SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen the episode airing May 18, don't read this.
I have to be honest and say that I came in to this week's episode with a giant chip on my shoulder. I didn't like "Across the Sea" last week, and I liked it less and less the more I thought about it. Maybe I'm an eternal optimist (or maybe I don't want to feel foolish for my devotion for the last six years), but I'm doing my best to withhold my full frustration until Sunday's finale. I still have faith in the writers, with fingers skeptically crossed.
After tonight's episode my outlook is somewhat rosier. I still think the heavy mythological turn last week was a mistake, but we were rewarded with more answers in "What They Died For" than we've had in the last six years combined. There's so much to discuss I'll just jump right in, but I feel like I should post warning signs over the lack of paragraph transition headed your way.
Here we go.
Jack and his son woke up to a sweet scene of happy family togetherness, and Jack was surprised to find himself injured, presumably from the sub scene in his other reality. We have the promise of a recital that Jack and his son will be attending with Jack's ex-wife (mark my words: it's Juliet). It was very satisfying to see Claire and Jack having some brotherly/sisterly bonding.
Desmond reappeared for a round two with John Locke ("to help him let go", we're told), and Ben bravely confronted him in the parking lot. This was quite a night for Ben all around--more on that later. He began to remember the Island timeline, which later prompted him to seek out Jack.
When Miles, Ben, and Richard approached the Dharma village, Miles heard dead voices, which we learned came from Alex. Why on earth Ben wouldn't ask for details on this is beyond me, but then, again, this is The Island, otherwise known as The Land Of Asking Few Questions. An interesting side note: In the official Lost podcast on ABC, the writers acknowledged the confusion around the reappearing dead people. They confirmed that some of our characters--such as Hurley and Miles--really do encounter the real dead, while others--like Jack--only see the dead people that are a manifestation of Smokey. Clear as mud.
Ben and Widmore have a less-than-happy reunion, with Widmore telling Ben that he came to The Island after Jacob visited him. Am I missing something? I don't recall this. Is Widmore lying? Smokey appeared and tossed Richard into the trees, though I'm betting he's not dead--didn't we learn in "Ab Aeterno" that Richard is immortal?. Ben rats out Widmore, pointing Flocke to the hiding place. Zoe and Widmore are quickly history, and I'm hoping this isn't the end of Widmore's story. It couldn't possibly be, after the amount of time the writers have spent investing his mystery. Could it? In a powerful moment that showed that Ben's tormented side is close to the surface, he shot Widmore and fumed that "He doesn't get to save his daughter."
Moving over to Jack and Co., we finally see an encounter between Jacob and our favorite Losties. Jacob explained everything--actually everything--in a stunning revelation of all the answers we've waited for. In this brief scene, we learned (among other things) the following:
- Jacob appeared to have chosen multiple Losties so that they would have the choice he never had.
- Jacob revealed that they were all plucked from lives that were unhappy and lonely: "You were looking for something you couldn't find out there." We still don't know why, specifically, this exact group of people was chosen. Was Jacob summoning all those crash survivors, or was he only summoning the candidates, with all the other Losties being collateral damage?
- Kate's name from the list was stricken because she "became a mother" (a puzzling revelation--Sun's name wasn't crossed out as a result of motherhood, was it? I'm not sure I understand what bearing this would have.)
- Jack accepts the job with a dramatic taking of the cup, literally and figuratively. This isn't surprising, of course--he's Jack, and it's what has to be done. I adored this scene--it was very Frodo-Baggins-ish.
Let's not neglect our sideways reality. Desmond turned himself in to Sawyer and Miles, landing in a jail cell with Sayid and Kate. He somehow arranged for their escape (with the help of Hurley's money), with a cameo with Ana Lucia. (It was interesting to note that she's one of the few Losties whose sideways existence is strikingly similar to her pre-crash existence). Desmond reveals that they're all going to a concert. This must surely be the same concert where Daniel Farraday is performing, at Miles' dad's museum. My money's on the idea that Jack's son is peforming there as well. I'm looking forward to the look we'll see on Eloise Hawking Widmore's face when they all show up--she has some explaining to do.
Also notable in the sideways reality was our glimpse at the non-crazy Rousseau. Was she actually flirting with Benjamin Linus? That was a Strange Lost Moment. Ben was powerfully moved by his love for Alex, even as he tromped through the jungle in another timeline offering help (maybe?) to Flocke. It seemed, for a time, that Ben's character was fading into the background, but it appears he still has a strong part to play.
I don't ever remember a Lost episode with so many excellent quotable moments. Here were my honorable mentions for Best Quote Of the Night:
Miles (to Ben): "I lived in these houses thirty years before you did--otherwise known as last week."
Miles (to Ben): "If you need us we'll be running through the jungle."
Ben (to Richard): "Care to join me outside while I wait for the inevitable?"
Ben (to Flocke): "Can I get you a glass of lemonade?"
Ben (to Flocke, regarding Zoe): "She's armed, but I'm guessing that's not a problem for you."
But the winner? Hands down:
Sawyer (to Kate, regarding Jack): "I thought that guy had a God complex before."
This feels like the place where I should make some big predictions for Sunday night, but I find myself unable to do so. I think we're entering the finale with a fairly strong sense of answers to the largest mysteries, though there are a few things I'm hoping we'll see:
- We mostly understand the significance of the candidates, but how do some of these secondary characters (Ben, Desmond, Widmore, Richard, to name a few) figure in?
- How much do Widmore and Eloise know?
- And perhaps the biggest question of all: How will our Losties merge their sideways reality into their Island reality? Will they continue living two lives? Will they get to choose? Will some of them (Jin and Sun, I hope) stay sideways, while others (certainly Jack) live on The Island?
I can hardly wait to hear your thoughts on "What They Died For". I know many of you shared my frustration with last week's episode--did you feel like this week redeemed it? Care to make any predictions about where things will end up? How are you planning to celebrate (mourn) on Sunday night?
(Speaking of Sunday night, did you catch ABC's promo that this finale will be the "Television Event of the Decade"? I would agree with this, though this would be significantly more impressive if the decade were more than four months old.)
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