This is the end…beautiful friend. We don’t really break on through to the other side, and some of the character decisions don’t really light my fire, but hey, people are strange. It’s the last episode of the controversial second season of Lost: Jack leads an ill-advised trip towards Othersville, Locke leads an ill-advised trip into the Swan, and a certain Scotsman takes his place at the center of the show’s mythological universe.
Live Together, Die Alone
4) In Short
"In my plan, we are beltless!"
8) On the Island
Jack, Sawyer, and Sayid strip down, and half the Lost audience thinks, "Best…episode…ever." They swim out to the mysterious sailboat, as those still on the beach wonder if the boat is salvation or merely another trap. The three men are surprised to find a familiar face inside the cabin of the boat: it’s Desmond, brutha! He’s listening to opera, drunk as a skunk. You know, like ya do.
Jack tries to feed Des some food, but Des continues to drink heavily. He tells Jack that he was supposedly sailing due west for two and a half weeks, only to wind up in the place he left. He calls the island a "bloody snow globe," one that represents all that’s left of the world. He then asks Jack if they are still pushing the button. Jack says they are.
Sayid sees Des’ boat as a way to spring a trap on the Others while Jack follows through on Michael’s compromised plan. Interestingly enough, Sayid suggests that he will use dark black smoke to signal when he’s scouted and located the Others’ true position. "This time, they will know that WE are coming," in a nod to the end of Season 1.
In the hatch, Locke confronts Eko. He wants Eko to let the counter run past zero. Locke calls him a "slave," and attempts to destroy the computer. Eko stops him just in time, and then drags Locke out of the hatch while Locke calls them all "puppets on strings." Eko then effectively banishes Locke from the hatch.
The Fateful Five gather up to leave. Kate astutely points out that the theatrical makeup found in the Staff could be a clue as to the real identities of the Others, but given her track record on the Island, no one really takes this suggestion seriously. The five leave.
Sayid asks Des for his boat. "Off to see the Hostiles?" Des inquires, marking the first time I think we’ve heard these words on the show. Sayid admits he doesn’t know how to sail, which prompts Des to suggest he go find someone who does and isn’t a drunk Scotsman. That search leads to Sun and Jin, though Jin is reluctant to leave Sun alone once again. No worries, she says: she’s coming with him. Guess all that time hanging with Kate has rubbed off on her.
The Fateful Five stumble across a stoopid huge bird, which certainly sounds like he’s calling out Hurley’s name as he flies by. Michael’s curious to find that his gun isn’t loaded as he attempts to shoot it. Jack plays dumb, Michael plays nervous.
Charlie comes across Locke, who is crying as if he just lost his Hello Kitty doll. Charlie quite enjoys Locke’s despondent state, twisting the knife in further by telling him of another equally morose button pusher’s arrival.
On the beach, Des warns Claire against injecting Aaron with the shots provided by Charlie off the pallet. Looks like three years of injecting them every nine days kinda weaned him off the stuff. He annoys friends and alienates people by bluntly bringing up Aaron’s missing baby daddy. You stay classy, Des!
That night, Locke learns the answer to the riddle from the beginning of Season 1. ("Smells like carrots," said one snowman to the other.) Locke grills Des about the button, and tells him what he learned inside the Pearl. Des is none too happy to learn he was part of an experiment, and suggests that Locke simply stop pushing the button. Locke tells Des to sober up so they can effect that change the following day.
On the boat, Sun experiences pregnancy-related sickness. Jin asks Sun to take a look at something: the last remnants of what looks to be an ancient, ginormous statue. Sayid, take it away: "I don’t know what is more disquieting, the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that it has four toes." No diggity, no doubt.
In the hatch, Eko is alarmed that the power in the station goes down. When he goes to investigate, he sees that the fuse box has been tampered with, and is disturbed to learn that Des and Locke have affected a lockdown on the station, banishing him from the dome. Locke then fills Des in on the wonderful world of Eko’s back story while Eko frantically looks for help on the outside world, with the "Quarantine" sign freaking him out even more. He’s so desperate that he goes to Charlie for help. Eko is convinced that in ninety minutes, everyone on the Island will die.
Back in the jungle, Kate senses two Others are following them. They manage to kill one, but the other escapes. Sawyer and Kate want to follow the other Other, but Jack finally makes Michael admit the truth: the Others already know they are coming. Michael confesses everything, and it’s a whole world of pain as everyone realizes the depths to which Michael has sunk. Hurley wants to go back, but Jack insists that if they go back down, all of them will certainly die. He then finally announces he has a plan. And absolutely no one likes anyone at this point. Fun!
