To be honest I’d noticed this last week but didn’t really think it was going to bear out. And then this episode turned out to be Jack-centric and confirmed the pattern that has, initially at least, been paralleled. Season 6 is following the same template as Season 1. Both seasons started with a two-part opener featuring various characters, and then we’ve had Kate-centric episodes (S1: Tabula Rasa / S6: What Kate Does), then Locke-centric ones (S1: Walkabout / S6: The Substitute) and now a Jack-centric offering (S1: White Rabbit / S6: Lighthouse).
White Rabbit was referenced a lot, too. The whole drive of that Season 1 episode was for Jack, by chasing his dead father through the jungle, to stop pursuing this phantom and instead draw on his own qualities. As such he became self-appointed leader of the survivors with that “live together, die alone” speech. Here with the Lighthouse Jack was once again to be convinced he has what it takes to step up to the challenge he is destined for. Cue: pensive staring at the sea.
This episode even revisited the “rape caves”, showed us the empty coffin Jack once trashed and even, for those not picking up the references, had Jack pick up an actual white rabbit! The clear relation between Season 1 and Season 6, White Rabbit and Lighthouse, couldn’t be more apparent. Next week, with the episode Sundown, we can very much expect to see a Sun-centric episode. I’m not sure how they’ll stick to the pattern beyond that though, because the next episode that would follow is a Charlie-centric one!
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. There’s this Lighthouse in front of us that needs the door’s kicking down so we can get inside and see what’s what. Fundamentally the lighthouse served a similar function for Jack as the cave did for Sawyer in the previous episode: it pulled back the curtain to reveal a masterplan they were part of. Interestingly both men reached the same reaction (a sense of being cheated that their sense of free will was apparently superfluous). Yet whereas Nameless is utilising this emotion to recruit Sawyer, Jacob seems confident that Jack will eventually come around to realising it’s the better way.
As things stand, Jacob’s way is actually the harder sell. Nameless, with all his seductive talk of freedom and free will, no doubt has an easier time getting people to follow him. (Though I still recall the hard look in his eyes when he told Ben all he wanted was to go home, and Claire’s murderous qualities are no doubt formed through his manipulations, so I am still, mostly, reckoning he is a force of ‘evil’ though it’s hopefully not as strictly black and white as, well, black and white stones on a scale may indicate.)
The Alternate Timeline flashbacks are a hugely debatable aspect in this whole idea. We were shown Jack has not only wrestled with his ‘daddy issues’ to a far more mature level than he has managed on the Island, he’s a father himself and, by the end, actually making as good a job of it as he can.
Crucially, Lighthouse proffered another Alternate Timeline flashback that showed a character, if not so much finding outright happiness, at least finding contentment or a sense of moral rectitude. Again I wonder if the Alternate Timeline is a version of the world where Jacob had no hand in the lives of our main characters and what we are seeing is how things would have been without his interference.
Fact is, on the evidence so far, the Alternate Timeline is fairly damning of Jacob’s meddling and enforces Nameless’ opinion that he has done no good bringing people to the Island. But this brings me to an interesting question: Who are these Alternate Flashbacks for?
The regular flashbacks served two functions, basically. They gave us information about characters that helped us understand who they were on the Island (and, in the case of flashforwards, what became of them when they left) – to that end they were for us. But they were also fundamentally part of the characters. When Sawyer was chasing a boar through the jungle because of a whispered voice we learned it was because of the murder of Frank Duckett that he had done previously, plaguing his thoughts – to that end they were integral to the characters and events on the Island.
The Alternate Flashbacks aren’t cut from the same cloth. The events on the Island and the events in the Alt-Flashbacks are separate. At best they offer juxtaposition and irony (Jack’s remarks to Hurley about how he wouldn’t make a good father, for example) but in terms of integral meaning there’s a complete discrepancy. So I ask again: Who are these Alternate Flashbacks for? Because the immediate reaction is to consider them a pure narrative device designed entirely for us, the viewing audience.
I’ve got a couple of problems with this. For one it means that these Alternate Flashbacks are almost dispensable. To understand events on the Island we don’t need to see Alt-Flashbacks (and vice versa). And secondly, they undercut each other’s value. If everyone dies horribly on the Island then there’s always this entirely separate, out of nowhere version of events where everyone ends up happy. That, to me, feels like a cheat. If it’s to be the way of things that Jacob’s intervention means a miserable end for all concerned then so be it – don’t try and cushion the blow with this conjured-up happy ever after.
Fortunately there’s still very much the prospect that these timelines are linked and will ultimately come to be meaningful to each other, and as in the first episodes it seems Jack is that throughline. Just like he had a small nick on his neck on Oceanic 815, here we saw him puzzling over an appendectomy scar he had no recollection of. His mother’s assurance that it was an event that occurred when he was nine still didn’t really register and that seems very improbable; if you’d had surgery at nine-years-old and bore the scar for the rest of your life you wouldn’t need reminding about it. You’d just know.
What seems to be really the case is that the scar is a remnant of Jack’s time on the Island – at the end of Season 4 when Juliet performed surgery on him.
Trace recollections and physical reminders of the Island persist into the Alternate Timeline. Dogen’s appearance at the piano recital, like Ethan’s appearance in What Kate Does, draws together the feeling of fate rather than coincidence. These people find each other because of their shared Island heritage they can scarcely recall. I can’t help but be reminded of Desmond in Flashes Before Your Eyes – travelling mentally back in time to his life with Penny and all the numerous Island references that eventually awoke his memory and, with a whack from a cricket bat, sent him right back to the jungle.
