“Two for the Road”
Originally aired May 3, 2006
I wish I could go back in time and relive the utter and complete shock I felt when I first watched this particular episode. When this episode first aired, I was absolutely floored. I did not see Ana-Lucia’s death coming, and as I sat there sputtering, gaping, tearing up (I’m a crier. We’ve discussed this.), Michael wheels around and shoots LIBBY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I am not allowed to curse on Tubular. We are an institution with refined sensibilities here (*cough*). But I assure you, at that moment, when Michael stares down at Libby and realizes just what he has done, my mind was on something of a profanity-filled loop, unable to process what I had just seen. Shock and awe, indeed.
No episode surprised me like this since “Walkabout,” and as such, because I have something of an apparent masochist streak, I loooved it. Loved it loved it. Even though they killed off two great characters. Even if they killed off two great characters because the actors who played them were arrested for driving drunk (probably). Even if they killed off two great characters, which means that we’ll probably never learn anything about Libby’s mysterious backstory. I don’t care. I love this episode. Because I, like Ana, never saw it coming.
On the roof of the parking garage for the LA Cops, Ana Lucia’s momma, Captain Cortez, confronts Ana about her whereabouts the night before. When Ana can’t give her a proper alibi (really?) Captain Cortez explains that the two of them are going for a ride. And this entire scene was set up so that we could see (almost) all of the Numbers on the police cruisers. For reals.
The two of them take a trip to the morgue. Which is a touching moment in any woman’s life, when her mother escorts her to the morgue to identify the body of the man who she’s murdered in cold blood.
Quick history: Ana Lucia was shot several times (4 times to be exact) by this guy, Jason, which didn’t kill Ana, but did cause her to lose her baby. When the cops bought him in, Ana Lucia refused to identify him, he was set free, and she hunted him down, putting 6 bullets into him. Karma is an unpleasant female dog, as they say. But Ana Lucia plays dumb when her mother shows her Jason’s body, and confronts her with these facts. Ana doesn’t exactly deny anything, instead refusing help from her mother and then quitting in a snit. Because that’s how Ana rolls.
No longer a cop, Ana takes a job as an airport security guard. Airport security guard? Could be an awful job or it could be awesome. On the one hand, dealing with cranky stressed-out passengers who have been dealing with long lines, fees for bringing their luggage with them, the inability to travel with their favorite shampoo or a bottle of water, and who have nothing to look forward to other than sitting in a metal tube with a bunch of strangers and MAYBE if they’re lucky, MAYBE a teeny bag of peanuts for their trouble, that can’t be fun.
On the other hand, you get to make them take off their shoes! For no reason! THE POWER.
Anywho. Ana Lucia seems unhappy with this job and takes a load off at the airport bar, because wouldn’t you? (Well, maybe minus the tequila and tonic part, because this life is too short to drink disgusting drinks, yo.) And that’s where she’s approached by an older gentleman who recognized her as the guard who “wanded” him if you know what I mean.
(I mean, seriously? How dirty does that sound?) And, of course, it’s not just any older gentleman, but, who else, Christian Freaking Shephard.
Lost note: So, Ana Lucia is an airport security guard? This is interesting, for a couple of reasons. 1. In “Further Instructions,” Locke has a vision, in which he sees the survivors in an airport. And who should be the security guard?
2. Ana as an airport security guard is an apt metaphor for where Ana is in her life at this moment. No longer a cop, she’s found a job in an airport, a liminal space if there ever was one. She, like the passengers going through her gate, is in between places in her life.
Christian starts chatting her up, asking her how she became a security guard, and she reveals that she recently stopped being a cop. Which is a coincidence, since he recently stopped being a doctor. Small world and all that. Christian reveals that his son ratted him out for drinking on the job, and he lost his license as a result. Which only seems reasonable. Ana, who of course has just had her own occupation and family issues, totally understands. And then Christian, apropos of nothing, invites her to come to Australia with him, because, Hey! Why not? Ana, reasonably, questions this, but Christian explains that fate has thrown them together to help each other out. He needs a bodyguard for some sort of dangerous mission down in Sydney, and Ana? What does she need from Christian? Besides the ability to get out of Dodge? Well, I guess that’s enough, because apparently she’s all, “Sign me up!” Then they make up fake names for each other: she re-christens (YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. I PUNNED YOU.) him “Tom” and he re-christens (AND I DID IT AGAIN. AND I’M NOT SORRY.) her, WAIT FOR IT, Sarah. CHEERS!
