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It's hard out here for a gimp

Eko's climbing up the cliff, with Locke helpfully yelling "be careful!" like maybe this is what could be put on the tombstones of everyone Locke gets killed: "I told him to be careful." To make the climb more dramatic, Eko does the requisite loses-his-grip-and-almost-falls bit, and then keeps going. Locke keeps yelling "Eko!" at him, like shut up and let him climb, Locke.

Eko gets to the top, stands up and looks around, and manages not to fulfill Locke's dream, at least not yet. The camera circles around the landscape. Eko's climb has been brought to you by Tourism Hawaii. Locke yells up, asking him if he sees anything. "I don't see nothing," says Eko, a double negative that turns out to be accurate when he looks at the field in front of the cliff, and indeed does see something: a brown semi-circle of dirt where nothing seems to be growing. On first viewing, it looked to me like the top half of a question mark, because on my television (one of the old non-definition models) it looks like the circle doesn't complete itself, and indeed on the right-hand side it looks like the circle breaks downward, putting the crashed plane over where the dot would be. Others are arguing that it's a circle, based on the logo of the hatch we're going to find. Reasons to consider this hypothesis: Locke's crappy map, which could mean that they went off course and haven't found the question mark at all, just another station in the octagon. But if the ground has been salted, as we'll find out it has been, to mark this hatch, why doesn't it actually, you know, mark the hatch? Why mark a hatch with a big circle, if the entrance is actually outside the circle? Wouldn't the middle of the circle be the location you're trying to point out? Then again, why mark something with a big question mark if you know what it is? An exclamation mark would work just as well, and be easier, not to mention easier on the salt supply. I guess it doesn't matter, but the fact I'm wondering about this so much must mean I'm enjoying this episode more than most lately. So, in the end, weighing everything I've looked at, and considering the fact that it doesn't actually matter, I'm deciding it's a question mark. It's the name of the episode, after all.

Eko's checking out the salted earth in the ring of the question mark, and says it's been salted so nothing can grow. Locke asks why anyone would want to do that, since there's nothing there. Well, they're not going to settle by salted earth! "I believe they made a circle," says Eko (screw you, Eko; get your own recap. It's a question mark!), "a target, so that this place can be seen from up above." Locke wants to know which "they" and "what place" that would be. "The place that this plane fell upon, John!" says Eko, and starts looking underneath the plane. Which, I mean, this is my point. If it's a circle, then isn't the thinking process, "We want to mark the location of this hatch, so we'll salt the earth to make a big circle off to the side, and eventually a plane will probably crash, come to rest on a cliff, and then when the lead singer of the Verve climbs up and into it, it'll fall off onto the spot we want someone else to find"? Writing Lost must pay well enough to keep you in a lot of drugs, I have to say.

Eko taps around with his axe, while Locke shuffles the dirt around with his feet, and Eko finds something clunking in the dirt under the plane's fuselage, so he gets Locke to help him swing the plane's tail away. They brush away the dirt, and find a large set of double doors. Locke tries to open them, but can't. Eko thinks of another use for his axe, this Swiss army axe of his, and uses it to bash at the latches to loosen them. Then he starts to open the door, so Locke excitedly asks if he may have the honours. "Please, be my guest," says Eko, Locke's thrilled like a little kid who wants to push the elevator button, and he and Eko lift the doors up together, opening up an eight-sided hole in the earth, stretching down into blackness, much like the first time the Lostaways opened a hatch. Fortunately, we're poised to learn a little more a lot sooner than we did that time.

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