They’re back baby!! How immensely brilliant was 316? I’d say it’s right up there in my top three favourite Lost episodes ever… in fact top three favourite anything episodes actually!
There were literally dozens of analogies with the original Pilot of the show and dozens of the all important themes that have continued to quietly but most definitely dominate the plot throughout.
There are also as many questions and how-the-hell-did-that-happen moments, but I’ll go into more detail about that later but just in case you missed 316, here’s what happened…
The episode opened on an eye… very much like the first ‘Pilot’ episode. It’s Jack’s eye staring in shock as he wakes all suited up – as he was on the plane, the original plane – in the middle of the jungle.
He then hears Hurley screaming for help so he picks himself up and runs towards the sound of Hurley’s voice which leads him to our favourite big guy who’s nearly drowning by the waterfall – while clutching a guitar case – so ever the hero, Jack jumps in to save him.
They then see Kate who’s apparently unconscious on the side of the water. After a bit of a shake and a few “Kate! Kate!” shouts, she wakes and asks if they’re back – meaning back on the island of course – and they are! My stomach was actually knotted to know they’re back! I think I may need therapy… anyway…
Then the episode cut back to the action 46 hours earlier as the mysterious Ms Hawking takes Ben, Jack, Des and Sun to what amounts to her office/lab. As she unlocks the door, we notice there’s a Dharma logo of a Lamppost on it.
With some trepidation, they all follow Ms Hawking inside and as they’re looking around, they see tons of Dharma stuff everywhere as well as boards full of mathematical equations and a photograph of the Island labelled “U.S. Army Top Secret” and dated 9/23/54.
Jack asks Ben if he knew about this station, and he says no. Hawking however says Ben’s “probably not” telling the truth when asked by Jack about the veracity of Ben’s negative reply.
When Jack asks, “What is this place?” Hawking replies, “The Dharma Initiative called it the Lamppost.” She holds out her hands to show she’s meaning the entire lab and all the equipment in it and adds, “This, is how they found the island.”
Then came the explanation; the Lamppost was built “over a unique pocket of electromagnetic energy. That energy connects to similar pockets all over the world”. Ms Hawking continued to explain that one of those other pockets is on the Island, but, the Island is continually moving though time and is therefore nigh on impossible to find.
She tells them that many years ago, via the Foucault Pendulum, the Dharma braniacs figured out not where the Island was right then, but where it was going to be at any specific moment in time, hence the reason for her “You have 70 hours” statement to Ben last week is because one of she knows where the Island will be and the “window” to it is currently open.
She adds that the brainiacs – possibly including Valenzetti and his equations, more about that later – can pinpoint within fairly close proximity where the Island will be at a certain time; it’s always moving she told them, which is why they were never rescued… which is fair dos given it’d be tricky to rescue folks when they continually shift location.
Desmond is by now not a happy camper. He yells at Ms Hawking that she ruined his life by making him go to the Island in the first place, and that her son Daniel – though she didn’t actually say if Dan is her son or not – told Des he had to go and find her to help everyone on the island. He’s done his bit was the gist of it.
Hawking then told a furious and disbelieving Des that “The Island isn’t done you yet” but he’s done with it he tells her and he angrily leaves, advising Jack to take no notice of whatever Hawking tells him to do.
Hawking now tells the remaining three that in order to get back to the Island, all the survivors who left said Island must take a specific flight that will fly over/through their “window”, and it’s Ajira Airways flight 316 to Guam which flies directly over the predicted temporary location of the Island. In order for the whole plan to work, the survivors must recreate their original flight as much as they can.
While everybody’s digesting all this, Hawking calls Jack into her office and hands him John Locke’s suicide note. He’d hung himself apparently.
She tells Jack that Locke will take the ‘role’ of Jack’s dad, who – like John is now – was in a coffin during the original flight. She told him that he must give Locke something of Christian’s in order to make John’s role as Christian’s “proxy” work.
Jack then has a conversation with Ben in the church during which, Ben tells him the story of Jesus and Thomas the Apostle which is analogous to Locke and Jack’s relationship and situation now.
