LOST Recap: Season 5, Episode 6: “316”

20 02 2009

Wow.  That was completely unexpected.  So here’s the deal: we’ve been hearing since the end of Season 3 that the Losties “had to go back!”  We’ve spent a full season plus 5 episodes setting up the story of them trying to find some way, *any* way, to get back to that island of mystery.  And then, in the very same episode that we get the first glimpse of how it *might* happen…it does!  And in reality, we’re actually presented with the outcome prior to the causal event.  Wow.  I don’t know how you felt about it, but it felt like a whole bunch of suspense building for an extremely minimal payoff.  I know I was one of the people clamoring to get back…sooner rather than later…but the whole story felt rushed, forced, and ultimately unsatisfying.  Of course, they left some very interesting pockets of story untold, which will absolutely lend itself to flashbacks in future episodes.  But we’ll get to that shortly.  For now, before we get to the meat of the recap, I ask you to ask yourselves…was that how you expected the Losties to get back?  I’d love to hear your comments.  Anyway, on with the recap…

It’s like deja vu all over again

dejavu

From the opening millisecond, I knew that we were paying homage to the opening scene.  But what I wasn’t sure of was whether or not this was “real”, or if we were in someone’s dream sequence.  As the scene continued to unfold, it became clear that it was indeed a “real” happening, and the “46 hours earlier” tag clinched it.  They made it back!  Very exciting start to the show, and one that had me on the edge of my seat to find out how it all unfolded.

For some reason, in the back of my mind, I fully expected the season’s theme to be the Losties getting back to the island.  In other words, I expected that they wouldn’t make it back until the tail end of the season.  To see them back already, a mere third of the way through the season, was quite shocking.  It also was an incredible relief.  No more stories with too many plot threads!  But, how did it happen?  It all starts with yet another Dharma station…

“The Dharma Initiative called it ‘The Lamppost'”

lamppost

OK, is it just me, or was it rather strange to see a Dharma station *off* the island?  I guess they had to start somewhere, and an off-island tracking station for the island is as good a place to start as any.  But for someone like me that found this episode awkward and forced, this was certainly the first indication that things were unfolding just a bit differently than the “normal” LOST.

“The room we’re standing in was constructed…over a unique pocket of electromagnetic energy.”

Wow, really?  In Los Angeles?  Unlike Rose and and Bernard’s visit to Uluru earlier in the series, LA is not exactly known for its special healing properties, or even being a part of the World Heritage sites.  Even if it was assumed that it was somewhere near the San Andreas fault, it seems incredibly arbitrary that this site was the best place in all the world to be used as a locator for the island.  It was at this point that my skepticism meter began to gravitate to the “high” setting.  And for those of you that really enjoyed this episode, I apologize for the cynicism.  I’m just calling it how I see it.

“These people, they’re just using us!  They’re playing some kind of game, and we are just the pieces.”

I think Desmond hit the nail on the head with this one.  Ultimately, in the grand scheme of LOST’s endgame (whatever that may be), it’s Ben or Widmore or Jacob or Christian just pulling everyone’s strings.  They all have much more knowledge about what’s going on, and what’s about to happen, and they’re just pushing Jack, Kate, Locke, and Sawyer to do their bidding.  Regardless of what unfolds the rest of this season and next, our LOSTies are just along for the ride.  They’re be lucky to fully understand the consequences of what’s happening to them even at the point in which it all comes down.

“Ajira Airways Flight 316”

Ah yes, the reason for the title of the episode.  Somewhat odd to me that it wasn’t some combination of the numbers as we know them.  But just for a moment, let’s take a quick sidetrack and discuss the title a little more in-depth.  LOST has been known to use double meanings before, especially in episode titles.  So could it be that the 316 could refer to more than just the flight number?  I think it does, especially since the number is not a combination of Hurley’s numbers.

As some of you have speculated, maybe it has something to do with John 3:16, the verse upon which Christianity is basically founded.  Of course, it doesn’t seem overly coincidental that our character John Locke happens to share the namesake with the author of the verse.  But what does it really mean?  That Locke represents the key to everlasting life?  Well, perhaps, if by everlasting life you mean a trip to the island.  It does seem as though dead folk find a way to continue to appear on the island after they perish.  And indeed, Locke does sacrifice his life for his counterparts.  So the parallels are there.  But does that mean that we should take the big leap of faith and assume that Locke is indeed Jacob, and that his ability to tap into the island’s mystic powers are right now only at the tip of the iceberg?  It’s hard to come away with any true level of certainty with respect to just how far the connection goes.  But I am convinced that the 316 in the title refers to both the Ajira flight number, as well as the famous biblical verse.

