Originally aired May 25, 2005
“And to a place I come where nothing shines.” –Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, The Inferno, Canto IV
I’m getting all verklempt. This is it. The end of season one. And while season four is (thankfully) just around the corner, and I CAN’T WAIT, I always get a little sad around endings.
But end it must. This season we were introduced to a group of people who found themselves physically lost on a mysterious island, and emotionally lost in their own lives. They are all seeking to be saved, one way or another. And in this, the final episode of the first season, they attempt to make progress towards that goal: some on a precarious raft in the middle of the sea, and others staring down a gaping hole in the earth, looking deep into a mysterious underworld and hoping for the best.
Let’s jump in!
Flashback #1: Jin and Sun
The last we saw of Jin and Sun, they were killing a little time at the airport food court. Sun overheard an American couple mocking their relationship and knocked some hot coffee into Jin’s lap. What’s interesting here is that while the last time this scene was played it was from Sun’s perspective, and she knocked the coffee onto Jin when she overheard the Americans talking about how Asians’ divorce rates are so much lower than their own. However, from Jin’s perspective, Sun knocks the coffee over in an act of pure clumsiness. See, because he can’t understand what the Americans are saying, to him, the spill was simply an accident — but as Freud says (or theorized at the very least), there are no accidents.
Jin heads to the bathroom to clean himself up, and as he washes his hands, this Caucasian dude in a Hawaiian shirt asks in English for a paper towel. But, of course, Jin doesn’t understand English. But! Then! Unexpectedly! The man asks again, in Korean!
The man explains that he works for Mr. Paik, Jin’s father-in-law, and that he knows all about Jin’s plan to run away once in America. If Jin does anything besides deliver the watch to Mr. Paik’s friend, Hawaiian Shirt warns, Jin will lose Sun forever. And just to rub it in, he tells Jin that he is not free, he has never been free, and he never will be free. So there.
Oh, and we had a brief shot of Sayid being apologized to by airport security. Sorry we detained you for being an A-Rab! Have a nice flight!
Flashback #2: Charlie
Charlie is frantically searching for something in his hotel room as a pantless groupie lies prone on the bed. She may not have any pants, but Dirty Groupie does have one a-maz-ing Poison shirt! Lucky girl! (Ooh…I wonder if she’ll be on this season of Rock of Love! She’s skeevy enough to be a contestant.) Anyway.
Charlie’s looking for his heroin, Rock of Love Wannabe wants some, too. Charlie finds it, doesn’t share, and Rock of Love Wannabe begins beating the holy poo out of him while yelling at him to “let it go” (after insulting his band. “Drive Thru.” Heh.). But when all is said and done, Charlie hangs on to his heroin without sharing with Rock of Love Wannabe, who in turn calls him pathetic, and stomps out, pants in hand, somewhat fortunately for the other hotel guests.
Glamorous life, there, Char.
Flashback #3: Michael and Walt
The same way that Jin and Sun’s flashbacks were from different perspectives, we have another Michael/Walt flashback and this time it’s from Michael’s perspective. The father and son are at the airport, and Michael is trying, again, to make small talk with this little stranger that has been dumped on him. And Walt isn’t having it, focusing instead on his Game Boy. So Michael heads off to make a “business” call at a nearby payphone (remember those?). He calls his mother instead and complains that he doesn’t know how he’s going to be able to raise Walt alone. He suggests that perhaps she could do it since Walt wasn’t supposed to be his — this wasn’t part of the plan. But apparently, Michael’s mom isn’t a sucker and turns him down. And as Michael hangs up the phone, who should be standing directly behind him the whole time, listening, but Walt. Whoops!
Flashback #4: Hurley
Oh, poor Hurley. He’s having some electrical malfunctions in his hotel room (room 2342, natch). Electrical issues that prevent his alarm clock from working, and as such, electrical issues that have made him late for his flight home. And he can’t miss this flight, because it’s his momma’s birthday tomorrow!
Rushing! Rushing! Rushing! Hurley runs to the hotel elevator only to find it packed to the brim, including one surly hobbit. So, it’s the stairs for Hurley. Rushing! Rushing! Rushing! He grabs a car, and all is going well until another mechanical failure just as he’s approaching the airport (and the gauges of his car read: 42 km; 23° C; 16 KPH, down to 15, and 8 until it becomes 4 KPH and finally dies).
