Walkabout S.1 Ep. 4

I had a bit of trouble coming up with a theme for this episode.  The obvious ones are there of course.

– Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

– Destiny

– Miracles and the magic of the island

None of them seemed entirely right to me, until I stopped and thought about Sayid’s side-story in the  episode Walkabout…

Sayid had a problem with what Jack decided should be done with the bodies of those that passed away in the crash.  At dusk the following day, the castaways will burn the fuselage to dispose of / in remembrance of /  those that died.

Sayid, not wanting to take part in that, because it disrespected the 815 dead’s possible and completely unknowable final wishes, decided to focus on a side project.  He removes wiring, electrics, and metal from the wreckage to build antennas, which will work with a repurposed transceiver to triangulate the mysterious signal left by Rousseau.

The idea of repurposing has often occurred to me while watching Lost.  I’ve always had this thought, that I’ve mentioned in a few other articles, that the island exists outside the dimensional plane of the rest of the Earth.  That is how and why things like the flashes, time loops, teleportation, etc. seem to not affect the rest of the planet.  i.e.  It isn’t so much that you teleport to Tunisia when you turn the wheel, so much as Tunisia is the closest place on Earth to the island’s dimension, when you open the “door.”

So, if you accept that the island exists in its own dimension, with its own rules governing time, space, distance, etc. then the rest of this won’t be that crazy.

I’d like to suggest that when a person crosses over to the island he or she leaves their destiny behind.  They skew from the destiny that they were heading for and embrace a new one which includes time spent on the island, thus drastically changing their life-course.

What if all the characters had very specific destinies?  What if they all had a purpose back in their lives before the crash?   What if, by leaving, and crossing over to the island, these destinies were interrupted, changed, or diverted? (Course correction is a big theme later…)

I propose that Jacob, just like Sayid repurposing a few wires and circuit boards, repurposed the survivors of flight 815.  He took their destinies that were set in stone, and changed them.  It is no coincidence that in the season 5 finale we see that Jacob uses an ancient looking loom to weave tapestries.  Many ancient mythologies compare fate and reality itself to the act of weaving a tapestry.

Three examples from wiki:

Navajo:

Many of the world’s people believe that the world is woven and that a weaving Creator wove its designs into being. Compare the Navajo legend of the Spider Woman, of Teotihuacan origin.

Greece:

In Greece the Moirae (the “Fates”) are the three crones who control destiny, and the matter of it is the art of spinning the thread of life on the distaff.

Egypt:

In pre-Dynastic Egypt, nt (Neith) was already the goddess of weaving (and a mighty aid in war as well). She protected the Red Crown of Lower Egypt before the two kingdoms were merged, and in Dynastic times she was known as the most ancient one, to whom the other gods went for wisdom.

"It takes a long time if you're making the thread." The thread are the castaways. The tapestry is the whole story.

By pulling flight 815 to the island, Jacob removed these people from one tapestry and added them to another.

Jack, destined to live in the shadow of his father, even after his death, was given the chance to be his own man after Jacob crashed 815.  The island made him a doctor not just for individual patients, but a doctor for the whole planet.

Sawyer was on the road to vengeance since his namesake caused the death of his parents.  The island would give him a focus for all that anger and rage.

Sayid was full of regret for the pain that he’s caused and was seeking his true love.  If he had not been one of the “Oceanic 6” would he have ever found her?

Through her island experiences Kate was finally able to stop running from her past mistakes.

Charley?  In season 6 he declared on the plane “I was supposed to die!”  Was THAT his destiny back in the ‘real’ world?  Would he have just been another rocker that overdosed in a hotel?  Probably.  The island, through Jacob, gave him a grander purpose, and made his death mean something more than a TMZ headline.

Hurley experienced the grandest change to his destiny.

Then there was John Locke.  John was destined for tragedy and heartbreak at every turn in his life.  Betrayed by his father and constantly harangued by his co-workers, John was given a new destiny by Jacob.  Jacob brought him to the island, and gave him what he always wanted, adventure, purpose, and family.  In this episode we got to see the very first glimmer of this new destiny John is in the process of embracing.   In this new place John is a strong and mysterious man.  He carries knives and hunts for his food.  He is trying to actually become the man that he merely pretended to be in his war games back at the box factory in California.

Walkabout was a terrific episode.  I’m sure there are dozens of other topics we could pull from this fantastic example of scripted television, but this was the one is pulled.  I repurposed an idea and made it fit into my Walkabout post.

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Further Jack/ John visual references hinting at the conflict to come:

John Locke and Jack Shepherd are set on a collision course right from the start, which never fully culminates until after one of them is dead and ends with the other dying.  This conflict was hinted at right from the beginning by drawing visual parallels.

From the first image of this episode we get a familiar visual reference.  A Close-up of John Locke’s eye as it bursts open, just as we saw Jack in the first image of the pilot episode. Then the camera movements are similar.  We go from the close-up to a wide shot angled straight down at the body as it twists around almost like a spirit floating above.  A very similar movement was used to show Jack’s location in the pilot.

