On ''Lost,'' the would-be holy man, driven by dreams and visions from his life before the crash, shows Locke the truth about the Hatch
Credit: Lost: Mario Perez

”Lost”: Eko pushes Locke’s buttons

Before we begin, a word to Sprite. Sprite, ever since your merger with the Dharma Initiative, I’ve found myself less and less inclined to ”obey my thirst.” Really, Lost producers? A bald and blatant Sprite tie-in? I realize quality advertising dollars are harder and harder to come by in the age of TiVo, but…Lymon? Wasn’t that an ad campaign from the ’80s? As my friend Liz put it, ”They owe me nothing, yet I feel betrayed.”

But let’s leave aside carbonated red herrings and move along to the main course: This week’s episode, titled simply ”?” Ironically, questions are actually answered in this installment, though perhaps not to everyone’s satisfaction. For example: Q: Is Libby really dead? A: Eventually. Sawyer provides her with some pure-T Virgin Mary heroin, for a graceful end — and knowingly gives up the location of the guns to Kate in the process. Jack sees another one bite the dust on his watch. Poor Hurley cries and takes the blame. (If only he’d remembered the blankets, she’d have never gone to the Hatch!) And Michael sits quietly and nervously awaiting the end — the gal’s gotta go if his cover story about unHenry shooting up the joint is going to stick. Luckily, Libby’s not exactly verbal. She manages to fire off a ”Michael!” before kicking the bucket, but it’s misinterpreted. ”He’s okay,” Jack tells her. And with a look of extreme frustration, Libby heads for that big mental institution in the sky.

Meanwhile, Eko, prompted by dream brother Yemi, sets off to steer Locke back to the path of the righteous man — and perhaps get some of his own answers along the way. They head into the jungle, ostensibly to track the fugitive non-shooter unHenry, with Locke’s half-remembered map and Eko’s newfound inspiration. All roads lead to Boonesville, the plane-crash site where young master Carlyle fell from grace. And what does Eko do? He shimmies up that selfsame cliff, though with considerably less tragic results. (Oh, if Boone had only had a magic ax!) From his perch, he sees the fabled ? from the center of the glow map: It’s a salted stencil in the island earth, enormous and very distinct. And beneath it? What else? A hatch! ”Eko…may I?” asks Locke meekly. Of course he wants to open it. It’s a hatch! And Locke loves opening hatches.

It’s the last joy he’ll experience for a spell. As before, what Locke finds in the hatch proves infinitely complicated and frustrating. the facility is called the Pearl (of wisdom? ”of great price”? ”before swine”?), and it’s the observation station. It’s a God’s-eye view of the other stations. It’s empty, of course. God packed up and left long ago. In his absence, seven screens broadcast static, while an eighth still has a live feed of the Swan, our Lostaways’ hatch. A ninth screen, in the center, is hooked up to a video recorder. Pretty tight tech for 1980 — that’s the copyright date on the orientation film.

Oh yes, there’s an orientation film. Our friend Candle is back — only he calls himself Mark Whitman now. (Whitman…as in…Walt Whitman, perhaps? He who proudly contradicted himself and contained multitudes?) Also, he’s got two arms. But if this was recorded before ”the incident” he alludes to darkly in the Swan’s orientation reel, why is the tech more advanced here? Magnetic videotape instead of a yellowed film reel? Was Candle’s arm regrown thanks to Dharma research? Or is this just part of the mind game? (I can answer that last question: Of course.)

But the meat of the matter is this: Candle/Whitman explains that the people in the sister hatches merely believe their tasks are important. Pushing the button every 108 minutes is just an empty task, noted on a printout over and over again with time stamps and a cold ”Accepted.” (In other words, Doc Jensen’s Skinner-box theory is dead-on — or so it would seem.) This news really pushes poor Locke’s buttons. He goes to pieces. Which Eko picks up. No, no, he explains. This doesn’t mean what’s been going on in the hatch is meaningless. This means that destiny and belief are not flat facts of being but acts of will. In other words, if you choose to believe, then that which you believe is true.

Eko clearly developed this quantum theory of God over the course of his fake priesthood, which we see here in flashback. His reinvention of himself as a holy man is an act of will, after all. And his adopted piety is rewarded with a miracle. He’s stationed in Australia but on his way to L.A., perhaps to return to his old criminal habits. But he’s delayed by a reported case of divine intervention: Apparently, a young girl has drowned, then come back to life the next day — on the autopsy table! Creepshow! Her dad, it turns out, is the same psychic who advised Claire to get on Flight 815. (Ah, Claire…remember her? She might’ve been kidnapped again, for all I know.) So Eko investigates, finds no evidence of the miraculous, and gets on the next plane out. Could psychic dad have orchestrated Eko’s presence on Flight 815 as well? Who knows how well organized those Dharmites might be?

What we do know is that Psydad’s supposedly resurrected daughter turns up at the airport to give Eko a message from his dead brother Yemi: Eko’s a good man, and they’ll see each other soon. But Eko’s not the only one to be visited by a ghostly Yemi. Locke receives a vision as well, complete with wheelchair. Are the Losties experiencing overlapping subconsciouses, brought on by either psychic intervention or electromagnetic manipulation or both? (That’s another Doc Jensen theory, by the way.)

So, one question is answered. And sooo many more are raised. Where’s this ”Pala Ferry” Candle/Whitman referred to? Where did it go? (”Ferry” suggests a nearby mainland destination.) And where do those nifty pneumatic tubes lead? And why do I want a Sprite all of a sudden?

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