Rushing! Rushing! Rushing! And Hurley gets to the Oceanic ticketing counter where he is met with a snotty ticketing agent. Hurley urges her to hurry — he has to make this flight as his mother’s birthday is tomorrow or today … he doesn’t really get the whole time change thing, and she announces that he will have to purchase two tickets due to his size. FINE. DO IT. She prints his ticket and then informs him that his flight is boarding … in the International Terminal. They are currently in the Domestic Terminal. Maybe he’s not meant to be on this flight?
RUSHING RUSHING RUSHING Hurley attempts to cut the security line (no deal — oh and, hey, there’s Arzt!), and then buys an old guy’s scooter from him for $1600.
(Old guy? Wearing a “Crazy 8‘s Casino” hat.)
ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM to Gate 23 …
… (passing a girls’ soccer team, who, OF COURSE, are wearing each of the numbers on their jerseys), and he makes it to the gate! Just as they’re closing the jet way door … But! The gate agent takes pity on him, and whaddya know? It’s his lucky day! They’re going to let him on the flight that’s going to crash on Mystery Island! Hooray!
Flashback #5: Locke
When he was at the gate for flight 815, Locke was informed that their “special” airline wheelchair had gone missing, and as such, he wouldn’t be able to board the flight. But then another flight attendant offers to carry him on, and so, poor, weak, lame helpless Locke is carried onto the flight, and left in his seat, humiliated.
Flashback #6: Everyone!
Everyone gets on the plane, exchanging that polite smile that you give to strangers. Because they don’t know each other yet, see. But, boy howdy, will that change. Oh, and the comic book that Walt was reading at the beginning of the season? It was Hurley’s.
And yet another Lost mystery is solved. Ta-da.
And now, onto the island.
The raft is out on the open seas; Jack, Kate, Hurley, Locke, and Arzt have headed out to the Black Rock to retrieve dynamite to attempt to blow open the hatch; and the rest of the survivors have been given orders to move from the beach to the caves out of fear that The Others are headed their way. Easier said than done, though, especially for someone like Claire, who not only has to move herself but her newborn as well. And anyone who has ever traveled with a newborn can tell ya, it’s rough. There’s a ton of gear, you worry about the baby’s crying bothering everyone else on the trip, and then there’s the baby himself who seems to weigh twice as much as the 10 pounds that he supposedly weighs, especially when he’s squirming, and long story short, Claire’s FREAKING OUT about moving to the caves.
And somehow, Charlie makes up his mind that this means he needs a gun to protect her. Sayid vetoes this idea and tells Charlie that instead, he should help Claire schlep her stuff to the caves. Like he’s going to do for poor Shannon who seems to think she needs to drag all of Boone’s stuff with her. Get it? Shannon’s got “baggage?” That Sayid can help her with? Thanks visual metaphors!
Charlie rigs up a sling for Claire to carry the baby in and is showing her how to use it when Danielle shows up yelling for Sayid. Charlie, thoroughly freaked out, goes to get Sayid and leaves Claire alone with La FouFou. Bad idea.
Danielle gets all wonky-eyed over the baby and wants to hold him, and Claire’s like, yeah, I don’t think so, Crazy. But then Claire gets a glimpse of Danielle’s “bush” scratch, and suddenly has a little mini-flashback wherein she’s thrashing around all over the place, and scratches Danielle’s arm in the process. Heeeey … why’d Claire scratch Danielle? Claire wonders out loud.
So Danielle bonks her over the head and takes the baby.
Predictably, Charlie doesn’t take this very well, and for some reason punches Sayid. And despite this, Sayid agrees to help him track Danielle. Sayid believes Danielle has taken Aaron to the black smoke to attempt to make a trade with The Others for her own child. Which Charlie thinks is crazy, but being crazy is out of character for Danielle, how exactly? They arm themselves, and Claire’s all weepy and wants to come with them to get Aaron back because apparently, this entire incident has inspired her to finally name the little guy and whatever, but Charlie and Sayid tell her to go back to the caves. Charlie will get the baby back, he promises.
Sun, Claire, and the rest of the survivors who aren’t on some sort of expedition make their way to the caves, where Shannon continues to mope. Sun assures her that Boone died a hero, but then weirdly suggests that they are all stuck on the island as some form of punishment for what they did in their pasts. Which is one way to make someone in mourning feel better, I suppose. When Shannon wonders who it is that is punishing them, Sun suggests Fate. But Claire, little miss astrology, asserts that there is no such thing. Interesting …
Back to Sayid and Charlie. There’s a lot of running on the beach. Running, running, running. And then they’re at the Beechcraft crash site, where they stop just long enough for Sayid to point out the load of heroin. SIGH. Well done, Sayid.
