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Lost: Deus Ex Machina

Locke: "She said I didn't have a father, that I was immaculately conceived."
Cooper: "I guess that makes me God."

Wow. We didn't get into the hatch, we didn't find out about Locke's paralysis, and they left us with a major cliffhanger. But it was still an awesome episode.

Seeing Locke so lost (pun intended) was a huge contrast to his previous serenity. His mother was schizophrenic; I started to wonder about his mental state. What if his paralysis was psychosomatic? That would explain why he was healed by the crash, why he started losing feeling in his legs when he believed he was losing touch with Island, and why he still had no trouble carrying the injured Boone back to camp.

There were so many religious references and Locke/Jesus comparisons in this episode that I lost count. The immaculate conception, of course; his mother told him he was very special and part of a design, a sign of things to come. At one point, Locke and Daddy Cooper were out shooting doves. A rosary, followed by a fake Nigerian priest, fell out of a tree. Locke made a terrible, physical sacrifice deliberately when he gave his kidney to his father. And in the final flashback in the car, Locke was crying and screaming, "God!" when he was terribly upset with his father.

And that wasn't all. This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was the Madonna statues stuffed with heroin, certainly symbolic of Locke's natural parents: cheap, artificial, and full of evil. They were users, pun intended, in the most extreme sense of the word. Locke's dream was also chock full of symbolism. Locke saw Boone with the blood and the Theresa, he saw his mother pointing at the sky (at the plane or at God?) and himself back in his wheelchair. What does it mean? God will put Locke back in a wheelchair because of Boone?

Locke must have been one of those kids who made up wonderful stories about the father he never knew. And then his father was suddenly there and Locke was living out his fantasies, palling around and going hunting with Daddy. It felt suspicious immediately, but as soon as I saw the dialysis machine, I knew Cooper was planning to scam a kidney out of John. It was hard to understand how Cooper could just drop John like that; what would it have cost him to continue being friendly with Locke after the operation, especially since he knew how much it meant to Locke? I mean, what if he needed some other organ later on?

Terry O'Quinn, as always, transcended the material as well as the ill-fitting rug they inflicted upon him. The final scenes at the gate and in the car, with blood from his busted stitches still on his back, were particularly moving.

Boone went up the tree, Boone went down the tree. Is he going to die? And what did he hear on the radio? It was hard to tell, but the close captioning said, "There were no survivors of flight 815." (Note from season three: turns out it was "We're the survivors of flight 815.")

The B plot about Sawyer and the glasses was just lovely. The mismatched lenses made Sawyer even cuter and more sympathetic, and Jack's attempt to protect Kate by getting Sawyer to admit he'd had a venereal disease made Jack more human, and less perfect. It's characterization and writing like this, even in the smaller subplots, that makes this show so good. (Hey! Jack made Sawyer "look bad." Yet another pun.)

The hatch light went on. Somebody must be home.

Character bits:

Locke's father's name is Anthony Cooper, and his mother is Emily Annabeth Locke. According to her driver's license, Emily lived in Los Angeles and was born in 1940. Locke also had a brother.

The flashbacks took place more than ten years ago, when Locke was working at a toy store. (Mommy's driver's license expired in 1994 and her admission records had a 1992 date on them.)

We didn't see Locke's accident, but the writers faked us out several times: when Locke got hit by the car in the toy store parking lot, after the operation when he woke up alone in the hospital bed, and those final scenes in the VW deathtrap.

Boone was wearing his number shirt again. Is his number up? (I'm going overboard with the puns today.) They were the Chinese/Japanese numbers eight, ten, and four, meaning 84, and Hurley's numbers were 4 8 15 16 23 42. So if we stood Boone on his head (or let him fall out of a plane), would the numbers on his shirt be 4 - 8?

Boone's nanny Theresa fell down the stairs and died when Boone was six. Boone thought it was his fault because he kept making her go up and down the stairs. Locke's sister Jeannie fell off the monkey bars and died when Locke was young. Similar deaths. Isn't there a saint named Theresa?

Sawyer is farsighted. (I wonder if that has a double meaning?) Sawyer's uncle died from a brain tumor.

Locke's favorite game as a child was Mousetrap. I could go into the deeper meaning of Mousetrap, but then you'd all pack up and go home.

