Lost Recaps S1E19: Deus Ex Machina

by thethreepennyguignol

We’re back! It’s hard to believe that, the last time I wrote about a John Locke-specific episode, it was still relevant to actually tell people to wash their hands instead of just assuming they’d scrubbed them down to the bone already – three months in lockdown, three months of Lostdown, and I have Entirely lost (heh) my mind.

But the tales of Boone the Bottom and John Top are back to make me feel a little more sane this week – Deus Ex Machina is one of the best episodes of the season so far, and that is, no doubt, because it leans in to one of the best and most engaging duos of the show thus far, John Locke and Boone.

(alright, and on a side note, I make a lot of jokes about how Boone and Locke are actually lovers, but hear me out: I think there’s a lot of coding leaning in that direction, and I get that, at the time this show came out, featuring a prominent and serious gay romantic relationship just wouldn’t have been as feasible for a popular show as it is now. I really think that, if Lost had been made now, they would have skipped on the coding and gone straight for the actual romance, much like Lindelof did with his take on Hooded Justice in Watchmen, and it would have been great)

Specifically, this is an episode that delves a little further into the past of John Locke, the show’s unarguable best character and perhaps best performance to boot – God, every time Terry O’Quinn smiles, an angel gets their wings, you know? I loved this episode for what it let us find out about John – not least that his mother is actually gay icon Swoozie Kurtz, whom, in this house, we stan – but, specifically, how that informed the John we see on the island today.

Much like last week’s episode, Deus Ex Machina is mostly about faith, and how it functions in the Lost universe in general and the Island specifically. John begins to lose the use of his legs once more, and puts it down to losing faith in the Island’s powers; in flashbacks, we see that his mother has a history of delusional behaviour, and the show doesn’t touch how relevant that is to what we’re seeing of Locke now. With Boone, John drags himself into the forest to follow the vision he was given of a crashing plane, and sure enough, he finds it.

But it’s Boone who has to access it, with John’s legs still too broken to walk, and it’s here that the show pulls off another one of the best sequences of its run so far – this reminds me of Jack and Charlie way back in episode eleven, that desperate, panicky dread of something awful coming matched with the hopeless inability to stop it. When Boone ends up tipping the plane off a cliff and getting seriously injured as a result, John manages to regain the use of his legs long enough to carry him back to the camp, before rushing off once more to try and fulfill the last vestiges of his vision, and find a way into the hatch that has been plaguing them for so long.

I like the idea of the Island as a living being; it’s something that’s been hinted at before, but this episode makes it explicit, with John directly interacting (or at least, believing that he is directly interacting) with the Island. In flashbacks, we meet his father and his mother, who end up exploiting his faith in them and using him to basically steal a kidney before abandoning him once more; he gave his faith too easily, and paid with a literal pound (or so) of flesh. Back on the Island, he’s faced with the familiar feeling of being physically tested for his faith, but this time, he doesn’t back down – even though it’s Boone who pays the ultimate price as a result, and it’s the impossibly nebulous idea of the Island’s gifts that he is putting his faith in. I really dig this plot, and I like Somerhalder and O’Quinn a lot as a central duo to boot. They’ve got great chemistry, and perhaps the strongest bond of any two characters on the Island (that I actually believe in, anyway).

Elsewhere, there’s a fun subplot wherein Sawyer needs glasses and Jack uses that as an excuse to wind him up to the Nth degree; when they’re the comic relief, I actually don’t mind the Unholy Trinity of Kate, Sawyer, and Jack, and, indeed, this week, they have a little screwball energy that I can get behind. It’s a decent balance for the very serious A plot, and it’s immensely fun to see Matthew Fox shitposting Josh Holloway in real life with diamante specs.

This is a cracking episode, to be honest – maybe just because I get distracted by Terry O’Quinn’s Big Dad Energy, or maybe because it feels like things are inching towards something more plot-worthy, now that we’re getting somewhere with the hatch after fifteen years straight. We’re coming up on the last few weeks of these recaps, and, if they’re anything like this quality, I’m keen to see where they’ll go next.

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via Twitter)