There’s No Place Like Home, Part II (S4, ep. 13)

Richard: “Hello, John. Welcome home.”

Thoughts:

• There’s an embarrassment of riches to Parts 2 & 3 of “There’s No Place Like Home” – sharp, quotable dialogue, kick-ass fight scenes, nail-biting tension, emotional farewells and hellos….Like all of Lost’s season finales, “There’s No Place Like Home (prts. 2&3) brings the goods.

• I love the way that the ‘previously on Lost’ section bleeds effortlessly into a continuation of the scene between Jack and Kate from the end of Season 3, bringing things full-circle. Seasons 3 and 4 of the show act as mirrors to each other in a number of ways, and the way in which Part II of this finale connects the through line from the end of Season 3 reinforces  that reflective quality.

Sawyer: “You might wanna slow down a little, ’cause you look like you’re about to keel over, Doc.”
Jack: “I’m fine.”
Sawyer: “Of course you’re fine. You’re always fine.”

• That’s quasi-ironic, coming from Sawyer, who has always been the sort of man to keep his feelings and his problems to himself. But Sawyer, unlike Jack (in this writer’s opinion at least), has spent this past season evolving into someone more vulnerable and self-aware, whereas Jack? Jack has not.

• In line with this, Hurley’s reaction to seeing Sawyer and Jack at the Orchid is, I think, pretty telling. He’s genuinely relieved (and a little surprised) to see Sawyer. By contrast, Hurley’s weirdly ambivalent about Jack’s presence.

• I admire the zero-sum, no-win situation that the writers managed to convincingly set up over these episodes. If the castaways stay on the Island, they run the risk of dying at the hands of Keamy and his mercenaries, or of being stuck on the Island ‘forever.’ If they go to the freighter, they run the risk of being blown up real good, and even if that doesn’t occur they still have to worry about the return of Keamy and Co.

Keamy: “So tell me something, Ben. What is it that makes you so important, hmm? I’m curious. I’m curious as to why Mr. Widmore would pay me so much money just to come out here and capture you and bring you back alive.”

• Damn good question, Keamy. Why didn’t Widmore accompany the boat if it’s his intention to re-take the Island? Why would he instead pay mercenaries to remove Ben from the Island, and to do so without killing him?

Is it possible that Widmore is acting on the side of the figurative Angels? That he’s attempting to keep his old enemy from playing a part in the upcoming Assassination Of Jacob By The Coward Benjamin Linus? Why else would Widmore approach things this way? I invite your theories, suggestions and guesswork in the comments section below.

• Just before the Others attack, it seems as though we can hear The Whispers again. This solidifies something for me: we hear The Whispers both when The Others appear, as well as when certain apparitions appear. This indicates a connection between the two, but without more information it’s tough to say what that connection is.


• How much fun is the fight between Keamy and Sayid?

• Once Richard shoots Keamy, three or four Others come rising up out of the jungle, implying that they’d been watching the fight.

Walt: “You know, when you came back, I was waiting for one of you to come see me, but… nobody did.”
HURLEY: I’m sorry.

• I’m sorry, too. It’s both weird and depressing to think that not one of the Oceanic 6 bothered to check up on Walt after they returned. Surely Walt and his grandmother could have used a little of that Big Damn Settlement that the rest of the O6 were privy to? Especially since Walt’s father was responsible for making sure that they got off of the freighter without blowing up? Walt’s story is a sad one, but to the character’s credit, he seems largely well-adjusted, which would make him an outstandingly impressive young man, were he not a fictional creation.

Walt: “Do you know who did come see me? Jeremy Bentham. I don’t understand why you’re all lying.”
Hurley: “We’re lying… because it’s the only way to protect everyone that didn’t come back.”

• This rationale makes more sense to me than it did before. If Hurley and the rest of the O6 don’t lie about what happened it will expose the sunken plane in the Sunda trench as a fake, and it will open them up to countless questions that they’re legitimately unable to answer. What court in the world would accept the story that, say, Charlie Pace wasn’t killed by drowning just before they were saved, but instead died in swimming to a secret underwater bunker designed to keep people from leaving an Island and shutting it off, which resulted in black-ops mercenaries descending on the Island – an Island that, by the way, has a giant Monster made of smoke and ‘ghosts’ that appear and ancient-looking ruins?

