'Lost': Jughead ends with a bang, Jacob ends with a whisper
Well, I can tell you right now, "Lost" fans: this recap is going to make many of you extremely unhappy. But I'm not here to make friends; I'm here to recap as honestly as I can. And while this wasn't a bad episode, it was still the weakest of the five finales to date. And since this recap is longer than most novels, I'll cut directly to the chase.
4) In Short
"Oh dream weaver/I belive we can reach the morning light"
8) Off the Island
A young Kate Austen enters a general store with Tom Brennan. They conspire to steal the New Kids on the Block lunchbox seen back in "Born to Run." Before Kate can leave, the store manager nabs them both, and vows to call both their folks and the cops. Before he can do so, another man comes to the counter and offers to pay for the lunchbox. The man leans over and says, "You're not gonna steal anymore, are ya?" and tells her to be good. She agrees never to steal again. Liar.
A young James Ford watches his parents being carried from the funeral mass into separate hearses. Afterwards, he starts to write a letter to "Mr. Sawyer." His pen starts to run out of ink, but the same man that visited Kate gives him one. He tells James that he's sorry for his loss, and then leaves. James' uncle comes by and reads James' note. He sits next to "Jimmy" and tells him while he's right to be angry, "What's done is done." He makes James promise that he won't finish the letter. James agrees. Aaaaand another liar.
A married Sayid and Nadia walk in Los Angeles. As they cross the street, the mystery man asks Sayid for help with directions. As Nadia looks on mid-street a few yards away, she's struck violently by an oncoming car. Nadia's dying words? "Take me home."
In a dreary hospital room, a nurse tends to Ilana, who looks to have suffered burns across most of her body. The mystery man visits her, apologizing for not being there sooner. Ilana says that she's happy to see him. He tells her he needs to her help, and she agrees to help him without hesitation.
The same man reads Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" while John Locke is busy falling eight stories thanks to his father's push. Is it wrong that I laughed when I saw Locke's body? Probably. But I did. The man walks over to Locke, lays his hands upon him, and Locke awakens with a start. "Don't worry, everything's going to be alright. Sorry this happened to you," he says before leaving a stunned, bloody Locke lying on the ground.
We see Sun and Jin's wedding day. Sun and Jin, in the same scene! And they said it couldn't be done in Season 5! They look so happy. Getting misty in here. Afterwards, the mystery man speaks in perfect Korean, wishing them luck in their marriage and warns them to never take their love for granted. Sun's confused by the man's appearance; Jin is impressed by his Korean.
We see Jack Shephard in the surgery mentioned in the pilot episode to Kate, where he learned to count to five to overcome his fear. What we didn't know? That Christian taught him the technique during his son's first major surgery, causing Jack no small amount of embarrassment. Jack confronts his father post-surgery after being unable to dislodge an Apollo Candy Car from the vending machine. Luckily, mystery man is there to get one for himself, and gives the first to Jack. "Just needed a little push," he says, barely heard over the CLANG of the symbolism.
A young Juliet sits aside her sister as they learn their folks are getting a divorce. Rachel responds with anger, but Juliet only responds with confusion. "What if you ARE supposed to be together?" Juliet's mom says that when she's older, she'll understand. "I don't wanna understand! I don't wanna grow up! I'm a Toys "R" Us kid!" Juliet cries. OK, maybe that's not an exact quote.
Hurley begs the officer releasing him from prison to put him back inside, worried about the people that have been trying to attack him on the outside. Unable to avoid leaving prison, Hurley hops in a cab outside the prison occupied by the mystery man and his mystery guitar case. While Hurley is spooked that the man knows about his past, he doesn't run for the hills. Instead, he sadly restates the curse that has him seeing dead people. The mystery man suggests Hurley look upon the ability to see loved ones lost as a blessing, and then gives Hurley information about Ajira 316. He also leaves the guitar case for Hurley to take with him. "It's your choice, Hugo. You don't have to do anything you don't want to."
15) On the Island
Mid-1800's: A man in white creates thread on a spinning wheel, then tends to it on a loom. He's in a dark, ancient room, light by flames and marked with Egyptian symbols. He goes to the shore, catches a fish, and cooks it upon a stone. As he eats the fish, a man in black comes from behind. They both gaze at the Black Rock, a few miles off shore.