MORE RUNNING. As they are running through the jungle, Charlie spies a bundle nestled up against a tree, and before Sayid can stop him, he grabs it. Problem is, it’s not the baby, but a trap rigged up by Danielle. And a bunch of rocks falls on Charlie’s head. THUNK. Sayid then pulls this really kinda hot macho move where he pours a bunch of gunpowder into the largest gash on Charlie’s head and sets it on fire. Cool.
And then Sayid and Charlie are at the origin of the famous black smoke: a pyre built on the beach. Neither The Others nor Danielle are anywhere to be seen. But! Sayid hears the baby crying. He urges Danielle to come out and give him the baby, which she does. She mumbles in that crazy way of hers that she just wanted to try to get her daughter back and that she heard The Others whispering that they were coming for the child … they were coming for the boy … To which Charlie responds that she’s pathetic. Pot, have you met kettle?
Charlie and Sayid head to the caves and return Aaron to Claire. Hooray! Charlie’s a hero! Except that he has a Mary full of heroin in his bag. Boo.
Yeah, so the thing is, maybe Danielle wasn’t that crazy … maybe she merely misunderstood the disembodied voices that were whispering in the jungle about taking the child. Since Alex was an infant when The Others took her from Danielle, she assumes that they are only interested in babies. Of course, there’s another kid on the island. Or, I suppose, there was another kid on the island. But good thing he’s safe and sound on a raft somewhere out on the ocean!
The raft group is enjoying their freedom: they bond over Bob Marley songs, Sawyer shares that he had a crappy childhood and intends to kill someone, and Jin shows Michael the translations that Sun made for him, and gives Michael the Watch of Great Dispute. Good times.
At one point, Michael invites Walt to steer the raft, which he goes fine while the two of them discuss why it was that Michael and Susan split up (different directions in their lives) and why Michael never saw Walt (Susan thought it was best for Walt). Walt disagrees with his mother’s decision, and promptly steers the raft into a log, breaking off the raft’s rudder. Sawyer selflessly dives into the ocean and retrieves it. Yay.
And then that evening, Sawyer fires up the radar equipment against Michael’s wishes. There’s some banter between the two, where Sawyer notes that Michael has the patience of a saint to be able to deal with Walt, which of course is just a backhanded way to tell someone that their kid is a brat. Michael then wonders what Sawyer’s damage is: does he want to be a hero, or does he just have a death wish. It’s the latter, assures Sawyer. And then! There’s a beep! On the radar! Something’s out there!
And the group debates whether or not they should shoot their only flare, as the blip on the radar screen moves further and further away. Shoot it! Don’t shoot it! SHOOT IT!
And they shoot it! And the blip that was just about to fall off the radar screen? It turns back! There’s the sound of a motor! And a light! THEY’VE BEEN SAVED! HOORAY!
A small fishing boat soon comes into view, and there’s this man … this big, smiling, dirty bearded man (who is shockingly, SHOCKINGLY not included on fametracker.com‘s “Hey! It’s that guy!” section. Seriously, M.C. Gainey is the very definition of “Hey! It’s that guy!” Anyone who has been in episodes of Knight Rider, T.J. Hooker, The X-Files, and Desperate Housewives AND was in Beerfest, Mr. Woodcock, and Sideways AND was in BOTH an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard AND The Dukes of Hazzard THE MOVIE as Roscoe P. Coltrane, no less … that person, my friends, that person is a “Hey! It’s that guy!” if there has ever been such a thing. /rant.) who asks them what they’re doing so far out in the middle of nowhere. Michael tries to explain that they are survivors of a plane crash, which warrants a “Huh. How about that,” from Beardy.
Something’s not right.
When Michael tries to tell Beardy about the other people on the island, he’s interrupted with a disinterested, “Ain’t that something.” And then Beardy informs Michael and the rest of the Rafties that they need to give them the boy.
This goes over poorly, as you might imagine, and when Michael responds that he’s not giving them anything, Beardy’s people beginning attacking. Sawyer draws his gun, but is shot by Beardy’s team and falls into the water. Bye, Sawyer! Jin dives in after him. Bye, Jin! See you guys next season! Beardy’s guys (twins? perhaps?) jump onto the raft and grab Walt, as Michael struggles with them. He falls into the drink, too. Beardy’s people take Walt onto their boat, and then, just for good measure, lob a Molotov cocktail at the raft, which, you know, just seems unnecessary and nasty. And then the boat speeds away as a dog-paddling Michael watches in horror.
