Overthinking Lost: Episodes 2.17-2.24

Overthinking Lost: Episodes 2.17-2.24

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from Sydney, Australia, aboard Oceanic Flight 815.

Lost-LTDAOne day not too long ago, an innocent crew crash landed on a deserted isle in the middle of the ocean.  Using their wits alone, this diverse group of people learned to work together to devise many ingenious ways of getting off their island.  Again and again, their plots were foiled.  But did they give up?  No, never.  Because they were Men.  Because they believed.

This is the story of those men.

This is the story of Gilligan’s Island.

Seriously, though: this week I’m writing a post about the parallels between Lost and Gilligan.  Strap in.  This is going to be a crazy ride.

But before we get to the poor survivors of the Minnow—I mean, Oceanic Flight 815, let’s recap the last eight episodes.

Episode 2.17 (“Lockdown”):
In the past, Locke’s father played dead to outrun the mob or something.  In the present, the hatch doors lock down on Locke’s legs (oh, the irony), and Henry Gale has to save him.  Locke also finds a weird map on the hatch door.

Episode 2.18 (“Dave”):
In the past, Hurley made up a guy in his head.  His name was Dave.  In the present, imaginary friend Dave tells Hurley the island is made up in his mind and that he should jump off a cliff.  He doesn’t, so the show continues.

Episode 2.19 (“S.O.S.”):
In the past, Bernard and Rose were a-freaking-dorable.  Also she had cancer.  In the present, Rose apparently doesn’t have cancer.  Oh, island.  You so wacky.  Plus, Jack and Kate get “trapped in a net” and find Michael.

Episode 2.20 (“Two for the Road”):
In the past, Ana Lucia escorted Jack’s dad to Australia.  In the present, Michael is acting totally suspicious.  I think, “Oh, he’s going to free Henry Gale.”  Which he does.  AND ALSO KILLS ANA LUCIA AND LIBBY OMFG!  Lost really doesn’t like keeping its female characters alive, does it?

Episode 2.21 (“?”):
In the past, Mr. Eko the priest was asked to evaluate a potential miracle—a girl coming back to life.  In the present, Eko forces Locke to lead him to the ? on the map Locke found on the hatch door.  The ? hatch is Station 5: The Pearl.  Its orientation video suggests that Jack was right all along; the timer and hatch button are some kind of psychological experiment.  Locke has a mini-breakdown over this.

Episode 2.22 (“Three Minutes”):
Thirteen days ago, Michael made a deal with the Others.  If he frees Henry Gale and brings them Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley, They set his Walt free.  In the present, Michael says he and the four list people should go beat up the Others.  Sayid, being badass, knows Michael is “compromised.”  Thank god for Sayid, the least stupid person on the island.  Too bad he likes to torture people.  Otherwise I’d be the head of his fan club.

Episode 2.23-24 (“Live Together, Die Alone”):
In the past, Libby gave Desmond a boat so he could sail around the world and win back his girlfriend, whose rich dad is kind of a dick.  Instead of doing that, Desmond lands on the Island and pushes the hatch button for three years with his pal Kelvin.  Holy crap, is his name really Kelvin?  How ridiculous.  Anyway, Desmond accidentally kills Kelvin and lets the timer run out, which theoretically caused Oceanic Flight 815 to fall out of the air.  Oops.  In the present, Sayid, Sun, and Jin sail around the island to the Others’ camp, but it’s empty.  Also, they find some weird four-toed statue.  Creepy.  Michael sells out Jack, Kate, and Sawyer in exchange for Walt and a boat; Hurley gets to go free to scare the rest of Team Jack into staying the hell away.  And my favorite part: Locke says, “Screw this,” and let’s the hatch timer run out.  Sure, he seems to have been wrong—some very bad seeming electromagnetic discharge makes the whole island shake and the sky turns purplish white—but the world doesn’t end, either.  So score one for Locke?  Hey, I would have done it.

14 Comments on “Overthinking Lost: Episodes 2.17-2.24”

  1. igge #

    Great overthinking as usual! As much as I’m intrigued by your take on fate, I’d like to ask you about a completely different thing.

    Lost, so far, has revolved around character. Who were these people before the crash? How did the crash change them? And ultimately, who are they going to become on the island? But towards the end of season 2 you get to see a new side of the island; I’m talking about the four-toed statue.

    This island they’re stranded on is clearly an extraordinary place. It heals the sick, it has weird electro-magnetic properties (By the way, you didn’t comment on the very end of the finale!?), and it also has a “mythological” aspect to it. In the finale of season one you get to see the Black Rock, and in the season two finale you see this mysterious, four-toed foot. How did the Black Rock end up on the island? Who created this eery statue? Not to mention the Black smoke – What the hell is that?

