Friday, February 27, 2009

Lost 5.07: When Did Locke Die?

I posted yesterday on DocArzt on the seeming time inconsistency between Locke meeting Jack and then Ben strangling him. Months should have passed between the two instances, but I suggested that they happened on the same day, or a day or two apart. This morning people are saying no, I'm wrong, that he meets with Jack, months pass, and Ben strangles him. I would love to believe that's true (seriously... I love the writers on Lost and spend more time defending them than is probably healthy) but in this instance, I don't buy it. The reason? Locke's wounds from the car accident. Here he is talking to Jack in the hospital:

Most of his scratches are on the right side of his head, he has a big one on his nose, and a few rounder ones on the top of his head.

Now here he is writing his note to Jack:

Same scratches, as fresh as they were in the hospital. (By the way, the lighting in this photo isn't very good, so before you say that some of them are healed, trust me: I just rewatched both scenes on high-def and all of the wounds are there and look exactly the same.) When he steps up onto the table to kill himself, his cast is fresh and new.

So what happened? I don't technically want to call this a nitpick yet, because the writers are far too clever for that. The obit is what is throwing me; Jack sees the obit at the end of his downward spiral, not at the beginning. I wonder if Locke's body was somehow preserved for a long time. If he's walking around on the island, then he's different from other people. Is he alive alive? Or is he island-alive, like Christian? He eats the mango as some sort of proof that he's alive (thank you to one of my readers who pointed out that and its Christ connection). But at the end of season 3, Ben tells Jack that if he makes that phone call, he will kill every living person on this island. That line has stuck with me for ages, and I've talked about it ad nauseum. Another of my readers emailed me this morning and brought it up again, and as I'd suggested a few years ago, maybe he means there are people on this island who are not quite alive. But not quite dead, either.

Locke could die, but maybe because of the island's calling, his body won't decompose like a normal human body would. We saw Jack putting the shoes on Locke's feet in the coffin, and when I watched that scene I couldn't help but think of the many times in Six Feet Under when they went to move a limb of a corpse and it was so stiff with rigor mortis it made a cracking sound. Locke's legs move without any issues. Perhaps he was hanging in that room for a very long time -- months, even -- before he was found, and in the meantime Ben talked to Eloise Hawking, got everything ready, made his plans, and then Walt found the body and reported it (hence the "teenage son" part of the obit) and we know the rest from there. But there's a chance that body hung there for a long time.

What do you think?


atruebluehusker said...

I think the Lost writers didn't plan things out too carefully and they have just thrown a million puzzles at us, some of which don't have solutions and some of which have really lame solutions or crazy sci-fi solutions. I guess it is hard in the week-by-week TV process, but good grief, that is what the off-season is for. Plan where this thing is going so you don't have all sorts of inconsistencies.

Anonymous said...

The body is affected by rigor mortis but not after decomposition starts.

Rigor Mortis

I used to watch a lot of Perry Mason. They judged how long a body had been dead by the state of the rigor mortis (maybe they do that on CSI - I wouldn't know.)

What bothered me more was the state of John's face after the strangulation. He looked very calm hanging there. He should have at least look discoloured. I would say that's because it's too gross for television, but have you ever watched Bones?

I'm assuming an autopsy wasn't performed because they would have been able to tell that he hadn't committed suicide.


Note that the number one method of suicide for Canadians in hanging. Did Widmore set him up? ;)

I think old John has more mystery in his death yet to be discovered.

Speaking of 'old' I resented that comment. Terry's only a few years older than I am.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Locke was dead for more than a day or so- his body was so well preserved in the casket. Maybe he was kept in a morgue for a few weeks until they could identify him and next of kin- Walt?

humanebean said...

Excellent point, Nikki. I had been assuming that more time had elapsed between the scenes in this episode and that Locke's death took place days or even weeks after his hospital meeting with Jack. The bruises would certainly point to a more rapid timeline. It's difficult to say how long the car crash wounds would have continued to appear 'fresh' - and, while it stretches credulity to say that a 'new' looking cast could have been a replacement cast, it is still possible.

