Monday, May 24, 2010

Season 6, Episode 16: "The End"

I'm not sure where to begin. Rarely am I so lost for words at the beginning of a post, but I guess if any episode was going to do it, it was going to be this's just that I really wasn't expecting it.

I went into Sunday's finale with a celebratory attitude, happy to be taking part in the end of such a long and entertaining journey. Over the last few months, people have asked me "what will you do when it's over?" or "are you upset that it's ending?" My answer has always been, quite honestly, no. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed everything that has to do with this show - in watching, writing, and discussing it with all of you -but as we know, everything must come to an end. I was glad that the writers were able to end it on their own terms and I was excited to see what those terms would be. I mean, it's a TV show, right? How sad could I possibly get? I mean, look at this jokey pic I sent to some friends Sunday night and tell me that's not the face of a guy at peace with the end of his favorite show:

So at 9pm I got my notepad ready, poured a glass of wine for myself and Kersten, and settled in with the rest of the you, ready to let go of the show we've held so dearly for 6 years.

Then, about half way through I tossed the notepad aside. There was too much to process and I had too little left to try and capture the emotion in words. And by the end, I was pretty much a wreck. It was....a surprising reaction. One in which I did not expect or fully understand. But at the same time, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"The End" fully met and exceeded my expectations for what a Lost finale could be. While I was expecting more of an emotional conclusion versus that of a sci-fi riddled shocker, I was not expecting to be so moved by what is, in the end, a Television show. I forgot how strong these characters are, how real they seem, and how close we've become with them over the years. I forgot how powerful a simple image could be, and how embedded those images are in our "Lost" subconscious. A coffin, a church, a sneaker, a wheelchair, a plane, an eye. And after it was over, I was terribly sad that those things were gone.

Was some of it cheesy, overkill? Yes. Is this post already cheesy? Hell yes. But it was also so unbelievably appropriate. Did you smile? Did you get chills? Did you cry? Then "it worked." Lost is a show about emotional connection - to yourself, to each other, to a home, to a choice - so it's no surprise that its final chapter relied heavily on these themes, and less so on the mysteries that will go unanswered. Life is full of questions that will never be answered, so why should the world in Lost be any different? At the end of it all, it's the experiences you share with those around you that makes life worth living. It's certainly not a new message that Lost left us with, but it's one that needs to be shared more often.

That all being said, I'll try and explain how I understood "The End" below, but keep in mind that best part of this show is that it is very much open to interpretation, so feel free to provide your reaction as well. Since there was so much to digest (and since I admitted to you that I did a crappy job in taking notes), I'm going to focus on some of the larger moments of the finale, and leave the rest to the imagination. The two moments that I found to be the most important were the function/purpose of the Light, and of course, the tear jerking final scenes. Let's tackle the Light first and then move on to The End.

After stealing Desmond from his rescuers (Bernard, Rose, and of course Vincent!), Flocke and his motley crew of Light soldiers marched towards the heart of the Island, each with a completely different hope of what would happen in the cave beyond the Bamboo field. Flocke, banking on Desmond's ability to withstand the Island's energy, hoped that he could somehow cancel out the Light, destroying the Island in the process. Jack, simply following orders from Jacob, hoped that Desmond truly was the Fail Safe that Jacob said he was. And Desmond assumed that the Light would allow him to leave not only the Island, but the Sideways world as well ("Because I want to leave" Desmond says to Kate in the Sideways) and move on. But as we know, none of these things happened. Instead, after being lowered to the core, Desmond unplugged the proverbial "cork" of the Island and, quite literally, all Hell broke loose.

As the Island began to crumble around them, we were left to ponder the consequences of a world without Light. As Widmore, Eloise, and Jacob have all paraphrased in the past, "everyone you know and love will cease to exist" if MIB squanders the Light and leaves the Island. To be sure, the immediate effects of an uncorked Source were evident in the scenes immediately following Desmond's action. The rain started pouring down. The sky, and even the colors of the once vibrant Island, turned cold, dark and gray.

Simply put, the Island had lost its Soul. And if the Island lost its Soul, we must assume that the same happened to all of humanity. And if the Soul ceases to exist, then with it goes the chance to move on to the next life. Is this what our former leaders meant by our loved ones "ceasing to exist?" Because if anything, "The End" showed us that this life is not actually The End. Instead, it might very well be the beginning. The beginning of the next journey that awaits beyond the church doors. But without some of the light that resides in all of us, we turn from carriers of the Source (emotion, connection, benevolence, belief, love) to heaping piles of dead weight waiting to rot in the ground, stuck there forever. Not an appealing thought, to say the least.

So this was a problem. But out of the darkness came a silver lining: MIB became human. And not only that, Richard began to age. In releasing the Light, Desmond seemed to have lifted the curtain on the Island's special properties, and with that MIB became vulnerable to the most significant of all human traits; death. Ironically MIB got everything he ever wished for, realizing it just in time to get shot in the back and kicked off a cliff. The image of MIB splayed out on the rocky cliff, unmoving on his back was reminiscent to that of Locke's ultimate betrayal after being thrown four flights to the ground by the hand of his Father. But for MIB, there would be no redemption...and it's safe to say that he'll never walk again.

