Analysis: 5.5 This Place Is Death

All right. Let’s get started.

We were probably given about as much of Rousseau’s story as we’re ever likely to get. Not a complete rundown but we did get to see how the highlights played out. So, let’s use Rousseau’s original dialogue from previous seasons and examine if it stacks up.

DANIELLE: “This is where it all began – where my team got infected – where Montand lost his arm.”

For all the ways in which you may have imagined how Montand lost his arm, I doubt any of us envisioned it quite like this:

Good old Smokey, making an immediate attack more rapidly than the attack on the pilot in the Pilot episode. Similarly, like poor Nadine, the Black Smoke cast the body of the pilot (Seth Norris, pilot-name fact fans!) up into a tree. Once again we have to wonder by what criteria the Black Smoke determines who it attacks and who, like Montand, it tries to drag down a hole.

Montand seemed to be left alone the moment he was down the hole, and his calm request for help was at odds with a man who had just had his arm ripped out. Something was definitely up there – possibly an instant ‘possession’ that would later consume the rest of the science team, barring Rousseau who, in a quirk of fate, Jin prevented from going down the hole.

The likes of Robert appeared to have reached a conclusion that the Black Smoke guarded The Temple. Was this the Temple the Black Smoke was guarding? The same Temple we heard The Others trekked to back in Season 3?

By the hieroglyphics – similar to the glyphs we saw outside the door Ben went through during the The Shape Of Things To Come when he summoned the Black Smoke – there’s more evidence of an older civilisation, and Smokey appears linked to it; a relic that survives despite the civilisation having perished? Mind, from hearing Robert suggest the Black Smoke is a security system for The Temple, 16 years later Rousseau has formed slightly broader terms.

KATE: “What was that thing?”

DANIELLE: “It’s a security system.”

JACK: “Security system? What does that mean?”

DANIELLE: “It’s purpose is that of any security system – to protect something.”

KATE: “Protect what?”

DANIELLE: “The Island.”

Regarding the infamous ‘sickness’ we aren’t given much illumination – though Robert’s actions do suggest he wasn’t entirely in his right mind. He managed to convince Rousseau that he cared for her and their child, but the moment she lowered her gun he took a shot at her. We already knew, since that moment with Sayid back in Season One when history repeated itself, Rousseau had already disabled the firing pin.

DANIELLE: “The firing pin has been removed. Robert didn’t notice it was missing, either, when I shot him.”

SAYID: “But you loved him.”

DANIELLE: “He was sick.”

I am of the inclination that something – Black Smoke, perhaps, or whatever it is guarding – took a hold of Robert’s mind as it did the rest of the science team that went down the hole. How? Why? What? Don’t know.

Interestingly, during this moment with Rousseau and Robert on the beach, there was a plume of black smoke similar to the one we saw in Season One, the one that Rousseau claimed to be a signal. “The Others are coming”.

DANIELLE: “Our ship went aground on this island 16 years ago. . . At that time I was already 7 months pregnant. I delivered the infant myself. The baby and I were together for only 1 week when I saw black smoke – a pillar of black smoke 5 kilometres inland.”

She could have been lying, of course – at the time she was after kidnapping Aaron! – but the dialogue here doesn’t quite scan. Danielle is pregnant when the plume of smoke can be seen. Yet sixteen years is a long time to get chronology distorted in memory. It’s easily done. There’s no real indication that Rousseau lied and so hers is a rather sad story; sixteen years in the wilderness begun by losing her daughter and then losing her life shortly after finding Alex again.

DANIELLE: “It’s a music box. . . It was a gift from my love for our anniversary. . . This was such a comfort to me in the first few years here.”

Heartbreaking stuff. And for fans of the blossoming love between Faraday and Charlotte, this episode held more heartbreak as the ever-increasing time jumps frazzled Charlotte’s brain to a bloody-mush.

Charlotte’s story of encountering Faraday previously (probably a grief-stricken Faraday that’s going to emerge following his loss) means it’s probably not the last we’re going to see of her. If the Island has now stopped moving, and we’ve already seen Faraday meeting Pierre Chang at The Orchid, this anecdote lends credence to the notion that Faraday, Sawyer and the rest will become stuck in the 1970s. Perhaps that last turn of the donkey wheel jumped them through time, one last time, and locked them there.

(Aside: Back in Season 3, the episode The Man Behind The Curtain, there was a Dharma Initiative classroom scene and, during an attack by ‘the hostiles’, there was a brief shot of a red-haired girl.

