The Little Prince (S5, ep. 4)


• The episode’s title is a direct homage to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novel “The Little Prince.”

“Prince” is a novel I’ve never read – the story of a young boy living on an asteroid named B612. That asteroid contains three volcanoes, one of them dormant (just like the Island’s volcano). The Prince’s sole company on B612 is a rose.

At one point, Prince finds his way to earth, landing in the middle of the Sahara desert, where his interactions with the narrator and the stories that the Prince tells this narrator create the shape of the story. There are a number of parallels between “Prince” and Lost, including the way in which the narrative perspective shifts during the course of the book’s chapters, similar to the way in which Lost’s narrative ‘hooks’ – the flashbacks, flashforwards – shift as the seasons progress.

Much of the novel is concerned with the human condition on a deceptively-simple level. Merchants discuss the ridiculousness of humanity, how people rush from place to place, never stopping to savor where they are or to contemplate where it is they’re going. The Prince meets a flower who tells him that men on earth have no roots, and that this lets the wind blow them around and make life hard for them. This parallels the personal struggles of the castaways who seem to drift through their lives and the way in which the castaways seem hardwired to long for some undiscovered country.

When the Prince arrives on earth, he meets a snake, who claims that he can send the Prince “back to the land from whence he came.” The land the snake refers to is the land of death – creating a parallel between this being and the Island’s Smoke Monster.
At one point in his wanderings, the Prince discovers rows of rose bushes and feels sadness, as he’d thought his rose was the only one in existence. This is a total stretch, but it makes me wonder whether this foreshadows the possibility of multiple worlds on Lost.

Lost’s obsession with loops – loops in time, loops in character evolution, loops in narrative – has suggested that the show may be influenced by Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga (and if I’m right about the happenings of Season 6, the show’s overarching narrative will owe a debt to King’s Weird West magnum opus). If so, The Little Prince’s magical rose offers another potential cross-narrative reference. There’s more, but you’ll have to wait for my book in order to read it. Apparently, enough of you would like to see that happen, and so it’s going to. You’ll be able to pre-order a copy right here on Chud, should the gods continues to favor me.

• Sun is receiving intelligence from an unknown source – presumably Widmore. She gets pages of data, photos of Jack and Ben, and a box of chocolates which hides a handgun for her use.

• I love the way that Juliet deals with Sawyer. Calling him James, she has the air of a patient wife or mother. And it works. You can see the beginnings of their connection in those moments.

• Charlotte’s contracted Captain Trips. Daniel describes the problem by explaining that it’s neurological, that our brains have an internal clock and that the flashes throw the clock off. That’s neat, and quasi-plausible-sounding.

Mr. Norton: “You are going to lose the boy.”

• The scene between Kate and Ben’s slimy lawyer is great. I love the way Kate shakily lays out her deal, and the way in which Mr. Norton just decimates it, pushing it aside like Kate’s just slid a plate of garbage in front of him. Kate has no choice. She has to run now, has to get on that plane if she and Aaron want to remain together. Ben’s trapped her as effectively as a rat in a maze.

• Locke realizes that they need to return to the Orchid – since that’s where the flashes started, maybe that’s where they can be stopped. He’s right, and he’s now pointed straight at his sad ending and headed toward it on rails. Locke’s journey here is, it should be said, more than a little reminiscent of Christ’s (and Apollo’s, for that matter). He’s following the will of an unseen, largely-inexplicable ‘god,’ he goes to what he thinks is his death willingly (if pitifully) and he’s resurrected roughly three days (72 hours – Fiona’s ‘event window’) after Jack views him (I’m not clear on how long Locke’s been dead at that point). Keep in mind that the Narnia books are a key reference point for this season, and that Locke’s death and resurrection represents a kind of dark mirror to Aslan’s fall and return. Similarly, Jacob’s death at the hand of Anti-Locke at the end of this season contains that same sense of Aslan-esque knowing self-sacrifice, with Jacob seeming almost satisfied with his own death.

Jack: “Ben is on our side.”
Sayid: “The only side he’s on is his own.”

