LOST Recap: Series Finale: “The End”

25 05 2010

Wow, and I thought that “Across The Sea” was polarizing!  Coming in, there had to be some expectation that the finale would not be all things to all people.  We even discussed it here on this blog…it’s hard to stick the landing on a series finale.  In fact, it’s almost impossible…I can’t think of a single show I’ve watched that has pulled it off.  And even now, I think I can put LOST on that list of shows that didn’t quite pull off the ending.  But I might be getting a bit ahead of myself with that.  For this entry, I’m going to do my darnedest to separate the commentary and critique from the analysis.  What I want to do here is to share my thoughts and interpretations of what we saw on-screen.  And in a separate entry (one that I originally said I’d write in June but don’t think I can wait until then), I’ll comment on the series as a whole, and how the finale delivered in the grand scheme of the show’s overall structure.

So for now, let me get into the typical review, and see if I can share any insights with you that you haven’t potentially already seen somewhere else…

“The End”

I almost don’t need to comment on the multiple meanings here: the end of the show, the end of Jack’s journey, the end of the Smoke Monster, the end of this realm of existence…it’s all relevant.  You probably figured all of that out already, but I thought I’d mention it just in case.

“Christian Shephard?  Seriously?”

When you hear a quote like this at the start of the finale, it’s not too hard to think that the writers had something to the effect of the ending planned all along.  The Season 1 character was well-named for his role in the finale, as well as him being the catalyst for bringing Jack to the island.

“That Locke-smoke thing wants to put it out?”

There’s something that happened in the last few episodes of the show that wasn’t immediately evident to me until I did some re-watches.  Those of you that have been paying close attention to detail may have realized that Smokey’s motives seem to have changed in the show’s last few hours.  Wasn’t it that he wanted nothing more than to get off the island?  What’s up with him now wanting to put out the light in the cave?  Well, I think the answer is twofold, and they also may not be mutually exclusive.

First off, it may be that Smokey’s motives changed once he talked to Widmore and realized that he could potentially use Desmond as a way to disrupt the island’s light source.  Up until that point, it’s possible that Smokey didn’t think he could put out the light, and chose escape instead.  Alternately, it could be that he was looking to put out the light all along, thinking that was the only way to get off the island.  He could have believed that he had to kill all of the candidates first because if he didn’t, they’d potentially become Jacob’s successor and try to stop him.  It’s certainly possible that both are true, and that he was trying to kill the candidates so that they couldn’t protect the light in Jacob’s absence, and then he’d be free to put it out, sink the island, and leave.

“We built this place in ’75, and lived here a couple of years…and then the sky lit up again.”

Rose and Bernard cautiously eyeball Locke

In case you were curious, Rose gives a good explanation here as to why she and Bernard have made it to 2007 and not aged 30 years as you might expect.  It seems as though they time-shifted to island-present after Jughead went off, just like Jack, Kate, Juliet, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, and Jin.  If we make the assumption that Jacob is the one flashing people around through the different timelines (and you’d think he is based upon his “They’re coming” line last season), then he knew that he needed Rose and Bernard to get Desmond out of the well.  This way, they wouldn’t be headed to the cave of light until Jack was crowned the new Jacob and had a chance to intercept him along the way.

“I think I just realized I wanna live.”

Richard realizes he's no longer immortal

One of the messages we appear to get in the finale is that the mythology of the island is unimportant in a relative sense.  But despite that, we’re given insight into the fact that it seems as though Richard’s immortality dissapated along with Jacob’s ashes.  Although it appears as though the “rules” move from one island protector to the next, any specific supernatural abilities “wear off” once the protector who issued them no longer has a physical presence on the island.  Jacob’s gone; so is Richard’s ability to live forever.

“Jacob being who he is, I expected to be a little more surprised…you’re sort of the obvious choice, don’t you think?”

Yeah, I know that we get the follow-up answer to this later in the episode (great prediction, DDay!), but I can’t help but to comment that the writers didn’t stop giving us little clues to what they had in store, even when it was in the same episode.  For those of you that are regulars and are looking forward to my higher level assessment of the finale and how it fits in the series overall, this is something you want to file away in your memory banks.  I’ll be coming back to that point in my next entry.

“This doesn’t matter you know.  Him destroying the island; you destroying him…it doesn’t matter.”

To me, the conversation between Desmond and Jack just prior to Desmond being lowered into the light is the most important conversation of the finale, and perhaps the series itself.  This seemingly simple conversation is the key to everything the showrunners want us to think and believe about the entire run of the show.  As we reach a conclusion to the on-island story, we’re being told by a character “in the know” (otherwise known as “Johnny The Explainer” as described by Damon and Carlton) that the outcome of the battle is irrelevant.  Jack insists that it is…that he’s been down the road of trying to find a short-cut back to a happy ending, and there is none.  He believes that every action is important, and that you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities you have in front of you.

Folks, in a nutshell, this is what the finale is trying to tell us.  And, as much as the two opinions seem to be diametrically opposed, I also think they’re trying to tell us that both viewpoints are true.  As the episode comes to a close, Jack’s actions based upon the beliefs he conveys in this conversation are shown to be noble; that his opinions that “all of this matters” is what ends up saving the day and allowing everyone else to survive.  But at the same time, Desmond’s stance is also correct: what happened within the context of the island’s multiple face-offs is secondary to the experience that Jack has afterwards.  This is the profound duality of meaning that the writers want to impart to us, both within the episode and series, as well as within your personal life.  And make no mistake: this show, and especially the finale, is a commentary on life, and a perspective therein the writers want you to see.  I’m coming dangerously close to speaking to some of the items I’ll touch on as a retrospective of the series, but I wanted to make sure all of you understood the higher level game the writers are playing here.  They’ve thrown their cards on the table and are showing you their hand.  They are making a social commentary, and how much you like the episode, and even the series overall, likely depends on how willing you are to accept the message they’re trying to send.  That’s all I’ll get into regarding that now, but I’ll have more on this conversation and its place in LOST lore in my next entry.

“Dude, it was worth it.”

I’ve been avoiding discussing much of the flash-sideways events up to this point, mostly because the final scene of the flash-sideways is the only one that really matters.  But I also wanted to wait to comment on the individual flash-sideways as a whole until you had the right frame of reference regarding Desmond and Jack’s conversation.  The writers have a very clear dual purpose with these remembrances in the flash-sideways.  Yes, it’s a key for the characters to achieve enlightenment for what awaits them at the end of the episode.  But it’s just as much about you as it is about that.  The writers know you’re watching with the fact that it’s the finale in your head.  Each of the flash-sideways remembrances is an attempt to elicit an emotional response from you, as much as it is about the advancement of the plot.  It’s a beautifully designed literary construct, and clearly a reason why some folks think the finale was so brilliant.  I won’t give you my take on it just yet, but I wanted to point it out for anyone that may have missed the direct connection.  I imagine that how much you enjoyed the finale is greatly tied to just how much these scenes resonated with you on an emotional level.

“Looks like you were wrong too.”

The Man in Black realizes he's not invulnerable

The scene where Jack is able to give Locke a bloody lip speaks to two pieces of island mythology, for those of you still keeping score.  First, it indicates that Jacob knew all along what was going to happen.  Why he didn’t put these events in motion himself is somewhat unclear…perhaps he needed Jack to convince Desmond that he could go into the cave despite it dovetailing with what Smokey wanted…perhaps he didn’t have the heart to kill his own brother after turning him into the Smoke Monster.  But what is incredibly clear is that with the light drained, every single thing that we know about the island is “off”.  The “rules” of the game are no longer in effect (in other words, the combatants can kill each other), the mystical power that turned MIB into the Smoke Monster is nullified, and I imagine that everything else (like the healing properties of the island) are all out of play as well.  Jacob knew that Desmond’s actions would both allow the LOSTies the opportunity to kill MIB, as well as put the entire island in a vulnerable position.  After 2,000 years of battling Smokey, it was a gamble he was willing to take.

“I thought I made it clear that you were to stop this.”

The conversation between Desmond and Eloise at the concert is very interesting, and gives us a couple of secondary clues to some of the rules and fates of others as it applies to the flash-sideways.  First of all, it’s clear that Eloise is just as enlightened as Desmond.  However, for some reason, she is choosing to stay behind, much like Ben does later in the episode.  I would imagine it’s because she’s still wracked with guilt over her decision to set her own son up for death in order to keep the island path intact.  But even more importantly, it explains why Faraday, Charlotte, Miles, and others were not in the church for the final scene.  Desmond says that Faraday’s fate is “not with me”, but instead, with someone else.  I don’t think that we’re meant to infer that Faraday and the others that interacted with our LOSTies *won’t* be enlightened and move into the next phase, but rather that they are going to do so with another group of individuals…ones that are more meaningful and special to those within their own circle.

“I saved you a bullet!”

Kate takes out the Man in Black

Although the battle between Jack and Locke was fairly straightforward, there are a couple of things that are below the surface that I want to draw your attention to.  First off, it’s very fitting that Kate’s the one to pull the trigger.  Her character has largely been discounted by the online community, something the writers acknowledged with their tongue-in-cheek dialog between Sawyer and Kate when former goes to the well looking for Desmond.  Kate’s inability to resist following the group has caused issues in the past, but in this case, she saves the day.  One other minor thing to point out is the location of Locke’s fatal blow to Jack.  While everyone was likely focusing on the cut on his neck, I’d suggest that the main stab wound is just as significant.  Note that it’s right in the location of his appendectomy scar…something that he reminisces about in a prior flash-sideways sequence.  I’m sure that some re-watchers will see that as an “a-ha” moment at some point.

“I’ll see you in another life, brother.”

Another thing to lead you to believe that the writers had this whole thing planned from early on is Desmond’s line to Jack from way back in Season 2.  Jack returns the line to Desmond in their final conversation of the finale, just as a little reminder to all of us that we’ve been given this information quite some time ago.  I’m sure that there are some folks out there that think the “another life” thing is a bit of a throw-away line, but I think there are enough hints to suggest that some form of this finale was in the writers’ heads for years.  Irrespective of whether or not the finale worked for you, I think it’s only fair to give the writers the benefit of the doubt that they had a reasonably thought-out plan for how they wanted to end this show.

“I have some things that I still need to work out.  I think I’ll stay here for awhile.”

Ben decides not to move on just yet

One of the things I had wondered about coming into Season 6 was whether or not Ben was going to find redemption for what he had done.  While he was fairly duplicitous in nature, it always seemed as though he had the propensity to rise up and and become more than what he was.  I had envisioned that it might come in the form of him sacrificing himself for the greater good in some way, but what eventually happens is even better.  While he ends up staying back from joining the LOSTies in their journey to the next realm so as to work through some issues with Danielle and Alex Rousseau, his storyline of helping Hurley through his role as protector of the island is both highly redeeming and thoroughly in line with the motivation of the character.  Aside from Jack, Ben’s character arc feels the most well thought-out and satisfying of anyone on the show.  I don’t think you could have asked for a better ending if you’re a fan of Ben.

Jack makes one last trek through the island

After Jack restores the light in the cave, he’s spit out in the same position that the Man in Black was.  I’m not sure how he managed to survive it without being turned into a Smoke Monster, or having some other strange reaction, but perhaps it’s because he was the protector of the island at the moment the light came back on.  Perhaps it was that status that helped him to retain all aspects of his humanity, and head back to the same place where it all started for him.

“I’ll be waiting for you there…once you’re ready.”

Kate tells Jack she'll be there when he's ready

While this line from Kate to Jack becomes more clear after the final scene, I couldn’t help but to think that it’s also a line to us the fans.  Yes, the LOSTies are moving on to the next realm.  But I can’t help but to think that the most ambitious part of the finale was how the writers tried to frame this last scene for all of us.  I’m going to discuss this in much more detail in my final retrospective entry, but I feel as though I’d be doing this entry a bit of injustice if I didn’t at least scratch the surface here.

