The Cost of Living (S3, eps. 5)
Eko: I have come to give my confession.
• How and why does the injured Eko’s tent catch on fire?
• Jack, smart cookie that he is, has figured out that Ben is the owner of the spine he glimpsed in an X-ray during the emergency op on Colleen.
• It’s interesting (and potentially a big clue) that The Others’ funeral ceremony involves sending Colleen’s body out to sea on a burning pyre, effectively cremating her away from the Island’s sands. This is reminiscent of Viking funerals (with the Eastern-style robes mixed in). The Vikings, like many other cultures through history, believed that if the dead were not given proper burial they could return to haunt the living as a revenant, or ghost. This would seem to reinforce the theory that the MiB assumes the forms of dead bodies that are physically present on the Island.
Desmond: The computer in the hatch wasn’t only for pushing the button. I’m pretty sure… it could be used to communicate with other stations.
• With this comment we get a possible answer to the question of how ‘Walt’ was communicating with Michael in the Swan. We still don’t know if it was Walt, Ben, or another of the Others (ugh) who sent those messages to Mike, but now we know how it was accomplished.
• Locke’s decided that he’d like to communicate with the other stations, something I’d completely forgotten about.
• Eko’s encounter with the bloodied ghosts in the jungle raises a pretty interesting question about the Island’s various apparitions: just how ‘real’ are they? We see one of these ghosts throw a knife and we see Eko pick up and attempt to use that same knife. Is all of it in Eko’s head? Or are the Island’s manifestations capable of full-on Swayze-style manipulation? From what we’ve seen, and will continue to see, the answer appears to be the latter.
Locke: Don’t mistake coincidence for fate.
Locke mirrors Eko’s words here, bringing their philosophical relationship full-circle.
• Locke shows the potential to grow into a good leader here, indicating that he’d like to run a more open, inclusive society by inviting anyone who chooses to come along on his trip to The Pearl. He uses the opportunity to tear Jack’s leadership style down, but that isn’t particularly fair – Locke was all about secrecy and exclusion while working on uncovering the Hatch. The downside to this magnanimity: Nikki and Paulo come along for the trip.
• Given what we now know about Locke, I’m wondering if the moment with Eko by the stream – where the Smoke Monster appears to be stalking up behind him, only to vanish when Locke appears – has some significance. Whereas before it has appeared to Locke directly (when Locke ‘looks into the eye of the Island’) and subsequently indirectly (where it doesn’t really show itself, but attempts to drag Locke into one of its bolt holes, or “Cerberus vents,” as Radzinsky calls them), now it appears to be hiding from him.
Juliet: You have no idea what I went through to make this for you. I killed the cow, processed the meat, baked the bun. And the fries… try rendering animal fat.
Jack: No ketchup?
• I love the idea of Juliet killing an entire cow to make a single cheeseburger. Jack’s rejoinder is a nicely sour touch.
• Ben confronts Jack about his spinal tumor, and bluntly reveals that Juliet was consciously meant to remind Jack of his ex-wife. That’s some manipulative, cold and brilliant business right there.
Locke: What are you so afraid of, Eko?
He’s afraid of judgment – but not, I’d argue, the moral judgment of God. He’s afraid of Yemi’s judgment. Recall the existential, Sartre-inspired story that Eko tells in “Three Minutes,“ about the boy and his dog:
“For a brief time I served in a small parish in England, and every Sunday after mass, I would see a young boy waiting at 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 the dog had bitten his baby sister on the cheek and he needed to protect her. And 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.”
Locke: I saw a very bright light. It was beautiful.
Eko: That is not what I saw.
Locke and Eko experience two sides of a vision – one dark, one light.
• The removal of the rocks from the beechcraft, and the disappearance of Yemi’s body, would seem to reference the resurrection of Christ through a dark mirror.
Nikki: All these TVs… this guy says that there’s 6 stations. Uh, here, check it out. Projects. More than one. So, maybe some of these TVs are connected to the other hatches.
Locke: Well, I’m suddenly feeling very stupid.
Look at that – Nikki contributes something! Oh, and Paulo goes to the bathroom. Again. Thanks to her, we get our first glimpse of Mikhail Bakunin, yet another Other (ugh) who will become increasingly important as the Season progresses. More on him, and on his suggestive name, when we formally meet him.
• The scene between Juliet and Jack, with Juliet communicating like Michael Hutchence in the video for INXS’ “Mediate” (or, more specifically, like Bob Dylan in “Subterranean Homesick Blues”), is clever, fun stuff.
• We learn Eko’s real reason for having started building the church on the Island – he’s told by the woman who rebukes him in Nigeria that he owes Yemi one church, to replace the one that his violence has deconsecrated.
Eko: I ask for no forgiveness, Father. For I have not sinned. I have only done what I needed to do to survive. A small boy once asked me if I was a bad man. If I could answer him now, I would tell him that… when I was a young boy, I killed a man to save my brother’s life. I am not sorry for this. I am proud of this! I did not ask for the life that I was given. But it was given, nonetheless. And with it… I did my best.
Yemi: You speak to me as if I were your brother.
• This scene gives me chills. It’s still not clear what this final Eko/’Yemi’ encounter is supposed to say about the Island, the Monster, and the apparitions, but I admire the show’s ability to make this scene meaningful no matter how you interpret it.
If you choose to see Yemi as an aspect of the MiB – as a spirit that is attempting to use and/or goad Eko in the same way that, say, the ‘ghost’ of Alex goads Ben to follow fake-Locke – then this scene is ultimately Eko’s triumph against the nihilistic force that the MiB seems to represent. Eko’s refusal to feel guilt, or to confess sin, represents a Sartre-approved leap in self-awareness and self-definition. In this light, Eko can be seen to have evolved to the point where the ‘mirrors’ that surround him no longer dictate how he sees himself. Instead, he chooses self-definition, takes responsibility for his actions, and silently justifies them with the way in which he has changed his behavior and his outlook. This makes him difficult, if not impossible, to manipulate. And so it makes perfect sense that the MiB would want to kill him. He cannot be used as Locke will later be used.
On the other hand, if we choose to believe a more traditional conception of sin and guilt, it’s possible to view the Monster as a kind of ‘divine justice’ who slays Eko because our favorite former-Nigerian-Warlord is, in a way, deflecting the responsibility for his own actions – justifying them through necessity instead of regretting that necessity. In my Too Much Information columns, I’ve suggested that the Island and the MiB can be compared on a metaphorical level, respectively, to the concepts of the Ultimate, remote God and the corrupted Demiurge (or ‘lesser God’) of Gnosticism/Manichaeism. Eko’s unfortunate exit from the series, I think, bolsters the idea of the MiB-as-Demiurge. It’s my personal belief that the ‘Yemi’ we see here is another aspect of the MiB, that it acts in order to manipulate, and that Eko’s death represents his victory over every attempt to make him conform to the MiB’s plans.
• It’s worth noting that Yemi touches his former cross while it’s in Eko’s hand – more evidence for the solidity of the ‘ghosts,’ and another suggestion that the Smoke Monster is assuming these forms.
• Much has been made about the actor who played Eko’s decision (demand?) to leave the show, and the apparently-hasty exit that the writers crafted for him, but I think this episode works impressively well to give the character a solid, appropriate send-off, to give more color and potential motivation to the force on the Island that we know as ‘the Monster,’ and to reinforce and underline the themes of personal empowerment, self-definition, and freedom from control that have permeated every aspect of this show since Season 2 started rolling.
Goodbye, Eko. You’ll be missed.
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To view the complete, pre-Chud Rewatch archive, please visit Back To The Island
• 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)