The episode begins in the Sideways world where Jack has another mirror moment. Once again, he finds a peculiar scratch on his neck. Over breakfast, his son, David, reminds him of the concert he’ll be playing that evening. Jack promises to be there and we learn that David’s mother will also be present. It seems pretty obvious at this point that Mom will turn out to be Juliet — at least that’s what I’m hoping for. Jack also gets a cryptic (pun intended) phone call re: his Dad’s coffin. The caller says that the coffin has been located and that it should arrive in Los Angeles by the end of the day. Turns out the caller is Desmond, but given the role he plays in the Sideways world, we should probably assume this information is true. I’m envisioning a post-concert visit to the airport for the good Dr. Shepherd; I imagine his fate (or at least his Sideways fate) will hinge on this visit.
The next scene on the beach shows Jack sewing up Kate, a reversal of the interaction of the scene in the pilot episode where Kate plays doctor to Jack while hearing the “count to five” story. Sawyer, meanwhile, is clearly blaming himself for the deaths of Sun, Jin, and Sayid. I worry that Sawyer’s story might end on a self-destructive note, since I doubt he’ll ever be able to forgive himself — much less live with himself — for the deaths of his friends. Remember, Sawyer is fairly new to this hero business. This is the first time he’s really borne the consequences of making snap decisions for an entire group. The show usually reserves such leadership-scourging for Jack. I love the way Jack tried to encourage Sawyer during this episode, but I think the die has already been cast for how Sawyer’s story will end. I hope I’m wrong, but I think he dies on the Island in some sort of sacrificial way — primarily because he doesn’t believe he deserves to live after what just happened to the sub.
It was nice to see Ben, Miles, and Richard again. (How long have they been trekking across the Island anyway?) Off Island, we witnessed Ben’s moment of “off-Island awareness” as he was being bludgeoned at the hands of Desmond. I’m hoping that this awareness leads to more activity from Ben in the Sideways world. It was nice that Ben hit it off with Rousseau (I really didn’t see that one coming; I didn’t think the actress was able to clear her schedule enough to shoot any scenes for LOST), but I was expecting more in the wake of his Island cognizance. Maybe we’ll see some more of it in the finale.
The scenes in New Otherton were some of the best in this episode. Ben’s expression when Widmore walked into the house was priceless. (Michael Emerson deserves an Emmy for this role. He just keeps getting better and better.) Widmore threatens Ben with this line: “If you shoot me, your last chance of survival is gone.” Turns out Widmore wasn’t counting on Ben’s last resort: siding with Smokey. After neutralizing the ageless Richard Alpert, Locke makes a pitch to Ben: If he helps him leave the Island, MIB will leave Ben in charge. Widmore revealed that he had already lined the plane with C4, so we can connect the dots with the C4 we were shown at the end of “The Candidate” (I had originally wondered if someone else had planted it there).
Then Locke shows up and all Hades breaks loose. I was honestly a little sad to see Richard die such a lame death. At least I think he died. I don’t think Smokey messes around when he tries to kill you. But after his demise, Locke materializes and speaks to Ben. Once more, Locke manipulates Ben to doing his dirty work for him, a task that Ben is all too-willing to sign up for. Of course, Ben is still fixated on one thing — avenging Alex’s death. Widmore spills the beans to Locke about Desmond — a “last resort” — and Ben promptly seizes the opportunity to murder his longtime rival. Emerson’s chilling line read (“He doesn’t get to save his daughter”) was a classic.
Back in the Sideways, Ben had another mirror moment. Following this, he informs Locke that Desmond commented about helping Locke “let go”. Locke understands this as a call to visit Jack and begin the process of surgery. Of course, Jack and Locke banter back and forth about destiny and free will, but the end result is the same: these two agree on what needs to happen next. This is the way it should’ve been on the Island all along. The Sideways world scenes concluded with Kate and Sawyer acting all flirtatious surrounded by cages (flashback, Season 3!), a corrupt L.A. cop named Ana Lucia (flashback, Season 2!), Sayid and Hurley on the run from the law (flashback, Season 5!) and Kate being handed a dress to change into after being handcuffed (flashback, Season 3!). The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Jack’s hero arc is coming to a point of rapid completion. It was no real surprise that he stepped up to answer Jacob’s call, but even though we could see the moment coming a mile away, it still was very fulfilling. Kate voices strong concern that Sun, Jin, & Sayid didn’t die for a lost cause.
Jacob confesses to making a “mistake” — Smokey. Lots of people have been pointing out that last week’s episode didn’t really do Jacob any favors; that the producers gave us a pretty sympathetic view of Smokey based on “Across the Sea” whereas Jacob didn’t get nearly as much play. In doing so, we understand one of the premises of the show: that life may be full of black and white choices, but there are plenty of shades of grey we’re forced to deal with, too. I’ll write more about this later in the week, but the redemption stories we’ve all experienced over the course of this show have demonstrated this clearly. Nobody is as good as they seem on LOST; and really, nobody is as bad as they seem, either.
Jacob’s answer to Hurley’s question, “Why did you bring us here?” was pretty interesting. “I chose you because you were like me. You were all alone. You were looking for something you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.” I love this line because it acknowledges the distance these characters have traveled in these six years; it’s a nod to the level of investment we’ve made with these characters. And it gives me hope that by tipping their hat to us like this, the producers have a pretty sweet and satisfying conclusion to these stories to share with us.
Of course, the final scene shows us Smokey’s ultimate M.O. Not only is he trying to leave the Island, but he wants to destroy it completely. Not a total shock, given last week’s foreshadowing statement by Mother (“If the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere.”), but it does indicate that his promise to Ben — that when he leaves the Island, he’ll let Ben be in control — is nothing but a lie. I’m hoping this will prompt Ben to reconsider his loyalty to Smokey.
Where is Desmond? Could he be at The Source — the center of the Island where “the Light” can be found? Or might he be doing something else — like digging up the body of the real John Locke in anticipation of some sort of Island “rebirth”? What would happen if John Locke’s body were thrown in the same creek
And while we’re at it: Where is Claire? Remember she’s armed. And she now has good reason to want to kill Jack and his crew after they decided to leave her during the Great Sub Get-Away of two episodes ago. I expect her to turn up at the worst possible time.
With Miles running through the jungle, he has to stumble across a dead body that he can glean some info from. But who? Eko? Adam & Eve? Nikki & Paulo? Seriously, that’s the only thing Miles is useful for (other than a few funny quips), so maybe we’ll see something like this in the finale. And did I see it correctly? Did Miles take Richard’s pack with the C4 in it? When Richard was mauled by Smokey, he was NOT wearing his pack. So the C4 has to still be with someone. I think it’s Miles.
Do we believe Widmore when he says Jacob told him how to get back to the Island? I think he’s telling the truth. And I think he has been telling the truth with most everything he’s been saying.
Miles: What’s that? A secret-er room?
Ben: It’s where I was told I could summon the monster. That’s before I realized it was the one summoning me.
Locke: What if….(long pause)…maybe all of this is happening for a reason.
Hurley (upon watching Jack and Jacob walking off in the distance): I’m just glad it’s not me. (With the way the camera lingered on Hurley there, I wonder if this line is significant for the end game. Maybe Hurley has a major role that only he can fulfill.)