What we don't know (yet) is how long Locke's body is kept preserved before the obituary/funeral reveals a more heavily bearded (and deranged) Jack. Rigor Mortis occurs immediately after death but lessens with time, rendering the body more flexible. "[Rigor] commences after around 3 hours, reaching maximum stiffness after 12 hours, and gradually dissipates until approximately 72 hours after death. [source: www.deathonline] Ultimately, I feel that while some more time may have elapsed than is apparent in this episode, there is some legitimate nitpicking to be done as to how these events were handled.

The obituary we saw in "Through the Looking Glass" reports that Bentham's body was found in a "downtown loft". Now, we know that this prop already has some issues [date on the newspaper Jack ripped it from is inconsistent] but I wonder whether the published obituary was entirely concocted by Ben to attract the O6 (and Jack in particular). It certainly wouldn't have been too difficult to arrange Locke's death scene in a loft to be consistent with this well-publicized bit of show lore.

I've forgotten - where is it first mentioned that Bentham had a 'teenage son'? It's not in the text of the obituary/prop and I haven't yet found the initial reference. Perhaps this was another piece of manipulation of the death announcement to lure Walt to L.A. and possibly back to the Island? Maybe someone wanted people (other than just US, the viewers) to believe that the man in the coffin was Michael under a pseudonym?

Anonymous said...

Wait, I know why Jack's beard was so long. It was the fake beard of atonement!

Sort of a facial hair shirt.

Austin Gorton said...

I'm thinking there HAS to be more to the story then we've been told. I mean, Jack's Insane-O Beard is such a huge identifier (both in terms of its size and its discussion amongst fans) that there's no way the producers wouldn't have known to give him the beard in all its glory in his scene with Locke if that scene was meant to take place mere days before his visit to Hoffs-Drawlar.

I think its safe to assume that Locke's death occurs within a few days of Locke's hospital visit. Which simply means that someway, somehow, Locke's body is undiscovered and/or preserved in some way for duration of Jack's spiral, and the obit remained unprinted until the end of that spiral (likely Ben's doing).

For a show this good at paying attention to continuity and little details, I can't believe they wouldn't give Jack the full Insane-O Beard if the timing called for it, especially since they went to the trouble of giving him a beard at all, to show it was starting.

bruceintoronto said...

At the end of "There's No Place Like Home" inside the mortuary of the funeral home, Ben asks Jack, "When did you speak to him (Locke)?" Jack answers "About a month ago." And just before that exchange Ben asks Jack "Did he tell you I was off the island" and Jack replies "Yes, he did." When Jack speaks with Locke in his hospital bed in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" it seems to be their first encounter off-island, but perhaps there were others, since Locke does not talk to Jack about Ben. I'm not sure why Locke's wounds haven't healed by the time of the hanging scene.

Austin Gorton said...

Maybe Locke and Jack have a few more conversations in the hospital we haven't seen yet, before Locke is discharged?

However, the statement that Locke told Jack Ben was off the island could be problematic too.

Maybe it was just me, but the vibe I got from the scene in the hotel was that Locke was seeing Ben off the island first time, meaning he never would have had an opportunity to tell Jack about Ben.

Of course, that was implied, not outright stated, so perhaps they had already encountered each other (unseen by us) before Ben burst into the room.

Anonymous said...

I think Locke's rehab in Tunisia took longer than they showed and they are now back on the island in a time period before his death. This is why he is still alive because island time is behind his death date off the island.

bruceintoronto said...

@Teebore's I agree that Locke likely met Ben off-island sometime prior to the hanging scene. We just haven't seen it yet. More details to eventually unfold no doubt.

Benny said...

