The survivors left behind on the island start jumping through time at random, which endangers their lives. Meanwhile, Locke gets some dire instructions from a higher power, and each member of the Oceanic 6 encounters complications that jolt them out of their everyday lives.

Written by Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse
Directed by Stephen Williams

Flashback/Forward

A very familiar scenario unfolds — someone wakes up out of bed and puts music on to play — revealing for the first time ever, a real scene featuring Pierre Chang, aka Dr. Marvin Candle. It’s a flashback to the early days of the Dharma Initiative. Chang goes to “work” on the island, recording another Dharma station initiation video, this one for the Arrow (the bunker-like station the Talies used as a refuge in Season 2). He reveals that the Arrow’s purpose is to gather intelligence on the Hostiles, aka the Others. But before he can finish his video, he’s called to the construction site of the Orchid, where a worker shows him a sonar image of the frozen donkey wheel, which lies behind a wall of rock. Chang orders the men to stop digging into the rock, because the Orchid is being built atop a source of “limitless energy,” and they could unleash it accidentally.

As he exits the Orchid station, Daniel Farraday passes by, looking not a day older or younger than we know him now.

Off the Island

Jack and Ben steal Locke’s body from the morgue, and soon, they’re in a hotel room where Jack cleans himself up and shaves off that horrendous beard. Later, Ben catches a news report on TV claiming that Hurley broke out of the mental hospital, and now he’s a murder suspect (referring to the man Sayid killed who was watching Hurley from outside the hospital). The newscaster says that the murdered man was identified as a doctor who worked at the mental hospital.

Kate is visited by the law firm of Agostini & Norton, who are there with a court order to get blood samples from her and Aaron, to determine their relationship. They refuse to tell her who their client is, so she won’t cooperate. Before they can return with the sheriff, she snatches Aaron and hits the road.

Sun is traveling (on Oceanic Airlines, naturally) when she’s pulled into an airport side room by security, and… lo and behold, it’s Charles Widmore, come to scold her for their very recent public meeting, and ask what their “common interests” are. She tells him in no uncertain terms: they both want to kill Benjamin Linus.

After a quick stop at a drive-in diner, Sayid and Hurley arrive at Sayid’s safehouse, located in an apartment building. Two men are waiting for them there, and Sayid kills them both, but not before he’s hit with a pair of darts, which knock him out. Hurley picks up one of the men’s guns from the ground and is photographed by a bystander, who believes he killed one of the attackers. Hurley grabs Sayid and runs.

On the Island

When the island moves, Locke finds himself alone instead of in the company of the Others. Daniel, still on his raft, was moved with the island, being “inside the radius.” Rose and Bernard panic, revealing that the survivor’s camp is gone. Daniel turns up and explains that it isn’t gone, it simply hasn’t been built yet. He wants to visit a manmade landmark, so he asks Juliet and Sawyer to take him to the Swan station — the same one that Locke and Desmond blew up at the end of Season Two by not pushing the infamous button.

Sawyer demands an explanation from Daniel, who likens the island to a spinning record on a turntable that’s started skipping. He says that either the island is dislodged in time, or they are. Meanwhile, Locke watches Yemi’s yellow beechcraft crash on the island, near the Question Mark station. Yes, it’s the same tiny yellow airplane carrying Virgin Mary statues filled with heroin  that he and Boone discovered in Season One. When he tries climbing the cliff face to investigate (a questionable decision on his part, considering what happened to the last person who climbed that cliff), he’s shot in the leg by… Ethan Rom — the very first Other we ever met, who infiltrated the survivor’s crash site before abducting pregnant Claire. He tries to explain to Ethan who he is, but Ethan doesn’t believe him, and makes to fire a kill shot this time, just before the sky flashes and the island jumps through time once again.

Daniel, Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, and Charlotte feel the time jump right before they arrive at the Swan hatch, which has been destroyed. Miles mentions that it took Widmore “twenty years to find the island the first time,” so there’s not much worry that he’s coming for them at the moment. Daniel explains the nature of time travel: time is like a street. You can move forward or backward on it, but you can’t create a new street. (Whenever Daniel talks about the nature of time travel or the scientific aspects of the island, you can assume that this is the writers’ way of establishing rules.) He tells Sawyer that his journal contains everything he’s ever learned about time, and about the Dharma Initiative. They can’t stop the time jumping, but it’s hinted that there is at least one someone who can.

Locke, still suffering from a bleeding leg, finds the beechcraft is on the ground now (which jibes with the same timeframe as the Swan hatch being destroyed). Richard Alpert finds him and helps mend his bleeding leg by removing the bullet. Unlike Ethan earlier, Richard knows everything that’s going on, that the island is jumping through time and that Locke is too. He gives Locke a compass that Locke is to give back to Richard later (at a point in time long before they ever met), to prove he is who he says he is. Before the next flash comes, he tells Locke that the only way to save the island is to convince the Oceanic 6 to return. And to do that, Locke will have to die.

