Has a flashback ever done so great a job at explaining an entire character so succinctly as the one in this episode? I think we’ve seen approximately seventy-four Jack Shephard flashbacks at this point, and we know less about him than we do about Eko after this one. Course, they did such a good job that the actor who played him forced the show to eventually fire him, but hey, Lost fans, we’re not here to bury Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, but praise Eko, and this fantastic episode.
The 23rd Psalm
4) In Short
"Mary, Mary, why ya buggin’? Mary Mary, I need some thuggin’."
8) On the Island
Claire asks Eko what he is carving into his stick. "Things I need to remember," he replies. Eko is intrigued by Aaron’s name, and wants to know why she chose it. He then tells the story of the Biblical Aaron, brother to Moses. Turns out Moses wasn’t such a hot public speaker, so he had Aaron spread his word for him. (Aaron: the first PR man!) Claire suggests that Eko talk to Charlie, one religious man to another. Eko is surprised to find a Virgin Mary statue in Charlie’s belongings that looks awfully familiar. Claire is even more surprised to learn the contents of the statue upon Eko breaking it.
In the Swan, Locke unlocks the armory. Michael wants to know if he’s breaking in or breaking out. Turns out Locke’s changing the lock combination, due to the new influx of people into their group. Locke assumes Michael might want one himself in the near future. This leads to a "Gunshooting 101" session between the two, with Locke gently suggesting all the while that going First Blood on the Others might not be the best plan. But Michael has a bloody look in his eye after nailing his first shot. That milk stole his boy! His BOY! WAAAAAAAALT!
On the beach, Charlie’s trying to teach Jin about The Kinks. This little a cappella jam session is cut short by the appearance of Eko, who wants Charlie to take him to wherever he found the Virgin Mary statues. Charlie agrees to take him in the morning, but Eko wants to go pronto. Charlie says bye to Claire, which is a bad idea: she’s peeved about the drugs found inside the statue. He insists he’s not using, sprinkling the heroin about to prove his point. But Claire remains unconvinced.
Charlie lies about the spot in which he found the heroin, unwilling to walk any further with Claire’s hatred hanging over his head. Eko pushes him up against a nearby tree, and orders him to take them both to the plane. A little later on, he questions Charlie further about why Claire might get "the wrong idea," about the statue, when suddenly he notices a black cloud of smoke in the near distance, couples with the familiar sounds of the monster. Spooked, he abandons his interrogation and insists they move on.
On the beach: Sawyer’s at Supercuts, getting a trim from Kate. While doing so, Michael comes by and asks to take Kate’s shift in the hatch. Yea, that’s not suspicious at all.
In the jungle, Charlie starts confessing a few sins to Eko, using his brother as an excuse for the reason he started down this path. (Hmmm….that might sound familiar to Mr. Eko.) Just then, Eko notices something in the nearby trees: a body, wrapped in a parachute. On the ground, they find another body, dressed in priestly garments. Tentatively, Eko approached the body, and then violently rips open the priest’s shirt. He does not find what he’s looking for. He does say, however, that this man saved his life.
Charlie notes how ridiculous it is to think a plane from Nigeria could have crash-landed in the South Pacific. Yes, Charlie, that IS ridiculous, but there you have it. Mr. Rock Star then notices that the scribbles on Eko’s walking stick are Scripture, thus giving birth to Eko’s Jesus Stick into the general Lost lexicon.
A little later, Charlie is lost. Eko insist he climb a nearby tree to get his bearings. Charlie, noting the dried blood on the Jesus Stick, does so reluctantly. While Charlie does so…wait for it….wait for it…BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE. Trees gets uprooted left and right and we get a POV shot of the monster coming at Eko, which prompts Eko to run away like a little girl. Kidding. Eko stands his ground because he’s more badass than Han Solo, Shaft, and Clay Aiken COMBINED. The monster has what can only be described as a blinking content with Eko, and as the camera pans through the monster, images from Eko’s past can clearly be seen from the inside of the monster’s "body." Smokey then clearly reverses track (implying it has a singular directionality to its makeup), and heads back underground through one of the holes created by the recently uprooted foliage. Damn. I need a cigarette.