So, I guess it was Walt The Others were after all along. Huh. Wonder why…
Alright. Last but not least. The Black Rock/Hatch expedition. The group stares at the 19th-century ship improbably stranded here in the jungle, and while Hurley wonders aloud how something like that happens, Danielle (who hasn’t left to go babynapping yet) is, ironically, the only voice of common sense when she asks if Hurley is on the same island that she’s on. WORD. And with that, Danielle’s like: see you suckas later. I’ve got a couple of people to brain and a baby to grab. Your explosives are in the hold of the ship. Peace out.
Locke, Kate, and Jack head into the ship, which is exactly the shiny happy place you might expect. Filled to the brim with skeletons and chains and skeletons in chains, Locke deduces that it was a slave ship from somewhere on the East African coast like Mozambique, en route to a mining colony.
For what it’s worth. Kate finds a box of explosives, and the menfolk carry it out of the ship to crack it open there.
Outside, Arzt is delivering the Redshirt Manifesto to poor Hurley: Hurley, Jack, Kate, and the rest of them think they are soooo cool. And that the rest of the people on the island don’t matter a whit. But they’re real people, too. Why does Kate get all the best wreckage for her shelter? Why doesn’t Jin share his fish with everyone? Why hasn’t Hurley lost any weight?
When Locke, Jack, and Kate emerge with a box full o’ TNT, Arzt bugs out. Apparently, dynamite in extreme heat becomes … unstable. And it begins to sweat Nitroglycerin. Which happens to be the most dangerous explosive known to man. Arzt begins wrapping the sticks of dynamite in a wet shirt as he explains that they have to handle them with extreme care. Unfortunately for Arzt, he forgets his own advice, waves a stick of dynamite around and then he explodes.
Dude just explodes.
Shocked, Hurley tries to tell Kate that he’s the reason Arzt blowed up, but Kate assures him it was merely an accident. Mmm-hmm. Sure it was.
Locke and Jack wrap up a handful of dynamite (2 sticks to blow up the hinge, 3 to be safe. Oh, but let’s take 2 sets in case something happens to the one set of 3 sticks, meaning, we have to wrap up 6 sticks, which ASIDE FROM BEING THE MAGIC NUMBER FOR SEASON FOUR, is a lot of dangerous dynamite to be handling.), and Locke makes an Operation allusion.
Then there’s some boring fighting between Kate and Jack over who is going to carry the dynamite and they draw straws and blah blah blah, Kate and Locke draw the short straws and have to carry the boomsticks the end.
Jack instructs Locke and Kate that if they hear or see anything like a giant monster or something, they need to put the packs down first and then run. And then they head back into the jungle towards the hatch.
As they make their way through the Dark Territory, Hurley asks Locke what he thinks is in the hatch, and Locke turns the question right back to Hurley. Wistfully, Hurley tells Locke that he thinks the hatch will be filled with “Stacks of TV dinners from the 50’s, or something. And TVs, and cable, some cell phones, clean socks, soap, Twinkies — you know, for dessert, after the TV dinners.” Locke chuckles and tells Hurley he thinks “hope” is inside the hatch. BOOOORING.
Lost note: And as it turns out, Hurley wasn’t wrong! The hatch does have a bunch of food in it, it has a washer and dryer — thus clean socks, and it has a shower and all the bathroom accouterment! Good call, Hurley! Now, interestingly, in the season two finale, “Live Together, Die Alone,” Sawyer instigates a similar conversation about The Others:
SAWYER: So, these Others, you think they’re left over from the DHARMA folk?
MICHAEL: I don’t know, man.
SAWYER: My theory, they’re aliens. That’s why they use the fake beards–their heads are made of pathetic.
HURLEY: Prosthetic, dude.
And the thing is, Sawyer isn’t necessarily wrong! The Others aren’t left over DHARMA, and they are alien, as in foreign, to the island. Or at least a lot of them are. Still not sure about Alpert …
Anywho. Locke and Hurley are interrupted by a giant bird that may or may not have squawked “HURLEY” as it flew by (which is also referenced in “Live Together, Die Alone,”),
which would be strange enough if it weren’t overshadowed by the creepy chittering noise that starts up … and that cloud of black smoke that Jack and Kate catch a glimpse of as it dashes through the trees.
And then bad things happen.
Trees are RIPPED FROM THE GROUND (or are they pushed up from beneath? WHO KNOWS.), roaring starts up, and everyone with any sense runs away. RUN AWAY! But not Locke. Nope, dude turns around and waits for the monster. And Jack’s like, yo! Are you mad?