Right before his death, Flocke did close the circle on one of this season's lasting images, and as it turns out one, of its biggest clues; the cut on Jack's neck. Before getting shot by Kate, Flocke's dagger dug ever so slowly into Jack's neck, creating the cut we've seen on numerous occasions in the Sideways. In essence, it helped finally reveal the mysterious connection between worlds. It hinted that the cut Jack saw in the mirror wasn't a reflection of his life on the Island, it was a symbol of his death in the Sideways.

All season, we've been wondering which timeline was the "real" one. Was the Island simply a proving ground for what seemed to be the "real" lives of our characters in the Sideways? Was the age old Purgatory theory right? Have we spent all of this time stuck on an Island that doesn't even exist, following the lives (or deaths) of our characters only to learn that all along they had completely different lives in another dimension?

Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, we've been tricked. Yes, the Purgatory theory was right. But the Island wasn't the purgatory proving ground for our characters, the Sideways was. The Island was very real, and everything that happened on the Island was real. Indeed, "what happened, happened." Conversely, the Sideways was an intermediate reality constructed specifically by and for our characters to cope with their deaths and prepare them for the next world (or the other side, or another life, or what have you.) To do so, emotional connections needed to be established, memories unlocked, and experiences realized. Most important was the understanding that their connections to each other were paramount in being able to let go and move on.

In the church, Christian says to Jack that "nobody does it needed all of them, and they needed remember, and to let go." We're not meant to live our lives in isolation, and for so long this was Jack's struggle. Even before his time on the Island he managed to push away his wife and distance himself from his Father. After Oceanic 815 crashed, he shunned the Island itself, refusing to adhere to its fateful advances. Instead, he fought against what would be his destiny and left as one of the O6, only to then detach himself from Kate, abandon Aaron, and fall into a haze of addiction and depression. Even with his compulsive need to fix all those around him, he remained desperately alone.

Only upon returning to the Island did he start to realize that he was not alone in his journey. He began to take a back seat role, listening first and speaking second. He opened his eyes to the notions of fate and purpose, subscribing to the distant words of an old nemesis ("turns out [John] was right about nearly everything" he says as he descended into the cave). In doing so, he gained back the trust of his friends ("I believe in you, Jack"), and became one with the Island itself. The man that once kept himself in the dark quite literally brought the light back to everyone by plugging the cork back into its Source. After finally allowing himself to realize all of this in the Sideways, Jack's journey was complete and he, along with all those truly important to him, move on the next journey that awaits them.

The trigger that solidified this understanding for Jack was the vision of a coffin, and the memory of his Father. For others, it was the realization of true love. For Locke, it was the feeling of the Earth beneath his feet. For Claire, Charlie, and Kate it was the birth of a boy that shared their love. These triggers signified profoundly emotional moments, during what Christian described as the "most important time of their lives."

The Island helped our characters not only find themselves, but each other. The Sideways world taught us that when you move on to the next life you keep what's truly important, and leave the rest behind. Jack's claim back in the early years of Lost was more true than they ever knew, "if we don't live together, we'll die alone." And in the end, by living together and sharing these experiences with each other, they were able to die together as well. As the Light poured into the Church, Jack and his loved ones moved on to the other side.

But not everyone went along for the ride. Some were not ready yet. They still had work to do, and connections to make. Daniel had a network of his own to build, including not only Charlotte but maybe also former love Theresa, likely needing to redeem himself for what he did to her with his experiments. Ben's work included living out his time on the Island, finally acting as its true Protector following Hurley's reign. And when it's his time to move on, his community will likely include Alex and possibly even Rousseau.

And don't get confused by the obvious time constraints that exist within the Sideways. Christian (somewhat conveniently), tells us that "there is no now, here." Time is a variable that does not exist within this world. As Christian says, "we all die, kiddo." Sure, some died long before Jack and some died long after, but death in and of itself is inevitable, which is why they all exist void of time in the Sideways. Even though we see him outside the Church, Ben is still living his life on the Island. We may never know how Kate, Richard, Sawyer, Miles, and Frank die, but it's my belief that they landed safely in the real world and went on to live fulfilling lives before entering into a death that would reunite them with the ones they love.

And it's this understanding that ultimately leaves Jack smiling at the sky just before his death in the Bamboo field, coming full circle from the first image we saw 6 years ago. He's not only happy to see his friends fly away - knowing that he fulfilled his purpose and saved them - he's happy to see them in the Church, greeting him with open arms and glowing smiles. The two worlds become one, and the Light washes over it all. And with that image in his eye and Vincent by his side, not even Jack dies alone.


Writing this last post was tough, and I hope I did it justice. As I mentioned above, this is just my take, and I'd love to hear your experiences with The End. True to Lost form, the community doesn't have to end here, and the discussions and connections we've made through the show will live on. How appropriate.