The man in black accuses the other of bringing them to the Island, saying the man in white is trying to prove him wrong. "You ARE wrong," says the man in white. The man in black notes that the cycle is always the same: they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. The man in white notes that anything up until his ideal outcome is merely "progress." After a pause, the man in black says, "Have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?" He speaks of trying to find a loophole to accomplish his goal, and leaves by speaking the man in white's name: Jacob. We never learn the man in black's name. Instead, we see the camera rise up on a full intact statue, standing right behind them both.
1977: It's awkward time aboard the sub, as Kate tries to convince Sawyer to return to the Island to stop Jack and his plan to detonate Jughead. Sawyer's unwilling to go back, having made his decision to leave his Dharmaville life behind after Kate and Co. went and screwed up paradise.
Down in the tunnels, Sayid is reading Faraday's journal. It contains detailed instructions on how to remove the core, which is both portable and plenty powerful to blow the core underneath the Swan. Richard, worried about Eloise's pregnant state, voices her objection, but she overrules him. Sayid notes they have two hours before Faraday's predicted time of the incident.
Speaking of the Swan, Radzinsky pulls up there, upset that Chang has stopped the drilling. The two fight over the plan to continue drilling; Chang worries about the unknown ramifications, and Radzinksy all but shouts, "I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!" He's gonna change the world, pocket of energy be damned. As the camera pans up, we see that the drill goes deep down into a familiar looking well. Boy, those things are everywhere.
2007: Locke tells the Others to take a break. Ben explains that while Locke is the leader of the Others, Jacob is in charge of the Island. Ben confesses to Sun that he in fact never met Jacob once. Meanwhile, Richard stares at Locke as if he's come across Hurley naked in the communal Hydra shower. Locke confesses he's unclear why he is alive, and notes that ageless Richard should not be one to judge such anomalies. Richard attributes his eyeliner-laced looks to Jacob, and theorizes that Jacob also brought Locke back from the dead. Locke concurs, and states he wants to go thank Jacob personally. Before packing up to leave, he states that after the visit is through, they will have to "take care" of the other passengers on Ajira 316. And not in a "serve them apps" way.
Over on the other side of the island, Ilana and Company arrive on shore. Bram wonders aloud if Lapidus is a "candidate," and I don't think we're talking organ donation here. Ilana notes that Frank is up, and tells him they are "friends." Frank asks them what's in the metal box. Good question, Frank! Bram tells Ilana it's her call to open it. She shows it to Frank, but not us. Frank looks at it with horror, then disgust: "Terrific."
1977: After learning the full extent of Jack's plan, Sawyer still has no desire to go back. When a sub worker comes by with sedatives for the three, Juliet quickly takes him down, grabs his keys, and declares they are all going back. They soon reach the captain's room, where they convince the captain to rise to the surface so they can return. Juliet tells him to stay on course afterwards, not to return with any of those aboard.
Down in the tunnels, Sayid extracts the core while Jack takes possession of the journal. Huh, so much for my "Eloise follows Faraday's journal religiously once off the Island" theory. Richard takes the time to ask Jack about Locke, looking for a second opinion after Richard's visits in "Cabin Fever" left him nonplussed. Jack states that he indeed knows Locke, and that Richard shouldn't give up on Locke.
2007: Locke asks Ben why he hasn't tattled on him to Richard yet. After Ben tells Locke of his encounter with Alex, Locke gets a delighted look on his face. Why? Because now Ben will have to do what Locke wants. What does he want? For Ben to kill Jacob. I would have gone with "coffee run" and built up towards murder, but that's why I'm not John Locke.
1977: Sayid wraps up Jughead's core and the four of them move through the tunnels. Richard finds a soft spot in the wall and breaks through into...a Dharma house. Guess this helps explains the super creepy door in Ben's bungalow. Eloise volunteers to go in first, but Richard knocks her out. He realizes she'll be angry when she awakens, but his duty is to protect the leader. He vows to take her back the way they came in, leaving Sayid and Jack alone to sneak the core out through an on-alert Dharmaville. Sayid steals Horace's jumpsuit from inside his house and tries to blend in.
