Follow The Leader Recap
Just wanted to say that I’m glad to be back blogging, but I sure have been enjoying my time away from the computer. My wife are on vacation and just got back from a 5 day cruise! That was a lot of fun! Tonight we watched the new Star Trek movie (directed by JJ Abrams, so it is Lost related!) and it was phenomenal. We also watched this week’s Lost a day late, thus the late blog entry! Just want to say thanks you to Nic for letting me use his laptop to write up this blogpost! And this post is a long one, but keep reading. There are some juicy tidbits in this episode!!
Soooo, here we go! My initial reaction to this episode is that I need to watch it again.
“Follow the Leader” is the fifteenth episode of Season 5 of Lost and the 101st produced hour of the series as a whole. After the death of Daniel in 1977, Jack and Kate wok with Eloise and Richard to follow through with Daniel’s plan to detonate the hydrogen bomb. In present time, Locke finally takes his place as leader of the Others and begins his new mission, with Richard’s help. It was originally broadcast on May 6, 2009. (Lostpedia.com recap)
- Richard’s building of what could be the Black Rock might be a clue that he was once tied to the slave ship… but I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure he’ll turn out to be way older than that. This episode, we finally learn more about Richard’s role in the story: he’s an ancient advisor. So we’ve got deputies of fate like Abaddon and Hawking, and we’ve got Richard in the role of camp counselor. With his book of laws and a rusty old compass, he gets to sit around building model ships until it’s time to help identify the next leader of the Others eternal campout. Oh yeah, and he gets to stay young forever too. Not that bad a gig, really.
There are a few important elements to this scene. The first are Richard’s words to Sun, after she shows him the recruitment photo. The fact that he “saw them all die” doesn’t mean much here, because he could easily be talking about the Dharma initiative in general and referring to the purge. But if he’s not, it’s gonna make the finale a hell of a lot more interesting.
- Locke’s words to Sun were also interesting: “I don’t think we went through all this for nothing, Sun.” This seems to indicate a definite sense of purpose; not just for him but for all of our main characters. Where old Locke was a follower, flowing along with the island’s stream of never-ending (and repeating) events, new John Locke is suddenly anti-destiny, striding purposefully through the island’s jungles and across its beaches in an attempt to make a difference. He’s instilled with both knowledge AND an objective. And his objective is the exact opposite of Ben and Richard’s, which I think I’ve finally figured out:
- Since last week, I’ve had the impression that the Others have all been guardians of LOST’s time loop, living only to keep it alive. Somewhere down the line, a horrific event takes place that needs to be avoided. I think most of us can agree by now that the release of the island’s inner energy causes time to fold back on itself, looping over and over again. This loop of time must begin somewhere and end somewhere (the incident? the 815 crash?), but everything in between is the only thing that matters to the Others. This is where they reside, and this is what they protect.
So these people survive on and on, living from generation to generation, making sure that everything happens up to and including the important point where time folds back upon itself. They have knowledge passed on from forever ago, and their agents (Hawking, Abaddon, etc…) use this knowledge to ensure that the everything happens in proper order. Richard is the Other’s constant. Since he never dies, he’s the keeper of all the advanced knowledge – he passes this on to each successive chosen leader. He knows what must be done and guides everyone accordingly. And if I were him, I’d probably be bored out of my skull right about now, too.
I’m thinking the Swan hatch MUST get built in order to allow the time loop to occur. Everyone knows this. This is why the Others are allowing a full-blown construction team to dig in their territory. This also explains why they’d leave Desmond alone for all those years, so he could keep on pushing the button.
When you consider that only the leaders really know what’s going on, the rest of the Others’ tribe members are resigned to lame tasks like fishing, hunting, sewing up those cool cloth tents, and getting shot every couple of episodes. They’re generations removed from knowing anything about what’s going on. Every once in a while a leader gives them an important task that will shape the future, such as clearing off the runway on the Hydra island, but they’re too much in the dark to even know why they’re doing such things. They’ve been followers for so long, they no longer even know who or what they’re following. Just look at how they all stumbled, zombie-like, into a line of well-behaved sheep when Locke announced he was taking everyone to the movies.