I'll try to come up with some answers that keep the show consistent and without continuity errors, and it would also explain what we've seen so far. Call it the Grand Unified Theory of Jack's Bearded Flights! (patent pending)

Regarding everyone calling Locke Bentham. He did only tell Sayid, on screen though. He was probably signed in as Bentham at the hospital, he had Bentham on his name tag when he talked to Hurley, and we missed most of the conversation and what he said to Kate. As for Walt, given that he flew from New York to Santa Rosa to talk to Hurley, he knew something. He wanted more information. So it makes sense that he found out about Bentham in some fashion.

Regarding the time difference, there are various explanations that can be considered. Locke still has wounds, but most of them look more like bruises than cuts, some time in healing (though not a month). Ben's tone suggest Jack's ticket was the first, but his words never imply it, he just says that Jack booked a round trip ticket from LA to Sydney, perhaps the first for that particular destination.

But here's another consideration. Jack could have been flying over the pacific already when he first met Locke. He already had the beard, suggesting it had been a while since his falling with Kate and start of addiction/depression. And knowing his constant opposition to Locke, it's not far-fetch to assume he just denied to his face that he wanted to go back, not to give Locke the satisfaction.

Now let's do some math:
2 weeks flying before meeting Locke + 1 week before Locke dies
+ 1.5 weeks before the funeral parlor = 4.5 weeks, give or take.
2.5 weeks after Jack and Locke met (about a month ago, as Jack says to Ben)

Now this is stretching it a bit but if we look at Jack's speech to Kate, he never says a definitive timeframe, just that he's been flying. Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney. Ben may only tell Locke about the Sydney flight because it is the only one of significance.

Now there are definitely slight holes (the still prominent injuries on Locke) in this but I think it fits the profile best so far. I think we can make this a big group project to expand and come up with the answer. By the way, there is a hiatus after next week's episode (just one week off) so I think we have time to come up with something that stands tall on its own.

Any takers?

Anonymous said...

Benny, great points. If anything, the mistake could have made in the makeup department. Making the injuries look too fresh. But since Locke is now off the Island his wounds take time to heal. Facial scars can take weeks to get better.

I also think Locke knew Ben left the Island. Locke knew Ben turned the wheel, then Locke turns the wheel and ends up leaving the Island. So yeah, his first meeting with Ben was when he tried to hang himself, but Locke would know that Ben was no longer on the Island.

Nikki Stafford said...

Great points, everyone. This could be a long shot, but I wonder if after spending time on the healing island, where a bullet wound is gone in 3 days, that when you go off-island, you have the opposite problem? What if a scratch takes months to heal because the body no longer has the ability. It's a thought.

I'm going to post an update to this post in a second.

And on the DocArzt site, someone just offered to be my Paulo. I'm... flattered?

Benny said...

@Stacy: I had not thought of that. It is possible that Locke's body was kept in a morgue for a few days pending proper identification/next of kin. This would add a few days to Jack's beard growth.

@edgeshat: that's right, even without seeing Ben off the Island, Locke knows it, just as he told Widmore "Ben had already left the Island". So there must be another discussion between Locke and Jack. Like Teebore mentioned, maybe before he was discharged.

Obviously we weren't shown everything. One of my theories regarding the narrative of the show is that, since most of the Oceanic survivors are (likely) reunited, we may see the return of the flashback form of narrative. This would let us know what happened to Sawyer's group between being locked in the 1970s (presumably) and meeting up with the O6. And it would help fill in holes in the O6 off-island time.

I don't think that, once we've been told the entire story, it will all fit. There may (will) always be slight inconsistencies but here's to hoping most of it is eventually brought to light.

like edgeshat said, Locke knew Ben was off the island without meeting him. So the meeting could be the first, notice how Locke's 'excitement'(?) when he figures out Ben killed Abaddon.

@Nikki: nice theory there with the wounds, it would certainly add a few days (maybe a week) between the hospital and death scenes.

Austin Gorton said...

Yeah, I hadn't considered that Locke knew Ben was off the island before he actually encountered him for the first time, so there's no reason he couldn't have shared that info with Jack in a heretofore unseen conversation.

poggy said...

