LOST Discussion: A Retrospective on the Finale and the Series

31 05 2010

I have to admit, I’ve started and stopped writing this entry multiple times.  It’s extremely difficult to put into perspective just what this show has meant to me over the years, and it’s important to me to do justice to this type of summary.  In addition, my understanding, perceptions, and emotions have all changed numerous times since I first viewed the finale.  It’s almost as if I needed to give it more time to wash over me before I dove in.  But I feel like I have it where I want it, and am ready to share it with you now.  So here it is…the final entry of interLOST.

Writers’ unwritten contract?

As I said in the opening, I’ve actually let the thoughts and ideas flow about 3 or 4 separate times before pushing out this post.  And to be fair, most of them were negative in nature.  In fact, immediately after the finale, I felt cheated on many levels.  Obviously, if I’ve spent many, many hours writing a blog trying to unearth the mysteries of the show, and trying to analyze each of the tiniest of clues, I’m going to feel a little bit of disappointment if the show failed to answer those questions in a straightforward fashion.  I think that’s natural.  Even after waking up the day after the show, I still felt somewhat robbed.  My disappointment actually turned to resentment.  How could they do this?  How could they leave so much unanswered?  Allow me to digress for just a moment, so I can help you understand my perspective.

Some of you readers may disagree, but I think that writers have an unwritten contract with their audience.  I think that people choose to watch a show based upon the “rules” that the show operates under.  For example, if you like comedy but hate sci-fi, you’ll probably watch something like “How I Met Your Mother” or “Modern Family” as opposed to “Fringe” or “Caprica”.  But how would you feel as an audience member if “How I Met Your Mother” slowly morphed into a “CSI” or a “Law and Order” rip-off?  I imagine you’d feel betrayed.  You started watching a comedy, and it turned into a cop show or a courtroom drama.  You were hooked in by one thing, but then the show changed.  You’d probably jump ship and stop watching…but you’d have to be disappointed that you invested time in the show just to have it make a u-turn on you. 

That may be an exaggerated scenario, but I think it gets my point across.  LOST always had to balance a fine line between the mythology/mystery,  and character development.  And whether or not they succeeded, they always seemed to at least make the effort.    Character episodes like “I Do”, “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” (which I loved, by the way), and “Some Like It Hoth” were balanced by mythology episodes like “Lockdown”, “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, and “Cabin Fever”.  Sometimes they even pulled off episodes with great mythology and great character development in the same episode, like what we got with “The Constant”.

But by dedicating half of Season 6 to the flash-sideways, they clearly made the decision to prioritize character development at the expense of the mythology, despite the fan reaction they had to know was on the horizon.  And really, the most bizarre part of that, is that any of the character development that happened in the flash-sideways is largely a throw-away.  Yes, they’re the same people, as we found out in the end.  But the only purpose of the flash-sideways is to get the characters to reach enlightment together, so that they can advance to the next realm.  Most of the experiences we saw in the flash-sideways leading up the finale are even less relevant than anything done during any character’s island time.

Dismissing the hard-core viewers?

That’s what makes the ending so puzzling.  Obviously, the show started as a character drama in Season 1.  But it clearly moved into a genre show as the years progressed.  In fact, it embraced it…even to the show’s diminishing ratings.  As the show shifted more and more to a science fiction bonanza (where time travel, possession, and teleportation were all in a day’s work), more and more viewers decided it wasn’t for them.  Viewership diminshed, but there was a hard-core fan base that stuck with the show through it all…and these were the folks that wanted some sort of payoff for the years they watched the show.  But then, when the show  reached the ending, it’s almost as if the writers made a conscious decision NOT to cater to the fans that stuck with the show as it became straight-up sci-fi, but instead, to appeal to fans on the edge, or those that checked out long ago.

When you think about the series as a whole, and try to make a critical assessment of it, it’s important to remember that the writers created these mysteries.  Major narrative thrusts and episode-to-episode cliffhangers centered around things like the numbers, the infertility issue, and Jacob’s cabin.  In some cases (like the blast door map, what the smoke monster is, and who the Others are) questions were answered well.  In others (like the first ones listed above), the attempt wasn’t even made.