So now, where does Jacob fit into all this? And why are they following him? The answer is that they’re not. Even worse, they never really were. More on that at the end.
- Kate looks horrified at Jack’s suggestion that he erase their future past. From the face she makes when Jack mentions flight 815 landing in Los Angeles, some of it has to stem from Kate knowing she’ll be back in handcuffs. But from the rest of it, I guess we’re supposed to gather that Kate truly does love Jack. I never really doubted this, but I think she somehow loved Sawyer more. Can she love both? Not sure. But Kate seems to do the most soul-searching when she’s in captivity, and her love always seems conditional on her current situation. This is exactly the type of flip-flopping that dooms her character to ridicule.
- We also learn a little more here about Widmore and Hawking: both of them seem to be on equal footing when it comes to ruling the Others. I was surprised at how little resistance he gave her after she explained what she planned to to. Watching him place his hand on her stomach, we can also assume she’s already pregnant with Daniel.
- So why are the big bosses at Ann Arbor so obsessed with getting the Swan done? From what we know so far, its only purpose is to study a magnetic anomaly. This can’t be the case anymore – someone definitely knows something (or maybe even has advanced knowledge of that something). Hopefully Radzinsky will reveal this later on. For now though, we get to watch him beat up Sawyer – and see Phil slap girls. Not cool Phil. If I were him, I wouldn’t be doing that with the finale coming up and all.
And don’t reduce Sawyer’s loyalty solely to Kate. Just because they did a freeze-frame on her tiny little butt doesn’t mean Sawyer wasn’t trying to protect all his other friends too. This was apparent when Juliet was about to say something and he told her not to get anyone else hurt. Sawyer won’t betray any of his friends. So when Radzinsky gives Sawyer pencil and paper, I’m pretty sure he’s going to get a diagram of Disneyland. This should lead Radzinsky’s team into a storm of trouble during the finale… and it might put the blast door map a little off, too.
- The Variable is Hurley.
Since the very beginning of LOST, this has been true. We’ve never seen it so clearly until now, because we’ve never really had reason to scrutinize it. But let’s examine the evidence for a minute, and then you guys can make your own assumptions. Here’s what I’m saying:
* Hurley almost didn’t make Flight 815. In fact, the woman at the counter tells him: “I don’t think you’re supposed to be on this flight, dear”.
* When Ben sees Hurley on Ajira 316, he looks him in the eye and tells him: “Hugo, who told you to come?”
* In Left Behind, episode S3.15, Hurley stands on the beach with Sawyer sitting behind him. He then looks out into the ocean, and says “I’m not supposed to be here”.
* In Locke’s vision where Boone’s wheeling him through the airport, Hurley’s the only person not getting on the plane. Everyone else is boarding the flight, but Hurley is not a passenger: instead he’s stamping tickets at the gate.
* In S1, Hurley knew he wouldn’t die on the bridge. He just had a ‘feeling’ he’d be alright – and he was. At the end of S3 Hurley knew he could get that 30+ year old van to start… and he got it started. He drives the van into Pryce through a hail of gunfire, without ever taking a single bullet.
* Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley all get captured by the Others. But Hurley was the one person they let go.
Hugo has always been lucky: rolling the dice, winning at horseshoes, never missing at basketball, winning the lottery. He eternally makes his own luck… and if this is the case, it stands to reason that he can make his own future. Hugo makes his own kind of music – he’s been doing this both on and off the island. He’s untouchable, unreachable, and the island can’t affect him for a very simple reason: he’s not supposed to be here.
Think about Hurley’s distractions, too. The island tried to bribe him with a storeroom of food, but Hugo blew it up. It tried to offer him romance, but then his potential girlfriend gets shot. It even tries to get him to kill himself… by using Dave to almost convince Hurley to jump off a cliff. Didn’t work.
