Analysis: 6.12 Everybody Loves Hugo

Shocks! Answers! Bigger mysteries! Lost is hitting the home straight and in this episode managed to juggle a good few plot threads, keep them all moving, all intriguing, all inexorably heading to a climactic resolution. But before all that we had the heady business of people dying, dead people returning and people we thought we’d never see again suddenly rolling back into the frame. Just when you thought Arzt and his slapdash manner with dynamite had made you shockproof, they pull the same trick and stun you again.

Whilst Ilana’s sudden exit certainly packed a wow factor, it was swiftly followed up for me with a sense of disappointment. Like, wait a second. . . Is that it? That’s Ilana done with? Whilst Ben ruminated on how abruptly those that the Island was done with (and, by extension, those Jacob had utilised) were dispatched I wasn’t satisfied we’d seen the last of Ilana. I mean, it’s irritating that we don’t know why she was all bandaged in hospital when Jacob came to see her, but it’s slightly more damning that Jacob would have used her purely to complete half a mission: reveal Locke’s dead body, deliver the candidates news of their importance and otherwise blindly trust that Alpert knew what to do next.

For the record, I’d have gone with Hurley, too. But it was interesting that it was Hurley now stepping up to fulfil his own role of importance, taking heed from the words of Dead Michael and acknowledging the fact that he figuratively carries more weight amongst the group than he realises. What was intriguing for me was the turning point, after Ilana was gone, when Hurley looked amongst her possessions and seemingly found something that made his mind up.

We didn’t get to see what was in the small bag Hurley looked inside but the likeliest thing it could be in my mind are the ashes of Jacob that Ilana scooped up. Yet why would Hurley see what amounted to a bag of ashes and be so moved? If he even realised they were Jacob’s ashes, why would that trigger this newfound resolve? Well, perhaps, it would have reminded Hurley that Ilana believed deeply, as Hurley himself does, and to turn his back on the hope Jacob held for his candidates would mean Ilana died for nothing. This does, at least, mean Ilana’s purpose wasn’t entirely blown away – her death had meaning. I am hanging on to hope that she’ll reappear to impart further wisdom and influence from the other side.

It’s hard to imagine Hurley calculated the plan of blowing up the Black Rock and forcing a choice of going to meet Locke or going to find more explosives, but it’s (as ever!) either fate or coincidence that has seen to it that the candidates Jack, Hurley and Sun (with tag-along Frank) have all delivered themselves to Nameless whilst Alpert, Ben and Miles have gone off to The Barracks to find more means of blowing things up.

The thrilling moment where Jack and ‘Locke’ faced each other after so long apart in the jungle was terrific, and underlined for me that here we were looking at the central protagonist and antagonist of the show. I know Desmond during this episode was rocking a distinctly Jacob-like vibe, but whatever he’s about at the moment (of which more later) one thing I don’t believe is that he is the new Jacob replacement.

I’m still pegging Jack as the Jacob replacement. How he completely relented control, handed himself over to the guidance of Hurley, was just another step towards absolute faith – faith in the goodness of others. The shit-eating grin of Nameless, however, certainly looked like a daunting proposition. I’m really looking forward to seeing that confrontation play out.

But back to Dead Michael. . .

. . . who quietly, calmly delivered some massive revelations that may have felt underwhelming or anti-climactic either because of how they were relayed, or by how rather unsurprising they were. First, Michael himself claimed that he was now fundamentally a trapped soul on the Island on account of the things he did.

Ummm. . . yeah. That does. . . you know. . . sound a bit like. . . ah. . . purgatory.

To be fair, the idea of the Island being purgatory is one that I properly aired as a possibility back in Season 5 (the analysis for the Dead Is Dead episode if you wanna check!). Note the difference between stating the Island is purgatory and the now-debunked theory that our Losties are in purgatory. There’s a difference.

For Jack and the rest of Oceanic 815 to be in purgatory they’d have had to be dead, killed in the crash. We know they weren’t. Instead, what has been a potential truth for a good while, is that the Island is purgatory. Only, like the way Jacob described all the evil that the Island keeps bottled up as being the thing that some people refer to as “hell”, the Island may just be the thing that some people refer to as “purgatory”. Again, the difference is subtle, but it’s there.

