fan truly argue that the show is better without Eko? I love the show more than peanut butter, y’all: but I miss this character something fierce.
(Curious about my initial thoughts the night this aired? Read all about it!)
The Cost of Living
4) In Short
"And I will hurt him, and I will punch him, and I will call him George! I mean, Eko!"
8) On the Island
Sayid, Charlie, and Hurley stand over Eko’s limp body. In Eko’s mind’s eye, he relives the events seen in the flashback of "The 23rd Psalm," ending once again with Yemi’s murder and Eko’s start of his priestly life. When Eko wakes up, he is shocked to find Yemi in his tent, telling him it is time to be judged. "I will be waiting," he says, "You will know where to find me."
At that moment, Eko’s hut catches fire: Charlie and company save him from death as Eko mutters, "My brother…my brother." As Locke comes over to help, he asks Charlie where Eko is. Charlie turns around to find Eko long gone and hard to find.
In the Hydra, Jack is doing pull-ups when Ben walks in, looking like a member of the Polyphonic Spree. He wants Jack to join him for a walk, wearing a similar white smock. Before Ben can leave, Jack starts to inquire about the spinal tumor he saw outside the operating theatre. Ben plays dumb, but for the first time, Jack seems to have the verbal upper hand on Ben. I give Jack a lot of grief, but props to the good doc in this scene. This is a hero with smarts, folks.
Ben leads Jack to the beach, and asks him to stay back from the group. Pickett kneels over Colleen’s body as the Others conduct what seems to be something akin to a Viking funeral. Brenda Lee’s "I Wonder" plays over the speakers as Colleen’s body is sent to sea. (Don’t ask. It’s just as weird onscreen as described.) While walking past Juliet, Ben asks why she showed Jack his x-rays. Juliet said she never told Jack to whom they belonged; Ben confirmed it himself. Awww snap.
On the beach, Locke and Desmond tell Sayid about the potential inside each hatch to communicate with others. Locke figures he can kill two birds with one stone: he theorizes that Eko is going to the same place Locke wishes to go: The Pearl Station.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Eko lurches tonight. After falling on the ground, we see the smoke monster scoot past him. Eko fashions a makeshift walking stick and saunters on, until three blood-soaked men surround him. He raises his stick to attack, only to see a young altar boy in their place. The boy places his finger over his lips, and then says, "Confess." Said boy then disappears. Just another day in Craphole Jungle for Eko. Don’t worry, mate; not many more to go.
Locke announces to everyone that he’s going to the Pearl Station, in stark contrast to Jack’s "go it alone" policy or Kate’s "I’m coming too, someone needs to get caught" policy. Nikki signs herself up, proving Jack and Kate had superior strategies to Locke’s. Paolo comes along as well, because the Island dictates this much suck has to be contained to as small an area of the Island as possible at any given moment.
Eko reaches a small river bank, and drinks deeply of its water. He rubs mud across his injured chest, until he catches sight of the smoke monster in the water’s reflection. He turns around, only to see the monster retreat. Yea, Eko’s that much of a badass that he scares smoke monsters. Oh wait, it might not have been him: at that moment Locke and company arrive on the scene.
In the Hydra, Juliet brings Jack lunch: a cheeseburger with fries! The two all but have sex with discussing the merits of said lunch when Ben storms in. He’s not too pleased with Juliet’s smile. But in his defense and all, SHE’S HIS! (Oh wait, we’re about a season away from that. Muh bad.) Ben wants to talk to Jack alone, citing doctor/patient confidentiality. Snicker. Ben says he had "such a wonderful plan to break" Jack, in order to allow Jack to feel comfortable and lulled into a sense of almost kinship with his captors. But all that ended when Jack saw Ben’s x-rays, so now it’s onto Plan B. All this leads to one of the most important exchanges in Lost history, in my opinion, one seemingly benign and yet full of meaning:
JACK: All of this… you brought me here to operate on you. You… you want me to save your life?
BEN: No, I want you to want to save my life.
Back in the jungle: Eko soldiers on, clearly missing his Jesus stick. One mention of Yemi’s name leads Eko to hold Locke up against a tree by both stick AND knife, which is a little overkill if you ask me. Locke calmly asks Eko what he’s so afraid of. "Not getting another acting gig by year’s end!" say Eko’s bug eyes.