Outside of the island? Hurley’s in a mental institution, where someone is watching over him (because they can’t touch him) to make sure he stays put. He gets out anyway. Then he’s captured and imprisoned by the police. Somehow he gets out of that, too. No matter what happens, Hurley can’t be contained. Hurley can somehow even see Jacob’s cabin, because he’s not affected by whatever illusions or smokescreens the island puts up.
Even now, it’s no coincidence that Hurley’s the one voice arguing in favor that things can be changed. He argues with Miles in Whatever Happened Happened, and he’s trying to rewrite history with his Empire Strikes Back script. Hurley’s seen more ghosts than anyone else. Charlie comes to Hurley as a ghost, telling him “They need you”. Who needs him? Everyone else in the story. The Hurley bird is even shrieking his name over and over in the finale. The answer is obvious to me: Hurley’s the one person who’ll end up changing things.
What’s funny is that we’ve always thought the game changer would come from one of the bigger players: Desmond, Ben, Jack, Locke – but if you think about LOST in general, it makes sense that such changes would come from someone you’d least expect. Hurley is perfect because no one’s expecting him to matter. He’s done nothing but cook, divide up food, play ping pong, and make everyone else laugh – including us.
Hurley is the island’s very big problem because he’s the one person who’s “not here for a reason”. And that’s the very reason why he’ll end up being so important: WHH can’t apply to Hurley, because he was never a part of the plan (timeline?) in the first place. In short, I’m saying Hurley is the variable. Just tossing that out there, so let’s hear everyone’s thoughts on it!
- Here’s one to hate on: I think Ben’s not half as stupid as he acts this episode. Michael Emerson is an amazing actor, which is why you can tell when he’s intentionally over-acting. Ben’s comments throughout this episode ranged from false bitterness (“Why John, afraid I’ll stage a coup?”) to artificial astonishment (“What just happened? Where did you go?”) to over-the-top sarcasm (“Your timing was impeccable, John!”). If you doubt it, just listen to him when Locke mentions the Beechcraft: “What plane?!?!?!”. Yeah, right. Clearly he’s acting here, and not doing a very good job of it (Linus, not Emerson).
The reason for this is pretty simple: Ben’s slow-playing the island. He intentionally wants the island (acting through Locke) to think he’s stupid, that way it doesn’t perceive him as a threat. Thinking pointedly back to Alex tossing him around that Egyptian chamber and calling him out on his murderous thoughts, Ben is attempting to keep the island out of his head. Acting dumb is the best way he can think of to accomplish this right now.
But one thing I don’t think Ben’s lying on… when Locke calls him on never having seen Jacob? That’s the truth. I don’t think Ben ever has seen Jacob. Ben was never meant to be a chosen leader of the island anyway.
- the Egyptians built one hell of an underground tunnel system. I’m not sure how or why the bomb got down there, but if it’s directly beneath Dharmaville this whole time maybe it explains why Miles’ mother seemed to be suffering from some sort of radiation sickness in her later years. She’s one of the only Dharma residents who reaches old age anyway, so it’s kind of hard to make a comparison.
- Sawyer’s idea to buy Microsoft and bet on the Dallas Cowboys is probably one of the soundest plans on the whole show. With Radzinsky being led safely away to wherever Sawyer’s map sent him, everything’s looking good from all angles. He and Juliet get to leave the island for a sweet bell-bottomed lifestyle, and his friends can do whatever the hell they want… being in shackles absolves Sawyer of any responsibility toward them at this point. It’s totally win-win for him.
But then, just like before, Kate arrives to screw everything up. Suddenly Sawyer is now one crazy landlord and a pair of short shorts away from starring in his own twisted version of Three’s Company. So much for his plans of eating popcorn and watching the 78′ Superbowl.