And the consequences for revealing the existence of the Island at all? Death presumably, at the hands of Widmore’s men, or Ben Linus’ operatives, or some other party all together. That’s to say nothing of the Island itself, which would become an object of desire for anyone with half a brain. As has been commented on in a past episode, the discovery of moss in the shape of Jesus’ face has brought thousands of pilgrims to places in the real world. What would happen if a place that can heal paralysis and cancer were revealed to exist?

Locke: “I want you to reconsider leaving the island, Jack. I would like you to stay.”

• Maybe the most pivotal scene in the finale, Locke and Jack square off for one more philosophical battle royale before Jack follows his stubborn instincts and heads off-Island. It’s interesting to note that Locke again extends an olive branch to Jack, and that Jack again swats the branch away like (let’s be honest here) a petulant child. There’s the sense that things would now be enormously different, had Jack trusted Locke (something that Locke has admittedly made difficult to do).

Locke: “…you’re not supposed to go home.
Jack: “And what am I supposed to do? Oh, I think I remember. What was it that you said on the way out to the hatch–that crashing here was our destiny?”
Locke: “You know, Jack. You know that you’re here for a reason. You know it. And if you leave this place, that knowledge is gonna eat you alive from the inside out…until you decide to come back.”

• That knowledge does eat Jack alive, and I continue to wonder if that’s because he can ‘sense’ that he’s taking the wrong path in the maze, so to speak. In the column for The Constant, I suggested that the consciousnesses of the castaways may be traveling in a loop of sorts – that, due to the detonation of the Jughead bomb, their minds may be sent back in time with knowledge of ‘future’ events allowing them, like Eloise the rat in Daniel’s maze, to then navigate the figurative ‘maze’ of their lives. It’s a kind of reincarnation, so to speak, one that the show has taken pains to illustrate to us several times (anytime we’ve seen Desmond’s consciousness jump, it’s illustrating the basic premise behind this). I’ve theorized that this may not be the first time that some of the castaways’ consciousnesses have have jumped backward, and that the weirdly déjà vu-ish intuitions that characters like Locke and Jack seem to experience may be related to the fact that, on a sub/unconscious level, they ‘sense’ that they’ve done all of this before. That theory would explain how and why Jack “knows” he’s on the Island for a reason, as well as how Locke seems so sure of that fact.

Of course, that’s all probably horse-puckey. Only a few weeks ‘til we find out!

Locke: “Lie to them, Jack. If you do it half as well as you lie to yourself, they’ll believe you.”

• That’s a good line, well delivered by Terry O’Quinn. There’ve been a number of references in these episodes to Jack’s lying abilities – all of them point to the idea that Jack is self-deluding, something that has been reinforced over and over again, most recently by the amount of time we’ve spent watching Jack self-medicate.

And speaking of good lines…

Ben: Why don’t you watch this very informative video that will answer some of your questions, and I’ll take care of some business.

• Ben’s like a harried parent in this scene, sitting Locke in front of the television while he preps the “important stuff.” Michael Emerson’s delivery is inspired stuff – patronizing and impatient and hilarious.

• Once again there’s a sense that Ben is using his relatively-superior knowledge to bypass Locke and get his own way. Jack’s not the only petulant child on the Island by a long-shot. Ben’s right up there with him.

“Edgar Halliwax”: “The unique properties…of this island have created a kind of Casimir effect, allowing the DHARMA initiative to conduct unique experiments in both space and time. This… is “the vault”, constructed adjacent to a pocket of what we believe… to be negatively charged “exotic matter”. Great care must be taken to avoid leaving inorganic materials…inside the chamber. The electromagnetic energy within the island can be highly volatile and unpredictable.”

• The Orchid is finally revealed, and what we learn from the Dharma video that accompanies the Station firmly solidifies the dominant story of Season 5: time travel. I promised that we’d discuss Orchids and the danger and unpredictability of the Station. So let’s do that now.

There’s a lot to unpack here, on both a thematic and a scientific level. Let’s start with the symbolism of the tape playing up to a certain point, then stopping and rewinding itself. Narratively speaking, that’s exactly what’s about to happen to the people who remain on the Island when it’s moved. They’ve proceeded ‘forward’ in their lives up to this point, and Ben’s actions at The Wheel suddenly and forcibly cause a ‘rewinding’ that they can’t control. 

