No new episode of LOST to review tonight (although I’m enjoying the enhanced version of “Ab Aeterno”) but I thought this would be as good a time as any to reflect on where we are and what we can expect from the final stretch of episodes.
I had serious misgivings about the “flash sideways” storyline in the beginning and although I’m still not crazy about it, I’ve accepted it as this season’s narrative device. I was upset that we were introduced to a “new reality” or “alternate timeline” or whatever it was, especially after I’ve invested 5 seasons and a hundred-plus episodes. But slowly, the LA X world has grown on me. We’re all assuming that the off-Island world stands as some sort of “pay out”, the fulfillment of the promises of MIB to the castaways…or a redemptive choice to be offered to the castaways somehow. The question for me is: who will choose their “other” reality? And who will choose to remain on the Island? After all this talk about candidates and someone replacing Jacob, I find it hard to believe that the Island reality will just be done away with. I’m willing to bet that at the very least, our Island protagonist Jack will choose to stay and fulfill whatever destiny the Island has in store for him.
That’s where I’m calling MIB’s bluff. Last week, in “The Last Recruit”, Jack asked Locke about the different forms he’s assumed over the course of Jack’s Island tenure. The real question for Jack, of course, pertains to his father Christian. Has MIB assumed his form, too? “Yes,” Locke tells Jack. And although I believe most of what Locke has told the castaways has been true, I think he’s lying through his teeth on this one. Think about it: what was the one thing that brought Jack back to the Island anyway? It was his off-Island encounters with his dead father. It began when Jack saw what appeared to be Christian in the lobby of his office late one evening. This “hallucination” sends Jack into a world of doubt, fear, and substance abuse. Later, Locke was hospitalized in LA; his attempt to recruit Jack back to the Island fails miserably, but before Dr. Shepherd walks out the door, Locke tells him about seeing Christian just before he turned the frozen donkey wheel. Jack comes to believe that his destiny is intrinsically bound to the Island, the place where Christian’s body was never found.
Back to Locke, he tells Jack that he’s been assuming Christian’s form. Yet, we also know that MIB can’t leave the Island. Which begs the question: how could Jack see MIB / Christian in his office? Either Locke is lying and he’s never assumed Christian’s form, or there are two Christians floating around out there. Same thing happened with Michael. Remember Season Four, the freighter? Michael is the last one in the boiler room with the C4 bomb; he’s valiantly using the fire extinguisher to keep the bomb cool, buying his friends the time they need to get on the helicopter. Just before he dies, Christian appears to him. “You can leave now, Michael,” he says cryptically. BOOM goes the dynamite and Michael’s job is done. But that couldn’t have been MIB; he can’t cross water (at least that’s what he’s told others). That whole episode opens up yet another question: why is Michael’s “soul” still on the Island if he was allowed to “leave”? I don’t have an answer for that, but I hope we get one somewhere in the next four hours of programming.
But back to Jack. I’m more convinced than ever that his Island destiny will involve some kind of showdown with Christian. Locke is lying about taking on Christian’s form; he knows that’s his only way to get Jack to leave the Island. But Jack’s destiny has always been linked to Christian. I wrote this after “What Kate Does”; it sums up my hope for Jack heading down the home stretch:
I loved Jack in this episode. Say what you will about his el wimpo character shift last season, but I think he’s been through the fire and he’s come out a different man. Think of Locke’s comment last season: “I needed that pain to get to where I am today.” That’s a fitting way to describe this version of Jack. In some ways, he’s more driven than ever to “fix” whatever problems he encounters; but his process seems to be more measured now. It’s like he’s more aware of the great cost of some of his decisions; those losses of life have weighed heavily on the good doctor. I wonder if his willingness to swallow the poison pill intended for Sayid foreshadows Jack’s fate. Is he destined to redeem the ones he loves by giving himself up for them? We’ll see.
I’d hate to see Jack die, but I think it might be in the cards for our protagonist. I think, in Jack’s mind, that’s the only way he can redeem himself for all the lives he’s lost along the way. Does that make him a worthy candidate to replace Jacob? I’m not sure.
We still don’t know much about “the rules” and how they apply to our castaways. Who established “the rules”? Is Smokey allowed to kill anyone EXCEPT the Candidates? At one time, I was convinced that repentance was the key to Island redemption. Mr. Eko was unrepentant when staring down Smokey; he was promptly offed. Ben, on the other hand, entered the bowels of the Temple for his “judgment” last season and, when confronted by Ghost Alex, completely fell apart. Of course, now it seems that MIB was simply looking for people to exploit for his purposes. Eko’s defiance wouldn’t serve him very well, but a broken Ben certainly would. MIB quickly saw this as his opportunity to strike a fatal blow to Jacob. This demonstrates the show’s classic themes of free will and destiny. For each of these characters, they believe that they are free, that their decisions are truly their own. Yet, this season, coupled with the Season Five finale, have demonstrated that these two forces (Jacob and MIB) have been at work to manipulate their lives and decisions to suit their purposes. Jacob, the supposed omnibenevolent protector of the Island, has been bringing people to the Island for centuries. MIB might be even worse; as soon as he does you a favor (like when he finally frees Richard from his chains in “Ab Aeterno”), he immediately wants you to do whatever he asks you.
Prior to this season, I wrote this. I still feel the same way:
I guess we’ll finally find out what happened to Claire. Is she a ghost? I don’t really care. But one thing has always bugged me: so far, Desmond’s flash that convinced Charlie to give up his life has yet to come true. He told Charlie that if he flipped the switch in the Looking Glass and died there, that Aaron and Claire would get on a helicopter and be rescued. I’m struggling to see how that can happen at this point. And that annoys me. I’d be disappointed if they don’t circle back around to this; I hope it’s not a hole in the narrative.
I don’t see how this can be resolved, so I’m preparing myself for disappointment here. It was just such a major part of the Season 3 end game; I wish it had been more meaningful instead of just narrative fluff.
I’m also having a hard time figuring out how Jacob’s cabin fits in here. When we last saw it, the creepy cabin was going up in flames in the jungle, thanks to Ilana and her goons in last season’s finale. But what did she say before burning it down? Something about Jacob not being there; that someone else had been living there for a long time. And that someone had broken out, as evidenced by the broken circle of ash. I’m thinking that MIB was somehow contained in the cabin and he somehow broke free. But that doesn’t answer Smokey’s activity prior to this. If MIB was truly locked in Jacob’s cabin, bound by the ring of ash, then what do we do with Smokey’s appearances all over the Island previously? Is MIB REALLY the Smoke Monster? Or is he simply a man with some kind of control over Smokey, like a cosmic lion tamer or something? Why would MIB want people to think he was Smokey? I don’t know…I’m probably missing something here, but it’s just not adding up for me. I also want to know more about Walt, the Hurley bird, the wayward shots Juliet fired at the other outrigger during last season’s “flashing”…and a host of other questions that I’m sure won’t be answered.
Anyway, enough rabbit chasing. It’ll be interesting to see what Desmond is up to in these two alternate timelines and how he’ll shepherd people between them. Which one are you hoping wins out? Personally, I’m partial to the Island timeline, but that’s just me. What happens to Jack’s son, David, if he ends up “stuck” in the Island timeline? And what happens to Ji Yeon if Sun and Jin choose the LA X reality? I don’t know how this stuff can be resolved. But it’s going to be interesting. Right?