“Follow the Leader” Recap and Analysis …
Previously, on Lost: Ben whacked Locke, but Locke fooled Ben, and later told Sun that he could find Jin. Daniel told Jack of some temporal slack, and, with Kate looking on, said he’d get their lives back. All it required, he said with aplomb, was some faith and some time and a hydrogen bomb. So Dan threatened old Richard, his thoughts not the clearest, and was soon dropped with a boom by his blonde mommy dearest. A little bit of blood, then down with a whup, except for details that’ll catch us all up.
This week, on Lost: Kate is a whore.
Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first: Dan is dead. Really dead. Off the twig. Kicked the bucket. Shuffled of his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible. He is an ex-physicist.
You’ve got to watch those blondes every minute, buddy.
While all that’s been going down, Jack and Kate are in the bushes watching, which means they’re totally safe and all and … who am I kidding? Kate’s in the bushes, which means she’s gonna get kidnapped, again, and Jack is going to get bitch slapped. What do you know, that’s exactly what happens.
One of the bitch slappers is ol’ Chuck Widmore, and he takes ’em into camp where Ellie is leaning over the body of her dead son, reading his diary like a cheeky monkey. She’s bumfoozled over the dedication at the front of the journal, probably because she recognizes her own handwriting. Ellie asks if Jack and Kate were with Dan, to which they quickly reply in the affirmative so as not to be shot in the face. They’re taken to Eloise’s tent, and she tells Chuck that the two and a half of them are most definitely not from the Dharma Initiative.
Meanwhile, back in 2008, Richard spends his free time at his royal tent, building ships in bottles.
Two bucks says that’s the Black Rock in there. The actual ship – you see, to top this season, next season is going to involve a shrink/growth ray, and all the survivors will travel into microspace … First episode: “Honey, I Shrunk John Locke.”
Richard is soon interrupted by the message that Locke has come back, and he bears gifts: a boar, for the roasting. Before they can chow, though, Locke needs Richard to go on a little trip with him, and then take him to see Jacob, afterwards. In the meantime, Sun is talking to Ben, who informs her that Richard has been around for a very, very, very long time. That’s good enough for Sun, who runs over to Richard and asks about her husband, pointing to a picture of the Dharma class of ’77. Richard does remember those people – very well, in fact – because he watched all of them die.
1977. Inside Eloise’s tent, Kate starts to wonder if Jack has been guzzling the crazy juice, because he insists that they should carry out Dan’s plan and set right what once went wrong. Well, folks, we’ve officially jumped from Marty McFly to Sam Beckett.
“Heh … raspberries. Raspberries are good. Heh.”
They’re soon interrupted by Ellie, who asks them what the hell is going on. Jack says that she wouldn’t believe them. Ellie tells him that she just shot a man that she met 20-some years earlier that said he was from the future and now might be her son, so shut the hell up and just spill, already. Like, for instance, why her handwriting is in the journal when she doesn’t remember writing it in the first place. Jack explains that it’s because, technically, she hasn’t written it yet. Ellie gets the same look on her face that many of us have had over five seasons, like finding out there’s a dude in the hatch, and that dude can see the future, etc. etc. At this point, she’s putty in Jack’s hand, so he clarifies Dan’s plans and she agrees to take them to the bomb because it sounds like a smashing plan, not crazy at all …
Meanwhile, over in the security station in Dharmaville, Sawyer’s getting the sarcasm beat out of him by Radzinsky, whose been watching too many Chuck Norris movies. Oh, and they also want to know where Kate took little Ben, and this time, they have video proof of the existence of Bigfoot …
Radz continues to treat Sawyer like a punching dummy, but James won’t budge. Phil steps in and says that he can get Jim to talk and then he proceeds to make me very, very angry.
You know you’re gonna die, right? In a fire? A big one? Bastard.
