So, we're three episodes in to the penultimate season of "Lost." Where are we? When are we? Who's who and what's what? I don't have a freakin' clue from minute to minute, but I'm loving the ride.
Tonight's seg, "Jughead" -- written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Paul Zbyszewski and helmed by Rod Holcomb -- was deceptively slow-paced, at least that's what you think until you see it all the way through. There's lots to digest, but I want to start by focusing on someone who's been bugging me for a while: Juliet.
She knows more than she's telling about a lot of things. I don't mean to suggest that she's got ulterior or evil motives, or that she was anything less than committed to helping the former castaways (Jack, Kate, Sun et al) or Sawyer and the rest of the small group she's stuck with now. I think Jack had it right back in season three when he told her that he could see in her eyes how desperately she wants off that island.
But there's still something beguiling about her, so wonderfully and maddeningly mysterious about her, and that's a testament to Elizabeth Mitchell's talent in handling this tough role. You get the feeling that Juliet hasn't told anyone one-tenth of the horrors she saw in New Otherton and other locales on the island. Maybe it's all just too painful and she's blocking it all out.
But Juliet continues to have these moments where she dribbles out a little more information about her past -- like the scene in this seg where she starts conversing in Latin with the two guys they've captured from Richard Alpert's group. The quizzical look of disdain that Sawyer gives her when she matter of factly explains that the guys speak Latin "for the same reason I do -- because they're Others."
I also get the sense that she has a deeper sense of the island's history and perhaps more of an inkling about all of the Charles Widmore business than she is letting on, perhaps because she was so close, if unwillingly, to Ben. And remember, Juliet was involved in some Ben-ordered stuff that was not exactly Amnesty International-approved. She was involved in dealing with Walt when he was being held by Ben, and she was involved in the psychological campaign to drive Jack nutty when he was held captive by Ben in season three, even if Juliet did turn on Ben in the end.
I can see a confrontation coming between Juliet and Sawyer where Sawyer demands some answers in plain-English, as explicitly as she can without any of her deliberately vague semantics. While there's some genuine affection between her and Sawyer -- they're the last of the survivors other than Locke, who's not exactly in the same head space -- Sawyer's also more than a little freaked out right now.
He's gotta be having childhood trauma flashbacks -- in addition to everything else. Juliet seems to know this by calling him "James" and trying to exert a calming, mothering influence on him when he gets worked up. I think Sawyer wants to be able to trust her implicitly, but when these little weirdnesses keep coming up, he pulls back again in frustration. And in frustration, Sawyer is always very quotable.
"I hate to bust up the 'I'm an Other, you're an Other' reunion,'" Sawyer says snidely to Locke and Juliet as they figure out how to save Faraday from the clutches of the tiny-but-tough British femme from Richard Alpert's camp who goes by "Ellie."
Now, as for the plot-advancement in "Jughead," well let it be said that I always LOVE a good Des episode, and this was one of those. He looked like a handsome ex-soccer player or retired rock star with the shades, blazer and two-day stubble when he made his stealth mission to Oxford. That was all very creepy - at one point when he was talking to the clerk at Oxford who'd never heard of Daniel Faraday, I wondered if we hadn't tripped back to the mid-1980s -- it was just something about the look of that scene. And we know, from Faraday himself, that the rules don't apply to Desmond.
I shouldn't have been surprised to learn, as we did in the opening of this seg, that Desmond and Penny have a wee one -- after all what else are they doing with their time on the boat as they hide from civilization and Widmore Industries (or so they think).
Waiting until the end of the episode to let us know that the tow-headed tyke's name is "Charlie" was genius on the writers' part. Another sock in the gut. You just know it isn't a tribute to his grandfather. And BTW, where are Desmond and Penny getting all of these great wool sweaters? The one Charlie wears in the early scene as the boat approaches the "island I left a long time ago," as Des tantalizingly puts it, is really fantastic. Maybe Des and Pen could open an online mail order business -- Warm Wooly Sweaters My Brotha.com
Anyway, where Des and Penny are concerned, we get to see some marital strife between them after they're no longer long lost lovers. We learn that they have an adorable son and Desmond learns a little bit about Daniel Faraday's past (notice that his name is Far A Day, as in, he can travel far in a day?) with the girl, Theresa Peters, who seems to be in a semi-coma with her mind bouncing around different time zones, and that he was connected with Widmore as a science patron at the very least.
We learn that one of the stops on the island's time traveling is 1954, when a band of ....whatevers (would they really have been called Others back then, as Juliet suggested? Who would've been around to dub them Others?). Led by he of the never-fading eyeliner, Richard Alpert took out a group of 18 U.S. military personnel who came to the island to test out the Army's H-bomb. (Bikini Atoll, anyone?)
We got a glimpse of the big clearing on the island that would one day be New Otheron (with its spooky trademark musical passage that always signals big doings in Otherton), but in a much earlier state with only a few palm trees. I'm guessing the tents that Richard's people were using were brought there by the Army guys, and I'm guessing those were the same tents, much more weather-beaten, that Others were using decades later when Michael came upon them during his search for Walt.