Over the years, LOST has tried its best to play a balancing act between those that watched the show for the characters and what would happen to them, and those that watched for the mythology and the mysterious aspects of the island.  I believe that the writers had to make a conscious decision on which aspect of the two sides would have a higher priority as the series came to a close.  I think they tried to give us a satisfying end to the mythological aspects of the island, what caused all of the crazy happenings, and bring things to a logical conclusion.  But ultimately, they chose the characters and their ultimate fate as the higher priority.  Devoting the entire final season to the flash-sideways is proof of that.  But I also think that they were very self-aware in making that decision.  And I think they knew that they would have multitudes of fans that would be upset with unanswered questions.

I believe the commentary here with Kate and Jack is a direct message to those fans.  They know that it’s tough to let go of so many unanswered questions.  They know that it’s tough to let go of this show and everything you’ve been invested in for the past 6 years.  So take your time.  Digest what you’ve seen.  Discuss the open-ended mysteries with your friends.  Re-watch episodes if you need to.  But when you’re ready to let go…when you’re ready to give up LOST and move on to that next thing…watch this last scene with us.  We’ll send you off with a proper good-bye to all of these characters that you’ve spent so much time with.  And we’ll all move on to the next thing together.

Jack discovers his fate

I’ve noticed a few odd interpretations of the final scenes today.  I don’t want to call them erroneous or wrong, but I can’t help but to try to give my interpretation of what the end meant, so as to help other get a little clarity.  First off, there needs to be a clear distinction between what happened on the island, and the flash-sideways.  They are not one in the same, and in fact, the flash-sideways clearly follows what happens on-island.  Thus, while the description Christian gives for the flash-sideways is sounds very much like Purgatory, or some waiting station before moving to the next realm, I believe that the writers went through a lot of trouble to explain that the on-island events were NOT part of that wait station.  I believe that the on-island events were intended to be “real life”, and that they only entered the flash-sideways once they died.

I also know that there was a bit of confusion surrounding how Hurley or Ben or Desmond could be there if we didn’t see them die.  But Christian tells Jack that everyone dies sometime, and that some of them died before him, and some died long after (probably referring to Ben and Hurley).  But all of them came together at this moment because they are all linked spiritually.  Irrespective of when they died, they will all make the journey into the next realm together because they all had a profound impact on each others’ lives.

Jack finds his old spot and sees the results of his efforts before closing his eyes forever

Jack closes his eyes for the last time

The beauty of the symmetry in Jack’s final island scene is simply hard to ignore.  It clarifies that this story was always about Jack and his journey, closing the series with the focus on him.  It also allows for a complete arc for his character that is thoroughly satisfying.  Prior to coming to the island, this was a man struggling for a purpose.  He would consistently destroy relationships due to his uncontrollable need to fix things.  But during the course of the series, he was able to break through his personal barriers and become the man of faith that he struggled so mightily with, and ultimately, was able to fix one final issue that theoretically saved all of humanity…but at the very least, saved all of his friends.

Sorry folks, no “post-episode questions” after the finale.  It just seems so inappropriate.  But I will be back soon with my evaluation of how the finale fits into the series overall, and how I “feel” about how things ended.  To be honest, I’ve run through a ton of emotions over the last 24 hours, and I found it difficult at times to remove those from the pure analysis of the finale.  I hope this review was better for it, but I will be sure to let it all loose in my next entry, which in all likelihood, will be the last of interLOST.  I hope you’ll come back for it!


LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 15: “What They Died For”

20 05 2010

Hey everyone, was that one of the best “setup” episodes ever or what?  You had to be thinking coming in that this was going to be one of those episodes where the pieces on the chess board were being moved around to their rightful starting places for the finale.  But wow, was it me, or was it so much more than that?  After the polarizing “Across The Sea”, I have to think that everyone is back on board and ready to ride the wave of fun into the finale.  Although my level of excitement is somewhat tempered by knowing that Sunday will bring the last LOST ever, I know that the writers have been leading up to this moment for quite some time now, and I know that they’re ready to deliver.  I simply can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.

That being said, we’ve still got this episode to analyze.  Although we’re at the point now where there’s not much mystery being revealed, there was still a ton to discuss.

Jack’s got a real pain in the neck

Jack's got a bloody neck again, just like in the season premiere

We were shown this way back in the premiere, but the writers wanted to make sure you didn’t forget: Jack’s got a bit of a problem with a bloody neck.  I’m sure we’ll see how this ties in when the finale airs, but I can’t help but to think back to an old favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when I see this.  The episode was called “Frame of Mind”, and it had one of the main characters, Commander Riker, continually experiencing a cut on his right forehead.  Different things would trigger it, and sometimes nothing would.  Eventually, we came to learn that Riker was in fact being held in stasis in an alien mind experiment.  The spot on his forehead that continued to bleed in his dreams was where the aliens had hooked up some sort of monitoring system to him.  So what does all that mean?  Well, I think the first guess is that perhaps Jack experiences some sort of throat slash in the main timeline, perhaps similar to what happened to Zoe.  And perhaps he’s either carrying this memory with him, he’s stuck in some sort of stasis himself.  Perhaps the whole flash-sideways as an elaborate Matrix-type experience for everyone in it.  And perhaps, just perhaps, everyone in it has died in the main timeline.

It’s funny; the more I try to theorize about what’s going to happen in the finale, the more I realize how crazy I sound.  But really, the writers have given us so little to go on, that we’re reduced to this kind of wackiness if we want to make any guess at all.  Part of me just wants to sit back, stop theorizing, and let the finale come to me.  I’m sure that’ll happen on Sunday, but after years of theorizing on this blog, I can’t stop now, no matter how off-the-wall some of the logical conclusions might seem.  I hope you guys continue to bear with me.

“Is your mom coming too?”

So…any guesses as to who David’s mom is?  Even money in the office is that it’s Juliet, but who knows for certain.  At this point though, I think it would be more of a trick that it *is* Sarah, as opposed to it not being her.  Clearly, we’ll find out soon enough.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the sideways universe (with the Shephard family enjoying breakfast together) is almost a little too good to be true right now.  I’m nearly 100% convinced that the sideways is going to be the epilogue of the series, as some have surmised.  But if it’s that simple…if the events on the island lead to the sideways and there is no further conflict to resolve, I will be highly disappointed.  I almost feel as though this timeline is the result of some great compromise, and that the LOSTies have to “wake up” in order to deal with it.  If somehow the island thread ends with the LOSTies defeating Smokey and getting this timeline as a result, it would seem like a bit of a cop-out.  I hate to jump to conclusions (especially unfounded ones), but I wanted to be on record for that before the finale airs.

Desmond the mastermind

I’m not sure how Desmond knows as much as he does, or how he’s got all of the contacts he has (Widmore, perhaps?), but he’s got a grand plan that he’s desperate to enact.  Clearly, just “knowing” about the island timeline is not enough.  He’s trying to get the right people to remember, perhaps because there’s some final action that they have to take?  Or, because they have to “wake up” from the dream?  Not sure, but the Desmond thread in the sideways timeline makes for an intriguing diversion from the island thread.

“We have to kill him”

Jack and Kate agree that they must kill Locke

The mood on the beach is as somber as it gets, knowing that of all of the survivors of Flight 815, there’s only the 4 of them left.  But amidst all of the sorrow, there is resolve.  The resolve that they must some way, any way, kill the man masquerading as John Locke.  Don’t ask me how they’re going to do it, because honestly, I have no idea.  It’s interesting to think about, because we know so little about any limitations that the monster has.  In fact, we’re not even sure why he can’t break through the sonic fence or the circle of ash.  But we know that when he’s in physical form, he can be physically moved, as Jack demonstrated by pushing him in the water in “The Candidate”.  So perhaps Desmond can get close enough to carry him into one of the island’s electromagnetic anomolies?  Perhaps the original tunnel of light itself?  I’m just typing out loud here…if any of you have something more well thought-out, please share in the comments!

“Welcome back Mr. Locke, it’s good to see you!”

You want to know who I am?

OK, admit it, how many of you thought, “Not again!” when Desmond fired up the car as Locke crossed the street?  The writers definitely got me on that one.  But what might have been even more shocking was that sideways Ben managed to get his “vision” of island time via a complete beatdown at the hands of Desmond.  I definitely didn’t see that one coming.  And the best part was that it seemed as though Desmond knew that would be the result…

“What’s that?  A secreter room?”

It’s those types of lines that make me happy that the writers haven’t found a way to kill off Miles just yet.  I love his one-liners even more than Sawyer’s nicknames, and this one was perfect.  It was certainly a great way to break the tension before the action about to unfold.

Desmond turns himself in…to get Kate and Sayid out

As I said earlier, it’s hard to do much analysis on large parts of this episode: what you see is what you get.  But here’s just another example that it’s simply not enough for Desmond to get certain folks to remember.  He’s looking to accomplish something that requires all of our LOSTies, and he’s willing to go to great lengths to make it happen.

Little boy Jacob appears for the last time

Boy Jacob claims his ashes

Add another tick mark to the growing list of theories I’ve mentioned that have not come to fruition.  As we learned last episode, the little boy we’ve been seeing antagonizing Locke is none other than Jacob himself.  Some of you correctly guessed that, so kudos to you!  My thought that it was a reincarnated Locke clearly is not the case.  Swing and a miss on that one!  But it was good to see Jacob again, even if this is the last time.  He’s got some critical info to share with the LOSTies (and us), and it was nice to have that before the finale.

“These are both great plans, but I’m gonna go with surviving.”

One thing you may have missed in the chaos that ensued later in this scene, is that Miles ends up taking the backpack with the explosives.  And, in addition, he gets one of the walkie talkies from Ben.  Considering that Miles escapes the wrath of Smokey (at least for now), it’s important to note that the C-4 is still in play, and in Miles’ hands.

“I know this man, all he wants is for me to join him.”

Smokey takes Richard for a ride

Uh, not exactly.  Did any of you expect Richard to be taken out so quickly?  I don’t know if Jacob gave Richard eternal life or eternal youth when he recruited him to be his liaison, but I’d be seriously worried either way after an attack like that.  Of course, Ben’s reaction is classic…what else to do after the Smoke Monster violently assaults someone right next to you than to go sit on a deck chair?  Makes sense to me!

“We insist, even if we have to kidnap you.”

It was nice to see Danielle again, especially since I thought I had read that the actress didn’t have time to come back and be part of the show’s final season.  Of course, the line she says to Ben regarding him driving home with them was a great throwback to the his introduction back in Season 2, when Danielle caught him in a trap and turned him over to the LOSTies.

Ben and Danielle share a moment

By the way, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m consistently amazed by Michael Emerson’s subtle acting abilities.  He does a fantastic job here of showing us how his character doesn’t realize until a few moments later that Danielle said “next time” when referring to their dinner together.  It seems as though Ben will get a second chance with his “daughter” in the sideways universe…

“How nice to be able to talk without those fences between us.”

Zoe is murdered by the Smoke Monster

Too bad for Widmore and Zoe that talking is not what Locke actually had in mind.  Clearly, Smokey is through scheming and plotting, and is ready to use physical force directly and purposefully in order to get what he needs.  Zoe is murdered within seconds, and Ben takes out Widmore when he tries to make a play to save his daughter.  The deaths didn’t end with “The Candidate”, and somehow, I don’t see a fatality-free finale, either.

Ben takes out Widmore

What really makes this scene interesting, however, is the return of the old Ben.  Some of you had been lamenting about Ben and the role he had been relegated to in Season 6.  Clearly, as Smokey’s right-hand man, he can get back to his devious ways.  He may attempt to double-cross Smokey if the time and opportunity is right, but even so, he’s far from the man sitting in the background, waiting for the action to be brought to his doorstep.

“I think I’m ready to get out of this chair.”