Outside of the security center, Hurley gathers up a ton of Dharma brand snacks and heads off into the jungle of mystery to meet Team Asian – Jin and Miles. Hugo is followed by Dr. Chang, who confronts the trio about them being from the future. Hurley says that dude, it’s ridiculous, so Chang questions him about his birthday, the Korean War and finally – the President of the United States. Hurley’s stumped and says, “All right dude, we’re from the future.” We laugh. Chang turns to Miles and asks about the whole son thing. Yup, Miles says, it’s true. There’s no hugging or anything, but I guess it’s good to know. Then Chang asks whether Faraday was full of shit or not about getting everyone off the island and Hurley says that Dan’s been right about everything so far, so he’d probably get off the Island if he could. That’s good enough for Dr. Chang.
Back at Camp Widmore, Chuck stares at Dan and wonders why he looks familiar. Ellie tells a couple of hostiles that they are coming with her, and get ready to head off toward the bomb. Chuck and Ellie get in a little tiff, seeing as how he doesn’t want her going off in her condition (so now we know why she had to leave the Island with Dan). Jack asks Richard about Chuck and finds out that he’s Widmore, and that, well, love is pretty complicated. And how, brother.
2008. Locke leads Richard and Ben to the old Beechcraft that fell down and killed Boone and eventually uncovered the Pearl. Locke proceeds to tell Richard that he has about three minutes to listen to him carefully because he’s going to have to go into the clearing, take a bullet out of a man’s leg and tell him that he’s gonna have to bring all his friends back to the Island. And to do that, he’s gonna have to die. A few seconds later, someone comes grunting out of the bushes. It’s John, of course.
“Wait, what?! You guys can’t do that. Don’t you understand time travel at all? You need to be reading this blog on HoboTrashcan.com …”
Just like back in the season premiere (“The Lie”) Richard patches up the booboo on the leg of Locke from Island’s Past and tells him that he’s got to get off the Island, and bring all his friends back, and he’s gonna die, and then later he’ll tell Richard where to find him, but first he’s got to hold onto this compass and give it to Richard the next time they meet, only Richard won’t recognize Locke then, and … whoa. Did you feel that? Yeah, that’s a potential temporal loop paradox letting out a little fart.
1977. Chang is down in the security center now, trying to convince Horace to get people off the Island. Radz isn’t buying it and wants to keep working on his baby Swan. Finally, Sawyer pipes up and tells them all that it’s true – they need to get off the Island – and he wants himself and Juliet on that sub. In order to get what he wants, though, he’s going to have to draw a map to the Hostile’s camp.
Further into the jungle of mystery, Jack, Ellie, Kate and some Island lackeys stand at a pool, which they will have to swim through in order to get to the caves beneath Dharmaville. Kate has decided that she’s had enough and tries to leave, but the Hostiles aren’t wanting any loose ends running back to Dharma, telling their secrets. They draw their guns on Kate. Of course, they do – it’s like she has a gun magnet in her pocket. Things get a bit heated, Jack tries to cool things down, which only heats things up and …
BLAM! “OMG I totally AM a whore, don’t shoot!”
Blam again! No Kate thud, though. Sadface. Sayid pops up from behind a few bushes like some Iraqi ninja and pops a cap in the Hostile lackeys’ asses. He makes sure not to shoot Eloise, though, because that’d just screw up the whole timeline LIKE THEY’RE TRYING TO DO ANYWAY.
Sayid wants to know what’s going on, and they tell him the plan and he’s all like, “We don’t need to do that because I shot Ben,” and Kate’s all, like, “Nuh uh, we saved him,” and he’s all, like, “What’d you do that for, bitch?” That’s about the point that Kate has decided she’s had enough of Sayid’s Iraqi ass and makes a beeline back to Dharmaville.
I don’t really have a caption, I just wanted to see Kate’s scrunchy face.
Meanwhile, by the sub dock, people are being evacuated. Team Hispasian spots Charlotte getting ready to head off the Island, and then sees Dr. Chang yell at his wife, so that she’ll get the point and get to safety. Down on the docks, Juliet and Sawyer are being escorted to the Galaga and Sawyer is talking about his plans to strike it rich when they finally get off the Island. “We’ll buy Microsoft,” he says. Dude, didn’t you know Forrest Gump bought Apple stock? Juliet boards the sub and Sawyer scans the Island one last time. And with a good riddance, he descends into the sub hatch.