Charlotte? Well, she did say that she grew up within Dharma, but this girl doesn't have the bright blue glassy eyes Charlotte has. . . Might be something. Might be a dead end ginger hair coincidence. Just thought I would put it out there. Aside over.)

Anyway, from here. . .

. . . to a resounding thumping land here. . .

Ow. That’s gotta sting. And the last person of any use turns up – Christian Shephard – who apparently can’t help you stand on account of him being dead, whatever Island time zone it is.

Christian insinuated that Locke messed up by not moving the Island himself. Christian could have been more specific – surely a being like him could have popped up to tell Ben not to turn the wheel, or inform Locke he needed to do it; he managed to visit Michael to needlessly tell him he could “go now” after all! This makes me think that Christian is playing Locke. Proof that Christian’s accusation against Locke is flimsy has surely been seen – Locke meeting Alpert in the past, for example, already happened and could only happen because Ben turned the wheel!

By the way, there’s a minor amount of fuss being generated by Christian’s footwear. When we first saw him, and on other occasions since, he had bright white shoes on.

In this episode we could clearly see he did not have those white shoes on.

You’ll either be the type of person that goes nuts about this, or you’ll think it’s utterly retarded to even mention it. Personally, I think Christian wore the white shoes and suit combination in the coffin, spending more time on the Island has attuned his clothing accordingly.

It’s a pretty dumb theory, I know, but Lost does love its black and white connotations so don't be too quick to write it off. Speaking of dumb, needing the Oceanic 6 back on the Island to save it apparently doesn't necessarily mean all of them all at once! Ben rocked up to Ms. Eloise Hawking’s – or “Dan’s mum’s” – place with just two of the Oceanic 6. Speaking of which, this light outside the church. . .

. . . is the meaning of this Dharma logo we were introduced to before Season 5 began all those weeks ago. . .

We don’t have an official name for this Dharma Station yet.

So how come only a couple of the Oceanic 6 are enough to get started? And if Locke has turned the donkey wheel then why do the likes of Jin still need saving? Well if, like I have posited, they are stuck in the past then they still need to get back to their own time. And maybe the Oceanic 6 need to get back to the Island, in the past no less, to fulfil their part of Island history.

Christ. Anyone need a MacCutcheon’s?

What about Ben and his reveal that, whilst Locke had not been to see him he had gone to see Locke? Nice to see Ben hasn’t lost his touch with mistruths and half-lies no matter how much he may claim to have worked hard on behalf of the Oceanic 6. For what it’s worth, I believe him. To paraphrase Hurley’s mother, I didn’t understand what Ben was saying but I believed him. Given that we know Locke – a.k.a. Jeremy Bentham – was probably murdered then I can’t help but wonder if Ben was the man who killed him. If he did I’m sure it was for the best!

In a nice touch, the end of the episode also brought Desmond back into the thick of things, in an eye-opening meeting with Dan’s mother, who he has already bumped into.

Character-dialogue-interaction fact fans, this was the first time Desmond and Ben have spoken to each other. Both Ben’s and Hawking’s reaction betrayed the truth that they didn’t expect Des to show up – the rogue element in the mix. I don’t think Desmond is going to like what Eloise Hawking has to say about Dan, about the Island, and about how getting everyone back is going to help – but I think, like it or not, he’s going back with the rest and his return may be key.

Faraday noted that Desmond will serve as his Constant in times of need. If the memory that Faraday inserted into Desmond serves to return him to the Island, perhaps that’s the resolution being sought. The same way Desmond visited Penny and told her he would call her, years later, and she needed to answer – Desmond’s return might just be his way of answering Faraday’s call and this principle is playing out again under slightly different conditions. History does have a habit of repeating itself on Lost after all. . .

ELOISE HAWKING: “All right. Let’s get started.”


shamballa said...

In your last analysis I think you speculated that it was John's turning the wheel that flashed Daniel, and probably the rest of the group, back to the 70's when Dharma was in the process of building the Orchid.

This makes sense otherwise the turning of the wheel by John wasn't Daniel's last time traveling episode. Assuming that, Perhaps Desmond will be 'key' in helping him and the rest make it back to a time on par with our fellow Losties.

Ben looked genuinely surprised to see Desmond. It is as if Desmond is a wild card in all this and that forces at play that are out of even Ben's and Eloise's control. As if he is a force of nature or course correction.