“The story goes” said Ben, “that he needed to touch Jesus’ wounds to be convinced.” Jack replied, “So was he?” and Ben answered, “Of course he was. We’re all convinced sooner or later, Jack.” And with that, and a cryptic comment about “tying up a loose end”, Ben was offski saying he’d see Jack at the airport.
We then see Jack sitting at a bar and taking a phone call which sends him rushing off to the nursing home where his grandfather – who was trying to escape – lives. After a you-have-to-stay-here chat with grandpa, Jack starts unpacking his bag and in it, he finds a pair of his own father’s shoes so hey presto, he has the things he needs to put in Locke’s coffin.
Jack goes home, looks around for some booze but then he finds Kate lying on his bed. She tearfully tells Jack that she’s decided to go back to the island too. He asks about Aaron and she tells him never to ask about Aaron again if he wants her to go with him. He’s obviously confused about why but within seconds, Kate’s got her tongue down his throat and is ripping his clothes off, so not unreasonably, he didn’t bother pressing on about the missing Aaron thing.
The next morning as the two have breakfast, Kate sees his father’s shoes, and he recounts the story of how he put old white tennis shoes on his dead father’s feet because he couldn’t see any good reason to put a decent pair of shoes on a dead man.
Ben interrupts them by calling Jack from a payphone. He’s been beaten up and doesn’t look too good at all, but he won’t go into details with Jack and simply tells him he must get Locke’s coffin from the butcher’s.
When Jack gets there, he opens Locke’s coffin and puts his dad’s shoes on John’s feet. He then places Locke’s unopened suicide note into the dead man’s suit jacket, all the while keeping up a very one sided conversation about how he’s heard all he needed to from John already and therefore hasn’t read the note.
Talking to a dead man may seem odd, but hey, this is Lost; and in fact, what’s to say John is ‘dead’ in terms that we know dead to be, because considering he’s been a goner for quite sometime now, he’s looking remarkably well.
At the airport, Jack is arranging to get Jason Bentham aka Locke through airport security to get him on the plane.
He then sees Kate, and a new character who was behind him in the line at check in offers Jack his condolences on losing his friend, which is what Jack had just been telling the check in bloke.
Sun’s also there, and she and Jack spot Sayid being escorted by a U.S. Marshall – right past a sign for Oceanic air – so I guess he’s replicating/mirroring Kate’s original boarding with a U.S. Marshall…
Hurley’s there too and has a guitar case, just like Charlie’s. He bought tickets for the spare 78 seats that were left for the flight so as not to allow any more people on the plane. He of course assumes that it’s going to crash and wants as few folks as possible to be on that plane with them.
Everyone gets ready for take off, including Ben, whose arm is in a sling and whose face is bruised and bloody. Hurley freaks out when he sees Ben, but Jack calms him down and everyone takes their seats. The guy who expressed his condolences to Jack is onboard too. The flight attendant then comes by and returns Locke’s suicide note to Jack, which she says was found in the cargo area.
Jack then asks Ben what’s going to happen to the rest of the people on the plane, to which he replies, “Who cares??” And with that, the plane takes off…
Jack then listens as the pilot makes his “Welcome aboard” speech and guess who the pilot is? Frank Lapidus! The guy who flew the helicopter to and from the doomed freighter!
He’s now clean shaven and is delighted to see Jack, until he spots the others of the Oceanic Six.
Frank then said to Jack, “Wait a second … we’re not going to Guam, are we?” which elicited a wry, sad smile from Jack.
A few hours into the flight, Ben’s calming reading a book, prompting Jack to testily ask, “How can you read??” to which Ben replies, “My mother taught me.” More about that little tidbit later…
The pair go on to talk about Locke and Jack tells Ben that the suicide note seems to be following him, and it seems like Locke really “needs” him to read it so he finally opens it and it reads, “I wish you had believed me. JL” At this point, Ben had left his seat, saying he was going to give Jack some privacy to read the note, and then the turbulence begins…
We see the Oceanic Six and the stranger ‘condolences’ passenger are the only ones in first class; Ben is nowhere to be seen. As the stewardess goes around telling everyone to fasten their seatbelts, there’s a flash of light and voila, we’re back to Jack waking up in the jungle, rescuing Hurley and bringing Kate round.