Lost note #1: O.K. So sometimes I feel like this blog has become Lost 401, when really I need to remember that there are still Lost 101 readers out there. Christian and Jack had a falling out in the first season when Jack turned his father in for drinking on the job, which led to a pregnant patient dying on the operating table. Christian’s license was stripped, and the two of them didn’t speak again. Sad.
Lost note #2: Right, so. The names that Ana Lucia and Christian choose for each other are FASCINATING. Obviously, Sarah is Jack’s wife’s name, which is already weird, CHRISTIAN. But then when you consider that Jack suspected that his father was having an affair with Sarah, it becomes downright icky. Tom is Mr. Friendly’s actual name, but more curiously, it’s the name of Claire’s boyfriend who knocks her up and leaves her. Well, OK, Thomas. But close enough. A clue that the daughter that Christian was fighting to see is Claire? (There are actually a number of Toms or Thomases or Tommys on the show, including Tom Brennan, Kate’s childhood sweetheart, and Tommy, Charlie’s bad influence friend who hooks Charlie up with Lucy Heatherton. Then the Thomases that aren’t on the show exactly, but are part of the Lost universe including Thomas Mittelwerk and Sam Thomas.)
So, maybe Ana has a drinking problem. As someone who may or may not have recently updated her Facebook status message demanding another gin and tonic, I am not one to judge. For reals. But I will say that I’ve never gotten up in the middle of the night to fix myself a drink like Ana has here in her Sydney hotel room. Not yet, at least. Ana’s drinking her tequila and tonic (I mean, really. Gross.) when there’s a knock at the door! It’s Christian, and he doesn’t look so good. Apparently, the two of them have been in Australia for four days now, getting their drink on, without getting their food on, or their tourist on, or their sleep on. And now, in the middle of the night, he decides, “it’s time.” And Ana is like, O RLY? And Christian is like YA RLY.
And so they head out into the pouring rain to a perfectly nice-looking suburban neighborhood, and Ana’s like, WHAAAA? You needed me to protect you from what, the neighborhood association? But Christian jumps out of the car without explanation and storms up to a house where he begins banging on the door and yelling like a crazy person. Between the rain and the Patsy Cline (!) song playing on the car radio, neither we nor Ana can hear what he’s saying very clearly. A blond woman opens the door, Christian is saying something to her about wanting to see his daughter (!!) and that he has a right to, what with paying the mortgage on the house and everything. Ana Lucia, having seen enough, goes and retrieves Christian, pulling him back to the car, not having seen his daughter. Whom we all know is Claire. Hmm. Wonder what he needed to tell her so badly…
Lost note: More Patsy Cline! “Walking After Midnight” this time. We have “Leaving on Your Mind,” in “Tabula Rasa”; “Walking After Midnight” in the Swan Hatch record player in “What Kate Did,” and “Left Behind,” and “She’s Got You,” in “Eggtown.” So, interestingly, this is the first non-Kate episode in which a Patsy Cline song has been used. HMMM.
It’s morning now, and Ana Lucia would like some answers about what she just witnessed. Christian ain’t talking. When she lets him know that her name is Ana Lucia, NOT Sarah, Christian remains adamant that he is still Tom. And still pathetic, Ana retorts. Still, Ana wants to know why Christian came here, and he explains that he came because he can’t apologize to his son. He came to Sydney for the same reason she did: to run away. The two of them are having this heart-to-heart in a car right outside a bar, so Christian’s like, “Whaddya know! Look what Fate has served up THIS time!” But Ana’s had plenty to drink. As Christian opens the door, saying that it’s her call, he nearly hits Sawyer, who is on his way to have his own drink with Fate. Ana tries to convince Christian to go back with her, but he explains that he can never go back. And then he heads into the bar, aptly named “The Last Call.”
Lost note: This is another Lost 101 note, but Sawyer and Christian meet up in “Outlaws,” at this bar. Christian reveals his estrangement from his son to Sawyer, and essentially gives Sawyer the little push he needs to murder Frank Duckett, an innocent man.