On a personal note, I'd really like to thank you guys for sharing in this experience over the years, and passing these thoughts on to others. This little thing started as an email to a handful of co-workers and built into something pretty cool from there, and it's because you have shared so much positive feedback throughout it all. A special thanks has to go out to my own Dharma Lady, Kersten, for being the ultimate Lost companion. Her insight was probably responsible for most of the good ideas on this site, and she patiently put up with my incessant ramblings in the process. What can I say, she was a great number 2, and I couldn't have picked a better person to share it all with.

So I think that'll about wrap her all up. Thanks everyone, and see ya in another life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Season 6, Episode 15: "What They Died For"

Alright then. After 6 seasons, 121 episodes, 94 hours (without commercials), and countless of mind numbing yet exhilarating minutes discussing the boundless possibilities of this epic journey, we have just one more cozy night of Lost goodness to go. (Did any one else just get misty eyed? No? Oh, cool, it must be this damn dust in my eye). And as we get close to the end, it's nearly impossible to keep expectations in check, but with that said I enjoyed this week's episode. I think we all knew deep down that all the pieces would be put nicely into place for Sunday's big finale, and that expectation certainly came to be true. As bossman Richard W. stated Wednesday morning, "What they Died For" was the "Ultimate set up episode," and indeed he was right. But of course, that doesn't mean we weren't left with plenty of questions to ponder, per usual.

Eyes, Mirrors, Cuts....and Bran Flakes.

So once again we get the iconic eye opening to start us off...but this time it doesn't open so quickly. Instead, it's more of an eye fluttering as Jack just wakes up from a night of dreamy Sideways sleep. Significant? Maybe, especially if you noticed that his eyes flickered very similarly after tipping back the baptized drink from Jacob, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Getting back to the point, the next scene in the bathroom brings us the requisite Mirror shot, and in the reflection looking back at him we see that the cut on Jack's neck - the same one that he spied in the plane bathroom in "LA X" - is growing larger.

Again, this picture of himself gives Jack pause, as the wounds are giving him a brief look into his physical state on the Island. Along the same lines, Ben's battered face in the both the Sideways (after he gets pummeled by Desmond in the school parking lot) and the Island are exactly the same this week. The two worlds are coming together at a rapid pace now, and many of our characters are beginning to realize that something significant is happening.

For example, after being told by Ben via Desmond to "let go," Locke's long standing self-imposed restriction to his wheelchair is being lifted. After adding up all the signs, he has decided to take a leap of faith and goes to see Jack about getting on his feet again. More and more, he's turning into the Locke that we knew and loved, a man of faith. Jack - while still holding steady against tales of "destiny" from Locke - received his own wake up call earlier when Desmond posed as the baggage claim office reporting Christian's coffin as found. But why would Desmond do this? How will this move Jack towards enlightenment? Well,he may have just wanted to remind Jack that all the pieces are coming together and falling into the place. If you recall, it was Locke that told Jack in the baggage office that even though his Father is lost that doesn't mean that he's truly "gone." By calling Jack with the news of his found Father just before Jack meets with the one person that told him to keep faith, Desmond is triggering a range of emotions in him that will continue to fire as the day continues. The fact that Locke has been brought to him once again, the thought of his Father in the coffin, the meeting of his long lost half-sister, and the eventual meeting of Kate, Hurley, Desmond, Sayid, Miles, Charlie, and Sayid at the concert will be too much for Jack to explain empirically to himself or anyone else. The flood of memories will come to him and he will no longer be able defy the power of fate. Oh, and it just so happens that around the same time he took on the ultimate leap of faith on the Island by agreeing to be its protector. Jack is about to have a revelation of epic proportions, and we will be there to see how it goes down in the concert hall.

Oh and speaking of memories, you all may have seen that Jack was eating a bowl of "Super Bran Flakes" for breakfast. Well, thanks to some info from fellow fan and co-worker Ed G., bran is supposedly able to sharpen one's memory if eaten regularly. Coincidence? (We all know what else it's supposed to help with as well, but I'm not sure if that symbolism works in this analysis ;)

"We're very close to the End, Hugo."

The campfire pow wow with our remaining candidates and an almost dead Jacob provided some answers for some mysteries that have taunted us this season and all series long. First and foremost, we learn that Kate was crossed off the candidate cave wall due to a shift in her responsibilities, namely her being a Mother. I thought Jacob's line of "it's just a line of chalk in a cave" was another nice tongue in cheek comment to us viewers that pour over every little detail and contradiction with maybe a bit too much fervor (guilty as charged). But while Jacob states that the job is still hers if she wants it (PLEASE GOD NO), we all knew that this was Jack's chance to fulfill his own destiny. We've certainly all expected this moment, but am I the only one that thought that it came a bit too soon? I have no evidence to back this up, but I get the sense that Hurley is truly the one that will be the last man standing. He's always been special, and I just get the sense that his abilities are more suited to guarding the Island that Jack's, but time will tell.

