The Lie (S5, ep. 2)

Ben: “Come with us, Hugo… and this’ll be over. You can stop hiding. You can stop worrying about the stories and the deceptions. If you come with me, you won’t ever have to lie again.”

The initial choppiness of the S5 opener settles down slightly in The Lie, Each of the story threads being followed here feels vital and interesting for one reason or another. This is a very enjoyable ‘hour’ of television, and there are some really interesting things to ponder. If I’ve missed anything (and I’m sure I have) I invite you to let me know in the comments section.

Side note: I’m happy to report that David, THUD scribe extraordinaire, and Eileen, editor/content manager/writer/all-around-badass, have given me their blessings to continue this column into Season 6. Each week, after the episode airs, I’ll be bringing you a recap and an analysis, which will begin to tie many of the elements identified in this rewatch to the end-game of the show. It’ll be a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll stick around for the virtual-festivities. Invite friends. Send Whiskey.

Thoughts:

Hurley: “You know what, dude? I’m gonna remember this. And someday, you’re gonna need my help, and I’m telling you right now… you’re not gettin’ it.”

• Cutting straight from this line of dialogue to the sight of a panicked Hurley ferrying an unconscious Sayid around Los Angeles is a terrific choice. It’s funny, and it’s surprising, and it’s also in support of Hurley’s character – the one guy on the show who’s never really given up/turned his back on anyone permanently.

Ana Lucia: “You didn’t think. What if I were real? What if a real cop stopped you?”

• Ana Lucia! In a terrifically-surprising, WTF cameo, Ana stops Hurley for running into a trashcan and then proceeds to give him a thorough dressing-down. This ‘apparition’ is perhaps the most elaborate one yet (if she’s an apparition at all). Somehow, through Hurley’s mind or through some other process, the ‘illusion’ of a working Police Car is created, as is the image of Ana Lucia in full dress-blues. We’ve seen dead folks manifest before – but we haven’t (to my knowledge) seen inanimate objects created. This means that either (1) the power behind these ‘ghosts’ is larger than we’ve previously seen, or (2) Ana Lucia isn’t a ‘ghost.’ She’s an actual person, with an actual car.

How is that possible?

In a “Quantum” view of the universe, time is not a single string that’s incapable of being changed. “Time” is instead made up of uncountable multiple universes, where differing decisions have created entirely new timelines. If the Island sits at the center of the ‘web’ of Time/Space, its possible that the Oceanic 6 exited the Island into a parallel universe – a universe where Ana Lucia perhaps survived the Island, or even became an Other (something that Goodwin thought was a real possibility, as you’ll recall). Is it possible that she’s not dead at all here? That she’s instead joined the seemingly-massive conspiracy to get the O6 back to the Island?

Probably not. And the existence of multiple ‘ghosts,’ as well as Hurley’s ability to ‘see’ them, makes the possibility of her being an ‘alternate universe Ana’ much more remote. Still, I though it worth thinking about.

Ana Lucia: “You’ve got a lot of work to do.”

• There are those ‘magic words’ again. “You’ve got work to do,” or some variation on that phrase, has been employed quite a bit on this show – usually by the Island’s ‘ghosts.’ What larger meaning this has, if any, is unclear at this point.

Ana Lucia: “Do not get arrested.”

• Interesting. Ana Lucia warns Hurley not to get arrested – something that Hurley consciously chooses to do at the end of this episode. Does Ana know this is coming due to the apparent nature of time on this show (with past, present and future existing all at once)? If she is a ‘ghost,’ and connected to some force on the Island (which I’ve speculated may be the MiB), then this heightened perspective makes sense, as does her advice. The MiB wants Hurley to come back and to bring Locke’s body with him. Alternatively, Jacob seems to want Hurley and Co. back as well, so it’s possible that all of this is somehow Jacob’s doing. Without the answers promised to us a few weeks from now, it’s literally impossible to know for sure.

Ana Lucia: “Oh, yeah. Libby says hi.”