OK, so I’m an admitted Locke fan, which makes this assessment biased.  But hearing those words from sideways Locke made me hope for the first time that the sideways timeline was the epilogue.  In the big picture, I’m still hesitant about how convenient it is for all of the characters to have these “fairy-tale” endings.  But I suppose that if it this is somehow shown to be the “real” Locke, and he finds his way out of the wheelchair and begins to take on the demeanor of the Locke we saw on the island, then I guess I’ll take the trade-off.  Still, I’m hoping that the writers have some special trick up their sleeves…

“I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.”

Jacob explains the candidates' purpose

The Jacob fireside chat was great in terms of putting all of the pieces together about the overarching reason why all of the LOSTies were on the island: Jacob knew he would eventually be killed by Smokey, and he needed a replacement lined up.  In fact, Jacob does such a good job of explaining the situation, that it’s hard to do any additional breakdown or analysis here.

One thing I feel compelled to point out is when Jacob says, “it’s just a line of chalk in a cave.”  Why would I want to mention that?  Well, if we know anything about LOST, it’s that things are never quite what they seem.  And honestly, it seems just too soon, too convenient, and too obvious that Jack would become the new protector of the island.  In fact, Jacob himself questions whether or not Jack’s response is a statement or a question.  Think about it this way: everything we’ve seen regarding protectors of the island leads us to believe that it’s a job that encompasses hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  And since Jack is told that he has to protect the island “for as long as he can”, you’d think that he’d have the job as long as crazy mother or Jacob had it.  But what if that’s just conditioning on our part?  What if Smokey manages to kill Jack a single day after he takes the job?  If he’s been playing this game for thousands of years, and Jack has been at it for hours, is there any reason to think that Jack can outwit him?  If Smokey plays him, and manages to off him by slicing his neck (or having someone else…like Ben…do so), then wouldn’t they need another replacement quickly?  I could certainly be way off base here, but I’m not convinced that Jack has this job for the long haul.

Desmond breaks the Oceanic jailbirds out

Desmond, Kate, and Sayid break out with the help of Ana Lucia

Awesome cameo by Ana Lucia here as the driver of the truck, and a great scene of the front end of a master plan yet to be executed in the finale.  It’s too bad that the writers couldn’t have made the flash-sideways this compelling from the start, as it may not have had such mixed responses if they had.  Regardless, it’s interesting to note that Hurley already has full understanding of the island timeline.  He recognizes Ana Lucia, even if she doesn’t “remember” him.  I’m actually excited for the answers to some flash-sideways questions: what Desmond is ultimately up to here, and of course,  more importantly, how the whole sideways timeline ties in to the main timeline.  Only a few days until we find out!

“I’m gonna destroy the island.”

A fantastic way to end the episode, with everyone having clear motivation and purpose for the finale.  It’s now just a matter of who will be able to execute their plans, and who will fail.  If we know LOST like we think we do, the outcome may not be abundantly clear, even after it’s all over.

Post-episode questions

1. How does Jack’s bloody neck relate to the connection between the two timelines?

2. Now that Jack is the protector of the island, what does he “know”, or what can he “see”?

3. What exactly is Desmond up to, both on-island and in the flash-sideways?

4. Is Ben really playing for Smokey, or is he just waiting for the right moment to stab him in the back?

5. Can you believe that we only have one episode left before the end of LOST?

I hope you found this episode as entertaining as I did…I think the writers gave us a setup episode that transcended their typical offerings of that nature, and really whet my appetite for the finale.  Just an FYI: I’ll be back here on Friday to give you any nuggets of info that I can glean from the Times Talks Live event on Thursday night.  I doubt we’ll get much with respect to the finale, but we’ll likely get some good insights on how Damon & Carlton constructed the show’s path, and the obstacles they ran into.  As we wrap up LOST forever, I think that’s as interesting a topic as any.

Thanks again for stopping by!

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 14: “Across The Sea”

13 05 2010

Usually when I start off one of these posts, I like to come in with some kind of witty or attention-grabbing sentence or paragraph.  But for some reason, it seems strange to do that for this episode.  “Across The Sea” seemed to really polarize the LOST audience, and strangely, that reaction seemed to annoy the show’s writers.  With only 2 episodes and 3 1/2 hours of new material left to air, things seem to have shifted from last week’s giddy anticipation for the finale, to an atmosphere of guarded apprehension about what we may or may not get in the finale.  I’ll touch on that a bit more at the end of the post, and also clue all of you in on what’s in store for Finale Week on interLOST.  But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the on-screen happenings of the episode that is clearly first chronologically in the history of the show.

“Across The Sea”

Typically, the writers are extremely clever, and have double-meanings in their episode titles.  Obviously, “Across The Sea” refers to where Jacob and MIB’s mother comes from, but I failed to come up with a secondary explanation, even after giving it some thought.  With all of the subtle clues dropped in this episode, I was sure that there had to be something, but I just couldn’t find it.  If anyone else came up with something, please help me out by mentioning it in the comments!

“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.”

Claudia, trying to determine who she's with

Right off the bat, the writers are letting us know that this episode was created just for the mythology folks.  It’s quite clear that crazy mom’s words to Claudia are not intended just for her, but more importantly, everyone one of us that are looking for LOST to explain itself and it’s mysteries.

Now, I hate to go into a deep dive on dialog when it’s one of the first lines in the episode, and I haven’t had a chance to build a rhythm yet, but this line is here, and you almost have to talk about it.  I imagine that the writers threw this line in as sort of an in-joke…something that they thought would give the audience something to chuckle about.  But I have to tell you, everyone that I’ve had a chance to talk to about it took more as an insult than an in-joke.  True, to some extent you can’t answer every question that has spawned from another question.  But this line seems to indicate that they won’t even give it the good-old college try.  The fact is, the writers know that they have an audience that painstakingly reviews each and every detail in each and every episode.  And we know that they know because they consistently drop in easter eggs, both visually, and with nuggets of dialog.  They’ve used this passion to create the “cool” factor of the show…to help geek it out for the absolute fanatics.  But now, using the same device that they once used to reel everyone in, they’re now using to tell everyone to back off.  The fact is, the writers created the mysteries that we all want answers to.  They made it important to us, the audience.  And since they had to know we’d clamor for answers, it seems to speak to a lack of planning to open all of these doors without having visualized a narrative focus that would take us through them all being closed.

I could write pages and pages on this topic, so maybe I’ll turn that into a discussion topic in the final few days we have before the finale.  And then again, maybe I won’t.  Either way, suffice it to say that I think that the writers went a little too far and actually belittled their audience with this one.

“I only picked one name.”

The newly born Jacob and his brother

The rest of the scene gives us a minor answer, and then denies us of another.  First off, Jacob and MIB are brothers…something that adds an interesting twist to their conflict.  At the same time, it appears as though the writers simply do not want to provide us with MIB’s actual name (wouldn’t crazy Mom have given him some type of nickname?), and so that’s that.  That’s also that for Claudia, who meets with her demise at the hands of the same woman who delivered her children.

“Jacob doesn’t know how to lie…he’s not like you.”

Right from the start, it’s clear to everyone involved that BIB (the boy in black) is crazy mom’s first choice to be her successor.  Crazy mom knows it, BIB knows it, and Jacob even realizes it.  I mention this because it’s critical to understanding the motivation of each of the characters as they progress through the episode, and perhaps into the final 3 1/2 hours reamining this season.

“Of course it did!  Where else would it come from?”

Jacob and his brother playing a game

One of the bigger revelations of the episode is the “protector’s” ability to harness the power of the island.  This idea is addressed more directly later in the episode, but it’s important to take notice of it here as well, since it’s not as straightforward.  BIB finds a game, and crazy Mom claims to have placed it there.  But how?  She wasn’t concealing the game just to take it out at just the right moment.  No, what I think we’re seeing is the manifestation of the “magic box” that Ben referred to back in Season 3’s “The Man From Tallahassee”.  While we were told that the box was just a metaphor for the island, I think that there have been numerous occasions in which the best explanation for some activity or event would be that enough people believed that it would happen.  I think the infamous Dharma food drop is a perfect example, and this season’s lighthouse is more recent potential proof.  While it’s a far-fecthed theory, don’t be too surprised if we come to learn that the ability to simply believe that something exists on the island is all that’s required to make it be the case.

“I’ve made it so you can never hurt each other.”

In and of itself, this piece of info is nothing dramatically new.  We already knew that Jacob and the Man in Black couldn’t kill each other.  But what this statement really implies is that the protector of the island has the ability to make the rules.  MIB even foresahdows this later in the episode, when discussing the rules of the game he and Jacob play.  But these rules haven’t been around forever…they seem to be modifiable, or at least appendable…if you have the job of taking care of the island.

“This is the reason we’re here.”

Jacob and his brother are shown the cave of light

Crazy Mom takes the boys to the cave of light and explains her reason for being: protecting the light that no one can steal, but that everyone will want.  It’s this light that apparently powers all of the mystical properties of the island.  But it’s not only that; tampering with the light on the island can have a ripple effect everywhere, and cause unspecified harm to humanity even off the island.  I think that the episode is very straightforward in this area, but I specifically call it out because while we’re currently worried about Smokey and what he did to Sayid, Frank, Sun and Jin…Widmore might be the one that is actually about to violate crazy Mom’s initial concerns.  Food for thought as we head into the finale.

“I’m going for a walk on the beach.  I’ll meet you later.”

Claudia's apparition appears to her unnamed son

One of the mysteries of the episode that I’m still trying to figure out is why Claudia (the boys’ mother) would appear to BIB, but not to Jacob.  BIB even asks this very same question, and is told it’s because Claudia is dead.  Unfortunately for the audience, that still doesn’t explain the situation.  Is it one of the rules that Jacob can’t see dead people?  Is it because Claudia doesn’t want to appear to him?  This may be one of those questions that never gets answered.  Regardless, Claudia shows BIB just enough to convince him that he doesn’t belong with crazy Mom, and instead, should go live with his people.

“Follow you where?”

An unhappy young Jacob

The writers have used this line just enough this season for me to think that it’s got to be some type of in-joke with the writing team.  Perhaps it’s part of a drinking game that they play.  In any event, Claudia’s revelation to BIB has caused him to want to leave crazy Mom’s camp, and to take Jacob with him.  While the resulting beatdown that BIB takes from Jacob is intriguing, what’s even more intriguing is the fact that crazy Mom seems completely powerless to stop him.  It appears as though free will, at least in some form, trumps the “rules” of the game.  It’ll be interesting to see if this is explored in further detail in the last 2 episodes.

What is certain to be explored in further detail is the warning crazy Mom gives to BIB: that he’ll never be able to leave the island.  He clearly believes otherwise, and I’m sure we’ll find out the ultimate truth before the last frame of the finale is shown.

“I’m leaving, Jacob.”

Thirty years pass, and BIB becomes the MIB that we’ve all come to know.  And now, even this far back in the storyline, MIB’s desire is the same as it is many, many years later: to get off the darn island.   But here’s the thing: at first it made sense for crazy Mom to try to stop MIB from leaving the island: she didn’t want him to be corrupted and/or killed.  But now, after he’s spent 30 years with a group of humans outside her sphere of influence, it doesn’t seem to make sense that she would still want to stop him.  It makes even less sense that Jacob would want to keep him on the island.  But that’s exactly what transpires.

Jacob relays MIB’s plan to crazy Mom, who subsequently pays her first visit to MIB after 30 years of staying away.  And after failing to convince him to give up his plans to create the frozen donkey wheel, she physically stops him by surprising him and knocking him out.

“I don’t have a choice; it’s what he wants.”