Regardless of who does what, the campfire scene gave us a sense of finality in terms of Jacob's intentions. In the end, we learn that he is more human than we typically perceive, and feels a sense of responsibility for what has happened with Smokey and the Island. And while he notes that he's not perfect, he does point out that by bringing the candidates to the Island he has given them a chance to redeem and repair what was broken from their terribly flawed lives. More importantly, his confession of guilt sets an example that no one is perfect - not even the "god" of the Island - and that there is strength in embracing that notion while striving to move forward in the right direction. So really, he couldn't have picked a better candidate in Jack, as we've watched him come to this exact conclusion throughout the series. "You're like me now" rings true in a whole different light, as Jacob and Jack have more in common than we ever thought.

Jack: "But there's nothing beyond that bamboo."

Jacob: "Yes...there is, Jack. And now you'll be able to find it."

I touched upon this in last week's comments and I think it's worth noting quickly here in this week's recap based on this comment offered by Jacob. Subsequent to Jack's coronation, Jacob reveals the location of the Light, which he states is just beyond the bamboo field. Jack protests, saying that there is nothing beyond that point. It's a significant point because it's not the first time that an entity has suddenly become available once someone is "ready" or "believes" it to exist. As I stated in the comments, another Lost blogger (Vozzek of "Things I Noticed" fame), has touched on this topic in more detail, but the theory revolves around the fact that our characters' belief in something allows it to become available to them. Think about it, when Hurley brings Jack to the Lighthouse, he quips, "how did we never see this before?" Hurley responds, "I guess we weren't looking for it, dude." Similarly, when Ben brought Locke to the special "box" way back in Season 3 he asked him to think of who or what he wanted to find in that box and viola, Anthony Cooper was behind the door. In another example, Hurley is able to find the Cabin when no one else could, simply because he believed in its very existence. It could be argued that everything the Losties have encountered has been provided to them as their level of belief and interaction with the Island evolved.

It's a complex theory (and for more check out Vozzek's recaps at DarkUFO) but interesting. Regardless of the details, it could certainly explain why MIB was never able to find the Light after his lazy river ride into the cave in which it was held. Blinded by hate and vengeance, he no longer believed in the purpose of the Island, and therefore is not able to "see" its source. It could be for this reason that he needs Desmond. More than anyone, Desmond has a physical connection to the Light and certainly has a faith in the Island and its purpose, so who better to lead Flocke to the source that has evaded him for so long?

"Did you say there were some other people to kill?"

Oh Ben...just as I think you've crossed over from the Dark Side you go running back at break-neck speed. The grand manipulator was back to his old ways by teaming up with Flocke and bringing him directly to Zoe and Widmore. While I didn't mind seeing Zoe go (how awesome was that?), I would have like to have gotten more info out of Widmore before seeing him get pumped with a chest full of lead. I guess we'll have to assume that his sole purpose was to bring Desmond back to the Island, but still, there seemed to be more to his story. In getting back to Ben, I can see how he derived some satisfaction from killing his nemesis, but I'm hoping that's where his thirst for blood ends. I maintain that he-who-is-always-a-step-ahead, can be a step ahead of even the best of con-men in MIB. Flocke is pissed and desperate, and his anger is clouding his judgment. In trusting Ben, he's making a mistake and falling right into Ben's trap (I hope).

I think in the end it could be Ben that delivers the final blow to appropriate seeing that he's killed Jacob already. Hell, could Ben be the one that remains with the Island? After all this time - leading under false pretenses, having the Island and his people revolt against him, losing his daughter in such a brutal fashion - maybe a part of his journey was to experience such pain so that he could be prepared for an era of true leadership.

Or I'm totally wrong about this and Ben becomes the next Man in Black. Who the F knows. After all, he is a totally awesome bad guy. ("Is there any more milk?")

Desmond is the Key

Appropriately, it looks like it's all coming down to Desmond, as it should really. I mean, out of all of our characters, Desmond's relationship with the Island, while maybe not the longest, could be most significant. The original button pusher, he influenced how the Losties first interacted with the Island after finding him in the Hatch. Then after turning the Fail Safe key - showing us his ability to withstand a heavy dose of Light (or electromagnetic energy if you prefer) - he truly became special as his consciousness started traveling through time. Then this season we witnessed his ability to seamlessly pass through both worlds, guiding our characters along the path towards redemption.

The big question moving into the finale is why both good and evil see him as the key to their success. As we learn from Widmore, Desmond was brought to the Island as a final option, a fail safe. But at the same time, Flocke states that Desmond's ability will help him destroy the Island. So what's going on here?

Well, as I mentioned above, Flocke may need Desmond so that he can be guided to the Light. And seeing that he's now been told of Desmond's abilities, he may think that he has the capability to both extinguish the Light and destroy the Island all in one. But Jacob has a hand in this pot as well. Why would he want Desmond to come back to the Island if he could be the cause of its destruction? Instead, maybe Desmond as an ability to absorb the Light, and carry it beyond the borders of the Island itself.

I keep going back to the first scene of Season 6, where we're shown a shot of the Island, dormant at the bottom of the Ocean.