It fits again, though. Purgatory fundamentally being the waiting room between heaven and hell where the dead go to exercise their penance; Michael being trapped there for the murders of Ana Lucia and Libby fits that definition. And the further revelation that ‘the whispers’ we have heard belong to souls trapped between heaven and hell (or what people refer to as heaven and hell), dead souls stuck on the Island observing what happens, also slots into that idea.

And, yeah, for the record, ‘the whispers’ turning out to be voices of the dead both landed like the biggest non-surprise ever and an almost resentful feel from me personally that it doesn’t quite explain the matter properly.

Harper’s appearance in Season 4, The Other Woman, is a good example of where ‘the whispers’ have featured and, given what we now know, either give us an entirely different take on that scene or contradict what seemed to happen. Because, basically, that scene now plays out like Harley was dead and visited Juliet as one of these ‘trapped souls’. ‘The whispers’ sounded, Harper appeared and spoke to Juliet, then ‘the whispers’ sounded again and she was gone. If Harper was a ‘trapped soul’ then that works. If she wasn’t. . . that’s less clear.

There have been instances, such as Sayid alone in the jungle, or when Cindy was snatched by The Others, or even recently, when Jack and co first entered The Temple, where ‘the whispers’ have been heard that didn’t provoke any kind of dead apparition encounter.

On this, I suppose, we are to simply assume that ‘the whispers’, the whisperers, they are always watching and it’s only during moments of crucial action or high drama where they become agitated or forceful enough to almost try to exert influence. Perhaps only when they have a strong connection to the living are they able to ‘break through’ and communicate. Of course, if this were true, then it would mean Juliet had actually stood and talked with a dead person – which suddenly makes Hurley’s ‘unique’ ability to do this very same thing somewhat less unique.

I can only hope there’s a little more clarification on life, death and what’s in between on its way in due course.

Hurley: “Dead people are more reliable than alive people.”

Michael warned Hurley from going to Hydra Island on the mission to blow up the plane, ostensibly because a lot of people were going to die because people were listening to him. If Hurley hadn’t met up with Michael again later it might have given us cause to wonder whether Hurley suddenly stepping up, blowing up the Black Rock and lying about Jacob saying they had to go and face Nameless, was a big mistake. But that Michael later pointed out exactly where Nameless was suggests this was precisely what was meant to happen. And, as Hurley said, dead people are more reliable than alive people precisely because they have little reason to lie. Indeed, if the Island is a form of purgatory for the likes of Michael, then the very act of helping may be what allows him to serve his penance!

(Flipside idea would be that Nameless succeeding in his plans to leave the Island and wipe out the existence of the Island Timeline may mean that Michael wouldn’t be dead! As such, Michael leading Hurley and the rest to Nameless was a self-serving act, but I don’t particularly believe that notion.)

The dead from the Island Timeline, as this episode showed, don’t seem to be particularly affronted by it in the Alternate Timeline. . .

Ah yes, Libby. As one character (Ilana) meets a premature, inconclusive end another one (Libby) pops up to surprisingly offer up more depth to her premature, inconclusive end. But then still doesn’t really conclude it. Of course. There was one telling difference between the Libby from the Island Timeline and Alt-Libby – namely that Alt-Libby wasn’t on Oceanic 815 (OK, she probably wasn’t, I can’t say she definitely 100% wasn’t!), and she didn’t seem quite as away with the fairies as she was when Hurley was in Santa Rosa.

But there again, in the Alternate Timeline, Hurley evidently didn’t kill any people on a pier and enter a catatonic state with a compulsive eating disorder that sent him for a spell at Santa Rosa either. (Again, milder versions of the real thing that has been prevalent in the Alternate Timeline for all the characters.)

Libby had seen a commercial featuring Hurley and this had awoken her awareness of the Island Timeline, however dimly that was. Are we to then reach some vague ideas that the Libby we saw provide Desmond with a yacht was somehow acting with awareness of events in ‘another life’?

Nah. Surely not. Like I said, whatever inconclusive ends Libby’s story left for some after her death in Season 2 have not been resolved by her appearance here. What did seem nice, however, was that despite her being dead in the Alternate Timeline she still had the feeling that the Island Timeline was the proper and true place where she belonged.

