Pop Culture

For ‘Lost's’ tail-enders, danger from within

No rampaging, pilot-eating monsters in the jungle.  No polar bears. 

Not even any wild boars — though Ana-Lucia heard some ("maybe we can have some bacon tomorrow") — and the one chicken the tail-enders found and roasted didn't exactly look too wild.

Wednesday's "Lost" told the long-awaited Tale of the Tail, giving us a chance to see how the other half lives on Mystery Island.  If Jack, Locke and the posse from flight 815's front section have been living in terror of things that go bump in the jungle, the tail-enders had a less paranormal, but equally terrifying, ordeal.

Many were lost when the tail plunged into the sea (so much for those "emergency water landings") and those who somehow fell to earth weren't much better off: Rose's husband Bernard found himself suspended in a tree, coaxed to safety by Ana-Lucia just moments before the seat he was strapped in plunged to the ground.

That alone should have raised some questions about why Goodwin waltzed out of the tall grass 10 minutes after the crash with nary a scratch, but those questions didn't emerge until weeks later.  His claim of being in the Peace Corps was good enough for Ana-Lucia.

It was Ana-Lucia who quickly established herself as the tail-enders' de facto leader, much as Jack did for the original set of castaways, except she didn't have her equivalent of Sawyer or Kate to contend with. If Locke is the oracle for the first bunch, Eko turned out to be a rather silent prophet for the tailies, at least for the first 40 days. 

For that matter, the tail folks lack a Hurley equivalent, and instead of an M.D., they get a shrink.  Not that Libby may not prove valuable, and her psychology background might help unravel some of the Dharma mysteries, but her "This one time, on the ski slopes" brand of medicine didn't prevent castaway Donald from succumbing to a fatal leg fracture.

Day 1 for the tailies unfolded much as it did for Locke & Co. — pulling people to safety, making a fire — until the noises in the woods began.  Except this time, the noises weren't mysterious beasts: It was Eko, who Ana-Lucia found covered in blood, with two unidentified jumpsuit-wearing dead guys on the ground.  (The jumpsuits looked identical to the ones Desmond had in the Swan station, and to the ones the Others wore when we saw their legs walking by a few episodes ago.)

At that point, you couldn't blame Eko for honing a stick into his weapon of choice. (And what he was carving on it, anyway?)

Do you have a pass??On Day 12, all hell broke loose.  First, Nathan suddenly walked out of the jungle, claiming he had been off going to the bathroom ... despite a two-hour absence.

"We have a system for that!" Ana-Lucia snapped. "We go in pairs."

Some sadistic kindergarten-teacher fantasy? Nope. Her Other-dar ended up being spot-on.  That night, jumpsuit-clad Others raided the tail-enders' camp, snatching away nine of them.

Ana-Lucia took down one female Other, and discovered a list with the nine kidnapped tailies' names. Though she immediately suspected Nathan, Goodwin talked her down.

But on Day 17, she started digging a hole for interrogation, and pushed Nathan in. (Jin, Sawyer and Michael would later spend quality time in the same hole.) Though her companions were shocked, Ana-Lucia insisted, "He wasn't on the plane!"

Then suddenly Cindy said she hadn't seen him on board either, and psychologist Libby noted that Nathan refused to talk about himself.

Hoping to squeeze out a few details, Ana-Lucia began her interrogation, getting almost nowhere. Where was Nathan from?  Canada, just like his almost-namesake Ethan Rom. (Canadian or not, Ethan was clearly a spy. Maybe the Dharma Initiative had a recruiting office in Toronto.)

When Nathan said he was on the flight because of a "company retreat," you had to wonder whether that company was Dharma — especially since the tail-enders later found another Dharma station, with not only a "Quarantine" warning on the inside of the door and a different Dharma logo, this one with an arrow, but a radio and a glass eye.

At that point, Ana-Lucia's paranoia was jumping off the charts, but it took her a while to figure out to determine where the needle on her Other detector should be pointing. Goodwin asked her to let Nathan go, but the woman Sawyer calls Rambina didn't blink: "If I were a savage, I would have cut off his finger already. That's tomorrow."

Goodwin secretly freed Nathan, only to break his neck. But only when Goodwin and Ana-Lucia hiked up to high ground with the radio did she throw her cards on the table, quizzing him about discovering Bernard in the tree.

"Did he see you out there?" she asked Goodwin. "Is that why you pretended to be one of us?"

Moments later, he was impaled on the sharp end of Ana-Lucia's stick. 

Soon after came the tail-enders' biggest revelation. Bernard tuned the radio and heard ... Boone seeking help for the survivors of flight 815. Bernard broadcast back, "WE'RE the survivors of flight 815," before Ana-Lucia snapped off the radio.

Ultimately, she couldn't escape a meeting with the other half of the castaways, though not until Day 45, when Cindy and Libby found Jin washed up on the beach.

And all of a sudden, the tales of the two sets of castaways collided — all the way up to the fateful moment when Ana-Lucia shoots into the woods and kills Shannon. A rage-filled Sayid stares up at her, and you know what the island's next big faceoff will be.

More questionsSo now both halves of the story are in place, at least so far as Oceanic's ill-fated passengers are concerned.  But there are more questions than ever.

What truly happened to Zack and Emma, the two children snatched away by the jumpsuit posse?  "The children are fine. They're better off now," Goodwin tells Ana-Lucia before his demise, but that seems unlikely.  Emma's teddy bear, seen a few episodes back when the Others tramped through the woods, is a hint that we'll see the kids again.  Why do the Others want to kidnap children, along with what Goodwin described as "good" people?  Have Zack and Emma faced the same fate as Walt? What's "good" about them?

Which Others are which? Locke and that crew has been worried about other people on the island, but are they truly expecting to find other survivors?  Jin described the tail-enders as "others" when Sawyer and Michael washed ashore from the wreckage of the raft, but he likely was just confused.  So are there Others now, and Other Others?  For now, I'm sticking with the Others being the folks already on the island before the crash, but as with all things "Lost," that's subject to revision.

For that matter, was Nathan an Other?  The Canada thing didn't wash, but what did Goodwin mean when he told Ana-Lucia, "Nathan was not a good person. That's why he wasn't on the list"? Nathan stays in the suspect category, and Cindy (who disappeared shortly before both groups hear mysterious sounds in the jungle, and Shannon was shot) isn't looking so squeaky-clean herself.

Meantime, what do we call Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer, etc., since we're about to have two sets of castaways run smack into each other, each carrying a serious grudge?  Nose-enders?  Fore-enders? Monster bait?

What's up with the Dharmites?  It's been over a month since we saw Desmond scurry off into the woods. Maybe they didn't pester Locke, Jack, etc., since they were so busy thinning the tailies' ranks. Assuming the two sets of castaways survive whatever battle royale is planned for them, they're going to have to turn back to dealing with the Dharma folks at some point.

And if Dharma cofounders Gerald and Karen DeGroot (whom many fans believe they saw on the boat that carried Walt off) are still on the island, somehow managing all the fun and games, how did a bunch of '60s-era hippie academics end up in charge of such a ruthless bunch?

Before any of that happens, we'll get to watch Sayid and Ana-Lucia hash out the apparent mistake that cost Shannon her life.  Forget the Others, looks like there's going to be plenty of strife when the two sets of castaways finally meet.

MSNBC.com lifestyle editor Jon Bonne is freeze-framing to figure out what Eko was carving into his stick.

TOP