Ready for a shocking death that will change everything you know about the Lost universe? Me too! Unfortunately, it doesn't happen in this episode. I know, bummer. What we get instead is the ignominious death of a character no one ever really liked, a victim not only of her own shortcomings as a character but a vicious attack on her screen time by those selfish Tailies.
Let's get into the action!
4) In Short
"Can I plie-ze have some money, Stepmother Dearest?"
8) On the Island
Some blonde woman we've never seen before is pouring water for Vincent. Oh wait, that's Shannon. I, like the show, forgot all about her until now. Sayid pops in to take her on another surprise date. Because, you know, things went so well the last time this happened. Smooth move, Sayid. Turns out he's built her a little shanty away from shanty. Their little nookie fest gets interrupted by Sayid's gun rubbing up against Shannon's pelvis. "I only carry it because I have someone to protect." OK, dude, shoot ME.
Deep in the jungle, Ana Lucia's plum lost without Eko by her side. She and Sawyer have a quit spat, broken up by the arrival of Michael, Jin, and Eko. Mr. Eko says they have to leave right away, having seen the Others in the jungle. Libby wants to know if he saw the kids. There's general panic, and Ana Lucia announces they are moving out right away.
Back in the Shanty of Seduction, Shannon leaves to get some water. Sayid points out that ABC will let only one of them leave the tent topless, so he goes off. While gone, who should crash the lovefest but Walt, once again dripping wet and speaking in tongues (or more accurately, backwards).
Sayid's skeptical about Shannon's vision, same as before. Her raving gets the attention of Charlie and Claire. Charlie scolds Claire for taking the baby and running directly towards the danger, and while he's a jerk about it, he's pretty much right about that. Shannon's furious that Sayid won't believe her.
Libby tends to Sawyer's wound, stating that while she's not a doctor, she is a clinical psychologist. She tells Sawyer his wound will heal just fine, but the look she gives afterwards betrays a bigger fear. As the walk progresses, Eko realizes that walking along the shore is no long possible, and that cutting inland might be wiser. Ana Lucia sees through this, correctly surmising that the shore is a safer but longer route. The jungle path is dictated by Sawyer's wound.
Back on the beach, Rose is folding laundry and hanging some to dry. Turns out she doesn't like the hatch, and prefers to do her laundry the way Sayid likes to walk around in this episode: au natural. Shannon comes by and asks where Michael and Walt's stuff still resides. She rummages through Walt's clothes, gives Vincent the scent, and the two are scurrying through the jungle as Shannon repeatedly cries, "Find Walt!" Unfortunately, Vincent leads her instead to Boone's grave.
Locke helps Claire calm Aaron down. Apparently Claire's like Seth Rogan in Knocked Up: she didn't read the baby books, at least the part about swaddling. Locke imparts the wisdom that babies like the feeling of constriction, and states only later do people develop the need to be free. (Loaded statement, discussed below.) Turnip Head has this look of, "Finally, someone who's not a complete tool is taking care of me." While the two talk, Claire casually reveals that Charlie's been walking around with a Virgin Mary statue, a statement that worries Locke.
A little later, Claire marvels that Aaron is still asleep. She offers her child to Locke, who's reticent to hold him, but eventually does. In steps Charlie, who looks at Locke the way Jennifer Aniston looks at Angelina Jolie. Charlie wants to hold Aaron so Claire can go for her walk. Awkward. Awkward. Locke scoots while Claire gives him the stink eye.
Ana Lucia and Company trudge through the jungle, with the Tailies fearful of every noise and the other three acting like The Three Stooges. Ana Lucia gets on their case, which prompts Michael once again to ask how on earth the Tailies got to be this way. Ana Lucia launches into a monologue that almost justifies every other awful moment we've had to endure with her so far:
They came the first night that we got here. They took three of us. Nothing happened for two weeks, then they came back. They took nine more. They're smart, and they're animals, and they could be anywhere at any time. Now we're moving through the jungle -- their jungle -- just so you can save your little hick friend over here. And if you think that one gun and one bullet is going to stop them -- think again. So shut your mouth and keep moving.
On the beach, Sayid tries to build bridges with Shannon at Boone's grave. But she's having none of it, taking Vincent once again to find Walt. She finally reveals to Sayid that they found the bottle from the raft. She presses on, with Sayid close behind.
Elsewhere, Charlie and Locke are playing backgammon. Locke tries to clear the air after the earlier tension. It only goes a bit downhill from there, as Charlie tries to out-moralize Locke. The conversation gets loaded, and there's a $150 ROI on tension after this little interaction.
Sawyer's fading fast in the jungle, and eventually, straight up collapses between Michael and Jin. Sawyer whispers, "I would have left you behind," as a way of seeking forgiveness. Clearly he thinks he's not long for this mortal coil. The fact that the group all rallies together around Sawyer annoys Ana Lucia to no end. Ana Lucia wants to leave Sawyer behind; Michael wants help in constructing a stretcher. Michael wins.
Unfortunately, soon after, the come across a large, steep hill. The group agonizes as they lift Sawyer's stretcher up the incline. They press on, however, surely but slowly. Everything's going great, until Ana Lucia realizes that Cindy is missing. Creepy. Then the whispers start. Even creepier. Ana Lucia yells, "Run!" and for once, I'm 100% behind her.