And just as Richard Alpert promised Locke in the previous episode, Richard did not recognize Locke (or did he?) when confronted by him. So Alpert knew enough to inform Locke that their paths would cross again in the distant past, and that Richard wouldn't recognize him. I don't know -- I kinda got the sense in that scene in the tent between Richard and Locke that Richard was play-acting a bit, that he wasn't really as confused as he was putting on but maybe testing his prospective Leader. I'd believe that the rules don't apply (unlike eye makeup) to Richard.
One thing that I realized only after repeated viewing of this seg is that Locke is such a single-minded nutball that he doesn't share with Juliet and Sawyer the info that he learned from Richard in the previous episode, that Jack, Kate, Sun et al did not die in the helicopter or in the freighter explosion. Could be that it just slipped his mind, but knowing him he's saving it for a time when he needs a big club or bit of leverage over Sawyer.
As for the mystery ailment that is making Charlotte keel over with nose bleeds, I only care in that its clearly important to the overall mythos. Kinda funny in this seg we get the picture of Faraday as a real ladies' man, between Theresa and Charlotte, who I still don't like much. But I don't wish her ill, either.
I have another idea about a Faraday-Widmore connection. I'm going out on a limb, and because of that I know it's probably dead wrong but...I'm thinking that Ellie is the spooky white-haired Mrs. Hawking, who we believe is Faraday's mother. Look at the facial characteristics. Ellie, played convincingly by guest star Alexandra Krosney, is tough and tight-lipped, with curly hair and a mean-ass stare.
In Faraday's scenes when he's at the end of Ellie's gun, he's jumpy but not panicked -- probably because he's sure that she won't actually shoot him because that would mess up the future, and that's a no-no, as Faraday explained in episode one. But there was that bit of dialogue between them when Ellie barks at Faraday for looking at her too much and he responds that "you look so much like someone I used to know." Or will know in the future. I think he's talking about mom, though by this time we're led to believe it's Theresa.
And I'm going to suggest another theory: That Ellie and Charles Widmore are brother and sister, or something like that. This popped into my head in that scene where Widmore is explaining his capture and escape to Richard, and then Charles whips around and says "Shut up, Ellie" when the tiny terror starts giving him grief. The way he just spat out "shut up" -- it's not the way you would talk to your wife or significant other, and it's not the way you'd talk to a fellow true believer in a weirdo cult in the jungle. But it is the kind of quick smack an older brother would give his obnoxious sister.
Now cut to the great scene where Desmond busts into Widmore's office and demands Faraday's mother's whereabouts. Widmore has them at his fingertips, and he tells Des that she "is a very private person." Sounds like he knows her pretty well, no?
Oh boy, there's so much more to ponder. Let's go to the bullets to wrap up.
**What's the statute of limitations on being one of Locke's "people?" Because Widmore apparently is one of them. Locke has the chance to shoot young Widmore, before he knows who he is, but can't, out of his obligation to his grimy (sometimes) followers.
**Loved Des' description to bonnie prince Charlie of Scotland being the best part of Great Britain. "Mountains, glens, monsters" and "d-lochs" is what it sounded like to me. I ran it back twice but just couldn't quite make it out for sure.
**Since the 1950s Alpert followers pulled bow-and-arrows on Charlotte, Faraday and Miles, it seems clear that they're the ones who unleashed the flaming arrows in the first episode (or was it the second?). Which means that the whole ambush sequence took place in 1954. One thing you can say about Army fatigues, they never date, even when they're stolen off of soldiers that weren't exactly ready to give them up yet.
**Just in a pathetic attempt to for some kind of chronology. I'm thinking that Richard and his band of followers are the people that the Dharma Initiative considered to be the Hostiles, right?
**"Well, at least you're honest." I'm thinking that the guy who finds Des in Faraday's sealed up basement lab is more than just a janitor at the university.
**The 10-year time frame referenced for Widmore funding Faraday's experiments is interesting, as is the unspecified (I think) length of time that Theresa Peters has been incapacitated by something stemming from Faraday's experiments. Maybe he was trying to send her brain back to the Cavern Club in Liverpool circa 1961. Love me dooooo....
**And what's all the business about Faraday running off to"the States" (maybe Los Angeles -- maybe Caltech?), as Theresa's sister Abigail tells a very surprised Des. Faraday certainly doesn't sound like a Brit, does he?
**"We're so dead" -- words you don't want to hear from Miles Straume.
**"Their leader's some sodding old man" -- the cocky young Charles Widmore has a lot to learn about Locke.
** Pondering Richard Alpert. Locke: "How old is he?" Juliet: "Old."
**Jughead -- he's an ominous looking fella, ain't he? Wonder if he has three more companions on the island -- Betty, Veronica and Archie?
**All this time Penny and Des think they've been hiding from her dad, but in fact he's been letting them hide because he wants to protect her from the Wrath of Ben. "You're getting yourself involved in something that goes back many, many years. It has nothing to do with you or my daughter." That might be the nicest thing Widmore has ever said to our dear Des.
**"Jacob sent me."
**What story was Penny telling Charlie as Des walked onto the boat? Or was she just kinda vamping?
**Locke has a slight advance warning on when the time-travel flashes are coming, as he proved by jumping up in the great scene with Richard in the tent.
**May 30, 1956, Tustin, Calif. What got in the water?