Unfortunately, Roger Linus spots them, which sets off a firefight when Roger shoots Sayid through the gut. Jack Bauer, I mean Jack Shephard, manages to fend off the entire DI until Hurley, Jin, and Miles pull up in a Dharma van to take them away. Because, apparently, this is the only Dharma van left in New Otherton. Or something. I'm trying to not overanalyze this lest I get mad.
Kate, Sawyer, Juliet, and Juliet's red shirt paddle back to shore. Who greets them? Vincent! YAY! Vincent! And that's not all! Rose! Double YAY! And a rather hirsute Bernard. He looks like a combo between Moses and the Gorton's fisherman. When he sees the three people before him, he utters, "Son of a bitch." FTW! They tell Sawyer that they chose to spend their three years in solitude, choosing to take time travel in stride and build a quiet life for themselves. They note that bomb or no bomb, being together is all that matters. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous scene, even if it stands as a meta-criticism of the angst and turmoil of the show's major characters. Rose+Bernard are the bestest.
In the van, Jack tries to tend to Sayid's wound. He instructs Hurley to go to the Swan, saying it's the only place to save Sayid AND reunite Sun with his wife.
2007: Bram notes to Lapidus they have to show the contents of the box to someone so they might know who they are up against. It's a mouthful of vague pronouns and half-statements. In other words, classic "Lost"! He notes that what they, the "good guys," are up against is way scarier than what's in the metal box. They come upon their destination: Jacob's cabin. Bram notes that the ash around it has been broken. Ilana goes inside, but finds nothing except a piece of cloth affixed to the wall with a familiar looking knife. She returns outside and notes that "someone else" has been using it. They burn the cabin down as Ilana shows Bram the cloth, which features a picture of the statue on it.
Locke leads The Others to the old Lostaway camp, and tells everyone to rest up for the final leg of the journey. He then walks over to Ben, alone and staring at the ocean. Locke casually notes the Quarantine door before them, and then asks Ben about exactly what happened in the cabin during "The Man Behind the Curtain." Ben confesses that he spoke to an empty chair, engaging in theatrics. The only real thing? His surprise when the cabin started to shake. He tells Locke that he was too embarrassed to admit that he had never seen Jacob. When he asks Locke why HE has to kill Jacob, Locke notes that despite Ben's loyal service, he got cancer and lost his daughter. "So the question is, Ben, why the hell WOULDN'T you want to kill Jacob?"
As Locke digs the knife into Ben, Sun walks over towards Aaron's overturned crib. Inside it, she finds Charlie's Driveshaft ring. Altogether now: awwww.
1977: Sayid notes that the bleeding can't be stopped, and offers to rig the bomb to explode upon impact. Suddenly, the van stops. Why? Because Juliet, Kate, and Sawyer are directly in the way. Ooooh, it's on like Donkey Kong now, people. Sawyer wants five minutes to talk with Jack, saying he's earned that much from the good doc. And right about now is where everything good about the finale starts to go to complete hell for me.
2007: Richard leads the group to the base of the statue. He tells Locke that it is where Jacob lives. I'm going to try and ignore the fact that the show's told us it was the cabin for the past three years lest I start slamming my head against the coffee table.
1977: Sawyer tells Jack the story of his dead parents. After Jack apologizes, Sawyer notes that the event, from their current perspective, happened only one year ago. Why didn't he leave and change things? "What's done is done," he says, echoing his uncle. He wants to know what Jack wants to erase so badly. He claims it's destiny, but Sawyer only knows men and women who act in their own interest. What does he want? Kate. The only flippin' plan is about Kate. He regrets ruining their impending marriage, and wants a do over. She's Lana Lang times twenty. Jack apparently doesn't know his Meatloaf, because dude? I would do anything for love, but I won't do that. And by "that" I mean "detonate a hydrogen bomb," which I'm pretty sure is what Meatloaf meant as well. When Sawyer notes that Jack's plan means Kate will be a stranger in handcuffs if this works, Jack channels his inner Locke and says, "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
Sensing this won't be won with words, Sawyer decides it will be won by putting his fist through Jack's face. The two have a fairly brutal fight, not so much for the choreography but for the history of these two characters. Sawyer gets the upper hand, choking the life out of Jack begging him to stop. Juliet intercedes, undoubtedly sparing Jack's life. Why? Because she's suddenly changed her mind and wants Sawyer to let Jack go. Um. What?