But Locke just stares up at something, all dopey and dreamy-like, until there’s a “footstep” for lack of a better description, right next to him and he falls to the ground and he’s like, ZOMG!!1! … and uh-oh.
And that’s when something (a tendril? why the chain-like noises?) grabs Locke by the legs and starts dragging him across the jungle floor, (ouch!) and into a big hole. Jack runs after him, and Kate runs after Jack ‘cuz that what she does, and Jack manages to grab Locke by the arms before he’s swallowed whole, and tells Kate that he needs the dynamite.
And Kate WHO DIDN’T TAKE OFF HER DYNAMITE-FILLED BACKPACK when everyone first started running from the monster (good thinking, brainiac!), is like, sure — and begins to take off her backpack when Jack stops her and tells her that it’s actually in his pack because he pulled the ol’ switcheroo on Kate.
As she runs off to retrieve Jack’s pack, Locke demands that Jack let him go — he’ll be alright. But Jack doesn’t let go, ‘cuz that’s what he does, and then Kate comes back and throws a stick of dynamite into the hole and there’s an explosion a little further away and then Locke is free, and Jack pulls him out of the hole, the end.
And now it’s night. And Jack is demanding answers from Locke — what was that all about back there, the whole “let me go meow meow meow” business? And Locke swears that “it” wouldn’t have hurt him. And Jack’s like, Dude. It was going to kill you. And Locke’s like, nuh-uh. And Jack’s like, yeah-huh. And then Jack demands to know what is going on in Locke’s head. And so now is the part where I do a big blockquote, because this is A Very Important Speech:
LOCKE: I believe that I was being tested.
LOCKE: Yeah, tested.
JACK: I think …
LOCKE: That’s why you and I don’t see eye-to-eye sometimes, Jack — because you’re a man of science.
JACK: Yeah, and what does that make you?
LOCKE: Me, well, I’m a man of faith. Do you really think all this is an accident — that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence — especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.
JACK: Brought here? And who brought us here, John?
LOCKE: The island. The island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you’ve seen that, I know you have. But the island chose you, too, Jack. It’s destiny.
JACK: Did you talk with Boone about destiny, John?
LOCKE: Boone was a sacrifice that the island demanded. What happened to him at that plane was a part of a chain of events that led us here — that led us down a path — that led you and me to this day, to right now.
JACK: And where does that path end, John?
LOCKE: The path ends at the hatch. The hatch, Jack — all of it — all of it happened so that we could open the hatch.
JACK: No, no, we’re opening the hatch so that we can survive.
LOCKE: Survival is all relative, Jack.
JACK: I don’t believe in destiny.
LOCKE: Yes, you do. You just don’t know it yet.
So then they get to the hatch, and Locke and Jack set the charges — the idea being they are going to blow the hatch door off its hinges. Kate whines at Jack about switching the dynamite out of her pack, and Jack ISN’T INTERESTED. Because he’s tired of everyone second-guessing his decisions after they appoint him leader.
And somehow, while all this is going on, Hurley catches a glimpse of the numbers etched into the hatch and FREAKS OUT. Hurley tries to tell Locke to not set the fuse, that they have to stop, and Locke totally hears him but goes along with it anyway. And poor Hurley, he tries to chase down the lit fuse all the while shrieking about the numbers! and how they’re bad! But it’s too late, and KA-BOOM! Off goes the hatch door.
And then, to the consternation of millions of Lost fans everywhere, Locke and Jack look down what appears to be a bottomless hole with a broken ladder, and we don’t see what’s at the bottom.
End season one.
Cue the trumpets.
So, we’ve discussed the relationship between Lost and the Book of Exodus last week (in excruciating detail, I might note), and I don’t have much to add to that other than to note that Claire chooses to name the baby Aaron. Aaron was Moses’ older brother and the first high priest of the Israelites. He’s an interesting character, Aaron. Moses was the prophet but didn’t have much of a way with words. Aaron, on the other hand, was a smooth talker, often spoke on behalf of Moses, and was with him during some of the most important moments in Moses’ story. For instance, he helped Moses confront the Pharaoh, performed miracles of his own, and then later was the trouble maker who made the golden calf. And despite that little mishap, he is the one that God chose as his first representative as a High Priest.
