“This Place is Death” Recap and Analysis …
Previously, on Lost: Kate meets Jack at the docks and is surprised to find Ben there. Jack tells her Ben’s with him. That doesn’t sit too well with Kate because she knows that Ben’s the one that’s trying to take Aaron. Ben admits to it. Meanwhile, in a car not too far away, Sun is watching all this going down while petting the gun in her lap. She’s got some vengeance on her mind. Back on the island, the left-behinders continue to jump through time, and just about everyone is developing nosebleeds. Locke wants to get everyone to the Orchid so he can go off-island and bring the Oceanic Six back to stop the time flashes. Out at sea, Jin is picked up by some Frenchies in a liferaft and they turn out to be Danielle Rousseau and her crew. Jin’s a bit confused, but alive. Woot.
This week, on Lost: Sun, while waiting to attack Ben at gunpoint, gets a phone call from her daughter, Ji-Yeon. She’s a cutie pie, and Sun tells her that she met a new friend for her in America – Aaron. She hangs up, grabs her gun and proceeds to get all up in Ben’s grill. She wants Ben to pay for killing Jin, to which Ben responds by telling her that Jin is still alive.
Back on the island, Jin is, indeed, still alive and still confused, but starts getting the picture when he and Danielle chat some more. The other Frenchies have picked up the radio signal that repeats the numbers over and over and want to know if there is a radio tower on the island. They want Jin to take them, but all Jin wants to do is get back to the beach camp. He doesn’t know the way, though, so he eventually agrees to take them to the radio tower so that he can get his bearings and then head to the beach. Uh, okay, whatever. I didn’t quite understand this logic, nor do I know how Jin knows where the radio tower is since he wasn’t one of the ones to go there in “Through the Looking Glass” back in Season Three. I can only shrug.
Anyways, they don’t quite make it because Ol’ Smokey decides its about time he got in front of the camera again since we hadn’t seen him since he had to kill all those dirty mercenaries last season. First, he makes off with Nadine, who the Frenchies find after she falls out of a tree, all bloody. Jin tells them it’s a monster, and to run, but it’s too late. Cerberus gets one of the Frenchies and drags him into the jungle and to The Temple, then tries to pull him into a crack under the stone wall. The group try to pull him out, but manage to only bring half his arm back. Talk about a bad day. The guy is still alive, though – they can hear him down in the crack – and the team head down there to see if they can get him. Jin and Danielle stay behind, the sky goes all wonky, and Jin is suddenly in another time.
Just before Jin jumps, at the temple. You can see the gross, amputated arm by his feet.
In the other time, Jin is still at the temple, and we see by the barely-decomposed arm that he hasn’t jumped too far. He stops for a moment to look at the hieroglyphs at the temple (we’ll discuss those later), then heads out into the jungle. In a clearing he sees a pillar of smoke rising in the distance, and follows it to the beach, where a makeshift camp has been put together. Danielle’s music box – the one Sayid was asked to fix way back in Season One – is open and playing in the sand. Two of Rousseau’s team are dead, nearby, apparently shot in the chest. A bit down the beach, Rousseau has her husband, Robert, at gunpoint and is arguing with him, saying that he hasn’t been himself ever since they went down in the Temple after the monster. He tells her that it’s no monster, it’s a security system that guards the Temple. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that one before. Rousseau lowers her gun and Robert raises his and pulls the trigger. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice that Rousseau had removed the firing pin and it fails to fire. We know that she set him up because she told us about all this back in Season One and did the same thing to Sayid. Anyway, she raises her gun and blows Robert away. Seeing Jin there, she yells at him that he was “the carrier” and starts shooting at him. He makes it into the jungle just as another flash jumps him to another time.
This week’s drink recipe might seem a tad insensitive at first, but I assure you it’s more of a tribute than ridicule. I really have nothing against the French, but seeing one of them pulled into a hole by a giant smoke monster is oddly satisfying. Being shot in the head by your pregnant lover is a helluva way to go, too. Vive la France!
The French Toast
- 1 oz. Irish Cream
- 1 oz. Cinnamon Schnapps
Throw your Irish cream and schnapps into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it like you’re trying to outrun a smoke monster. Strain into a tall shot glass and offer up a toast to your fallen compatriotes. Don’t overdo it – remember, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an arm.
