Monday, July 16, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #6: 2.17 "Lockdown"

"We did find your balloon, Henry Gale, exactly how you described it. We also found the grave you described... your wife's grave. The grave you said you dug with your own bare hands. It was all there. Your whole story, your alibi, it was true. But still I did not believe it to be true. So I dug up that grave and found that there was not a woman inside. There was a man... a man named Henry Gale." Rating: 9.6 (#7)

Brief Summary: At the end of the last episode, Henry tells Jack and Locke that he drew a map to his alleged balloon for Ana-Lucia. Jack is pissed, but since they have a day's head start there's nothing they can do. They throw Henry back in the armory and Jack heads to the beach leaving Henry alone in the Hatch with Locke.

They both become trapped when it spontaneously undergoes the lockdown procedure. Locke becomes trapped under the blast door and needs Henr to crawl through the venting system to puch the button in time. While Henry is accomplishing the task, the Blast Door Map is revealed under blacklight at the end of the lockdown. Locke thanks Henry for pushing the button in time, but Henry says he didn't do anything - the timer simply reset by itself and the Hatch went back to normal.

Meanwhile, Jack plays Sawyer in poker for his medicine stash while they wait for Sayid, Charlie, and Ana-Lucia to return from the trek to the balloon. Astonishingly, the trio does find the balloon and the grave of his wife, just like he describes. Jack beats Sawyer at poker and heads back to the Hatch in the evening, he runs into Kate (who's looking for a hot steamy shower) and they both notice a strobe light in the jungle. It turns out to be a giant parachute with a food drop of DHARMA brand rations. But before they can contemplate anything, Sayid and crew pop out of the jungle and say they need to head to the Hatch.

Henry helps Locke up and asks for his protection. Locke reluctantly agrees as Sayid and Jack barge in. Sayid confronts Henry and tells him he dug up his grave - and that he found the real Henry Gale's body inside!

Why it's a classic: "Lockdown" is one of the brightest spots of the wildly inconsistent second season, but one which reminded everyone why they fell in love with the show in the first place. It had something for everyone: Significant plot movement on multiple fronts, with new information about the Hatch and DHARMA, a terrificly funny poker subplot, complete with Jack and Sawyer eye-candy for the ladies, a great Locke-centric episode with interesting flashbacks and a neat was-that-who-I-think-it-was character connection, and a jaw-dropping, evil trombone ending.

And then, of course, there's The Map.

What will quite possibly go down as the greatest TiVo moment outside of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, the Blast Door Map was a secret love letter to the fans of the show. It contained a plethora of information, not necessarily needed by the casual viewer, but vastly helpful for those of us obsessed with trying to untangle the show's mythology.

And that moment generated so much water-cooler buzz the day after, they re-aired the episode again on Saturday night just so people could go back and tape it to get a better (high-definition) look.

The week before the episode aired, ABC breathlessly exclaimed there would be five AMAZING reveals during the episode. Now the episode was so chock full of stuff, it wasn't really an exaggeration - in fact, I can pick out at least six, seven depending on your definition of AMAZING.

So what were they?

1. Blast Door Map - Just an incredible moment in the series. Too bad no one but Locke and Desmond actually know about it. I do wonder just how much more Desmond know about DHARMA that he hasn't mentioned to the group yet?

2. The Lockdown itself - Seeing the Swan actually DO something aside from beep was incredibly cool. It was also the first suggestion that it might be something more than just a psychological experiment. Of course, Henry further plays with our (and Locke's) mind in that regard later on in the episode.

3. "Henry Gale" is a liar - I love, love, love, love, love Sayid's monologue to close out the episode (the quote at the top of this post). It's Sayid at his very best. Did you get chills when we got the evil trombone ending? I did. The only ending since then that's made me feel the same way was when Juliet and Ben were talking through his plan at the end of "One of Us." Ben endings rock.

4. Henry Gale, however, is real - Sadly, ABC gave this one away in their episode preview. But it was still pretty spectacular to see. I still want to know what happened to the real Henry Gale and I hope that we'll get his story in one of Ben, Juliet, or Richard's flashbacks.

5. The Food Drop - Talk about a WTF moment. The food drop answered several pressing questions in one fell swoop: Why the food didn't run out, how Desmond survived down there for three years, and why the Hatch went berserk. It also set up some nice Hurley angst later on, not to mention providing a further excuse for him not losing weight.

Reveal 5a could be Locke meeting Sayid's love, Nadia, in Los Angeles, and 5b could be the suggestion that Anthony Cooper was a serious con man, serious enough to be THE con man everyone's favorite nicknamer. While there were already some minor whispers going around among theorists at that point that Anthony Cooper could be the real Sawyer, this episode real stoked those fires.