Bits and pieces:

— Finally, somebody shaving! Mystery solved. It's almost like they were listening to the fans. Now, someone tell me why Kate doesn't brush her hair.

— There is now a possibly working plane, with a possibly working radio.

— And there's a whole lot of heroin. Let's hope Charlie develops some serious willpower, because if the heroin is still viable, it could be very helpful. Just think about what pain management would have meant for the marshal.

— Why was the map of Nigeria and the Sahara in English? And why those maps? Those drug runners were really "lost."

— Michael and Jin were still working on the raft. Michael talked about how the fire made the second attempt easier, not so much trial and error, but then he said, "Now it's just... trial."

— Emily asked Locke about footballs, right before she started treating him like one. And he told her they were in aisles 8 and 15. Those numbers again.

— There was a "lost dog" flyer on Locke's car in the toy store parking lot. These writers have a sense of humor.

— "Deus ex machina" is a Latin phrase literally meaning, "God from the machine." In literature, it usually means a plot device that comes out of nowhere and resolves everything. When it comes right down to it, the Island itself is pretty much all Deus ex Machina, all the time.

— Interestingly enough, I saw "Deus" misspelled a couple of places as "Deux ex machina." "Deux" is French for the number two. I wondered if it was deliberate. So I went to the official ABC Lost site hoping to resolve the conflict, and son of a gun, they listed the title as "Dues ex machina." Idiots.


Boone: "I don't get you, man. One minute you're quoting Nietzsche, now all of a sudden, you're an engineer. I don't think I can spell 'trebuchet'."
Locke: "There's a T on the end."

Hurley: "Dude, looks like someone steamrolled Harry Potter."

Kate: "You're going to Jack."
Sawyer: "Do I get a lollipop?"

Excellent. Four out of four polar bears,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. The writers on this show have some serious Daddy issues. With the exception of Jin’s, we have yet to see one that is worth anything at all. But Anthony? He takes the prize. What he did is so awful that I have a hard time wrapping my head around how anyone could do that to a total stranger, let alone one’s son. If, indeed, our team is in some sort of afterlife (which I continue to hope and believe they are not), then I hope Anthony’s is full of fire and brimstone.

    But, amid all the pain of Locke’s story was the fantastic sub-plot of the triangle and the glasses. It made me laugh out loud more than once.

    Interestingly, William Golding has often been criticized for using a Deus ex Machina at the end of Lord of the Flies. Not to spoil the ending for anyone who has yet to read the book, I disagree. There were a myriad of ways to end the story; Golding chose one.

  2. I've got a real pet peeve about the Immaculate Conception thing.

    Mary, mother of Jesus, was the Immaculate Conception. She was born without original sin. That's all it means--she didn't inherit the "dirtiness" of Adam and Eve like the rest of us sinners. (Think of Angel seasons three and four: a miraculous birth to make another miraculous birth possible.)

    Jesus's miraculous birth is the Annunciation or the virgin birth.

    It's such a common mistake that I'm sure the writers didn't realize they should double check. But I wish someone would take all the writers in Hollywood, shake them by the lapels of their brown corduroy blazers, and tell them to spend 25 seconds on Wikipedia. Also, poor Boone.

  3. I know I mentioned in the Pilot episode comments that I am doing a rewatch with my 14 year old son - who is watching for the first time. Is Lost a good show? Well, its been a battle to get my kid to always do his homework. Since we started watching the show, every night is the same, homework is done as soon as he gets home, he wanders into the family room and just arches an eyebrow at me, Spock like, the intent very clear: “Can we watch a few more?” The only bad thing is that at the rate we’re flying through these I won’t have the show as motivation by the time school starts back up in the fall. So in summary, if a 20 year old show can get a 14 year old to do his homework every night so he can be rewarded with a couple more episodes, I’d say yes, Lost is a great show indeed.

    As for the episode…man, I had forgotten about Cooper! What an absolute horrible human being. And that security guard— implicit in all of it despite feeling guilty about it was even worse. Do we see him again? I must have blocked this story thread out of my memory.

    My son asked why Sawyer would need mismatched glasses so I got to share that my first pair (this year) are the same way. Eyes just don’t age at the same speed I guess.


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