Ana Lucia heads to the airport and after witnessing Jack’s little meltdown at the ticketing gate, wherein he demands to be allowed to bring his father’s body on the plane, Ana calls her mother. Ana Lucia explains that she’s in Australia, she’s made a huge mistake, and she wants to come home. She tells her mother that she’s on Oceanic 815, and her mother tells her that she’ll be there when Ana lands. And the irony lands like a punch to the gut, taking all the wind out of you.
Lost note: Jack’s conversation with Crissy, the gate agent. This is the third time this particular scene has been shown, which can’t be a coincidence. We first see this scene in “White Rabbit,” and then in “House of the Rising Sun,”. There’s a certain degree of irony here, with Jin and Ana Lucia looking on as Jack has a meltdown at the ticket desk, never knowing that this man is going to be such a huge part of their lives very shortly. But I wonder if there isn’t something more going on here. Let’s stick a pin in this scene, and remember it for later discussion, yes?
Alright. So the island events here are a little bit more intertwined than usual, so this is going to be fairly faithful to the actual events on the island. Having gone out to the “line” that they were not supposed to cross in an effort to confront the Others, Jack and Kate instead are delivered one very not healthy-looking Michael. Jack tries screaming into the jungle for the Others to come out and quit being such panty-waisted ninnies, but there’s no response. So, Jack and Kate carry Michael back to the hatch. Because he’s not getting back there on his own.
Back in the hatch, Ana Lucia brings Fenry some lunch and informs him that she used to be a cop. As such, she’s been around a lot of killers. The one thing she’s notices is that they’re a chatty bunch. But not Fenry! Fenry, in return, whispers something (akillersezwhat?) but it’s too soft for Ana, or the audience to hear. Ana leans in closer, which is a HUGE mistake, as Fenry is able to grab her and begin strangling her violently. OH NOES! Just as it seems that this is the end for Ana Lucia, Locke shows up, conks Fenry in the head with his crutch, and saves the day.
Instead of using the hatch bathroom to clean out her wounds, Ana goes to the beach to use broken mirrors and unclean towels, because who needs hygiene? Libby finds her here, seething. And Ana explains that the guy in the hatch tried to kill her. But it’s all good because she’s TOTES GOING TO MAKE HIM SORRY. Jerkface.
Back in the hatch, Locke has some questions for Fenry, namely: why did Fenry try to kill Ana Lucia and not Locke? After all, Locke was totally vulnerable, but Fenry did nothing. Fenry explains that he didn’t do anything to Locke, because Locke is “one of the good ones.” Locke is like, “tell me more!” but Fenry goes on this pity party, lamenting that none of this matters, as he is dead already. If Jack doesn’t kill him when he returns from his mission, Fenry’s own people will kill him for not fulfilling his mission. The thing is, Fenry’s leader is not a forgiving man, and since Fenry failed, he faces certain death. Locke is all like “ZOMG! WHAT MISSION?!” And Fenry explains that he was sent for Locke. And then Locke and his daddy issues swoon a little bit.
But before Locke can ask any more questions, who should arrive but Kate and Jack and Michael, with more pressing issues than Locke’s “destiny.”
Ana, in the meantime, has her own destiny to fulfill, and she heads into the jungle to ask Sawyer for a gun. Surprise, surprise, he refuses. So, Ana bides her time, deciding to follow him back to his stash. This plan is foiled when he catches her, so it’s onto Plan C: sleep with Sawyer. RROWRR!
Over on the beach, Hurley approaches Sayid for the radio that the two of them managed to get working. He has a whole plan to somehow woo Libby with said radio, but Sayid is skeptical and suggests that Hurley take Libby to this secluded beach that he once took Shannon to. OH, SAYID? THE BEACH YOU TOOK YOUR DEAD GIRLFRIEND TO THAT ONE TIME WHILE HER BROTHER WAS OFF GETTING HIMSELF KILLED BY A BEECHCRAFT AIRPLANE AND POOR DECISION-MAKING ON LOCKE’S PART? THAT BEACH? Sounds romantic!
But Hurley runs with it and is raiding the DHARMA food stash when Libby finds him. Hurley explains that his surprise is now ruined: he was going to take her on a picnic. She wanna go? Libby agrees and, just, AWW! LOVING LIBBY. Even with her mysterious past.