Back at the pond, Ellie tells Jack to take a deep breath and follow Richard underwater to the chamber. He does, and swims along the pond, through a narrow tunnel and then into a large chamber with columns and hieroglyphs. Ellie is up next, and then Sayid pops up. Jack is surprised that Sayid is coming along. Well, of course Sayid has to come along – who the hell else is going to arm/disarm a hydrogen bomb?
2008. Locke, Richard and Ben return to the Others’ camp. Richard tells Locke that he’ll prepare a tent for him, but Locke really wants to see Jacob, like right now. Uh, okay, says Richard. But first, Locke addresses his new troops and tells them all that he would like them to come with him to see Jacob. After all, if they’re taking orders from a man they’ve never met, they really should get acquainted. This doesn’t sit too well with Richard and he says to Ben that Locke may be trouble. “Why do you think I tried to kill him,” says Ben, dryly. Oh, Ben.
1977. Down in the sub, Locke tells Juliet that when they get back to the real world, they’re as good as free. They don’t have to go to Ann Arbor or be part of Dharma anymore. Then Sawyer takes Juliet’s hand and looks her square in the eye and tells her that he’s got her back. “Love you,” says Juliet. “Love you, back,” replies Sawyer. Awwwww.
And then … the hatch darkens one last time, and a Dharma officer leads one lone figure down into the sub just before departure. Yup, the bitch is back.
Hoo boy. All they need down there is a couple of good switchblades and Juliet could get rid of her in an old-fashioned cuffed rumble.
The order is given to dive, the hatches are secured and the Galaga submerges and heads out to open sea with more contents under pressure than anyone bargained for.
Back in the chambers beneath the Island, Sayid, Jack, Richard and Ellie enter a large chamber with a shrouded object. Sayid asks Jack if he’s aware that Ellie probably just wants to bomb the bejeebers out of Dharma, to which Jack counters that he trusts her, mostly because in 30 years, she’s going to tell them all how to get back to the Island. Ellie then pulls the cover off the big elephant in the middle of the room. It’s Jughead, of course. “Now what?” asks Ellie. That’s what I’d like to know.
That’s a big Twinkie.
2008. It’s the beach at sunrise. Locke, Richard, Ben, Sun, and the bulk of the Others are walking along the shore, off to see Jacob in his little cabin in the woods. Ben walks along with Locke and promises John that he will help in any way he can to reunite Locke with his people. Locke grins his devilish grin and says that he’s not interested in being together again with his people.
“Then why are we going to Jacob?” asks Ben.
Locke continues to smirk a bit. “So I can kill him.”
“Dammit, John, I’m the one whose supposed to have the head-asploding last line.”
Cue the thonk!
Well, now, that certainly made up for last week, didn’t it? This finally felt like a proper Lost episode, and was one of the more intense of the finale lead-ins of all the seasons. Not much will top second season’s build-up with the death of Ana Lucia, the capture of Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley and the loss of faith by Locke and subsequent lack of button-pushing, but this season seems to be coming close. For the first time in a very long time, I really don’t know what’s going to happen. The writers have waffled on their preferred temporal theory so much, that it’s hard to predict if whatever happens, actually happens, or if they’re going to set us up the bomb and change the timeline forever.
Before I move onto some analysis, I’d like to address the Kate apologists in the crowd. I know that I’ve drawn some flack for what has sometimes been deemed “unfair treatment” of Miss Austen, and that she’s really not all that bad, she’s a mom now, trying to do the right thing, came from an abused past, blah blah blah. Yeah, okay, I will agree that what she’s trying to do on the Island right now is actually quite noble. She saved Ben from death (for better or worse) and now she’s against this whole bomb idea, which I will grudgingly admit I agree with. But through it all, no matter the nobility of her actions, she is still undeniably Kate Austen. I say that because I often replace the words “Kate Austen” with “total whore.”
My proof? I’ll give you proof. She runs off into the jungle of mystery with Jack because she thinks that Dan might be onto something, and then she gets all scared when Dan gets shot and Jack starts talking like Locke, so she runs back to Dharmaville, for what? One freaking thing, and you know what it is …
“Ohai! Oh, Juliet, didn’t see you there, sorry.” *sits* *brushes hair behind her ear* “So, uhhh, hey Sawyer” *giggle*
I rest my case. You can all drink a tall cup of STFU now. Awesome.