Crazy Mom transfers the power of the island to Jacob

After stopping MIB’s plans, it’s clear that crazy Mom knows that she’s going to be hunted down and killed.  She quickly takes Jacob back to the cave of light, and runs through the ceremony of transferring her abilities to him.  The interesting thing to note is that the whole thing was a very clear set up from the beginning.  She made Jacob jealous of his brother right from the start, and manipulated him both into taking her place, and trapping MIB on the island.  Not only did she know that her death was coming, but she did it in such a way that she could set up MIB to fall out of favor with Jacob, and set up the dynamic that they’re still battling under in the current timeline.

“No it doesn’t; you wanted it to be him!”

One of the things I found interesting about this episode was the way the actors delivered their lines.  I’m not sure if it was intentional, but even as adults, Jacob and MIB used verbage and intonation that suggested the maturity of a little boy.  It’s fascinating to me, because here are two immensely powerful beings, but neither of them have any real-life experiences.  Perhaps MIB has more than Jacob because of his 30 years with the human inhabitants.  But for all intents and purposes, these two are kids in adults’ bodies, playing high-stakes games with people’s lives and not really understanding the consequences.

“What did you do?!”

Even as crazy Mom thanks MIB for ending her run as protector of the island, Jacob cannot see the manipulation that he’s been a part of.  He again provides a beatdown for MIB, and then attempts to give him the only punishment he can think of, considering that the rules state that he can’t kill him outright.

“You wanna leave this place brother?”

The Smoke Monster is born

As we all saw, Jacob chucked his brother into the cave of light, causing him to turn into the Smoke Monster.  2 things to note here.  First, it appears as though the light in the cave goes out as a result of MIB being tossed in.  I’m not sure if this is a temporary condition that happens as a result of someone going into the cave (and we don’t get to see it again after the transformation), but it certainly fades out.  Again, just something to keep in mind for the finale.  Additionally, although not explicitly stated, it certainly appears as though the crazy Mom speech regarding everyone having a little light inside of them is referring to individual’s souls.  It seems to me that the effect of being tossed into the cave is one that tears your soul from your physical body, and renders it as the black smoke that we’ve seen.  It also may give a level of explanation as to how MIB can use the bodies of the dead on the island.  Once the soul leaves the body, MIB can push his soul into the body, and take control of it.  There seems to be some strange measure of logic around it all if looked at in that fashion.

I should also note that it’s very clear that the writers are once again trying to blur the line between good and evil.  After the events of last episode’s “The Candidate”, you could easily argue that MIB is the main protagonist.  After all, he just helped to kill 3 main characters on the show.  But after this episode, you can’t help but to sympathize with his situation.  He’s been pulled from the life he meant to lead by no fault of his own.  And the only thing he’s wanted to do his whole life…leave the island…has been denied him at every turn.  Not only that, but his brother and adopted mother betray him; the former cruelly subjecting him to an horrible existence in a fit of childish rage.  It’s hard to feel fully sympathetic to Smokey based upon everything we’ve seen him do over the years, but it’s certainly not hard at all to at least rationalize his actions.

“Our very own Adam and Eve…”

A nice touch at the end of the episode, not only tying back this story to that of our LOSTies, but helping to clarify the “Adam & Eve” comment from Locke.  Clearly, these two are truly the start of the story of our gang of LOSTies.  And while the initial timeframe that Jack, Kate, and Locke thought they were from is way off, I’m still very satisfied with the answer given to us regarding who these two really are.

Post-episode questions:

1. What are the rules of the game?  Are all of the rules that crazy Mom put in place still in effect, and which new ones has Jacob introduced?

2. With the wine bottle smashed, what ritual does Jacob have to put his successor through in order for him/her to take over?

3. With Jacob being killed before his successor was named, how can he transfer his power to the new person?

4. Even if MIB kills all of the candidates, will he really be able to leave the island?

5. If that was all of the mythology you’re going to get surrounding the conflict between Jacob and MIB, would you be satisfied?

I ask the last question because of an interesting article I stumbled across today.  It’s an interview with the show’s writers, and how they defend some choices that they’ve made regarding the show.  It was the first time that I came across an interview in which they seemed both guarded and jaded, and I was actually surprised as I read through it.  Check it out here and see what you think: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/exclusive-interview-lost-producers-damon-lindelof-and-carlton-cuse-talk-across-the-sea

To me, there are some discouraging things mentioned in the article, most of which harken back to my thoughts around the “we can’t answer all of your questions” line by crazy Mom in this episode.  That being said, I’m still hopeful that the finale will be knock-your-socks-off good, and that we’ll have much to discuss after it airs.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I plan to be pretty active on the blog as we head into Finale Week next week!  I plan to post the challenge of the week on Monday, which will be highly open-ended.  I’m hoping to talk about whatever things you hope to get answers to in the final 2 episodes.  I’ll also post on interLOST itself: how it came to be, its progression over the past few years and what I had hoped for, as well as what will happen to it after LOST leaves the airwaves.  Obviously, I’ll recap Tuesday’s episode, “What They Died For”, but then I’ll also be back to share with you what was said in the Times Talks Live session.  And once the finale airs, I’ll have an open thread for comments and initial thoughts prior to my recaps the following week.  I’m looking forward to a fun week of LOST, and I hope to share it with all of you!  For those of you lurkers (and I know there are a bunch of you), now’s the time to come out of hiding!  Share a little tidbit in the comments!  This is your last chance before the show goes off the air!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Let’s hope that next week is as special as we all hope it will be!

Lost Recap: Season 6, Episode 13: “The Candidate”

6 05 2010

Wow, was that a doozy of an episode or what?  Not a whole lot in the way of mythology (I have a feeling that will be made up for next week), but what it was lacking there, it made up for in action.  But before I get to the analysis, let me share with you the latest LOST news, just in case you didn’t read or hear about it elsewhere today.  The finale on May 23rd (that’s a Sunday folks), has been extended to 2 1/2 hours!  Apparently, Damon & Carlton had so much content they wanted to share, that they convinced the network to give them an extra 30 minutes.  You can read more about it here: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Lost-Series-Finale-1018123.aspx

For those of you keeping count, there’s now a full 5 1/2 hours of LOST airing on May 23rd: a 2-hour recap show starting at 7:00, the 2 1/2 hour finale at 9:00, and the one-hour Jimmy Kimmel LOST tribute show at midnight (following your 30-minute local newscast during which you can catch your breath).  How many of you plan on watching all of it?  My guess is that anyone who visits this blog will be sticking through all of it.

Alright, with that piece out of the way, let’s get into the episode at hand, shall we?

The Candidate

Of course, we got our requisite double-meaning for this episode, as Locke was the candidate for Jack’s surgical procedure, and Jack himself was identified as the candidate by Sayid.  Neither or those were huge surprises, and in fact, it seemed as though there wasn’t too much in the way of true revelations in this episode, at least for those that have been paying attention all along.  Regardless, let’s start at the top.

“Put the gun down or I’ll kill her!”

Widmore is prepared to kill Kate to meet his ends

OK, so I’m going to skip the first flash-sideways scene (I’ll spend some good time in the flash-sideways in this review, I promise!), because the initial scene at the cages is very interesting.  And I say so not for what specifically happens, but because I think it’s a foreshadowing of things to come.  I’ll get into the details later, but take note: Sawyer has the upper hand in the situation, but gives it up because Widmore holds Kate at gunpoint.  It costs Sawyer another stay in the cages, and shows where his feelings lie with Kate.  I’ll refer back to this towards the end of the post.

“That was three years ago; you just remember that?”

Bernard gives Jack some key info

For some reason, the conversation with Jack and Bernard in the flash-sideways is more compelling to me than usual.  In fact, the entire flash-sideways in this episode seemed more intriguing for some reason.  I guess it’s because it seems as though the characters seem to be at least aware of some greater mystery, and are unafraid to explore it.  Earlier flash-sideways seemed to be 100% expository, and not much in the way of mystery.  (Yes, I realize that changed with “Happily Ever After”, but I still didn’t completely care for that episode.)  Anyway, Bernard’s quote listed above strikes me as an odd thing to say.  I wonder if it’s in reference to something specific that happened on the show 3 years back, that will be (or has been) referenced this season.  Perhaps it’s something to keep in the back of your mind as we watch the final few episodes.

“…and we’re dead.”

Gotta love Hurley.  No matter what the situation, he’s always got a great humorous line to break the dramatic tension.  OK, maybe not every situation…as evidenced by the end of the episode…but it was nice to have some levity here before the carnage ensued.  In this scene, the writers also remind us one more time that Kate is not a candidate, and therefore expendable.  I have to believe that this is going to be extremely important, probably as early as the episode after next.  The thing that is gut-wrenching is the conversation between Jin and Sun.  Re-watching that after knowing their fate…you come to a very stark realization that their daughter is now an orphan.  I actually thought about that during the sub scene itself (which I’ll get into later), but it’s clear that the writers had them mention her here to wonder and worry about her.

Smokey busts everyone out of the cages

Two things struck me enough to write about in this scene.  First, are Widmore’s goons *ever* going to learn that gunfire does not slow Smokey down?  I don’t know if the writers are doing it for sheer comic relief at this point, but it’s certainly to the point where it’s obvious and ridiculous to the average LOST viewer.  Second, I’m not sure, but I thought I remembered that Kate and Sawyer both were able to escape their cages because the bars were placed too far apart.  Didn’t Kate climb completely through the cage she was in to get to Sawyer for their little rendezvous that Jack watched on the video monitor?  They don’t seem to have the same ability to escape here.  Perhaps I’m remembering incorrectly?

“You saved John’s life…why can’t that be enough?”

Anthony Cooper is "gone" in the flash-sideways

Interesting scene here with Anthony Cooper.  He turns out to be an invalid, and that twist took me completely by surprise.   But after the surprise wore off, I couldn’t help but think that he’s received his comeuppance for his deeds in the main timeline.  Did any of you think that way?  And then as a natural extension, I wondered…is everyone getting their just desserts in the flash-sideways?  Someone like Cooper, who was a terrible manipulator in the main timeline, is unable to even take care of himself in the flash-sideways.  Desmond, a man who unselfishly pushed a button every 108 minutes for years on end because he thought he was saving the world, get the admiration of Widmore, *and* gets to meet Penny.  Is it possible that the flash-sideways is some freakish heaven & hell combination?  Where the good people like Jack get the great father/son relationship he’s always wanted, whereas someone like Keamy who killed in cold blood gets mowed down by Sayid?  Some more food for thought for all of you, and I’ll give you even a bit more on that theory a little but further on.

“If we’re gonna leave the island, I think we have to take the submarine.”

Getting ready to board the Ajira plane

I love the way this scene starts, with FLocke taking down the poor “guards” defending the plane.  He’s just so methodical about it, especially considering that he’s not in smoke form.  Of course, they’re trying to take him out with gunfire, so they kinda deserve what they get.  What’s the most interesting about the dialog in this scene is Locke giving the LOSTies the exact plan that he has in store for them, but claims that it’s Widmore pulling the strings.  While some might surmise that Locke and Widmore are in cahoots in some way, I lean more towards the idea that Widmore is willing to do whatever he needs to blow up the plane and/or Smokey, even if it means that he takes a couple of the LOSTies out in the process.  It just so happens that Locke is a step ahead of him.  One last piece I want to touch on with this scene: Sawyer asks Jack to get Smokey into the water so as to keep him from getting on the sub.  I couldn’t help but to think that there was more to the request than just slowing him down…that perhaps water was a weakness of Smokey?  It didn’t seem to play out that way, but if we’re looking for weaknesses of Smokey (other than the pylons and the circle of ash), perhaps this is something to keep an eye on?