Here’s a way to look at it: do you think that LOST would have continued to have the ratings it had if the writers came right out from the beginning and said, “we’re not going to answer all of these questions, so prepare yourselves now.  We’ll answer a few, but don’t get too emotionally invested in any one specific mystery, because there’s a good chance we won’t get to it.”  In a very real way, that would be a slap in the face to a viewer that was considering investing 6 years in a show.  I’m sure many viewers would check out right then and there, for fear of that the question they wanted an answer to wouldn’t be resolved.  It seems to me that the same question should be asked now that the series is over.  What hammers that point home the most is when you think about someone who’s thinking about starting from the beginning, asking you about the mysteries of the show and whether or not they were answered.  What could you say?  I think trying to sell that person on the fact that the show isn’t really about that, but more about the journey, would be selling them a bill of goods.

Nailing what they set out to accomplish in the finale

All of that being said, I must have hated the finale, right?  Well, no, not exactly.  Actually, I think that the writers did a masterful job with what they wanted to accomplish.  (I’ll get to that in just a minute.)  But the point I’m trying to get across is that I think the writers did a disservice to their most die-hard fans by not even trying to give resolution to some of the key plot points.  And what’s the most discouraging about it is that it seems to me that it could have been done with a single Jacob/MIB flashback episode.  Simply walking back through some of the critical moments of the show from the perspective of either Jacob or MIB could have brought resolution to things like the infertility issue or Jacob’s cabin, and they could have even squeezed in the outrigger shootout in the process.  It’s quite puzzling: the writers requested to shorten the series to 6 seasons because they felt as though they couldn’t keep “treading water”, but in the end, they failed to answer some of the questions they themselves posed to the audience.  It appears to the casual viewer that they ended the show too early, and/or they planned the narrative exit strategy very poorly.  Either of those thoughts is very discouraging.

On a positive note, despite not giving all of the answers they promised, the writers largely achieved what they set out to do in the finale: create a compelling sense of closure to the characters.  Three other shows I watch also had series finales this year: Heroes, 24, and FlashForward.  And each of them paled in comparison to the LOST finale in terms of scope and closure.  Heroes and FlashForward may have an excuse: the writers thought they were writing a season finale, not a series finale.  Typically, that’s the reason why series finales are so poor: half the time, the show is getting cancelled, and the writers didn’t have the opportunity to write an over-arching, compelling wrap-up to the storyline.  But this was not an excuse for 24, whose writers knew it was coming to a close.  And in reality, that show is a perfect example of a show that knew the end was coming, but still couldn’t wrap it up in a meaningful way.  The moral of that story is: even when you know the end is near, it’s still hard to wrap it up exactly the way you want.  But that’s where I think LOST hit a home run.

Yes, it was a season-long lead-up, and perhaps could have been achieved with a tighter narrative and less time devoted to it, but it was absolutely a clever and unique way to send all of these characters off with a happy ending, and not render the entire time on the island meaningless.  (It still lessened the characters’ time on the island, but I’ll get to that in a bit.)  With any show, you want those final moments to be a time where the characters have resolution, and that there’s a sense of closure.  The way the writers dovetailed our desire for closure with the characters need for enlightment to advance to the next stage of the afterlife was incredibly brilliant.  I can’t imagine a better way to engage the audience than seeing each of the character’s remembrances of their times on the island, and having the viewers “move on” along with the characters.  In and of itself, it was a conceptual masterstroke for finale writing.  But because LOST is what it is, it’s hard to judge simply within the context of the finale itself.  You have to judge it in the way it fits in with the rest of the series.  And that’s where it again fals a bit short of expectations.

If it’s about the characters, how do you explain John Locke?

I’ll get right to the point.  I was a big fan of the character of John Locke.  And while the show gave meaningful and fully satisfying character arcs to Jack and Ben, they really seemed to make Locke’s journey an ultimately bitter one, despite the finale’s last scenes.  He got to his spiritual enlightenment via Jack’s help, he got a heartfelt apology from Ben, and he got to advance to the next realm with all of his friends from the island.  But here’s what he didn’t get: redemption.

Locke was a man that was deeply troubled in his off-island life.  He had a horrific relationship with his father, one in which he was pushed out of building 8 stories up, and was confined to a wheelchair.  Even later in life, that same father stole one of Locke’s kidneys in a terribly emotionally painful long con.  When Locke came to the island, it granted him a second lease on life.  He regained full mobility and could ditch the wheelchair.  He took advantage of the situation and attempted to be the person he never was during his off-island time.  And because this magical place granted him this 2nd chance, he invested his faith in it.  He wasn’t always 100% faithful; at times he failed in his beliefs.  But early on in the series, it was Locke’s faith and belief that the island was a special place that superceded everyone else’s, including the eventual savior of the remaining survivors.