The group soon arrives at the plane. Sayid leads the group down into the Pearl, while Locke and Eko remain above. The two discuss the monster: Locke describes it as he saw it in "Walkabout": a bright white light. Eko says, "That is NOT what I saw." Amen to that, Eko. Eko then enters the plane, but is shocked to find his brother’s body is missing.
Locke goes into the Pearl, but not before handing Eko’s cross back to its owner. Down below, Nikki is watching the Pearl orientation video while Sayid and Desmond examine the station’s wiring for communicative capabilities. Nikki notes that Wickmund mentions "projects," theorizing that the other televisions could show feeds from other stations. Locke feels "suddenly stupid," a common side effect incurred after listening to Nikki speak.
Sayid attempts to patch in a feed when Captain Bathroom himself, Paolo, emerges from the lavatory. Sayid eventually tunes into a signal that shows a room full of old computers…and a man with an eyepatch. After a long look into the camera, Patchy turns the feed off. Locke seems tickled. Sayid gets this "you’re going to blow something up soon, aren’t you" look on his face.
Hydra Time! Juliet wants to show Jack a movie. As she tells Jack how sorry he is, Jack notices that what’s on the television isn’t a movie, but Juliet holding a series of posterboards, each with messages. It’s like Bob Dylan’s video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which is actually a title that could easily refer to life on the Island. As Juliet speaks aloud about Ben’s virtues, the posterboards tell another story entirely: they tell Jack that Ben is dangerous, that some Others want a change, but only an accident can truly affect change. Short version: she wants Jack to let Ben die on the operating table during surgery. BRILLIANT SEQUENCE.
Above the Pearl, Yemi is back. And he’s pissed. Eko follows him, asking why Yemi wants his confession now. Upon finding his brother in a flower-filled meadow, Eko gives his confession:
EKO: I ask for no forgiveness, Father. For I have not sinned. I have only done what I needed to do to survive. A small boy once asked me if I was a bad man. If I could answer him now, I would tell him that… when I was a young boy, I killed a man to save my brother’s life. I am not sorry for this. I am proud of this! I did not ask for the life that I was given. But it was given, nonetheless. And with it… I did my best.
Yemi’s answer is one of the best lines of the series: "You speak to me as if I were your brother." Ruh row. Stunned Eko stands up as Yemi walks away. When Eko catches up, what should appear but the monster…and not just a small version, but the biggest version we’ve seen so far. As Eko intones the 23rd Psalm, the monster appears to extend a hand, grab him, and toss him from tree to tree like a rag doll.
Those in the Pearl rush up to help Eko, hearing the monster from below, but it’s too late. While sitting over Eko’s body, Locke hears Eko say something inaudible to viewer ears. His eyes light up in alarm as we see Eko’s final thought before dying: walking with his younger brother in the village in which they were raised. Sayid asks Locke what Eko said. "He said we’re next," replies Locke.
15) Off the Island
Young (but not little) Eko breaks into a shed in order to steal food for Yemi. Oops, that shed belongs to the church, and the nun who finds them orders Eko to confess in church. Eko insists he only did it to help his brother, but the nun does not believe that exonerates him from judgement. "Confess!" she screams. Good to know Nigerian nuns are the same as the ones here in New England.
Eko returns to his village after the events on the tarmac. He steps inside the church that once overseen by Yemi. In the confessional, he finds a Bible. Inside the Bible, he finds a glass eye and a strip of film. Oops, wrong Bible. In this one is a picture of himself with his brother. At that moment, a clinical worker, Amina, brings her altar boy son into the church, and asks if he will be taking over for Yemi. Eko agrees. When asked about Yemi’s impending trip to London to continue his studies, a confused Eko says he will take his place there as well.
The altar boy scolds Eko for washing his hands with holy water. At that moment, bad news comes to town, in the form of local militia. The leader, Emeka, is looking for his share of the vaccine shipments: apparently, in exchange for 80% of the amount donated by the Red Cross to the village, he offers "protection" for the village. Well, that sounds reasonable…hey! Wait a sec! Eko states that he is not afraid of Emeka; Emeka shoots a woman in cold blood, and states he’ll be back Friday for his vaccine.