• Chilling or heart-warming? It really depends, yet again, on what the source of these ‘ghosts’ really is. If, as I’ve theorized, the Island is a kind of giant battery, and that it stores the energy (read: ‘souls’) of the dead, then Libby’s ‘soul’ could either be in a kind of heaven or a kind of hell – a prisoner or a grateful resident. Without more information, we can’t know which, or if the ‘real’ Libby is communicating to Hurley at all. It’s just as possible that whatever force is generating the ‘ghosts’ is wearing their forms/memories as a costume, and is doing so strictly for the purpose of influencing them.

Which is it? We’ll know in an agonizingly-short amount of time.
 
Juliet: “I guess whatever we had with us when we moved is along for the ride.”

• Juliet confirms for us that whatever the Island-trippers are touching/holding/carrying with them when the Island jumps will come along for the ride. This is narratively convenient and smart. Without that ground rule you’d have a bunch of naked folks running around for a bunch of episodes, and this ain’t Showtime, it’s ABC. Without that particular rule, Daniel’s journal and Locke’s compass wouldn’t have a part to play in these proceedings.

• Ahahahaha.

• Kate pulls into the parking lot of the gas station that Hurley and Sayid have just left, and that close-call brings to mind the larger question of castaway interconnectivity. Why is it that the castaways cross paths so much? Have so many intersecting relationships between them? Is this a general comment on how interconnected all of us actually are? Is the show making a “Six Degrees Of Jack Shephard” argument for humanity, in that all of us are separated by no more than six people, and that, as such, we’re all responsible for each other?

Or does the interconnectivity of the castaways instead suggest an outside force – something/someone who is moving living pawns across a vast chessboard?

• Ben flushing Jack’s pills down the toilet makes me smile. It’s a mirror of the Season 1 episode “The Moth,” in which Locke helps Charlie kick his drug habit, but it’s a dark mirror. Locke encouraged Charlie to make the decision to kick his habit for himself, arguing that if Locke simply took Charlie’s drugs it wouldn’t be Charlie’s decision, and that “struggle is nature’s way of strengthening us.” Here, Ben simply flushes both the pills and any choice Jack might have had in the matter directly down the toilet. Where Locke wanted to be a patient, near-Socratic teacher, Ben is interested in expediency, and in what will get his needs met quickest.

Announcer: “Previously on Exposé…”

• I love that Carlton Cuse’s voice is used for both the “Previously on Expose” and “Previously on Lost” intros. And I love that the show continues to remind us of Expose’s existence.

• One of my favorite moments in this episode is also one of its simplest: Kate taking Aaron in an elevator and letting him press the button (The Button!). Her attitude with him is so warmly maternal, and so charming, that it makes me realize just how much the Kate-as-surrogate-mother subplot has reinvigorated her character for me.

Great Carmen Line: “Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch?”

BEN: No, no Porterhouse. I do, however, have something very important in my van, Jill, and I need you to watch it for me.
JILL: Is it what I think it is?
BEN: It is.
JILL: He’ll be safe with me.

• Meet Jill, the Other Butcher. The network that Ben operates within while he’s off-Island seems extensive and shadowy. Who is Jill? Is she an Other, stationed off-Island in some Sleeper Agent capacity? Is she a member of the still-mysterious Shadow of the Statue group that Ilyana and Brom belong to? Is she a member of the coalition that appears to include Hawking, Brother Campbell (from Desmond’s Monastery) and potentially Widmore and/or Paik? No clue.

But what’s interesting is that Jill seems to know that Ben has Locke, and just how important that is. Why is it important? Well, we’ve seen that there’s an implied requirement of having a dead body with you in order to ‘access’ the Island. Locke accompanies the Ajira flight, Christian accompanies the Oceanic flight, the dead drug smugglers accompany the Nigerian plane. But implied requirements aren’t actual requirements, and the exact mechanics of what’s needed to return to the Island and why will be covered a little later on in the season.

Ben: “He’s with us.”
Jill: “Really? What’d you do, bribe him with some pills?”
Ben: “Cut the man some slack. He’s been through a lot. We all have.”