• We learn that Jack has been suspended on allegations of substance abuse (that’s new info, yes?). He’s severed all ties to life off the Island at this point. Hurley’s call from the clink, hilariously telling him that “Ben’s never gonna get me now, thanks dude,” continues to affirm my love for the beneficent Buddha of Lost.

• Ben shows up at the hospital, asking about Sayid, just as one of those pesky fake-nurse-actual-assassins shows up to bag and tag our favorite Iraqi. Another fun fight sequence ensues (there are a lot of these this season, comparatively speaking. I appreciate them) and we get an address from the assailant: 42 Panorama Crest, Kate’s address. It’s Ben that’s set all of these attacks up, right? He’s trying to round everyone up as ‘easily’ as Locke, loading their bodies into his van and taking them off to a corral for when they wake.

• Ben and Sayid go off to get Hurley, while Jack motors off to grab Kate. They’re to meet at Slip 23 – another instance of the Numbers. I’ve been asked to keep my eye out for weird continuity changes in the scenes at the Slip, and I’ll comment on them as they come up.

• I love the dynamic between Sayid and Ben, even if it’s not entirely clear to me right now why Sayid’s done such a 180 on Ben.

• Sawyer and Co. see a shaft of white light carving the night sky. They’ve landed at the point in time where Locke was pounding on the Hatch during season one and its window erupted into light. We know now that at this point both Locke and Desmond were teetering into despair, and that each unknowingly saved the other at that moment.

• Miles gets his first nosebleed, foreshadowing his infancy on the Island. The longer you’ve been on the Island, supposedly, the sooner you start with the bleeding and the hemorrhaging and the babbling. Daniel suggests that this is due to degree of ‘exposure,’ presumably to electromagnetic energy and/or radiation.

• It was on this night that Aaron was born. Sawyer watches from the shadows as Kate helps Claire with the birth, and we realize that this means he was there all along. The show’s taken the time to point us at seemingly-significant times in the Island’s history. Is Aaron’s birth significant? Or is the night of the Swan’s illumination the significant portion, with Aaron’s birth more significant for Sawyer’s glimpse of Kate? It’s impossible to know.

• And with that, they do the Quantum Shuffle again.

• This is the first time Kate’s seen Jack clean-shaven in a while. And we see Jack trying to help by listening – by insisting that Kate talk to him, which is a different kind of Jack, really. He’s stubbornly insistent, but not in that wild-eyed, Overlook Hotel way we’ve seen him lately. That’s a nice change of pace, even if he’s about to slip right back into that mode.

• Locke shares the Hatch story with James (let’s call him James now, since everyone else is starting to). The Hatch is where Locke’s Island faith was first tested, his encounter with the literalization of a false idol. Recall Season 2 (which mirrors Season 5 in numerous ways – see the Season 2 columns for some instances, and stay tuned for more here), in which we saw Locke fall under a weirdly religious devotion towards the Button and the Swan. We talked then about how the act of pushing the Button could be analogized to Skinner Box experiments, and how Locke’s eventual disillusionment with the Button resulted in a changed man. That’s the Locke of Season 5, and it’s why he’s so dismissive in the conversation he has with James. He doesn’t need to go back there literally or figuratively – he’s progressed past that point in time, and he’s evolved in his thinking since he was the man pounding on the Hatch door.

• James and Locke’s conversation brings up the possibility and the desirability of trying to change the past. James suggests that someone could use the opportunity to try and change things, to do things differently. Locke sees it the other way: he needed all his experiences in order to make him who he is. Their viewpoints express fundamentally different, equally-interesting and (at this point) equally-valid philosophical positions. Their conversation has direct bearing on the direction of this show. Will Season 6 somehow reset the timeline, giving the castaways another shot at whatever it is they’re seeking (something that The Little Prince novel reminds us is usually unknown by the seeker)? Will they remain where they are, the sum of their experiences?

I’ve suggested that the show will combine the two possibilities – sending the consciousnesses of the people at the Jughead explosion back in time to some earlier point, where they will retain at least partial/instinctual memory of what they’ve done and who they’ve been, while giving them the chance to relive and potentially change their choices this time around (call it the Castaway reincarnation theory, or the Quantum Leap theory, or the “probably wildly off-base” theory.

