Getting Lost (Redux): Lockdown

“Getting Lost (Redux)” has jumped way ahead, to the 17th episode of the second season, “Lockdown.” Why the big jump? To combine the two most compelling threads of Season Two: the mystery of the hatch and the identity of Henry Gale. Along with the introduction of the tail-section survivors, these two threads represented the crux of Season Two.

As I said yesterday, the hatch was the main cliffhanger at the end of Season One, and the first few episodes of Season Two deal directly with it: We meet Desmond, find out one use of The Numbers, and learn why the button must be pushed every 108 minutes. Jack and Locke have an intense confrontation over whether or not to push the button, but then Desmond disappears and the button becomes a kind of white noise for most of the season. It’s always there to be pushed, but most of the middle of the season deals with the integration of the tail survivors.

“Lockdown,” though, brings the mysteries of the hatch back into focus, with a little help from “Henry Gale.” This episode picks up right after the infamous “Got any milk?” scene, which basically won Michael Emerson a job as a regular on the show. Growing newly suspicious of Gale and the map he allegedly drew to his hot air balloon, Jack heads back to the beach to find Sayid and Ana Lucia, leaving Locke and Gale back in the hatch.

While alone, though, the blast doors spontaneously shut, locking Locke and Gale in the living area of the hatch, and sealing off the computer room. Locke, as the character who most believes in the power of the button, has a panic at the thought of not getting to the button, and he enlists Gale’s help to try and pry open the doors. While trying to get under the doors, though, they shut on Locke’s legs, pinning him to the ground. With time running down, Locke tells Gale to go through the vents into the computer room, enter the code, and push the button. The clock apparently hits zero as the lights go out and blacklights go on, illuminating a map on the blast doors. After a few seconds, though, the lights go back on and the doors go up. Gale claims to have pressed the button—a claim he will retract in the next episode—and done nothing to get the doors to open.

Gale’s credibility is hurt, though, when Sayid, Ana Lucia, and Charlie return from their hunt for Gale’s balloon. They found Gale’s balloon, and the grave, but Sayid, still in badass mode, wasn’t convinced. He dug up the grave—only to find the real Henry Gale, outing this Gale as an impostor.

The two mysteries thus intersect: Who is this man who pretended to be Henry Gale? What is his agenda? How trustworthy is he? And if he can’t be trusted, do we know if he pushed the button? If he didn’t, then is the button of any value at all? What was that map on the blast door?

All of this, of course, triggers the onset of doubt that consumes Locke by the end of Season Two. To drive this point home, Locke’s legs—the same legs that the Island brought back—are crushed by the blast doors, which leaves Locke in crutches until the season finale. Meanwhile, the episode’s flashbacks revolve around Locke and his dad (shocking!). His dad has faked his death in order to fool the victims of his latest con, and he needs Locke to pick up the money from the bank. Locke agrees, and in the process lies to Helen, at which point she turns down his proposal and dumps him. It’s a rather good example of how a story, even with a character as central as Locke and an actor as good as Terry O’Quinn, gets old by the fourth time. It’s tweaked slightly to mirror the specifics of the episode, namely Locke’s new trials, but in the end it’s another episode about Locke’s father issues.

Another thing about “Lockdown” that feels tired is the pissing contest between Jack and Sawyer. After Jack goes to the beach, he finds Sawyer, Hurley, and Kate playing poker. Despite all the shit going down, Jack thinks it’s a good time to play a few hands, and he ends up getting Sawyer to put up all the medicine he has hoarded. I’m not sure if this was the first time Jack and Sawyer had one of their contests—Hurley’s claim that “Jack and Sawyer are finally going to fight” indicates that it is—but watching it now, it feels like well-worn territory. It mainly feels like they needed to distract Jack while Locke was in trouble.

Overall, though, “Lockdown” marks the point of Season Two that really set up the final stretch of episodes. That final stretch is usually when Lost is at its best, when it’s not stalling, but rather bringing the themes of the season to a head.

Most of the big questions raised by “Lockdown” have now been answered: We know that “Henry Gale” was really Ben, the leader of the Others. We know that the map was made by Radzinsky and Kelvin, to map out the Island while they were pressing the button. We know that the button protected the electromagnetism that brought Oceanic 815 down.

One thing that still bothers me about the Henry Gale storyline, though (and I, like, most people, did enjoy most of those episodes), is a Big Question that was never really answered: Why was Ben captured in the first place? He claims later in Season Two that he was trying to get Locke and bring him back to the Others’ camp. In retrospect, though, this just seems like one of the many ways Ben was trying to mess with Locke, who he always saw as a threat to his position as leader. We also know that the list of people the Others would capture at the end of Season Two did not include Locke.

Here is one ad hoc theory, based on what we know right now: Ben disguised himself as Henry Gale so he could wander into the survivors’ camp unsuspected and, eventually, receive treatment for his spinal tumor from Jack without giving up the existence and location of the Others. On his way, though, he got caught in one of Rousseau’s traps, and was immediately brought under suspicion. As a result, the Others launched a backup plan, which would come to be how Michael ended up killing Ana Lucia and Libby, setting Ben free, and leading Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Hurley to the Others. The fact that Jack already didn’t trust Ben necessitated the psychological mindgames that Season Three would begin with.

Are there holes in this theory? Probably, but coming up with these ad hoc theories is part of what watching Lost inspires. Maybe the theory will see some revisions tomorrow, when look at the Season Two finale, “Live Together, Die Alone.”

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by james Schneider on May 16, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Season 2, up to “the other 48 days” and from episode 16 to the end are the best parts of the show. I feel a responsibility to reiterate that, since your son anti-season 2.


    • Posted by Tim on May 16, 2010 at 1:48 PM

      James is totally right. The best part of “Lost” was definitely Michael going all Tom Jane on us: “I just want my son back!”


  2. […] Lockdown: Locke and Ben are trapped in the hatch […]


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