They both lost consciousness, and when they came to they found themselves on a new road, with a new destiny, reborn.

The primary difference between Jack and John’s re-birth just after the accident is that Jack is reborn into the peaceful bamboo forest, while John is born into pain, screaming, and anarchy.  In the midst of this anarchy though, a miracle occurs.  John wiggles his toe.

I love that his soles are completely unworn! I guess you could say John has got sole?.... That was terrible.

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Part 2 of the Pilot.

What we get in this episode is Character development, and a lot of it. So much information is crammed into 45 minutes, that I feel a bit Like Alex Delarge after watching it again. With this info comes a bit of foreshadowing, some of which doesn’t pan out for two, three or even five seasons.

What sort of character development? Well, It seems Kate is some sort of criminal. They keep it vague enough to fix us at the edge of our seat, and employ some wonderful editing, crosscutting from Kate relieving Sawyer of the only gun that they know of on the island, to her on 815 during the crash turbulence, then to Jack’s discovery of her criminal past, and back over to her on a mountainside leading a signal search party. We are barely told anything, and are left with the mystery of what this woman who seems inherently good could have done to be in so much trouble…

Charley is a drug addict. This was really no big surprise. The rock star drug addict is a bit clichéd but Dominic Monaghan pulls it off in such an endearing way. I love that Charley feels the need to interject “Ever heard of Driveshaft?” into the first thirty seconds of any encounter. Charley’s addiction storyline seems to be a personal demon story arc at first, but as anyone that has ever known a person with any sort of addiction issue, it will spiral out of control and suck in all the people around him or her…. Terrific set-up here for a redemption (song) story.

Shannon can speak French! There were so many moments where Shannon shied away from the group, claiming that “the boats will be there soon,” she doesn’t need to help, “there will be people for that,” establishing her as the epitome of a rich brat. Her brother Boone, the yin to her yang, is constantly trying to help, sometimes to the point of making a nuisance of himself. Their polar opposite personalities makes me think of a horrible Paula Abdul song for some reason….. which is then more blatantly referred to by Claire when she asks Shannon “Is he your boyfriend?” about Boone. Ewwwwwwww, I’m getting a Luke and Leia Star Wars vibe here.

Back to the French though. Shannon listens to the recording left by Rousseau over 16 years ago. This small but powerful moment will not completely play out until the final season. Bits and pieces of what is said will be explained and revealed over the six seasons.

A few other hints of future events peppered throughout the episode were:

– Jack Lies to the others on the beach about not finding any survivors in the cockpit. He begins making those hard decisions right away. HE decides what they NEED to know. He places himself in a leader role because he believes he needs to.

– The polar bear in the woods leads directly to the Dharma storylines and experiments that have gone on here.

– Sawyer, emotionally reads his letter that he keeps in his pocket. What is it? Who is it to? Who is it from? Mystery!

"These are my words."

– The line is drawn in the sand as early as this episode between Jack and Locke. They haven’t even shared more than ten words, but editing tells me that the central conflict will be between these two characters.

How?

I’ll show you.

While talking to Michael, Jack searches for a blade to operate on Federal Agent Mars. He finds a straight razor in a shaving kit, and when he pulls it out, it is featured menacingly in its own close-up. A close up like this is always used to bring the object to the attention of the audience. This shot says to me “Keep an eye on this blade! This will be important.” Or it is symbolic. This is a tool that can be used to heal or kill. How will it be used?

CUT TO: a Close up of a Backgammon set in the sand. John Locke’s hands come into frame setting up the game. Walt approaches to ask about the game. John explains the nature and history of Backgammon. Light and Dark. Conflict. Good and Evil.

A transition like this is not a happy accident. This is masterful writing. Without even knowing it, the audience knows who is against who. A weapon was brandished followed directly by a conversation about good and evil.

The stage is set.

Lastly, Charley got to utter the exact words that spell out THE mystery that lasts until the very last episode and even beyond, “Guys, where are we?”

So we have conflict, multiple mysteries, plot threads established, and only barely scratched the surface of just how damaged this ensemble cast of characters is. What a great show.

Part 3 – The Peripeteia

A peripeteia is a sudden reversal dependent on intellect and logic, essentially changing a person or character’s mind. From Wiki, Aristotle defines it as “a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity.” According to Aristotle, peripeteia, along with discovery, is the most effective when it comes to drama, particularly in a tragedy.

Over the past 6 seasons Lost has been called a brilliant Sci fi show, a moving drama about survival, a time traveling adventure story, and many other descriptions suit it as well. No matter what it was to you or the person sitting next to you, it was dependent on one constant, Characters. Lost was populated with a cast of wonderfully flawed characters. But did these characters reach their moment of peripetia, where they could evolve and achieve a full metamorphosis into something ‘more’ than when they began 6 years ago in their harrowing survival of the Oceanic flight 815 wreck? I think some of them did.