Tim said...

My initial interpretation of the Rousseau back story was that rather than her team getting the 'sickness' Rousseau went mad, possibly through her seeing a Korean guy vanishing in mid air twice, and subsequently shot them all. Robert certainly seemed fairly cogent when he was speaking to her. The big problem here is that Robert not only attempted to shoot his lover, but by proxy his future child, which is quite hard to buy.

BennyTN said...

Tim, it seems to me that once someone on the show is "in the know", they develop somewhat of a machiavellian attitude. For example, well, Ben. I do not believe that Robert and company were sick. I believe that they were "in the know".

Corellian said...

Christian couldn't help poor Locke, but he could perfectly get baby Aaron last season...

So maybe he can interact with others, but was just lazy at the time...

shamballa said...

Corellian, I also thought of the Christian holding Aaron moment.

I don't think it's a question of being "lazy" or wether or not christian can touch someone physically for that matter,

Maybe it is more something Locke had to complete on his own without help. The timing and reason had to be right.

I mean Locke c'mon... Locke asking for help? What happened to "Don't tell me what I can't do"?

Corellian said...

I was kidding about the lazyness...

Anyone that goes from the island to the freighter just to tell michael hes going to die is definitelly not lazy...

shamballa said...

I'm guessing you are kidding there too. He certainly didn't swim to the freighter. He just 'manifested' there.

Which by the way... may answers AC's earlier question about Jin being within the scope of the island's shifting radius.

If Christian was there on the freighter just prior to the explosion. Then perhaps that a least justifies Jin being able to survive and be in sync with the Losties.

Anonymous said...

"Christian insinuated that Locke messed up by not moving the Island himself."

Given the established rules of Lost's time travel (everything's happening the way it's always happened) this statement by Christian leads me to believe he wanted to change the past.

If Locke had turned the wheel he wouldn't have been on the Island to switch the compass with Richard. Neither would he have introduced himself as the Other's future leader etc.


In 'Through The Looking Glass' Ben states

"Not so long ago, Jack...I made a decision that took the lives of over 40 people in a single day. I'm telling you this because history is about to repeat itself. Right here. Right now."

That indicates Ben (at this point still leader of the Others and therefor in Jacob's favour) is opposed to the concept of a fixed timeline. He wants to change things (i.e. Locke & Co. not jumping through the Island's past events). His intentions seem to coincide with Christian's plans.


When Locke reveals the order to move the Island Ben immediately takes the part on his own. He turns the wheel and sacrifices his beloved home. Doing so he ensures John's arrival in the past and the things playing out as they are supposed to. History NOW repeats itself AGAIN.

Why the sudden chane in Ben's motivation?

AngeloComet said...

Good point about Christian carrying Aaron - forgot about that, although I was being somewhat glib. I would lean towards Shamballa's interpretation, that Locke needed to do it himself. (Great observation about the "don't tell me what I can do" twist.)

I am reminded of Ben insisting that Jack "want to want" to do the surgery, and Juliet's remark at the start of Season 3 about "freewill existing" - and somehow these all seem pertinent, yet too intangible to make sense of.

And as for the Jin/Freighter escape, Sham - I got a RANT prepped for that very issue, and since Christian has appeared off-Island in flashforward then his proximity to the Island appears irrelevant to the logistics of that matter!

Good comments all round. Nice to have smart people around to keep me on my toes!

Corellian said...

Another thing that i´ve forgotten to comment...

Smokey entered the templo through a crack on the wall... Maybe he was imprisoned there, something broke that wall, and now he is kind of outta control? Because, come on, they said he was a security system for the TEMPLE, but he goes on bringing joy and happinness all over the island...

Tim said...

A point of clarification re: the Jin/freighter escape - whereabouts was the helicopter in relation to the freighter and the island? My flat mate feels that the helicopter was closer to the island than the freighter was, which doesn't make much sense of Jin's transportation.

Joe said...

I am intrigued by all the stuff you come up with that tie in with the past. Excellent work. You have me thinking. My brain might turn to mush though. My nose is bleeding...

Acharaisthekey said...


Concerning Jin's Wedding Ring... Did Ben kill John Locke to get the Wedding Ring, or did John Locke give the Wedding ring to Ben to convince Sun.

At first, I thought for sure Ben would have killed Locke to stop Locke from going out and telling Sun her husband is dead...but then, Christian said to Locke "You'll figure it out" and maybe thought this was how you get Sun back.