Sawyer's confused. That makes two of us. Why did she change her mind? I'll give you a guess, and it rhymes with "Hate." Yup, it's Kate, the center of the freakin' universe according to the show all of a sudden. One look from Sawyer to Kate showed Juliet that they weren't meant to be together, and while Sawyer would stay if she asked, and she loves him for it, she'd...you know what? This scene makes me angry. Extremely angry. Juliet is not this freakin' weak. There are ways for the show to put Sawyer and Kate together, if that's what they wish, without selling out one of its strongest characters, male or female, on the show. Moving on. Ugh.
Over at the Swan, Radzinsky receives word from Phil about the attack in the Barracks. Radzinsky remembers that Sayid saw the Swan model, and orders Phil to send backup to defend the Swan station. Up above, Kate tends to Jack's fresh wounds from his bout with Sawyer. She reveals to Jack her reason for coming to the Island (to find Claire), and Jack says that his plan can ensure Claire makes it to raise Aaron. He doesn't care that she planned to give him up for adoption, noting that anything's possible. "Nothing in my life has ever felt so right," he tells her. And now SHE'S on board. First Jack co-opts Jack Bauer's shooting skillz; now he's developed Bauer's velvet voice. Unbelieveable.
Jack returns to the van, with the Swan folk having hit the pocket of energy and Sayid having rigged the bomb to explode upon impact. When Jack expresses optimism about the plan, Sayid calmly says, "Nothing can save me." As heroic music swells, Jack furtively heads towards the Swan...with the bomb sticking like eight feet above his head, totally within view of everyone. "See you in Los Angeles," he tells an agonized Sawyer.
2007: At night, Locke brings Ben with him to the foot of the statue. Richard protests, noting only one leader can see Jacob at once. Locke's sick of Richard's rules, thinking Eyeliner makes them up as he goes. Richard backs down, and opens a door on the statue's base by pressing in a part of the exterior. "Tell him I said hello," he says as he leaves Locke and Ben to go inside. "Will you be able to do this, Ben? I know this won't be easy, but things will change once he's gone. I promise." Ben then takes the knife from Locke and presses on.
1977: As everyone mopes at the van, Miles finally asks the question that should have been asked an hour ago: "Has it occurred to any of you that your buddy is going to CAUSE the thing he says he's trying to prevent? Perhaps that little nuke IS the incident? So maybe the best thing to do...is nothing? I'm glad you all thought this through." And I'm glad the show decided to have someone say this so late in the episode. Really. As they see Phil and Co. race to the Swan, Sawyer looks to Juliet for guidance. "Live together, die alone," she replies. Now they are just TRYING to make me mad.
Phil catches sight of Jack along the top of the ridge. Maybe it's because it looks like Jack's trying to sneak around with what looks like a bionic leg sticking high above his head. Juliet and Company drive the van into the work site to provide cover and allow Jack access to the well. Eventually, they get the upper hand, allowing Jack to drop the bomb. I actually thought he'd decide against it, but he doesn't. Wow. OK, ballsy. As everyone braces for impact....nothing. Nothing happens at all. A cop out? Not really. Read on in Mythology why not.
A loud humming is heard, as the Incident starts up good and proper, dragging everything metallic down into the hole. One piece of equipment crushes Pierr's hand, explaining that little bit of mythology. Radzinsky tries to drive away, but the magnetic pull is too strong and he has to abandon the car. Phil picks this time to try and kill Sawyer, which is just stellar and leads to death by metal pole impalement.
A series of metal chains wrap around Juliet and drag her into the hole. From her vantage point, she sees the equipment above about to crush Sawyer. She says, "I love you, James. I love you so much," and then loosens her grip on his hand, unable to fight the force pulling the chains down, sending her down, down, down into the hole.
2007: Richard asks Sun if she's like some water. "Do you have any alcohol?" she replies. Some for me as well, please. Just then, Ilana and Company converge on the Others, walking slowly and deliberately with their guns in the air. Ilana asks for the man called "Ricardus." She asks him the riddle, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" The question lights a fire of recognition in his eyes, and he makes a reply in what sounds like Latin. She's happy with the reply, introduces herself, and shows him the content of the box. In it? John Locke. The REAL John Locke. Making the one inside the statue? Well, funny you should ask.