The island flashes again, and now the plane is back up atop the cliff. Sawyer and the others find that the Swan hatch is now intact. They’ve moved backward in time again, and Sawyer sets off for the back entrance to the Swan station, to reach the man they know inhabited the station at this point in time: Desmond Hume. But Daniel warns him repeatedly not to bother, that he and Desmond never met in the past, and that can’t be changed. After watching Charlotte’s nose bleed — in a manner similar to the Freighter Folk who went mad and died — Dan breaks off from the others, who head back to the beach, to retrieve his pack.

With a quick read of something inside his journal that we can’t see (“if anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant,” perhaps?), Dan knocks on the Swan station’s door, where Desmond appears in full gas mask regalia. Desmond of course doesn’t know Daniel yet, but Dan tells him he is uniquely and miraculously special, that the rules don’t apply to him. He asks Desmond, after the helicopter takes him from the island, to go to Oxford and find his mother. Desmond is the only one who can do this, but before Daniel’s able to reveal his mother’s name, a time flash occurs and he disappears from Desmond’s sight.

Desmond wakes up in the present, on a yacht with Penny, which looks to be anchored somewhere off the coast of Greece. The two are married now, based on the wedding bands they both wear. Desmond immediately realizes his dream was in fact a memory, and he pulls up stakes to take the boat to Oxford.

  • The Arrow station’s purpose was to develop defensive strategies and gather intelligence on the Others, which the Dharma Initiative referred to as “the Hostiles.”
    Question: What is the purpose of the Arrow station? [2.04]
  • Daniel’s raft was “inside the radius” of the island-moving phenomenon, so they moved along with it.
    Question: What’s become of Daniel and the people he was ferrying on the zodiac raft? [4.14]
  • Daniel has come to the island to study space/time, and the Dharma Initiative’s experiments regarding it.
    Question: What is Daniel’s mission on the island? [4.02]
  • The question refers to a Dharma recruit come to replace whoever was manning the Swan station.
    Question: What’s the meaning of the question, “Are you him?” [2.02]
  • Benjamin Linus.
    Question: Who is the second person that Sun blames for Jin’s death? [4.12]
  • Yes, Sun wants to see Ben dead, and believed she could reach out to Ben’s archenemy for help in making it happen. Her appeal seems to have worked, as she and Widmore have apparently forged a tentative alliance.
    Question: What are the “common interests” Sun has with Charles Widmore? Did her comment about others who’d left the island besides the Oceanic 6 implicate a common enemy between them in Ben? [4.14]
  • The island appears to have move not only through space but through time as well. Although it’s possible the island moved through space while the people living on it are moving through time. (We never really get a definitive answer on that.) In any event, it’s probably safe to say that the island has relocated to a different, yet every bit as remote, position in the South Pacific.
    Question: The island has successfully been moved. Where did it go? [4.14]
  • His body has been embalmed and dressed in preparation for burial, so it seems safe to conclude that he is indeed dead.
    Question: Is Locke really dead? [4.14]

  • How did Daniel wind up in the 1970s as part of the Dharma Initiative?
  • Chang selected the site of the Orchid station, based on his knowledge of the pocket of “unlimited power” beneath the site. How did he know ahead of time where to build the Orchid?
  • Did Chang recognize the wooden wheel buried beneath the Orchid station? Does he know what it is, and who put it there?
  • Who is Agostini & Norton’s client that’s trying to separate Kate from Aaron?
  • When did Sayid stop working for Ben, and why?
  • Who were the men waiting at Sayid’s hotel room, intent on killing him and Hurley? Who did they work for?
  • Why are the Oceanic survivors, the Freighter Folk, and Juliet affected by the time jumps, yet the Others are not?
  • How did Richard know where to find Locke, near the Pearl station?
  • How did Richard know so much about Locke jumping through time, including how to help him?
  • Why must the Oceanic 6 return for the island to be saved?
  • Why must Locke die to convince the Oceanic 6 to return?
  • Does Charles Widmore own Oceanic Airlines?
  • Why is Charlotte’s nose bleeding in response to the time jumps?
  • Who is Daniel Faraday’s mother?
  • Why does Daniel believe his mother can help him and his friends stop jumping through time?

If there’s one thing that was hammered home repeatedly in this episode, it’s that the past cannot be changed. There is no way to alter the course of history, even though Chang said that he was having the Orchid station built where it was so they could possibly manipulate time. If time can’t be altered, then what’s the point of manipulating it?

