I’m still unpacking from Tuesday night’s data dump. The more I think about the episode, the more I like it. (A second viewing certainly didn’t hurt either.) I think my initial reaction was just pushing back from this “parallel universe” idea. (Since I’ve stayed spoiler-free, I had no idea this was coming.) However, I’m more and more intrigued by the concept of what would have happened if Oceanic had never crashed and how these characters fates would have been different. We’ve already been given a little insight into this: Hurley’s luck, Shannon’s absence on 815, no Michael or Walt sitting near Hurley, etc.
Yet, there were also plenty of parallels. Jack mending his wound in the airplane bathroom parallels his “physician, heal thyself” moment on the beach in the early part of Episode 1. Boone’s comments to Locke (“If this thing goes down, I’m sticking with you.”) are indicative of the Obi-Wan / Luke relationship the two shared on the Island. Kate’s marshall suffers the same kind of head injury in both realities. So the big question that emerges out of “LA X, Parts 1 & 2” is the same question we’ve been asking for a while now: free will or destiny? The episode seems to go out of its way to show that no matter the circumstances, Jack is destined to rush to help people and fix problems; and he seems destined to be hated for it no matter what — on the Island, by Sawyer (who blames Jack for Juliet’s death); and on the plane by Charlie (who makes the cryptic comment to Jack, “I was supposed to die.”).
But the great irony here is that Juliet is the one responsible for her death. In the S5 finale, it was her choice to jump the Dharma guy with the OJ, break out of the handcuffs and commandeer the sub back to the Island. It was also her choice to go along with Jack’s plan to detonate Jughead, albeit a choice spurned on by her assumption that Sawyer still harbors strong feelings for Kate. In the same way, it seems that Charlie is destined to die; however, Island Charlie chooses the noble death (saving his friends by dying in the Looking Glass station) afforded him by Desmond’s many rescue attempts.
So again we ask: Is Jack destined to be hated for his heroism? Or is his plight more a result of the free choices of those around him?
In this episode, Jack tries to revive Sayid after he’s “died”; Kate tells him to stop and eventually he does. I think we’re meant to recall the similar scene from Season 1, where Jack is trying desperately to revive Charlie after it appears that he’s been hung by Ethan. Jack pumps away, Kate tells him to stop, he doesn’t…and Charlie is miraculously revived. The difference here is that Jack has finally learned to let go of the things he has no control over. Don’t think that’s not important.
The big wild card here is Desmond. I think he’s the key to understanding this. Maybe he’s mastered the whole time-traveling-consciousness thing and thus he’s able to materialize on the plane for a brief moment. Since “the rules don’t apply” to Desmond, I have a feeling we’ll learn that this isn’t 2004 pre-Island Desmond. I think he’s able to shift between realities, to see in “real time” (whatever that means) the same thing Juliet saw just before she died and thought, “It worked”.This screen grab seems to indicate that Desmond is wearing a wedding ring; could it be that 2007 Desmond (who is married to Penelope and father to Charlie) is somehow interacting with this alternate world to bring about some ultimate outcome? I don’t know and the whole thing makes my head hurt. But I think I may be on to something here.
Anyway, now I’m thinking Sayid never really died at all. If he did, then Miles should’ve been able to communicate with him. But just before Sayid is “resurrected”, Miles is looking at his body with a perplexed look on his face. When Hurley asks him what’s wrong, Miles just replies, “Nothing.” Maybe Sayid was never really dead to begin with; I’m thinking we’re seeing the same thing that happened to young Ben when Kate and Sawyer took him to the Others in 1977.
Once again, I’m amazed at this show’s ability to get me to think about weighty issues. I completely forgot to mention the “afterlife” themes that run through the show: Sayid’s rumination about where he’ll go upon death; Juliet’s curtain-being-pulled-back moment prior to her passing; the ankh in the guitar case, which is the Egyptian symbol for eternal life. I’m not sure what it all means, but I’m looking forward to finding out.