With the finale only a week away, it’s obvious that the sub never gets to leave the island. I’m not sure how it happens, but if I had to guess? Kate convinces them to go back – which is a nice twist on Jack trying to convince her to go back two seasons ago
- There definitely has to be a Jacob. Not only have we seen his cabin, but we’ve heard him speak. We’ve also seen him actually re-wind time: at the end of Locke’s first encounter with him, we saw that broken lantern (and the fire it started) instantly fix itself. We saw a ring of ash around Jacob’s cabin, which originally seemed like it might’ve been there to protect it from being discovered or seen. Later on though, it became more and more obvious that the ring of ash was probably there for the opposite reason: to keep Jacob IN. We also saw a very worried look on Ben’s face when he saw that the circle had been broken, almost as if he were worried that something had escaped. Incidentally, this is also when we started seeing quasi-evil Christian and Claire.
- Now we find out Locke wants to kill Jacob. Perhaps he only wants to kill the illusion of Jacob – once he does that, he puts himself firmly in command. Or maybe he wants to free Jacob from whatever temporal prison he seems stuck in, and the only way to do that is through the same method he himself was resurrected: death. The only thing we can be sure of is that whatever spirit wants this done (the island? the smoke monster?) is now acting through Locke, and is probably trying to get rid of a long-standing island problem that both Richard and Ben were trying to hide or keep from it.
To sum it up, maybe Jacob did exist at one point. If so, I’m guessing he was a realllllllly bad dude. Maybe he caused assloads of problems and was finally contained, similar to a demon or something along those lines. It probably took a lot of time and a lot of effort to finally put Jacob down, and now Locke’s talking about revisiting a very bad scenario. I think both Ben and Richard are genuinely afraid of Jacob – they don’t seem to be pretending when it comes to that. (1-12 from Vozzek69 at DarkUFO)
- …the episode was steeped in veiled references to yet another fabled fantasy about young heroes stumbling into an enchanted otherworld — presuming, of course, that ”Follow The Leader” is indeed a direct nod to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The game of the same name is central to the story line of the author’s play and book; a song of the same name is part of Walt Disney’s beloved 1953 animated musical adaptation. These various versions intersect with Lost in any number of ways: magical islands inhabited by peculiar tribes of people working at cross-purposes, death and resurrection, ticking bombs, lost boys, never-aging enchanted beings, and more. Peter Pan gives us ”The Peter Pan Complex,” describing maturity-challenged adults who can’t deal with reality and so try to change it (see: Jack), not to mention ”The Tinker Bell Effect,” which according to Wikipedia ”describes those things that exist only because people believe in them” — things like ”a rule of law” (see: Horace Goodspeed, ”We have a rule of law!”) and ”deities” (See: Jacob)
- Confronted with the revelation that she had just killed her own son, Eloise agreed to help Jack destroy the timeline in hopes of rectifying her mistake. Interesting: She told Jack and Kate she was 17 years old when she escorted time-traveling Faraday at gunpoint to the Jughead drop zone back in 1954. That would make her 40 years old in 1977. So I’m going to say that Boy Daniel Faraday was alive back in the year of Adult Daniel Faraday’s death on the Island. Moreover, remember the 9-year-old Faraday playing the piano in last week’s episode? I’m going to say that that moment happened right after the Dharma-times events depicted in the last few episodes. In my recap of ”The Variable,” I wondered why Ellie entered the room in tears. Perhaps that scene represented the first time she had seen young Faraday since killing older Faraday; and perhaps her tears were an indication that her attempt at eradicating her mistake by helping Jack blow up Jughead had failed. We shall see next week.
- ageless enigma that is Richard Alpert. For starters, we saw him building a ”ship in a bottle,” a type of mechanical puzzle known as ”an impossible bottle.” The moment will surely feed the well-heeled theory that Alpert is either a descendant of the Black Rock castaways, if not a miraculously death-challenged survivor of the slave ship’s crew. (Or one of the imprisoned human cargo.) Or perhaps it’s merely a metaphor for himself: something ancient, trapped inside the timeless bottle that is the Island. FUN FACT! ”Ship In A Bottle” is a famous Star Trek: The Next Generation episode from its sixth season in which an unreal Holodeck character — Professor Moriarty, enemy to Sherlock Holmes — takes over the Enterprise and conspires to find a way to exist in the real world. ALSO SEE: Doc Jensen’s first Lost theory, The Evil Aaron Hypothesis, which put forth that a powerful, disembodied supernatural agency had taken control of the Island and has been conspiring to bring about his or her physical incarnation.