I CAN see my house from here.

Jack Shepherd was a hard-edged man of science. He was confident and sure of himself when in front of others, but fragile and given to vices when left to ponder his actions. Jack desperately wanted the love of a father who died. While traveling home with his father’s remains, flight 815 crashed on the island. He resisted belief in the mystical nature of the island. As a doctor, he could not wrap his rational mind around it. Even through EM flashes, smoke monsters, underwater bases, the endless coincidental connections between the people on the plane, and seeing his deceased father walking around the island, he still declared himself a practical man of science and had every intention of obtaining rescues for all those men and women that would follow him, but he would do it with a phone, and a gun, and a boat or a plane. There was never any consideration given to any of the otherworldly occurrences on the island, or how they could be utilized for escape or rescue.

Jack is reminiscent of King Arthur pulling a sword from a flaming wreck of a plane and declaring that everyone should follow him, but he refuses to admit the powers of Excalibur. The peripety came for Jack in L.A. after the Oceanic six had been saved, in the form of a dead Jeremy Bentham. Jack felt overwhelming guilt over his being home, while his friends remained behind and faced hardship without his leadership. He was a King that abandoned his kingdom. He declared “We need to go back!” But that would not be the only reversal. Jack was the character equivalent of a car doing donuts in a field. He would go back and forth between leader with unstoppable forward momentum and wallowing pill popping alcoholic and even a ‘let’s wait and see’ person. The final reversal came at the end of season five with his sudden determination to detonate Jug-head.

"How is this for faith Locke? I'm going to blow us all up in order to make it all right."

Jack decided to give himself over to fate and faith. Science got him nowhere, and he knew that. The living embodiment of Science, Daniel Faraday, was executed thirty years before he arrived on the island by his mother who had not even conceived him yet! (Which raises a very interesting question: If Daniel died before he was born, was his soul eradicated?) That moment gave birth to the Jack that would lead and ultimately save his friends (the ones still alive at least) in the final season. Jacks transformation from ‘daddy issues boy’ to Arthurian leader willing to sacrifice himself for his people was complete.

What happened was just this. The wind began to switch the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch. Just then this this b!#ch caught me in a net and I've pretty much been here all night...

Ben Linus – Ben was introduced under the guise of a lie. The lie was told to the castaways in the hatch as well as the audience. Nobody knew who this man was. He told everyone that his name was Henry Gale, and he was on a balloon trip around the world with his wife. Their Balloon crashed on the island and his just finished burying his wife. This was a series of half truths. Half true, because they happened to someone else. Henry Gale did crash on the island, but he was already dead. From there, Ben would be established as the ultimate manipulator on the Island. He would do anything, say anything, hurt anyone that got in the way of his ultimate goal, which was to protect the Island at all costs. This duplicitous nature created many enemies for Ben. Even amongst his own people, they were constantly waiting for a sign of weakness to dethrone him as he pointed out in the Season Three Episode where Ben thanks John for Destroying the Submarine. He told him that to let Jack go would have been a sign of weakness, but to kill him would have been unacceptable as well, because that would have been going back on his word. And if they sensed either, his status as the leader of the others would be in jeopardy. Where or when was the moment of peripeteia? I think it occurred during “The End,” but it originated some time earlier in “Cabin Fever” Season 4 Ep. 11, where Hurley shares an Apollo bar with Ben. So, this reversal would actually take years to fully develop.

Up to this moment, not a single character has ever openly shown Ben an ounce kindness. As a child his father got drunk on his birthday and reminded him that his mother died in childbirth. But this exchange between Ben and Hurley placed a glimmer of love in Ben’s heart. In Dr. Seuss terms, you could say his heart began to grow right there, and it had three sizes to grow.

The first growth in size would come during his heartfelt confession to Ilana regarding his daughter and murder of Jacob. He looked within and realized he has made some horrible mistakes, which he would most likely take to his grave with no chance for atonement.

I'm going to do something redefining for my character right now, because you shared a chocolate bar with me Hugo!

Amidst the island ripping itself apart during “The End,” Ben sees a massive tree limb falling towards Hurley. Ben selflessly shoves Hurley out of the way only to be pinned under it. His heart grew one more size when Kate, Sawyer and Hurley work together to save his life.

And the Third Size came just after Jack turned the light of the source back on. Hurley did something which nobody ever did for Ben. He asked Ben for his help. Right then, Ben completed his reversal. He went from rampaging lying monster to nurturing father. He became what he always wanted from his father. He reassured Hurley and told him that he can run the island how he sees fit. How Jacob ran it was not the only way. Ben really had a wonderful story of redemption and the search for acceptance and love.

Part 4 of 4 on Friday.

Favorite Finale Moment #3

When Kate said she missed Jack so much.

More of that rapscallion Lil’ Ben…

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