During the plagues, it is Aaron’s rod that is thrown before the Pharaoh and turns into a snake as a demonstration of God’s power. And then, later, to determine from which of the twelve tribes the priestly line will come, God commands that each of the tribes provide a rod. The rod that blossoms overnight will determine which of the tribes gets to be the priests. And whaddya know, but Aaron’s rod is covered in blossoms and ripe almonds the next morning.
Interestingly, according to the Haggadah, the rod of Aaron is the rod of Moses, and it has quite a history. The rod was created on the 6th day of creation, given to Adam when he was banished from the Garden of Eden, and eventually passed on to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Upon Joseph’s death, the Egyptians stole a bunch of his stuff, including the rod, and it came to be in Jethro‘s possession. Jethro planted it in his garden, and miraculously, it could not be removed because God’s name was inscribed upon it. When Moses came along, he saw the rod, read the name, and was able to remove it from the ground (not unlike Arthur and Excalibur). Because he was able to master the rod, Jethro allowed him to marry his daughter. And what this story really is, is a way to symbolically link Moses and Aaron to the great Patriarchs — to legitimize the priestly line as being connected to the first man, and the founders of the Jewish race.
Finally, it should be noted that the rod that Aaron is so identified with is a symbol of authority in Israeli culture, as shepherds use rods to guide their flocks. Aaron is assigned by God to be the shepherd of his flock: the Israelites.
And, then there’s Baby Aaron, who is, after all, a Shephard. (Long way to go to make that point, but what are you going to do?)
From the Bible to Bob Marley: so, no doubt you noticed Sawyer singing “Redemption Song,” to himself on the raft. Before we get to the whole redemption issues thang, an interesting fact about the Bob Marley song: apparently some Jewish youth groups use the melody of “Redemption Song” to sing the Mi Camocha prayer, which is from the Song of the Sea in the Book of Exodus! And, of course, Mr. Marley wrote a little song called “Exodus,” as well.
Redemption is a huge theme of the show. Most of the characters (if not all of them with the exception of wee Aaron) are in search of forgiveness for some bad past act. In this episode, Sun goes so far as to express this out loud, asking if they are on the island as punishment for their secrets and lies.
But there are two people who actively seek out redemption: Sawyer and Kate. They both go above and beyond in their efforts to make things right. Sawyer not only crafted a new mast for the raft by himself, but he plunges into the ocean to retrieve the rudder and takes a bullet in the effort to protect Walt. And Kate insists on going on the Black Rock mission and then fights with Jack over carrying the wildly unstable dynamite to the hatch. The two anti-heroes are willing to sacrifice themselves for the group.
This is not unlike in “Through the Looking Glass,” when Juliet and Sawyer make up an excuse to go back to the beach camp, which they presume will be something of a death sentence. They are trying to make amends. They want to be redeemed. They want to save themselves by saving others. (Of course, you could argue that Kate and Sawyer both feel like their lives aren’t worth saving at all, and that’s why they’re so willing to throw themselves on the proverbial grenade, but that’s not particularly helpful to my point, so let’s move on.)
Redemption and sacrifice are inextricably tied together. When a sacrifice is made, it is done with the intention of gaining something greater in return: a better harvest, multitudes of children, forgiveness — whathaveyou. And to achieve redemption or salvation, the sinner in question often must sacrifice something, be it a blood sacrifice as is described in the Old Testament, or submission to God, as the New Testament commands. So it is not surprising that Kate and Sawyer, the two people on the island we know have killed someone, are seeking redemption, and are willing to sacrifice themselves if that’s what it takes.
And then there’s Boone — the sacrifice the island demanded, according to Locke. It’s interesting … Locke makes this comment to Jack shortly after telling him that he feels the island is “testing” him. He believes that Boone’s purpose, and the purpose of his death, was to facilitate Locke achieving the “Ultimate Boon:” his purpose on the island, his destiny. This mirrors season three’s episode “Catch-22” nicely. In that episode, Desmond also feels that he is being tested, but the test there is whether or not he should sacrifice Charlie so as to save Penny. Locke presumes that Boone had to die in order to open the hatch. But could he simply be as mistaken as Desmond was? Meaning, Boone’s death had no impact on whether or not they’d open the hatch: the hatch would be opened regardless, just as Charlie’s death had no impact on Penny being saved: it was never going to be Penny in the flight suit.
Let’s pause here to apologize to my poor non-Lost-watching editor for that last sentence.