I will linger on this to make just one more point that is a potential justification of the Alternate Timeline and the reason why they appear to have such positive, happy results. Perhaps the shape of the show’s conclusion, and the result of whatever happens on the Island, will fulfil whatever masterplan Jacob has and these Alternate Flashbacks are the finished resolution. In effect, we’re seeing the ends already – on the Island we’re just watching what our characters did to reach them.
I’m not crash hot on that last idea but it’s sitting in my mind so I figured I’d give it an airing. Getting back to the topic of scars, Claire showed us her own branding mark she had apparently received at the hands of Dogen and the Temple Others.
I thought it was interesting that Claire’s scar hasn’t healed. Is this a physical presentation that Jacob’s healing powers no longer apply to her, since she was claimed by Nameless? I believe so. I think we can better understand what happened to Sayid now. It was the talk of ‘sickness’ that was misleading. Better was the explanation that he had been “claimed”. I now think of it like ‘stained’ – that Nameless managed to put his mark on Sayid, like an invisible blanket.
Claire, being claimed, doesn’t seem in full control of her mind. I don’t think she’s doing the bidding of Nameless, rather she’s more amenable to coercion and has had her mind twisted by deceit (fuelled by the missing Aaron) and provoked into vengeance by years in the wilderness. Claire isn’t the astrological Earth mother – she’s an axe-wielding lunatic. She claims to be in contact with two people – her father and her friend. It would be interesting to know if Christian ever appears again to her. At the moment I believe that Christian’s appearance was Nameless in disguise. But if Nameless really is now locked in Locke’s form then an appearance by Christian would completely dispel that notion.
It seems easiest to believe Nameless has taken various forms – Christian, Yemi, Alex, Locke – to manipulate people into doing his bidding. That we last saw Claire in Jacob’s cabin with Christian, where Nameless had apparently taken up residence given Ilana’s findings and burning of the place after seeing the circle of ash was broken, only further validates that idea. Claire got taken away, ‘claimed’, and had her mind warped beyond rational thinking. The only hope for her, and Sayid, is that somehow putting a stop to Nameless permanently will release the hold he has on them, otherwise I don’t fancy Claire will ever be fit for motherhood again!
Claire reveals her friend, Nameless, as Locke, at the end of the episode.
Curiously she corrected Jin when he identified Locke, stating it wasn’t him. Explanation? Either Nameless doesn’t look like Locke to Claire (perhaps he looks like the guy we saw talking to Jacob, the man in black, at the start of The Incident), or Claire’s ‘claimed’ mind understands enough about Nameless to know that, though he may look like Locke, he isn’t Locke yet he is not someone to be feared. I go with the latter. He managed to turn Sawyer around in a day (or, at least, so it appears, though I still want Sawyer to be running a long con about this!) so over the course of a few years there’s no telling how twisted Claire’s beliefs have been screwed.
Jin, of course, is now in a pretty tight spot.
Nameless doesn’t know if he is or isn’t a candidate, which would therefore suggest that he’s going to try and recruit him just to be on the safe side. However, as Jacob has warned, next stop would appear to be The Temple. Claire will be all set for killing (cannot wait to see what happens when she and Kate catch up!), and Nameless will no doubt be exploiting her to get access. Jin is sure to be dragged along and I expect he’s going to be Miles’ best chance of getting out of there alive, and Miles might just be his – carrying him out of there on his injured leg. That is unless Nameless manages to recruit Jin first. . .
All the rest of the candidates have managed to move themselves out of this apparent firing line. Jacob got both Hurley and Jack out of there (loving Hurley’s Obi-Wan reference) with his usual blend of benign cryptic benevolence. Question: what the hell was he fishing for in the Temple pool?
Ah, probably he was just trying to return his healing powers to the water but you know what, never mind; there’s bigger fish (ha!) to fry. Such as:
The lighthouse that no one has seen before now because they weren’t looking for it (I don’t read anything profoundly ‘magic box’ like about this – I think it was the writers using Hurley to make a joke, similar to his musings about going back to “dinosaur times” to wind up becoming Adam and/or Eve). At the top of the tower, a wheel of names attached to a mirror; a mirror that reflects back the world of the person connected to the bearing; the mechanism Jacob used to watch over his candidates from the Island and guide them in.
We briefly saw Kwon and Sawyer’s home world, as well as the house that Jack grew up in – that prompted him to get smash-happy. It’s all as farfetched as it is reasonable. This is Lost. There’s an Island with a lighthouse on it with a mirror on the top that a guy used to view people he wanted to bring there. OK. Fine. If you say so. There were two interesting pieces of information, though.
First, Kate Austen was present as one of the names on the wheel: Number 51. Aside from being ‘15’ backwards it would take some tenuous maths to force her into being one of the key ‘candidate’ 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers. I suspect the whole list of names and numbers indicates everyone Jacob has brought to the Island (them being crossed off indicating when they’ve either died or served their purpose) so it does, at least, indicate Kate serves some purpose.
Jacob also instructed Hurley to move the dial to ‘108’, a number occupied by a crossed-out name ‘Wallace’, to ensure someone came to the Island.
There’s speculation that this person due to arrive on the Island could be Desmond – he’s the one key character suspiciously out of the frame at present. Quite how Desmond Hume fits to the name Wallace is beyond me. I’m torn between wondering whether anyone is actually coming to the Island at all, or whether Jacob simply picked the number ‘108’ to ensure the wheel got turned and Jack would look in the mirror and catch glimpses of his old house.
My heart says, Let Desmond be due to arrive. My head says, There’s no reason for such hope.
But let’s have some faith. Jack, staring out to sea, is slowly finding his way to becoming the same kind of man of faith that Locke once was when he first arrived on the Island. Nameless may have claimed John Locke, but there’s another man slowly realising that there was nothing accidental about his arrival on the Island. That there is a fate and a destiny and, most importantly of all, he’s got what it takes.