Scientifically, the idea of using negatively charged “exotic matter” and the “Casimir effect” in order to travel through time isn’t totally far-fetched. In fact, it appears to have a firm basis in (theoretical) physics. The consensus among science-minded fans of the show seems to be that The Orchid effectively works to create a ‘wormhole’ (or wormholes). Wormholes are tunnels in space/time which theoretically could allow a person entering one side of the hole to travel vast distances in moments. This is typically illustrated by drawing two points on a piece of paper (representing two locations which are distant from one another), then folding that paper so that the two points touch. That ‘folding’ of space/time is what a wormhole purports to do. Some folks believe that the turning of the Wheel opened a wormhole which the Island itself entered. This would transport the entire Island somewhere else in space/time.

But, according to the science-folks, the amount of energy you would need to physically move the Island would be enormous, and would require (if I understand this right) a machine the size of Jupiter to achieve. The act of opening that hole would create a substantial risk of creating an uncontrollable black hole, which would operate to swallow the entire earth. Dangerous!

Much “easier” and potentially safer for the entirety of the world? Moving any wormholes that link up to the Island already. Popular Mechanics has given us the following illustration of what this means:

Imagine that you’re driving to the town you grew up in. You drive for hours, never finding it, only to discover that, in the time since you moved away, the roads around your hometown have been significantly changed.

This may be what Ben has done by turning the wheel. He’s shifted/blocked the wormhole leading to the Island which is located in the Indonesian ocean, and that shift makes the Island appear to ‘vanish’ to the naked eye.

There’ve been a number of hints strewn throughout the show about the possibility of wormholes. Most obvious: Season 4 shows Daniel calculating the exact ‘path’ to the Island from the freighter, and the consequences of deviating from that path. If that path is a wormhole connecting the part of the South Pacific that the freighter occupies with the Island, then it would explain why veering off a bearing of 305 degrees would cause violent shifts in a person’s consciousness. But the Island doesn’t appear to only have one ‘entrance tunnel’ – it appears to have many. We’ve seen a plane leave Nigeria and land on the Island. We’ve seen people leave the Island and end up in Tunisia. And we’ve seen the O6 end up in Indonesia following the freighter explosion. The Island appears to have a kind of network of wormholes leading to and from it – a network that, alternatively, might be compared to the network of roots that are common to certain Orchids.

That network is also analogous to the warrens of rabbits, and we see rabbits directly referenced during the Orchid video, as well as in all of the Alice in Wonderland references on this show. In fact, the rabbit hole that Alice falls through in the books sounds an awful lot like a wormhole – she enters in England, and comes out in “Wonderland.” Recall also the book Watership Down, also featured on the show, and also containing elaborate warrens.

Finally, I think it’s worth noting that the Station is located deep within the earth, at a level that clearly violates the truce between Dharma and the Others.

All of the above, wormholes and time travel and negatively charged exotic matter and Casimir effects, will be heavily featured in Season 5, and we’ll discuss it all in more depth then.

Dr. Halliwax: “In our first demonstration, we will attempt to shift the test subject 100 milliseconds ahead in four-dimensional space. For the briefest… of moments, the animal will seem to disappear, but in reality…”

• Dharma was experimenting with shifting animals (and presumably people – recall the dead body that Hurley and Miles bring to the Orchid in Season 5) in time for an undisclosed purpose. In doing this with the bunny, two bunnies are created: the ‘original’ bunny and the the ‘time-shifted’ bunny. Might this explain why Dr. Candle/Halliwax/Chang has three different names? Did he, at some point, ‘copy’ himself? Or does the good doctor’s bizarre tripartite name hint at the possibility of multiple universes? If the Island sits at the center of space/time, then have three different versions of the same doctor visited it with three different versions of the Dharma Initiative?

• Sawyer makes a simultaneously selfless and selfish decision by abandoning the helicopter to help lighten its load. Before he goes, he asks Kate to take care of his daughter, Clementine. We won’t discover that fact, though, until next season.

Locke: “You just killed everybody on that boat.”
Ben: “So?”

• Such a great line. But here’s where Ben’s plan becomes puzzling to me. If Ben has already killed Keamy, which ensures the destruction of the freighter, then why does Ben insist on turning the Wheel? As I see it, there’s really only one answer that makes sense: Ben really does believe that “Jacob” lives in that cabin, and that “Jacob” both wants the Island moved and wants Locke to be his successor.