“So that’s it?  We just get on that flight, and we just hope that it works?”

Yeah, my sentiments exactly.  All of that set up just for this?  No attempt to charter their own plane and parachute out of it at just the right moment?  No getting a submarine and following a specific trajectory and speed?  No crazy teleportation device that only works if just the right person turns it just the right way?  For all of the subterfuge surrounding how the Others went to and from the island in the earlier episodes of this series, it seems too simplistic to have the answer come down to a station that could predict where the island will be.  Was it really necessary to drug Juliet on her way over to cover that up?  It seems to me that it wouldn’t have made any difference to her had she been awake or asleep for the trip.  The only possible explanation would be that the Others wanted to create an artificial sense of misdirection.  But without the Lamppost to “unlock” the island’s location, what difference would it make?  It’s really not adding up for me, but maybe there will be more to the story by the end of next season.

“John is going to be a proxy…a substitute.”

OK, so they have to try to recreate the original trip as best they can.  While I’m again feeling that this decision was somewhat arbitrary on behalf of the writers, it does create a very fascinating situation, in 2 ways.

First, it’s really fun to see how each character plays a role on Flight 316 that mirrors another from Flight 815.  Almost no one is “themselves” from the first flight, so it’s cool to see that play out.  But more on that later.

What intrigues me even more is this thought: what if this “re-creation” is not the first?  What if, in fact, this attempted re-creation is a re-creation from a previous island flight?  More simply put, what if Flight 815 was someone trying to re-create the circumstances of a previous flight?  Is it at all possible that Christian Shepard knew of the island, and on Flight 815 played the role of Locke on Flight 316?  Maybe Christian willingly died so that his son would get on Flight 815 and take him to the island?  I’ve always hoped that the circumstances surrounding Flight 815’s journey to the island were not coincidental…that in fact, they were by design of someone who needed this specific set of folks to be on the island for whatever LOST’s final endgame is.  The scenario as Ms. Hawking presents it to Jack at least allows for that possibility.  There are still many gaps to fill in if this will be the case, but this episode at least allows for that line of thought.

“I made a promise to an old friend of mine…just a loose end that needs tying up.”

Oh boy.  Ben knows that Desmond is in town, and that by default, Penny is likely in town as well.  Considering all of the blood that Ben is covered in when we next see him, I would seriously be concerned about whether or not Widmore’s daughter is still among the living.  While many of the untold stories of our LOSTies prior to them getting on Flight 316 seem intriguing, I think I’m most looking forward to what happened with Ben during his time away.

Jack visits his grandfather…

grandad

…and finds a pair of his dad’s shoes.  While you could certainly try to read a bunch into this encounter, I choose not to.  Sometimes, a visit to your grandfather is just a visit to your grandfather.  And I’ll take the placement of the bunny at the start of the scene as a hint that my conclusion is correct…almost like the writers are saying, “Don’t get too carried away here, or you’ll end up going down the rabbit hole.  There’s really nothing to see here, move along now.”

Kate does a 180

jackandkate

OK, so I’m most looking forward to seeing what happened to Ben between the church and the flight back to the island.  But a *very* close second is what happened to Kate from the time she left the pier to the time she shows up in Jack’s place.  Distraught, forlorn, and looking for a little bit of Jack’s lovin’ to get her mind off of life, Kate is a mess when she re-appears in this episode.  She’s given up Aaron, and it clearly wasn’t her first choice.  She makes Jack vow not to ask what happened, but it doesn’t mean we won’t get the scoop at some later date.  I’ll go on record as saying that I hope it was because she finally decided to do the right thing and allow Claire’s mother to raise the child like the family he is.

Ben’s a bit busy getting bloody, so Jack’s got to go pick up Locke’s coffin

OK, so did anyone else get a distinct Wizard of Oz vibe when watching this scene?  Jack’s pulling John’s shoes off and replacing them with Christian’s, eerily similar to Dorothy pulling the ruby slippers off the Wicked Witch of the East.  Of course, Dorothy uses those slippers to return home from the fantasy world of Oz, whereas John is using them for exactly the opposite: to return to the fantastic world of the island after being “home”.  Or is it the reverse?  Maybe “home” for John is the island.  In any event, the correlation to the Wizard of Oz seemed too spot-on to be coincidental.

