Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lost Episode Review 6.16: "What They Died For"

"Mr. Locke, I think you're mistaking coincidence for fate..."

(Thanks to Dark UFO for all the screencaps).

Yeah, it wasn't the best quote of the episode, but I couldn't resist.

Now this was the heady Lost buzz I was looking for last week. I really can't believe they didn't air this episode right after "The Candidate" and give us "Across The Sea" earlier in the season. AtS was easily the most polarizing episode I ever had in my Lost poll. The results:

Best episode ever: 10%
In my Top 10: 10%
Above average: 32%
Average: 13%
Mediocre: 20%
Awful: 10%
Toy airplane awful: 3%

I've never had an episode poll where every single category got at least one vote. I expect this episode to be much more clustered near the top. Overall a great set-up for the finale - it didn't redeem AtS much, but it at least returned to the Island and Alt narratives that were chugging along so well until last week. The one reference to last week I did like is the fact Jacob wanted to give the candidates "what he never had" - a choice, even though there was a risk none of them would take the job (although, much like his Mother, Jacob really didn't explain all the negatives that come with the position).

It's now down to Jack, Hurley, Sawyer and Kate (and maybe Richard and Miles) vs. Locke and Ben (and maybe Claire). I like those teams. My predictions were completely off this week. Not only did the reveal of Alt Jack's wife get put off until the finale, but I guess I was totally wrong about Ben redeeming himself (maybe). Ben's betrayal of Widmore and Tina Fey was the most shocking scene of the season to me - easily makes my Top 108 moments list, possibly fairly high up on it too.

Alt Desmond was great too. Part of what's so enjoyable about his "getting the band back together" routine is how much fun he seems to be having doing it and I loved how Hurley is now fully on board as well. Now it seems that entire storyline is on a collision course with David's concert where Jack's wife is waiting for us... and where Kate is now heading as well... in a little black dress. Methinks Jack's head is about to explode.

The only thing I was a little disappointed with was how easily Jack took over Jacob's job. It was all kind of anti-climactic - happened pretty much exactly as we all expected it to happen. The candidates have a choice? Check. Jack volunteers? Check. Jacob makes Jack take a drink and Jack gives him some good "Party of Five" Jackface? Check aaaaaand check! But that's really a nitpick. This was a great prelude to the finale and I can't wait until Sunday!

The Final Five Questions... Ever!:

1) How can Desmond destroy the Island?

Desmond is really the Failsafe Key to both universes. Alt Desmond very clearly understands what he's trying to do and seems to be executing it with ruthless efficiency. Present day Desmond also knows what his significance is and (presumably) headed to where he needed to be after escaping from the well. Speaking of which, who let him out? Sayid said he left him at the bottom the well, but there was clearly a rope there. My wild guess: Rose and Bernard. After all, they're not Adam and Eve, right? And I have to think they time traveled with the rest of them since if they didn't, Vincent would be dead in 2007. And we know Vincent will be in the finale in some way. :)

But I think Desmond knows how to kill Smokey using the EM energy on the Island and his counterpart in the Alt. I'm guessing it's going to take a combination of the two to work. But how could Desmond destroy the Island? That's certainly not his intention here, although it's why Widmore brought him along. After this episode, I'm revising my previous prediction from this week - I now think that if Desmond enters The Source, the Island will be destroyed. The Source seems to act by separating the soul from the physical body, but if Desmond is resistant to this I think throwing him in the Source would act as a wrench in the gears - The Source would be unable to destroy him and it would start a chain reaction that would destroy the Island.

If I were Jack I'd want to keep Desmond as far away from the Source as possible.

2) What will happen once Alt Jack and Locke remember?

Whatever happens in the Alt, whatever role the Alt has to play in the finale starts and ends with Jack and Locke. Both of them need to "let go" of their baggage in order to remember the other universe. Desmond and Kate are converging on Jack at David's concert and I imagine Hurley and Sayid are heading to see Locke. So what happens when all of their memories come flooding back? Will Locke remember dying? Will Jack remember becoming the new Jacob? And what implications will this have on the present day universe?

Part of me feels like this might be leading up to a mind-switch thing where, if both of Jack and Locke's counterparts remember the present day universe, they'll be able to mind-switch with their on-Island counterparts. And maybe if that happens, Smokey will be trapped in a mortal body and can be killed (or can choose to live a "normal" life off the Island). Alt Locke becomes Smokey and gets to have the Island adventure he always wanted, playing backgammon (or Senet) with Jack for all eternity. As amusing as that ending would be, I think Smokey's too crazy now to allow to live. They're going to have to kill him.

But there's a third key here as well: Alt Jack's wife. I'm sticking by my original prediction that Alt Jack's wife is actually Juliet, who's important because her deceased present day counterpart was the one who actually created the Alt. Maybe Juliet is the most important one out of the three, especially if she can affect the entire Alt universe in some way? Now watch - Alt Jack's wife will turn out to be Nikki or, worse, Mother. Ewwww...

