Three Minutes (S2, ep. 22)
“L’enfer, c’est les autres” (Hell is Others/other people) – Sartre
Michael: “I hear you’re a priest.”
Michael: “I guess you believe in hell, then.”
Eko: “For a brief time I served in a small parish in England. Every Sunday after Mass, I would see a young boy waiting in the back of the church. And then one day, the boy confessed to me that he had beaten his dog to death with a shovel. He said that the dog had bitten his baby sister on the cheek and he needed to protect her. He wanted to know whether he would go to hell for this. I told him that God would understand — that he would be forgiven as long as he was sorry. But the boy did not care about forgiveness. He was only afraid that, if he did go to hell, that dog would be there waiting for him.”
• I’ve got to get my ass in gear. It’s the beginning of October and we’re just about finished with Season 2 of Lost. Still plenty of time to cover the remaining episodes before Season 6 starts in (I assume) mid-January but I intend to start cranking these columns out at a faster pace. Onward!
• Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” seems to be the literary/philosophical touchstone of this episode and, more generally, a touchstone for the series as a whole. The original title for “No Exit” at the time that Sartre first published it in French was “In Camera” (note that this title ties nicely into last episode’s revelation that the Swan inhabitants are being recorded via camera).
• Sartre’s play (which you should read right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait – it’s available to buy through Chud’s Amazon.com link) was meant to help illustrate his ideas about
Existentialism. Sartre felt philosophical ideas were most effectively expressed in fiction, a notion Lost appears to have taken to heart. “No Exit” concerns a trio of people who have been mysteriously confined to a windowless room. It becomes clear that all three people are dead and that they expect to be tortured for their transgressions. Instead, they metaphorically torture one another – examining each others’ sins, weaknesses and desires. Depending on your analytical perspective, the room can be seen as hell (see Sartre’s famous quote from the play, posted above) or as purgatory.
The story of this trio mirrors the story of Lost’s survivors – people mysteriously confined to an Island (or, on another level, to a Hatch) where they examine their own sins, weaknesses and desires as well as those of their fellow castaways. Purgatory was a popular theory in the “What is the Island” guessing game, and while the show’s creators have denied that the Island is literally the Catholic conception of purgatory, it certainly functions that way in a metaphorical sense. I guess you could say that Sartre is the heroin in this episode’s Virgin Mary statue.
Lost has circled these ideas all season and it will continue to emphasize them going forward. The castaways are trapped, forced to exist together, confronted by ghosts both literal and figurative that lay bare the sins and desperations of their group. There may be “No Exit” from the Island but more importantly there’s no egress from each other.
• Eko’s heartwarming story of a boy who murders his dog with a shovel comes close to spelling out the show’s interest in Sartre’s No Exit-y ideas in BIG BLOCKY CAPITAL LETTERS. Eko’s tale is a version of Sartre’s play in miniature, showing the boy less concerned over abstract conceptions of divine wrath than with having to face the judgment of the animal he killed.
Sartre neglected to mention whether there would be dogs in hell/purgatory, but we all know that there’s at least one hell-mutt running around the Island – namely Vincent, the Canine Harbinger of DOOM.
And what is our favorite disaster-auguring Golden Retriever up to these days? Why, he’s hanging out with double-homicidal Michael of course. That is, when he’s not cheerfully fetching heroin for Charlie:
• Is that Ayers Rock in the background there at the Hatch? You’ll recall Ayers/Uluru was featured in “S.O.S.” (see the Rewatch column for that episode here) and shares a few tentative similarities with the Island. I can’t find another screen shot showing this photo – maybe one of you out there can help me out. Is there a photo of Ayers Rock in the Hatch?
• This episode marks the debut of another Other – Danny Pickett. Pickett is played by Michael Bowen, also known as Buck in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and as Sheriff Stan Watkins in the agreeably goofy remake of Walking Tall. In other words, Bowen specializes in playing raging assholes. He’s very good at his job.
• Charlie continues his slow-build campaign to win back Claire’s trust by giving her vaccine from the air-drop palette. There’s still no indication what this vaccine was intended to do (and clearly it had some purpose, whether psychological or physiological – maybe it was meant to keep Dharma workers from seeing ‘ghosts’?) but I’m hoping that we’re given some kind of answer to this question. It’s really going to bother me if they don’t address it at all.
• This episode’s structure twists the timeline of events so that the audience participates in the act of folding back on events we’ve already seen, giving us a different and/or new perspective on recent events. This is a neat technique, and its one that the show seems to have enjoyed deploying in Season 2 (see the first three episodes and the way in which they fold back in on themselves). More than that, it foreshadows the idea that the narrative itself is going to fold back in on itself as the castaways travel back into the Island’s past. Seeing how Mr. Friendly, Pickett and Alex set up the jungle ambush from “The Hunting Party” is a fun way to reveal a little more about the Others and give us a little more information about what’s been happening, and why.
• “Grape Ape.” Sawyer’s best-ever nickname for Hurley? Discuss.
• We get a good look at the rock with the “giant HOLE” in it as the Others lead Michael to their faux-camp. If memory serves, this is the first potentially ‘ancient’ structure we’ve seen so far on the show – what looks like a rudimentary building wall with a crude window. Given where its positioned, I’d guess that it was either a home or some form of look-out/lighthouse at some point in the distant past.