She asks, “Where’s the plane” and Jack say he doesn’t know – he just woke up in the jungle. Just as they’re all asking where the others could be, as in Sayid, Sun, Ben, a Dharma van pulls up and a man in a brown Dharma jumpsuit jumps out toting a rifle.
The three stare incredulously as they realise the van’s driver is none other than Jin who lowers the gun and smiles down at them… and there, the episode ended with me staring at my screen like a slack jawed yokel!
So, let’s get the main ‘Easter eggs’, clues and cross-references/similarities.
The Numbers: As I said, made numerous appearances in various guises so let’s take a look at how and when they appeared in this episode…
The ticking latitude- longitude in the Lamppost was full of the numbers, with all of them appearing at different points as the machine tried to find exact coordinates for the Island.
On the wall of the Lamppost, the U.S. military photo of the Island was taken on September 23, 1954. Not only does this refer to 23, one of THE Numbers, but it’s also one day shy of being exactly fifty years before Flight 815 crashed on September 22, 2004.
Ms Hawking made repeated references to the man who theorised about the Island’s movements and came up with the equations to locate the Island and although she didn’t mentioned his name, she was probably referring to Enzo Valenzetti, the man who came up with an equation which purports to predict the end of the world that involved the Numbers. Valenzetti is the subject of a book by Flight 815 passenger Gary Troup which, if you recall, Sawyer was reading the manuscript to shortly after they first crashed on the island.
Now onto Ajira Airways and Flight 316. Obviously the flight number refers to the title of the episode but it’s also what Ben cited to Jack in the church; Bible verse John 3:16.
John Locke’s suicide note referenced to several issues… First, the thing about ‘believing’ in him played into the longstanding battles between the man of science and the man of faith.
Second, it ties in with the episode title’s which also again references the Bible verse John 3:16 which states that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Maybe this is a sinister suggestion that Jack’s not believing in John will lead to an early death for the doc? I hope not!
In addition, the plane left from Gate 15.
Moving on now to the questions this episode raised…
Before leaving the church, Ben told Jack that he was visiting “an old friend” to deliver on a promise he’d made to him. Is this a reference to the promise Ben made to Charles Widmore that he would kill Widmore’s daughter Penny?
Who beat Ben up and why?
Ben told Jack during the flight that his mother had taught him to read, but in previous seasons, we’ve been told Ben’s mother died giving birth to him, so what’s that about?
How did Hurley get out of jail and how did he and Sayid know about the flight? And how come Sayid’s cuffed to a Federal Marshall?
Who is this new guy who offered his condolences to Jack then boarded the same flight?
When Jack was summoned to sort out his grandpa at the retirement home, a magic show was underway in which the magician made a white rabbit appear.
Is this a reference to the seemingly endless supply of white bunnies used by Dharma and repeatedly seen in Marvin Candle’s orientation film?
Finally, there are the similarities between Oceanic flight 815 and Ajira Airways flight 316…
Hawking said they should recreate as much of the original Flight 815 as possible, and there were several major connections between the two. One was that a passenger was escorted on board by U.S. Federal Marshall but this time, it was Sayid instead of Kate.
Sun was a Rose replication – a wife not sitting next to her husband but holding a wedding ring – and a bloke arriving right at the last minute. Jack was the man reading a letter and of course, the pilot, Frank, who just happens to be the exact same pilot who was supposed to fly Flight 815 but narrowly missed doing so.
On Flight 815, Charlie had a guitar so Hurley brought one for the new flight. Also replicating the original flight, Hurley was reading a Spanish-language comic book but this time it was ‘Y: The Last Man’.
A little side-fact is that the comic was written by Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan and the comic’s plot is about the sole survivor of a deadly plague that kills the rest of mankind. Since the polar bear in his last comic was on the Island, maybe the plague will also hit the Island! In fact, maybe it’s the ‘sickness’ that caused Rousseau to shoot Robert?
This series is just getting better and better! Next week’s episode, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, Locke’s fateful mission off the island as Jeremy Bentham is revealed and even though the Oceanic 6 are back on the Island, we’ll get to see what happened to John Locke (aka Jeremy Bentham) after he left the island and before he died.
Here’s a trailer for it…
Just in case you’ve never seen Lost and don’t have a Scooby Doo what’s going on, watch this handy Lost Untangled from ABC…