This week’s edition of "Missing Pieces," entitled "Operation Sleeper," put the topics of Island childbirth, Juliet’s loyalty, and Ben Linus’ "dream" at the forefront with a night-time pow-wow/confrontation between Juliet Burke, Jack Shepard, and Jack’s oddly shaped triceps. In addition, the mobisode referenced of the most controversial/confusing moments of Season 3: just why was John Locke so gosh-darn wet after infiltrating the submarine?
A lot to decipher, a lot to ponder, a lot to unravel. Let’s get to work, fellow Lost fans.
As mentioned before, a freakish close-up of Jack’s tattooed arm. Thank God these mobisodes aren’t shown in high-definition. Juliet wakes Jack up in a tent in an as-yet-unmentioned location. Juliet tells Jack that she’s worried that Sayid, Sawyer, and the rest of the Lostaways with half a brain are worried she’s there to harm them. Jack, who doesn’t fall into the Braniac camp, tells Juliet that she will protect them from those who wish to harm her.
Juliet then reveals to Jack that they are right: she’s there working for Benjamin still. Jack, now 0 for 75 on the Island when deciding between right and wrong, is dumbfounded by this revelation. Jack insists he saw her desire to leave in her eyes when the submarine was destroyed. Juliet counters that her naïveté in thinking she could leave the Island left her resigned to simply follow Ben’s orders in the aftermath of the Galaga’s destruction. She was, she says, a fool to believe Ben would let them go. When Jack points out that Locke, not Ben, destroyed the submarine, she cryptically adds, "Did he?"
Her mission in the Lostaways camp, she tells Jack, is to identify pregnant women for extraction, with Ben’s promise no one would get hurt. She then says that the night before, she went with Sun to the Staff Hatch to examine her baby. (This puts the action of this mobisode between the Season 3 episodes "D.O.C." and "The Brig.") Seeing Sun’s baby, and knowing their imminent demise, has resparked the desire to leave the Island, saying that it’s finally time to "wake up" from Ben’s "dream."
Last week, I brought up the issues surrounding pregnancy on the Island. A little further back, I postulated the reasons behind Ben’s obsession with children. Both of these topics came to the forefront in this week’s mobisode, proving 1) these themes will only gain in importance in the seasons to come, and 2) I’m awesome.
The word "dream," I think, is the important word to take away from this mobisode. While we’ve seen Ben Linus doing things for either the greater good of the Island or to maintain power, we’ve never really explicitly seen this in terms of a utopian vision he derives from within himself. He’s generally seen as either a servant of the greater good/will of the Island or a megalomaniac gone off the hinge who expertly uses psychological manipulation to maintain power. But the idea that Ben has a "dream" interests me, and makes me wonder what exactly that dream is.
Well, we know the dream involves issues surrounding Island fertility. Juliet states that she’s been living Benjamin Linus’ dream for three years. She was brought there specifically for her unique ability to foster fertility in the most unlikely of places (a male mouse, a cancer survivor). And what would be the most unlikely place? Well, an Island that exists somewhere out of the realm of normal physics, biology, and temporality. That’s a pretty gosh-darn unlikely place, I’d say.
But Ben’s dream centers around enabling the Others to procreate. This could be for a variety of reasons. I have my own personal theory, but let’s throw a bunch out there and see what sticks, all Wacky Waller-style:
- It’s easier to raise children who believe in the ethos of Jacob than wait for someone to crash on the Island who may or may not be toting around a toddler
- Kidnapping actually offends Benjamin, and as such is looking for a way to engender a self-sustaining society fed off a never-ending supply of Hanso Foundation foodtsuffs
- While Natives can produce children on the Island, Dharma Initiative people and subsequent recruits to the Island cannot; since Benjamin consistently promotes the lie that he was born on this Island, he needs to find a way to "trick" the Natives, become someone’s baby daddy, and thus maintain his position of power
All possibilities, with only the latter fairly interesting to my mind. But I really don’t think any of those are the case.
