Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lost, “316” and Less-Than-Happy Returns

A warning that you should heed in different ways, depending on your relationship with Lost. Don’t read this if you hate Lost, as it will bore you to the point that liquefied brain matter will leak out through your face holes. Also, don’t read this if you really like Lost, however, because at the end I put forth a theory that I feel has a good chance of being correct, at least partially. If that’s the case, what I’m laying down the below paragraphs could well constitute Spoiler City — again, at least partially.

Though I haven’t written much about it here, I’ve been watching and enjoying the current season of Lost. This week, Lost sort of became That 70s Show, thus rendering it a particularly appropriate lead-in for that other 70s-centric, time travel-themed show, Life on Mars. (The synchronicity was apparently not enough to keep Mars on the air, however, as ABC announced this week that this other quirky hourlong would go the way of disco. Shed a tear for poor Gretchen Mol and any TV series unlucky enough to feature the word Mars in the title.) However, as much fun as it was to see Sawyer playing house with Juliet and finally having era-appropriate hair, my thoughts keep returning to the episode from two weeks prior: “316,” in which a plane crash resulted in the show’s cast becoming trapped on a mysterious island — again.

That last plot point was probably enough to drive away anybody who doesn’t like or follow Lost and who nonetheless didn’t heed my warning. (“They got off the island? But then they went back? And then a second plane crashed on the island?” Ha, I say to you. The show did a good job pulling off such an implausible twist. And it wasn’t the second plane to crash in Four Toe Island. It was the third. So there.)

The ill-fated Ajira Airways Fight 316 sent a smaller group of people plummeting toward the island amid fiery wreckage, but included among the passengers were a few who were doubtlessly experiencing déjà vu: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, and Sun. (Yes, Ben was there, that jerk. But he was there for the first time. And Locke was there too, but being dead at the time, he had little reason to notice much of anything. And pilot Frank Lapidus was making his second trip to the island but only his first on a crashing aircraft, as he narrowly missed being the pilot of Oceanic Flight 815.) Those directing these characters — the Losers, as I like to call the cast of Lost — to board the flight specifically told them that they had to do their best to re-create the circumstances that dumped them on the island in the first place, but I’m curious to know how much of their behavior was done purposefully and how much happened as the result of the kind of harmonious coincidence for which the show is famous.

Some similarities are obvious. For example, That Jerk Ben Linus showed up late and just barely made the flight, just as Hurley did on the original flight. This was probably not Ben’s intention, as he was late for getting the tar kicked out of him. We don’t know who did this, but based on Ben’s history, I’m suspecting anyone he’s ever met ever.

Hurley boarded the flight carrying a guitar, just as Charlie did. I wonder if this was intentional, since I don’t recall Hurley ever playing a guitar before, though I imagine he would have had time to pick up a hobby during his most recent stint in the loony bin.

Sayid boarded the plane in the company of Ilana, who may or may not be some sort of officer or enforcer of authority. He was also in handcuffs, so whether Ilana is a force of good, bad, order or disorder, he was apparently in her custody. This calls back to Kate’s experience on 815, when she was in handcuffs and in the custody of the U.S. marshal Edward Mars. Another ill-fated Mars, the character survived the crash but sustained massive injuries, ultimately needing to be mercy killed by Jack, so we’ll see how Ilana fares now that she’s am island-bound Loser as well. I assume Ilana is the new Goodbye Girl, replacing the newly dead Charlotte. (The original Goodbye Girl, Shannon, died the moment Ana-Lucia and Libby Showed up. Goodbye! Ana-Lucia and Libby kept the spot as a time-share until they ended up on the wrong end of the same gun at the same time. Goodbye! Shortly after, there was Nikki, who was buried alive. Goodbye! The void left by Nikki made room for Charlotte, who was reduced to a quivering mass by too much time travel, the wimp. Goodbye!) Also, the actress who plays Ilana, Zuleikha Robinson bears a resemblance to Saturday Night Live’s Casey Wilson to the point that I was a bit distracted every time she was onscreen.)

Sun, of course, got to make believe she was Rose — missing her husband, stroking her wedding band — even if she would have had no idea what Rose was doing in the moments before 815 crashed.

Locke occupied a coffin in the cargo space rather than a seat in the cabin, much in the manner that Jack’s father, Christian, did on the first flight. Corpses don’t do a whole lot, in general, so comparison would end there if Jack hadn’t purposefully removed Locke’s funeral shoes with a pair that belonged to the elder Mr. Shephard.