But as it turns out, it was all a long con.  Locke put his faith in the island, but what he was really putting his faith in was the manipulations of the Smoke Monster.  The monster used Locke’s undying faith to create an opportunity to get to and kill Jacob.  In essence, Locke was simply a pawn…as MIB put it later in the series, when he was using Locke’s physical form: “Locke was a sucker.”  And that is the legacy of John Locke.  A man who provided so much inspiring, blind faith on a show that concluded with a huge leap of faith required by the audience about the afterlife, met with his demise alone (remember, each of his friends off-island rejected him before his death) and confused.  Every taunting comment that the Man in Black made about him, even as he stole his body, was left unchanged by the finale.  Even for those that believed that the journey of LOST was about the characters would have a tough time explaining how anyone who felt an association with Locke could feel content about his character arc.

In my mind, the one logical response is that in the flash-sideways, Locke got to move on to the next realm.  He got his apology from Ben, and he clearly forgave him.  But that doesn’t equate to redemption.  The only way that moment is meaningful, is if you take it at its face.  As in, “Locke found enlightenment and went to some version of heaven.”  But is that enough?  Sure, I suppose…if you concede the fact that nothing on the island was relevant.  Or at least, that the happenings on-island were less relevant than what happened afterwards.  But if you do that, doesn’t it make the first 5 seasons mostly meaningless?  Now, suddenly “the journey” doesn’t matter: only the end result.  Let me put it to you another way.  According to the nature of the afterlife we saw on the show, the only thing required for this arrangement to happen was that all of these people had to meet and become meaningful in each others’ lives.  It wouldn’t have mattered if it happened on an island, on a mountain, out at sea, or in Los Angeles.  If that’s the case…if that’s the message that LOST wants to tell us…then why should we have cared about the island in the first place?  The writers have stated on numerous occasions that the island is the character the fans forget about the most…it seems as though they took a page out of that book in the finale.

Finale in and of itself versus the series as a whole: a tale of two dichotomies

It’s those two dichotomies that make the finale such a difficult thing to digest.  First, it makes it seem as though the writers didn’t even try to answer some mysteries that they could have nailed to the satisfaction of the hard-core viewers with simply a single episode addressing them.  Why choose to end the series in a timeframe that wouldn’t allow you to answer the questions you presented to the viewers?  Second, while the finale was brilliant when taken in and of itself, it ultimately lessens the time of the survivors on the island.  This point is driven home by the character of John Locke, who ultimately found heaven, but whose life on earth was just as flawed as MIB/Smoke Monster claimed it was.

Ultimately, your perception of the finale, and the series in general, is going to be determined by how forgiving you are of these two dichotomies.  If you realy didn’t care about getting answers, or had resolved yourself to the idea that you wouldn’t get any, then you probably mostly enjoyed the finale.  And, if you didn’t put too much thought into what the trip to the afterlife meant, or didn’t care because you got to see your favorite characters together again one last time, then you probably thought that the finale was the best one created in the history of television.

Final thoughts

As for me, I’m still mixed (which is better than where I was immediately after the finale aired).  I’ve enjoyed the finale more each time I’ve watched it, and I’ve come to truly appreciate what the writers were trying to achieve, and the fact that I think they pulled it off.  However, I’m still disappointed in the long-term strategy of Team Darlton, and their propensity to insert situations or mysteries into the show without a real plan of resolving them.  In some cases they were able to go back and make it work, in others they didn’t, and in others, they inexplicably didn’t even try.  But I suppose that at the end of the day, I look back on my time with LOST, and don’t feel cheated.  I feel as though the show pushed me into writing a blog, helped me build friendships that will go beyond the show’s run, and gave me a sense of accomplishment and comaradarie that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Overall, my experience with LOST was alternatingly incredible and challenging.  And ultimately, I will look back on it fondly, with a twinge of bittersweetness for what it might have been if just a piece or two more had been put in the right place.  And with that, I officially end my time with this blog.  Thanks again to all of you that joined me on this journey.  I hope you all find that it was worth the effort.  I’ll see you all in another life (or another blog), brotha!

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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 Discussion: Times Talks Live

21 05 2010

Hey everyone, are you all as excited for the finale as I am?  If you’re reading this blog, it’s hard to imagine that you’re anything but 100% geeked for this Sunday night.  But before we get there, some of us got the chance to listen to LOST showrunners Damon & Carlton answer some questions last night.  It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, and they managed to dodge as many questions as they answered, but it was still fun.  It actually felt like one last chance to sit down and chat with one of your friends at work before they left for a different job.  It’s not like you’ll never talk to them again, but it won’t be the same as having them around all the time.  The bottom line is that I felt like the $12.50 I had to fork over for the ticket was well worth the experience that I had.

