So I have to be honest, after the first viewing of this week's episode I was underwhelmed. It seemed as if it was 100% set up and had no real meat to it. However, a few things may have contributed to such an analysis: 1) I wasn't able to watch it live; 2) was extremely tired when I did actually watch it (about 11:20pm Tuesday night, because going to work on Wednesday NOT having watched Lost really isn't an option for me at this point); and 3) well, I kind of just powered through it so that I could go to bed. But being the loyal fan that I am, I gave it another viewing on the weekend and even though I still feel that it was a set up ep, I was able to pick up plenty of goodies to discuss. But enough about me, let's get to it.
Obviously the biggest focus of the "Last Recruit" was on the relationship between the recruit - Jack Shepard - and the man that so desperately needs him to succumb to his leadership - MIB/Flocke. As we've seen so many times with other characters this season, Flocke takes Jack out to the woods for another one of his "let's go have a talk so I can brainwash you" pow-wows. Flocke gets right to the point and makes Jack an offer that he figures he can't refuse: freedom from the Island. For as long as MIB has "known" Jack (which, as we learn for sure now, was since he appeared to him disguised as his Father after the initial plane crash back in 2004), he's understood that Jack's main objective while on the Island was to do everything in his power to get himself and everyone with him OFF it. We know, of course, that Jack's mindset has shifted drastically since MIB has seen him last. Once a Man of Science, Jack has flipped 180 degrees to Man of Faith - essentially carrying on the real John Locke's torch since returning to the Island. However, it's important to note that MIB has not had the same access to Jack as we have. It's been quite a while since MIB has interacted with him...to be sure, they haven't "seen" each other since before Jack initially left the Island in the first place. Conversely, Flocke had close interactions to those that he baited correctly: Claire succumbed when he offered a reunion with Aaron, Sayid with the offer of Nadia, and so on and so forth. But with Jack, he misfired. He offered Jack the one thing that he actually doesn't want, and in that moment he lost the opportunity to truly corrupt him.
That being said, it doesn't mean that Flocke didn't have a back up plan. Let's remember what Flocke's overall objective is at the moment: to get all of the candidates together and leave the Island. As far as we know, this is the only way he can escape himself. And so far, the only thing that can get them off the Island is either the sub or plane, both of which are located on Hydra Island. So he set up the following scenario: ask Sawyer to grab the sailboat and come back to pick them up, knowing full well that Sawyer will defy him and devise an escape plan of his own. Flocke knows that Sawyer has already been to see Widmore, possibly cutting a deal in the process, so he doesn't trust him anyways. Furthermore, none of that really matters because the place where they are "escaping" to is exactly where Flocke wants them to go: Hydra Island. He also likely figures that they will take Jack and the others along, which again, is totally fine with him because having them all together on the other Island works towards the final objective. And maybe once he arrives (maybe after ditching all the extras with him on the Island) he will have another chance to convince Jack that leaving is the right thing to do. Problem solved, right?
Wrong. Everything seemed to be working perfectly until Jack had some time to look out at the damn ocean again. Sitting there at the bow of the boat, Jack makes a decision of his own. In his best Man of Faith rhetoric, he explains to Sawyer that the Island isn't finished with them yet, and that leaving is not the right thing to do. Sawyer, unconvinced, tells Jack that he'll have to take a leap of faith on his own. Then, after apologizing for Juliet's death, Jack does exactly that, taking a leap of faith off the boat, and swims back to the Island. The decision that Jack makes here - entirely on his own - gives him the edge on Flocke. Sure, the last "cliffhanger" line delivered by Flocke to Jack ("you're with me now") tries to leave us guessing, but I think we have to believe that Jack is still very much in control of his senses, and even his destiny. Flocke's line is simply another attempt to convince Jack that he needs his help, his protection. But Jack's not buying it for a second. At least, I hope he's not.
I know there was some other stuff going down on the Island, but let's move to some Sideways points of interest first. We start off following Desmond's newest Time Coach project: Claire. After some serious prodding, he gets there to see a lawyer about her upcoming adoption. While at first I figured his goal was to bring Jack and Claire together, I read some interesting theories that the real reason he brought her there was to set up a scenario where she does not give Aaron up at all. It makes sense...if Desmond is trying to make our characters' lives whole in the Sideways, then Claire needs to keep Aaron. He is the biggest thing she is missing on the Island, and if she were to give him up in the Sideways she'll regret it forever. So meeting Jack in Ilana's office, and more importantly, meeting his son might make her think twice about giving Aaron up. Score another one for Desmond...dude's on fire.
