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Through the Looking Glass

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | February 24, 2010 | Comments ()


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This week's "Lost," entitled "Lighthouse," was about as solid as a transitional episode could be for this final season. Every episode will likely provide answers or clues about major mysteries (actually, every episode has answers, it's just that they raise more questions, which irks some people but is kind of just the way life goes, kid), and if last week's "The Substitute" was a chance to really dig deeper into the Locke/Enemy story, this week's episode was a chance to push the pieces forward a little with the remaining survivors spread across the island. Plus we got to see Claire go wolfshit insane. Not a bad little hour of TV.

The Los Angeles Timeline
Jack arrives at his apartment, probably right after landing at LAX, and cleans up a little. In the process, he notices a scar on his abdomen that looks relatively fresh. He calls his mom to update her on the status of her dead husband's missing body -- probably a tough call to make -- and asks her about his appendectomy. She says it happened when he was a young boy, and he fuzzily agrees that he remembers. It's probably fresh because this timeline and the "original"/crash one are bleeding into each other, like in the small glances of recognition traded between some of the passengers. (Jack had his appendix out on the beach, and Juliet did the surgery, in the fourth season's "Something Nice Back Home.") He notices the time and realizes he's late for something, so he hangs up and speeds off to St. Mary's Academy, a private school. He jumps out and approaches the one remaining kid, a sullen 12-year-old named David that turns out to be Jack's son.

Back at Jack's place, it becomes clear that Christian passed his aloof and pretty terrible parenting skills to the next generation, as David skirts Jack and just asks to be left alone. "We see each other like once a month," David says. Apparently, even in an alternate timeline, Jack can't keep a relationship going. He tries to engage David in a talk about music and books (David's reading The Annotated Alice), but no dice. Kid stonewalls like only a middle schooler can. Jack gives up and goes to help his mom look through Christian's papers for his will.

At his parents' house, Jack and his mom (played by Veronica Hamel, who is probably cool but has had a drastic amount of plastic surgery) root around for the will and engage in the pat parenting lecture that probably comes stapled inside the packaging of screenplay software. ("Your dad couldn't get you to talk." "I was terrified of him." "How do you know your son's not terrified of you?" This is what passes for revelatory in pop TV.) Anyway, Jack has what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity just as his mom finds Christian's will and discovers it discusses someone named "Claire Littleton," which only puzzles them.

Jack heads back to his apartment to find David gone. He drives to David's mother's house, knowing she's out of town but hoping to find him. (It's canny that she's unseen for now and unnamed; whether her identity will be a twist, bombshell, or irrelevant can be dealt with later, if ever. "Lost" tends to hold onto the cards like that.) He's not there, but Jack retrieves the spare house key from under the ceramic bunny in the yard (a callback to Alice and tumbling through other worlds) and enters the house. He's surprised to find sheet music for Chopin in David's room, and a check of the answering machine reveals David had a slot at the Williams Conservatory that night. Jack also hears the message he left for David while he was in Sydney, just asking to hear his son's voice.

Jack arrives at the conservatory in time to hear David finishing Chopin's "Fantaisie-Impromptu," moved by his son's skill. As David finishes and leaves, Jack winds up chatting with Dogen because why not, everyone has to be somewhere in this crazy world. Dogen, still pretty creepy even in a suit, says that kids that young often buckle under the pressure. (Thanks?) Outside, Jack catches David at the bike rack and gets him to open up about his fear of failure, and how David didn't like Jack knowing he still played because he didn't want to let him down if he messed up. Jack says he dealt with the same stuff with Christian, and promises that he just wants to be a part of David's life and will love him no matter what. The two actually make up and head home. This timeline is seriously the happy one, or at least the much happier one. Sure, Jack's still got daddy issues and a missing corpse to deal with, but he's patching things up with his son. Compared to the drunken mess he became with Kate and Aaron, dude's got it easy.