So, the two of them head out to the jungle, and wander around in circles (COUGH), lost for a while, before they pop out onto their beach. So, you know, FAIL. On the beach, Libby asks for the blankets, and Hurley’s all, “blankets?” How ’bout wine? “Wine?” So, Libby starts a new plan: she’ll get blankets, Hurley get some wine, meet back up later and have one sweet picnic. SWEET. Jin, who is nearby, gives Hurley a thumbs-up just as Hurley did to Jin in “What Kate Did.”
Ana returns to the hatch, finding a crowd there, and Jack’s like, HEY! What happened to your head? What with the giant gash in it and all. And Locke interjects that he left the sink in the bathroom on, and Ana wiped out, banging her head on the counter as a result. LIE. LIE LIELYING LIARPANTS LIE. But this is all moot, as Michael finally wakes up, complaining of a headache, and unsure where he is. Once he gets his bearings, he reveals that he found an Other, and followed him back to his camp. And the camp? Terrible. Tents and teepees. They eat dried fish. They’re dressed in rags. Much worse off than the survivors are. There are about 22 Others mostly women and old men, no sign of the boat, they have a hatch that they keep guarded 24/7. They are barely armed, and Michael is fairly certain the survivors can take ’em. LET’S GO!
Lost note: O RLY Locke? You left the water on in the bathroom sink? And someone suffered a head injury? HUH.
After Jack and Locke have a chit chat about Michael’s new information, they decide to retrieve the guns from Sawyer. Sawyer, however, doesn’t think so. There’s some bickering, Jack tosses the “Bad Twin” manuscript that Sawyer had been reading into the fire, and guns are drawn. Well, a gun is drawn: Jack draws his gun, but when Sawyer goes for his, that’s when he realizes that Ana swiped it during their “tussle.” And that’s when Locke has an Uh-oh, and decides to tell Jack about the incident in the hatch earlier. RUH-ROH!
Indeed, back in the hatch, Ana takes her pilfered gun and heads into the armory. There, she tosses Fenry a knife and orders him to cut himself free. As Fenry does this, he explains to Ana that Goodwin kept talking her up, making a case for her being good and that he could change her. Fenry, however, was unconvinced then and remains so. And Ana’s had just about enough of that, thanks, and cocks the gun.
Lost note: This appears to be Ana Lucia’s modus operandi: free her victim, and then hunt him down. As explained earlier, in “Collision” Ana Lucia refuses to identify her assailant, the cops let him go, and she follows him to his bar where she shoots him in cold blood. Here, Ana Lucia tells Fenry to cut himself free, as she has every intention to shoot him but is reluctant to when he is bound and defenseless. Not that he has much defense untied and unarmed.
BUT! She can’t bring herself to do it. When Michael wakes back up, he finds Ana alone on the couch, furious with herself for being unable to kill Fenry. She explains that Fenry is in the armory and that he tried to kill her earlier. But, that when she tried to kill him, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Michael listens to this, rapt, and offers to take care of it himself. After all, these are the same people that took his son. They’re animals, and it’s what they would do.
Ana, convinced by this, hands the gun, and the combination to the armory over to Michael. And, in the second-most shocking moment of the history of the show, Michael apologizes to Ana, aims the gun at her, and shoots her in the chest. But! Then! In the MOST SHOCKING MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHOW, Libby enters, sees all of this, and Michael shoots Libby! ACCK! Michael is momentarily stunned, but then heads to the armory, opens the door, stares at Fenry, and then shoots himself in the arm.
And the lesson here, kids, is don’t drink and drive.
Lost note: Michael shoots and kills Ana Lucia and Libby, frees Fenry and shoots himself in the arm to make it look as though there was a struggle, and cover up his complicity in Fenry’s escape. This is almost exactly what Sayid does in “Solitary,” when he frees Nadia, shoots and kills his friend, and then shoots himself in the leg to avoid suspicion.
There’s tons to discuss in this episode: obviously there’s something to be said about Ana Lucia’s unexpected and untimely (or was it?) death. Is it, as many have suggested, that Ana, having come to terms with her past and her mistakes, was ready to “move on” or whathaveyou? Is Ana Lucia redeemed? Was it her fate to meet Christian so that she could come to the island and be “saved?” Did the island, based on information we learned from Michael’s story in “Meet Kevin Johnson,” decide that her work was done, and that’s why she died? Or does she still have work to do for the island? And, of course, this is a game-changing moment for Michael. By murdering Ana Lucia (and Libby), Michael has set himself on a course that will change everyone’s lives. He will, very painfully, struggle for redemption. And to get back to the island.
