S.O.S. (S2, ep. 19)
Rose: You’ll be out of that splint and running around the island again in no time.
Locke: And yet, Jack said it would be at least 4 weeks.
Rose: But, honey, you and I both know it’s not going to take that long.
We all want to be healed. Whether we suffer from disease, from physical defect, from chemical imbalance, from mental imbalance, from psychological or spiritual malaise, from the weight of mundane, banal, imperious reality, all of us seek some kind of deliverance from the pain of living.
Where we go to find that deliverance says a lot about who we are as individuals, as well as how we view both ourselves and the world at large. What we worship defines us. As David Foster Wallace wrote, one of the best reasons to believe in God or the Eightfold Path or the Mother Goddess or some set of inviolate ethical principles is that the worship of pretty much anything else will eat us alive. Charlie sought deliverance through drug use and it nearly destroyed him. Kate sought deliverance through flight. Jack sought deliverance through work and alcohol. Sawyer, through violence.
Rose sought deliverance from her cancer through acceptance – acceptance of fate, of death, of the ineffable reality of existence – an acceptance born of faith. Bernard sought it through persistence – a dogged refusal to bow before daunting odds, a profoundly admirable humanism. Rose and Bernard: persistence and acceptance, black and white, dark and light, ideological twins that, when reconciled and united, can create the miraculous.
If the above reminds you of another Lost duo – Jack and Locke – then you and I are on the same thematic page, compadre. As we start the final lap of Season 2 one thing becomes increasingly clear through a fog of mysterious Buttons, cranky Monsters, bug-eyed, duplicitous Others and ominous apparitions: we will only transcend our individual limitations, our pain and fear and anger, through communion, through community, through reunification with The Other. It is humanity’s fate to repeat the same cycles over and again, but it is our choice to decide if we will plunge into the figurative jungle, pushing past the distracters, the tempters, the fraudulent visions, and meet each other on the other side of the Island to dissolve the black and the white into one another.
Everything That Rises Must Converge.
• The healing that Rose and Locke experience will not be extended to either Ben or Jack, both of whom suffer serious health issues that come close to killing them in episodes still to come. Both Rose and Locke are ‘believers’ – they have a faith that extends beyond the self. Neither Ben nor Jack appear to hold that sort of faith in anything. Is this significant?
• Ben continues to work his mind-screwing mojo on Locke. Not much from him this episode, but even when largely unseen and unheard Benjamin Linus leaves quite the impact. I worry that Michael Emerson’s career post-Lost will consist of a series of big Hollywood villain roles, all far less interesting than Benjamin Linus. But if he must be cast as the villain in something big n’ blockbustery, and Chris Nolan is reading this, Emerson would be a wonderful choice for The Riddler in any future Bat-installments.
• According to Lostpedia, Rose’s battle with cancer was in part inspired by the actress’ own life. L. Scott Caldwell, who plays Rose, lost her husband to the disease after a year’s struggling.
Bernard: Everybody on this island is building something. I’m trying to get us saved.
Eko: People are saved in different ways, Bernard.
Bernard: I think I liked you better when you just hit people with your stick. [he exits]
Charlie: I like you just the way you are.
In another echo of Season 5, Charlie appears to be regaining his peace and equilibrium through manual labor and construction, just as Sayid is shown doing in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.” And it’s worth noting that as Charlie has devoted himself to the task of constructing something he does not know or understand but trusts, his problems appear to be receding.
Rose: I didn’t ask for this! This is — Bernard, I have made my piece with what is happening to me.
Bernard: Well, I haven’t. I can’t just do nothing, Rose. That’s not me. That’s not who I am. I have to try. Will you try, Rose? For me.
“SOS” emphasizes the ways that Bernard and Rose compliment and contrast one another. Rose’s willingness to accept her condition is brave, even admirable, but so is Bernard’s determination. Without Bernard’s stubbornness Rose would have been stuck in the opening scene’s snow. She would not have married him. And she would not have ended up in the one place that appears able to gift her with renewed life. While Bernard’s bull-headedness is shown to comedic/alienating effect through most of the episode, it’s ultimately a boon to his wife, who would not be on the Island without Bernard’s persistence.
• Neil, aka “Frogurt,” gets several shout-outs in this episode – I believe this is the first time he’s officially brought up on the show.
Kate: I’m flattered.
Jack: Yeah, why is that?
Kate: Because you chose me to go with you instead of Sawyer.
Jack: I asked Sayid first but he turned me down. And I only asked you because they don’t want you. They grabbed you — had you at gunpoint. They could have kept you but they didn’t. Then again, they didn’t really want me, either.
Kate: Damaged goods, both of us.