Let’s move on, shall we?
I’M MY OWN GRANDPA, PART DEUX
Way back toward the beginning of this season, in my analysis for “Jughead,” I talked a bit about the compass and the circular loop of ownership that occurred there. You can go back and read that, if you want, but I’m going to include that here because I think it’s important for a noodle-bending theory that I plan to cover shortly.
By now, you’re all familiar with the Novikov self-consistency principle that governs the temporal flow, since we’ve covered it ad nauseum. You all know it now as “whatever happened, happened” and it’s a way for everything to stay orderly amidst the chaos of time travel. Well, the compass presents an interesting twist on this principle. What’s happening with the compass definitely fits into the pattern of consistency:
- Richard gives Locke the compass sometime in the past/present/future (or at least sometime during “The Lie.”
- Locke, now back in the past before he was born, tells Richard about the compass and gives it to him. He also tells Richard that he is his leader and that he’ll be born in two years time.
- Richard visits Locke when he’s five years old (we look at this more closely in my recap/analysis of “Cabin Fever” last season) and wants him to choose among six objects which of them are already his. Locke chooses the granules of sand and the compass that Locke, himself, provided for Richard in the past. Locke also claims the knife, which was not a wise choice. Richard immediately knows that Locke is either not ready or not the chosen leader, after all. He grabs the compass and leaves. Sometime in the future, after the White Event and all the jumping, Richard gives the compass to Locke (1), and the pattern starts anew.
This temporal pattern is indicative of the self-consistency principle. Locke needs a certain push at a young age to search out his purpose and eventually find the island. The push is provided by Richard Alpert, along with some items, one of which is a compass. Years later, Locke comes across the very same compass and is provided an opportunity to go back in time and share his story with Richard. Richard takes his information and the compass and sets out to see if Locke is who he says he is, and monitor Locke’s progress and possibly offer a push when needed. Thus, Locke becomes the man he needs to be to find the island and become the Other’s new leader. Self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will. Or, destiny, by another term that Locke might prefer.
That issue seems to be all wrapped up snug and cozy, doesn’t it? Well, not really. The next question that should be coming into all of your minds is – where did the compass come from? If Richard gave Locke the compass in the “future” and Locke brought it back with him to the “past” to give to Richard so that he could use it throughout Locke’s life and then give it back to Locke in the future so he could bring it back to the past … where does the compass originate? Herein lies one of the greatest paradoxes inherent in some self-consistency scenarios. One possible answer is that the compass has always existed in the same time loop. That’s a pretty deep concept to wrap your mind around, and it won’t help you sleep at night, believe me. Another answer is that this particular thread of time has been evolving with each successive loop.
That’s as far as I got with that particular analysis because it was late and it was making my brain hurt. But we can take it a step further now with what we’ve seen in this episode. Not only does Richard give Locke the compass, he also tells Locke what he must do when he gets off the Island. This was not some divine mandate from Jacob or anyone else, these instructions came from Locke himself. In that one instant, Locke set in motion his entire destiny, and the only reason he was able to do so was because he had already lived it. However, he couldn’t have lived it if his future self hadn’t sent Richard with instructions … is this baking your noodle yet?
As I mentioned before, one way to explain this is with temporal evolution. This hybrid theory combines parts of static timeline theory (whatever happened, happened) and mutable timeline theory (full details of both can be found in the analysis for “He’s Our You”). Essentially, one way to imagine this is that sometime in the past – and I use that term loosely and in a purely quantum manner – the survivors, or at least John Locke, came to the Island and traveled into the past. During that past, they managed to change something that effected an outcome in the future, which ultimately changed part of the past leading up to that point.
Let’s say, for instance, that Locke came to the Island and had a compass. He got into some temporal shenanigans, he managed to knock over a vase when it should have been a lamp, who knows. At any rate, sometime during that time traveling stint, he changed something that affected his past, but not necessarily the pieces or people around him. Let’s say that sometime during that stint, he became friends with Richard, and gave the compass to Richard. Now, Locke’s screwed around with the timeline so much at this point that neither static timeline theory nor mutable timeline theory can account for the changes, so a temporal loop is created: Locke still comes to the Island in the “future”, but under different circumstances. This time he has a couple of companions. In order to right the wrongs to the timeline, certain temporal anomalies have been allowed to exist: the compass being one of those things, as it ties two events together and sets the next temporal loop in a motion toward resolution.