In this other time, Jin finds himself at gunpoint once again, only this time it’s Sawyer. There’s a tearful reunion until Jin realizes that Sun isn’t with them. With some help from Charlotte, the walking translator, they explain to Jin what’s been happening and Locke explains that he’s going to bring Sun back to the island if they can just get to the Orchid. The group mounts up and heads toward the Orchid, jumping a couple of times in short succession. This is too much for Charlotte to withstand and she collapses. Speaking somewhat incoherently, it’s obvious that this might be the end for our resident hot redhead. Locke says that they need to get to the Orchid quickly and that Charlotte is only going to slow them down. Daniel stays behind with her as the others leave, but not before she tells Locke that he will find what he needs if he looks for the well. Alrighty, then, thanks Encyclopedia Brown.
Locke and the others make it to the Orchid and are thankful to find that they are in the same time period when the station existed. Just then, they jump to another time and the station is gone. Undeterred, Locke searches around the perimeter until he finds an old stone well. Being a man of action, he starts to head down the rope hanging there. Jin stops him first, making him promise that he won’t bring Sun back to the island. He gives Locke his wedding ring and tells him to give it to Sun when Locke sees her. Locke reluctantly agrees, and then shimmies down the rope. Halfway down another time jump starts up, of course, and Locke has to drop the rest of the way just in case he might be jumping to a time when the well was nothing but a bunch of rock. Good call, because that’s exactly what happens. Bad news, though, is that Locke has suffered a compound fracture to his right leg. This might be what kills him when he gets back to the real world.
Back on the surface, Sawyer is a bit confused because he’s now holding a rope that’s just sticking out of solid ground. I’m guessing this is either way before or way after the well.
Back with Daniel and Charlotte, Charlotte is fading fast. Daniel explains to her that she has to hold on because he has a plan – Desmond is going to find Daniel’s mom so that she can help them get off the island. Charlotte, though, just needs to tell Dan her story, and it turns out that it’s pretty much what we expected – she grew up on the island and left with her mother when she was a child. Her mom tried to convince her that the island was something that Charlotte had made up, but Charlotte knew that wasn’t true. She studied anthropology and made it her life mission to get back to the island. Daniel wants to know why she’s telling him all this, and Charlotte says that she remembers a crazy man from when she was a kid, and this man told her that she needed to leave the island and never come back, or she would die. She now knows that the man was Daniel. Awesome. Just awesome. Not-so-awesome, however, is that a few seconds later, beautiful Charlotte’s mind gives out and she dies in Daniel’s arms.
Alas, poor Charlotte – we barely knew ye.
Back down in the well, Locke finds that there’s someone else shuffling down there with him – Christian Shephard. Christian tells Locke that he’s a bit peeved about Ben turning The Great Wheel. He says that he told Locke to do it himself. Locke says that Ben said he know how to do it, to which Christian replies, “Since when did listening to Benjamin Linus ever turn out to be worth a damn?” Touche, you old saucehound. Christian tells Locke that, if he’s ready, his mission is to go into the other room and give the Great Wheel a little nudge because it’s jumped off its axis. Locke asks for help from Christian, but Christian can give none. I reckon he’s only corporeal enough to hold a lantern, but not quite enough to give the wheel a shove. There’s some fascinating spectral rules taken straight from Patrick Swayze in Ghost.
Locke gets to his feet and heads over to The Great Wheel. Despite his pain, he manages to shove the wheel back onto its track. As the room starts to get white, Christian tells Locke to say hi to his son. Locke asks who his son is, but it’s too late as the entire room is bathed in white light.
Back in Los Angeles, Ben takes Sun and Jack to a church where he says he can prove that Jin is alive. Outside, Ben gives Sun Jin’s wedding ring. Ben tells Sun that it was given to him by Locke. Sun wants to know why Locke didn’t give it to her himself, and Ben says that he doesn’t know. Ben tells Sun and Jack that they need to go inside because there is a woman in there that can help them get back to the island. Just then, Desmond pops up and wants to know if they’re all there to see Faraday’s mum, as well. Ben has to pick his jaw up off the ground, but he doesn’t give away his shock, otherwise. The four head inside to find Mrs. Eloise Hawking, which everyone had to see coming. Desmond is a bit shocked because the last time he saw her, she was running a jewelry shop and giving him a lesson in temporal by-laws. At any rate, she notes that there are only four of them there, which Ben explains is the best he could do at a moment’s notice. With a mischievous grin and a twinkle in her eye, Mrs. Hawking simply says that they should get this party started.
