LOST Recap: Episode 5.06 – 316
Lost: Season Five arrived a while back and though I’ve not been sufficiently diligent in order to finish up before this coming Tuesday, I’ll be re-watching the season in anticipation of the launch of the sixth and final year of the show. I didn’t spring for the Blu-ray (I don’t have a player) or the Special Season Five Dharma Initiative Orientation Kit box set, so I’m relying solely on standard DVD. I did hear that the Blu-Ray has excellent special features, notably the Lost University Feature.
I intend to continue with the LOST Recaps until I get through Season 5 and will then do a LOST Recap for each Season Six episode in due course so as to retain order. I will, however, be posting Quick Hits reaction to the episodes as they come.
Lostpedia is the consummate source for all Lost information, but sadly they lack any concise episode summary to help with this. Rather than attempting to summarize episode plots in great detail, I’m going to simply link to Lostpedia’s summary and give my base thoughts, this time on Episode 5-06, 316. For other LOST Recaps, visit the dedicated page here.
The Sixth Episode of the Fifth Season, “316” is easily mistaken for plot filler. Yes, it largely is a confluence of events that gets us to where we need to go and sets up a handful of new questions like:
- What the heck happened to Ben and are Penny and Dez OK?
- How is Jin now on Team Dharma?
- What and who got Hugo on the plane?
- Who is that with Sayid and why is he being deported to Guam?
All valid in their own right and a topic for another day. The basic premise of the storyline is advancing getting the Oceanic Six (minus Aaron) back on the Island. We start with a typical Damon and Cuse headfake, with Jack waking up in the jungle. Except this time Hurley screams aren’t drowned out by a plane. Jack rescues Hugo and Kate from a lagoon and the trio realizes they’re back on the Island.
CLICK THROUGH TO KEEP ON KEEPING ON
Back in “real time” in LA, we see the approach to their return, largely through Jack’s eyes. We’re privy to their meeting with Eloise Hawking at the Lamp Post station. And we see them slowly but surely end up at LAX for Ajira Air Flight 316.
Ajira, in and of itself is quite interesting. As LOSTpedia notes, Ajira has several meanings:
- in Hindi, “island”;
- in Sanskrit, “a place to run or fight”;
- in Sanskrit, “the body”;
- in Sanskrit, “agile, quick and rapid”;
- in Arabic, the “afterlife”; and
- in Arabic, it is related to the Hegira, the exodus to Medina from Mecca which led to the formation fo the first Muslim community.
There are many ways one can go with this. There are the constant LOST religious undertones and several hidden meanings such as the corpus, the island and the place of a fight. The hidden meaning also turns me back to Avatar and the remarkable nature of our ignorance of the word on which the title was based. Avatāra, as I noted in my review of Avatar, is the Hindi word for the reincarnation or the crossing over on a spiritual and human plane. I doubt I was alone in automatically thinking that it was a reference to interweb “avatars.”
On Ajira Airlines we see the Oceanic Six (less one, and plus Ben, Frank Lapidus and John Locke) making their Hegira to the Island in a leap of faith… avoiding the persecution of their denial of their very experiences. And it is also an acknowledgment of their need to return to the arena of the Island as a whole… to get back into the course of their destiny.
The driving force bringing them back in is an unseen sense of duty. Each of the Oceanic Six does not quite know why they choose to and are conflicted about it. But eventually, on Flight 316, they acknowledge their need to do so. It is partially as with Ben’s reference to Thomas the Apostle, who traveled further than any of Jesus’ Apostles and brought his gospel beyond the traditional western world into lands that only Alexander the Great had crossed into before. Thomas was the doubter who denied Jesus’ resurrection until he could see it with his own two eyes and feel the reanimated flesh. On confrontation, Thomas accepted that belief.
A man of great duty, setting forth and not looking back on his mission, Doubting Thomas is much reflected in the Oceanic Six; however, there are two other figures of literature and history in references which carry meaning. Both are found among the carry-on reading of the passengers of Flight 316.