The Island Timeline
Things are a good deal trickier out on the island. While Jack tells Dogen that the rest of his group probably isn't coming back to the Temple, Hurley goes inside and sees Jacob by the pool, just hanging out like he's not the ghostly remnant of someone who was stabbed and immolated. He tells Hurley to get a pen and write down instructions because "someone's coming to the island" and Hurley needs to help them find it. Meanwhile, Jack admits to Sayid that the pill he'd been told to give him was poison, and that the Temple residents are freaked by Sayid's presence because of what happened to the "someone else" who was infected.

Hurley writes Jacob's instructions on his sizeable forearm and does a quick walk-through of the Temple before being stopped by the Dogen. Ghost Jacob appears and tells Hurley to announce himself as a candidate, which gets Dogen off his back. A little later, Hurley finds Jack and tells him point-blank that he saw Jacob and was told about a secret passage that leads out of the Temple and into the jungle. Hurley's whole performance in this episode was actually pretty enjoyable; no longer the fuck-up or buffoon of last season, he's back to being the legit comic relief, and he even gets to stand up for himself on occasion. Hurley gets Jack to go along by passing along a message from Jacob: "You have what it takes." This almost seems like a meta-joke on how easy it is to inspire Jack to crazy schemes, but it's a reference to how Christian always told him he didn't have what it takes, so there you go. Jack signs up, and off they go.

Jack and Hurley make it into the jungle and meet Kate by a stream; she blows off their invite and sets out to find Claire. Hurley later apologizes for "wrecking [Jack's] game with Kate," which leads through some interesting leaps to how Jack always figured he'd make a terrible dad. It's not that this belief is out of line for his character, it's just kind of forced since it has to be for this ep. The men find a burned-out inhaler on the ground that Hurley IDs as Shannon's, and they realize they're at the caves. This is a pretty awesome moment, and in a show built on callbacks and circles, it's humbling to see them back at what used to be their home base, when so much had yet to happen. Hurley points out the moldering bodies of Adam and Eve (on which Jack found a bag with a white rock and a black rock several years and a million twists ago), and Jack spots the empty and destroyed coffin that had been carrying his father.

Back on the trail, Hurley jokes about their "old school" adventure "to do something we don't quite understand," and he says he's on the island because Jacob visited him and told him to come. Jack talks of how he was broken and stupid enough to think the island could fix him, which might be code for "I have no idea why I'm here." They reach the shore and see a lighthouse, the presence of which Jack finds hard to reconcile until Hurley shrugs and says, "I guess we weren't looking for it." Again, nice joke about the show's use of the island as a magical place where anything -- barracks, monster, statues -- might be just around the next bend.

In the lighthouse's top chamber, they find a set of mirrors attached to a wheel marked with 360 degrees, and Hurley says they need to turn it to (what else) 108 degrees to shine the right beacon to lead in the visitor. Whether this will counteract the weird locational/temporal pocket around the island, or whether it's to be set to 108 knowing it will actually leave the island at a slightly different vector is hard to say. Next to numbers on the wheel are written names, from Oceanic 815 and who knows where else. Most of them are crossed out, but some aren't; it appears to be the same set-up as the cave wall the Enemy showed Sawyer. Among the crossed-out names: Rousseau at 20, Burke at 58, Faraday at 101, and Linus at 117. (That's just a few of them, too.) The 51 slot is labeled "Austen," and it's not crossed out, either. Jack watches the mirrors as Hurley pulls a chain to turn the wheel, sending the dial sliding along the names. Jack catches a glimpse of a Korean building at one point and does a double-take, then sees what looks like a white church; these are the places Jacob visited the Kwons and Saywer, respectively, when he intervened in their lives. Jack sees his surname at the 23-degree line and turns the wheel to that setting to see an image of his parents' house in the mirror. It's not a hallucination, either; Hurley sees it, too. Jack realizes Jacob was watching him for years, and turns on Hurley and demands to know what Jacob's up to. Hurley tries to explain that it doesn't work like that, but Jack goes berserker and smashes the mirrors, which seems really short-sighted and dumb. (Plus, I really wanted to know what, if anything, you saw in the mirrors when the wheel was at 108.)