Does anyone else get a little uncomfortable when Mrs. Hawking shows up? She’s just got that look as though she could eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Cue the thonk!
We got quite a few answers to some old questions and some new looks at some more of the Island’s mysteries this week. We also lost another character when Charlotte kicked the temporal bucket. So sad. Anyways, there’s no time to mourn because we’ve got an ancient temple, an old smokey adversary and some mysterious hieroglyphs to take a look at.
HERE THERE BE DRAGONS
This week, we got our first glimpse of The Temple. We first heard mention of The Temple back at the end of Season Three when Ben sent Richard there with the Others to keep them safe from the mercs that were arriving by boat. Now we can see why they were sent there – it’s one of the main locations guarded by Cerberus, aka Ol’ Smokey. Cerberus had been referred to as a security system in the past, but we got full confirmation that tied together Ol’ Smokey, the Temple and it’s guardianship in this episode when Robert told Danielle that it was a security system that guarded the Temple. There has been much speculation as to what Cerberus’s real mission is, and who created the monster. It’s pretty clear from all the clues over the past couple of seasons that Cerberus has been protecting parts of the island well before the Dharma Initiative. In “The Shape of Things to Come” Ben accesses a secret entrance in his barracks house that leads to an old stone door, covered in heiroglyphs. Once inside this door, Ben somehow calls out to Cerberus to alert it of the danger of the mercenaries outside. Cerberus comes, kicks some mercenary butt and takes off into the jungle.
The entrance to the security system control room.
The existence of this “control room” and its hieroglyphs ties Cerberus much more closely to the Others and the ancient secrets of the Island than it does with the Dharma Initiative. The DI was fully aware of Cerberus and it’s system, however, as they built the barracks on top of that control center for a reason. Every Dharma construct on the island seemed to be built on top of one of the ancient technologies, really, much like how The Orchid sat on top of the Great Wheel.
Why Cerberus is set to protect the Temple is still a mystery. We do know that Danielle’s party seemed to suffer some sort of “sickness” after they went down into the Temple. Did this really turn her lover and the others into something evil? Perhaps the sickness is another defense mechanism of the Island. Could the sickness be related to the emphatic devotion that surrounds the Others?
We do know that Cerberus doesn’t just patrol the Temple, as Ol’ Smokey has popped up in several locations around the island throughout the seasons. It tried to pull Locke down into a hole back in Season One. That hole has since been identified as a “Cerberus vent,” one of many places around the island that lead to an underground area where Cerberus can travel to and from various spots. We first got a glimpse of these vents back on the blast door map from Season Two. They are marked on the map as CV, and apparently the Temple sits on top of one.
Remember this crazy thing? I’ve spent more time going over this blast door map than any other artifact in the history of the show.
At some point, the Dharma Initiative must have been able to control Cerberus, or at least keep him at bay. This is because the Temple used to be a Dharma station, just like the Swan or any other. If Dharma had no control over Cerberus, it would never have allowed anyone near the Temple long enough to build a station. The blast door map above does make mention of something going wrong with Cerberus at some point. The Caduceus Station (The Staff – where Claire was taken by Ethan in Season One, and where Juliet took Sun for her sonogram) was noted on the blast door map to have been abandoned “due to AH/MDG incident of 1985 or possible catastrophic malfunction of Cerberus system.”
This is the map that Ben hands to Alex to show her how to get to the Temple last season before Keamy tracked them down. See? Dharma station.
WRITE LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
During our first good look at the Temple, we’re also treated to another set of hieroglyphs. They seem Egyptian (or at least a derivative – some of the bird glyphs are a bit off, but that could just be an anomaly from the hand of the engraver), just as the glyphs were on the countdown clock at the Swan, on the stone door that Ben enters in order to call Cerberus, and down in the well – or Orchid – in the chamber of the Great Wheel.
A closeup of the hieroglyphs at the Temple.
The glyphs on the countdown timer, as seen in the finale of Season Two.
Glyphs in the chamber of the Great Wheel – on the column behind Ben.