Ben is reading James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. I’m quite partial, as Joyce is my favorite author. I admit not having picked up my copy of the book in over a decade and can’t really speak on the tale of Bloom’s travels through a Dublin day… and really only the sexually charged reading of the Nausicaa chapter and the finality of Molly Bloom’s admission in Penelope still strike me. Yet the basics of the reference are apparent to me in three ways.
First, “Ulysses” is a reminder of two core elements of the show itself. The travels of Leopold Bloom are are distinct in their focus on the interconnectedness of life. “Dubliners”, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, and “Ulysses” are considered among some to be the consummate living record of Dublin as it was at the turn of the century. We’re introduced to shops long since forgotten, people who vividly existed in Joyce’s mind and a time that history has passed by. In LOST, admittedly, Cuse and Lindehoff have perhaps overextended the interconnectedness of the characters… focusing not so much on the expansive nature of the interaction with the world, but the coincidental elements of their crossing paths. Nevertheless, the principle remains there.
This distinct focus reminds of the second element: that of Joycean detail. Every color, description and word held meaning to Joyce. Unlike any prior show, LOST has attempted to adapt this obsessive detail into the difficult film genre. Granted, it is far harder to accomplish this on the telley and many of the easter eggs are really just items that are assumed by the viewers and taken to new levels without the intention of the show’s writers, but LOST comes closer to achieving a true Joycean writing style than any prior television show. That is part of what draws a Joycean audience and the obsessive fanatics who seek a deeper meaning throughout each story arc and, indeed, each frame.
The final intrigue wrought by “Ulysses” is in its true character, Odysseus of Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”. In “The Odyssey”, Odysseus is distracted and put through his own private tribulations as he attempts to return to his kingdom of Ithaca. In Virgil, Odysseus is remembered as a deceitful and cruel man, though Homer casts him a hero… first convincing Achilles to fight in Troy, then crafting the plot of the Trojan horse and then braving said tribulations en route to his beloved Penelope and Ithaca. A familiarity with Homeric epics may be necessary to truly understand the depth herein, but one is left wondering just who among the survivors is LOST’s Odysseus. Or is it a collective Odysseus, with characteristics and elements drawn from each.
While Ben reads “Ulysses”, Hugo is huddled over a spanish copy of “Y: El Ultimo Hombre”, or “Y: The Last Man”. In 2009, I dabbled in graphic novels, inspired by “The Watchmen” and its movie adaptation. At some point, I want to give a proper review to “Y: The Last Man” because it is worthy of accolades. Though not deep minded in most regards, it is a novel take on the post-apocalyptic scenario, one in which all but one man have died in an infectious epidemic that caused hemorrhagic fever and bleeding out. Yorick Brown is this last man on Earth (to his knowledge) and his pet monkey Ampersand is believed to be the only other male mammal.
In “Y”, everyone knows and is coming to accept that the world is ending. There is a significant degree of fatalism at the thought of an end to reproduction; however, Yorick, convinced by his mother and others, accepts that it is his duty to try to go about righting the situation – in this case by trekking the country with a geneticist hoping to study his immunity. Yorick has no seeming interest in being a hero, but he accepts his role and the necessity of his action.
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? (Hamlet, V.i)
For each of the Oceanic Six, there is an element of Yorick. The element of jest in the name clearly points toward a Hugo. While the leading nature of his figure draws one to a Jack. But really Yorick is really all of the Oceanic Six… and in some ways Ben and Locke too. Vaughan and Guerra, the authors of “Y”, notably cast Yorick apart and opposite his elder sister, Hero, also named after a Shakespearean character. It is Yorick who is afforded the duty which only he, and not Hero, can perform.
And for their dedication and the continuation of their odysseys, the survivors return to the island to cast their lot with destiny and in an effort to be that which they neither want, nor really chose to be. Heroes.