I honestly thought going into the We Have to Go Back project that this would be the toughest slough: the progression through Season 2. However, a lot of you have seem to have placed this season above the third one in your own estimation, which frankly surprised me. So maybe the toughest road starts in approximately six weeks, when we wrap up this next leg of the Lost journey.
But for now, let’s descend down the newly discovered manhole and see what’s inside that hatch, shall we?
Man of Science, Man of Faith
4) In Short
"Wet Walt screamin’ in the dead of niiiiight/Take this broken hatch and learn to tyyyype…"
8) On the Island
Beeping noises wake up an unseen figure. He gets out of the top of a bunk bed, and slides over to the source of the noise: an old-fashioned computer. He presses a few keys, then hits, "Execute." A flapping noise is heard off-screen. This unknown figure then puts Mama Cass’ "Make Your Own Kind of Music" on a record player and goes about some mundane activities in a quasi-retro, quasi-futuristic living space. And if you’re wondering why this is all listed under "On The Island," well, hold onto your seats, as I try to approximate my initial reaction back in 2005:
Oh, so, it’s Jack, yea, must be Jack, no, no, those abs look like Sawyer’s, my bad…wait, it doesn’t look like anyone I know, whose flashback is OH MY GOD THIS DUDE’S IN THE FREAKIN’ HATCH WHY IS THERE A COMPUTER AND A WASHER/DRYER AND WHAT’S UP WITH THE INJECTION AND ALL I KNOW AND CHERISH IN THIS WORLD IS CALLED INTO QUESTION AND HOLY CRAP I LOVE THIS SHOW ALL OVER AGAIN.
In my initial excitement/confusion, I missed a few symbols which might to turn out to be vitally important to the show as a whole. But all that in good time.
Outside the hatch, Hurley’s repeating the numbers over and over again as Locke, Jack, and Kate peer down the seemingly bottomless pit. Jack wants to abandon the hatch, noting that it would be impossible for everyone to be lowered into it before The Others arrived. Locke’s got other ideas, wanting to go down immediately. The two bicker back and forth until Kate notices something interesting written on the inside of the hatch door: "Quarantine." That can’t be good.
At the beach camp, Charlie is explaining to a red shirt that there’s no one coming, that Danielle set the fire herself. Nearby, Sayid looks skeptical, but quickly follows Shannon. Turns out she’s a horrible dog-sitter, as she’s already lost Vincent. He chases after her, and both come across Vincent. But after they split up while chasing him, Shannon sees something else: a soaking wet Walt, who motions for her to be quiet, and then starts speaking backwards, sounding much like the Whispers that preceded his appearance. Yeah, that wasn’t creepy or nuttin’.
Kate and Locke split off from Jack and Hurley. Ms. Born to Run and Mr. Born To Blow Up Ways to Get Off The Island discuss the column of smoke that somehow managed to pull Locke into the ground. Meanwhile, Hurley reveals to Jack the history of the Numbers, in all its glory. Jack can’t get past the fact that Hurley once stayed in a psych ward, with Hugo noting Jack’s poor bedside manners. Amen, Hurley.
Shannon’s hysterically telling everyone back at the beach what she saw, which is naturally giving the survivors a major case of the wiggins. (I wonder if that dude in the hatch has an injection to cure that.) In the middle of the hysteria, The Dynamite Four return, and share knowledge about the hatch and Arzt’s explosion. This sets off internal dissention once again, with Jack giving a speech akin to the one in "White Rabbit." Only this one isn’t quite as persuasive, as Locke instantly packs up to head back to the hatch. Jack essentially retorts, "Well, if you love the hatch so much, why don’t you just marry it already?" Locke agrees in the sanity of Jack’s plan to stay together, but is "tired of waiting." Millions of fans who waited a summer to find out what the f#$& was in the hatch suddenly think Locke is the greatest character in the history of television.
Kate butters up Jack, telling him he’s doing the right thing, only to then tell the good doctor that she’s going with Locke. You know, that whole "can’t stay in one place" thing. Turns out Locke’s been waiting patiently, knowing she wanted down as badly as he does. He lowers her down first, being a gentleman and all. About halfway down, the tree holding Kate’s weight snaps, with only Locke’s quick thinking saving her from crashing to the bottom. Kate notices a shadow pass below her, which is CREEPY. Then the lights from "Deus ex Machina" flash on, which is CREEPY. Then the rope goes suddenly slack, which is…well, you get the picture.
Looks like Jack’s loins got the better of him, as he heads off after Kate. He finds neither Kate nor Locke at the hatch, only an abandoned rope leading down the shaft. He lowers himself down. His flashlight reveals an edifice made of concrete, metal, and rust. A pair of shoes sit just inside the doorway. Everything’s vaguely wet and mostly dilapidated. There’s also one crazy-ass mural, along with a magnetically-enhanced, sealed off door, that set the series of tubes that is the internet ablaze upon first appearance.
Mama Cass is quite frankly peeved by Jack’s intrusion, so they start screaming for him to make his own kind of music. This, coupled with the bright white light’s reappearance, sends Jack into a geodesic dome of a room, replete with technology straight out of 1960’s science fiction films. It’s all blips and squawks and analog gizmos and, most interestingly, the computer seen at the outset of the episode.