Assuming that this is an image we get an answer to (and I certainly expect one), there has to be a cause to this effect. So knowing that Desmond can withstand exposure to the Island's source, who's to say that the Island itself is the only vessel capable to care for its contents? Instead, could Desmond be that vessel? Or, more specifically, could he come to be its protector, messenger, and provider all in one? If so, the Island is no longer necessary to house the Light. Furthermore, why should only a select few candidates get to be given the chance to be enlightened? Who's to say that Sideways Desmond will stop giving guidance after this chapter is complete? By carrying the Light with him and in him (oh boy that got a little Jesus-y), Desmond can continue to open the eyes of people everywhere, helping them find their way in a world of Lost souls. After all, a modern day Jacob doesn't spend his time spinning looms in the foot of an ancient statue, he drives a sports car and drinks some of the finest scotch around. It's a new world people, evolution is inevitable.

(And for those keeping track at home, that's three characters I've now predicted to take over Jacob's role. Oh wait, four if you count Ben. Four it is.)

Alright, what started out as a post that wasn't supposed to include predictions ended with far too many, so I think it's time to just wrap it up and see what hits us on Sunday. So enjoy everyone. Grab a couple bottles of wine, turn those baby monitors off, and settle in for what will simply be known as "The End." Enjoy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Season 6, Episode 14: "Across the Sea"

Ok. So this one was probably the most polarizing episode of the season, some loved it and some hated it, and I can definitely see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, plenty of people were not too psyched to get an hour of Lost that contained basically no face time for the characters that we've come to know and love. Instead, we get introduced to yet another "new" character in Mother, the unnamed Island caretaker and foster mother to Jacob and Man (Boy?) in Black. Furthermore, in showing a some of the mythological history of the Island, we are inevitably left with a bevy of new questions - (where did Mother come from? Who is the father of the children? How does the dagger kill Jacob if they can't die?) - questions that certainly won't be answered before the show's conclusion. As frustrating as this may be, you had to love Mother's line "Every question I answer will just lead to another question" at the beginning of the episode - a direct line to us from the producers telling us to just deal with what we get.

On the other hand, I thought what we got was satisfying and necessary. For years now we've been asking questions regarding the origin of Smokey and Jacob. And based on how much of this season is focused on their relationship to the Island and to each other, I don't think we could have moved to a conclusion without knowing where they came from. Also, as a bonus we got an answer for a question that has plagued us from Season 1; the explanation of the Adam and Eve skeletons. Finally, we were given this download at an appropriate time - people that are upset about the late season placement of this episode should remember that we have 3.5 hours of Lost to go, all of which will no doubt be focused back on our current storyline. So maybe I'm a half glass full type of guy, but I liked "Across the Sea." And as always, there are conclusions that can be drawn from this episode that weren't overtly explained to us....and that more than anything is what got me excited about this week's recap.

To start, it is my belief that Mother was Smokey. Actually, I think that Mother was both Smokey (protector of the Island) AND the protector and purveyor of the Light. Meaning, that she was both the Black and White that we see exemplified today as MIB and Jacob. For who knows how long she was performing both duties, and quite frankly, it was wearing her out ("I'm tired" she says wearily to Jacob halfway through the show). So when a pregnant Claudia washed ashore and gave birth to boy twins, Mother quickly sprung into action and devised a plan. She would groom these two boys in specific, yet separate ways so that they would grow up to inherent the heavy responsibilities that she currently shoulders alone. One - the more curious and cunning of the two - would be the protector of the Island itself, ridding it of all unworthy "people" that arrived there. In order to do so, that person will need to understand the capabilities of man, the greediness they posses and the evil they inflict. The other - the purer of the two - would be responsible for guarding and choosing those that were to possibly succeed him in protecting the Island's (and maybe World's?) most valuable resource, the "Light." He would need to shielded from those negative aspects in order to recognize the goodness in man, so that only the most qualified individuals were chosen for consideration. Most important, having two entities perform these tasks instead of one creates a necessary Balance to the entire landscape...a theme that we've been hit over the head with this season.

Skeptical? Let's review some of Mother's manipulative actions. First, she plants the game for Boy in Black to find. This seeds his curiosity of worlds that might exist outside of the Island ("Where else would it come from?" she asks. BIB responds "From somewhere else....across the sea.") Next, Mother manipulates Boy in Black further by taking the form of his real mother, Claudia. In this encounter, Smoke Monster Claudia shows Boy in Black where he truly came from. In doing so, BIB is motivated to leave Jacob and Mother to live with the his people from the shipwreck. Again, this development was orchestrated by Mother so that BIB could learn understand the seedier characteristics of Man. Later, we learn that the tactic worked; 30 years after his defection, MIB explains to Jacob that the people he lives amongst are "greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy, and selfish." But as long as they help him get off the Island, he doesn't care.

Mother's next move is probably the biggest clue to her being Smokey. After learning that MIB has worked with the people to create a system that will harness the Light (the donkey wheel, by the way), she knocks him out, carry's him out of the cave, destroys the entrance to the well, and promptly obliterates all who lived in the village. Now, if you think that an old woman was able to not only destroy a well made with heavy stones but also kill a village full of people then I'm not sure what to say. But do you know what could inflict that type of damage? Right, good ole Smokey.