Just as Danielle misunderstood The Whispers and thought The Others were coming for the baby, perhaps Locke misunderstood the message from the island regarding Boone. That, or he was merely justifying his behavior and complicity in Boone’s death. Occam’s Razor, and all that. But! This does make me wonder about The Whispers themselves! And I’m probably really late to the game here and this may have been obvious to everyone else, but could The Whispers be a manifestation of Jacob? I always assumed they had something to do with The Others, but mayhaps not …
Speaking of Desmond, let’s talk about that hatch for a moment. Locke claims that it contains “hope,” alluding to Pandora’s Box. We’ve discussed this before, but a quick refresher: In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman created by Hephaestus as a punishment upon man for acquiring fire. The gods provide her with numerous seductive gifts, including a jar (or box, as it’s come to be told) and Pandora, against direct orders, opens this jar, scattering its contents to the winds, which is unfortunate, since it contained sickness and evil and torment and so on and so forth. But, she managed to close it just in time to contain hope. So I guess it ends on an upbeat note.
What’s fascinating to me is that about the Pandora’s Box story is that it is a creation myth not unlike Genesis. And not unlike Genesis, we are blaming the woman again for all the evil in the world. 99 problems and all that. And I COULD go on a feminist rant about how the Pandora’s Box story is an inversion of a Mother Goddess myth in which Pandora is the giver of gifts, she is the representation of the fertility of the earth and gives mankind grain and fruits, and in fact, is not the bumbling idiot who ruins the carefree life that men had going before women showed up, and as such the myth is used, not unlike the whole Garden of Eden story, as a justification for the patriarchy and an excuse for oppressing women. But I won’t.
And so the hatch is this mystery, this unknown quantity (Side note: watch the video I just linked you to. Seriously. If you are enough of a Lost fan to be reading all 2 quizillion words here, you need to watch this J.J. Abrams video. You’ll love it.). The hatch could, almost literally, contain anything at all. Locke chooses to believe it contains hope and his destiny. Jack views it as merely a means to survive. And Hurley? After he sees those numbers, Hurley believes that it contains something very very bad. And to some degree, they’re all correct. The hatch is ambiguous, not unlike Pandora’s Box, which contained simultaneously all the evils in the world, but also hope.
It’s hard now to remember the excitement and frustration that viewers felt at the end of season one when the show cut to the LOST title card having FINALLY opened the hatch, but not telling us what was in it … (and back then we only had to wait 4 months to discover the answer. It seemed so long then …) And in fact, when season two premiered, and we learned what was inside (a half-crazed Scot suffering from severe lack of sleep), a number of viewers walked away from the show. The mystery didn’t live up to what was in their own imaginations. To them, it was better to leave the story at that moment when Jack and Locke are peering down into some unknown underworld, rather than continue on the path with the Desmond and the computer and the 108 minutes and all that.
Which brings me to all the underworld imagery we have in this episode and “Exodus, Part I.” Maybe I’m reading too much into it all, but there’s a nice symmetry with Dante’s Inferno and this season. The very first scene in the series — Jack waking up in a mysterious woods, completely lost — mirrors Canto I.
“Midway upon the journey of our life / I found myself within a forest dark, / For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.”
And the very last scene of the season — Jack and Locke peering down into (potentially) the gates of Hell — mirrors Canto III:
“Through me the way into the suffering city,
Through me the way to the eternal pain,
Through me the way that runs among the lost.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
My maker was divine authority,
The highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Before me nothing but eternal things were made,
And I endure eternally.
Abandon every hope, ye who enter here.”
These words in sombre colour I beheld
Written upon the summit of a gate;
Whence I: “Their sense is, Master, hard to me!”
And he to me, as one experienced:
“Here all suspicion needs must be abandoned,
All cowardice must needs be here extinct.”
For what is the hatch itself, buried deep in the ground, but a literal underworld. As are the gaping holes the monster creates and attempts to pull Locke into. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: on the blast door map, something called “Cerberus” is referenced. It hasn’t been confirmed, but some think that this is the name for the smoke monster. In Greek Mythology, Cerberus is the three-headed dog who guards the underworld, and as such is a fitting name for whatever it was that tried to drag Locke down into the netherworld.
And while the hatch and monster holes are somewhat obvious underworld references, another less obvious reference are all the boats. Boats represent transition, the passage from one world to another. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the dead pharaohs would travel into the underworld via boat. And the Ancient Greeks believed that to enter Hades, you crossed the river Styx (technically, a branch of it known as the Acheron) on Charon‘s boat. We have three boats in this episode, and they can all be viewed as ferries to the “other side” as it were.