Because, otherwise, Ben would have been far better served by letting Locke turn the Wheel, no? He’s eliminated the entirety of the immediate threat, by killing Keamy and the rest of Keamy’s men, and by allowing the c4 on the boat to explode. Getting Locke to turn the Wheel would still ensure that the ‘entrances’ to the Island are changed/sealed off, and having Locke do so would keep Ben in control of the Island. By turning the Wheel, Ben seems to make himself unnecessarily vulnerable to the very person he’s been attempting to avoid – Widmore.

Hurley: “ Checkmate, Mr. Eko.”

• Hurley really seems to have come to grips with these ‘ghosts.’ We just watched him having a full-on mental breakdown, convinced that his doctors weren’t ‘real.’ Now he’s playing chess with the ‘ghost’ of Eko and accepting Sayid’s presence without comment.

• Redemption, found. Michael and Jin, past close friends on the Island, have reconnected. Jin has forgiven Michael for his sins, and Michael has given Jin permission to save himself. It’s a brutal and beautiful moment, and it gives Michael’s story arc real closure for me as a viewer. The actor who played Michael Dawson may have been disappointed by his arc, but to my mind Michael’s full story allows him to make amends for his selfishness and his violence with an act of sacrifice – a sacrifice made willingly for the sake of the people he considered his friends, once upon a time. That concept of sacrifice is a running theme in this show.

• In another mirror of Season 3 the end of Michael’s journey reflects the end of Charlie’s journey, and in a sense, Charlie and Michael are/were a lot like that frozen battery. Both men have had their deaths seemingly ‘delayed’ so that they could perform a vital task. Both men sacrifice themselves on/in the water. Whereas Desmond’s vision included the fact that a yellow blinking light would go off just before Charlie’s demise, here it’s the activation of a steady red light that signals the end of Michael’s tenure on the show.

Christian: “You can go now, Michael.”
Michael: “Who are you?”

• I think I’m going to give up on trying to determine whether Christian is ‘bad’ or ‘good’ or something else. Its fun to do, and I’ve enjoyed attempting it, but it’s too difficult to know whether “Christian” is on any side in the conflict between MiB and Jacob, though we know for sure that the MiB can appear to change shape, and we’ve not seen Jacob do this.

• The explosion and its aftermath make for stirring television drama. Sun’s screams are wrenching, and the fatalistic inevitability of having to leave Jin behind (they don’t have enough fuel to go back for him) is dreadful in the best sense. Props to Sun for her work in this scene.

Sun: “I’m Sun Kwon… Mr. Paik’s daughter. I’m the managing director of Paik Industries.”
Widmore: “Yes, of course. How is your father?”
Sun: “Excellent, thank you.”
Widmore: “Quite the golfer. I believe I owe him dinner after our last game.”

• Whataminute – Paik and Widmore know each other? Does that mean Paik has knowledge of the Island? Why on earth would the show make a point of connecting the two men unless there’s a reason for that connection? Am I forgetting/missing something about this exchange? Has the Widmore/Paik connection been mentioned before?

• Locke finally joins the Others, and seems set to receive the answers he’s bled for. Of course, destiny is a fickle bitch, and so Locke will be swept away by the Island’s time-hopping.

• The reveal of the “Frozen Donkey Wheel” is wonderful. I love the details of Ben’s descent into this new secret chamber (and this Island is full of rooms with other rooms hidden behind them – perhaps a thematic commentary on the kind of story being told, and perhaps just because secret rooms are always cool): the fact that the ladders and lamps contained within it all seem to be of relatively-ancient origin, and the noticeable hieroglyphs carved into the icy pillar at the center of the room. According to the official Lost podcast, Lindelof claims the hieroglyphs translate to mean “resurrection,” but I’ve also seen claims that individual glyphs add up to read “time travel.”

Ben: “I hope you’re happy now, Jacob.”

• Is it possible that we’re seeing the sincerity of Ben Linus in this scene? Is Ben punishing himself for allowing the death of his daughter through self-exile? Is he, like Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, breaking his staff and drowning his books? Or is this act meant to help him retain ‘true’ power in some way? I’m genuinely unclear on this and I invite your thoughts. This scene also operates to explain Ben’s previously inexplicable appearance in Tunisia, right down to the gash in his arm.