• Another interesting line. Is that genuine sympathy for Jack Shephard we’re hearing? It certainly seems that way. But just when I’ve begun to believe that maybe Ben is a big-picture good guy after all (in some way or another) we get this shot:

• I’m going to vote this moment as the single creepiest Ben Linus expression to date. What do you think? Watch it again and let me know.

• Miles brings a boar out of the jungle – one that he found dead. According to him it’s been dead for three hours. That he knows exactly how long its been dead again hints that his powers may be time-based.

Frogurt: Fire? Who cares about fire?

• Arrow attack!

Sawyer, Juliet, and the rest of their Island-tripping crew are now firmly in the 1950’s, and they’re attacked from the jungle by a hail of flaming arrows that serves to (1) kill off yet-more of the extraneous Oceanic castaways and (2) create some seriously enjoyable tension. We’ll learn more about what the attack signified when we look at the next episode, but one of Chud’s commenters asked for some ‘Flaming Frogurt’ in this column – never let it be said that I don’t do requests.

• The Virgin Mary makes another appearance. Locke’s “virgin birth.” It was mentioned in S1 as part of Cooper’s con against Locke (his fake mother claims he was a virgin birth), and we’re watching it happen now in S5, where Locke’s legend is created in a ‘miraculous’ manner.

UPDATE:

It’s been pointed out to me that Locke’s mother was Swoozie Kurtz, seen in season 1. I’d misremembered her character as having been paid to play Locke’s mom when, in fact, she’d just been hired to approach him (but WAS actually his mom). Thematically, I still think the below rambling is applicable, but a literal brotherhood between them has been ruled out.

Here’s a thought: Both Ben and Locke’s mothers were named Emily. Locke’s Emily (a pretty blonde) gave birth to him when she was a scared teenager, and Locke emerges underweight and early. Ben’s Emily gives birth as an older woman, and dies in the process, leaving behind an underweight, early baby. Are Ben’s Emily and Locke’s Emily actually the same person? Do Ben and Locke share a mother? Are they half-brothers?

If so, then Biblically it makes a hell of a lot of sense. Recall the Bible story of Jacob and Esau. When Rebekah gives birth to them, Esau emerges first (Locke) and Jacob (Ben) follows, grasping at Esau’s heel. Esau was a hunter, a designation that Locke continually claims for himself. Jacob, however, “was a simple man, a dweller in tents,” evoking both the tents of the Others, and the Dharma bungalows. Jacob, through a con-job, steals Esau’s birthright from him, just as Ben appears to continually steal from Locke’s supposed responsibilities/leadership position on the Island.

If I were a betting man, I think I’d put a few bucks down on Ben and Locke being half-brothers.

It’s not just the Jacob & Esau story that resonates, however. There’s also the story of Joseph. Why?

Benjamin was the last-born son of Jacob. His original name wasn’t Benjamin, however. It was “Benoni.” What does Benoni mean? Why, it means “son of my pain.” Why was Benjamin given this name originally? Because it was an allusion to Benjamin’s mother dying during childbirth.
 
Sun: Wouldn’t you do anything you had to in order to keep Aaron?
Kate: What kind of a person do you think I am?
Sun: The kind of person who makes hard decisions when she has to.

• I like this scene. It’s emotionally-complicated, and it’s well-performed; nothing more to say about it from my perspective.

Carmen: “The news thinks you did this. And if the news does, everyone does.”

• That’s a cute line. Is it just me, or does Carmen get an unusually-high number of clever/cute lines?

• Hurley’s 30 second recap of the show’s plot so far is hilarious. It reduces things to a level of absurdity that’s perfect, and the way that the two actors play this scene just works like gangbusters to me.

Widmore (aka “Jones”): “What are you doing on our island?!”

• We won’t learn this information until Jughead, but the young British Other who takes charge of Sawyer and Juliet after the arrow attack is none other than Charles Widmore, which finally connects a few dots between the character and his connection to/interest in the Island. Looking back on it, it should have been obvious to me that Widmore-as-Other was a potential route for the show to go, but this info blindsided me totally. Which is how I prefer my Lost info, frankly.

• You know what we haven’t re-visited in a while?


JACKFACE!


JACKFACE!


JACKFACE!

Ah, Jackface: the pause that refreshes.