Nikki, I thought that thing about healing slowing down off island too. Perhaps it's a way for the island to retaliate on those who leave it when they're not supposed to, and there's a history of fate being particularly cruel to Locke's body. Especially his legs (speaking of injuried limbs, it's the second time Ben's arm gets hurt since turning the donkey wheel).

The actor who played Paulo was kinda hot anyway! Well, there wasn't much more to the character, but it's something, lol!

J. Maggio said...

I am not sure about how much time passing, but Jack and John MUST have had another conversation. Here is transcript of full Jack/John convo from L&DOJB:

[Inhales sharply]


[Inhales sharply]

JACK: What are you doing here?

[Bathing deeply]

LOCKE: Jack, how did you find me?

JACK: You were in a car accident and you were brought into my hospital. What are you doing here?

LOCKE: [Grunts] We have to go back.

JACK: [Laughing] Of course. Of course we do.

LOCKE: Jack, the people I left behind need our help. We're supposed to go back--

JACK: --because it's our destiny? How many times are you gonna say that to me, John?

LOCKE: How can you not see it? Of all the hospitals they could've brought me to, I end up here. You don't think that's fate?

JACK: Your car accident was on the west side of Los Angeles. You being brought into my hospital isn't fate, John. It's probability.

LOCKE: You don't understand. It wasn't an accident. Someone is trying to kill me.

JACK: Why? Why would someone try to kill you?

LOCKE: Because they don't want me to succeed. They wanna stop me. They don't want me to get back because I'm important.

JACK: Have you ever stopped to think that these delusions that you're special aren't real? That maybe there's nothing important about you at all? Maybe you are just a lonely old man that crashed on an Island. That's it. Good-bye, John.

LOCKE: Your father says hello.

JACK: What?

LOCKE: A man--the man who told me to move the Island--the man who told me how to bring you all back--he said to tell his son hello. It couldn't have been Sayid's father, and it wasn't Hurley's, so that leaves you. He said his name was Christian.

JACK: My... my father is dead.

LOCKE: Well, he didn't look dead to me.

JACK: [Voice breaking] He died in Australia three years ago. I put him in the coffin! He's dead.

LOCKE: Jack, please, you have to come back! You're the only one who can convince the rest of 'em. You have to help me! You're supposed to help me!

LOCKE: John, it's over! It's done. We left, and we were never important. So you... you leave me alone. And you leave the rest of 'em alone!


Now, this does not account for these aspects of dialogue in previous episodes:

From Season 4 finale:

KATE: Who do you think you are?! You call me over and over again for two days straight, stoned on your pills! And then you show up here with an obituary for Jeremy Bentham. (Sighs) When he came to me and I heard what he had to say, I knew he was crazy. But you... you believed him.

JACK: Yes.

KATE: Him, of all people.

JACK: Yes, Kate, I did, because he said that that was the only way that I could keep you safe--you and Aaron.

... more from same episode:

BEN: Hello, Jack.

[Jack is startled almost off his balance by the voice. The sound of vehicles passing by can be heard from outside.]

BEN: Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you. Did he tell you that I was off the island?

JACK: (Exhales deeply) Yes, he did.

BEN: When did you speak to him?

JACK: (Inhales deeply) About a month ago.

BEN: And Kate?

JACK: Yeah. Yeah, he came to see her, too.

BEN: And what did he say to you?

JACK: He told me... that after I left the island, some very bad things happened. And he told me that it was my fault for leaving. And he said that I had to come back.

---- From "Because You Left":

BEN: [Sighs] On the Island... in the Orchid station, below the greenhouse. I told him I was sorry for making his life so miserable, and then he left. So obviously John's visit to you made an impression. What did he say to make you such a believer?

JACK: Sawyer, Juliet, everyone from the boat... and everyone we left behind--John said that they'd die, too, if I didn't come back.

BEN: Did he tell you what happened to them after the Island moved?

JACK: No. No, he didn't.