One way to imagine this in a much more simplistic manner is that the Island was a lock before Locke got to it, and it was pretty much locked down tight, invisible to the world, with all its “tumblers” in place. Because of some temporal shenanigans, Locke (or someone else, who’s to say?) upset the tumblers, throwing the Island into temporal chaos, and effectively unlocking it for release of energies, etc. Now, in order to set things right, the Island or time or some outside force has set in motion a slightly overlapping temporal loop where something gets fixed each time the loop is created. The tumblers of the lock are slowly rotated back into position with each successive evolutionary loop, even though the improbability of justifying the concurrent actions (for instance, the “spontaneous” creation of the compass) might get out of hand. Once all the tumblers are put back into place, the loop will reach an end and the time traveling will cease. This could have all been caused by one action in the “past” and everyone that’s become involved with this “loop” of the Island has been pulled in, one by one, in order to play a successive, pivotal role in making right what once went wrong.
Did you get all that?
Another way to kinda think of it: Groundhog Day. Yeah, so there.
WAR, HUH, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
It’s time for a roll call! In previous seasons, the survivors are usually divided for some reason or another, most notably when Jack and Locke are doing the whole “Man of Science, Man of Faith” thing, but now everyone is split into SIX dadgum factions, as well as some interesting wild cards. How can we keep ’em all straight? Don’t worry, I’ve got your cheat sheet for the finale right here:
Sawyer, Juliet, Kate
This team is interesting because they’re not just going to be fighting against the other factions, they might also be trying to kill each other. The common thread: they all seem to want off the Island, particularly if an H-Bomb is going to go boom.
Advantage: Street smarts, spunk, good aim.
Disadvantage: Whore that always gets kidnapped when the spit hits the fan.
Hurley, Miles, Jin
Otherwise known as “Team Comic Relief.” I’m not entirely sure what their role might be, but I speculate a bit more on that in the section called “Let’s Meet in the Middle” down below. Go ahead, look, it’s all about Hurley, Miles and Jin.
Advantage: Probably not going to die, because funny never dies unless Joss Whedon is writing the episode.
Disadvantage: Often bumbling, only one good shot in the bunch, heavy sarcasm.
Team Boom Boom Pow
Jack, Sayid (Ellie & Richard – reserve members)
Not satisfied with shooting a young boy in the chest in order to muck about with the timeline, these temporal terrorists will not rest until they have detonated a hydrogen bomb. For added insanity, Jack is now talking like Locke! Clearly all the drugs and alcohol from off-island has rotted his brain.
Advantage: Crazier than shithouse rats, not much to live for, do not have Will.i.am on reserve team.
Disadvantage: Crazier than shithouse rats, not much to live for.
Team Trust Jacob
Ilana, Bram, Pandora’s Box
Do they truly serve Jacob, or are they remnants of Widmore’s old faction? Have they been called to the Island to save the leader on high from Locke and his new Island citizen army? What’s in the box, huh?
Advantage: Well-armed, fanatical, big scary box.
Disadvantage: Team made up entirely of second-tier characters, expendable.
Locke, the Others
With every other faction jockeying for Mayors of Selfish Town, Locke and his new peoples seem to really want what’s best for the Island. And from what I’ve seen over the past five seasons, what the Island wants, the Island gets.
Advantage: The Island, Locke, Time.
Disadvantage: Led by the ultimate martyr.
Yup, it’s Sun against the world. All she wants is to get her husband back, get off that miserable island, and reunite with Ji Yeon.
Advantage: One tough mother, pretty cute.
Disadvantage: The cheese stands alone.
Ben, Present Richard, Christian, Claire, Ol’ Smokey
I’m pretty sure that Richard and Ol’ Smokey are serving a purpose much older than that of all these other factions jockeying for position, but their allegiances are still a bit … hazy. Christian and Claire like hanging out at Jacob’s place, so maybe they’re tight with the old quantum phase shifter. Ben is … well, Ben. The ultimate wild card.