3) So can Jack make up his own rules now?

This is really a bunch of questions all strung together. Jack is officially the new Jacob, and judging from his quality zen-like Jackface after he drained Jacob's cup I imagine he knows everything that's going on now. So the question is, since the Island has a new Jacob can he make up rules that Smokey has to abide by, especially rules like "No killing former candidates."

Since Hurley and Sawyer are no longer candidates can Smokey kill them or are they still backup candidates in case Smokey succeeds in killing Jack? After all, Jack would certainly be able to pass on his mantle to one of them in the same way, provided they volunteered. Heck, I bet Kate would even take the job if both of them refused.

But if Jack does make up new rules, I imagine he's going to have to convey them to Smokey and whenever and wherever he does that, Smokey's going to have Ben waiting in the weeds to kill him. Unless...

4) Is Ben really on Smokey's team?

Ben's betrayal of Widmore was by far the most shocking (and enjoyable) scene of the episode. Understandable too, in that Ben wanted revenge on Widmore for Alex's death - his motivations in that case were perfectly clear. But Ben doesn't exactly like Smokey either - not only did Smokey manipulate him, but he's inhabiting the body of the one man Ben hates most in the world as well. Plus, if Smokey's backup plan is to destroy the Island, that probably doesn't sit well with Ben, considering the Island is supposed to be his prize for helping Smokey escape.

All this season I've thought Ben was going to redeem himself for killing Jacob, which made his betrayal all the more shocking last night. Especially in light of his Alt self where we see he really is capable of becoming a good, kind human being who is loved and appreciated by others. So while part of me understands it's completely in Ben's nature to want to take his revenge on Widmore and work with Smokey to get "his Island" back, I'm thinking there's going to be a double team here.

Yes, Ben is completely self-serving, but sticking it to Smokey would be something he'd love to do anyway and he does have a backpack full of C4. I think Ben is going to double-cross Smokey first chance he gets and possibly get a modicum of redemption with his Island self as well.

5) Would the candidates all have been flawed without Jacob's interference?

Of all the things this episode, this interested me the most. Jacob told them he chose all of them because they were "flawed like him" and they weren't happy in their previous lives. But in the Alt universe this season we've seen what the candidates became without an Island, without Jacob's influence. So just how much of their flaws was due to Jacob himself? Certainly Kate still has her problems, Sayid is still a torturer, Sawyer still has his past to deal with, but with the exception of Kate I'd say they're all a lot happier in the Alt. Did Jacob take away their only chance at happiness for the greater good? Seems like it to me.

Now he may not have done this intentionally. He may not have known how things were going to turn out in the future. But it's also neat to see that, when left to their own devices (and their own choices), pretty much all the Losties chose good over evil. In a way, it's Smokey's worst nightmare. If Jacob and Smokey were to go through each of the Losties in the Alt on a case-by-case basis Smokey would have a pile of white stones in front of him. And in no one is this more evident than in Ben, who (right now) is the polar opposite of his Alt self.

So was Jacob making lists to protect the non-candidates? I think so. The Others were taking away "good people," i.e. people without flaws (like Mihkail once pointedly told Sayid, Kate and Locke they weren't). Jacob must have had them take the good people away to protect them from the Island and from the other candidates. I wonder how much of this Ben and Richard knew.

Bonus: How will it all end?

The only question left to ask, right? I'm guessing Jack is going to figure out a way to destroy Locke - maybe using Desmond to transport him to the Alt, making him mortal or something - but both timelines remain intact. That way, all the characters who've died in the present day universe get their happy ending, but I'm guessing the final scene will come down to Kate choosing to stay with Jack on the Island over leaving with Sawyer. And Jack will give her Richard's gift of eternal life so they can be together forever.

Yes, I'm predicting the show is going to end by answering the most important mystery of all: Jate or Skate? (I keed, I keed). ;)


- I think it's fairly clear that since Sun was a mother, it was Jin who was the actual candidate of the two.

- Raise your hand if you thought Jacob and Jack were going to Locke lips after their Communion? Yeah, Em and I both...

- Is Richard dead? Can he be killed by Smokey? Presumably he was attacked before Jacob transferred power. My gut says he's still alive.

- I liked that The Source was near the bamboo forest where Jack, Kate and Charlie first encountered the Monster.

- A little disappointing not much more was done with Jacob's ashes, but I suppose using them against Locke would have been too easy.

- Wasn't Zoe the most useless character Lost has ever introduced? Her death was quite satisfying.

- "Even if we have to kidnap you." I loved the dinner scene with Danielle and Dr. Linus. I actually think they'd make a nice couple...

- "Nice not knowing you." Great Ana-Lucia cameo too.

