Further Instructions (S3, ep. 3)

“Further Instructions” revolves around the revealed fates of the Swan-survivors: Eko, Locke, Charlie and Desmond, and it underlines with greater emphasis the essential mystery of the Island and it’s ‘ghosts.’ Should we trust the Boone-apparition that Locke summons via his makeshift-Sweat lodge? My money’s on ‘No.’

Thoughts:

• John awakens in the jungle in a mirror-image of the way that Jack awoke in Lost’s first episode. Instead of seeing Vincent, he sees Desmond running by, naked as a jaybird.

• Claire asks Charlie to find out what happened to John. Charlie, who now acknowledges that something in fact did happen in the Hatch, is still curiously nonplussed by it all. His whole attitude continues to strike me as strangely flip and nonchalant, considering what’s happened.

• John has gone mute after the implosion, which leads him to believe that he needs to commune/communicate with the Island. So he builds a sweat lodge. Charlie’s attitude begins to make more sense, really, when you realize how batshit-insane that all sounds.

• I love how, whenever people chat at the camp, someone’s always building/rigging/fixing something. At the rate these people construct structures, I’m surprised there isn’t a “Gilligan’s Island”-style Restaurant/Bar for the Harlem Globetrotters to pop into once in a while.

• This episode’s flashback takes us trippin’ back to John’s days as a marijuana grower/hippie commune-dweller. Eddie, the kid he picks up, is played by Justin Chatwin, who played Tom Cruise’s son in War of the Worlds, as well as “Goku” in something called a Dragonball movie. I’m exceedingly happy not knowing what that is, or why he looks like this in it:

• The way that Eddie uses John to infiltrate the compound directly foreshadows the way he’ll be used to infiltrate the Others in Season 5 as Trojan-Locke. If we assume that the Boone we see here is another projection of the MiB/Island, then both the flashback and the on-Island story in this episode are telling the same tale: Locke, reaching out and needing connection, fooled into trusting someone who wants to use him.

• Charlie’s Altered States reference is great.

• I think the LSD-gourd gunk that John uses here is the same kind of psychotropic paste he used to ‘help’ Boone ‘see’ in Season 1. It’s fitting then, that when he uses it, Boone appears to him.

Boone: “Hi, John. It’s good to see you again. What’s that, John? Oh, you’re sorry. That’s okay. I was the sacrifice the island demanded. Don’t worry – you’ll speak when you have something worth saying. I’m here to help you find your way again, so you can bring the family back together. Come on, I want to show you something.”

• John believes that he’s talking with some aspect of the Island when he’s visited by Boone and that might be the truth – I’ve suggested that the ‘Man In Black’ we saw in the Season 5 finale may be a manifestation of the Island itself, along with all the other ‘ghosts’ we’ve seen so far; that the Island is analogous to Solaris, the titular planet in Stanislaw Lem’s novel. Regardless, I do think it’s the MiB he’s talking to here.  Boone’s attitude comes off to me as slightly mocking, goading, and it doesn’t surprise me that in order to follow ‘Boone’ in his vision John needs to climb back into a wheelchair – symbolically prostrating himself and/or ‘crippling’ himself to be guided along by the force he’s communicating with.

• As Boone wheels Locke around a Lynchian version of LAX, John points to Charlie, Claire and Aaron and we’re told they’ll be fine ‘for awhile,’ which foreshadows the dark fates that Charlie and Claire have waiting for them. It seems as though Aaron is still safe, but I suspect that we’re not done with him, and that, as some have suggested, Jacob may end up being revealed somehow as an adult Aaron. “Forget it – he’s helping himself” may, and probably does, mean that Desmond’s primary goal is to leave and find Penny. Boone tells John that “There’s nothing you can do for them – not yet. First you have to clean up your own mess,” while watching Jack, Sawyer and Kate getting scanned and processed by the Others.

• There’s a recurring motif in John’s visions that seems worth pointing out, either because it illustrates some potential deeper meaning, or because it simply identifies a pattern that the show’s writers have been utilizing. In “Deux Ex Machina,” “?” and “Further Instructions, the force that’s guiding John compels him (or, as in Deux ex Machina, gets him to compel someone else) to climb to a higher elevation in order to receive whatever “wisdom” the Island is looking to bestow. Thinking on this made me remember the way in which Christian refuses to help Locke to the frozen wheel at the end of Season 4.

• Boone wants John to rescue Eko and implying, I think, that Eko is still important to the MiB’s plans. All of this makes me think that before the actor playing Eko demanded to be let off of the show, he and Locke were meant to fulfill the roles that Locke and Ben ended up filling in the Season 5 finale. Had Eko stayed in the cast I suspect that Locke would have gone on to play the disillusioned Judas to Jacob, distraught  over a lifetime of pain and suffering to no apparent end, and that Eko would have been the malevolent specter goading him on.


POLAR BEAR IN YOUR FACE!

Jesus, I’d forgotten all about that. I jumped, I’ll admit it.

Mike: “So, you like Geronimo Jackson, huh?”
Eddie: “Uh, yeah, yeah, they’re alright. It’s one of my dad’s old shirts.”
Mike: “Your dad has excellent taste.”