Add to that the following observations:

- Sayid's drastic change (something happened and time passed enough for him to relocate to US, etc)

- Walt calling him Bentham, and feeling the need to go see Hurley about it.

- Jack's beard. :-)

- The character arch of Jack: His still being allowed normal rotations in the hospital, him not seeming too messed up on pisses or booze, etc.

- I prefer to think the make-up continuity guys got it wrong (with bruises) then the whole script pattern built over three years is messed up. (And, as per the leg cast, when I broke my arm I had *several* casts placed on it over a few months, so a new one can be put on it.)

Anyway, I just don't see how Lock could not have had another conversation with jack (keep aaron safe, keep jack safe, bad stuff happened because jack left, Ben is off the island, sawyer/juliet dying--all were NOT mentioned in the brief conversation we saw in the hospital.)

J. Maggio said...

Just to restate. I am not sure about time, but there is no way that is the only conversation that Jack and John had off island. John said almost NONE of the things that Jack told Kate/Ben he said in that meeting. There MUST be another conversation of Gregg Nations should lose his job.

Anonymous said...

First time posting a comment here, but I have been a faithful reader for some time now.

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this before, but before John was killed by Ben, he still was pretty incapacitated by his leg injury.

I know that they definitely would have taken the cast off in the Funeral Home, but if only a short amount of time had passed, would John still be limping back on the Island? Does his not limping mean that more time may have passed and would a bone break continue to heal once a person is dead?

Anonymous said...

You've got high def TV?! MUST BE NICE.



Anonymous said...

As good as the writers have been so far, I can't believe all of these issues are continuity mistakes.

Could it possibly be that we're seeing two different time periods for the O 6? The current season with the somewhat sane and shaven Jack is the FIRST time they left the island.

The drunken, drug addict, bearded Jack is from the NEXT time he leaves the island (i.e. after the316 return) which will be revealed in future episodes.

When the bearded Jack starts flying to Sydney every weekend, it's because he's trying to duplicate the 316 flight rather than the 815. I'm thinking the bearded Jack is trying to change the future and realizes he failed (again) when he sees John's obit which then leads him to try to jump from the bridge.

If these are two different time periods, then that would explain most of the other inconsistencies as well as the personality differences and how there was enough time for all these events to occur.

MJCarp said...

If I had more time I could prove it . . . lol

I think Ben & Co. run the funeral home. Ben wrote the obit. The son referred to is Ben. Ben needs to kill his father to prove to Others he is leader. I know, don't shoot me. But it explains the motive and maybe the look. And Ben has tried to kill Locke before (the island wouldn't let him). So he does it off island.

Ok. I'll be back with more productive comments in the future. See you after in the hiatus for real work.

Anonymous said...

there is definitely an intentional time lapse by the lost writers, but it is between when he died and when they are on their way back to the island. otherwise, why would his face look so darn scratch-free in the coffin? funeral make-up artists aren't that good...

Anonymous said...

Unless Six Feet Under was a total fantasy, Wes (and I have no personal knowledge) a few scratches would be nothing to fix.

Benny said...

You're right redeem, the scratches that Locke suffered are no match for a mortician artist. As well, wounds would not heal that well after death, so it would have to be makeup work.

Unknown said...

i dont know about the timelines, but a bigger inconsistency is that locke dies with wounds on his face but his corpse is healed.

unless a dead body continues to heal, i'd like that one explained.

Unknown said...

I wanted to throw a idea in that we do not know how long it was until Locke/Bentham's body was found. He may have paid for the room in advance at such a seedy hotel, and no one would have checked the room for a long period of time, enough time in fact that after a rotting corpse would be found the undertaker had to "pretty" up the dead body as we also do not see the car accident scares on the casket body when it is opened after the funeral. Thus if it could have been a couple weeks until the body was found, yet the smell would be horrendous , then another week or two until the undertaker finished with the embalming, thus giving Jack enough "Friday Night Flights" (that was for you, Nikki) to say that he has been flying so much.
To back up the advance payment to the hotel theory, When Widmore give John/Jeremy the passport and money, John looks in the envelope and raises his eyebrows in awe of what I assume is a lot of money.