The raft, designed to save the Losties, in fact carries them to a much worse fate and delivers Michael into his own personal Hell. (And of course, Jin and Sawyer have fallen into the drink — they’ve gone “under” as it were.)
The Others’ boat, like Charon’s ferry, takes only those who are supposed to be on the “other” side — pun totally intended.
And then there’s the Black Rock. The Black Rock is filled with skeletons and dynamite — it’s quite literally a death ship. Arzt dies right next to it, and it is where Sawyer later kills the man he promises Walt in this episode that he’s going to kill. The Black Rock may not physically ferry Jack, Locke, Hurley, and Kate to another world, but they must board it to retrieve the dynamite if they are to access the literal underworld — the interior of the hatch.
And then there’s the Persephone story. Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was abducted by Hades (which actually translates into “the unseen” and is an apt description of the hatch and The Others, no?) and carried away to the underworld. This really ticked off her momma, who happened to be a fertility goddess and was in charge of the seasons. Demeter was so ticked that she stopped the earth and searched everywhere for Persephone. And Zeus, thoroughly sick of the kvetching from all the dying humans, ordered Hades to return the girl.
Before he did, however, Hades tricked Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds, and according to the fine print on the deal that Persephone made with Hades, if she ate anything from the underworld, she would have to return there. So, the deal that was eventually hammered out was that Persephone would spend half the year above ground with her momma, and the other half in the underworld with Hades, which is why we have seasons — the half of the year Persephone is in Hades, Demeter is so distraught she gives up on her job and the weather turns crappy.
An abducted daughter? A distraught mother? The Unseen? Alex’s abduction by Benry and The Others is the Persephone myth, minus the icky rape part. (Interesting side note: Hades was also the lord of the riches found inside the earth. Could Benry be guarding something valuable to be found within the earth of the island that these “rescuers” may be seeking?)
So, what to make of all the underworld references? There are obvious allusions to heaven, hell, and purgatory throughout the show, and this lead to the infamous “they’re all dead and in purgatory!” theory, which was promptly dismissed by the creators. I think the allusions to the underworld the afterlife are more metaphorical than literal. These are people whose lives as they once knew them have ended. They have literally passed on to another realm, physically and emotionally. The “underworld,” particularly as it is used in this episode with the hatch, represents the unknown, a strange new world, with potential dangers.
In the hero’s journey, the hero must pass through the unknown before he can return to the familiar world with his gifts, his “ultimate boon.” Jack and Locke must journey into the underworld, the unknown, of the hatch, to become heroes and save the rest of the survivors. It also represents the unconscious mind, and all those parts of the self that the individual is frightened to journey into, but must if they are ever going to be able to resolve their issues. To move forward in their lives, to find peace, the survivors must first travel into the scary depths of themselves …
And one last quick note about this episode: time. It plays heavily in this episode. For instance: it’s a huge moment when Jin gives Michael the watch — the watch that was such a point of conflict between the two men. It represents how Jin finally feels free. Free from his oppressive father-in-law, free from his jealousy and over-protectiveness, and free from time (Jin’s name may be an allusion to Jinns or Genies as we know them in the West. Jinns are, according to folklore, spirits with free will, and are often depicted being connected to an object — trapped by it. Jin and his watch.).
And then there’s Hurley. In his flashback there are two curious things: 1. it’s because his clock doesn’t work that his entire day is thrown off, and he nearly misses his plane and 2. his comment to the ticket agent — “My mom’s birthday is tomorrow. Or, today — I don’t know. I don’t really get the whole time change thing, but I’ve got to make that flight.” These time references stick out like a sore thumb to me in light of Desmond’s adventures later, but I’m not sure if I’m just reading meaning into insignificant moments, or if these were tiny little clues deliberately included. Thoughts?
Also, we know now that The Others abducted Walt because Jacob told them to, but why?
So that’s it! Season one! Rewatching it with you guys has been a treat, and my great pleasure. I am honored that you wanted to go back with me (We have to go back, Kate! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!!), and that you’ve read roughly 100,000 words of my ramblings about a television show. I learned so much and feel better-armed to tackle season four with you guys in a couple of weeks, and do hope that you’ll join me right here when Lost finally returns. I’ll save you a seat on the couch, I’ll make up a batch of fish biscuits, and I promise not to talk over all the good parts.
Oh! And before I forget, there’s one more 6 that might be significant: The Orchid Station, DHARMA station six.
Could it be that the boat folks that Jack contacted were looking for the island for whatever it was that Station 6 was working on?
CAN’T WAIT! TWO WEEKS AND COUNTING!
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.