Ain’t that the truth. Here’s what’s interesting to me on rewatch: both Kate and Jack have been touched by Jacob. You’d think that would make them desirable to the Others. But the Others don’t seem to care overmuch about either of them. Does this suggest that Jacob’s visitations to the castaways were not shared with Ben and his band of Merry Men?
• Jack and Kate get caught up in one of Rousseau’s many Island nets. Oh, the roiling sexual tension! Will it ever end?
…No it will not. Nor will the succession of increasingly-symbolic spaces in which Kate and her revolving-door-duo of Jack and Sawyer become trapped. The bear cages await!
Isaac: There are certain places with great energy — spots on the Earth like the one we’re above now. Perhaps this energy is geological — magnetic. Or perhaps it’s something else. And when possible I harness this energy and give it to others.
Bernard and Rose flew to Australia in order to visit with Isaac of Uluru, a healer. Bernard refuses to give up on his new wife despite Rose’s claim that she’s made her peace with what is happening to her. Just as in Claire’s first meeting with Richard Malkin, another Australian with professed ‘powers,’ Isaac appears to be disturbed by what he ‘reads’ in Rose. We have no way of knowing whether Isaac is a fraud or the real deal and the character has never reappeared.
• Isaac of Uluru derives his title from Ayers Rock/Uluru. Some interesting/potentially pertinent trivia about Ayers Rock./Uluru:
1) It is classified as an ‘inselberg,’ meaning ‘Island Mountain.’
2) The Aboriginal community has long held that Uluru rests directly over an energy pocket they call ‘Tjukurpa,’ or ‘the dream time.’ This sounds similar to the pocket of ‘unique’ electromagnetic energy within the Island.
3) The Aborigine believe that the ‘ghosts’ of their ancestors reside on Uluru, bringing to mind again the ‘ghosts’ on Lost’s Island.
4) Two separate tales about Uluru feature a serpent (see: Smokey) that acts as a distractor/tempter/invasive force. One of these myths involves the story of two warring tribes on Uluru, both of whose leaders are slain in battle.
5) Aboriginal belief in ‘Dreamtime/Dreaming’ involves the belief in two separate streams of time. There is the stream of daily activity and there is the stream of the Dreamtime. The Dreamtime/Dreaming is often referred to as an infinite, unending spiritual cycle. This spiritual belief/philosophy appears to embrace all other religions and beliefs within it, making a primal case for the idea (which I believe Lost shares) that all forms of belief emerge from the same basic human needs and desires.
• Rose’s flashback shows us that she’s known about Locke’s previous wheelchair-bound existence all along. This makes her the second person on the Island to know Locke’s secret – the first was Boone, who learned the truth in ‘Deux Ex Machina.’
Bernard: You don’t want to be rescued, do you? You think if you leave it’ll come back. And if you can’t leave, neither can I. We won’t ever leave Rose.
The above line, and Bernard’s delivery of it, ranks among my personal favorite moments from the show. All of Bernard’s bull-headed drive evaporates in the face of Rose’s unspoken desire. He lays his own faith at her feet, agreeing to commit the rest of his life to her, to the Island, to the only place where (so it would seem) they can be assured more than a year’s happiness together. Deeply moving stuff for me.
• Rose disappears for a while following “SOS” due to prior commitments. We won’t see her again until Season 3’s “Greatest Hits.” Bye, Rose!
Ana: I pressed your button.
Locke: It’s not my button.
Is it still your Hatch though, Locke?
• Locke makes the first steps toward skepticism following Ben’s (false?) claim that he never pressed The Button. It’s still not clear whether this is a positive or a negative development for Locke. There’s real value in the realization that not all things are worthy of veneration, of trust, of blind faith, but that’s not a lesson Locke seems to have learned overall. Instead, his feelings about the Hatch seem to be an outgrowth of the betrayal he’s felt at the hands of people like his father.
• As the episode comes to a close, Michael returns. I haven’t missed him in the slightest, to be frank. I’m looking forward to the way in which his character helps bring us further in to the Others’ camp but now more than ever I’m glad that Michael’s tenure isn’t lasting much longer. Sorry, Mike. Loved you in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, though.
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Missed a column? Catch up here:
• Dave (S2 ep. 18)
• Lockdown (S2 ep. 17)
• The Whole Truth (S2 ep. 16)
• Maternity Leave (S2 ep. 15)
• One of Them (S2 ep. 14)
• The Long Con (S2 ep. 13)
• Fire + Water (S2 ep. 12)
• The Hunting Party (S2 ep 11)
• The 23rd Psalm (S2, ep. 10)
• What Kate Did (S2, ep. 9)
• Collision (S2, ep. 8)
• The Other 48 Days (S2, ep. 7)