Charlie’s amazed by what just happened, but Eko is more concerned with the location of the plane. Luckily, Charlie had seen it while up in the tree, and Eko makes haste, not waste, towards it.
In the Swan, Michael is lurking about. After ascertaining that he’s alone, he reconnects with Walt via the computer. Walt insists he’s OK, but doesn’t have long: they will be back soon. While IM’ing his son, Jack walks in. Jack apologized to Michael, telling him no one’s forgotten about Walt. The good doctor insists that as soon as they have a plan to do so, they will go out in full force and get him back. Awkward. Awkward.
Eko and Charlie finally arrive at the Beechcraft. Eko goes inside, sifting through the various crates of heroin, until he finds his brother’s body inside, his shirt riddled with bullet holes, the cross still around his neck. Eko weeps and cradles the corpse. As Charlie looks on, Eko pulls a gas line from the ceiling, dousing everything inside with its contents. Before igniting the plane in flames, Eko gives Charlie a new statue, "for the one I broke." Charlie asks one last time: "Are you a priest, or aren’t you?" Eko puts on the cross, the cross he has not worn since a child, and says, "Yes." He then recites the 23rd Psalm, with Charlie eventually joining in.
Montage time on the beach: Jin introduces Sun to Ana Lucia, and gives her a newly caught fish. Hurley helps Libby set up her tent, and I cry a little. Sawyer and Kate flirt, and I throw up a little. But the montage ends with Claire kicking Charlie out of their tent, banishing him from their makeshift family.
That night, Charlie goes into the jungle, where he puts the statue Eko gave him into a hidden vault replete with other statues. So much for not knowing exactly how to get to the plane. Boy, I sure hope this doesn’t kick off a series of visions inside a completely crappy episode in the near future.
15) Off the Island
Some boys are playing soccer in a Nigerian village. The good times are interrupted by the arrival of a car bearing local militia. They start rounding up the youngest children, at gunpoint. One of the men selects a boy to shoot an adult member of the village. The child hesitates, prompting his older brother to take his place and kill the man. This child? Eko. "A born killer," says the happy militiaman. Eko’s brother Yemi picks up Eko’s discarded cross after Eko departs with the militia.
An older, more warlord-y version of Eko is conducting a drug deal with some associates. He agrees to take this man’s heroin out of the country, noting its lack of worth in the country and a general inability to smuggle it out of the country. Eko, however, knows a way. The associate asks if it’s true that Eko has no soul. Eko smiles, and then cuts their throats with one movement. So, no, then. Oops, wait, maybe, as he lets their young, teenager aide walk free. Almost as if he sees something he recognizes in that boy’s eyes.
Eko approaches the church in his old village. Outside, a vendor is selling statues of the Virgin Mary. Inside the church? His brother, Yemi, the new pastor in the church. They haven’t seen each other in three years. Yemi’s displeased with the stories he has heard about his brother; Eko wonders if the reason he started down this path absolves all actions since. Eko proposes a business proposition: smuggle the heroin through Yemi’s plane, and then money garnered would help Yemi purchase the vaccines needed for his village. Yemi refuses this offer.
Later on, Eko returns to the church with a few henchmen. He wants Yemi to make them all priests, saving Yemi the trouble of having to fly the drugs out himself. Eko insists that while he won’t hurt his brother, his compadres might burn the church down if he doesn’t sign. Yemi signs reluctantly, noting that his signature does not make Eko a priest. Eko buys all 300 Virgin Mary statues from his brother and leaves the church. As he leaves, Eko notes that both he and Yemi are sinners. Yemi insists that while that might be true, "God will forgive me."
Eko and Co. are loading the now-famous Beechcraft with heroin-filled Virgin Marys. As they do so, a car pulls up. Eko’s brother is inside, telling him to not get on the plane. And he says this with good reason, as the Nigerian military soon pull up. In the crossfire that ensues, Yemi gets shot and pulled into the plane. Eko, for his part, gets kicked out of the plane by his now former associate. Eko lies on the tarmac watching the plane take off. When the military pull up, one of the soldiers addresses Eko as "Father." Eko nods quietly.