After obliterating the village, she takes Jacob to the cave and explains that he will be the one to protect the Light, adding that he must find a replacement when his time is over. Also, she makes him understand that he can never go down the tunnel. After Jacob asks if he'd die if he did so, Mother responds, "it'd be worse than dying Jacob, much worse." Of course, only one who had gone down there herself would know the consequences, right? The look she gave when uttering these words was of knowing regret, as she's been roaming the Island as Smokey - inheriting bodies of the dead for centuries - and her only way out is to pass on that sentence to another. But first Mother anoints Jacob as the one who will protect the Light ("it was always you"), and then moves on to the final part of her plan. One down and one to go.

After telling Jacob to go gather firewood during the walk back to camp, she pauses, giving him a longing look as if to say goodbye, and then walks back to the campsite alone knowing that an enraged MIB will be waiting for her. Abiding by the long crafted rules, she says nothing to her killer, and is stabbed in the heart . Before dying, she utters "thank you" as her never ending life and duties have finally come to an end. On cue, Jacob arrives to find the bloody knife in the hand of his brother, drags him to the cave, and gives him a punishment worse than death. And with that, Mother's promises come to fruition. As Smokey, MIB truly is trapped on the Island, and will never be permitted to fulfill his desire to leave and return home. Instead, he will roam the Island for eternity and devour the men that are not worth to inhabit it. He provides the Balance to Jacob's responsibility to protect the source and bring those candidates that are good enough to the Island for possible replacement. The rules of the Game have been switched, now Jacob is making them, and for years and years the battle persists in a never ending stalemate.

But what Mother didn't account for was MIB's loophole. By figuring out how to free himself without breaking the rules, MIB is dangerously close to being able to actually leave the Island. And if this happens, we've been told that all sorts of shit will go down. Why so? Is it because without the Black, the Balance is jolted, allowing the Light on the Island to go out? If so, it means bad news for everyone, because as Mother said, "if the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere."

So that's my take on "Across the Sea." I know it's a bit long and clunky, but thanks for sticking with it if your still reading here. After watching it again, there's definitely other analysis that could be argued: one being that MIB was simply the victim of bad parenting (which is certainly not a new theme on Lost), and that the hate and resentment he held for his Mother was so intense that those emotions helped literally generate Smokey - or "evil incarnate" - from the Light itself....but that's a whole other post!

Tid Bits

The board game Boy in Black and Jacob were playing was called "Senet." From Lostpedia;

"Senet (or senat[1]), a board game from predynastic and ancient Egypt. The oldest hieroglyph representing a Senet game dates to circa 3100 BC.[2] The full name of the game in Egyptian was zn.t n.t ḥˁb meaning the "game of passing."

I haven't been able to find a translation for what Mother said while "blessing" the wine for Jacob...anyone got something?

Another take on how the dagger killed Mother, and how the dagger is special. I've read a theory that because MIB's dagger was so close to the "Source," it was able to destroy something that also came from the Source, namely the Mother. If true, this means that the same dagger could theoretically kill Flocke, seeing that he also came from the Source. Interesting to ponder about....but none of this explains how Jacob was able to be killed. I think that particular mystery will remain unsolved.

Oh, and for those that still doubt the Mother/Smokey theory...who are the only two characters on this show that aren't given names? You guessed it, MIB and Mother.

(Also, I think this is obvious, but after MIB becomes Smokey, he obviously inherits his old dead body, and it is that form that we see in most other flashbacks that include him. He had this form until he took the form of Locke.)

And one parting thought: if Jacob needs a replacement, and Mother as Smokey was replaced, will Flocke need a replacement as well? If so, who might that be?

That's it for this week. Get ready for a big week of Lost: tomorrow night is the penultimate edition, and then this Sunday is the finale extravaganza. I promise to get my recap for tomorrow's ep before Sunday. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Season 6, Episode 13: "The Candidate"

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. If there was one gripe I've had with the last few episodes previous to this week, it was the feeling that the end was near but the story was not moving forward fast enough to keep up. Well, this week the writers had the last laugh, leaving us bruised and battered after seeing three (!) main characters bite the dust. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for most of the episode, one which I think will rank up there with one of the best the season has had to offer thus far. Aside from the obvious, there were plenty of little clues dropped in this week, so without further ado, let's get to it.

Starting right at the top, I found the very first scene between Jack and Locke to be pretty significant. If you remember, Locke wakes up after surgery and sees a saintly looking Jack Shepard standing calmly over him. Locke's first words - "I know you" - immediately evoke a sense of awareness of who Jack is and what he represents. Sure, he could have simply remembered Jack from the missing baggage office in LAX, but I think we're too far down the line here to ignore the fact that instead, Locke remembers Jack from the Island. To be sure, Locke's next question is asked with a sense of grave trepidation; "Am I......Am I alright?" In that pregnant pause I believe that Locke was about to ask "Am I dead" instead of "alright." It makes perfect sense....if Locke has an awareness of the other side, he knows that his life was cut short in the Island world, and therefore his biggest fear is that the same will happen in the Sideways. But instead, he learns he's just fine...well, as fine as he can be for a paraplegic.