Speaking of Chang, did you notice how dark a character he was? He had a real “dictator” vibe going on, and made everyone around him uncomfortable. He clearly had some measure of authority over the Dharma Initiative, and the fact that he selected the site of the Orchid because of its unique properties means that he knows a great deal more about the island’s true nature than possibly anyone we’ve met so far, except Jacob and maybe Richard Alpert. The fact that he didn’t need a script to describe the Arrow station, and the revelation that he specified where the Orchid was to be built, tells me that his knowledge of both the island and Dharma are extensive. Was he the architect of the Dharma Initiative’s work on the island?

I also can’t help wondering if Chang’s baby is significant. Is the child someone we’ve met before, all grown up now in the present?

Chang recognized the Frozen Donkey Wheel immediately when he saw it in the sonar image. He also alluded to the resulting effect of unleashing the energy housed within what we’ll call the “wheel well,” for lack of a better phrase. Is this what Ben did? Unleash this location’s “limitless energy”? Is that why the island is moving in space and time?

Daniel’s appearance at the Orchid back in Pierre Chang’s day is, I imagine, something we’re going to see play out in future episodes. The survivors are jumping through time, and it’s reasonable to assume that they could at some point end up back in the 70s, when the Dharma Initiative was still around (mostly because this would facilitate the writers’ desire to unveil the secrets of Dharma). I would propose that before the season is out, we’re going to come full circle on this Pierre Chang scene and find Daniel infiltrating the Dharma Initiative after he and the others have time-jumped there.

A major question on my mind is why the survivors are affected by the time jumps, yet the Others are not? Desmond, according to Daniel, is special when it comes to time travel, and the rules do not apply to him. (Does this mean Desmond could break the unbreakable rule of time travel, and somehow change history?) If these rules are immutable, then the fact that Daniel was able to reach out to Desmond in the past means that, unlike a past meeting between Des and Sawyer that never happened and can’t happen now, Des and Miles really did meet in the past and were always meant to.

Why is it that the rules of time and space don’t apply to Desmond? Is it because he’s already traveled through time twice before that we know of (in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” and “The Constant”)? Is it because Desmond was at ground zero when the Swan station’s uber-magnet went kaplooie, giving him some kind of special place in the space/time continuum? Or is there another reason?

Who is Agostini & Norton’s mysterious client, who wants blood samples from Kate and Aaron? Widmore comes immediately to mind, but I think it’s more likely to be Ben, in a bid to motivate Kate to return to the island.

Did you notice that it was raining in the jungle when Locke emerged from the first time flash, all alone at the Others’ refuge… yet offshore on the raft and on the coast with Sawyer and Juliet, it was sunny with blue skies? Rain is always a portent of doom, and almost always accompanies an appearance of the smoke monster. So what was its meaning in this scene, where Locke alone got wet?

Locke’s fall from the face of the cliff was eerily similar to the much bigger fall he took years earlier at the hands of his father, that paralyzed him. He landed on his back both times.

Richard Alpert remains a major mystery, and he seemed to operate independently of all the time jumping. If he’s some kind of time traveler, it would explain why he’s always the same age, even as far back as the time of Locke’s birth. He knew that another flash was coming while he’s talking to Locke, yet he also knows Locke will travel to a time when Richard didn’t know him yet. Strange.

Also of great interest is the fact that Richard told Locke he would have to die in order to convince the O6 to come back. If Locke’s death was intentionally planned out from the two of them, from this far back, then that can only mean one thing: Locke’s not really dead in the future. My guess is he’s taken some kind of sedative that renders him so comatose or catatonic that it simulates death. (Though that theory runs into problems when one considers that Locke’s “body” was dressed and prepared by the folks at the funeral home, and that typically that includes doing things to dead bodies that would be difficult, if not impossible — not to mention messy — to undo).

Did you catch that the Oceanic Airlines people worked for Charles Widmore, and did whatever he told them to? Does that mean Widmore owns Oceanic? Wow, if so. Even if not, there can be no doubt that he is an incredibly powerful man.

I’m curious to find out when and why Sayid came to his senses and stopped working for Ben. Hopefully that will be revealed at some point this season.

Who is trying to kill Sayid and Hurley? The best and most obvious answer for the men waiting at Sayid’s safehouse is Widmore. After three years of offing Widmore’s operatives, Widmore was bound to have figured out Sayid was responsible, and goes for retribution. The fly in this logic ointment is Hurley, who Widmore has no known beef with. Hmm. Compounding the mystery is the fact that Sayid clearly knows who these men are that are after him and Hurley, and probably why. Double hmm.

At one point in the episode, Daniel Faraday says, “Whatever happened, happened.” This just happens to be the title of Season 5’s eleventh episode.

My first thought when Dan told Desmond he needed to find his mother: Holy crap, Ms. Hawking is Desmond’s mother! Do you think it could be? It’s certainly plausible. Whoever she is, she knows a heck of a lot about both time travel and the island — both things that Dan knows a lot about, too.