16) The Mythology
Well, it’s all about the Smokey scene, isn’t it? One of the rules established by Darlton is thus: every time we see the smoke monster, we learn something new about it. And we learned something extremely important during this episode: the monster flippin’ HATES British rock. Why else wait to show up until Charlie’s up a tree?
But seriously, what I see inside the monster, in this order: a church, little Yemi, Eko’s parents, the man Eko shot as a child, little Yemi again, this time clinging to his brother, some water, an upside image of Eko after crashing on the Island, one of Eko’s associates on the tarmac, the woman selling the Virgin Mary statues, Eko holding his shot brother, and finally, Jesus on the cross. All in roughly eight seconds. Hot damn.
So the monster can somehow "see" into Eko’s past during this stare down. Frankly, I’m more intrigued by the on-Island images than the off-Island ones, given that many people hear the smoke monster scurrying about during the opening scene of "The Other 48 Day." Couple that with the flashing of Kate and Juliet during Season 3’s "Left Behind," and further couple THAT with the promotional imagery of Season 3, and you can make a strong case that at least one function of the monster is to gather intelligence on any and all people on the Island.
This episode seems to imply that it doesn’t identify people via retinal scan so much as mental scan, with the monster seeing into the soul via the eyes. This calls into question the tendency of Lost to open many episodes with close-ups of eyes, but also calls to mind the assertion made in this episode that Eko does not have a soul. Well, he’s certainly not devoid of one, as both the monster and the boy whom he let live in the aftermath of the double homicide will attest.
I will hold off analysis on why the monster lets Eko live now only to kill him come Season 3, as that discussion is better left until then. But I do want to focus on how the monster has a type of morality about it, one that would appeal to those who deal in categories of "good" and "bad" people. I would also note that the monster seems to think that Eko still has work to do on the Island, a phrase I choose consciously in reference to lines uttered both by Walt (to Locke) and Christian (post-crash, blue-suited, to no one in particular, about Jack).
All of this leads to a final point: the monster often functions as an amalgam of activities prevalent on the Island amongst those who inhabit it. It’s method of identification and fact-gathering seem straight out of Mikhail’s work in The Flame. Its psychic nature speaks to Walt and Room 23. Its judging of character seem straight out of, well, every moralizing figure on the Island. All this is my way of saying that if you held me at gunpoint, I’d say the smoke monster is not a byproduct of the Island itself so much as those that have sought to exploit its unique nature.
It is, in other words, the bastard child of the Island and the Dharma Initiative’s attempts to save the world. And it, not the Hostiles, are the reason for the sonic fence erected around New Otherton. It’s Hal from 2001 meets Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, and it’s such a damn good security system that it seeks to protect people from themselves.
Or, as Hurley said, it’s a pissed-off giraffe. I guess that option’s still in play as well.
23) The Moment
Need you ask?
42) In Retrospect
One thing stuck out at me: the notion that Aaron had to speak on behalf of Moses. After all, both were prophets. Know who else was a prophet? A man named Jacob. Interesting, no? This only fuels the fire for theorists such as myself who think Aaron’s a necessary component to freeing Jacob from the ties (or the Cabin Christians) that currently bind. That’s right, folks: only Turnip Head can save the Island!
108) In Summary
It’s not like I haven’t missed Eko since his departure from the show, but episodes like this really, really hurt to watch. It’s easy to forget with the insertion of seminal characters such as Benjamin Linus and Daniel Faraday that Eko was the absolute bomb diggity back in the day, with every word uttered seemingly like the most… important… information… ever.
Now, this is not a space to slag on Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and his decision to leave the show. Like Fleetwood Mac said, he can go his own way. But it’s hard to think that the show is somehow better for his absence. I can only hope that the shout-out to his character at the end of Season 4 means we just might see him again on the show in the not-too-distant future.
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