Next, Jack goes into Mr. Fix It mode, telling John about how he is a "candidate" for a new procedure that could restore the use of his legs. But in a curious turn of events, Locke wants nothing to do with the opportunity, and isn't saying why either. We later learn that Locke suffered his accident while flying - and crashing - his maiden voyage on a plane with his father, Anthony Cooper, in tow. So instead of being the victim of his Father's brutality like in the Island events, Locke is now the one responsible for Anthony's catatonic state in the Sideways. But regardless of the details, in both scenarios it is Locke's inability to let go of his Father's pull that holds his life back from where it should be. In the Island World, he continued to try and gain his acceptance, which essentially lead him to be manipulated and coerced, ending him up in a wheelchair for his efforts. In the Sideways it is his guilt for what happened that leads him tied to the chair, not letting himself get the opportunity for repair as long as his Father remains so damaged by Locke's hand.

On Jack's end, his desire to fix Locke consumes him. He goes so far as to track down the oral surgeon (Bernard!) that worked on Locke and Cooper three years earlier. The conversation he has with Bernard is interesting on a couple of levels. First off, when learning that Bernard was also on flight 815, Jack's "this shit is too crazy to be a coincidence" bells start going off, just as they have been doing so on the Island for a little while now. Additionally, after giving Jack the only bit of info he can without violating "the rules" (yes, I think Bernard may know more to what's going on than we think), Bernard utters the familiar line, "Jack, I hope you find what you're looking for."

This statement, of course, is something that has been drilled into our heads for 6 seasons now. If nothing else, this show is about our characters finding themselves, their purpose, and their key to happiness. And up until this season, Jack has assumed that fixing other people's problems was his purpose. What he failed to realize though is that not everyone needs fixing. People make choices on their own, and those choices will reflect how their lives are lived outside of his sometimes overpowering interference. Island-Jack is first to come to terms with this notion. This season Jack has taken a back seat in the shot calling, letting others take the lead that he so comfortably assumed in the past. And this week in the Sideways, we similarly start to see Jack finally understand that he can't fix everything, especially if it's against the other person's will.

In the end, Jack and Locke have a very heady conversation in the hospital revolving around the idea of "letting go." Both acknowledge their inabilities to let go of the events that shaped who they became to be, for better or worse. But at the same time, Jack continues to try and at least influence Locke to see his predicament in a different light. "What happened, happened," he says, attempting to convince Locke that in order to move on he must let go of the guilt he carries for his Father's condition. This, more than wheelchair itself, is what confines Locke. Jack ends with, "I can help you, John. I wish you believed me." Let's not forget that this exact statement was what Locke wrote in his suicide note - addressed solely to Jack - two seasons ago. Jack no longer wants to "fix" John, he simply wants to help him. And if restoring his ability to walk will help heal his soul, then that is what he can try to do. But first John has to believe in that notion too. He needs to embrace it with open arms, and choose to put his trust in Jack for that help. How ironic: the one who so earnestly wanted to gain Jack's trust on the Island won't allow himself to trust Jack in the Sideways. "I wish you had believed me" works both ways.

But what's important here is the finality of Jack's revolution. In both worlds he has an understanding of what he needs to do, as clear as day. So when Sayid says "because it's going to be you, Jack" before sacrificing himself to save the others, we have little trouble believing him. Say hello to the true "Candidate."

So what went down on the Island this week? Oh yeah, a ton of shit. But for the most part, understandable shit. Basically, Flocke's long con finally came to fruition, with varied amounts of success. And while I hate to pat myself on the back - oh who am I kidding I love patting myself on the back - I had anticipated this move from Flocke long ago. Below is a little excerpt from my recap of the season's third episode, "The Substitute:"

"So, as we all know, MIB concocts a plan to get [off the Island] by manipulating Locke, taking over his body, and eventually persuading Ben to kill Jacob. But the game doesn’t end with Jacob’s death. In order to free himself completely, he needs to be sure that the remaining candidates – Hurley, Jack, Sayid, Jin (I’ll explain that one later), and Sawyer - are eliminated so that Jacob’s role isn’t fulfilled once again, which would keep the never-ending battle alive. But as we know from the rules, he can’t simply kill the candidates himself....So he does the next best thing. He sets the stage for them all to kill each other."

Ok, so maybe it wasn't rocket science, but more than enough people were starting to think that Locke simply needed the candidates to leave the Island with him, and that no blood would be spilled in the process. He is, after all, a pretty convincing dude. But his little speech at the plane after finding the C4 on board ("Widmore wants us all in the same place, at the same time. A nice confined space we have no hope of getting out of...and then he wants to kill us") rang a little too close to what I figured was Flocke's plan all along. And sure enough, the sub is an even nicer, smaller, more confined space to get everyone in and blow a couple packs of C4 off, right? And if it weren't for Sayid's heroics, his plan probably would have worked. (And yes, I do believe that if Sawyer hadn't touched the bomb that it would not have gone off. Jack was right. By touching the bomb, Sawyer effectively took the blood off of Flocke's hands and is responsible for Sun and Jin's death. Again, Locke set up a scenario where the candidates were effectively killing each other.)

