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Friday, July 10, 2009

LOST Rewatch: S1E18 "Numbers" and S1E19 "Deus Ex Machina"

Here are some of my thoughts after rewatching episodes 18 and 19 of the first season of LOST, as part of my contribution to The LOST Rewatch (see my previous rewatch posts). When I get a chance, I'll post my rewatch commentaries in the podcast feed as well.

Season 1 Episode 18 - "Numbers"

Hurley notices the number sequence "4 8 15 16 23 42" written over and over again on Danielle Rousseau's papers. He has a flashback to winning the lottery with those numbers. Throughout the episode, there are lots of individual occurrences of these numbers, so I won't attempt to chronicle all of them here. There are lots of things that happen in Hurley's flashbacks that indicate to him that the Numbers are cursed. I like the juxtaposition of the very serious and grim episode "...In Translation" right before this very humorous Hurley-centric episode.

Hurley finds out from his accountant that he is "the majority shareholder for a box company in Tustin." Guess who worked at a box company in Tustin? John Locke. Hurley's former boss from Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack, Randy, would later work at the box company as John's insolent boss.

We find out that Hurley got the Numbers from Leonard Simms, a patient at Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute, where Hurley used to live. After Hurley begins to believe that the Numbers are cursed, he goes to tell Lenny that he used the Numbers to win the lottery, and Lenny freaks out. He tells Hurley, "You've opened the box. ... It doesn't stop. ... You've got to get away from it or it won't stop," and says that he got the numbers from Sam Toomey in Kalgoorlie, Australia. Hurley visits Sam Toomey's house (which is the reason why Hurley was in Australia prior to Flight 815). Sam's wife Martha explains that Sam and Leonard "were stationed at a listening post monitoring long wave transmissions out of the Pacific" and one night they heard "a voice repeating those numbers over and over again." Perhaps this was the same voice that Danielle and her team heard being transmitted from the radio tower on the Island. Sam used the numbers to win $50,000 at the local fair, and on the way home Sam and Martha got into a car accident that caused Martha to lose part of her leg. After that, "Anything terrible that happened to anyone around us, he believed it was all because he used those numbers." Martha tells Hurley that Sam committed suicide to get away from the Numbers. Interestingly, his chosen method of suicide ("He put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger") is identical to that of Kelvin's hatch mate Stuart Radzinsky, who also had a connection with the Numbers, having to type them every 108 minutes into The Swan's computer. Perhaps Radzinsky also felt cursed by the Numbers, or perhaps he simply went crazy from being cooped up in the hatch for so long. Martha Toomey tells Hurley that the numbers aren't cursed, and that "You make your own luck, Mr. Reyes."

I wonder why Hurley takes so many life-threatening risks on the Island in this episode. Is it because he believes that the curse of the Numbers will keep him safe, or because he's testing Sam's wife's theory that you make your own luck?

John recruits Claire to help him build something out of wood, but he doesn't tell her what it is. I wondered in my commentary for "Raised By Another" why Claire would later become friends with Locke after having seen him in a frightening dream. At least part of the answer is that Claire lost her memory, and she's still getting it back "Bits and pieces here and there. Nothing that makes any real sense." She most likely doesn't remember her nightmare.

Danielle Rousseau rigged her lair with explosives in anticipation of the return of Sayid or another one of his fellow crash survivors. Beforehand she moved all of her belongings to some undisclosed location. When Hurley finally locates "the French chick," he demands that she explain the Numbers. Danielle responds, "Our ship picked up a transmission: a voice repeating those numbers. We changed course to investigate. After we shipwrecked, my team continued to search for the transmission source. It was weeks before we found the radio tower... up by the Black Rock. Some of us continued to search for the meaning of those numbers while we waited for rescue. But then the sickness came. When my team was gone, I went back up to the tower and changed the transmission." Hurley asks about the Numbers' power and says that they're cursed. She replies, "The numbers are what brought me here. As it appears, they brought you. Since that time, I've lost everything, everyone I cared about. So yes, I suppose you're right. They are cursed." Hurley is overjoyed that someone finally agrees with him, and embraces Danielle in a big hug. It's been over 16 years since anyone has hugged Danielle, so Hurley's hug must be quite a surprise to her. Shortly after that, Hurley comes back with a battery which presumably Danielle gave to him; earlier in the episode, Hurley had used the battery as an excuse to go find Danielle, since Michael had been looking for a power source for a distress call for the raft.