Outside, Jack watches the water on a distant rock while Hurley chats with Jacob, who reveals he didn't need Jack to set the wheel, just to go on the journey and start to get motivated and learn "how important he is." Jacob tells Hurley he and Jack needed to be as far from the Temple as possible because someone bad is coming, and when Hurley starts to run off to warn the others, Jacob simply tells him he can't. "It's too late."

While all this is going on, Jin is still out in the jungle with Claire. She'd snared him in her bear trap a couple episodes back, when she killed Mac Aldo and took out Justin. Alone for a while in Claire's weird little hut, Jin finds a cradle holding a baby figure made from part of an animal carcass. Claire, it's safe to say, has gone wackadoo. She returns with Justin, who was only faking dead, and announces her intent to find out from him where the Others are hiding Aaron. This is a little heartbreaking, to know Claire's gone crazy by searching for three years for someone who isn't there.

She boils some instruments and sews up Jin's leg, telling him she actually hasn't been alone but has had the company of a "friend." (Uh oh.) She then grabs an ax like Annie Wilkes and turns her attention to Justin. She repeatedly asks him to tell her where Aaron is, but he tries to tell her he and his people had nothing to do with her son. She's about to swing the ax and do him in when Jin stops her with the truth: Kate took the boy and has been raising him for three years. (Claire's grasp of time, along with hygiene and sanity, has become slippery.) She considers this and grows confused, then turns back to Justin and swings hard, planting the ax in his chest like a boss.

Jin, now understandably freaked out that Claire has transformed from mourning mother to legitimate homicidal maniac, says his earlier story was a lie to try and save Justin's life, and that Aaron is really with the Others at the Temple. He says he can show her a way in if she unties him. Weighing this in her mental crazy scale, she says it sounds like a good plan. Claire also tells Jin it's a good thing Kate didn't have her baby, because if she did, Claire would have to kill Kate. She says this with startling calm and clarity, shocking Jin further. While he's sitting there, Claire turns to see the Enemy (!) in the form of John Locke stroll into the hut. Jin, now just blown away, says, "John?" Claire smiles and laughs a little as she corrects him: "That's not John. This is my friend."

And that's that. Overall, a good little story that illustrated some important things about how the timelines might affect each other; for instance, if memories or evidence from the crash world can show up in the non-crash world, what about vice versa? Has Jacob been watching 360 people, or did he only watch small groups? How many times has this happened? Was the Black Rock the bearer of the first group of candidates, or did it start earlier? Apparently the whole lighthouse trip was just a red herring to get Jack loosened up, but is it actually possible to use the lighthouse to signal or summon ships? Also, what exactly is the nature of whatever's in Claire and Sayid? Is it the same thing? At what point did Claire cross over into whatever state of mind she's in now? What's the significance of Kate's name not being crossed off the wheel? Lots to think about.

Also, since this is the end of the recap, I just wanted to offer my thoughts on the stuff that comes at the end of an episode, namely, the preview for the next week's episode. I never watch them. Ever, for any show. It's absolutely pointless for a number of reasons: I already plan on tuning in next week and don't need an ad to prompt me, and I also don't want to confuse a misleading and hype-fueled ad with the actual show. It'd be like seeing a movie and complaining that it was different from the trailer. The preview is edited by the network to mess with your head and draw you in, and getting upset that the episode didn't do what the ad had promised (reveal some secret, change your life, whatever) is to miss the point entirely. When the screen goes black and the "Lost" title appears at an episode's end, I change the channel or turn off the TV. I know the characters will be there for me next week, just where I left them.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a member of the Houston Film Critics Society, as well as a TV blogger for the Houston Press. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.



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