But coming out of this at least now we know what everyone is angling for as we enter the last three episodes, which is exciting. And while we're offering predictions, why not offer a couple more:

To start, I'm not convinced that Lapidus is dead. Sure, it looks grim for our fuzzy friend, but he didn't come all this way just to get unceremoniously killed in a flash of the eye, right? (editors note: Really? You remember how Ilana died, right? Alright, whatever....continue). We didn't necessarily see him die like we did Sun and Jin (which, I must admit, was pretty damn sad), and I'm not sure the Island is done with him yet.

Next; how is the Island and Sideways world division going to be resolved? If you've been keeping track of any interviews with the show's producers this year, the only "promise" we've gotten is that this many worlds issue will have a resolution. Well, I've been wracking my brain as to how this could happen, and this is what I have so far...

We've discussed how our characters' lives are affected by the decisions they make in the Island World. And for the most part (though certainly after some hiccups), things seem to be working out for most folks in the Sideways. Specifically, Sun and Jin's story wrapped up quite happily...Sun and her baby recovered from the gunshot wound and when Jin reunites with her in the hospital he says to her, "It's over...and we're all going to be okay." Could this be a clue that while their story ended so sadly in the Island, that the true ending is what we see in the Sideways? Are they being rewarded for staying with each other to the end, trusting that their love for each other would overcome the mysterious blackness of death?

However, in theory, this ending only works for those that die in the Island. Assuming that not everyone gets dusted, what happens to the characters that survive Flocke's wrath? How will their worlds be resolved? Well that's where Lapidus comes in. As noted above, I think Lapidus lives, and is able to pilot the Ajira plane for those that make it through whatever might go down on the Island in the upcoming episodes. As they fly away from the Island, the plane experiences a flash similar to the event that transported the crew to 70's Dharma in Season 5, but this time instead of flashing through time, they flash through worlds. Cue requisite close up on an eye opening in the Sideways and viola, everyone lives happily ever after.

Of course, along the way we'll be shown how our Sideways characters are acutely aware of their Island-selves, and that awareness will lead them to make correct life decisions based on what they learned and experienced there. Connections will continue to be made between our friends, bringing them closer together, just as they do in every iteration of this cycle. But the difference is that this specific cycle is the right one, the one that was always meant to be....because this world is a direct effect of good overcoming evil, light over dark, etc etc. The Island - no longer needed now - is underwater and irrelevant. Enough progress was made, and Jacob won the game over the Man in Black. Crazy? Probably, but I can't think of any other way as to how they will wrap this up. To me, it just seems more and more likely that the Sideways world will be the world we are left with after all of this. And I'm still waiting for that scene where Juliet meets Sawyer in a coffee shop...after all, she was the first to tell us back in Season 5 that "it worked."

Of course this theory brings with it many, many holes, but it's what I got so far. Chime in below with your thoughts. There's only 4.5 hours left, so now's the time to take some guesses!

Tid Bits

Where the hell are Richard, Ben, and Miles? The last we saw them, they were on the way to blow up the Ajira plane. So is it possible that the C4 Locke found was planted by them and not Widmore? Could be, but to my knowledge they didn't have access to any C4, just old dynamite. Food for thought, but I'm hoping that they will pop up I've kind of forgotten all about that crew.

Did everyone else pick up the gigantic irony revolving around Locke's paralysis in the Sideways and the lack thereof on the Island? That in one case, a plane crash gave him his legs back, and in the other, a crash took them away? Good. Now, which event is the "right" one?

I have to give a proper goodbye to our fallen friends on the sub. Sayid, ever the bad ass, was able to redeem himself by taking the impact of the bomb himself in attempting to save his friends. Hopefully this last heroic act can give him a chance to live a full and free life in the Sideways. But more importantly, his act proves that the hold that Flocke has over his minions is not all encompassing. Sayid was able to pull away enough to realize that what Flocke was doing was wrong. In doing so, he provided Jack with the information to go and rescue Desmond, likely a key event in the upcoming episodes. Next up to defect from Flocke's control: Claire.

Sun and Jin. Yes, the death was very Titanic-y, and yes they probably should have realized that in both dying they were orphaning their daughter, but nonetheless, the death was sad and somewhat appropriate. While tragic, dying in each other's arms seemed fitting. As I said above, I do believe that in staying together, their reward will be a long life of happiness in the Sideways. While I think the writers are having their cake and eating it too with this narrative device, but I'll let it slide...cause it would be too sad to see more of our characters bite the dust without some sort of hope that there could be a happy ending.

Alright, that's enough for this week. Strap in for the last few hours, because if "The Candidate" is any indication of how we're going to end this thing, it's going to be a wild ride.