“…Push the button…I wish you had believed me…”

A couple of minor things to point out here.  First off, I can’t help but to feel as though the characters in the flash-sideways that are “connecting” with the main timeline are more *remembering* events as opposed to flashing across.  If you couple that with the idea that perhaps Desmond flashed through time in “Happily Ever After” instead of across dimensions, and I’m starting to subscribe to the “epilogue” theory regarding the flash-sideways.  Everything seems to be pointing to the idea that all of this activity happens after what’s happening now on-island.  Perhaps there’s some kind of deal struck with someone powerful enough to make the flash-sideways a reality?  If you allow yourself to believe that the flash-sideways is some sort of combined heaven & hell, then maybe this makes even more sense?  I’ve got one more thought on this that I’ll share in just a bit.

Claire and Jack see their reflection in the music box

Additionally, this scene seems to be trying to tell us something with the music box.  I certainly get that “feel” watching that scene, but I simply can’t place what it is they might be trying to tell us.  Finally, I’m starting to get a bit more suspicious of Christian’s body going missing.  If you consider that Christian was the first form that Smokey took when our LOSTies came to the island, I think that the significance can’t be overlooked.  Definitely keep that piece of info in your back pocket as we approach the finale.

Commandeering the sub

The team commandeers the submarine

Here’s one of those rare scenes that don’t really lend themselves to analysis.  The action on-screen was pretty exciting and chaotic, but also fairly straightforward.  One thing you might find moderately amusing is that the First Aid kit that Jack sent Hurley to look for is as plain as day available right over Lapidus’ right shoulder.  I guess it’s too bad that Hurley didn’t look there for it…

“We are going to be OK.”

You want us to do what?

It’s very rare on LOST for one of the main characters to let loose with several lines of dialogue that accurately describes exactly what someone else’s motivation is, and what is about to happen, in such a clear fashion as Jack does in this scene.  He knows exactly what Smokey is up to, he knows the consequences, and quite frankly, he knows the rules of the game here.  For perhaps the first time ever, Jack knows exactly what the audience knows, is not in the dark, and relays a course of action that we all know is correct.  Of course, Sawyer has lost all faith and trust in Jack due to Jughead, and isn’t about to leave things to chance like he did at the end of Season 5.  This time, he’s playing it his way.  Unfortunately, we all know the result.

Jin and Sun enter the afterlife together

Sayid: blown to bits.  Sun: pinned and drowned.  Jin: drowned along with Sun.  Lapidus: while we don’t see his demise on-screen, it’s highly likely that he’s gone as well.  In one major strategic move, Smokey has managed to kill off several of our beloved characters.  While the emotional impact of Jin and Sun’s deaths were the greatest (did any of you wonder why Sun didn’t appeal to Jin’s need to raise their child?), it’s also quite sad to see Sayid go, even though he supposedly already died, and went to the dark side.  In fact, with all of the action and subsequent deaths in the episode, it felt very much like a season finale episode.  It makes you wonder what might be in store for us for the end of the series, doesn’t it?

In any event, after processing the fact that 3 main characters and a prominent secondary character have died (maybe some of you are still processing?), it makes me wonder just how many of our LOSTies will actually make it to the very end.  And as I thought about that, as well as the idea that the flash-sideways comes across more and more like some combination of heaven and hell, it made me wonder…what if everyone in the flash-sideways is dead in the main timeline?  We saw Ilana in the flash-sideways almost immediately after her death on-island…we see Jin in this episode in the flash-sideways scene immediately after his death on-island.  I know that Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Desmond, Miles, and Ben are all still alive in the main timeline, and the fates of Rose and Bernard are not known.   But maybe their time is coming?  Everyone else we’ve seen, including Boone earlier in the season, is dead in the main timeline, right?  I know that it’s a far-fetched theory, but anything seems possible this season.

“I can help you John…I wish you believed me.”

Jack's comments cause Locke to pause for just a moment

I loved the dialogue between Jack and Locke in the final flash-sideways scene, especially how Jack’s statement above was a reverse of Locke’s from the main timeline, and that it made Locke hesitate.  But what struck me most is that Locke got his pilot’s license in this timeline.  If you believe that Smokey is still going to try to get off the island using the plane (I’m not sure that I do), then perhaps he doesn’t need Lapidus.  Regardless, the two timelines seem to be more directly intertwined more and more with each episode, and I look forward to getting the explanation of how they tie together.

“To finish what I started.”

Locke's isn't done with them yet

Two very interesting things I took from the episode’s final scene.  First, Locke seems very aware of the sub sinking, as well as exactly who is dead and who is not.  You could chalk this up to him being “in tune” with the island, and what’s happening on it.  Or, if the heaven/hell theory about the flash-sideways is correct, then perhaps he’s the one in charge of it?  Perhaps he knows who’s dead because he’s aware of who’s “crossed over”?  I know that this is almost as fantastic a theory as Locke being reincarnated as the little boy (which I’m starting to doubt now), but if Jack gets stabbed or shot in the neck, and then dies, then you know that this is what they’re up to.

Second, and perhaps founded a bit more in the reality of the show that we’re familiar with, is the fact that of the 4 people that escaped the sub alive, only 3 of them are candidates.  I was wondering what FLocke might be doing heading towards our LOSTies with guns, but think of it like this: Kate is expendable.  Smokey can’t kill the other 3 directly, but he could quite possibly manipulate the situation by threatening to take out Kate.  What better way to bring the love triangle to a definitive end than by forcing Jack or Sawyer to bring bodily harm to one of the other candidates in order to avoid seeing Kate murdered by MIB?  After what we saw him pull off in this episode, I don’t think anything is beyond Smokey’s manipulative ways.

Post-episode questions:

1. Now that Smokey has played his hand, what is Jack and the other LOSTies’ countermove?  Do they have one?

2. What is Widmore’s plan?  Can he really stop Smokey?

3. With 4 significant deaths in an episode 3 weeks before the finale, should the question be “Who lives to the end?” instead of “Who dies before the end?”

4. How did Smokey know that the sub had sunk?  What are the extent of his abilitites?

5. Are you ready for this to wrap up?  There are only 3 episodes of LOST left!

That’s all I’ve got for this week.  I’m afraid of the mythological information dump we may receive next week…I may write a novel here!  But I’m looking forward to it all the same.  I hope all of you enjoyed this week’s show!

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 12: “The Last Recruit”

22 04 2010

Hey everyone, thanks for swinging by the blog today!  Alright, so here’s my theory on last night’s episode.  I believe that how much you liked it is inversely related to how bad you want immediate answers.  If you’re patient, and OK with the writers telling the story at their pace, then you probably enjoyed the show.  If you’re dying for answers, and wish that most of the mysteries were already solved, then you probably thought that this episode dragged.  Personally, I enjoyed the show.  I feel like I’d be beating a dead horse if I said the flash-sideways stuff is still not overly compelling (whoops, too late!), but I’m thoroughly enjoying everything happening on-island.  And let’s face it, even if this episode wasn’t your favorite, it’s still miles ahead of what awaits us in June.  (That’s no new LOST, ever.)  So let’s get right to the breakdown of the episode, shall we?

The Last Recruit

Interestingly, this was never really addressed in the episode.  Couple that with the fact that the episode appeared to be multi-centric, and it’s hard to understand what the title was really all about.  I’m thinking that it referred to Jack, in that he was the last candidate to be recruited by Smokey.  If any of you have anything different, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

“You were trapped on this island before you even got here.”

Smokey tells Jack that he took the form of Christian

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the entire episode happened in the first ten minutes, when Jack and Flocke share a little one-on-one time.  First of all, Smokey admits that he has been posing as Christian Shephard since the LOSTies’ third day on the island.  This opens a world of thoughts about things that have happened throughout the series.  I guess the first thought is, is MIB lying?  Based upon how he qualified his answer, specifically about leading Jack to water, leads me to believe that he is not.  So then the question becomes, is every instance of Christian Smokey?  In alot of cases, that makes perfect sense.  It would mean that the Christian that appeared to Claire and convinced her to abandon her baby was Smokey.  It would also mean that the Christian that appeared to Locke and encouraged him to move the island and turn the donkey wheel was indeed Smokey, trying to get him off the island so that he would get himself killed.  But then you have to ask, what about the Christian that appeared to Hurley?  Was that Smokey as well?  Can Hurley not tell the difference between an apparition and Smokey?  If not, is there any guarantee that the Michael he saw two episodes ago was indeed Michael?  Wouldn’t it be easy (and fit into Smokey’s plans) for Smokey to appear as Michael and tell him to destroy all of the dynamite?  And then to make a beeline for Smokey’s camp?  Aside from that, what about the Christian that appeared to Jack off-island?  That couldn’t be Smokey too, could it?  Isn’t Smokey trapped on-island?  While this paints a fuller picture, it’s still not the whole story.

As much as that portion of the conversation opens up multiple lines of thought, the fun doesn’t stop there. Next, Smokey gives us a line that might be a throw-away…or perhaps not.  The way I see it, Smokey’s very cognizant of the timeline of the island.  This is probably due to the fact that he’s been there so long.  But regardless of why, he clearly knows almost everything that’s happened on the island.  It was this knowledge that allowed him to foresee that Locke was eventually going to become the “leader” of the Others, and would allow Smokey to get access to Jacob’s abode once he took over Locke’s form.  In fact, if you consider that Christian appeared to Locke just as he fell down the well that housed the donkey wheel, then you might even go so far as to think that Smokey has some measure of ability to travel through time.  Regardless, he knows what’s going on.  Why did I go through all of the trouble to mention this?  Well, what if Smokey was not being figurative with his “trapped” comment?  What if Jack was literally trapped on the island, even before he got there?  Perhaps, just perhaps, this is our first clue that Jack himself is one of the “Adam & Eve” bodies in the caves.  Something to think about…

Finally, Smokey tells Jack that Locke was nothing more than a “sucker”.  Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but the whole thing is starting to smack of reverse psychology to me.  Seriously, are the writers going to have the legacy of John Locke be reduced to a man so lost that he failed to commit suicide, only to be murdered minutes later, and then be ridiculed for his faith?  I’m not buying it.  But I am afraid that they’ll try to give his character some resolution by granting him the ability to walk, and following through with his wedding to Helen, in the sideways timeline.  I can imagine that some LOST viewers out there are hoping for this.  That somehow, if everyone has a happy ending in the sideways timeline, then it makes up for the pain and suffering in the main timeline.  I can tell you that for me, this would come off as a supreme cop-out.  Anything that happens in the sideways timeline, no matter how well explained, cannot supercede the main timeline in my eyes.  I truly hope that the writers don’t use it as an “out”.  Regardless, I’d put money on Locke becoming more than what he is now, in either the sideways timeline, the main timeline, or both.

“It’s him!  It’s him!”

Sideways Locke tells Ben his first name

The interesting thing I’m taking from the initial sideways scene is that it’s clear that consciousness can move from the main timeline to the sideways timeline with some encouragement.  Desmond did it with help from a little EM pulse.  Sun did it with a bump on the head.  Perhaps others have done so as well.  My question is twofold: first, if consciousness can travel from the main timeline to the alternate timeline, is it far-fetched to think that the reverse is possible?  I believe that we haven’t seen it yet, but would it be any surprise if we did as early as next episode?  The other part of my question is this: could someone, say Locke, have already made the trip to the sideways universe?  Perhaps the Locke in the sideways timeline actually has the consciousness of the Locke in the main timeline?  Maybe he’s been keeping the secret all this time because he is enjoying his new and improved life?  I hope I’m not too far in left field with some of these thoughts, but I get the impression that there’s a major reveal of some sort on the horizon, and Locke’s story, at least in the flash-sideways, is clearly not complete.

“Sayid ain’t invited.  He’s gone over to the dark side.”

Finally, some action!  While alot of you out there might see this episode as moving the pieces in place for the grand shakedown at the end of the series (and I think there’s some truth to that), what’s seems more relevant is that the characters are moving, and putting plans in place.  The LOSTies are stealing, scheming, and taking chances.  And as a result, we’re sucked back in to rooting for them and judging their motivations.  I think that’s what made this episode feel more than just a “moving pieces” episode for me.

