All right, let’s get the big thing out of the way. We went from this. . .
What more have we learned? Quite a lot, as it goes, with plenty of scope for theorising.
It seems very clear that the Statue is Egyptian. Ancient Egyptian. The matter of what this means about the Island and its previous inhabitants is speculation for another day, but that the Statue turned out to be Egyptian in origin (or, at least, style) isn’t that surprising.
From the glyphs on Ben’s secret door that he went through to summon the Black Smoke. . .
. . . hieroglyphic links to Egyptian heritage have been present. Maybe Dharma used the timer hieroglyphics (the symbols, collectively, communicate the expression ‘underworld’) as a nod to the glyphs on the Island. So what about the Statue then? It’s tricky to tell from the back, and there’s always the possibility that the Statue isn’t quite identical to the Ancient Egyptian culture we know, but we can stage good guesses about what it represents. How about Anubis? He’s one Egyptian God you’ve probably at least heard of.
Certainly a candidate, Anubis was considered a gate-keeper to the world of the dead which seems very fitting when you consider the Statue’s position on the Island coast – guarding the gate. We all know that the Island is a place where the dead don’t particularly stay dead the way you’d expect them to so the notion that the Island, for this ancient civilisation, was interpreted as a ‘world of the dead’ is highly plausible.
Alternatively, and more befitting this episode, the Statue may have been a representation of the Egyptian Goddess Taweret.
Probably not one you’ve heard of but the likeness is pretty striking. Consider the following information lifted from good old Wikipedia.
“Taweret became seen as a deity of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women wore amulets with her name or likeness to protect their pregnancies. As a protector, she often was shown with one arm resting on the sa symbol, which symbolised protection, and on occasion she carried an ankh, the symbol of life. . .”
I don’t know about you but I read a lot of ker-chinging strikes in that small piece of information. This episode had a strong focus on pregnancy, obviously, and we know the Island became a doomed place for all pregnant women. A broken Statue no longer affording protection. . .? The back of the Statue on the Island we saw was clearly carrying things – such as a sa and an ankh, perhaps? And guess what? An ankh symbol was very prominent through this episode. . .
The necklace Paul had, that Amy kept after his body was taken, that fuelled a drunken Horace, was an ankh symbol. So gathering in this necklace, the information during this episode and the Statue potentially being Taweret, I can compose a pretty logical notion.
Let’s say the Island Statue is Taweret, and when it was built it did, indeed, serve as a protection to aid pregnancy and childbirth. Then, when the Statue was torn down, or broken by natural event, the problems began. Women could no longer give birth on the Island. Don’t forget, even when Dharma was on the Island, when Amy was giving birth, there was no indication that having babies was a common event. They were ill-equipped with personnel and Amy was scheduled to leave the Island on the submarine.
I get the impression it was standard Dharma practice to ship (well, sub) pregnant women off the Island prior to giving birth. (This doesn’t quite tally with Juliet’s understanding of the pregnancy fatality, which happens a lot faster by her reckoning. Sun was destined to die rather soon had she remained on the Island and was nowhere near as far along as Amy was. It’s certainly a spanner in my works, but bear with me.) That Amy went into labour a fortnight early left her a little screwed, so to speak, but perhaps her retention of Paul’s ankh necklace afforded her the ‘protection’ akin to that the Goddess Taweret once provided?
It just about works, and we can speculate that thirty or forty years from this point the pregnancy issue becomes more drastic as a result of ‘the purge’ and ‘the incident’ and ‘donkey wheels’ getting turned that are destined to rock the Island. If things are bad now we know they get worse. This episode was all about setting up an environment we know is destined for tragedy.
Around ten to fifteen years further on, Dharma will be wiped out in ‘the purge’. We know that’s going to happen and it cannot be avoided due to, as Daniel says, the fact that what happened, happened. Speaking of which, Daniel was going a little off the rails in 1974 when he saw the young red-headed girl; though he may have thought it was Charlotte it really shouldn’t have been – Charlotte isn’t due to get born for a few more years! (Maybe she’s older than even she realised!)
We can forgive Dan his confusion, but if his ‘rules’ of time travel hold true then he will still see Charlotte on the Island and beg her to leave whilst she is a small child and scare the living daylights out of her. We didn’t get to see where Daniel slotted into the Dharma regime during the three year span Sawyer engineered for them to stay (neatly Sawyer used Rousseau’s shipwreck story with the Black Rock ship to pull off a convincing lie), but we know that he gets to The Orchid.