For the most part, the interview was structured around writing decisions the two had to make over the course of multiple seasons.  There was one particular insight they shared that really resonated with me.  They showed a clip of Locke trying to convince Jack to push the button in the Swan station (from Season 2), and Carlton noted that most sci-fi shows would be dealing with the logistics of the button: how was it constructed, how could they unplug it, how could they trick the system into thinking the button was pushed…that type of thing.  But that for LOST, they were always more concerned with how the characters might react to certain situations.  It wasn’t about how the button was constructed as much as it was what each character would feel when presented with the idea of having to push a button every 108 minutes in order to save the world.  They pulled this off so well that it didn’t even occur to me as I originally watched it.  I never even questioned how the button worked.  It was their conscious misdirection, and focus on character motivation that made that piece a non-issue.

They also mentioned that it took them 5 weeks to complete the Desmond-centric “The Constant”, mostly because they wanted to do time travel in such a way that was both more emotional than sci-fi, and also because they didn’t want any actions in the time travel to potentially disrupt any known “truths” about the story…both what the audience already knew, and what the writers knew was to come.

A little less than halfway through, Michael Emerson (Ben) joined the conversation, and not too long after that, so did Jorge Garcia (Hurley).  At that point, tons of fan questions rained down, too many for me to remember for this post.  But some of the more memorable moments included:

  • The writers being on-set for the final (not final, final according to Damon) scene, and asking the actors in it if they had any questions about what it was or how they needed to play the scene.  Jorge commented that they hadn’t been cluing them in for six season, so why should they start now?  That got laughs from both the local and remote audiences.  Carlton probed a bit further, and Jorge said he didn’t need to ask because he thought he got it.  That elicited a cheer.
  • The writers admitted that they used a combination of long-term planning, short-term planning, and making it up as they went along during the course of the show’s run.  They admitted that they broke the fourth wall in more ways than one in “Expose”, when Sawyer didn’t know who Nikki was, and when they buried both Nikki and Paulo alive as a way of saying, “we get that the audience doesn’t like these characters…we’re going to bury them alive instead of pushing them to the background”.  They did, however, say that the finale plays out mostly the way they enivsioned it from the beginning.
  • Many cheers went up in New York, and “ooh”s and “ah”s from the audience in San Diego when the writers said that we’d get to see Walt in the finale.  At the same time, they suggested that we cover the credits at the beginning of the finale so as to not be spoiled about some of the guest characters.
  • Jorge mentioned Ben as his favorite character, because he gets to say some cool stuff; Emerson mentioned Mr. Eko because he had a well-fleshed out backround story and got to carry a big stick.
  • The writers said that their most difficult decision on the show was killing off Charlie.  They admitted that Dominic was doing some fabulous work, but that they had to make Desmond’s flashes real, and realized that it meant that Charlie had to die.  They even called themselves “bastards” after they watched the final cut of the season 3 finale and realized what they had done.
  • One of the more interesting things they said was that they have equated LOST and their relationship with the fans to a romantic relationship.  In the beginning, if someone were to ask, “You’re not going to break my heart, are you?”, then they’d say, we’re only on the first date, I hope not!  But to ask it now, after six seasons…at some point, you just have to take that leap of faith.  At some point, you have to risk getting hurt in order to achieve that happiness that you couldn’t get otherwise.  As Damon said, you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat.

The event ended with a preview of the finale.  It actually is an extended clip of what you can find on ABC’s site: http://abc.go.com/watch/clip/lost/SH006723620000/165261/261547

The extended bit shows Sawyer physically attacking Ben and taking his weapon, and stating that he and the rest of his group aren’t candidates anymore.  As Sawyer quickly exits, Locke tells Ben that he chooses not to chase him because it doesn’t matter; he’s going to find Desmond and use him to sink the island.  Ben’s upset with that because Locke promised that he could have the island, but Locke says that he can still have it if he wants…it’s just that it’ll be at the bottom of the sea.  He also gives Ben another option: he can be on the boat that Locke’s on as he leaves.  As the two get ready to leave the area, Locke notices a paw print near the well, and states that a dog has been there…

Overall, the night was a great way to get that one last fix of LOST before the finale on Sunday.  I’m ready; there’s nothing left to do now except sit back and see what they’ve got in store for us.

With that, I’ll be gone until Sunday night, where I’ll post an open thread for any comments anyone wants to leave regarding the finale.  I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the finale, although it may only be for Part 1, depending on just how dense the writers pack everything in.  Have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy the finale on Sunday!





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!