One kiss blasted over some awareness of the ‘other world’ for Hurley, like Charlie, Daniel and Desmond before him. And, in a very Jacob-like way, Desmond himself had been the gentle guiding hand coaxing Hurley towards this revelation. Unlike Libby, I don’t think there’s any question that Desmond does possess awareness of both timelines. The pertinent matter is just how much Desmond knows – in both timelines!

But before tackling what Desmond is, let me express what I don’t think he is: I don’t think he’s Jacob reborn, or the next potential candidate. Don’t get me wrong, he really suits the role. He’s spent years on the Island in the service of nothing more than faith (pushing a button) and with his benign manipulation of Hurley, just one person he’s working his way through in the Alternate Timeline manifest, he’s assuming the role of passive guidance effortlessly.

In McCluck’s he was, symbolically, assigned ticket number 42 – a candidate number in the Alt-Timeline. I don’t want to read too much into trying to compare and contrast the idea of the Alt-Candidates, but I think the number 42 connection distinguishes Desmond in the Alt-Timeline as intrinsically important on behalf of the Island Timeline.

As stated, I don’t think Desmond’s function is there as replacement for Jacob, or the reincarnated version of him somehow. Maybe Jacob’s own powers, the history of his life and how he became who he is, stem from ‘an incident’ with electromagnetism, only on a grander scale, and so Desmond’s Jacob-like qualities are purely a manifestation of a similar type of process. Maybe.

Consider when Nameless took Island Desmond out to the well.

He talked of how people had dug down to a deep point on the Island, trying to tap into the source of this strange power they were aware was down there. Now I suspect we are going to be treated to the backstory of Nameless and Jacob, and I can’t help but wonder if they were perhaps part and parcel of these long ago people, digging down deep. Literally like ‘the incident’, history repeating and creating anew. One thing was certain: Nameless seemed intrigued by Desmond’s experiences with electromagnetism, and he was unnerved by his lack of fear, and his mask of innocence and ignorance didn’t stop Nameless from perceiving him as a direct threat.

If the rules state that Nameless cannot directly kill Jacob, then I believe it ought to have been impossible for Nameless to shove Desmond down the well if he really were the rebirth version of him. Again, another reason why I don’t think Desmond is ‘it’.

But Desmond has certainly marked himself out as special. Unlike Alpert, but like Sawyer, he too could also see the strange boy, who had aged and had slightly darker hair this time around.

The grin on the boy suggested malevolent superiority, a mocking sneer at Nameless directly. Perhaps the boy could see the concern in Nameless about this man, Desmond, who showed no fear. But for me it was the smile of someone who knows better, who is confident that all Nameless’ plans and schemes won’t work out the way he wants. Who is the boy? I’m stuck between it being Jacob or Nameless himself.

Since the boy is ageing, and how quickly Nameless wants to ignore him, I rather like the idea that it is Nameless himself, as a boy. (Previously the boy had distanced himself from being Jacob with his remark “you know the rules, you can’t kill him”.) I suspect Nameless, like most characters we meet, has a past he’d rather not face up to - blood on his hands - but as the boy ages he becomes more and more the man he has to confront. Nameless has never sought out redemption. If there is a disparity between genuine ‘good’ and ‘evil’ on Lost, I’d say the lack of acknowledgment of bad things is as close to it as human people can be judged.

I’m sure there was water in the bottom of the well. Whilst anyone really ought to have been killed by such a plunge down there, I suspect Desmond will have survived. We’ll see him again.

But we saw him a lot sooner than we perhaps anticipated in the episode's final, brutal, hit-and-run.

So what? Is this a moment where Alt-Desmond was somehow aware of how ‘Locke’ threw him down a well on the Island and this was his payback? I’m not so sure. Desmond did prove awareness of the Island Timeline by how quickly, unblinkingly, he remarked to Ben that he had a son named Charlie. He didn’t – his Island counterpart does. But in Desmond’s mind they are one and the same now. Yet I am not so sure the link is there so that Alt-Desmond remains conscious of whatever happens to Desmond on the Island – that just seems too much.