What about Fenry? Specifically his comments to Locke about Locke being a “good” person, and how he was coming for Locke, what do we do with this? The second half of what he tells Locke, the business about his leader being a heartless man who will kill him for failing, is all a bunch of bupkis. But I’m not so sure about the first half … We still don’t have a reasonable explanation for what Fenry was doing in the jungle, getting himself captured by Danielle. We do know that the decision to use Michael Emerson as the leader was not made until after he had appeared in a few episodes, so it’s entirely possible that Fenry was sent to collect Locke. Now that we know that Batmanuel had an interest in young John Locke, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the Others might have tried to contact him once he arrived on the island.
John, looking for his purpose, looking to be wanted by someone, anyone after having been rejected by his father multiple times, would, of course, respond positively to Fenry’s message. On the one hand, it could simply be manipulation on Fenry’s part — a manipulation that demonstrates that the Others know a great deal about the survivors, otherwise, how could he craft such an effective lie? Or it could be the truth. The Others do want Locke. They know that he is connected to the Island somehow, and they want to include him in their group. Whatever that means.
And then there are the “good” people comments that drove people batty back when this season aired. Fenry insists time and time again that he and his people are the “good” guys. This is galling to viewers who had always identified with the survivors of 815. The Others infiltrated their group, abducted people, killed some — not behavior readily associated with “goodness.” But, it’s all relative, as we have come to learn.
“All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side … The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them” — George Orwell.
The problem here is that the audience jumps to the conclusion that when Fenry says that he and his people are good, then the survivors are therefore bad. We did not, at this time, realize that there were other players in the larger game — players that were, relatively speaking, much much worse than the Others.
Then we’re left with the question of why some survivors were taken by Fenry and the Others, but not all. Why was Cindy taken, but others, like Ana, left behind? Still, who knows who was actually on “the list.” After all, the Others’ “recruitment” efforts were interrupted on both sides of the island. Who knows who was good enough to ultimately make it on Jacob’s list? (Well, not Jack. We know Jack wasn’t.)
This could lead me to a whole diversion about Jacob’s list, who was on it, who wasn’t, and why which I could probably devote an entire entry to … but in brief: what if Jacob, whoever he is, exists outside of time. Jacob knows the future and past, and therefore, the people that he tells Benry to take are the people that Benry and his people are going to successfully take. Does that make sense? Jacob knows, for instance, that Jack will not be abducted by The Others and become a member of their group, therefore, he doesn’t make the list. In “The Other 48 Days,” Ana Lucia finds the list of 9 names on a dead Other — 9 people whom the Others successfully abduct. It’s easy to predict the future when you know what’s going to happen.
And so, Benry then assumes (or leads others to assume) that being on the list equates to being “chosen” or possessing a certain “goodness.” When in reality, being on Jacob’s list merely means that you were caught by the Others who were looking to abduct you because you were on Jacob’s list. It’s all very circular. But, it goes back to the previous episode when Jack and Kate discuss how the Others had them, but clearly didn’t want them: they were damaged goods. Well, no. They just weren’t on Jacob’s list. Because they weren’t captured by the Others. Circular reasoning. This could go on forever. (And it could also be very very wrong.)
But while I’m speculating madly, let’s talk about what really gets me worked up about this episode: Christian Shephard.
O.K. Look. When Christian and Sawyer met in the Australian bar in the first season, I was like, well, sure, that could happen. Maybe. I mean, yes, it’s weird that Sawyer would have a drink with the father of the man with whom he would later be trapped on a magical island, but, they were both in Australia at the same time, so who knows? Haven’t we all had our share of coincidences, after all? Crossed paths with someone who later turned out to be hugely significant in our lives, or knew someone we knew or something? Happens all the time, right?
Yeah, but the thing is, Christian doesn’t just cross paths with Ana Lucia. He’s directly responsible for bringing her to Australia, and thus indirectly responsible for her being on Flight 815.
Coincidence? Or as Christian himself suggests, is it Fate?