Notables, not present at this time
Desmond & Penny
We may not see them until next season, but I’m betting we haven’t seen the last of either.
This week’s episode-inspired drink recipe is in honor of one of the coolest features of the Dharma Initiative – their sub, the Galaga. The only thing that can make a secret, mysterious island cooler is having its very own submarine. Granted, the Galaga is no Nautilus, but I think that Jules Verne would be proud, nonetheless.
Just as there are thousands of sub designs that have been created over the years, there are also many ways to customize your traditional Submarine drink. Below is my favorite configuration, but feel free to substitute your favorite liquor and beer.
- Shot glass of Jagermeister
- Pint glass (1/2 to 3/4 full) Bitburger beer (If I want the opposite effect and something meatier, I’ll use Guinness or Boddingtons)
Grab the shot glass, position it over the top of the pint glass and, when ready, let go and watch it dive, dive dive! Immediately grab the drink and submerge it in your belly. Come back up for air and repeat until seasick.
LET’S MEET IN THE MIDDLE
Okay, here’s the situation: In one time period, we’ve got Team Locke heading toward Jacob’s little cabin in the woods, so that Locke can kick his butt. So far, we know that Locke is one of two people on the Island that can see Jacob. The other, of course, is Hurley. Hurley not only can see and find Jacob’s cabin, but he’s also seen Jacob’s eye, clear as day. Team Hispasian is in the other time period, making plans to do who knows what at this point. They can’t escape the Island since the Galaga just took off into the great, wet blue, and their plan to head to the beach doesn’t really make much sense if a hydrogen bomb is going to go off. Without a clear leader like Dan to fill them in on temporal protocol, they’re sitting ducks.
However … since Hurley can see Jacob’s cabin, and Miles can “talk” to dead people, it is entirely possible that they could pool resources and seek refuge in the cabin. The cabin is very special – a possible temporal nexus – as we’ve seen it can jump about from place to place and, I’m guessing, time to time. If I were a betting man, I’d also guess that Jacob’s cabin could exist in multiple time periods at once. What that means for our two teams is that it’s entirely possible for both of them to reach Jacob’s cabin at the same moment in concurrent timelines and actually encounter each other. They could appear just like how Christian appears, or they could be revealed in temporal flashes, like when Jacob appeared to Locke the first time and we all wet our pants.
What’s going to go down if this scenario pans out? I haven’t the foggiest. Perhaps the energy released by “the Incident” will be enough to connect the two quantum phase states and return Team Hispasian to their proper time. Maybe they’ll all be jolted and transported to Jacob’s “real” time. I’m not sure, and it’s all just wild speculation. However, if I don’t see some variation of this in the finale, I’m going to jot this one down as one helluva missed opportunity to do something really, really cool.
AND ONE MORE THING ABOUT JUGHEAD
I don’t know for sure what the “incident” really is, or what’s going to happen – if an H-bomb really is going to go off, or if it’ll be a dud. But as I mentioned last week, an atomic bomb, once detonated, will release a massive electromagnetic pulse that could be interpreted as a magnetic burst, as predicted by Daniel.
However, there’s also a chance that something else might happen to Jughead. Remember the statue we’ve talked about all season? Remember that sometime in the past something cataclysmic obviously occurred, because all we have left is a four-toed foot? Well, an H-bomb is kinda cataclysmic. We’ve got time travel going on. Put the two together and wouldn’t it make sense if what lies in the shadow of the statue was Jughead? I dunno, just something to think about. We’ll find out in a week, anyway. Maybe.
AND ONE LAST DEPRESSING THING
There may be more things to talk about, but it’s late, and we’ll have plenty of questions to go over after the finale next week. Remember to keep thinking those good thoughts and if you have an epiphany, tell me something good. Until next time, I leave all of you with one last prediction that my gut feels pretty sure about, and which saddens me greatly.
I’m really going to miss you, beautiful.
Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. Michael Emerson, Lost’s Benjamin Linus, called Kirkman’s recaps “one of the smartest articles I’ve ever read about what goes on on our show.” Kirkman 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.