The translation of the glyphs from the countdown timer were eventually revealed by Damon Lindelof to mean “underworld.” What’s interesting to note, though, is that the vulture and the stick (the two glyphs in red) mean “evil enemy” or “dangerous trespasser.” Marvin Candle, or Edgar Halliwax, or Pierre Chang, or whatever you want to call the Asian doctor who appears in all of Dharma’s orientation videos, said in this season’s premiere that the Swan was created as a way to protect the initiative from anyone who lived there before the Initiative got there. In other words, it was supposed to protect the Initiative from the Others. Why the DI chose to put those hieroglyphs in the Swan is still a mystery, but if the countdown timer was there as a suicide switch in the case of all of Dharma dying at the hands of the Others, the translation of “evil enemy” or “dangerous trespasser” would be very appropriate.
It would also fit if the Swan was reconfigured by the Others after the Dharma Initiative was taken down by Ben. The Others could have decided to put the Swan to use in protecting the Island from intruders, but this theory is unlikely. At any rate, the Dharma Initiative seemed to not only understand the hieroglyphs, they used them as part of their system in tapping into the Island’s potential.
Lindelof has also stated what the hieroglyphs from the Great Wheel chamber mean: “resurrection.” I’m not sure what any of these individual glyphs represent, like “evil enemy” from the Hatch. What’s interesting to note, though, is that the bird, the three lines and the rectangle with a break from the wheel chamber are matched on the Temple wall, and in the same order. I can’t correlate any direct, symbolic translations for these symbols, as the bird is indeterminate and doesn’t exactly match any on Gardiner’s Sign List (a list compiled by Sir Alan Gardiner, considered to be the standard list for translating hieroglyphs). The three lines with the rectangle above them don’t match any known Egyptian hieroglyph. This makes it likely that the hieroglyphs that appear on the Island are simply a derivative that evolved from a common Egyptian base that spread and evolved to include other glyphs not in the Egyptian alphabet.
I’ll be taking a closer look at the Temple wall and indexing it with the Gardiner list this weekend to see if I can come up with a decent, or at least related, translation. If anyone figures something out beforehand, please let me know.
TIME TRAVEL LAID BARE
One of the fundamental things about “cinematic” time travel that sometimes bugs me is how people just jaunt around time with all their clothes and possessions still intact. Of course, those that choose to jaunt in devices, such as DeLoreans, etc. have a good explanation, as they were in a capsule of sorts that transported the good with them. The left-behinders in Lost, however, don’t have that going for them. They are jumping through time much like in The Terminator, which, coincidentally, is one of the only films to have time travelers come out of temporal flux in the buff.
At any rate, after a few-minute-long gripe session about such phenomena, my girlfriend Lindsay – always the practical mind – actual posited a theory that made me rethink my temporal pet peeve. She calls it the “Upside Down House” theory. When we were shopping for a house, we wondered exactly what items we would have to list as “keepers” when we put in our offer. The realtor told us that we should think of everything in the house that we were considering, then pretend to turn the house upside down. Whatever fell out wasn’t really “attached” to the house and would be something we’d probably want to list. Things like the stove, diswasher, etc. were items that were an integral part of the house and would not, theoretically, shake out when the house was overturned. Lindsay applies this same logic to the time travelers. When they are sent through time, whatever is attached to them goes with them – their clothes, shoes, weapons, etc. because they are in such close proximity. In tonight’s episode, we saw that Sawyer was still holding the rope from the well when they jumped. That really bothered me, until Lindsay shrugged and said “upside down house rules.” God help me, but it made sense.
Now all they need to do is find a copy of a future Sports Almanac and they’re all set …
LIKE A SCARY MARY POPPINS
So … Eloise Hawking is Daniel’s mum. I think just about everybody had that figured out. Well, not everybody – Ben was honestly surprised. He’s usually pretty good at knowing everything that’s going on. What’s going to be interesting to see is how Desmond is going to fit into the plan. Neither Ben nor Mrs. Hawking was probably expecting Desmond to show up, especially at the exact time they needed everyone to be back on the island.
Next week, we get to see the pendulum in action and see exactly how they plot out the Island’s reemergence from temporal flux. Exciting!
That about wraps it up for this week. There’s more we could talk about, but I think I’ve hit the main points. If there’s something any of you out there would like for me to take a closer look at, let me know. And, of course, if any of you have any epiphanies in the meantime, please clue me in.
Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. He is still hoping that Lost will end when Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, complaining of a strange, strange dream. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.