“Hurley, what are you doing here?”

lapidus

And so the fun begins.  Can you attach the Flight 316 passenger with their Flight 815 counterpart?  Let’s see, Locke is playing the role of Christian (dead), Sayid is now doing his Kate impression (forced on the plane handcuffed), Hurley is playing both Charlie (instrument) and Walt (Spanish comic book), and Ben is playing the role of Hurley (getting on board at just the last second).  Not only that, but we’ve got Frank Lapidus (interLOST reader Brad is excited!) fulfilling the role that he was originally cast in: pilot of the flight to the island.  I couldn’t place the roles of Jack, Kate, or Sun, but if any of you want to take a stab at it, I’d love to hear your connection theories!  In any event, it was alot of fun to see that all play out.

“The other people on this plane…what’s going to happen to them?”

Ah yes, the collateral damage.  It’ll be fascinating to see what goes on from their perspective, if we’re given it at any time during the rest of the series.  It’ll be as if our LOSTies are the Others, whereas the Flight 316 passengers will be like the original Flight 815 passengers.  In fact, that could explain one of the previous loose ends.  Perhaps the people shooting at Faraday/Sawyer/Juliet back in “The Little Prince” were actually members of Flight 316.  And ones that have no freaking clue what’s going on, only that someone stole their hand-crafted skiff, and that they don’t appreciate it…probably enough to shoot at them…

“How can you read?”

“My mother taught me.”  Amazing how two simple sentences can convey so much information.  First, Jack is still not convinced that this is going to work.  Despite all of the “coincidences” that everyone except Aaron has made it on to Flight 316, Jack still can’t bring himself to believe that he’s actually going to get back on the island.  It’s not until he reads John’s suicide note that he finally allows faith to take over.  Additionally, while Ben is as calm as can be in expectation of his return to the island, he simply cannot help but to lie, even in the most innocuous of situations.  Remember, Ben’s mother died in childbirth, mere minutes…if not seconds…after his birth.  In reality, his mother didn’t teach him anything.  Ben’s lying is clearly a force of habit.  The man does it by default.

Hey, wait a minute, it’s Dharma Jin!

dharma-jin

And he’s driving the Dharma van!  OK, so this creates a confusing situation.  Either we’re way before Ben’s father ever got the van to drive around in, or Jin was able to find the old thing after Hurley used it to bum-rush the Others, and got it running again.  Of course, based upon Jin’s outfit, especially the apparent lack of wear of it, leads me to believe the former.  It’ll be fun to see how everyone recounts their situations in the episodes to come.

Post-episode questions:

  1. What the heck happened off-screen to Ben, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid before they got on Flight 316?
  2. Can Desmond really escape from the island if it has more in store for him?
  3. Is Locke really resurrected just by returning to the island?  How the heck is that possible?  And how does that correlate to what’s happened to Christian Shepard?
  4. Where did Sun, Sayid, and Ben go after the plane entered the island’s airspace?
  5. Does Jin’s outfit and transportation indicate that the island still hasn’t stopping skipping through time?
  6. Will we be lucky enough to see how things unfold from the eyes of the newbies on the island?

Overall, this was an episode that gave us a lot to contemplate, even if it was a bit uneven in the storytelling department.  I look forward to reading any new theories you may have after this one!

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3 responses

21 02 2009
Brad

Here’s my SWAG for Ben, Sayid and Hurley’s activities….
We can assume that Ben has an ace up his sleeve for each member to get them back to the island if need be. Let’s say he had previously manufactured some crime connecting Sayid to Guam. Then all Ben would need to do is locate Sayid and call the Feds to extradite him (but not before Sayid gets in a few blows of course!) As for Hurley, it might only take a well-timed visit from good old Charlie to convince him to go along with them after Ben’s attorney (Mr. Norton) gets him released in the morning.

And–Yay Frank! I knew he’d be behind the controls of that plane!!

22 02 2009
Brad

…I know it looks like Ben probably went to kill Penny and got beat up by Desmond, but that’s what they just want us to think, right?? =)

22 02 2009
Doug

It would appear that Ben followed through on his promise to Widmore that he’d kill Penny to avenge Alex’s murder. By doing so, he’d check the revenge box AND he’d give Desmond a reason to return to the island. With Penny dead and with nothing keeping him off-island, returning to kill Ben seems like the logical next step for Desmond.

I have no idea WHEN Dharma Jin is but the condition of the V-Dub bus- and the music playing in the eight track- would seem to indicate they’re back in time. All this means is I’m wrong of course.

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