Dan at The Orchid, naturally, paves the way for him working out how to get them to their own time. And make no mistake about it, they have to get back pretty quickly. Though Sawyer, operating under his new name Jim LaFleur (French for ‘flower’, another little nod to fertility), has transformed into something of a noble and happy leader it can’t last.
Sawyer, of course, has hooked up with Juliet – a pairing that felt inevitable since we saw them sitting together on the beach gazing at the black smoke of the blown-up Freighter. Whilst there’s still an air of contentment about them, this does also feel like a coupling headed for the rocks. There are dark clouds on the horizon.
Having the three year ‘gap’ nicely synchronises Sawyer’s group with Jack’s group, as well as enabling Jin to convert his rudimentary grasp of English into full fluency! But despite Sawyer’s speech to Horace, about how he couldn’t even remember Kate’s face, I think her being back is going to revive all those feelings. Notice how he lied to Juliet about what Jin told him? Juliet may have been good for him because she “had his back” (in bed together, symbolically, she was the one cuddling him) but “Freckles” has always been the one that got under Sawyer’s skin.
The three year span we saw during this episode covered 1974-1977. By 1977, and at the latest 1978, a young Ben Linus will arrive. . .
It perhaps felt like there were a few discrepancies presented in this episode compared to what we know already. Horace, for example, we thought was married to this woman:
She was billed as Olivia Goodspeed, though we never officially found out her surname on the show. We just assumed she was his wife because she was with him when they found Roger and baby Ben Linus. We know Olivia should still be around because she will one day teach young Ben in a classroom, but she surely can’t be Horace’s wife! Not since he’s shacked up with Amy! So, if Olivia is a Goodspeed, perhaps she’s just Horace’s sister. Simple enough.
Other discrepancies: No Pierre Chang? Well, we didn’t get to see much of Dharma life outside of Sawyer’s view of things so it’s likely he’s just tucked away in a Swan or an Orchid somewhere, making Orientation videos. How about Rose and Bernard? Where the hell are they? They ought to be in 1977, too, but whether they’ve been absorbed into Dharma life or are still living in the wild remains to be seen. Lastly, of course, was young Ben himself. As I’ve stated, I believe he is due to arrive on the Island soon, which is why I believe the likes of Juliet and Sawyer and Jin and the rest can’t be there when he is.
Young Ben meeting Juliet as a woman, then growing up to have her found in his future and brought to the Island so he can become besotted with her. . .? Oh God, no, that’s too much. The Oceanic-Dharma group need to find the remaining members of their group and get the hell back to their own time (where they then face Locke and Ben and the other survivors of Ajira 316!).
Rock and a hard place, I guess, but they’re used to that by now.
The obvious question about this guy, as he boldly strides into the Dharma Barracks and demands Paul’s corpse to take back with him, is what does he want the body for? You can really run with this idea and suggest it’s linked into the vanishing bodies (Christian and Yemi) we’ve seen before, that it’s to do with reincarnation and the Black Smoke. You can really run with it. But I’m going down the simple route. Alpert is an Other, and we know The Others operate under a legal system of “an eye for an eye” (as discussed in Season 3, Stranger In A Strange Land). Strictly speaking, Alpert should have demanded two bodies, for the two of his people that were killed, to take back to his people and show them justice but perhaps one sufficed.
What’s intriguing to me about Alpert here though is his appearance has almost never changed. Here’s Alpert through the ages:
That’s how he appeared from the 1950s to the 21st century. Always clean-cut, nicely-dressed with good make-up. We know he’s apparently ageless, but that’s a mystery all unto itself. No, my point here is of a different bent. Compare and contrast the clean-cut Alpert with this guy young Ben Linus is due to encounter around 1977-79.
Is this another example of The Others dressing down? Of wearing wigs and scruffy clothes the way Tom and The Others used to do when meeting the Oceanic people? Maybe.
It’s the long hair that throws me. Is it that, not too long from now, the ‘truce’ between The Others (‘hostiles’) and Dharma is going to take a serious turn for the worse? Perhaps ‘the incident’ will prevent Alpert and the rest from leaving the Island and re-stocking their wardrobes and make-up supplies, forcing them to become more savage – which in turn provokes the need for ‘the purge’ to reinstate their authority over the Island?
As I said, there are dark clouds on the horizon. This episode was all about setting up an environment we know is destined for tragedy. For Sawyer and Jack and the rest, whilst they may be bidding a hearty “Namaste!” to 70s Dharma, they better be following that up with a brisk “Au Revoir!” as soon as possible.