Inside, "Locke" leads Ben into Jacob's spinning room. As Ben admires the tapestry, Jacob suddenly comes into view, sitting on a rocking chair in the corner of the room. "Do you like it?" he asks. "I did it myself. Takes a very long time when you're making the thread, but I suppose that's the point, isn't it?" Jacob looks at "Locke" and says, "You found your loophole," indicating that whatever Locke is now is the same man from the beginning of the episode. The man in black then tells Ben to do what he's supposed to do.
Jacob wants Ben to understand one thing: he has a choice. Ben isn't having any of this "choice" business, still sore after being ignored for thirty-five years: all those second-hand messages from Richard, all the lists, and for what? Why does Locke get better treatment? "What about me?" he finally asks. "What about you?" replies Jacob, coldly. Um, bad answer, Jacob. You have Jack's bedside manners. Ben then stabs Jacob repeatedly in the chest, as think red blood flows from the wounded man-god's mouth. "They're coming," he tells the man in black, who promptly kicks Jacob's body in the fire burning in the middle of the room.
1977: A groggy Jack sees Kate trying to pull Sawyer from off the scrap heap atop the well in the Swan. The camera pans down the well to see wreckage and...Juliet, who somehow is not dead yet. She sees the bomb nearby, and desperately seeks to detonate it. She hits it. Nothing. Hits it again. Nothing. "Come on, you son of a bitch!" she says. Then a flash of white. Then the show logo against the ashen backdrop.
See you in Season 6!
16) The Moment
Everything about that first scene between Jacob and the Man in Black thrilled completely.
23) The Mythology
Let's be honest: we have seven full months to digest everything we saw tonight. And I think we just might need them. Know that we'll be continuing analysis throughout the off-season over at our "Lost" blog, so continue to go there in the months to come.
Since I've already dropped nearly 4,000 words on you, I won't overstay my welcome much longer. But I few biggies I want to drop to start discussion.
We finally met the puppet masters! Remember in "The Shape of Things to Come," there were those few shots of Ben in the desert as the camera started close, then jump cut a few times ever futher back, revealing a bigger picture? Tonight's episode was the narrative version of the last shot in this sequence, where at last, on a quiet beach in the 19th century, we met the two players responsible for the forces of light and dark on the Island.
Many might be tempted to assign the Man in Black's name as Esau, given the Biblical references rife with the name Jacob itself. But me? I like "Man in Black," as it harkens to a work that I think runs rampant throughout the show: Stephen King's "The Dark Tower." In that 7-volume series, "The Man in Black" goes by many names across variety planes of reality, but always serves the side of evil. So it's only fitting to me that we take Jacob's adversary as a nameless entity for now. In any case, the backgammon game between Locke and Walt came full circle tonight, with the sides fully set and the true leader of each side revealed.
Free will matters in the "Lost" universe! This to me was the most important takeaway of Jacob's visits to various people currently on the Island. He didn't give them explicit instructions, he gave them OPTIONS. He gave them CHOICE. And by doing so, he gave them the capacity to both do good and evil. All this gets back to what I've long thought was the most important exchange in "Lost" history, from the early part of Season 3. In the Hydra Station, Ben and Jack discuss Ben's impending surgery:
JACK: All of this... you brought me here to operate on you. You... you want me to save your life?
BEN: No, I want you to WANT to save my life.
"Lost" inhabits a universe in which choice matters, in which free will matters, in which there are seemingly omnipotent beings who still need us to do us to things for them. The Man in Black cannot kill Jacob. But he can set things in motion that pray upon the frailty of man: their pettiness, greed, violence, insecurity, in order to position people where he wants them. But he can only lead them to a certain point. At that point, individual will still takes over.
This, to me, does not negate "whatever happened, happened." The people in 1977 were not acting out some passion play for the gods in an endless loop. As frustrating as I found the seemingly incoherent actions of the characters (who made choices based on dramatic need versus consistent reasoning), they at least all eventually chose in some capacity to end up at the Swan at the time of the Incident. (I'd love to know how Richard claims he "saw" them all die there, but hey, that's another tale altogether.)