On the boat, Jin spots the Stonehenge-esque rock formation in the distance, and alerts Sayid. He comes across Hillybilly Village, only to find it completely deserted. And the "hatch?" Simply a door to nowhere. Those Others are pretty sneaky. About as sneaky as this girl. THAT’S how sneaky.
Charlie leads Eko to the remaining Black Rock dynamite, and warns the priest not to pull an Arzt with that stuff. Eko brings it into the hatch and wires the blast door separating him from the dome. Charlie tries to warn Locke of Eko’s intent, fearing harm could come to him or the computer. However, Des is as a cool as a Scottish cucumber, feeling pretty safe inside there. Eko lights the fuse anyways, causing a huge fireball to spit throughout the hatch. Heh heh, fire is cool.
Inside the dome, Des’ coolness is confirmed, as they are fine. He wants to know why Locke wants to see the button go down to zero: does he want to look down the barrel of a gun? Locke insists he already has: and Boone died because of it. Moreover, the "sign" he saw the night of Boone’s death? The bright light coming from the hatch? "Probably just you going to the bathroom," he states.
The Fateful Five is now the Fretful Five, and they come across quite the interesting site: a capsule dump, filled with the notebooks sent from the Pearl via pneumatic tube. Sawyer sees the black smoke in the distance, a great distance. Such a great distance that Jack finally realizes that Michael was never leading them to the beach at all. And then, all hell breaks loose, as the whispers are heard, shots are fired, and the Others quickly capture the Fretful Five.
Locke fills in Des on what he saw in the Pearl. Des thinks maybe Locke’s got it backwards, causing tension between them. Locke eventually hands out the printout he took from the Pearl’s dot matrix computer. Des puts two and two together and realizes that a "system failure" on September 22, 2004, might have caused Oceanic 815 to be ripped from the sky. Mystery solved! Let’s break for tacos.
The Others lead the Fretful Five down the Pala Ferry. Kate, with a gag in her mouth, tells Tom she knows his beard is fake. He rips it off, glad to be rid of that itchy disguise. At that moment, The Others’ leader is revealed: it’s Henry! Not too shocking, but still cool all the same. Ben says to Michael, "Let’s take care of business, shall we?"
POV shot of Charlie, post-explosion: everything is muffled and bleary. He tries to rouse Eko while Des and Locke argue over the validity of the button. Locke eventually destroys the computer, as Season 2 folds back on itself fully. "You’ve just killed us all," Des says. "No, I’ve just saved us all," Locke replies. One of these men is correct. Another is Locke. Des descends into the sub-level of the hatch, stating he’s going to blow the dam.
After he descends, all hell breaks loose. Again. (It’s a theme in this ep.) All things metal fly to the concrete door. Eko pushes Charlie away and returns to John. Locke looks at him helplessly and says, "I was wrong." Underneath, Des opens the fail safe, makes the sign of the cross, and says, "I love you, Penny." And then: the world…goes…purple. A deafening sound is heard all across the island, with everyone holding their hands over their ears. On the beach, the "Quarantine" sign lands with a giant thud.
The Lostaways struggle to put things back in order after the explosion. Charlie arrives, confused but unhurt.
On the Pala, Henry states he isn’t happy about the arrangement, but Walt was "more than we bargained for." He gives Michael two things: a boat and a bearing (325). Henry then states the Others are "the good guys," noting that even if Michael finds rescue, he’ll neither tell anyone about the Island nor ever be able to return. Michael then reunites with his son on the boat.
Bea Klugh then releases Hurley, much to his surprise. His job? To tell the rest of the Lostaways to never come after them. The other three? Well, they are coming "home" with the Others. Jack silently gives Hurley the "go" to return back. Michael then drives away, as Jack, Sawyer, and Kate remaining tied up at gunpoint on the Pala.
On the beach that night, Claire interrogates Charlie about what happened in the hatch. He’s acting really weird, and there’s no point in trying to figure out why as they completely abandon it come Season 3 anyways. But for being weird and obtuse, he gets a kiss from Claire as a reward. No wonder I’m so unlucky with the ladies. I always go for "charming" and "polite." Guess I should alter my tactics.