Desmond is off his sideways rocker

While I’m not inclined to over-analyze the sideways timeline (as usual), I will take the bait on a couple of things happening over there.  I’ll start by discussing Desmond’s behavior.  Was it me, or did he come off as just a bit creepy in this episode?  Tracking Claire down, following her through the building, and practically forcing her to visit his lawyer…it all seemed just a bit shady.  Of course, compared to running Locke down with his car, I guess it’s not that much of a stretch.  The question though, is why?  Last week’s actions made some sort of sense when set against the backdrop of what we know, but this week?  Desmond just comes off as plumb crazy.

One other quick thing I want to mention: Desmond warns Claire to not do anything that might make her situation “irreversible”.  A curious choice of words, as they harken back to Locke’s words to Jack in the season premiere.

Sayid and Desmond discuss the price of a life

Desmond chats with Sayid at gunpoint

There’s an interesting theory floating around the internet regarding Desmond being the actual replacement for Jacob.  I hadn’t really given it much thought until this episode.  However, after looking at what Desmond’s doing in the alternate timeline, as well as his conversational abilities with Sayid in the main timeline, I’m starting to consider it more as a possibility.  In the scene at the well, Desmond asks all of the right questions to have Sayid, despite the fact that he’s a zombie, reflect upon the reasons why he’s doing what he’s doing.  Despite what Sayid says to Smokey later in the episode, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than the idea that Sayid did not shoot and kill Desmond.

Strike one up for Mr. Giacchino

Most of the comments I make in this blog are with respect to the plot points and mysteries of the show.  On rare occasions, I’ll reference the level of acting and try to give credit to some of the more amazing performances.  One thing I don’t think I’ve ever done, is to comment on the score.  But I have to admit, especially in an episode like “The Last Recruit”, where showing characters moving from one location to the other is a large part of the on-screen action, the music really added to the overall enjoyment of the show.  It helped to create a measure of tension at the right moments, but also seemed to add weight to scenes that otherwise might seem somewhat rote in nature.  The score was particularly spot-on in this episode, so I thought I’d mention it specifically.

“You did this to me!”

I’m not sure just how much we’re supposed to read into Locke’s response to Sun’s written words above, but it struck me as interesting that he didn’t take any credit for Sun losing her voice, or more importantly, Sun’s consciousness migrating to the sideways timeline.  This would have been a perfect time to lead us in the direction that Smokey is responsible for the alternate timeline, and that what we’re seeing over there is a result of him granting everyone their wishes in return for helping him get off the island.  But no such luck.  Maybe the sideways timeline is something else entirely…

“I just shot an unarmed man…I needed a moment.”

Two big things caught my eye in the scene where Sayid claims to have done Smokey’s dirty work.  First, did you notice Sayid gazing up into the trees at the start of the scene?  It’s almost as if he was looking for a vine…perhaps one long enough to help Desmond out of the well?

The other thing that was fascinating was the disdain that Sayid seems to have for Smokey here.  He doesn’t outright confront him, but he clearly challenges him to check his work if he doesn’t think he completed it successfully.  It’ll be interesting to see if he takes that to the next level in subsequent episodes and perhaps challenges Smokey directly, especially if he didn’t kill Desmond, as most of us suspect.

“Get off my damn boat!”

Jack shares his faith, to Sawyer's displeasure

Not sure about the rest of you, but I really enjoyed the dialog here between Jack and Sawyer.  Both of these men have very strong convictions about where they’re headed, and they simply don’t mesh.  Sawyer is thoroughly finished with the island.  In fact, the only reason why he decided to go with Smokey in the first place was because he was promised a way off the rock.  Ever since he lost Juliet, he has no other objective except to find a way off.  So it’s not at all surprising that he wants nothing to do with Jack, and his talk that is infused with so much mysticism and blind faith.  After all, it was that same mentality that managed to convince everyone to attempt to detonate Jughead, and ultimately led to Juliet’s death.

Jack fully understands this, and even once again apologizes for his hand in Juliet’s death.  But he knows that no matter what he does to evade it or delay it, he’s got a task to perform.  And if trying to achieve that task puts a crimp in Smokey’s plans, well then, all the better.  Jack has come to grips with the idea that he’s got some sort of destiny to fulfill, and if it means jumping off the boat halfway to Hydra Island, so be it.  I just wonder whether or not he’s going to live through whatever the island has in store for him…

Sun and Jin get their reunion

Jin and Sun reunite

Although I hate to say it, it came off just a bit cheesy to me.  Especially so when Lapidus mentioned Sun getting her English back.  That was a “take you out of the moment” line for sure.  Of course, the reunion is short-lived, as Widmore backs out of his deal, and uses the opportunity to fire upon the Smoking Club on the other island.

Smokey gets Jack out of harm's way

But here’s the part I don’t understand.  I’ve been under the impression that Smokey can either get everyone together, get on a plane, and get off the island; OR, he can lead the candidiates to their death, even if he can’t carry out the task himself.  So why not leave Jack to be blown to bits by Widmore’s attack?  Why pull him out of the line of fire just to try to convince him to willingly follow him?  Perhaps I’m understanding the rules of the game incorrectly, but it definitely seemed odd that Smokey wouldn’t simply leave him to meet his fate on the shore.

Post-episode questions

1. Are the migrations of consciousness from the main timeline to the sideways timeline only a one-way street?  Is anyone going to go from the sideways timeline to the main timeline?

2. What is Desmond’s fate?  Did Sayid actually kill him?

3. Why did Widmore go back on his deal with Sawyer?  What’s his ultimate plan?

4. What does Smokey have in store for Jack?  Why did he save him instead of letting him die?

5. Can you believe that there’s no new LOST next week?  Can you wait 2 whole weeks for the next episode?

That’s all I have for this week, but I plan to have a few things to talk about next week, despite the fact that there’s no new episode.  I hope you come back by!

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 11: “Everybody Loves Hugo”

15 04 2010

Hey everyone, thanks again for stopping by!  For those of you that read my blog consistently, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this past episode much more than the previous one.  It had everything a LOST fan could hope for: a scene that came completely out of left field, a major reveal of a mystery that had been in question since all the way back in Season 1, and little clues that point to a bigger mystery that likely involves LOST’s endgame.  (It almost has to, doesn’t it?  I mean, there are only 5 episodes left!  Anything that’s still a mystery has to be a part of the endgame by default, right?)

In any event, I quite enjoyed the show, even some of the flash-sideways bits.  In fact, I have a pretty big theory about the flash-sideways that I’ve hinted on a few times, but that I’ll now put out there in plain sight for all of the world to laugh at.  So let’s get to it, shall we?  There’s much to discuss!

“Everybody Loves Hugo!”

How many of you recognized Dr. Chang’s voice right off the bat when the opening montage of Hurley came on screen?  I picked it up pretty quick, and also made an association of his dialog with that of the award presentation scene for Tony Stark in “Iron Man”.  I didn’t take the time to go through and see if it matched up, but it certainly reminded me of that.  Regardless, a fun little scene with what happened to Hurley in the sideways timeline.

One of the interesting things to think about from this opening scene is the appearance of Dr. Chang, semingly with both arms intact (you can see him clapping in the background several times).  What makes this so interesting is that Chang was at the site of “The Incident” at the Swan Station, which most of us had been assuming was the fork in the timelines.  But the thought is that the bomb never went off in the main timeline (which is how he survived to make the Dharma videos), but that the bomb DID go off in the sideways timeline, which caused the island’s demise.  If Jughead did indeed detonate in the sideways timeline, Chang would have been obliterated.  It begs the question: what really did happen at the Swan station, both in the main and sideways timelines?  I’m not holding my breath that we’ll get the answer for either, but I certainly had hoped that it would be explained sometime this season.

I guess the reason why I’m not too hopeful is because I’m not sure how relevant it is to the overall story at this point.  It seems as though much of the end of LOST can be told without going back of some of the minutia too much.  I guess it’s up to the writers to determine what they think is big enough to answer, and what isn’t.  In fact, I guess they’ve already made that decision, since the finale is already written and in the process of being filmed.  That’s something else interesting to think about, isn’t it?

“I’m here to stop you from gettin’ everyone killed!”

Michael appears to Hurley

Not sure about the rest of you, but I was happy to see Michael back one last time.  I really never liked the way the writers basically turned him into an evil guy, and then cast the whole Michael/Walt storyline aside like yesterday’s news.  Even Michael’s return and subsequent “redemption” seemed hollow, especially since he was never reunited with Walt, and the poor kid thinks his Dad is still alive somewhere on the island.  So any chance for Michael to get even the slimmest pieces of addition redemption is OK in my book.  I’ll touch on that a bit more later when I discuss his second appearance in the episode.

It’s Libby!

Libby catches up with Hurley in the flash-sideways

Great to see Libby back as well, as her time was cut way too short in the show too.  While we all know what she’s referring to in her conversation with Hurley in the restaurant, it’s interesting how the writers try to tie back her brief scene in the mental hospital from Hurley’s flashback in Season 2 to the flash-sideways in Season 6.  I would imagine that there are some folks out there that are trying to make some type of an association between the original flashbacks and the new flashsideways, but I’m hesitant to do so.  As much as I’m on record for not really liking the flash-sideways in a general sense, I think they completely lose their validity if somehow they are already mixed with the main timeline and our LOSTies’ past.  While reviewing some scenes again in the light of some answers will be fun (more on that later), I don’t think deciphering between real and alternate in the original flashbacks would be one of them.  It’d be too much like revisionist history.  What do you all think?

BTW, since “Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute” was so prominently displayed on the side of the van Libby left in, I decided to do a little anagram search on it…just to be sure.  Nothing worth mentioning came up.

“You have to trust me.  I’ve been training my whole life for this.”

Ilana underestimates the instability of her dynamite

Wow.  Did any of you see that coming?  I mean, in retrospect, sure, Ilana could be considered “expendable” in relation to the story that’s left to be told.  But that was shocking to see on screen.  Of course, immediately after she blew herself to bits, I was already thinking exactly what Ben later vocalized.  She was hand-picked by Jacob.  He specifically asked her to come back to the island and help him.  But he seemed to offer zero protection for her when she needed it.  In fact, that seems to be very much Jacob’s M.O.: ask for help, get it, and then discard with prejudice.  Not only did he leave Ilana to her demise, but Dogen, Lennon, and Bram (Ilana’s counterpart that was killed by Smokey in the Season 6 opener) were all followers of Jacob that he seemed to have no concern for as they stared into the face of death.  While I’m not suggesting that Jacob is at all evil, I’m not sure that I’d be the first to join his squad.  He clearly has a non-interference policy (othet than bringing people to the island), and he’s sticking to it regardless of who lives or dies.  Bram once said that he’s playing for the team that was “gonna win”.  That may very well still turn out to be true…but he surely won’t be around to see if he was right.

One interesting corollary of this scene is the subsequent invasion of Ilana’s stash, including Hurley finding a small bag.  While at first I thought that this might be Jacob’s remains, you can hear a sort of clanking noise as he inspects the contents, giving us the impression that it contains rocks or stones.  Perhaps they’re the white and black stones that Adam and Eve from the caves have on them?  I doubt that we’ve seen the last of that bag, that’s for sure…

“It was nice bumping into you.”

Desmond convinces Hurley to give Libby another shot

Ah yes, Desmond continues his alternate reality farewell tour in the sideways universe.  I’m actually enjoying the way this is playing out, even if the trigger for getting there still seems highly unbelievable to me.  In any event, I wanted to point out that I believe that Desmond is not flashing between the worlds as he did in the previous episode.  I still hold to the idea that the lack of a whoosh sound between the flashes in the previous episode speaks to him consciously making the transition.  The fact that there are now whoosh sounds in this episode tells me that he’s not going along for the ride in a conscious sense.  The Desmond in the alternate timeline is acting completely on his own, based solely on what he experienced in the last episode.  I could certainly be wrong (is there anyone out there that analyzes this show that hasn’t been wrong?), but that’s what I’m taking out of it.