John Locke finally shows Claire what she has been helping him build. It's a crib for her baby. I find it a bit humorous that Claire didn't figure out what it was sooner considering that she was right there the whole time it was being built. Claire reveals to John that it's her birthday, and she hadn't told anyone because she didn't think it mattered, but John warmly says "Happy birthday, Claire" after showing her the cradle.

Charlie approaches Hurley on the beach and they have a conversation about Hurley's bad luck. Charlie doesn't think it was Hurley's luck that led to the plane crash, and he tells Hurley about his heroin addiction and rhetorically asks Hurley whether he thinks that was his fault, too. Charlie then asks Hurley to reciprocate and tell his biggest secret since Charlie has just revealed his own. Hurley says "Okay. Back home I'm worth 156 million dollars." Charlie doesn't believe him and storms off, shouting "I bare my soul, and all I get is bloody jokes"—a classic moment.

The episode ends on a mysterious note, as we see a shot of the partially unearthed hatch door, and the camera zooms in to reveal "4 8 15 16 23 42" engraved on the side. Hurley later sees these numbers on the hatch in the season finale, "Exodus, Part 2", and repeatedly shouts "The Numbers are bad!" while trying to prevent Locke from blowing open the hatch door. In the Season 5 episode "Some Like It Hoth", when Hurley is stuck in the 1970s, he sees a DHARMA Initiative worker engraving the Numbers into the hatch door as The Swan is being built. The worker refers to the Numbers as "the serial number that goes on the hatch lid." Hurley explains to Miles how he knows about The Swan: "...they're building our hatch. The one that crashed our plane."

Season 1 Episode 19 - "Deus Ex Machina"

The episode begins with a flashback to when John Locke has some hair and is working in a toy store. He shows a kid the game Mouse Trap, which he says he used to play with his brother. This game would later appear in the recreation room at The Others' barracks in the Season 3 episode "Left Behind". In the toy store, John sees a woman watching him. He walks over to her to ask if she needs help, and she says she's looking for footballs, so Locke tells her "Aisle 8 for regulation, aisle 15 for Nerf." We find out later in the episode that the woman is his biological mother, Emily Locke, whom John has apparently never met. She claims he doesn't have a father and that he was "immaculately conceived." As an aside, the Immaculate Conception is the Catholic doctrine that the Virgin Mary was conceived free from all sin, and is unrelated to the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, which seems to be the doctrine that Emily Locke meant to reference.

Locke's plan to break the glass on the hatch door using a trebuchet fails. This makes him angry and he yells "This was supposed to work!" Boone notices that a large metal fragment of the trebuchet is embedded deep in Locke's leg, which doesn't cause Locke any pain. John discovers that he's lost the feeling in both of his legs. This may have been caused by his wavering faith in the Island.

In a flashback, a private investigator tells John that there's a 99% certainty that the woman claiming to be Emily Locke is really his mother, based on a hair sample DNA analysis. Before handing over the red folder containing information on John's father, Anthony Cooper, the private investigator warns John, "I've done this enough times to know this stuff isn't meant to be, even though it may feel that way. But this probably won't have a happy ending." John takes the folder anyway and meets Anthony Cooper for the first time, who invites him to go hunting.

On the Island, Locke has a lucid dream in which he sees a Beechcraft airplane crashing on the Island, a bloodied Boone repeating "Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs," and his own mother standing in the jungle. After awakening from his dream, Locke wakes up Boone and convinces him that the dream is a sign by mentioning Theresa. Boone later tells Locke that she was his nanny when he was six, and she broke her neck falling down the stairs in their house. Locke's vision of a bleeding Boone and the story about Theresa falling and receiving a (presumably) fatal injury foreshadow Boone's own demise.