So why knock Locke down? Maybe trying to trigger a connection with his Island Timeline, I’d say. Awaken his consciousness. Whereas Desmond and Hurley and Daniel used love, Desmond also heard Charlie’s story of swallowing heroin and nearly choking to death which induced his moment of revelation.

A near-death experience served as the catalyst for Charlie, potentially Desmond was trying to trigger that same awakening in Locke by a similar process. That’s my favourite idea (I mean, if he really wanted to kill Locke surely he would have reversed, right!?). But maybe killing Locke was his intention, the idea being that the events in the Alt-Tineline can have an effect in the Island Timeline (again, we’ve seen that reverse bleed through with Sun, her non-English speaking Alt-consciousness awoken on the Island after she bumped her head). Damage Alt-Locke to hinder Nameless in Locke's form; that would be the logic.

Here’s what I think seems certain, though. A reunion is on the cards. And I think it’s going to take place at Jack’s hospital. Locke will, evidently, be rushed there. (And certainly he’ll be under Jack’s care when he arrives – a meeting that might parallel their meeting on the Island.) Sun, don’t forget, was shot last time we saw her and is hospital-bound (potentially her physician will be Juliet!?). Charlie might even still be at the hospital. . . Sayid could be found there just visiting his injured brother. . . Kate and Sawyer can invariably find their way there through any number of means. . .

They’ll gather together on the Island. They’ll gather together in the Alt-Timeline. I’m sure of that. What’s thrilling, what I don’t know, is exactly what’s going to happen when they do.


Fred said...

What happens when they meet up in Alt timeline. I suspect they awaken form the dream. Life is but a dream, and we poor players in it. What is worse, is we are not the dreamers, but in Borges' fashion the stuff of the dream. I am suspicsious of the island as the dreamer, asleep, and the Alt timeline as the dream of the island. To awaken as they are slowly doing is to awaken to the condition of their existence, to realize it is all a fabric of illusion: the world is Maya, according to Hindu myth, and enlightenment involves seeing the world is nothing more than illusion.

From a scientific perspective, the island is an electromagnetic tour de force, it accentuates minds such as Desmond's and Hurley's. Desmond's survival of the electromagnetic force may have more to do with the injections he took than with his being special. Whereas I said the island is the dreamer, think of it also as the survivors as creating through their interaction with the island the Alt world. It is a projection of their wishes, as much as the magic box project and creates what anyone desires. The island being electromagnetic also records, but like Morel's Invention, it records souls, not just thoughts. The souls of the dead become trapped, but also memories of loved ones become alive in the island's power, much as Lem's Solaris creates living beings from memories. Purgatory is only one way of looking at the island. It is both purgatory and wish fulfillment.

Matt B. said...

I must offer that was genuinely let down with the whisper explanation. It just does not seem to add up with what we know of them (Harper's appearance was the first argument that leapt to my mind). Also was when Michael betrayed Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley. The Others emerged from the jungle after zapping them with those metal things and the whispers were all about. I suppose you took some of the sting out with the idea of them always being there, but only becoming audible during certain situations. I'll go along with it, but it makes me uneasy that future explanations might be equally (or more) devastating.

Regarding the last scene where Desmond runs down Locke; I personally see that as an actual attack. Was Desmond able to "remember" Locke throwing him down the well in the Island time line? Even if he was unable to do this up until now, one thing changed: Locke threw Desmond into a well of energy (if Locke can be believed, which I think he can on this). Perhaps this (pardon the pun) unlocked fully in the Desmond the ability to see both time lines clearly with one consciousness.

This actually just sparked an interesting thought process. What if nameless knew that to further corrupt the alternate time line, the man John Locke should die. It might be possible that nameless knew enough about Desmond to know that he would not die but would instead gain access to both time lines after falling in the well, and anticipated Desmond's "revenge" in the alternate time line. Perhaps this is why Eloise said it was a violation.

I have lots more on the jungle boy, I'll write some stuff up and share.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the recaps.. Regarding the whispers.. I think the explanation makes sense after reading what the whispers were interpreted as saying when the pop up.. I don't think they necessarily have to mean that a dead person is going to make an appearance. In a lot of cases they seem to be debating with other 'trapped souls' as to whether they should influence what is happening at the time.. In others they just seem to be watching and commenting on what is taking place. I do, however, agree that there are some instances where the explanation of what the whispers are seem to fall a little short, but not so much that I can't overlook it.. Here is a link to the translation of the whispers if anyone is interested.. As many of you may know they are audio played backwards, and many of them have been translated..