- Text messages for the finale? Jebus, they're milking this for all it's worth. And what was the deal with the squeaky-voiced woman who did the preview for the finale? Sounded like the psychic from "Poltergeist," although Zelda Rubenstein (great name) died earlier this year. Maybe she's a ghost on the Island. :)


As far as penultimate episodes go, this one was great. Jack taking over, Locke killing Zoe, Ben betraying Widmore and lots and lots of Alt Desmond. What more could anyone want? 4/5. See you Sunday! :)


Missie said...

I totally thought it was the lady from Poltergeist doing the voiceover!

And just when I thought Desmond couldn't get any cooler, they introduce Alt Desmond.

I wasn't really shocked by Ben's betrayal, only because they made a point of recalling Alex's death right before that. However, it didn't make it any less satisfying. :)

Carla said...

Dude, we are all on the same page because I said out loud, didn't that Poltergeist lady die? AND I said I bet Rose and Bernard pulled Desmond out of the well! Rose and Bernard are as underused as Miles.
So I didn't comment last week because I had so many conflicting thoughts about the episode I couldn't put them into words (plus I had a stupid cold). I was really on the fence. The episode is so much about characters and their conflicts but the MIB/Smokey was different. He was not in the same class as say Ben. I agree with you Jay, he was just supposed to be evil not conflicted or with tragic flaws - I mean even Disney's villains seem to be more outright evil then him! I don't want to pity him I want to despise him!
But I really like the development of Ben. Because just as he seems to be leaning toward doing what is right and you start to root for him, his jealousy of Jacob speaking to Widmore and his anger at him for his daughter come roaring back and he flips again. While it is possible that he really will turn against Smokey in the end, I think his feelings about Widmore were real and he has no remorse for killing him.
I held my breath through most of the episode I have to say. I am actually more excited for what will happen in the Alt right now. That has become the intriguing story for me and for that I say a job well done by the producers to create a whole other story line in the final season of the show that is leaving us on the edge of our seats.
The question from Ben about why Smokey walks was just perfect. And his answer about reminding him about being human is another reason I just kinda feel sorry for him, not that it excuses anything as was pointed out last week.
Those text msgs better not interfere with the actual show or I will never watch ABC again!
Oh and I am having Lost Island Iced Teas for the finale :)

Carly said...

By the way, that is me, I was making some changes to my email account and I just realized I made a typo on my own name! Wow, these over the counter cold meds are strong ;)

Missie said...

Carly/Carla :),

I agree- I am loving the Alt story line. And even though we all expect Juliet as the ex, I still can't wait for the reveal. I'll especially love it if Sawyer suddenly remembers everything when he sees Juliet. In your face Kate!

Matt said...

"In Your Face, Kate!" would have been a highly acceptable title for the last episode.

Hannah said...

I loved this ep. I could hardly sit still. I hope the end is as awesome as we all want it to be. I laughed and thought of you when Jack said "mistaking coincidence for fate".

Richard has to still be alive. A big character like him he wouldn't have such an anti-climactic death. At least I hope not.

And even though we all knew it was coming I was still very giddy that Jack is the new Jacob.

I was also happy to be done with the poor mans Tina Faye. I totally agree, she was a lame character. Like toy airplane lame.

I can't believe its all over on Sunday. Sunday! Thats like, in 4 days. I am going to be so sad.

I am really going to miss reading your lost posts every week. It has been so much fun to read all of your insight and trade theories with everyone.

**sigh**...I love this show.

Will there be an on going discussion afterwards? You know for those of us Über nerds who can't let go?

Hannah said...

Oh and one more question/theory...

Do you think that Juliet will be at the event/gala and meet Sawyer and ask him for coffee? Then say that bit about going dutch that she mumbled when she died?

Maybe that's how she was able to tell miles that "it worked"?

Just a thought..

Carly said...

Is that what she said? I totally don't remember that. But that would make sense of it then!
I would hope that after 6 years we would be talking about Lost more then just one week when it is all over. I'm game!

Jay said...

I can't believe it will all be over in just a few days as well.

As for what comes after, I will be Lost blogging for a little while longer - I've got my Top 108 moments list to do and those I'll try and post ~10/week or so until I'm done. I'll also update my Top 10 episodes list as well.

After that, I might start a new blog - just a personal one on being a dad, the Mets, pop culture, etc. Just something to keep me writing occasionally. :)

BTW, Lost Island Ice Teas sound awesome. I really should make a Lost-themed meal instead of just wings, dammit. Maybe I'll just print out some DHARMA beer/wine labels and slap them on our bottles. :)

Missie said...

Dude- Shepherd's Pie!

If you do wings, they should be in a Mr. Cluck's bucket. Have a cluckety-cluck day!

Hannah said...

we totally did that at the last season finaly party we had. We made "beer" lables and put them on diet coke cans, we had DHARMA water bottles and even a DHARMA cake. It was awesome.

This year we are going all out. I will post pictures on my blog ;)

Jay said...

Oooh - DHARMA cake! Yes, you must post pics, Hannah! :)