This is one of the episodes that firmly solidified my belief that there was a conspiracy afoot; a conspiracy with the intention of making sure certain people were on that particular plane on that particular day. My point has always been that we shouldn’t pay much attention as to why they were specifically on 815, but why were they in Australia in the first place. The tricky part is not getting everyone on 815, but making sure they were in the right place at the right time to be on that plane. But why?
(And a word of warning: here’s the part where I’m going to start sounding loony. Go get your tin foil hats, and get ready to embark on a non-stop journey to Crazytown.)
WHAT IF: Christian has been to the island before?
(STAY WITH ME HERE. I KNOW. I WARNED YOU. CRAZY TOWN.)
WHAT IF: Like Benry and possibly Widmore, Christian can’t return because of some sort of Island rules? At least not alive?
WHAT IF: Also, like Benry, the only way for Christian to get back to the island is to make sure certain people come with him?
I hate speculating because I usually am WAY OFF BASE and then have to be like “Oh, blah blah blah, yeah so maybe Alex isn’t going to kill Benry after all, WHAT DO I KNOW, GAH. I’M A FRAUD.” I’m much more comfortable being all, “And then in the Book of Exodus, we have this story about a bunch of Israelites who just wanna go home real bad! Ever heard of the Monomyth?” And I could burble at you about the hero’s journey here, and about Ana’s atonement with her mother, and her road of trials and WHATHAVEYOU, BLAH BLAH BLAH APOTHEOSISCAKES.
But the truth is, I had an epiphany the other night as I was falling asleep. One of those moments when I sat upright and thought ZOMG. I UNDERSTAND. Christian is the key.
Let me just back up and explain that for the longest time I believed that Christian asking Ana Lucia to join him in Sydney was no coincidence. I believed that someone wanted Ana Lucia, and that Christian was essentially offering her up as a sacrifice of sorts. To protect Jack? Claire? Both? Who knows. But that Christian knew exactly who Ana was when he asked her to join him, and that he was making something of a prisoner exchange, not unlike the one that Jack intends to make for Fenry in these episodes. I just could never swallow that Christian and Ana’s relationship was mere coincidence.
And I still don’t.
But my thoughts on Christian’s motivations have changed. Stick with me here: I believe (and, as you know, I’m often way off base with such things, so forgive me if in the third episode of season 5 we learn that NONE OF THIS IS TRUE AT ALL) that Christian, before Jack was born (or maybe not … maybe Jack, too, has been to the island before — WHO KNOWS), spent some time on the island in one capacity or another. And like Michael, let’s say, he somehow managed to leave. Before it was his time. Maybe, like Michael, he was desperate to leave so as to protect his son. But spending time on the island has some lingering side effects. Unpleasant ones. The kind of side effects where you can’t kill yourself even if you wanted to; the kind of side effects that might lead to a close relationship with the bottle, if only to manage the pain of living with whatever it is that you’ve done. Whatever you did to leave.
You become haunted.
And for a long time, Christian fought going back. To protect his son, his children? To keep them from the island? Maybe. Maybe he knew something about Jack’s destiny. Maybe he knew that Jack was going to somehow be tied to the island, and he tried to encourage young Jack to deny this, to choose anything but the heroic path, because he knew it would only lead to suffering on Jack’s part:
CHRISTIAN SHEPHARD: I had a boy on my table today. I don’t know, maybe a year younger than you. He had a bad heart. It got real hairy, real fast. Everybody’s looking at your old man to make decisions. And I was able to make those decisions because at the end of the day, after the boy died, I was able to wash my hands and come home to dinner. You know, watch a little Carol Burnett, laugh till my sides hurt. And how can I do that, hmm? And even when I fail, how do I do that, Jack? Because I have what it takes. Don’t choose, Jack, don’t decide. You don’t want to be a hero, you don’t try and save everyone because when you fail … you just don’t have what it takes.
But after many years of running away, something happens to Christian to make him accept his fate. He submits. He bows to Fate. At some point, he embraces his son’s more heroic qualities, he praises Jack’s gifts and instructs him to give people hope. It’s almost as though Christian knows, somehow, that Jack will save Sarah, and won’t be able to save Angelo. It’s as if Christian knows and accepts that this is Jack’s fate, that he will be both the hero and the failure. That Jack has to fail to be able to succeed. Not unlike himself.
