Analysis: 6.5 Lighthouse

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.


Anonymous said...

What about Ben?

abid said...

I enjoyed the episode but upon re-watching that scene where Jack gets smash happy is kind of irritating. Wish that hadn't happened..

I don't agree with all of Sepinwall's post here but certainly that bit about Jack and Hurley running off to the Lighthouse:

As I said, I enjoyed the episode but so far, apart from LA X, I'm still waiting for something to equal some of Season 5's highs.

Also, a question...if someone dies in one timeline, do they die in the other time line as well? There has to be a dominant timeline at some point so I'm really hoping what you said about the happy vs. dark timelines isn't true.

Rasty said...

Lots of developments in this last episode, and while we are still to be given some actual answers, I think it's quite obvious the authors are laying the final pieces that will be reconnected together at the end of the season.

I've in fact quite put my soul to rest as to getting objective answers about how exactly some things work on the island (i.e. why turning a donkey wheel would move the island, etc.), but I'm quite hopeful that we will be given answers as to how connect all the pieces together in order to make some sense of it, and about who Jacob and MiB really are.

That's also more or less in line with that Darlton stated will happen during the latest official podcast, and I quite feel that, at least until this point in the season, they're on track to making it happen!

StayPuft said...

Hey AC,

Thanks as usual for the blog, its always a good read.

Just wanted to put a point out there regarding Jin in Clare's hut. We see him use an oar as a crutch, and I instantly thought it might be alluding to Claire being the one using a gun to fire on our future Losties when they were time-travelling in Series 5.

Haven't had a chance to look at the Season 5 episodes again, but just wanted to gauge your thoughts on it.

Anonymous said...

AC love the analysis again.

Thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Jack is once again becoming the major figure in Lost.

However my favourite character may be the on who you imply is coming to the island (Hopefully his team gets beat tomorrow).

In my eyes there are only two people who Jacob can be referring too Desmond or Charles Widmore.

The fact that Jacob said; "he'll find a way" makes me think that it's going to be Desmond. (For no other reason than Desmond manages to get places he shouldn't without Esau's intervention).

I still have thoughts about who Desmond actually is? We know he raised his brothers from a relatively young age, after his dad (died/left). Could Jacob be his Dad?

Fred said...

Hey AC, I agree with you about the so-what nature of the X-world flashes. On another blog, I suggested that if we are following the flash-backs of Season 1, then we'd have plenty of time to repeat a second set of X-world flashes. Consider the first 7 (Kate, Locke, Jack, Sun, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley) as WHITE's version of X-world. Then it would make sense we get BLACK's version of X-world (the order would be reverse, like in Season 1, from Outlaws to Born to Run). Maybe by having this darker contrast, we will get something meaningful in place with X-world, and possibly even bring it to an end.

Andre said...

I had a wild thought...

Wallace = Walt?

I am not 100% behind the idea that Nameless has put his grips into Sayid. Could just as easily have been Jacob. After all, he's the one who sent Hurley to the temple with Sayid, Why would he expose one of his candidates to a takeover of that kind? Would Dogen know the difference between Sayid being claimed by Nameless or by Jacob?

Tim said...

William Wallace is probably the most famous Scottish historical character (see the Wallace Monument:, and judging by the writers' penchant for historical last names it seems like a good bet that Desmond is on his way. Why they'd use a pseudonym for Desmond I'm not sure though.

StitchExp626 said...

Hi AC,

Love the idea that the testing of Sayid and Claire involved seeing if the Island's healing abilities were still working on them.

Thus it makes sense that when the injuries they were inflicting were not healing that they judged them as being claimed.

Would like to know how long Dogen's self inflicted cut took to heal.

The sideways world does seem to have a fairy-tale quality about it, where chance encounters lead to happy endings.

This is the opposite of the original timeline where chance encounters between the Losties really had zero ramifications.

So is this sideways world being artificially created by some force to ensure that they have no reason to ever go to the island?

The series is raising more riddles this year, completely different ones to those in the past.


AngeloComet said...

abid - I don't think a death in one timeline will equal a death in the other, either way. The Alt-Flashbacks are in 2004, for one thing, whilst Island-events are now in 2007. But furthermore I guess we have to think of them like trains on different tracks. They might be running alongside each other, and maybe a passenger can see or reach out to the other train (Desmond?) but mostly they're independent of each other. At least, so far.

Rasty - I agree with you. I think Darlton have referred to explaining the details as being like 'midichlorians', that tiresome explanation for The Force in Star Wars. It was better when The Force was a mystical power - same goes for the more fantastical elements of the Island.

StayPuft - It hadn't occurred to me, but the timelines don't discount it. The only puzzle would be why would Claire and Nameless get in a canoe out to sea when they're headed for The Temple?

Andre/Tim - Given the accuracy of the names appearently used, I don't understand why 'Wallace' would be used either wrongly (for Walt) or cryptically (for Desmond). That Wallace was crossed out is perhaps the important part, perhaps meaning that the 108 'role' that Wallace once held has now been cleared for someone else to arrive. Again, this makes a good case for it being Desmond.

Stitch - I'm not entirely against a level of forced artifice on the Alt-Timeline; it being used as a means of manipulations. . . Tough to explain away though!

MyStarbuckHatesLost said...

AC, you don't' see it? The person coming to the island is...Jack. Jack is returning. Action-Jack...Jack-face-Jack. The season-1 Jack who was impulsive but basically took care of everybody and made semi-decent decisions. He is shaking off his mantle of guilt and hopelessness and coming back to re-assume his role as Lostie leader. That is why Jacob told Hurley that Jack HAD to come with him. To force Jack into the realization that he is the once and future king of his people.
Your welcome :)

Anonymous said...

I would also say get ready for a surprise when we see who jacks ex-missus is in the alt timeline.