- Locke took the former Others power couple out to the drug plane so they could bear witness to a miracle: The sight of time-traveling Locke stumbling out of the jungle, wounded from Ethan’s gunshot. New (But Improved?) Resurrected Locke instructed Alpert to tend to Old Wounded Time-Traveling Locke and pass along his compass and some crucial instructions, like the whole thing about needing to die to save his castaway friends, and in this way one of the trippy mystery moments from the season’s fragmented first episode was rounded out and given context. Ironic: ”Follow The Leader” gave us one arc in which Jack in the past schemes to produce paradox, and also gives us another arc in which John hustles to prevent paradox from occurring. (Specifically, Locke was trying to avoid what is known as a ”bootstrap paradox,” involving the acquisition and replacement of objects and the receiving and imparting of information from future to past to future again. You can investigate at your leisure over at Wikipedia.)
- What have I overlooked? A lot. I didn’t talk about Pierre Chang and Miles. I didn’t talk about the evacuation of the Island. I didn’t talk about the LOL funny history quiz administered to Hurley. I didn’t talk about why Dharma wants to drill into the electromagnetic anomaly at the Swan site. I didn’t discuss further the oddly quiet year for Sun and what it might have to do with the time travel novel entitled The Year of The Quiet Sun. And I didn’t discuss Alpert’s claim that he watched all the time traveling castaways die right before his eyes back in 1977 — a claim that I suspect is either totally bogus or doesn’t really tell the whole truth. But please, feel free to discuss these things for me in the boards below — and come back next Wednesday for very special year-end editions of Doc Jensen and ”Totally Lost.” (13-17 from Doc Jensen)
- In fact, if you really want to follow me down the Whackadoo Well, consider the possibility that Jacob is fictional just like Dr. Moriarty. The precedents of zombies like Christian and Yemi suggest that Jacob is someone deceased. But what if the Island’s ghostly patriarch is really the product of so many people believing in his existence? Maybe the Jacob avatar popped out of the Island’s magic box like Hurley’s imaginary friend Dave did
- Many, myself included, have been struck by the seemingly circular origins of Jacob’s influence on the Others. When Locke first invokes Jacob’s name back in 1954, it’s not entirely clear that anyone, including Richard, gets the reference. It’s possible that Locke unwittingly planted the seeds of Jacob’s legend himself. Like Richard’s compass, therefore, Jacob may originally be one big ontological paradox birthed by the time loop we’ve witnessed.
- I think the foregoing possibility has occurred to Locke, as well. John doubts that Ben has ever spoken with Jacob because he suspects Jacob is a hoax perpetrated by Ben to control the Others. That’s why Locke is so adamant about taking the Others to see their leader. When John says he plans to kill Jacob, I think he expects to reveal the latter as a lie. What Locke forgets is that the Island is a place where even fiction can sometimes become reality.
- Before closing, let me follow up briefly on my suggestion from last week that our Losties will cause the Incident by trying to prevent it. I’m increasingly convinced that the Island is itself the threat of human extinction predicted by the Valenzetti Equation. The DHARMA scientists are supposed to cause some cataclysmic — perhaps even extinction level — event by drilling into the Island’s pocket of exotic energy at the Swan site.
- Our Losties will change what’s supposed to happen by substituting the less cataclysmic Incident in lieu of our total annhilation. But they will succeed mainly in delaying the inevitable, resulting in the button protocol, which will again threaten to destroy the world. Desmond will avert this threat by activating the Fail-Safe, but as I mentioned last week, I think Bram and Ilana’s presence on the Island has already restarted the countdown to Armageddon.
All of this is building to the realization that the Island was never supposed to be on Earth. It crashed here long ago, whether from the future or the stars, disrupting the course of human destiny. No matter how many times someone saves the world, the change will only be temporary. As long as the Island remains on Earth, people will keep exploiting its miraculous properties, pushing us back on track for extinction. (18-22 from Eye M Sick)