Garett said...

here are some of my thoughts:

-I agree that we haven't seen the last of Ilana. Surely her character wasn't that trivial...right??

-I'm not sold that the island is THE purgatory. Spirits are seen and reported all over the world. They don't just go to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. "Micheal" is still on the island only because he was close to the Island when he died. If the same circumstances happened in Iceland, his spirit would be stuck in Iceland. And lets face it...the island has its fair share of death. It would have accumulated alot of spirits over the years. Given the nature of the Island, I believe its easier for spirits to "cross over," which is why we see and hear them so much more.

-I'm convinced that Jack won't be the Chosen One. Why? Because it feels like that's where the show is leading us. I guess its gotten to where I expect misdirections and plot twists. Also, I think that Jack leaves the Island to have a life with Kate. I think he's happily stay if needed, but ultimately he won't be the one.

-So who will be the one? This episode showed that Hurley could be Him. He displayed a strength he'd not shown before. But I think it will be Sawyer. Of all the candidates, he has no one off the Island waiting for him (sure, he has a daughter, but he's never been apart of her life). We know he has a good heart, even if he makes poor decisions sometimes. We all assume whoever assumes Jacob's role will be like Jacob. But if its just a position, a job, who's to say the next person won't bring his own ideas and temperament to the role. If Nameless was confounded by Jacob, with his laid back approach, can you imagine how he'd feel about a ticked off Sawyer standing in his way at every turn?

-I think "the universe" is using Des as a course-corrector again. There's a theory on Lostpedia that Desmond's visions "were the universe's way of 'course-correcting' so that Charlie could die at the necessary point in time to ensure that events which already occurred in the past would happen." I think the universe is simply using Des again.

-Loved the theory on the boy. I think you nailed it. I hadn't considered that aspect. I was thinking it was someone "above" them in some hierarchy we are unaware of. But its awful late to be introducing new 'myths.'

-Des ran over Locke to spark the near-death experience that triggered Charlie's awakening. Locke didn't have a 'love' in the real timeline to trigger, so Des had to do it the hard way.

-Nameless threw Des down the well to get rid of him, not to kill him. I have a feeling the well will lead to somewhere, much like the other well led to the donkey wheel. Besides, we know that if the universe (or the Island) isn't done with Des, he wouldn't die from the fall. So Nameless is either trying to trap him at the bottom of the well alive (and unable to perform the Island's wishes) or there is more to the well than we know.

Andre said...

My feeling is that despite Jacob's wishes, there will be no successor to him.

Ultimately the candidates will band together and reject the styatus quo of bottling up the monster. They will find a way of destroying smokey and leaving the island, perhaps creating a third and better alternate reality.

I think that ultimately Darlton are suckers for a happy ending and they will end the show on a high note.

Kit said...

Great Analysis AC!

On a side note (and I apologise that this is no Lost related), but whatever happened to your Fringe blog? That shit's just getting interesting and with Lost on the way out i'll still need my weekly AC fix!

AngeloComet said...

Fred - That's a whole lot of references I don't know, but I get the gist. I don't think of it as a 'dream', so much as an offshoot temporary buffer to prevent a timeline paradox.

Because, hey, that's WAAAAY simpler!

Garrett - Consider Ben's mother, seen on the Island. (Maybe she was a Smokey manifestation?) But then we've heard Frank Duckett (man that Sawyer killed) speak as a 'whisper', and he was shot off-Island. So it's not been hard and fast that the dead heard or seen on the Island had to die there, or even ever have been there.

I like the theory of Des being the course corrector.

Andre - I agree there will be a distinctly happy ending. Not so sure that refuting Jacob's role would be such a 'bad' ending though!

Kit - lol Thanks. Fringe has merely taken a pause for me whilst Lost goes through this final run. Once Lost is over I'll be turning my attention right back to Fringe (that I haven't even been watching, either, so looking forward to hitting that hard - good to hear it's maintaining interest).