After the landmine that was "King of the Castle," I guess I unfairly assumed that the rest of the installments in the "Missing Pieces" series would contain similar narrative bombshells as well. This week’s edition, entitled "The Deal," offered up a nice chunk of continuity, further insight into the character of Juliet, and another installment of "Walt is special, and we’re going to tell you all about it in the vaguest way humanly possible." Nothing seismic happened this week in this little bit o’ Lost, but trust me, I’ll take Juliet over Frogurt any day of the week.
Onto the recap!
"The Deal" opens with a shot of Michael. Hey, remember him? Not unlike The Terminator, he’s back. Very unlike The Terminator, he’s held in place by a wooden pole. Into his hut walks Juliet, who informs him that the boat he requested is his for the taking. She then mentions that Beatrice told her about Michael seeing Walt. Juliet reveals that she’s spent some time with Michael, knows how "special" he is, and how she’d glad Michael is agreeing to save Ben in order to take Walt away from the Island. Thus, thus flashback takes place in the fake Others village sometimes between the actions seen in Season 2’s "Three Minutes" and Season 2’s "S.O.S.," although in true Lost fashion, these episodes originally aired in opposite order.
Michael is dubious of her intent, and furthermore seems unable to believe that Ben will honor his agreement. Juliet then mentions that Ben kept his word with her by saving her sister, although doing so ensured that she remained on the Island indefinitely. Michael wonders why she would help her sister if she could never see her again, to which Juliet asks him if there’s anything he wouldn’t do to save Walt. She reminds him of the list he’s been given, wishes him good luck, and leaves the hut. To Michael’s great credit, he does not start screaming "WAAAAAAAAAAALT" to no one in particular, which is his usual modus operandi.
Not only serving as a reintroduction to a character that will make his return in Season 4, this mobisode also served to further the theme of self-sacrifice that’s run through the show. One of the beautiful things about Lost is the at times downright unheroic nature of its protagonists. No one lands on this Island clean. What the Island offers, however, is an opportunity for cleansing, for atonement, for doing what is right. It doesn’t push one down a particular path so much as to a crossroads, allowing the people on the Island to decide for themselves which path they will follow.
Michael and Juliet, for all intents and purposes, are lost souls. Redemption is possible, but at the sake of their very lives. Instead, their actions are purposes towards other people: Michael’s son Walt and Juliet’s sister Rachel. They are devoted, if flawed, family members, and their blind devotion to their loved ones are what Ben uses to manipulate them into doing his will.
This mobisode also furthered the theme that Walt is an anomaly no one could have predicted, a force that runs counterbalance to the purposes of the Others and quite possibly to the purpose of the Island itself. The Others are master manipulators, yet seem perfectly happy, even relieved, to let Walt leave the Island. The new wrinkle in "The Deal," however, is that Juliet seems relieved for Walt’s sake, not for the sake of the Others.
Overall Importance to Missing Pieces
The question is, of course, "Why is Juliet so anxious for Walt to leave?" My theory is that if Ben and Locke have "communion" with the Island, then Walt is pretty much jacked right into it, not unlike Neo jacking into The Matrix. Sure, more than one person can access the energies of the Island, but only a select few can truly "see" said energy. And apparently, Walt’s vision is so good that it poses a threat to him.
Let’s remember a threat Beatrice made to Walt in "Three Minutes." She declared that if he did not remain quiet, she would put him back in "the room." This threat clearly freaked Walt out and effectively shut him up. Could this room have been Room 23? And if so, why didn’t he turn into an Other-like vegetable? We clearly saw the effects the room had on Karl, we watched Sawyer nearly fall under its spell, and countless others such as Cindy more than likely had their heads turned into Jacob-loving scrambled eggs in that room. So why isn’t Walt an automaton? Is this what Ben meant in "Live Together, Die Alone" when he said that Walt was, "more than they bargained for…"?
Something about Walt’s psychic ability is amplified by the Island, which could have potentially disastrous possibilities for both Walt and the Island itself. Remember, after all, that parapsychology was one facet of research of the Dharma Initiative, with Room 23 perhaps a bastardized remnant of that research. (Although if it’s the original room, then by golly, the Dharma Initiative’s a bit darker than we imagined, yes?) Couple that with Smokey’s seeming ability to read people’s thoughts and minds, and you have the potential that Smokey itself used to be either a him- or herself, a psychic as well as physical entity created in, perhaps, a yet-to-be-named "incident" near the Swan.
Think back also to what Locke said to Michael in Season 1’s "Special":
"Maybe you haven’t spent enough time with him to see it, but he’s different… As long as we’re here, I think Walt should be allowed to realize his potential."
Given Locke’s fascination/communion with the Island, these words are simultaneously chilling and fascinating. Is the Island a place in which Walt can flourish? If so, doesn’t that potentially put him in direct competition with the Island’s resident member of the Psychic Friends Hotline? Even if the Island hones Walt’s innate gifts, are they truly gifts if they let him see the evil of the Island? If they make the Island and/or Smokey feel threatened? What if, while honing his gifts, he makes a fatal mistake, one that will bring ruin to all on the Island?
Or is it far simpler than that: could Ben simply be afraid that Walt is onto the true nature of Ben/Jacob’s arrangement? Is his inability to conform via Room 23 a potential sign of weakness on Ben’s part, simultaneously drawing people towards Walt as the new child Messiah, the role played by Ben decades ago? Did Juliet worry that Walt would be harmed by the psychic power of the Island, or that Ben would take Walt for a visit near the mass grave containing the remnants of the Dharma Initiative?
In any case, with the return of Walt at the end of Season 3, surely his potential is closer to being reached. Whether that is helpful or harmful is yet to be seen.
What did you think of this week’s installment? What is Walt’s role in the events to come? What other "Missing Pieces" would you like to see in the weeks to come?
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.