• Hurley’s hot-pocket throwing star is classic. Ben’s demeanor in this scene makes two things clear: (1) Ben can be one convincing son of a bitch when he wants to be, and (2) Michael Emerson is a really, really good actor. 

• Hurley getting himself arrested felt like a stalling tactic on the part of the writers the first time that I watched this episode, and while it arguably IS a stalling tactic, the finale of Season 5 will reveal a greater purpose of sorts to Hurley’s incarceration. Ana Lucia clearly tells Hurley not to get arrested, but Jacob shows up outside of Hurley’s jail as though he was expecting it. Is there something to take away from that?

• The Reyes’ front door evokes the ‘star pattern that we saw carved into a tree during Season 3, but the door’s design is missing the vertical line drawn down the center.

• I love young Widmore’s delivery of “It’s just to illustrate how serious I am.”

– Locke, Sawyer and Juliet are reunited just in time to join up for their Jughead adventures. I’m REALLY looking forward to revisiting that episode, which comes up next.

• A mysterious, monk-like figure scrawls mathematical calculations (which might as well be hieroglyphics to me, and maybe there’s a thematic connection there) as a Big Honkin’ Pendulum swings back and forth across a stone floor. This is Ms. Hawking, Daniel’s Mother, and former Other. From the evidence of the scene, it looks as though Hawking is attempting to predict “event windows,” something that I might correlate to the ‘windows’ that a space shuttle uses upon reentry. While the ‘window’ is open, the shuttle can pass relatively safely back from space and into earth’s atmosphere. I’m going to suggest that a similar logic applies to the ‘window’ Hawking is attempting to find here. In order to return to the Island, the O6’s plane must pass through an “event window,” and I assume that event is an electromagnetic one.

As for the potential significance of this ‘event window’? Let’s take a look at the monitor that Hawking uses:

Notice anything interesting? I did. The star markings (which again evoke both the tree mark from season 3 and Juliet’s ‘brand’) appear to refer to potential places where an ‘event window’ might be available. What’s the significance of this? Well, take a look at where those ‘stars’ are placed on the computer screen above (North America is on the right-hand side of the screen, Asia and Africa on the far-left, with Australia and Antarctica in between). Now, take a look at this map:

There’s quite a bit of cross-over, no? The map directly above is an illustration of the supposed “Vile Vortices” – areas of the world that have been claimed to have Bermuda Triangle-esque qualities. Notice, also, that there are two vortices on/near Africa. One of these is roughly located in Tunisia, where Ben and Locke have exited the Island. One is located in Antarctica, and we saw two Penny Widmore employees inexplicably stationed somewhere frosty, searching for the Island at the end of Season 2. There’s a vortice near Nigeria, where the Nigerian drug plane took off and subsequently crashed on the Island. There are TWO vortices off the coast of Australia – one directly in the path between Australia and California, and another in the Indian Ocean, where the freighter accesses the Island, and where the O6 ended up when they left the helicopter on the freighter’s bearing.

Iiiiiiiiinteresting, no?

• When Hawking comes up from her Subterranean Pendulum Laboratory she emerges in a church, and Ben is there lighting a candle in prayer – the first time during the course of the show that we’ve seen  him do anything like praying, if you don’t count his heaven-sent utterance of “I hope you’re happy now, Jacob,” during the S4 finale. Interesting editing cut: Ben blows out the same spark twice. Sloppy mistake? Or a hint at multiple timelines? I’m guessing ‘editing mistake.’

• Finally, we learn that Ben has 70 hours to ‘get the band back together,’ ala Jake and Elwood, before, presumably, the ‘event window’ closes. Ben seems genuinely thrown by this and insists he needs more time but, according to Hawking, 70 hours is all he’s got. And what happens if he doesn’t make that deadline?

Hawking: “Then God help us all.”

What does that mean? Does it mean that something terrible will happen to time/space as a whole? That the Island, and therefore the world, will be endangered? Or does the “all” that Hawking refers to mean a much smaller group – namely the coalition that seems so intent on getting everyone back to the Island?

Impossible to say. But fun to ponder.

*****

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