The most powerful force in "Lost" is not electromagnetism, but Austenism! Seriously, when the show explains every major character decision in 1977 around Freckles, I have to make a crack about this. I kept waiting for Radzinsky to say he named the Swan after Kate's beauty after a while. I don't even blame Kate for this; I blame the writers who are clearly in love with the character more than they should be at this point.
Ilana and Company are Others! Or, sons/daughters of Others, as several of you theorized. Nice call, there. The fact that Richard knew the answer to the riddle indicates a connection to me that aligns the two forces together. And it looks like Jacob put them all on Ajira 316 to help him along.
My "Cabin Christian" theory is looking stronger than ever! I have stated in the past that "Cabin Fever" started a long con by which the artist we know now as The Man in Black" sought to take over the Island. Rewatch everything from Season 4 and 5 and I think you see that's pretty darn accurate. It's a ridonkulously overelaborate plan, but that's what happens when you've got ageless creatures that might be human, might be gods, might be good/evil themselves forever measuring the worth of man using the Island as a testing ground in the name of "progress" towards some evolutionary end Jacob foresees and the Man in Black abhors. But rewatch the Christian Shephard in the brown shirt very, very closely your second time around. His interest in John Locke is purely to get the Man in Black on the Island. That's his mission. And he succeeded quite brilliantly.
There's a ton more to discuss, but it's nearly 2 am and I'm seeing triple at this point. Again, make sure to stop by the blog in the coming days/weeks as we slowly tease out the mysteries introduced tonight.
42) Random Thoughts
- No Des, Penny, Horace, elder Eloise, or any-aged Widmore. Wow.
- Jin had two lines this week, doubling his output from last week. Apparently DUIs no longer get you fired, but they sure as hell cut down your screentime.
- Are we supposed to add Walt's prophetic dream about Locke being surrounded by people with guns to the "really inconsistent/incorrect things stated in 'The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham' ep?"
- Why bother showing Juliet's flashback without any Jacob appearance? Just felt sloppy.
- Speaking of "Bentham," while we see Jacob visiting various people throughout their lives, are we to assume Widmore was working with the Man in Black to set up Locke for failure, therefore death? After all, Widmore told Locke he needed to go back so the right side would win the impending war. I have to assume both Jacob and his adversary were recruiting for the War of the Island in 2007.
108) In Summary
OK, so here's what bugs me about the finale: it's not that they left us with a mutha of a confusing cliffhanger that will force us to wonder for months if the show just killed off half its cast. (Non-spoiler spoiler: they won't.) It's that to get to that point, the show chose a series of increasingly hard-to-swallow character decisions that made the climax almost intolerable.
Up until the point at which Sawyer and Jack sat down for their pow-wow, I was fully on-board. The Jacob intro thrilled. The Locke/Richard/Ben dynamic was as strong as ever. And the Rose-Bernard stuff was insanely sweet and pointed to a self-awareness of the season's histrionics that I thought suggested that by the end of the episode, the other characters would come to their senses. Instead, in "Chasing Amy"-like fashion, major characters hear the proper life lesson than quickly throw them by the wayside only to repeat the mistakes of the past.
By the time Sawyer, Juliet, Kate, Hurley, and Miles come to rescue Jack at the Swan from certain death, it's not clear to me why any of them are letting his plan go through. And because their hearts don't seem 100% it in, neither was mine. And only man who believed in the plan? He's doing it because of a failed relationship with Kate! Dude, write her a letter. Send flowers. Hell, make a mix tape. But don't detonate a hydrogen bomb with the hopes that second time around, you and the stranger in front of you will bond over handcuffs.
Was it a bad season finale? No, but it was to me the weakest of the five. A few shocking moments does NOT a stellar episode make, and while the mythology surrounding Jacob and the Man in Black fascinates, it was the characters that let me down a little. At least Locke had a good reason why he acted out of character. What excuse do Jack, Kate, Juliet, and Sawyer have?
What did you make of the season finale? Am I being too hard, or not hard enough? Were you happy with the reveal of Jacob? Surprised by the contents of Ilana's box? Leave your thoughts below!
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude. He invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed.