February 24, 2010

Lost: "The Lighthouse"

"Why didn't we see this before?"

Why didn't we see this before, indeed. From a four story edifice on the edge of the Island to an appendix scar "appearing" seemingly in the middle of the night, "The Lighthouse" is filled with instances where the show's main characters (and their alternate universe counterparts) have their eyes opened to the universe around them in new and varied ways. While it may not have been a classic episode, it was certainly an intriguing one.

Let's get this out of the way first. The alternate universe plot (aside from the one moment of intrigue in which alternate Jack asks his mother about his appendix scar) had, like the ones before it, the air of pointless filler. That's not to say that all of these "alternate" scenes won't mean something in the long run, it's just hard to sit through fake Jack (and believe me, I know that alternate Jack isn't really "fake", it's just seems that way when slogging through these scenes) watching his fake son play fake piano before eating fake pizza.

More mystical lighthouses please.

On that note, this episode offers us the first mystical lighthouse of the series (Or is it the second? See "A Light in the Darkness" below), a hugely tall tower on an exposed part of the Island that one could not imagine Sayid missing during his exploratory walks/sailing excursions earlier in the series. So it's an invisible lighthouse then, an invisible lighthouse that shows a beleaguered Jack his childhood home when turned to a setting where someone (presumably Jacob) has written his (or is that Christian's?) last name. Of course, who can say whether the mirror is seeing Jack's childhood home now, in the past, in the future, or...elsewhere (like in an alternate dimension?). The lighthouse portion of the episode is all questions and no answers, an ironic pose for a building that is ostensibly supposed to be shedding light on things.

Finally, the rest of the episode features a Claire thoroughly naturalized to Island life (was Claire even losing her accent at points?) as she interrogates Jin and an Other about the fate of her dear Aaron. While little happens in this portion of the episode, Locke's appearance at the end of it makes clear the sequence's purpose: Jin is going to help Smokey and Claire sneak into the Temple, presumably so that Smokey can have his way with the Others that call it home.

At the end of the day then, this episode was a good, not great, addition to the series, that despite ABC Marketing's claims to the contrary did more to ask questions than to answer them. That being said, things are very clearly moving towards an epic confrontation at the Temple, a confrontation I very much look forward to seeing. Let's hope it's next week.

14 hours remain...

Quick Thoughts

Altered Echoes: By far the most intriguing piece of the episode (at least for me) was in the very first alternate universe scene, in which a contemplative Jack has to do a double take to confirm the existence of an appendectomy scar on his abdomen. Regular viewers of Lost will surely remember Jack's emergency Island Appendectomy from Season 4. Alternate Jack, however, seems to be surprised by the presence of the scar. When his mother reminds him that he got his appendix removed when he was younger, Jack seems to acknowledge vaguely remembering something like that, but the whole scene takes on the air of one of Sawyer's con games. It's almost as if his mother is ad-libbing a reasonable explanation for why Jack would have such a scar. It's worth noting that the scene also bears a striking resemblance to the one last year in which a sleeping Desmond "remembers" being contacted by Daniel Faraday in his Island-bound past.

Alternate Jack "receiving" a scar that Island Jack had received three years prior (but maybe at the "alternate" time of this episode, sometime in 2004/2005) raises vastly more questions then it answers. Could the actions of the Island Losties somehow be influencing their alternate universe counterparts? Did alternate Jack not have an appendectomy scar until his Island dwelling opposite had his encounter with Juliet's surgical blade? Does the air of artificiality in the scene in which alternate Jack learns of his appendectomy imply that the alternate Losties are really our Losties, simply enduring a great lie about their past. Just what is going on?

The appendectomy question is, in my opinion, by far the most important thing to come out of "The Lighthouse." Even more important than mirrors that see things they very well shouldn't. But that really is another thought entirely, isn't it...

Mirror, Mirror: So what was Jack seeing in that mirror anyway? Was it a window to the past? (He clearly states that it is focused on his childhood home; a home he hasn't lived in for years.) Or did Jacob simply fail to adjust the lighthouse to follow his candidates-in-training? That seems unlikely. Perhaps the mirror shows only the versions of the candidates that could otherwise take Jacob's place. In other words, perhaps the mirror was actually showing the alternate timeline, a timeline featuring a far less broken Jack, a Jack capable of rightly being called a candidate, and we will see the lighthouse as a means for convergence as the show continues on. Perhaps our Jack will even have to sacrifice himself in some way for alternate Jack. Now that would be a mindbender...

Guess who's coming...: So Jacob claimed that Hurley and Jack needed to go to the lighthouse in order to aid someone in reaching the Island. Later, he seemed more than content with allowing Jack to smash the lighthouse's mirrors, seemingly because Jack now recognized how important he was to Jacob. Was there ever anyone coming to the Island? My guess is that there was/is, but that Jacob is satisfied with allowing that specific individual to find another way. In other words, Jacob's very willing to let things play out however they do. Now who's on their way? My guess is Desmond, though a case could also be made for Widmore. I guess we'll see...

Suicide Baby: When Jack was losing it up in the lighthouse, I couldn't help but think that he was going to threaten Jacob with his suicide. I mean we know Jack's thought about killing himself by jumping from a high place before (see the Season 3 finale, ironically enough named "Through the Looking Glass"), and now he knows that he is supremely important to Jacob. Why not threaten to kill yourself in order to get at the man behind the curtain? How does breaking the lighthouse mirrors help anything? For the first time in a long time, the mirror destruction scene felt like the writers deliberately obfuscating where clarity was called for. It felt like a step back.

Adam and Eve: It was nice to see Hurley and Jack back at the caves addressing one of the show's bigger questions, the presence of ancient skeletons (which, if I remember correctly, were clutching light and dark stones similar to the ones we saw on the scales in Jacob's cave last week). While the pair didn't find any answers regarding their origin, it seems unlikely that the show's writers would have included the scene if they didn't intend to address the issue before the series draws to a close, and for that I am very happy.

A Rousseau By Any Other Name: I couldn't quite make out many of the names that had been crossed off on Jacob's lighthouse candidates list, but one that did jump out was Rousseau's. It seems she was a candidate to replace Jacob. Guess that could have worked out better for her...

Through the Looking Glass: "Lighthouse" is just the latest in a long line of references that Lost has made to Lewis Carrol's famous "Through the Looking Glass." The most significant being Dharma's underwater radio base
, "The Looking Glass" (in which one Charlie Pace did meet his watery end in the similarly named Season 3 finale...at least in the primary timeline), but that is more metaphorical than literal. In this one, we get an actual looking glass, the lighthouse mirror, that shows another world. Whether that world is the past, the present, the future, or another reality altogether is unclear, but whatever the case may be, it is clear that the mirrors in the lighthouse are not showing what they otherwise should be. When combined with the fact that Jack picks up and comments on an anthology of Mr. Carrol's work when he is talking with his son, I think it is safe to assume that the showrunners wanted us thinking about Alice's trips to Wonderland when we watched this one.

How I Met Your Mother: In the alternate timeline, a number of references are made to Jack's son's mother, but she never appears. Is her identity supposed to be a secret? Are we just meant to assume that Jack and his wife from the primary timeline had a son in the alternate timeline? It strikes me that there's a big "aha" reveal coming on this score in the future, but I'm not quite sure.

You've Got A Friend in Me: It was clear half-way through the episode that the identity of Claire's "friend" would likely play into the "L O S T" ending, but I had thought that Christian (rather than Not Locke) would be making another appearance. Perhaps with Smokey being forced to keep Locke's identity (as stated without reason in last week's episode), we won't see Christian for the remainder of the series (at least in the primary timeline). That would seem like a waste of one of the show's most mysterious characters, however, so I would hope that the show's creators wouldn't go in that direction.

What it Takes: As you might have guessed from the fact that I regularly make blog posts on the subject, I am a bit of a Lost fan. That being said, even I thought the connection to Jack "not having what it takes" was too tenuous to support the proposition that the mere invocation of the line by Hurley would cause Jack to once again go traipsing into the jungle. Now had Hurley told Jack to "sweep the leg" that might be a different story...

A Light in the Darkness: Interesting symbolism in the use of a giant, mystical, invisible "tower of light" in this one, especially when compared with the Dharma Initiative's "Lamppost" station from last year. That station was manned by Daniel Faraday's mother, Mrs. Hawking, and was used to track the location of the Island in time and space. Similarly, the lighthouse in this episode was apparently used by Jacob to track the candidates in time and space, and, more interestingly, was also apparently used to signal visitors to the Island in some way. In a way, both buildings are lighthouses, but in reverse. Since lighthouses were traditionally buildings of warding (warning ships of rocky outcroppings or just land in general) it is interesting to see that notion turned on its ear. With respect to the Island, a lighthouse (both the invisible kind and the Dharma Initiative kind) is a building that welcomes. It leads visitors to land (the Island) rather than warding them away. At least if we can take the ghost of a dead Egyptian god at face value...

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