15) Off the Island
Desmond is being released from a military prison. Among the items returned to Des is a copy of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, a book Des states will be the last book reads before he dies. The fellow officer officially dishonorably discharges Desmond Hume from the military. Outside, an unfamiliar man asks Des to get in his car. This man? One Charles Widmore, father to Penny, and potential architect of all things Lost.
Charles offers Des two boxes: one contains every letter Des wrote Penny in prison, and the other contains a whole lotta cash. If Des accepts the cash, he can never contact Penny again. Des wants to know why Charles thinks Des will simply run away. "Because you’re a coward," Charles replies. Oh. There you go, then.
Des is in an American coffee shop, short on cash. Who should help him out but Libby, in a short haircut that looks nothing like the one she sported on the Island. The two soon discuss a sailing trip around the world, one Des wants to enter to spite its sponsor: Charles Widmore. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a boat. Oddly enough, Libby does. Well, her late husband David, who got "sick," and passed away a month ago, had one. She offers Des a boat, which is certainly an odd thing to do now, isn’t it? Just sayin’.
We’re back at the same stadium in which Des and Jack encounter each other, but this time we see the prologue: a gorgeous, tender scene between Des and Penny, a scene that solidifies them almost instantly as people we barely knew thirty minutes ago but are deeply invested in already. She wants him to forgo the race; he needs to get his honor back. He says he’ll be back in a year. Luckily, with enough money and determination you can find anyone.
Hey, that’s one crazy storm you’re in, Des. Almost as if it’s supernatural in origin, pushing you towards a specific destination or something. Looks like this around-the-world race is leading you towards a snow globe-type world. And on this world, a man in a hazmat suit drags you through the jungle into the Swan. That man? Kelvin Inman, former torture teacher and current Dharma Initiative member.
Kelvin is upset that Des doesn’t know the answer to the snowman riddle. He also states that Des’ boat was nowhere to be found; just Des’ body. At that point, the familiar beeping is heard, as Des watches Kelvin enter the Numbers for the first time. Later, Des watches the orientation tape we all know and love, with Kelvin noting that Radzinsky, his former partner, made a few edits. He hands Des the syringe, gives him instructions on how to use it, and leaves the hatch.
It’s fake lockdown time, with Des performing it for the first time while Kelvin mixes up "paint" to continue Radzinsky’s blast door map. Man, that Radzinsky did everything: started the blast door map, affected fake lockdowns, reduced himself to a brown stain on the ceiling after Kurt Cobain-ing himself…dude did it all. Des tells Kelvin that the last two years in hatch confinement were great and all, but Kelvin insists he’s still on button duty.
Des is woken up by the one-minute warning over the loudspeakers. He enters the button, curious as to Kelvin’s whereabouts. He finds Kelvin under the dome, drunk as hell, with a key around his neck. Turns out this is the "other way out," a way to alleviate the discharge once and for all, rendering the button pushing moot. Turn the key in the fail safe slot, and poof, done. Ah, but there’s a catch: who has the courage to take their finger out of the metaphorical, electromagnetic dam?
Kelvin suits up, like Barney in How I Met Your Mother ("Hazmat suit up!"), to go outside. Des notices that Kelvin’s suit has an enormous tear along the leg, and quickly follows him outside, covering his mouth to prevent infection. He’s shocked, then angry, to see Kelvin almost immediately take the suit off and walk along without it. He follows Kelvin to the shore, when what does he see but Libby’s boat, brought back to perfect sailing shape.
Kelvin appears behind him, noting that he knew he was aware Des followed him. "I lied to ya because I needed a sucker to save the world after I left," Kelvin says. Des angrily attacks and accidentally kills Kelvin against the rocks. He then steals the fail safe key off Kelvin’s limp neck and runs back to the hatch. Inside the hatch: well, now we get our first glimpse of a system failure. No, not this kind: more the "end-of-the-world" type, with the hatch shaking and pulsing, with everything and anything metallic hurling towards the concrete wall. Eventually, he enters the code and all returns to "normal."
Des finally opens Our Mutual Friend, and is surprised to find a note from Penny inside. She wrote the letter before he went into prison, knowing he would turn to it in a time of great desperation. The letter sends him into a rage, as he turns his anger against the contents of the Swan, tearing down books, overthrowing ping pong tables, and then, he hears something. That something? Locke pounding on the hatch. Des sees Locke after flashing on the lights, and is overcome with joy.