Next up we see an interesting interaction between Sun and Locke as they are rushed into the Hospital at the same time. Sun is straight up terrified at the site of Locke next to her...but why? They probably haven't met in the Sideways and even if they had, Locke is a pretty tame substitute teacher in a wheelchair, certainly not a threat to society. But as we've seen in the past, traumatic events seem to trigger memories from the other side. Sun is seeing Flocke from the Island, not John Locke the substitute school teacher in the Sideways. And conveniently we see that memories can go both ways...once Sun and Jin reunite on the Island she suddenly can speak English again. The line between both worlds is seriously starting to blur.
So if Sun was able to gain access to Island memories from her traumatic event, surely Locke will too, right? Getting run over by a car qualifies as a traumatic event in my book. I'm not sure if we got any clues from what he said this week ("call me John"..."where is Helen"), but I'm guessing that the writers will want to devote a good amount of time to such revelations. (And conveniently enough, I've heard that the next episode focuses on arguably the shows biggest stars; Locke and Jack. Be sure to strap in for that one.) But we did see predictions from last week ring true, Jack is called in to operate on Locke, and as we see him look at that old familiar face in the mirror he utters, "I think I know this guy." The question remains though, does he know him from the LAX baggage office, or the Island? Or both??
If you get "Wired" be sure to check out the article they have on Lost in their MAY issue (Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerman on the cover). The article contains clues that supposedly give some insight as to how the series will end. The opening picture spread with writers Lindelhoff and Cuse shows some hidden gems in their writers room...and additionally there is a manifest of all the things found and gathered after the initial 815 crash. I'm told these two things hold the clues...but I'm too dense to decipher them. At the same time, I'm not big on spoilers, so maybe I just don't want to see them. Anyways, give it a look.
I know I didn't really touch on Desmond on the Island this week...but it does seem that he is acting very "Jacob-ish" in both worlds. There are theories out there that he may in fact be Jacob reincarnate, and some of his words and actions from this week fit that mold. In the Sideways, his actions are reminiscent of Jacob's "touching" campaign, leading candidates along the path that they need to follow in order to fulfill a pre-destined course of action. In addition, his conversation with Sayid at the well reminded me of Jacob's conversation with Richard in "Ab Aeterno." Lines like "what did he offer you" and his overall calm demeanor while at a bottom of a well with a gun pointed at him evokes memories of Jacob. He got right to the root of Sayid's motivation quickly (Nadia), and was able to use that to make the once zombie-like-possessed-killer think twice about killing again. Maybe Sayid isn't a goner after all?
Please tell me I wasn't the only one who thought it would have been amazing if Sun and Jin were blasted by the sonic fence just before reaching each others arms? I mean, I'm glad they found each other and all, but at the same time I think they missed an opportunity for tragic comedy right there.
It was interesting to note that when Sawyer interrogated / flirted with Kate in the station that he took a few big bites of that shiny red apple and Kate left hers be. Has Sawyer fully succumbed to the temptations of the dark side? Is Kate still then able to save herself from the same fate?
This isn't a big deal, but an episode or two ago, Sawyer came upon Flocke carving a wooden stick into a spear at the camp. After Sawyer asks what it's for, Flocke responds, "I don't know yet." This week, Flocke then uses said spear to crush Zoe's walkie-talkie after she demanded Desmond's return. Again, could be nothing, but also could be a sign that MIB/Flocke is toward the end of his designed plan, and from here on out, he's just as blind as to what will happen as the rest of us. He can prepare and manipulate all he wants, but at the end of the day the outcome relies solely on the decisions that our Losties make. Free will: it's a bitch, even for Smokey.
So all in all, a satisfying episode, even though it took me a couple viewings to appreciate. Note that next week is a repeat (I must say, I'm totally ok with this), and then after that get ready for some fireworks because I don't think there's any time left for filler at this point! Also, I'll have more details as it approaches, but the week leading up to the finale (Sunday 5/23) is going to chock-full of Lost content...8 hours so far and counting. The finale is 2 hours, but ABC is going all out by surrounding the event with specials, re-runs, and even a Jimmy Kimmel special immediately following "The End." Enjoy the week off, and I'll see you on the other side....