Just as Jack’s about to press "Execute" (which seems like a horrible idea, really), he hears Locke telling him not to do that. When Jack looks up, he sees his semi-nemesis held at gunpoint by the unseen occupant of the hatch. Jack takes this opportune moment to essentially say, "Neener neener" to Locke, asking Baldy if this is what he meant by, "All roads lead to here." But Jack’s smugness fades when he realizes he’s met this occupant. You could say he met him in another life.
15) Off the Island
Two victims of a car crash are brought into Jack’s E.R. One, Adam Rutherford, has a name which sounds awfully familiar. Jack works on the victim, herself familiar from Season 1. Adam dies on the adjoining table as Jack works on his bride-to-be, Sarah. She whispers, "I have to dance at my wedding," before Jack leaves the room.
Later on, Jack breaks the bad news: Sarah’s back is broken, and does so in possibly the most cynical way I’ve ever heard. It’s so cynical that even Mr. "We’re In Hell", Christian Shephard, tells Jack he might wanna lighten up a little on his patients. Jack calls this "false hope," but Christian notes it’s hope all the same, and sometimes, that’s enough.
Jack’s talking to Sarah’s fiance, who’s majorly freaked out by the prospect of marrying someone who will need help in going to the bathroom. The poor man’s Jeremy Sisto, aka The Duke of Douchebaggery serves as Jack’s motivation in making Sarah whole again. This, coupled with her whole "it’s OK, I can wheel around at my wedding" speech on the operating table turns Jack into a more masculine, more American version of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who tells Sarah, "I’m gonna fix you." The rest of the staff has a reaction that denotes their distaste for minor-chord laden Britpop.
Here we are: the most mythologically laden stadium steps ever, brutha. Jack notices someone blowing by him, and in trying to catch up, trips and falls. Turns out this Scottish fellah is training for a race around the world, and wants to know why Jack is running as if the devil is chasing him. Desmond locates the source of this angst quickly: a lady. Jack told her he could fix her, and he couldn’t. The Scotsman, a man by the name of Desmond, isn’t so sure he wasn’t successful. The whole scene turns to fate and miracles and notions of "lifting it up" and promises to "see ya in another life" and it’s spine-tingling awesome.
Jack is there in Sarah’s room when she wakes up. She tells him he smells, thanks to his stadium run. (No wonder they get along: they each have horrible bedside manners.) Jack apologizes for not being able to cure her paralysis, which confuses Sarah. After all, she can wiggle her toes. Boy, wiggling of toes…I think we’ve seen that somewhere else before. It’s unclear who’s happier at this point: Sarah or Jack.
16) The Mythology
I mean, why even try to sum up everything? In terms of what’s introduced into the unknowing Lost universe: The Dharma Initiative. The quarantine sign. The computer. The button. The incident. Walt’s astral projection. Charles Widmore and his race around the world. The Purge. All huge mythological components weaved into the greater narrative and teased out to this very day. All dumped into this loaded episode. I spent five minutes trying to think of out to succinctly sum all this up, and found myself on the floor five hours later, having passed out from the effort.
Sufficed to say: if you’re a mythology freak like me, you loved the first appearance of so many iconic themes and images.
23) The Moment
The moment you realize the geographical location of what you were positive, POSITIVE, was a flashback. One of the great "gotcha" moments of the show’s history.
42) In Retrospect
- I love how they introduce the Tricia Tanaka incident early on in this episode. I don’t really care if they planned to ever actually show the meteorite crashing into Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack or not, but I’m amused that they built a key moment of Season 3’s "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" off this one little detail in this one little anecdote.
- In the latest in the "Christian Shephard Scenes Are Infinitely More Interesting Second Time Around" series, one can’t wonder if Sarah’s insertion into Jack’s life wasn’t a test from the very beginning. Perhaps it was a way to either gauge Jack’s capacity for the events to come on the Island or mentally prepare him for those events. Maybe this was clear to most of you already, but I think I finally understood the title of the episode: Jack himself is both the man of science AND the man of faith the title mentions, only can never truly reconcile both sides into one complete person at the same time. Perhaps Sarah’s recovery was meant to help those two sides merge. Didn’t work, which is why…
- Sarah’s wiggling of the toes is reminiscent of Locke performing the same function after crashing on the Island. We’ve gone over this many times on this blog, but in lieu of either Jack or Locke each possessing the necessary mental skill set to help the Island, they were thrown together in order to do so. The imagery is too rich and canonical to ignore. I will simply not accept that sometimes a toe wiggle is just a toe wiggle.
108) In Summary
A lot of the episode’s power lies in the unknown: those initial descents into the hatch are extremely well-constructed but, like all mysteries, lose their oopmh if the outcome is known ahead of time. Oddly enough, I found the flashback more interesting upon second viewing than i did the first time around, which means I really enjoyed a Jack flashback. There, I said it.
Also, how can you not love an episode with Desmond in it? I find it extremely difficult to do so. Even upon first viewing, everyone had a communal Spidey Sense going off during the stadium scene, signaling, "This is very important!" And not just because Des has dreamy eyes. Although that helps.
In the end, Lost did what it does best: answer one question and pose twelve others. OK, there’s a retro-futuristic living space with a crazy computer room at the bottom of the hatch. Mystery solved? Only on the most surface of levels. Luckily, we have a whole season to try and get to the bottom of things, right, bruthas and sistas?
Leave your thoughts about this episode below!