A winter landscape. An Artic watch station. A confused Lost audience. Two Portuguese men are playing chess, when one of them notices a computer screen that reads "Electromagnetic Anomaly Detected." And right about now the collective bowels of Lost fans are loosened. One of them states they might "missed it again," but his partner insists he make a call. That call? To one Penny Widmore, to announce they found "it." See ya in Season 3!
16) The Mythology
If you’ve gotten this far in the recap, I won’t make you read another 5,000 words about the mythological overload that was this episode. Methinks I can do a better job in another entry really digging in deep. But a few things to consider all the same.
The Statue. You gloriously weird thing, you. This, plus the hieroglyphics inside the Swan, give the Island a rich historical history that stretches long before the arrival of the Black Rock, never mind the Dharma Initiative.
The anomaly. It’s as a real as real gets. Find out what happens when two Swan employees stop being polite, and start getting all explode-y. Well, planes get ripped from the sky towards an Island invisible to the casual (or even keenly interested) outside eye, for starters. Desmond’s inability to push the button is the cause of the crash, but not the reason. It’s a subtle but important difference.
The capsule dump. The Pearl is officially debunked in this episode, making me once again wonder why the Dharma Initiative employed so many resources to erect what’s essentially a big practical joke upon its inhabitants. Maybe it was a station for people who violated DI rules, a form of cruel punishment. It was the last step before being sent into Room 23 or something. (Can you tell I’m stretching? Because I am. I am so stretching. I’m Reed Freakin’ Richards here.)
The real world. It exists! Thus endeth every Armageddon theory, thus ended every "it’s purgatory" theory, thus endeth every "they are on the moon of a distant planet" theory. That watching station picked up a signal on earth, contiguous with the event on the Island. (Interesting how they allude to picking up a signal earlier that they eventually lost. Maybe this happened in September of that year?)
Charles Widmore. One of the ultimate figures in the Lost universe finally makes an appearance. Even when this first aired, I suspected he would be a big figure in the Lost universe, but obviously had no idea how big. (From here on in, I’ll be linking back to my original takes on each episode. They are hysterically inaccurate, but are hopefully and entertaining for you all to read.)
The Hurley bird. Don’t worry, no Family Guy jokes here. But it’s pretty funny how this bird seems to appear in Season finales involving ill-advised treks. The bird appears on the way to the Black Rock in Season 2, and on the way to the capsule dump in this episode. Does the bird work for an Island force? Maybe a certain cabin-based entity trying to warn a potential ally?
23) The Moment
Since Des/Penny are my favorite couple on the show, I love seeing that she’s smart enough to slip a note into his book in order to save him from himself.
42) In Retrospect
- Did the island move when Des turned the key? The effect of turning the fail safe and turning the donkey wheel are eerily similar (big hum, bright lights, big city, etc). The different between the two, of course, is that Des’ action made the Island visible, at least to the two Widmores looking for it. Ben’s actions at the end of Season 4 ostensibly hid it from view, even from himself.
- When I say that Des was the cause, not the reason, of the crash, I mean this: while the action literally is the reason the plane fell from the sky, it’s in some ways the mere byproduct of a string of events massaged/managed by a cadre of other people in order to effect a specific end. Later Des-specific episodes highly suggest that he’s unwittingly put into specific situations so he might act in a way that ultimately leads to him being late to pushing the button on a specific day.
- Why Des acts this way at the end of the Season and not at the beginning is one of THE biggest holes in the Lost universe. The show clearly either finally figured out the overall mechanism in between his appearances or radically changed their initial concept, because Des’ inability to perceive the button as real makes no sense given what happened on the day of the Oceanic plan crash. None at all.
108) In Summary
A very good episode, but still my least favorite of the four finales. I’d rank them 3, 4, 1, 2, if I were held at gunpoint. Not like you should hold me at gunpoint, mind you. That’s just plain rude.
Part of my relative disappointment lies in watching our heroes act in ways completely . . . stupid. Locke and Jack both concoct insanely dumb plots that even without the benefit of hindsight seem shoddy at best. It’s no wonder that the Others consistently outwit them throughout the season. They have every potential to overwhelm the Others (evidenced by the Others’ constant exhortation to stay away), but simply can’t get out of their own way through the first third of the series.
But as a whole, Season 2 came off much better second time around than the first, semi-excruciating time. Part of that stemmed from the ridiculous amount of repeats thrown our way, but another part stemmed from the sneaking suspicion the show was spinning its (non-frozen donkey) wheels in place. While there were definite lulls in the season, I’d still recommend it over 95% of any season of any other show. Sorry about that, Season 4 of Good Times.
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