“I’m protecting us.”

What's left of the Black Rock

Now this one wasn’t too far out in left field for me.  Hurley’s clearly in a different mindset now, and is welcoming the leadership position.  And as such, he’s taking action to make sure his wishes are carried out, even if they’re not what the group believes, and he has to do it himself.  Blowing up the Black Rock was a ballsy move, but it really was the only way he could slow down Richard’s headstrong ways.  If he’s angling to take control of the group, it was the best move he could make.

“I said ignore him!”

The boy getting a chuckle from Smokey's frustration

Happy to see the little antagonizing boy in the jungle again, although he appears to have grown up a bit.  Some of you may be thinking that it’s a different boy, seeing as how he now has dark hair as opposed to blond, and is definitely older, but my money is on the idea that it’s the same kid.  And I’ve got a really strange, off-the-wall theory as to who it is.  Many of you have guessed a young Jacob, or even a young Sawyer (at least originally).  But my guess is not either of them.  I’ll share it with you at the end of this post.  For now, note that the boy seems quite pleased that the Locke Monster is frustrated by his appearance.  Oh, and by the way, I’m sure that his appearance as Smokey takes Desmond out into the jungle is for exactly the same reason he showed up last time: to remind Smokey of what he can’t do…namely, kill Desmond.  Only this time, he doesn’t even have to vocalize it.  Smokey knows that it’s against the rules.

For reference, the boy's first appearance

“You can either come with me, or you can keep trying to blow stuff up.  Your call dude.”

A couple of interesting things happen in this scene.  First, Hurley flat-out lies about his contact with Jacob.  I guess it’s not completely uncommon if you stop to think about it, but I was taken aback by it.  I didn’t expect him to take such tactics, especially as he’s trying to take a leadership position.

Richard, not buying what Hurley's selling

The other thing to notice is that he’s not forcing anyone to do anything.  For someone that’s Jacob’s potential replacement, he’s certainly on the right track there.  It’s certainly more than what Jack’s currently doing…

Team Ilana (minus Ilana) splits up

So yeah, what’s the new name for these teams anyway?  I guess I could call Hurley’s group either Team Jacob or Team Hurley (now that he’s assumed the leadership position), and the other group Team Richard.  I don’t know, I’m not too good at coming up with clever names for these people, like “The Smoking Club”.  In any event, the team breaks up, with Richard, Ben, and Miles going for explosives that they think they can find at the Barracks.  Meanwhile, Hurley, Jack, Sun, and Lapidus all head for Smokey’s camp.  Frankly, I’d be concerned about the safety of both groups.  But I’m definitely interested in how the story develops for the both of them…

“Yeah, we’re the ones who can’t move on.”

Michael gives up the ghost on the secret of the whispers

So…after 5 years of the whispers, we’re given the answer as to what they are.  Although the mthod in which the answer was given was somewhat anti-climactic, it was still an awesome moment of revelation.  I’d venture to guess that the answer wasn’t overly surprising to any of you (maybe you wished that you had thought of that yourself…or maybe you did!), but to me, the answer was still highly satisfying.  And if nothing else, it gives us at least one reason to go back and re-watch all of those old episodes.  My first inclination is that we saw Walt in Season 2 right after the whispers, and he wasn’t dead, so I’m curious to go back and see how well everything fits together.  But the bottom line for me is that I’m thrilled that they answered this one.

One last thing to comment on with this scene: I’m also very happy with Michael’s last appearance.  In his final request, he wasn’t just asking for forgiveness from Libby, he was asking it of Hurley as well.  Hurley’s response leads me to believe that he has indeed forgiven Michael for what he did…giving that story at least some measure of closure.

“You like me because you’re delusional.”

Libby helps Hurley remember

Yeah, that’s a great way to get someone to like you Hurley…you should use that one again!  Libby kisses Hurley anyway, and he experiences the same flashes that Charlie, Desmond, and Libby had previously.  Not surprisingly, Desmond is looking on, but seems content enough with the outcome to drive off to his next destination after seeing their interaction.  The question I have after that is, why doesn’t Desmond recruit them for his cause?  Isn’t there some larger plan in play than just simply trying to get everyone from Flight 815 to experience the flash?  Of course, I’m still hung up on how good ol’ Des figured out that the flight was the commonality, but I won’t head down that path again.  I suppose it’s enough to know that he simply wants to trigger the effect.  That in itself seems to make for a successful interaction.

Smokey shows Desmond the well

Smokey and Desmond approach the well

A bunch of things to discuss here.  First, I think that Smokey is dead-on when he mentions that Widmore is in it for himself.  I know that in the past, I’ve pretty much dismissed anything that Smokey’s said out-of-hand.  I regret doing so, because I now believe that he’s at least got a nugget of truth in what he says.  He’s an accomplished liar, but unlike Ben, he seems to use it only when he has something he’s trying to achieve.  In this particular case with Desmond, he needs nothing from him, and has no fear of losing the upper hand, so he’s fully comfortable sharing information without a filter.

The other thing to discuss is the location itself.  Note that they’re nowhere near anything that looks like the Orchid station, or any remnant thereof.  Couple that with Smokey’s statement that this is not the only well, and you can conclude that this is not the well that leads to the frozen donkey wheel.  That was my first thought, but I’m convinced otherwise after some re-watches.  Smokey’s not trying to get him down to the donkey wheel, he’s just trying to remove him from the equation.

Of course, that leads to the third thing to notice, and that is that he didn’t kill Desmond straight up.  You might be asking why that is.  Of course, I gave you my answer earlier: the young boy made an appearance just to remind Smokey that he can’t kill Desmond, at least not directly.  I guess he figures that the next best thing is to chuck him into a well that he can’t get out of.  That would at least stop Widmore from using him the way he wants to.

Look what just showed up on your doorstep!

You have to admit, if you’re Smokey, and the series of events that come to pass at the end of the episode happens to you, you’ve got to feel like it’s your lucky day.  Not only is Widmore’s secret weapon dispatched with, but the three people you needed to get off the island…Jack, Hurley, and Sun…all come walking right up to your camp.  And if that’s not enough, the guy who flew the plane shows up along with them!  After years and years and years of waiting, absolutely everything is coming together in a way that even Smokey couldn’t have anticipated.  He’s got to feel as though his trip off the island is imminent.

Alternate Desmond runs down Locke

Locke in bad shape after Desmond's handiwork

I think the immediate association most people would have with this scene is that somehow alternate Desmond is aware of what’s happening back on the island, and that he’s looking for some type of revenge.  However, as I stated earlier, I don’t think that Desmond’s consciousness is making the trip anymore.  Instead, I think that alternate Desmond had a very specific task in mind: get Locke to have a near-death experience, so that he will see the flash, just like Charlie did when he alomst choked to death on Oceanic 815.

And really, there’s no better segue to my off-the-wall theory than the way the episode ends.  I’m sharing this with you even though it feels only slightly above fan fiction, for two reasons.  First, there are only 5 episodes left.  At some point I’m going to have to go out on a limb about who I think Jacob’s replacement is, despite not seeing any overt clues that point to anyone in particular.  Second, after some of the things we’ve seen this season, it’s hard to classify anything as too off-the-wall for what could happen to end the show.

So here it is: I think that alternate Locke is going to somehow transfer his consciousness from the alternate timeline to the main timeline, be reincarnated as the young boy that is tormenting Smokey, and eventually become Jacob’s replacement.  I know, I know, totally off the wall.  But here’s some backup evidence, for what it’s worth:

1. Locke’s coversation with Jack in the alternate timeline in the first episode of the season: Locke – “My condition is irreversible.”  Jack – “Nothing is irreversible.”

2. “Canton-Rainier” (which is an anagram of reincarnation) on the side of the van that Locke’s body was transported in last season.  You could argue that Locke was already “reincarnated” as Smokey, but that’s not exactly how I interpret reincarnation.  Reincarnation is typically thought of as the consciousness of an individual that dies coming back in another’s body or form.  Coming back as the young boy would qualify.

3. Walt’s dream of Locke on the island in his suit with everyone trying to kill him.  So far, no one’s tried to kill Locke’s form except Sayid, and Smokey posing as Locke is not wearing a suit.  This dream of Walt’s is yet to come.

4. The young boy is clearly pleased with Smokey’s misfortune.  Who would be more pleased with Smokey’s pain than the guy whose body he stole?

5. Locke’s story in the alternate timeline is still to be told.  We’ve clearly been left with a cliffhanger that entails Locke’s fate, and should get more information on it in next week’s episode, or in the episodes to come.  We’re not yet done with Locke.

6. No one is a better candidate to replace Jacob than Locke.  Despite what Hurley and Jack are trying to accomplish, they do not fit as Jacob’s successor.  Hurley certainly seems to be making that transition somewhat, but he still doesn’t seem to be ready.  If Locke came back as the Locke we knew, I don’t think that there would be any doubt that he could be the one.  In fact, the idea of Locke’s death may be the writers’ way of throwing us off the scent.  If Locke was alive, wouldn’t you think he would be the overwhelming choice to replace Jacob?  The only way to quell that is to kill him, and have Smokey scratch him off the list.

Anyway, that’s my wacky theory.  I’d love for all of you to pick it apart for me.  Oh, and for those of you that can actually see this happening, think about this: what if Ben was Locke’s new Richard?  How fun of a concept would that be?  Alright, enough of my crazy ranting, let’s wrap this up…

Post-episode questions

1. How the heck is Desmond going to be able to do what Widmore wants now that he’s in the well?

2. Who is Jacob’s replacement?  Does Hurley fit the bill?   With only 5 episodes left, it’s time to start putting together a theory…

3. What really happened at the Swan station during the Incident?  Will we ever find out?

4. Does the question of why or how the sideways timeline exists even matter anymore?  Is it all now about how it converges with the main timeline?

5. If the alternate timeline “won out” (was the timeline that remained and the main timeline got wiped out), would you feel at all cheated?  Would you like that better because it seems as though the characters are mostly getting what they want over there?

That’s all I’ve got for this week!  I really want to encourage all of you long-time readers that may be lurkers to come out of the shadows and post!  We only have 5 episodes left to chat about the show and then it’s gone forever.  I’d love nothing more than getting some serious theorizing going on in the comments as everything comes to a head and gets wrapped up.  I’d love to know what all of you think!

LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 10: “Happily Ever After”

8 04 2010

Alright, I guess this is where I come across as a complete hypocrite.  Last week I wrote about how I thought that people with negative feedback about the show should mostly keep it to themselves.  After all, we’re in the final few hours…let’s enjoy it while we can!  Well, despite most of the positive reaction I’m seeing, I was only so-so on this episode.  The funny thing is, it’s not so much due to the episode’s execution, or acting, which was spot-on, as usual.  Instead, I was upset because the answers given are not what *I* wanted to see or hear.  (Yeah, I know, that’s hypocritical.)

Prior to writing this entry, I had actually thought about sugar-coating my analysis, because I didn’t want to come across as a “hater”.  But while I promise not to be cynical about what appeared on screen, I also won’t hold back my true thoughts on the episode, and why I think that the flash-sideways has turned into one big, unnecessary mess.  I’ll try to substantiate my stance, because I think that’s important.  But I think it’s only fair to give you my true thoughts, despite what I just wrote in the intro of last week’s post.  Read on if you dare…

Waking up on the island

Desmond is back on the island, and he is not pleased

I absolutely loved Desmond’s reaction to discovering he’s on the island, and the way Henry Ian Cusick pulled off the scene.  Although the episode’s title refers more to the end state of the episode, Desmond had to feel as though he had already found his happily ever after.  He spent years on the island pushing a button in isolation, but at long last had found Penny and was starting a family with her.  Is there any other way to react after being forcibly dragged back to a place that carried so many bitter memories?