    My question is simply, are you intrigued by this mythological aspect, and these questions, perhaps even more than the character part? If so I’d really like to hear your thoughts on them!

    Oh, and another thing worth mentioning: Have you noticed how the people who got to the island have been in dramatic, perhaps life-threatening situations? Rousseau’s ship ran aground; Henry gale crashed in his balloon; Oceanic flight 815 broke apart in mid-air and went down; Desmond arrived unconscious on his, according to Kelvin, wrecked boat.. Is this just coincidence, or is there a reason behind it? (They died and are now in purgatory, perhaps?)

    Anyway. Long comment, I’d better wrap it up. Thanks for doing these analyses, looking forward to the next one!


  2. Mittelos #

    I read these analyses every week, and they’re great. You’re really onto something with the whole fate vs. free will deal. Lost is certainly not done with that debate yet.

    I’m glad you noticed the statue. That was a pretty cool moment when I saw it too.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on Michael and Walt. Do you think they’re going to really get off the Island, or is it a ruse by the Others?

    Great piece, and I can’t wait for next week’s!

    P.S. A lot of fans don’t like the next few episodes much, but if you feel the same way, don’t get discouraged. The show really picks up afterwards.


  3. Jayemel #

    It’s tough to compare Gilligan’s Island and LOST because, as you say, all TV shows and movies (and books, etc) have fate because the writers are controlling the characters. Technically, the characters don’t have free will. This view is the omniscient point of view however (that the writers necessarily must have). However, if you take the characters’ POV, then Gilligan’s Island had free will and LOST might.

    A shift in terms is need though. It’s not about fate, but determinism. Is life up to you or pre-determined by something (a mystical force, our biology, etc)? Fate is too simplistic a term because, I can have free will, and then say, based upon my choice, what happened was “fated” to happened. In contrast, determinism eliminates choice. I don’t have one. What will be will be. In other words, Desmond chose to join the race and was thus fated to push the button or it was pre-determined he would crash on the island and push the button.

    You’re asking some important questions, especially regarding Locke. His character seems so paradoxical at times, so which is his true nature? Is he really the man in the state of nature or is he the wuss that keeps getting conned by his dad? Is the latter version a commentary on social contract theory by the writers?

    And, for the record, the opening to Season 3 has some good and some bad episodes, just like any other seasons.


  4. R7i1c3K #

    Don’t let the writers fool you… Every time you get close to figuring it all out, they’ll throw you for a loop and make you question your own theories. I’ve been following your stories, and very interested to see what you make of all of this…

    …That being said, again, don’t let them fool you; The creators use pop culture references a lot, but remember who the creators are. They’re mystery writers. Their whole job is to throw you off course as much as possible.

    Look for the things you’re not supposed to see. Colors, episode speed progression, objects surrounding scenes. It’s all clues to the bigger picture.

    Great job. Can’t wait to read more. :)


  5. Tom P #

    I’m not quite sure how he went so quickly from, “I have faith in everyone and everything, including the button” to a nihilist who thinks his little pathetic life and the button have absolute no meaning, but whatever.

    Sure you do. Locke had built this entire, meaningful experience in to what had been happening to them for all these months. He was a guy in a dead end job who life had f*cked over hard. Now he finds himself in a position of leadership and convinced he’s doing important work. But Locke, with his years of life, is still this broken down, fragile dude with low self-esteem who just saw this whole tower he built around himself come crashing down. And when it comes crashing down, he realizes he’s back to being a guy sitting behind a computer pushing buttons and that it’s not important work. It’s not meaningful. It’s doing someone else’s bidding with the promise it will make your life better. Just like it was before. He feels betrayed and stupid and he overreacts.

    If anything, Locke is prone to overreacting. He gave a dude a kidney after knowing him for like six hours. He became immediately convinced that this random hatch was the key to his future. He decides to go on a walkabout while paralyzed. He’s a mark — and when he realized (or thought he realized) he was a mark for himself, he went crazy.


  6. Paulo Brabo #

    I am expecting the moment you’ll touch the post-modern (read non-chronological, fragmentary) nature of Lost’s storytelling. What I particularly like about Lost is the way our perceptions about the characters (and about the direction of the narrative itself) keeps changing according to the particular order the pieces of the story are presented.

    The Lost story could be told in a multitude of ways, but the writers keep choosing the most misleading one — hopefully for a reason.