• Eddie is wearing a Geronimo Jackson t-shirt during Locke’s flashback, and this is at least the 4th time that the group has been referenced over the course of the show so far. If G. Jackson is just a quirky, throwaway detail it’s done with enough specificity to make it fun and natural. If Geronimo Jackson ends up somehow being important to Lost’s storyline in Season 6 (and I’ve suggested, apropos of not-that-much, that Charlie may somehow be involved in the group thanks to the Island’s kooky ‘special properties,’ the detonation of an A-bomb, and all that time travel last season) then the show will once again have shown how patient it can be in building up its story (see also: the way Widmore’s name is slowly introduced over the course of Season 2, and how his power and influence are indirectly suggested secondhand before we finally meet him in the finale).

• I’d guess that Mike introduces Eddie at the dinner table so that the community’s alerted to the fact that there’s a stranger in their midst, but we never see anything but apparent warmth for Locke in the scene. John seems genuinely loved in his community. Both Mike and Jan seem to hold real affection for Locke until he brings their world crashing down. It makes sense that the Sweat Lodge would be something that Locke would hold onto in his mind – a good memory of that place before it all went sour.

• Locke’s hippie apple orchard/commune is in Humboldt county – supposedly the weed capitol of California. I’m betting that Lost’s writers regularly enjoy the fruits of Humboldt’s labor.

• If the Hatch imploded, it makes little sense that John, Charlie, Eko and Desmond are alive. If anything, all four of them should have been sucked into the ground along with the 70’s music collection and the washer dryer combo. Instead, all of them appeared scattered in the jungle. What it reminds me of: the way in which Jack, Hurley and Kate were removed from the Ajira flight in a sudden wash of white light.

Great Charlie Line: “They’re like the Einsteins of the bear community.”

• John almost hitting Hurley with the knife is priceless.

Locke: “I’m going in there because I’m supposed to go in there.”

Are you, John? Are you going in because you’re ‘supposed’ to, or because you were told to? Because you’re tentatively trying again to connect to something outside yourself, and so eager to please that you don’t question your willingness to subsume your identity into something you don’t understand at all?

HURLEY: So, like, the hatch blew off your underwear?

• I’m assuming that there’s a reason why Desmond’s clothes have wandered off, a reason why he’s the only one of the four Swan-survivors to wake up in his Scottish Birthday Suit. It’s interesting that Desmond looks a little like a prophet in his oversized tie-dye.

• Locke finds a toy truck in the bear cave. Creepy, and (as far as I know) never explained. He also finds the skeleton of a Dharma Pearl employee.

• Hurley points out that Desmond could have used the key at anytime, and that Desmond didn’t implode, further suggesting that the Swan-survivors were rescued in some way.

• According to Hurley, the Island “vibrated” during the purple-sky event.

• Desmond tells Hurley that Locke is going to save Jack, Kate and Sawyer, so he’s already seen the future – did he go there in the flash?

Locke: “I’m sorry. Sorry I ever doubted you. Sorry I gave up on my faith in the island. I messed up. Now our people are captured — if I’d just listened to you — if I’d just let you keep pushing the button. I could have gone with them, protected them. I could have saved them.”
Eko: “You can still protect them. You can still save them.
Locke: I don’t even know where they are.
Eko: You will find them. After all, you are a hunter, John.

• John, in a pretty moving little section of dialogue, apologizes to Eko for losing his faith and Eko appears to awaken and comfort Locke, urging him not to give up. But something’s off about this scene – when Charlie returns to Locke’s side we see that Eko is unconscious. Did he momentarily awaken, long enough to impart some Swan-flash wisdom to Locke? Or did the MiB/Island communicate to Locke through Eko’s unconscious body? 

• Nikki and Paulo make their first appearance! …..Yay…..?

Overall, I think the idea of bringing other characters forward in the show was a good idea. Why have all these background castaways, after all, if you aren’t going to tell their stories at some point? The problem was, neither Nikki nor Paulo ever came across as anything other than Boonne-and-Shannon 2.0. Largely uninteresting (neither were given any kind of mythology-related secret, and neither seemed to have much of anything worth revisiting in flashback – though the episode “Expose” proves that assumption to be false, and, I’d argue, comes close to redeeming both characters on some level) both Nikki and Paolo wore out their welcome quickly. Still, the idea was a solid one, and had Lost continued to push forward without an end-date, the relative sameness of the flashbacks could have been alleviated by using more interesting background players as story-fodder.

Hurley: I just got hit with, you know, deja vu.

• John gives the speech that Desmond predicted he’d give, and Hurley is visibly wigged-out. With that, Lost takes its first brave steps into overt sci-fi/fantasy. This season is just heating up – those of you who dismissed the first six episodes of Season 3 should try revisiting them again now. There’s gold in them thar hills.

Postscript:

Congratulations to Fizzgig, Chud messageboard contributor and all-around smartie, for figuring out the Sondheim reference buried in “A Tale of Two Cities.” The answer was “Sorry/Grateful,” the title of a terrific song from the musical “Company.” Fizzgig will be receiving some Lost-related goodness for the effort.

*****

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Season 3

• 
The Glass Ballerina (S3 ep. 02)
• Season 3 Premiere

Season 2

• Season 2 finale
• Three Minutes (S2 ep. 22)
• ? (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)