes when the plane crashed the first time. Locke is wearing black ones. (And NEW PANTS!!!) Backgammon, anyone?
-The "smart man" who developed the Lamp Post equipment might be Faraday in the past. I'm sure there are plenty of loopholes as to why this cannot be, so please tell me why I'm wrong. Seriously. Please do.
I have more to say about this episode, but I'm too busy and sweaty to fit it all in this week. Enjoy the new episode Wed night and feel free as always to post more questions/comments on the blog here below.
John Locke's Dress Pants