Lost: Deus Ex Machina   Rewatch 
May 22, 2023 11:06 PM - Season 1, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Locke’s faith is tested.

S1E19: Deus Ex Machina (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 30th March 2005 • writers Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof • director Robert Mandel • days 39-41 on the island • Locke flashbacks

Mouse Trap • trebuchet • this was supposed to work • everything breaks if you apply enough force • Locke’s mother • you’re special, you’re part of a design • Locke’s dream • the island will show us how • Theresa falls up the stairs, Theresa falls down the stairs • this probably won’t have a happy ending • Locke’s red Beetle • Anthony Cooper • you want to go hunting? • surprise skeleton • you weren’t supposed to be here until 12 • I’m not so sure he’s a priest • Sawyer’s headaches • Locke’s leg • Jack wouldn’t know the first thing about what’s wrong with me • this island, it changed me, it made me whole • Locke calls Boone son • Cooper calls Locke son • Boone … killed Theresa? • Beechcraft • see you on the other side • Sawyer’s glasses • heroin in the Mary statues • radio • we’re the survivors • plane falls, Locke bails • kidney gone, Cooper bails • he wouldn’t do this to me • I’ve done everything you wanted me to do, so why did you do this to me? • A LIGHT IN THE HATCH

Robin Pearson, The TV Critic.org: Lost: Deus Ex Machina
Again a Locke flashback has a drastic effect on how we view Lost. Though rather than the shock of Walkabout, this is more a confirmation and extension of what we expected. Through Claire, Walt and Hurley we know that the island has brought people here for a reason. But Locke is the one who takes this faith a step further. He has faith that he is meant to be here and literally take instructions from the island about what to do next.

It’s a fascinating and brave move from the producers of Lost. In an age when much of the Western world has turned away from religion, certainly in popular culture, they have chosen to make faith one of the central pillars of the show. Locke does sound insane when he admits to Boone “the island will tell us what to do.” This is the first time we have really seen Locke show signs of frustration, anger and doubt about what he is doing. He sees everything as a sign from the island, in his dream he claims “all that’s happening now is our faith is being tested.” When his legs begin to stop working, he is convinced that “Jack wouldn’t know the first thing about what’s wrong with me.” In fact when he sees the plane he laughs. It is the same laughter of relief which Jack let out when Locke pulled him back from the edge of a cliff. Clearly John’s belief in the island is so deep that to discover it wasn’t true would almost be like dying. In the final climactic scene, John shows us that his faith is overriding all normal social behavior and morality. Rather than see what happened to Boone as his fault or a tragedy for Boone, he has become obsessed with his own destiny. He screams at the island “I did everything you asked me to do, so why did you do this!? Why!?” Is he really upset about Boone or more angry that what he did wasn’t right?
Therese Odell, Houston Chronicle: The island giveth, the island taketh away
[spoilers for future events and episodes throughout]
While we’re on the whole biblical tip, there is obviously some other religious symbolism going on in this episode; we’ve got a lot of falling again — Locke falls multiple times, poor Theresa falls down the stairs to her death, and Boone falls in the plane: the Fall of Man. But in terms of knock-you-over-the-head religious imagery, we have the Virgin Marys, and the dead priests. Neither the Marys or the priests are what they first appear to be. The Marys are filled with drugs, and the priests are actually drug runners and murderers. Similarly, Swoosie Kurtz, and Anthony Cooper, while biologically Locke’s parents, are not real parents at all. Like the Virgin Marys, Swoosie Kurtz is not what she seems, merely establishing contact for monetary benefit (and the whole “you were immaculately conceived” line fits in nicely with the Virgin Mary imagery, of course), and Cooper, like the dead priests, is no “father.”

They are cons: the Virgin Marys are cons, the priest collars are cons, the whole, “let’s have a real father-son relationship” is a con. Cons, cons and more cons, which litter the show at every turn. Which the writers cleverly set up with the opening scene, and Locke explaining the game Mousetrap. There are many mousetraps in this episode. Cooper’s con is a mousetrap, and Locke is the little mouse. The events on the island all are pieces of the puzzle that lead up to Boone, the little mouse, dying. But I also think that the writers are being a little meta here, and suggesting that what they are doing, the way they put together each piece of the puzzle of this story is not unlike the game of Mousetrap, and we, friends, we are the mice.
Myles McNutt, AV Club: Lost (Classic): “Deus Ex Machina”/“Do No Harm”
[considers these 2 episodes a thematic whole; spoilers for Do No Harm throughout]
These moments are highlighted by the work of composer Michael Giacchino, who has been working his way further and further into the forefront of Lost’s emotional power as the season has proceeded. The episode concludes with Locke returning to the hatch, slamming his fists into the metal in frustration. He did everything the island asked, putting Boone’s life in danger in the process, and he has nothing but tragedy to show for it. Returning to the theme he used for Locke’s pivotal final scenes in “Walkabout,” Giacchino continues to explore the fine line between miracle and tragedy that defines John Locke and his relationship with both his past and the island.

The cue’s punny title — for those that don’t know, Giacchino loves punny title s— “Locke’d Out Again” captures the scene’s double meaning, as we move to Locke’s seemingly futile smashing of the hatch from his being stopped at his father’s gate after leaving the hospital in search of answers. In both circumstances, we’re reminded how close together the quest for meaning and the loss of meaning often manifest: Locke gained a father and lost him almost instantaneously, and on the island he regained hope for his future and saw it slip away as the plane tumbled from its jungle perch. The emotional highs and lows on Lost are not that far removed from one another, and Giacchino’s cue perfectly sets the tone for the moment of hope that brings the episode to its close: a pillar of light shining from the hatch, a sign from above—or below, rather—that tragedy and hope continue to keep close quarters .
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E19: "Deus Ex Machina" with Katey Rich and David Fury
Dave Gonzalez: “I think, because of the tone the series has established at this point, this is one of the least frustrating introductions of a ton of new story world stuff that I’ve seen on a television show. And maybe that’s because they’re still operating really on the sly as a science fiction show and haven’t been able to develop some of their bigger ideas. But being able to use visions, and his mom showing up in the vision, and that revealing a Boone murder, and then also this out-of-time plane crash that ends up being drug smugglers, and then the light comes on in the hatch: is a lot.”
Joanna Robinson: “I like to think: so they’re facing this problem, the Lost writers, where they’re like okay, we’ve got our cast stuck on this island, this jungle of mystery. And we need to keep introducing elements that deepen the mystery or deepen the things that they can interact with. You know what I mean? And so they’re like, okay, how about drug-smuggling priests who’ve crashed a plane? That way we get this cool plane set piece. We get drugs to tempt Charlie, who allegedly is like a clean little moth flying to the light. And then we get a radio, and a mysterious voice on the other end of the radio. I hope they all treated themselves to cheese fries the day they came up with that. It has like four functions, you know? So it’s pretty cool.”
Katey Rich: “And you also get the feeling of, like, cruising toward the end of the season. There's what, four, five episodes left in season one at this point? And they’re like, okay, so you think that we've got the point, we've got the raft, and we've got Ethan and we've got Rousseau. And here's all the elements in play. And then it introduces all these extra ones to be like a show of force. And to be like, I know we've got a whole second season coming from this. It does feel like a way of showing off, in a really effective way.”

“You start with all these parts off the board. And then, one by one, you build the trap — shoe, bucket, tub — piece by piece it all comes together. And then you wait until your opponent lands here on the old cheese wheel. And then, if you set it up just right, you spring the trap.”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (1 comment total)
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere. Next episode will post midweek-ish.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:06 PM on May 22, 2023

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