Nikki Stafford said...

Another thought (I don't think it's been said yet, but forgive me if it has) is that the hospital wasn't the first time Jack and Locke met. Jack never says how the hell did you get off the island, he just looks at him as if to say, Oh, it's YOU again. Maybe he's encountered him already, he tried to convince Jack to go back, and told him about Ben being off the island. Jack simply walked away, Locke went to the others, and then ended up in the hospital and saw him again.

Of course, that wouldn't jive with Abaddon saying he'd only visited a few of them when they're at the cemetery (he never mentions a visit with Jack). But Locke could have gotten away from Abaddon at night or something to have done it.

I think the only explanation is that his body simply didn't decompose. If the island can stop bullets and keep Jin alive during an explosion, I think it would stop his body from decomposing because it knew he was still needed.

So, as I say in my post, I think this all happened at the beginning of Jack's Friday Night Flights (thanks for that one, Josh!) and Locke's body wasn't found for a long time, and when it was, it hadn't decomposed.

Thanks for the info on rigor mortis, redeem; I didn't realize it only happened immediately after death.

Anonymous said...

My question is - was the body embalmed? Having all your blood removed and replaced with embalming fluid must play havoc with the resurrection thing.

Benny said...

@redeem: unless the body is kept out of refrigeration for an extended period of time (or other circumstances), then morticians don't have to embalm. Though it still is usually common place.

Jazzygirl said...

I think when LOST is all over (*cries!*) they should re-release the episodies IN THEIR PROPER ORDER. How cool would that be?
I don't have much to add this week since most people covered my thoughts, as usual. I am not sure how I feel about this week's episode. It felt rushed and choppy at some points...trying to cram it all into one episode.
My big questions:
Is Abaddon really dead? It would be disappointing to see him again, get some answers and then have him killed off. Maybe they need him on Fringe more. :)
How cow, Batman...Ben killed Locke? I agree that he snapped when Locke mentioned Hawking. It was almost like he got the info he needed from Locke and then killed him off.
YES, hard to know who's the good/bad guy. I did re-watch that scene between Ben and Widmore from last season and it IS interesting to see Widmore as the "good" guy.
The time loop/line is still confusing. Watching it week to week is almost tortorous in that respect.
Oh, and yes, I do love Jorge Garcia's blog. Can't remember where you mentioned it this week, here or the other post. However I don't love the posts from the people. (Did I just say that out loud?!) Snobby, I know, but I just can't read the responses. :-p

Anonymous said...

Two words: Alternate realities.

The world that we see at the end of season 4 with Jack's beard and the world in last week's episode have taken place in alternate realities.

Just throwing it out there.

Hisham Fahmy said...

I'm now convinced that Jack and Locke talked again, sort of. Maybe Locke did visit him again, maybe it was Christian/Smoke-Monster-in Locke disguise that went and talked to him, doesn't matter now. J. Maggio's transcript made me go watch the scenes from the episodes he mentioned again, and then I stopped at one word in "Because You Left," and thought about it.

JACK: Sawyer, Juliet, everyone from the boat... and everyone we left behind--John said that they'd die, too, if I didn't come back.

Notice this? "... they'd die, too." Too! Who else did Locke say that they would die? The Oceanic 6? Die like those who died on the Island (Ana-Lucia, Shannon...)? Maybe Locke himself? So was Jack aware that John would eventually die? Was part of his "crazy beard phase" actually guilt? Is "too" inserted in the dialogue on purpose or am I thinking too much?

Blam said...

Redeem147: Wait, I know why Jack's beard was so long. It was the fake beard of atonement!

I thought he just loved 300 and was growing a Leonidas beard.

Benny: ... the still prominent injuries on Locke

I had thoughts along the same lines and Nikki, and beyond that it's possible that there was shrapnel from the car accident that led to visible scar tissue. Nice job with the plot arithmetic!