  7. Gab #

    In defense of Sayid, I don’t think he necessarily *enjoys* torturing people. He just sees situations where it’s a necessary evil. And he’s not doing it for himself, he’s doing it for everybody else. Think of him kind of like the Assassin from _Serenity_, he’s doing some icky stuff to make the world his companions are in safer.

    Do you think the events resulting in Eko’s becoming a priest make his priesthood any less or more legitimate than if he had thought, “Oh, I want to be a priest?” Why did *he* have a sudden change in direction/motivation?

    What’s gonna happen to WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT?


  8. TheMagician #

    Just gonna give a heads up that the whole Fate vs. Free Will question will be answered once and for all in Season 5 finale. And it’s gonna blow your mind, it sure did mine.


  9. ken #

    I am not sure they will ever answer fate vs free will. i think it will be the one question we will still be talking about after the series is over.

    i <3 your brain


  10. Gab #

    I’m with Ken: I highly disagree that fvfw? gets answered and believe that it never will- and that, I’m guessing, is sort of the point of the show. Or at least one of the goals the writers had in mind when they set out- making us think about it but not answering it for us.


  11. Kevin #

    I’m a little confused by your recap of “Live Together, Die Alone”… you finish with:

    “And my favorite part: Locke says, “Screw this,” and lets the hatch timer run out. Sure, he seems to have been wrong—some very bad seeming electromagnetic discharge makes the whole island shake and the sky turns purplish white—but the world doesn’t end, either. So score one for Locke?”

    It’s clear from the episode that tragedy was averted only by Desmond turning the failsafe key and destroying the Swan station (pieces of the Swan get blown all the way to the beach — the hatch door, etc.), so it must’ve been one helluva force! And by episode’s end Des, Locke and Eko are still missing. So you can’t say Locke SEEMS to have been wrong — he’s most definitely wrong, and pushing the button in fact DID have a purpose and was NOT just a psychological experiment. The only reason the world (or at least, the island) didn’t end is thanks to dear ol’ Des.

    And I’m also surprised you didn’t bring up the actual final scene from the season finale: the electromagnetic disturbance Locke caused (and Des fixed) was picked up by a research station far, far away… allowing the island to be located… by a crew working for Penelope Widmore. So that definitively wraps up at least one big theory debated in the first two seasons (are the Oceanic survivors actually dead and in Purgatory/Limbo/whatever, for starters)… since that scene sets up Season 3, I was surprised that didn’t get any mention.


  12. Glenn #

    Just thought I’d point out a few things that it looks like you may have missed. I’m not sure if they’re important and maybe you noticed them but didn’t think they were worth mentioning, but here it goes:

    Kelvin is the same person that taught Sayid how to torture in his flashback from “One of Them”. Also, Kate’s dad (not the real one she blew up, but the one from the army) interrogates Sayid in this episode. This one I’m fairly certain is just another of those connections they like to throw in, like Sawyer and Ana Lucia meeting Jack’s dad or Eko investigating a miracle involving the daughter of the psychic that told Claire to go to L.A.

    The second thing I’d like to point out I think is slightly more important and may affect your opinion of the smoke monster from last week’s post. In “The 23rd Psalm” when Mr. Eko is staring down the smoke monster, the camera pans through the smoke and if you look closely at the flashes of light you’ll see moments from Eko’s past inside. So yeah. There you go.

    I thought there was something else too but I can’t remember it now…


  13. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Kevin: Well, I only said “seems to have been wrong” because A) I’m still not sure what would have happened if Desmond hadn’t turned the failsafe key–sure, the world could have ended, but the force also could have just destroyed the island, or it could have done something else entirely like send the island through a black hole so everyone could help the crew of the starship Enterprise. And B) I don’t think this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Dharma Initiative is telling the complete truth about the nature of their work on their orientation videos. We also learned in “Live Together, Die Alone” that the pneumatic tubes from the Pearl station go directly to the middle of nowhere so the notebooks could be read by exactly no one. It does seem still to me that at least part of their work is a psychological experiment–otherwise, why have all the video cameras everywhere?

    As for why I didn’t bring up the very end of the episode with Penny… I just forgot :) Thanks for reminding me.

    @Everyone else: Thanks for all the great comments. I’m going to put off answering a lot of your questions until next week’s article.


  14. Eric #

    I’m glad you’re looking at my question so much! A few more things…

    There is a question of fate vs. free will. Do the characters have a specific fate? And if so, who controls (or controlled) that fate? What if the characters themselves created (or are creating) that fate… then it would be free will, right? Or not…

    There is a very unique way of looking at this question with an answer I have never heard suggested before. Problem is, it only becomes clear much later in the show. But it doesn’t hurt to toss around in your head a bit.


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