Eko later inquires Amina about the vaccines: she tells him they sell for a high price on the black market. She warns him not to cross Emeka’s men, and then remarks that she can tell he is like Yemi: a good man. Then again, a good man wouldn’t immediately go to one of his criminal contacts and arrange to sell the vaccines out from both Emeka’s nose and the village’s collection of noses.
Inside the church, Eko stares intently at a statue of Jesus on the wall. Emeka and his crew come in, telling Eko they know about his shady dealings. They attempt to cut off his hands, but instead Eko viciously takes them down, IN A CHURCH, in a scene that shows from where Eko’s jungle vision originated. Eko then emerges from the church, in priestly robes, drenched in blood, wielding a machete. And the Church wonders why attendance is down.
As Eko prepares to leave the church and go to London, the altar boy asks Eko if he is a bad man. "Only God knows," he replies. Outside, Amina chastises Eko while locals board up the church. Eko’s actions have ruined the church, and she tells him he owes Yemi a church before he shuffles off his mortal coil. And thus endeth the "why did Eko spend so long building a church" mystery.
16) The Mythology
Well, the monster made its second confirmed kill, and I defy any television law enforcement officer to draw a connection between the pilot of Oceanic 815 and Mr. Eko. Not even that kooky dude on Law and Order: Criminal Intent could connect the dots on this one. So let’s look not at an overarching modus operandi for the monster and instead try to figure out why, besides the meta reasons, it took Eko out in this episode.
Four people were in or near the Swan when it imploded: two were marked for death, a death deferred, while two were excluded thanks to special circumstances. Both Eko and Charlie cheat death in Season 3, although Charlie does a much better job of it than Eko. Of course, Eko accepts his fate much more quickly than Charlie, which also could have something to do with it as well. Had Charlie written his Top 5 list upon returning from the Swan’s implosion, we could have had a two-for-one death extravaganza on our ends.
I semi-kid, but I do want to tie this all into the quoted exchange between Ben and Jack above: there’s a mental component that goes beyond mind over matter; instead, I think to think of it more as "mind into matter." It’s a topic I revisit a lot here, and it’s a phrase I use a lot, but I do so because I think it’s damn important to understanding how things work on the show. You could look at it as mere narrative convenience that the monster chooses to kill Eko at the end of the episode. Or, you could look at this ep and realize that the monster in fact could NOT kill Eko until he made his final "confession."
Now, is it a confession? Depends on your perspective. I’m a lapsed Roman Catholic, so I’m hardly an expert. But just as Eko is not your normal priest, but an effective man of God, this was not your normal confession, and yet one more in line with the connotative sense of the word than most "confessions" heard in my archdiocese back in the day. Eko confesses that his choices saved his brother from the same damnation, and for that, he rejoices. It’s a remarkable moment, one defiant and yet humble. He knows who he is, and moreover, knows his limits: both in this life and the next.
I won’t pretend to know what, if anything, the monster thinks as he kills Eko after such a confession. But I have a feeling that in saying, "You’re next," Eko referred not to the act of murder but the act of judgment: judgment on behalf of the Island’s two opposing forces as they marshal up sides to fight on their behalf.
23) The Moment
Despite it being an Eko-centric episode, I have to go with Juliet’s home movie.
42) In Retrospect
- Those white robes don’t look any better now than they did then. What a horrible idea those were.
- The shift from "omnipotent Ben" to "suddenly scared Ben" felt a touch rushed first time round, but it’s kinda sorta fascinating to think just how easily the appearance of a sailboat threw Ben’s tenuous Jenga-esque plan into complete disarray.
108) In Summary
Eko is one of the great, "What ifs?" of the Lost universe. What if Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje had enjoyed his time working on the show? What would it resemble now? In some ways, it fascinates me as much as wondering what the show would be like had Michael Emerson not filled the role of Ben back in Season 2. Would you arrive at roughly the same spot right now? Maybe, but Lord have mercy would the path have been different.
I did enjoy the Eko shoutout at the end of Season 4: it gave the character both a grace note missing in his bloody demise and offered the hope that maybe, just maybe, we haven’t see the last of him on the show.
Leave your thoughts about this episode below!