It almost seems that when we meet Christian in season one, he has finally, after many years of struggling, resigned himself to his fate. That when Jack turns his father in for drinking on the job, it’s as though Christian knows or accepts that it will set into motion an unstoppable series of events: Christian will flee to Australia, Jack will follow him, they will both crash onto the island, they will both fulfill their destinies. Reread this conversation that Christian has with Sawyer in “Outlaws:”
CHRISTIAN SHEPHARD: Don’t let the air conditioning fool you, son. You are here, too. You are suffering. But, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s fate. Some people are just supposed to suffer. That’s why the Red Sox will never win the damn series. I have a son who’s about your age. He’s not like me, he does what’s in his heart. He’s a good man, maybe a great one. Right now, he thinks that I hate him. He thinks I feel betrayed by him. But what I really feel is gratitude, and pride because of what he did to me. What he did for me. It took more courage than I have. There’s a pay phone over there. I could pick it up and I could call my son. I could tell him about all this. I could tell him that I love him. One simple phone call and I could fix everything.
Christian has become the hand of Fate.
ANA: Why would I go to Sydney with you?
CHRISTIAN: Maybe fate has just thrown the 2 of us together, you know. Two drinks in an airport bar —
ANA: Why would fate do that?
CHRISTIAN: Same reason fate does anything — so that we can help each other out. You do need help, right? Unless you don’t. What I’m doing down there could be a little dangerous and I need someone to protect me — a bodyguard. It’s perfect for someone who stopped being a cop.
And this is where we find ourselves with this episode: Christian has submitted to Fate, he understands that he must return to the island. But of course, returning to the island isn’t as simple as getting on a boat or a plane and arriving at your destination. We know this thanks to Benry’s insistence that the O6 (and others like Walt and Locke, perhaps?) must return to the island together. The island won’t let just Jack return alone (live together, die alone indeed). So, what if Christian, too, needed certain souls, certain people to go with him? What if, for whatever reason, Christian needs Ana Lucia, Sawyer, Jack, and Claire to go to the island with him? And what if he knows that he will never make it to the island alive: thus his insistence that Ana Lucia be his bodyguard?
Now, I’m not suggesting that Christian is walking around with a list of names that he needs (although he could be, who knows?), but rather that in his submission to Fate and Fate’s machinations, he is merely following the path that lays ahead of him. That when he meets Ana Lucia in the airport bar, he understands that she is part of this path. That Fate has brought them together for a reason. He understands that arriving at The Last Call is another of Fate’s maneuvers, that he is supposed to be there. He may not know specifically Sawyer’s role, but merely that this is, once again, the design of Fate that the two of them should meet. And for the longest time, I believed that Christian, by going to Australia, was attempting to prevent Jack’s fate, to protect him and possibly Claire. That the reason Christian shows up at Lindsey’s home in this episode was to warn Claire away. But what if that’s completely backwards? What if, instead, Christian was there to try to convince her to come along? What if Christian knew that by going to Australia, his son would follow him down the rabbit hole?
Christian has become, in his own pathetic, drunken way, a model of the Buddhist Four Noble Truths:
The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces — suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature. The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one’s mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance.
The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached. The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path. The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Moreover, there are three themes into which the Path is divided: good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).
Christian has accepted that 1. he is suffering. He has come to understand that denying his fate has 2. caused his suffering. As such, he has accepted 3. the truth of his suffering, and is working on 4. achieving Nirvana. By returning to the island. By submitting to Fate. And as much scotch as he can get his hands on.
Or perhaps not. WHO KNOWS. Namaste.
(But everything happens for a reason.)
This week, the latest DHARMA video from Damon and Carlton was released. (Th
e password is “holma,” for those of you who did not receive the email.) It’s a little video about the Lost writers’ room, where very little is revealed. OR IS IT? Notice the cabinets where they have organized pictures of characters based on whether they are alive or dead. Or in between. I won’t say any more for those of you who don’t want to be spoiled, but suffice it to say, there are at least two VERY INTERESTING characters to look out for. And I’m sure you know who I’m talking about if you’ve read this blog ever in the history of ever.
ALRIGHTY! 2 WEEKS TO GO! WHEE! CAN I FINISH SEASON TWO? THAT’S THE BIG MYSTERY THAT’S GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP YOU ENTERTAINED FOR THE NEXT 16 DAYS!
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.