• Pickett takes a sample of Michael’s blood – I don’t know that the purpose of this has ever been explained. To confirm paternity? To test for genetic abnormalities?
Ms. Klugh: Did Walt ever appear in a place he wasn’t supposed to be? You say he was half way around the world — did you see him?
• Ms. Klugh, who we meet in this episode, may be the most eye-rollingly named of all the Others. She’s played by April Grace, who was quietly judged by Tom Cruise in “Magnolia.”
We get some juicy mythology-related hints during Michael’s time with Ms. Klugh. Klugh asks him if Walt is his biological son (something they should be able to confirm via the blood sample), and whether Walt was ever sick as a child – whether he had illnesses, experienced fainting spells or headaches. She also asks Michael about Walt’s curious tendency to appear in places he should not be.
All of this seems to suggest that the Walt we saw appear to Shannon and Sayid was actually Walt, not some creepy Island apparition/Archon. I’m not sure then, what to make of the Walt who will appear to an injured John a little later down the line.
As for what Walt’s apparent abilities might be, I’m still largely in the dark about their significance though it would seem that they include summoning things to him and projecting himself (whether physically or otherwise) to different places. When we reach the ‘mobisodes’ included on the S4 DVD we’ll talk about what we learn there, because with a few small exceptions this marks the last we’ll learn of Walt’s Mutant Powers.
Charlie: Bloody hell.
• I really like the way that Eko’s church-building attempt has been used over the course of the season. Leaving aside any specific religious purpose, the building of a church has always meant the formation of community. Simply building the physical structure requires more than one person to accomplish effectively, and once built its purpose is to bring people together under one roof for the purpose of union. Watching Charlie struggling alone to complete Eko’s project seems like a fitting commentary on the nature and importance of community.
It’s hopeful-feeling all over again as we watch Charlie willingly and willfully pitch the entirety of Sawyer’s heroin stash into the ocean. Once again Charlie has chosen to tackle life without the debilitating SmackMonkey chattering away on his back. It’s a nice touch that Locke seems to regain the use of his leg – or at the least a desire to start walking without the aid of his brace – after he watches Charlie renew his vow of sobriety. In Season 1 he helped Charlie to cast off what was holding him back and keeping him crippled. Charlie’s present here as Locke does the same thing (In Locke’s case, the heroin was the Hatch).
• Sawyer and Jack’s moment among the guns recalls their bonding moment at the end of Season 1. Hearing Sawyer admit that Jack is the closest thing he has to a friend drives home the idea that the people on this Island are, in their fallible ways, striving to connect. They are attempting to take their tenure in Purgatory’s Grand Hotel and use it to transcend their pasts; something that, it has been suggested, was the ultimate point of Sartre’s play – that we can choose to render our surroundings a paradise or a prison, dependent upon how we choose to relate to those we’re trapped in this world with and how honestly we evaluate ourselves. Sartre was right – it’s a lot easier to digest a bunch this stuff if it comes wrapped in Sawyer’s endlessly great dialogue. “At least now we get to kill somebody” makes any philosophical pill easier to swallow.
• Walt reappears for the first time since Shannon was shot toward the beginning of this season. The show does a good job of trying to hide it, but its obvious here that Walt is growing quickly – the oversized shirt they dress him in for his scene does a good job of hiding that fact.
• Ms. Klugh allows Michael to visit with Walt for three minutes. In an episode that references “No Exit” I’m wondering if that number was chosen on purpose.
• Speaking of sinister rooms, Ms. Klugh tells Walt that if he doesn’t behave she’ll put him back in ‘the room.’ I think this is a reference to Room 23, which we’ll see next season.
Ms. Klugh: I’m writing four names down — four of your friends. We need you to bring them here. You have to bring only these four people, Michael. Just them. If you don’t bring all the people on the list you’ll never see Walt again.
• I get that they need Jack for spinal surgery reasons. And I get that they need Kate around as potential motivation for Jack. I’m not clear from memory on why the Others would want Sawyer or Hurley though and my brain isn’t helping me out. Is it because they’re known to be among the group that will eventually travel back in time? That would make sense (in a very weird, Lost-ian way). Does this list serve the same basic function/purpose as the list Goodwin created?
Sayid: I think Michael has been compromised.
God, I love Sayid. So endlessly badass and conflicted. Despite his penchant for bamboo manicures and merciless beatings, our resident Iraqi has apparently-unerring truth radar. We know that Michael is a traitor, and now the characters know. The way that this episode ratchets up the tension for the finale is stirring stuff, and it has me eagerly awaiting the chance to watch it all go down. Especially since…
SUN: Boat. Boat!
I’m sure I wasn’t the only person knocked bass-ackwards by the sudden appearance of a sailboat at the end of this episode when it first aired. One of Lost’s more immediate strengths is its facility with the last-minute audience suckerpunch. Just as we’ve relaxed into a scene of funereal grief, up pops the very thing the castaways have been longing to see for two seasons. Welcome back, Desmond!
Oh, hey, by the way…
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Missed a column? Catch up here:
• ? (S2 ep. 21)
• Two for The Road (S2 ep. 20)
• S.O.S. (S2 ep. 19)
• 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)