• James, Locke and Co. come upon the castaway camp, which is trashed and abandoned. At this point, when James refers to “our people,” he’s really just referring to Rose, Bernard and Vincent. The rest of “his” people have been shot, blowed up, shot with flaming fricking arrows, and probably some got dysentery or some other horrible thing happened to them because they don’t have speaking lines and are thus, like Stallone, expendable. Really, he should just say “where are Rose, Bernard and Vincent?” Because everyone else is pushing daisies at this point.

• They discover the Hydra Island canoes on the shore – presumably the same ones we saw James and Kate using in Season 3, so he should probably remember them. The Locke group has shifted back again to post-Ajira time, around the same period in which an injured Locke received his compass from Richard. These boats were used to ferry Anti-Locke, Ben, Sun, Frank, Ilyana, Brom, and the corpse of John Locke (I love you, Lost) to the main Island. That means, then, that James and the real, alive Locke – as opposed to the corpse of John Locke or the fake ‘ghost’ of Locke (I hate you, Lost) – have “just” missed seeing those folks.

• Locke and Co take one of the canoes out to circle to the Orchid. As they’re paddling along another boat appears in the distance behind them, and begins shooting at them. I don’t know that we definitively learned who was in that other boat – but can we assume that it’s Ilyana? Since we know that Ajira’s crashed, and we know that she and her crew are bringing Locke’s body to the Island, then it makes sense for her to shoot at what she’d think was the ‘fake’ Locke, right?

• Jack and Kate mistakenly believe that Norton’s client is Claire’s mother. Jack now knows she is Aaron’s grandmother, and that Aaron is his nephew. He tells Kate that he can ‘fix it,’ but of course, Jack doesn’t even know what he’s trying to fix (another echo of that portion of The Little Prince). In actuality, Claire’s mother has no idea that Aaron may be Claire’s child.

• In one fell swoop, Dan Norton’s arranged for Hurley to be exonerated and released. In order to make the grade to be Ben Linus’ lawyer I’d imagine you’d have to be one intelligent, merciless sonofabitch. If Lost does a spin-off, I think they should try creating a procedural around Norton’s firm in which shady, Island-related lawyers cut backroom deals and try cases like “The People v. Smoke Monster.”

• Locke and Co. come across Rousseau’s wreckage, and we cut to her team floating in an octagonal raft, evoking the Dharma wheel shape, which in turns evokes the frozen Orchid Wheel, and the star “brand” we’ve seen.

• They recover the unconscious body of Jin, who, for the second time, is involved in an explosion on a boat where he narrowly avoids death. Season 5 again mirrors Season 2, in that both seasons reintroduced Jin after the explosion, having left the question of his death up in the air from the previous season.

• Ben, Jack, Sayid and Kate met at the docks. Ben reveals that he was trying to take Aaron, and we see that Sun is watching this exchange from her car with a sleeping Aaron in the backseat, before she exits the vehicle with the previously-seen handgun. Sun’s an outstanding babysitter, no?

• We end with Jin discovering the identities of Rousseau and her crew, and I look forward to revisiting that story in the next episode. Rousseau and Co. most resemble the tail-enders to me, and I think those groups serve as an intentional mirror of each other. In both cases, a group wrecks on the Island, helps to save other survivors, suspects that one of their number is not who he says he is, and eventually have that belief confirmed. Both Rousseau and Ana Lucia are driven to kill the Other(s) that they discover among them. Both groups die out entirely leaving only one eventual survivor: Rousseau/Bernard. These are interesting parallels, and their reflective quality also gives us a sense of events repeating themselves, in obvious and in subtle ways.

• And in the event there’s any doubt that this episode is definitively meant to be connected with the novel of the same name, take a look at the canister that Locke finds washed up with the rest of Rousseau’s crash-wreckage. Stamped on the canister in blocky black letters is the following: BESIXDOUZE.

What’s the significance of that? Take another look: Be-Six-Douze, otherwise known as….B-612, the name of the Prince’s asteroid.


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