Gentlemen, as pleasant as last night's character developments were, I must begin with the giant mythology download we got in those final 10 minutes. My eyes are still strained from squinting at the lighthouse list of 360 names—a desperate attempt to catch clues. Luckily, fans take screenshots. Here's what we know:
- No. 51 belongs to Austen, and the name isn't crossed out. Does that mean Kate's a candidate, even though she's isn't one of the Numbers?
- For all of Ben's whining about how Jacob never loved him, he was once a candidate. Linus is crossed out at No.117.
- Either Michael or Walt also made the list. Next to No. 124 is the last name Dawson. Unclear which Dawson, though.
- Faraday lives on at No. 101. (But he's crossed out.) I suppose this could also refer to his mother, who may have taken on "Hawking" later in life.
- So does Rousseau. She's crossed out at No. 20. Her French partner Montand (the guy who lost an arm) is at 102.
- And Juliet is immortalized at position 58. The name Burke is crossed out.
- Boone or Shannon was in the running for a bit. Rutherford is No. 32.
- Lewis is at slot 104. Unclear whether this refers to Charlotte Lewis or to one of her parents, since they were also on the island as part of the Dharma Initiative.
- Jacob asked Hurley to turn the mirror to 108 degrees. (One hundred and eight is the sum of all the original numbers, and the amount of time between button-presses in the hatch.) Next to No. 108 is a last name we haven't heard before: Wallace. If someone really is coming to the island, maybe it's yet another new character.
Also, the mirror reflected three different images: the pagoda-looking place where Jin and Sun get married and where Jacob touches them; the church where Jacob touches Sawyer as a child; and Jack's childhood home. But Jacob touches Jack at the hospital—not at his house. So why would the mirror show the house, rather than the hospital? Perhaps Jack was so stubborn Jacob needed to touch him twice.
Relatedly, since it seems like Jacob didn't mind having the mirror destroyed, could it be that Wallace (108) was coming to help Smokey? And one last stray thought on the lighthouse: Does it have something to do with the lamppost from last season? Remember that Ms. Hawking guides Jack, et al., to the island from the Lamppost—a church basement—and I wonder if it's somehow tied to a luminary sibling on the island.
As for my thoughts on last night's episode, Hurley took the words right out of my mouth. "This is cool, dude. Very old school. You and me, trekking through the jungle, on our way to do something that we don't quite understand. Good times." We discovered new parts of the island, got an off-island story line that told us more about a character we don't know that well (alterna-Jack), and heard a good number of empty death threats. As Hurley suggests, this was old-school Lost. And yet, Jack, you say you didn't like last night's traipse. I'll try and put this more diplomatically than our commenters would: Your distaste for an episode so reminiscent of Season 1 suggests that something has soured over the years. Is it you or the show? Are you no longer willing to suspend disbelief? Or do you think the show's tropes worked at first but feel tired six years later? If it's you that's changed, Jack, there's still time for redemption. That's one message Lost has kept constant.
Even though it was Jack's episode, I thought last night belonged to Hurley. The producers, it would seem, are turning Hurley into the Greek chorus of the show—a reflection of what the audience is thinking. It's like we elected Hurley as our union representative, and then sent him to the island to stick up for us. (NBC's Community, a charming little quirk of a show, is also trying the character-as-audience-reflection trick. A character named Abed points out the show's pop-cultural allusions as they happen.)
I suppose we should talk about Jack, too. Seth, you wonder who little Shephard's mother might be. You suggest it's someone he met in the '70s, but that's not possible because the kid is still in high school, putting his birth year somewhere in the late '80s or early '90s. My first instinct is to think it's Sarah, Jack's ex-wife. I'm not sure this is the case, however, and not just because the actress who plays her is now on ABC's Modern Family. Jack and Sarah meet because he has to "fix" her after she comes into the E.R. But she ends up in the E.R. only because Shannon's dad crashes into her car. But if Shannon's timeline is different enough for her to stay in Australia, maybe it's because her dad never has an accident.
So who could it be instead? Lost TV Club Theory No. 6: Juliet. Fertility doctor + spinal surgeon = piano prodigy. This could work. Also, we've already seen that Juliet and Jack are attracted to each other but can't keep their eyes from wandering, which could lead to divorce. And it sets up a wonderful subplot for later this season, when Jack gets to meet Sawyer as the new man in Juliet and David's life. Atom bombs are no match for love triangles.
Beyond the whole fatherhood thing, it's hard to keep track of what's different about Jack's life and what's the same. His relationship with his mother seems far better than it was in Season 1, and it looks like he conquered his substance abuse problem. Yet Jack's dad still found a way to sire Claire and give Jack an I-don't-have-what-it-takes complex. It appears more and more likely that some things are fated, while others are not. Jacob's crew keeps telling us that "everybody has a choice," but the show suggests over and over that sometimes it doesn't matter what these characters choose. The show's universe will course correct whenever necessary.
One thing that's apparently fated: Jack's appendectomy. The scar Jack can't remember receiving is a shout-out to the appendectomy Juliet gives him in Season 4. This week's SlateV segment explores the very topic, including certain chronological inconsistencies. It's the biggest proof yet that the island timeline is leaving its mark on the off-island alternative.