And then there’s Jack and Kate, those on-again, off-again, on-the-island, off-the-island lovers, who made sweet former castaway love the night before the flight but who could hardly look at each other on the plane itself. The obvious analogue would be Boone and Shannon, the almost incestuous step-siblings who had decided to resume being assholes toward each other by the time they hopped on the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.

This covers a lot of the original 815-ers but not all of them. There’s no one being Jack, though I suppose Jack himself could be Jack. (I know, I know. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. See what Lost makes me do?) There’s no Sayid or Sawyer that I could discern. No one’s being Sun or Jin or Michael or Walt. There’s no Eko or Libby or Ana-Lucia, either, though the show never focused all that much on what was happening in the tail section. (We’ve never even seen Libby on the plane, as “Libby is evil” conspiracy theorists have pointed out.) The one character whose lack of an apparent analogue stands out most for me, however, is Claire, whose most outstanding characteristic during the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, of course, was her enormous pregnant belly. In certain ways, Claire seems like a glaring omission, since Aaron, her “poor island baby,” was the only one of the Flight 815 survivors who got off the island and wasn’t on the Ajira airliner for the return trip. Quite strange, isn’t it, that Aaron would be completely elided over despite Eloise Hawking’s instructions that the return flight needs to re-create as much of the original one as possible? Even more curiously, Kate seemed to have deliberately shipped Aaron off to who-knows-where before making the big decision to get on the flight. (Where did Aaron go? My guess is to Cassidy, the one-time accomplice of Kate’s and pretty much Kate’s only friend in the world. Cassidy, notably, is also the mother of Sawyer’s baby daughter, Clementine. Maybe Aaron and Clementine can be baby friends.) It’s understandable that Kate’s maternal instincts would have prompted her to get Aaron as far away from Four Toe Island as possible, but perhaps slightly less so if shipping him off would have hurt the chances of returning.

That got me thinking, and that thinking got me writing, and that writing has led up to this point: Maybe Claire had a counterpart after all.

Think about it: Claire, as we found out last season, is actually Christian’s daughter, which makes her Jack’s half-sister. That means that Aaron is Christian’s grandson. If Jack and Kate did, in fact, spend the night together before boarding Flight 316, there’s a chance that thi particular instance of nasty-doing could have put a baby in Kate’s belly — a baby that would also be Christian Shepherd’s grandchild. The presence of such a child — or, depending on your perspective on such matters, such a glob of cells on the path to becoming a child — would make two more ways in which those on Flight 316 managed to re-create Flight 815: a pregnant lady and a Christian Shepherd descendant in utero. I really do think this happens to be the case, even if Kate couldn’t possibly be aware of it yet. The fact that Kate is also now back on the island in the general vicinity of Juliet, the person who determined that Sun was pregnant, leads me to think that she may have reason and means to become aware in the future.

I haven’t the foggiest notion of why, but Christian and his relations are clearly big deals on Four Toe Island. Everyone certainly seemed pretty interested in Aaron, and Claire herself seems to have joined Christian in the creepy moving cabin — just hanging with her pops, ghost-style. My guess is that circumstances will be such that Jack ends up there too, the third part of a strange little ghost family. (In fact, I’m more sure than ever that Jack is Jacob, the cabin spook supremo, especially given the Shephard family’s association with this particular island edifice. After all, does it seem strange to anyone else that the show’s main character would have a name so similar to the entity posited as being the most powerful one on all of Lost? And what is “Jack” short for, anyway?) Now that Aaron seems to be out of the island’s reach, maybe all the freaky voodoo that Christian seems to pass down to future generations will be bestowed on the little Jack-Kate baby, a possibility that would give Kate a good reason to be scared and protective and altogether heroic, especially as Lost draws to a close next year.

That’s my take on “316” and, really, Lost in general at this midway point of the fifth season. Hope I didn’t spoil anything for you. In fact, I’ll be quite glad to be wrong, since I enjoy the way this show surprises me. That being said, I’ll bet there’s some truth in what I’ve just written. And, if there’s not, then maybe some Lost writer idly Googling the show should ponder ideas and make them so.


  1. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Make sense to me!

    You should check out the British version of Life on Mars, it's awesome.

  2. Anonymous9:48 AM

    In certain ways, Claire seems like a glaring omission, since Aaron, her “poor island baby,” was the only one of the Flight 815 survivors who got off the island and wasn’t on the Ajira airliner for the return trip.

    No, Walt survived the 815 crash, made it off the island and did not return on 316.

  3. Anonymous3:51 PM

    We and many other blogs came to the same conclusion re: Jack's seed as well. It's subtler than the other stuff, true, but that nasty has a metaphysical purpose (aside from, you know, the regular metaphysical purposes of fucking).