And if you're kinda non-discriminating, 5c could be the super-fun Jack-Sawyer poker subplot which also revealed that 1) Jack had gotten his tattoos in Phuket. Ironically, this reveal ultimately led to ABC hyping "Stranger in a Strange Land" in much the same way as "Lockdown," only with much less AMAZING results. :)

This was also one of the first real interplays between Locke and Ben. While they're not as good as in "The Man from Tallahassee," Ben playing with Locke's mind in this episode really solidified his status in my own mind as my favorite character on the show. Here's the scene:

Locke What did you do... what did you do to end it... to make the doors go up?
Henry GaleI did what you told me to. I punched in the code and pressed the execute button, but nothing happened other than that clock flipping back. I was climbing back into the vent when the lights went out. 10 seconds later the doors went up. I didn't do anything.
Locke You think it was all just random?
Henry GaleDon't look at me, it's your hatch.

Looking back on this exchange again, it really seems like Ben's motivation here is just to create some confusion and perhaps torment Locke a bit. He had no idea what would happen if the Numbers weren't entered, that was made clear later on when the Others were surprised by the effects of the Discharge. In fact, I think it's entirely possible he himself thought it was a stupid psychological experiment given that he knew of the Pearl and probably had viewed its Orientation tape. But Ben and the Others at this point were certainly aware of how the island healed Locke and Ben was probably already jealous at this point.

Given that Ben almost certainly could have escaped during the Lockdown, I think he stayed behind to gather information, size up Locke, and toy with him a bit. However, he underestimated Sayid, not thinking he'd dig up the grave. D'oh.

Lastly, while the poker scene is also one of my favorite light-hearted subplots of the entire series. Not only did it give Jack and Sawyer some face time, but it set up an important plot point too: Jack and Sawyer's face off over the guns:

Jack 10 mangos.
Sawyer Okay, I'll call you with the aspirin and raise you with a bottle of Amoxicilin.
Jack Do you even know what Amoxicilin is?
Sawyer You may have been to Phuket, Doc, but I've been to Tallahassee. Let's just say something was burning and it wasn't from the sunshine.
Jack I'm all in.
Sawyer Well, that's the move of a man who wants me to lay it down.
Jack You're not going to lay it down.
Sawyer I'm not, huh? Why's that?
Jack Because there's a bunch of people watching us right now and you don't want them to see you lose. Again.
Sawyer Well alright, I call. What you got? Pair a 9s? You pushed in with a pair of 9's?
Jack You got me. Let's see 'em. Guess it was enough, huh?
Sawyer Son of a bitch.
Jack I'll come get the meds later.
Sawyer Hey, when I asked you what you wanted for stakes... why didn't you ask for the guns?
Jack When I need the guns, I'll get the guns.

But you know an episode is a classic when it has a hilarious subplot which doesn't even contain the funniest exchange in the episode. That honor goes to Hurley:

Jack Hurley, you seen Ana-Lucia?
Hurley She took off into the jungle with Charlie and Sayid yesterday.
Jack Yesterday. They say anything about where they were going?
Hurley Well, that would like assume that anyone actually tells me anything. Maybe if I were in the loop I could be more helpful.
Jack There is no loop, Hurley.
Claire Excuse me, Jack... um... he's been really hot and fussy and do... do you mind having a look?
Jack Yeah, sure, sure.
Hurley Loop, dude, loop.

I love using "Loop, dude, loop" in the lab now whenever people don't tell me something like, for example, when we're out of a particular reagent. No more Trizol? Loop, dude, loop!

Summary: I was surprised at how high up this episode was on's list. To me this episode feels like a guilty pleasure. After all, the flashbacks, while good, didn't blow you away, but all the on island stuff is pure Lost gold - the map, the poker game, the balloon, the ending. It also felt too gimmicky to be on the Top 10 list. After all, causal viewers probably saw the Map and went "huh?" And I know many people who love the show who have never checked out the Map on the net. But to me, it's certainly Lost at it's best

So what do you think? Classic? Overrated? Cheesy ABC marketing ploy? Did the map make it too weird for causal watchers? Would this episode be in your Top 10? Have at it!

Previous Reviews:
#10: White Rabbit
#9: The Man From Tallahassee
#8: Exodus
#7: Numbers


Carly said...

Hi Jay. No I love the map. Just another tease that pulled me into the show even more. I still think that Ben knew what would happen if he let the time run out and misled Locke so Locke would try it and blow up the hatch. But I remember at the time still being uncertain about him and this episode just got me in the end that he was bad. Loved it. Definitely a top 10.

Jay said...

Y'know Carly, that's what I thought at first, but I believe the writers have said that Ben knew nothing of the Swan until Locke and Boone found it (and that DHARMA wanted to keep it a secret from anyone who wasn't qualified, i.e. the janitorial staff).

Anyone else have thoughts on what Ben was trying to do in the Swan?