“Are we ready?”

One of the things I constantly run into with the folks I talk to about LOST, is their desire to categorize Widmore.  “Which side is he on?” is a question I typically get.  To which I answer, “His own.”  Seriously.  I don’t think he’s playing for Team Jacob -or- the Smoking Club.  Widmore’s got his own agenda, and he’s pulling out all of the stops to make it happen.  If his actions at any point in time happen to line up with either side, I think it’s just the way things played out in that moment.  He’s out to harness the electromagnetic properties of the island, and I doubt that Jacob or Smokey really care about that at all.

“Penny, your son, everyone else…will be gone forever.”

I’d love to know exactly what Widmore means by this.  After all, we do have the alternate timeline, in which both Penny and Desmond do exist, and the future is open wide for them based upon the events of this episode.  Is he referring to the Penny and Desmond in this specific timeline?  Or does he mean that both timelines (and perhaps others) will be wiped out?  I ask, because one of the interesting things that seemed to come out of this episode (I can’t tell for certain if it’s by design), is that we’re made to care for both timelines equally now.  I’ll get into this more as we go, but the facts are that we spent almost a full episode in the sideways universe in this episode, and it seems as though the reason why everyone likes it so much is because they could finally relate to the characters.  Desmond, Penny, Charlie, Eloise, Daniel…even Widmore himself seem to be characters that we want to find themselves in the alternate timeline.

But it’s also a double-edged sword.  If we care just as much about the characters in the sideways timeline, then what does it matter if the main timeline characters die, or “cease to be”?  And if they don’t, then why the flash-sideways at all?  I supposed that in a nutshell, that’s the problem I’m having with the flash-sideways, and the way it played out in this episode.  But before I go on too much of a rant, let me continue with the analysis.

Desmond doesn’t just survive the electromagnetic event…

Desmond engulfed in the electromagnetic event

…he uses it to transport his consciousness to the alternate timeline.  So, let’s deal with the more obvious first.  Widmore knows that Desmond originally survived turning the failsafe key down in the Swan Station.  But he needs to know that this isn’t some kind of fluke.  Why?  Because he’s going to tap the power of one of the other remaining electromagnetic pockets (as evidenced by Jin’s Dharma map).  To what end, I’m not sure, but whatever it is, it won’t be a minor event.  Hopefully we’ll get a better idea of this as soon as next week.

But the thing I’m more interested in focusing on is Desmond’s flash into the sideways universe.  Note that there was no weird flash-sideways noise prior to us following him over there.  To me, this indicates that this is not to be taken the same way as all of the other flashes.  Desmond’s full consciousness has headed over there, and he’s going to return with a full memory of all of the events.  Looking back, this isn’t a huge surprise.  There have been numerous instances where characters in the main timeline have lost consciousness and have seemingly “woken up” in the alternate timeline.  Last episode with Sun losing her ability to speak English could almost be seen as her making the round trip and “forgetting” English due to her counterpart not ever having learned it.

But the piece that I struggle with the most is that Desmond’s flash to the alternate timeline seems incredibly convenient.  Why would previous flashes have everything to do with time, either backwards or forwards, whereas this time it sent him to the alternate timeline?  I guess one could argue that Desmond went to the alternate timeline in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, but he knew Penny in that flash, and they lived together.  That doesn’t jive with the alternate timeline shown in this episode.  And while I’d love to just go along for the ride, I really can’t in this case.  If you’re going to break the laws of time and space, I think you’ve at least got to be consistent about it.  I know that Desmond is “special”, but that can’t be an escape clause for whatever plot point the writers want to drive home.  Sorry, but this trip is just too fantastic for me.  But hey, at least the effect itself was really cool.

Charlie has a death wish for a reason

I could write a bit about Desmond’s encounters with Minkowski and Widmore, especially the contrasts evident in his relationship with Widmore, but those are as straight forward and knock-you-over-the-head as can be.  Instead, I’ll write a bit about Charlie’s appearance in the episode.  First, let me say that I miss having Dominic Monaghan on the show.  I feel as though his acting talents were greatly underutilized in the show.  We got to see just how much acting chops he had in the last few episodes before Charlie’s demise, and I think he does another fantastic job in this episode as well.

Charlie gives Desmond the reason for his recent actions

Aside from that, Charlie’s character in the flash-sideways has some pretty amazing motivation.  From his discussion with Desmond in the bar, it wasn’t like that from the start.  But he had a near-death experience on the plane, and now is blindly committed to nothing else but having it again.  Taken on its own merit, this is a pretty cool concept.  I like the idea of trying to find your “true” purpose, perhaps in a timeline opposite your own.  This would be especially true if you could somehow link to this alternate timeline, as our characters do.  But really, are we supposed to care just as much about these characters as we do the ones in the main timeline?  If so, isn’t it too easy to care -less- for the characters in the main timeline?  To me, the integration of the two timelines has created additional confusion, not clarification.  I’d love to see Charlie somehow make it in this timeline.  I’d love to see him make things work with Claire.  But doesn’t that somehow make his heroism in the main timeline less dramatic?  If he can simply make things right in his life in the sideways universe, then how much do we really care that he’s dead in the main one?

Charlie and Desmond share a moment

Charlie messes with Desmond's mind

Another cool sequence here executed nearly flawlessly, as Desmond experiences the flash to the main timeline as a result of trying to save Charlie from drowning.  It’s funny; if this was done somewhere around Season 2 or 3, and was in the main timeline instead of the alternate timeline, I think I’d be raving about how incredible this episode was.  Again, the concept in and of itself is a fun one.  But here in Season 6, as an alternate to our main timeline, it just doesn’t carry the same weight.  The alternate characters’ “search” for the real timeline is devoid of tension because A) we already know that it exists and that it is the main timeline, and B) there’s no consequence for failure.  If they don’t find the timeline, so what?  Our original LOSTies are already all there.  Plus, nothing truly “bad” is happening to the majority of them in this timeline.

Speaking of which, you might think that the characters are “getting what they think they want”, as a sort of appeasement for what they really want in the main timeline.  Maybe they’re in some sort of “heaven”?  At least that’s what you might think if you look at Claire, Ben, Hurley, Sawyer, Desmond, and Faraday.  But what about Sayid?  He’s still a cold-blooded killer in both timelines.  What about Sun?  In the alternate timeline, she just got shot, and will likely lose her baby.  What about Jin?  He shot Sun in the alternate timeline.  It’s not all rainbows and butterflies in the flash-sideways either, which makes it even more difficult to explain.

More electromagnetic fields = more Desmond flashes

Desmond experiences additional flashes

Not surprisingly, Desmond gets a richer flashing experience when his brain is at the center of an electromagnetic field.  As a result, he gets clearer flashes of Penny, and comes to understand and feel just what Charlie told him about.  It seems as though true love is what is tearing at the fabric of reality in this timeline.  And it’s enough for Desmond to give up on his task of getting Charlie to the Widmore function, and instead begin to think about how he can track down Penny.

Eloise still knows more than she’s letting on

Eloise implores Desmond to stop looking

At first it seemed somewhat surprising that Eloise so quickly forgave Desmond for not getting Charlie to the party.  But I should have known better: she’s just trying to keep Desmond away from Penny, just like she did in the main timeline.  This time, however, it’s for a reason that’s unknown to the audience.  “It is, in fact, a violation.” is a great line.  Is this some grand fabrication of a world in which certain characters know what’s going on but are not allowed to tell?  It’s almost as if Eloise is playing the role of a referree in some fashion.  One thing to keep in mind is that Eloise was on the island prior to the Jughead detonation.  And she supposedly knew how important it was to allow Faraday to die prior to the bomb going off.  So it’s not too much of a jump to think that she knew exactly what the consequences were even before anything happened.  And thus, she could carry that knowledge into either timeline, because she knew it prior to the event that caused the fork.  But we still don’t know what that information is, or why Desmond isn’t yet ready to meet Penny.

“…and that’s when things got weird.”

As if Desmond hasn’t had enough reinforcement about what’s happening in this timeline, Daniel manages to steal a few minutes of his time to share with him all of his flashing experiences.  First he talks to him about his love at first sight experience with Charlotte.  Then he talks of his physicist drawings, and about his theoretical nuclear bomb situation.  Finally, he wraps it all up in a neat bow by giving us the tangible link to all 3 flashes: love.  I guess the question I’m left asking myself is, is this timeline completely devoid of love?  Is that what the great consequence is if Smokey gets off the island?  I’m not even sure if we’re supposed to make that connection.  Or perhaps, it’s only that way for those that managed to get to the island in the main timeline?  Honestly, there are just too many variables and abstractions to really make any sense out of it all.  And perhaps, that’s what the writers were shooting for.  While I was hoping for a measure of simplicity to explain everything as the final episodes aired, perhaps the writers are looking for more complexity so that we viewers can continue to go back and decipher certain scenes even as the series comes to an end.  I suppose time will tell.

Physical interaction with Penny forces a return to the main timeline

Penny and Desmond meet for the first time in the flash-sideways

Again, notice the lack of the typical “whoosh” sound as Desmond returns.  This is our clear signal that he’s been along for the ride, and understands everything that we just saw.  I’m led to believe that while his consciousness from the main timeline was there in the flash-sideways, he was merely along for the ride.  It wasn’t he that was making any decisions over there, it was still the alternate Desmond that was doing that.  Regardless, Desmond has now seen the light.  He understands what’s at stake, and is ready to do what he needs to do to keep the main timeline intact.

Sayid convinces an unknowing Desmond to go with him

What he doesn’t know, is that Sayid’s playing for the wrong team.  And unfortunately, he’s headed to meet up with the Smoking Club before Widmore can use him for the grand experiment he has in mind.  But I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of that situation…

Meanwhile, back in the flash-sideways…

Just to really hit you over the head with it, notice that we do indeed get the “whoosh” sound as we flash over to the alternate timeline one last time this episode.  Clearly, “our” Desmond is not privy to this last scene, which is fairly intriguing.  The alternate Desmond wants to get the remaining Oceanic 815 members together.  But why?  How could he possibly know that the common denominator was that flight?  Regardless, it should be interesting to see what comes of that in the weeks to come.  The flash-sideways finally has some definitive drama!

In all seriousness, I think what’s happened for me is that I wish that the flash-sideways wasn’t necessary for telling the story.  It now seems inexoribly tied to the main narrative, but doesn’t seem to provide any true consequence…either for those trying to escape it, or those in the main timeline trying to stop it from existing.  With all of the answers we crave from 5+ seasons of our main timeline, do we really need this much exposition on the alternate timeline?  Why is this so important that we’re spending time learning about it (in some very fantastic and unexplainable ways) instead of getting some answers that we’ve waited years for?  Maybe that will be explained that in the coming weeks.  But even with as neatly packaged a story as we had this week, it simply doesn’t have that “oomph” factor for me at this point in the series’ run.

One last thing I’d like to share: for any of you Locke fans that are still holding on to hope, I think that this episode at least allows for the opportunity for Locke to come back and be Jacob’s replacement.  After all, if Desmond can move from the main timeline to the alternate timeline, who’s to say that Locke can’t do the reverse?  And if that sounds too fantastic for you, just look at some of the things that happened in this episode.  NOTHING is too crazy or bold to happen in this show anymore.  Just something to keep in mind…

Post-episode questions:

1. What specifically does Widmore wnat Desmond to do?

2. Now that Desmond has travelled into the flash-sideways, can we call it “real”?

3. Why are some LOSTies extremely content in the flash-sideways, but others are shadows of their main timeline counterparts?

4. Can Desmond and Penny find true love in the flash-sideways?

5. Does Smokey have any specific plans for Desmond other than keeping him away from Widmore?

That’s it from me this week!  I hope you enjoyed the episode more than I did, and if you have some angle you saw that you think will help me enjoy it more, please share in the comments!