It's raining, which means something terrible is going to happen. Shannon needs Sayid to believe in her. She confesses that she worries that once they are off the Island, he'll simply leave her. He insists that he will never leave her, and I bang my head against something heavy a few times. After Sayid tells Shannon her loves her, the whispers kick in. Busy episode for those. Walt appears nearby, putting his finger over his mouth. Both Sayid and Shannon see him, with Shannon in hot pursuit, Sayid just behind after snapping out of his daze a bit too late to keep up.
Good thing, I suppose, or the bullet that penetrates Shannon's chest might have clipped him too. He watches her die in his arms, looks up...and sees the Tailies, with Ana Lucia's smoking gun at the forefront. Well, this will make introductions a bit more tense than usual.
15) Off the Island
We're in a ballet class, as Shannon teaches a group of young girls. She talks with a fellow teacher about a sketchy parent, when she gets a phone call about an accident. An accident we've seen before. We see the flip side of "Man of Science, Man of Faith," as Shannon and her stepmother learn of Adam's death.
At the funeral, Boone comforts Shannon. She seems delighted to see him, in stark contrast to their later interactions. One gets the impression they haven't seen each other in quite some time, given his reference to Marky Mark posters previously on her wall. (Marky Mark's biggest hit? "Good Vibrations." Hmmmmmm. Guess the person who jammed the signal in the Looking Glass is a huge Mark Wahlberg fan.) The two discuss Sabrina (Boone's mom/Shannon's stepmom), and it turns out both have complicated relationships with her. Well, now that Adam's gone, everyone has a chance to heal. Oops, never mind, this is Lost.
A little while later, Shannon learns she's received an internship at a prestigious dance company in New York City. The news is stunted by a phone call in which she learns her rent check bounced. She visits her stepmom, and she learns that she's been cut off after his death. No will, no money. Stepmommy be cold. And looks like Cindy McCain. This is freakin' me out.
Boone visits Shannon a little while later. Turns out he tried to get money on Shannon's behalf and was likewise denied. Not only that, but she further turns the screw by hiring Boone in order to keep him close by her side. Boone offers to help her once his trust fund kicks in, which sends her into a rage: she rips up the check he gave her and declares that she doesn't want his help.
16) The Mythology
So all these Walt appearances: Ms. Klugh gives us some insight into them during "3 Minutes" later in the season, when he asks Michael if he ever appeared somewhere he shouldn't be. What's unclear is why he appears at certain times, and to what end. Because it's quite frankly hard to literally view this episode as Walt long-conning Shannon into being shot by Ana Lucia.
I'll try to offer one way of looking at it that doesn't overcomplicate things too much: Walt's various appearances this season are a directly result of concurrent testing in Room 23. It's Newtonian in construction: the actions in that room produce an equal reaction elsewhere on the Island. Problem is, Walt's never really tapped into these powers before, and as such, has an intuitive but imperfect use of them.
As such, the Walt Shannon sees is not the Island playing tricks: that's really Walt. This is qualitatively different from Kate's horse, Dave, Yemi, so forth and so on, because Walt in and of himself is a special breed. Watching Walt run away after making the "Shush" sign could be a literalization of him mentally running away from the scene before the Others realize where he's gone. If you'll recall, while talking to Michael via Swan computer, he states that he doesn't have long to talk, due to the Others coming back.
As for the whispers...I'll link to the unverified transcripts of them. But the whispers in general may merit their own discussion come next week. But there's a good chance Shannon's still kicking around on the Island. I'll leave it at that for now.
23) The Moment
I don't know why Cindy just up and vanishing wigs me out so much, but there you have it.
42) In Retrospect
- Rose tells Hurley at one point, in reference to Shannon, "Poor thing, it can't be easy losing the one person you love on the island." That's some painful foreshadowing there for poor Hugo, no?
- Locke's swaddling talk: I found it both amusing and heartbreaking that Locke insists that humans mature from constriction to freedom, when the season's built around the eventual constriction of the Hatch upon Locke's psyche.
108) In Summary
Boone's death? Shocking. This one? Completely unfazing. As mentioned up top, the show had essentially forgotten all about this character, a victim of the insertion of the Tailies into the narrative. Ana Lucia shooting her is merely an actualizing of a metaphysical reality. Shannon had to die so Ana Lucia could suck. Just how it went.
I'm not as convinced as some of you about if everyone on Oceanic 815 has a legitimate purpose for being on that flight and landing on that Island. At some point, you just have to assume the show put that many survivors on the Island 1) to make it some fairly freakish that so many people survived a plane crash of that magnitude, and 2) so there were plenty of chances to off people without being down to three cast members by the end of the first dozen episodes.
That being said, it is fairly striking how many people die immediately after achieving some sort of personal epiphany. One can't help but think of Cabin Christian's last words to a certain someone in Season 4: "You can go now." Couple that in with the idea that the Island can keep you alive as much as it wants (on or off), and you have a distinct pattern emerging here in which people's mental states directly tie into their lifespan.
Now, that doesn't necessarily indicate that this has anything to do with purpose so much as circumstance. Once you get all tangled up in the Island's big ball of psychic craziness, you're pretty Pinocchio, with the Island pulling your strings. But learn to love those strings, peeps, because once you grow into a real boy, you might find yourself good and dead.
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