• The turning of the Wheel appears to somehow ‘activate’ the pocket of ‘exotic energy’ located under the Orchid Station. It’s worth noting that the Wheel’s design is very similar to the sort of wheel you’d find on a sailing vessel like The Black Rock. This, coupled with the rough wooden ladders and the olde-timey lantern, suggest to me that the crew of the Black Rock built the Wheel.

Claire: “Don’t bring him back, Kate. Don’t you dare bring him back!”

• The first time around, I thought Claire was referring to Aaron when she says this. Now, I’m not so sure. Is it possible that Claire is referring instead to the body of John Locke, which she will help to transport back to the Island? If that’s the case, then it raises the possibility that some ‘ghosts’ are NOT manifestations of the MiB (since why would the MiB warn Kate not to do what it wanted Kate to do?). But if it IS Aaron? Then it raises the idea that Aaron is not wanted by the MiB. If, as some have suggested, Aaron will somehow grow up to be Jacob (shaggy blonde hair and all), then keeping Aaron far from the Island would serve the MiB’s plan. It might even have helped to create the loophole that the MiB, in the guise of Fake-Locke, seems to have exploited.

Incidentally, Kate’s phone call in her dream is a voice speaking backward. When you play it forward, the voice supposedly says: “The Island needs you. You have to go back before it’s too late.”

Jack (Softly): “We’re gonna have to lie.”

• And with that, Jack has already begun to feel that nagging tug that Locke was talking about. No matter how hard he tries to deny it (and its Jack, so his efforts to deny are Herculean), Locke appears to have been right.

• Desmond with the crazy eyes! Penny and Des are reunited at last, and while I enjoy Des’ contributions to Season 5, it does largely feel as though his overall storyline is resolving here. I’ll be interested to know how large a part Mr. Hume will play in the final season of the show. Will his son be drawn into the Island conflict? Will he and/or Penny return to the Island? Tell me now, Lost!

• We return to the HOFFS/DRAWLAR Funeral Parlor for the final scene of Season 4. As mentioned previously, the name of the parlor is an anagram for “flashforward.”

Jack: He told me… that after I left the island, some very bad things happened. And he told me that it was my fault for leaving. And he said that I had to come back.

• There are some Season 5 details that, when lined up with what we’ve learned in Season 4, didn’t necessarily make as much sense as I would have liked. One of those details emerges here, with the revelation that “some very bad things happened,” and that it was Jack’s “fault” for leaving. This didn’t match up (or so I remember) with what Locke actually tells Jack when he visits in Season 5 and I promise to bring up moments like that as they arise. But on Rewatch I’m also reminded of Jack’s enormously-f’ed up mental state. Some very bad things DID happen on the Island after Jack left. People died, after all. But the key here, I think, is that Jack is punishing himself for the decision he made to leave. It doesn’t ultimately matter what Locke says – Jack believes that it’s all his fault, and that if he hadn’t left things would be better. Why? Because JACK LOVES TRYING TO FIX THINGS – especially the things he’s been responsible for breaking. In a similar vein, during Season 5 it didn’t seem as though Jack had enough time to fly ‘every weekend’ from Los Angeles to Sydney in the hopes that he’d crash. But on the timeline we’re given here, Jack’s had a solid month or so to do just that. And four attempts to crash over four weeks is, realistically, a lot of trips.

We’ll see if this kind of reasoning on my part holds up when we start Season 5 next week.

Jack: And Kate….she won’t even talk to me anymore.”
Ben: “Perhaps I can help you with that.”

• Is this direct foreshadowing of Ben’s use of a lawyer to threaten Kate? Sure seems like it to me.

Ben: “I’m here to tell you that the island won’t let you come alone. All of you have to go back.”

• The gut-punch of Season 3’s final scene – the revelation that some of the castaways had made it off-Island – remains arguably Lost’s finest final moment so far. But the image of a dead Locke in a coffin, a dead Locke who’s been going under a false name (a name that’s diametrically-opposed to his ‘real’ name – something we’ll talk about in Season 5) surely comes a close second. Killing one of your most popular characters (if not your most popular) without explanation or warning? That’s ballsy. Seriously ballsy.

• And with that, Season 4 clangs to a satisfying close. We’ll pick up Season 5 on Monday. See you all then!

*****

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