Overall Importance to Missing Pieces
My ongoing theory, only strengthened by this mobisode, is that the centrality of childbirth centers around Annie, the little-seen but vitally important character that is the Rosetta stone for understanding everything you need to know about the motivation and actions of Benjamin Linus.
There are various ways to arrive at the same point, but in short, the Island (or Jacob, assuming one is not the other, which I don’t believe for a second) is manipulating Ben’s feelings for Annie in order to force him to do His will. Perhaps Annie died in pregnancy. Perhaps she’s in a state of suspended animation, held there by the Island until Ben fulfills his mission. Maybe she’s simply kidnapped, which would explain why the Others were building a runway for a small aircraft at the beginning of Season 3. (Check out this image from the upcoming Season 3 DVD for further proof of Juliet’s assertion.)
In any case, the arrival of Juliet Burke marked a moment of desperation for Benjamin Linus. Clearly Ethan Rom, his best on-site surgeon, was inadequate, and so he sent Richard Alpert on a mission to recruit her, ostensibly after Mikhail had gathered enough intelligence on her research. It’s a moment he’s never truly recovered from, a moment that marked the first real splintering between himself as the Others. What we saw in Season 3 was the rapid ascension of those cracks into an outright splintering, with the doubts of the Others fueled by rumors of a new messianic figure in John Locke.
So Ben, in keeping up with his increasing rash, devious plots, set both Juliet and John to fail with a single act, an act alluded to in this mobisode, and one that could play an ENORMOUS role going forth.
He tried to destroy the sub.
Now, did he actually blow the thing up? That’s not for me to decide right now, but something that piqued my interest soon after this episode aired was this, taken from an article in Entertainment Weekly:
When Locke was walking away from the submarine last week, he appeared to be soaking wet, despite the fact that we never saw him get into the water. This has led to speculation among fans that Locke didn’t actually blow up the sub, but instead, took it out to sea, submerged it, and blew up the dock – all part of a plan to make it appear the submarine was destroyed. The question is this: Are we supposed to be wondering why John Locke was all wet? Intriguingly, Damon Lindelof says: ”No comment.”
Well, dip me in a vat of Dharma mayonnaise and call me Juniper. Now that’s interesting.
In any case, what Ben needed more than anything else at this moment was to ensure than Juliet could never leave the Island. He used Locke’s own sense of insecurity to enact his will, as 1) Ben prides himself on never lying, and 2) the whole wheelchair thing kind of made destroying the sub a little problematic. Without Juliet, there’s no fertility; without fertility, there is no Annie; without Annie, there is no point.
One can view "The Man From Tallahassee," the episode in which Locke nominally blows up the submarine, as Ben accomplishing three things: destroying the only known escape route off the Island (as the Looking Glass wasn’t in play yet) and buying time to gather Locke’s Achilles’ heel: Cooper. Given the freshness of the wounds on Cooper’s face when Locke discovers him later, and given the unique time fluxes between the Island and the real world, it’s not insurmountable that the Others literally went out on Ben’s command, drove him off the road in Tallahassee, and brought him back to the Island just in time to watch the fireworks off the dock. By doing so, he maintained power over Juliet, and worked towards stripping power from Locke. (Of course, by season’s end, both states proved to be temporary.)
Now, about those fireworks: let’s assume it’s possible, just possible, that the submarine didn’t actually explode. Let’s assume Locke, for one reason or another, decided it was indeed in his best interest to hold an ace in the hole for later use. Wouldn’t an invasion of an unseen force off the Island be an excellent time to use that ace? What if Jack, Kate, and other Lostaways use that submarine in a daring escape engineered by John Locke at some point after Minkowski’s people crash the Island party? That would be a pretty neat plot twist, no?
Anyways, there’s your food for thought for this week’s mobisode. As always, your thoughts, comments, and theories are welcome. Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll be exploring the unique time properties of the Island, and how that may impact the final three seasons.
And next week? Another mobisode review, followed my recap of the Ten Greatest Lost Episodes to date. Start making your own lists. You’ve been warned.
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.