Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have mastered the pacing on this show. After every key mythology episode (see The Constant or last week’s The Shape of Things to Come) they’ll slow things down a spell and allow the characters to grow a little before offering up the next brain melting info dump.
The Jack-centric Something Nice Back Home serves as a good bridge between last week’s game-shaping episode and the final stretch to the season finale that begins with next week’s Jacob/Locke piece, Cabin Fever that leads into the three part season finale – There’s No Place Like Home. In addition, this episode answered a few lingering questions and set the table for things to come.
One last thing before I hit the standard bullet points. I found this episode (like this season) was drenched in melancholia. Leaving that island may have been the very worst thing the Oceanic 6 could have done. Their lives are either in complete disarray (Hurley), duress (Sayid) or in the process of unraveling (Jack). Could this be the island’s long arms reaching out to influence and making them rethink their decisions? You know when Jack is pleading “We Have to Go Back!!!”, he’s hit rock bottom.
On with the show…
1. Early in the episode, Jack is reading a passage from Alice in Wonderland to Aaron. Once again, the Lost creators tip their cap to Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of alternate realities. Thus far, we have had episodes titled White Rabbit and last season’s finale Through the Looking Glass where we discovered another station dubbed The Looking Glass which is where all of our teleportation theories sprung from. The key part of this passage was Jack’s last words before tucking Aaron in for the night – “… Was I the same when I got up this morning?… If I’m not the same, the next question is, who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
2. That leads in to Jack’s later meeting with Hurley (another passage that underscored the sadness) where Hurley proclaimed that they were all dead. Now, we know that’s not true (the purgatory theories were shot down long ago) but perhaps they are better off dead or perhaps they are so tied to the island that the real world is dead to them now. They don’t quite fit in anymore. Hurley is obvioulsy basing his feeling off of his constant visitations by Charlie (as he hauntingly declared that Charlie visits him on the hospital grounds). Receiving a daily visit by death is bound to drive anyone nuts. As Hurley informed Jack, “Someone is going to be visiting you soon.”
3. If ghost Charlie was the key to Hurley’s unraveling (Jack outright described him as ‘crazy’) then Jack’s phantom Dad has led him directly to the bottle and the pills (and to that ledge). It’s interesting that they are all haunted by dead friends/loved ones. I wonder if Kate, Jin and Sayid will have similar experiences although by whom I’m not sure. Or maybe the island is just doing it to those it needs most – those that weren’t supposed to flee the island. By episode’s end, the paranoia and sadness we saw infecting Jack in last season’s finale is really starting to take root.
4. Which brings me to chronology. Last season’s finale marks the absolute last flash forward in the timeline and we know based on this episode that Kate’s trial has already taken place, putting this flashback somewhere in the middle. At one point, Jack refers to a newspaper box score (Sox vs Yanks) where the Yanks complete a sweep of the Sox. Taking a look at recent Sox-Yanks series, this would/could have occurred last summer, placing this flashforward in 2007 (meaning the Jack flash forward from the season finale could have occurred relatively close to our present time). As we know that they get off the island in early 2005 – that places them on the mainland for the better part of two years – long enough for Jack to get back to his practice, Kate to go through her trial and Hurley to go nuts.
5. I echo Jack’s comments about A-Rod but I probably would have added an “f’n” in there.
6. Oh, almost forgot, that message that Charlie passed on – “You aren’t supposed to raise him, Jack.” I see two interpretations here. The obvious is he is not supposed to raise Aaron, which nicely echoes that warning the psychic gave Claire way back in Season 1 when he inferred that she should not give the baby up for adoption becuase only she was meant to raise him. Then there is the left-field interpretation. What if the message means to ‘raise the dead’ as in Jack raising the ghost of his Dad, Christian? Just tossing that out there, although I’m inclined to think Hurley’s guesstimate is probably correct although why is still up for grabs.
7. Did anyone catch the early comment Sawyer made to Claire? “Are you still seeing things?” Apparently, a scene was shot for The Shape of Things to Come where Claire had a vision after her house was blown apart. The scene was cut for time but the dialogue was left in this episode to serve as foreshadowing for her future visitation by Christian. More on that in a moment.
8. Miles is not just a ghost buster but a ghost whisperer as well – as that creepy little interlude proved that Danielle and Carl were dead and buried (although Keamy and his pals did a pretty piss poor job of burying them). Anyway, proof positive that Miles can commune with the spirit world. Then, later in the episode he spied Christian appear to Claire and sees her walk off with him. I wonder if he knew that Claire waltzed off with a ghost. Either way he wasn’t doing anything about it because he has that nagging restraining order to contend with.
9. I have to say that the more this show continues, the more I like Sawyer. I particularly dig his big brother protection of Claire. He’s come a long way from the loudmouth redneck that fought Sayid on the beach during the pilot episode.
10. So I think we now know why Kate ends up with Aaron (assuming she does not return by the season finale). Man, this chick is a magnet for abduction. The question is, where did Christian lead her to (Jacob’s cabin???)
11. We also get a pretty clear picture of why Jin is not with Sun on the mainland. He obviously sacrifices his rescue to insure she makes it off the island. Which makes me believe even more than before that his grave is ‘symbolic’. If she can never return to the island and be reunited with Jin, then to the world, he is dead.
12. I have a feeling that Bernard and Juliet aren’t long for this world. It was that line of dialogue where Rose reminded Bernard that the island heals people and speculated that Jack was made ill by the island at just the particular moment for a reason. Jack’s not meant to leave. Meaning Juliet and Bernard’s intervention (removing his appendix) may have implications for their safety – that is if this island is a vengeful God.
Next week, the Locke-centric ‘Cabin Fever.’