On the way to where Locke saw the plane crash in his dream, Locke and Boone find the body of a Nigerian man with gold teeth dressed like a priest and toting a gun. We now know that this is Goldie, who had been a drug smuggler along with Mr. Eko. Goldie was directly responsible for Yemi being on the Beechcraft plane and Eko getting left behind in Nigeria, which saved Eko's life and led to him falsely assume the role of a priest in Yemi's stead.

John begins to have difficulty walking. Eventually they see the plane, a yellow Beechcraft just as John had envisioned it. It's up high on a cliff, lodged in some branches. Because of the condition of his legs, Locke tells Boone, "You're going to have to climb up there for us and find out [what's inside it]." Boone nods in compliance and takes off toward the cliff. Inside he finds Virgin Mary heroin statues and a two-way radio embedded in the console. He fires up the radio and it still works, so he sends out an SOS. He hears a man's voice reply, "We're the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815!" In the Season 2 episode "The Other 48 Days" we find out that the person who responded to Boone was Bernard, although the actor who plays Bernard had not been cast yet when this episode was filmed, hence the voices don't match.

The plane begins creaking and suddenly falls with Boone still inside, leaving him badly injured. Locke somehow musters enough strength to carry Boone back to camp and bring him to Jack. As Jack prepares to operate, Locke sneaks away without any warning.

In a flashback, we find out that John's dad conned him into giving up his kidney. Emily Locke shows up in the hospital and apologizes to John, saying it was all Anthony's idea and that she went along with the plan for the money he promised to give her. It turns out that the private investigator was right; there wasn't a happy ending to Locke's reunion with his father. Little did the viewers know that there was more to this tragic story that would be revealed later in the series, including John being pushed out an 8th-story window by his father. Anthony Cooper didn't have much of a happy ending, either; he was strangled to death by Sawyer in the Season 3 episode "The Brig".

Interestingly, Anthony Cooper's driveway security guard is named Eddie, which is the same name as another character seen in Locke's flashbacks in the Season 3 episode "Further Instructions".

Locke pounds on the hatch in frustration, much like he pounded on the inside of his car after learning that his parents had conned him. Suddenly, the hatch light turns on, and that's the shocking end of the episode. John later related to Desmond in the Season 2 finale, "Live Together, Die Alone", that he originally thought that the light emanating from the hatch was a sign, "But it wasn't a sign. Probably just you going to the bathroom."

The title of this episode, "Deus Ex Machina", is a Latin phrase that literally means "god from the machine." The term is used to denote a sudden unexpected occurrence that saves the day. What was this episode's deus ex machina? The episode title seems to have reference to the light that came on in the hatch. Prior to that moment, nobody had any idea what was inside the hatch, so this event was a shock to both Locke and the viewer. Locke viewed it as a sign that he was on the right track, that he had pleased the Island and was fulfilling his destiny, thus turning John from his feelings of despair and intense frustration to feelings of wonder and elation.

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Blogger Tohdom said...

"Perhaps this was Danielle's voice being transmitted from the radio tower on the Island"

it is not her. She also came to the island when she heard the radio transmission.

Friday, July 10, 2009 8:49:00 AM  
Blogger Josh Long said...

You're absolutely right, Toh. What a big "duh" moment on my part. For what it's worth, I write these commentaries late at night, so I can always use the excuse that I was overly tired when I wrote it.

Anyway, I've fixed this mistake in the article. Thank you for pointing that out!

Friday, July 10, 2009 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Jacob lived in the statue, then the Cave must be the home of MIL. In order for MIL to recruit, he has to entice them. Sawyer wants nothing more than to leave the island, Claire wants to find her baby, and his new recruit will be Jin, he wants to find Sun. I have a strong feeling that Claire will be the one to kill MIL when she finds out that Jack is her brother and that MIL is going to kill him and her friends. So, who infected Sayid?
I believe that Sayid is infected by Jacob. Jacob has access to the temple and MIL does not and MIL had no contact with Sayid.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 9:50:00 AM  

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