The end is nigh for Lost. There's no denying it anymore. Tonight brings the penultimate episode of the show at the forefront of my television viewing for six years. It's a sad realization (and one that I'll expand upon in a post before the finale), but the stakes are very high for tonight's episode.
Before breaking down our expectations for tonight's episode, "What They Died For," let's take a look back at last week's controversial and mythologically-heavy entry "Across the Sea."
Joseph Baxter, Exposed The Island's Illegal Polar Bear Fighting Ring:
"One day, you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules." -- Young Man in Black
Jacob would go on to establish a boatload of rules for his followers, The Others, including the "leader" system, who can kill who, etc. Even Smokey (in Locke facade) seemed to think Richard was making up these rules as he went along. Jacob seems to be conducting a massive, sociological experiment that may have began with The Black Rock. This is reminiscent of the test of faith with the button. The observers in The Pearl station were to monitor the people in The Swan and note if the people could and maintain their faith in the button's importance. Since "Across the Sea" shed much of the show's religious and mythological backdrop, it seems that Jacob is not so much a god, as he is the Island's "Dungeon Master."
"Just promise me no matter what you do, you won't ever go down there. -- It'd be worse than dying, Jacob, much worse." -- Mother
It's difficult to determine if Man in Black either has taken the Source or become its living embodiment. While the light did seem to go out when he emerged from as the Smoke Monster, it clearly was not gone forever (it showed up when Ben turned the wheel). In Jacob's explanation to Richard, he implies the "cork" that is the Island contains the force he refers to as "evil or malevolence." Man in Black may be a legendary douche in his current form, but after having seen this episode, the description doesn't really fit his profile. Something about his condition, even to crazy-ass Mother, is clearly "worse than dying," however.
"If the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere." -- Mother
This line immediately got me thinking back to Charles Widmore. His motives have remained a mystery. We do know he's spent an ungodly amount of effort and resources to get back to the Island, putting himself at tremendous physical risk from Smokey's wrath. He's clearly a man who desires power above all else, and he's spent around 50 years trying to unlock the Island's secrets. Perhaps he knows about the Island's Source, which makes him think that he can take the light and posses the Island. Exploiting Desmond's time-shifting, which may be connected to the Island's source light, seems to be the key.
That's what happened. Here's what we hope goes down tonight:
1) With the Losties cut down by huge losses, the team can't afford to be split anymore. Sawyer blamed Jack (right or wrong) for a decision that cost Juliet her life, while Sawyer theoretically cost Jin, Sun, and Sayid their lives going against Jack. Sayid was sort of undead already, though. I expect Team Jack to pick up the pieces, fetch Desmond, and rendezvous with Team Richard. They should now officially be back on the same page.
2) We never got to see what happened to Widmore (and to a lesser extent, Zoe). His team got massacred, Desmond is missing, he's lost access to his submarine (whose firepower was his ace in the hole) and now he's possibly all alone, wandering in the jungle. Perhaps this was his plan all along: distract Smokey with bells and whistles, while he goes after the Source. Widmore's last stand will undoubtedly be epic and I'm anxious to see it.
3) In "The Candidate," Smokey told Claire he wants to finish what he started. If he is bound by those "rules" which prevent him from directly killing Candidates, one would think his prime opportunity has passed. Instead of rescuing and defending the candidates, why didn't he just let Widmore's men kill them? Perhaps, Jacob's touch means a death inflicted by anyone outside the circle (in Sayid's case, a gunshot from Roger Linus and a drowning by the Others in the Spring) wouldn't actually count. Thus, his resurrection. This leads me to reiterate something I've been speculating for weeks: the real John Locke (who was killed by a non-Candidate) may walk on the Island again and stir stuff up. Fingers crossed.
Patrick Klepek, Finally Coming To Terms With Frank Lapidus' Passing:
1) It's been interesting to watch Lost begin to lay out its answers. For many, the cork analogy was probably explanation enough, but it made Jacob and Man in Black seem like otherworldly begins. "Across the Sea" brought both of them back down to Eart...er, the Island. The love-it-or-hate-it response to "Across the Sea" represents something that was inevitable as Lost began to wind down: backlash. You may want answers, but what happens if the answers aren't what you expected? Or the answers aren't what you wanted? Or answers are just more questions? "Every question I answer will just lead to more questions" was a profound meta-commentary on how the writers have crafted Lost, how the viewers have responded and how it's going to end.
2) The moment Lost delivered an answer about Adam and Eve, it made me profoundly happy. When folks around the office were discussing "Across the Sea," no one seemed to care about this revelation. They wanted to know more about the Mother, where she came from -- answers that explain the history of the Island. I don't think we're going to get concrete answers there because we don't need them, nor do the characters. Even though it's unlikely the writers truly knew who Adam and Eve were when the two were revealed, the black and white marble revelation (one that Andrew Pfister and I were immediately compelled to confirm after the credits) underscore the writers had established their thematic ruleset from the early days. Storytelling always involves making it up as you go along.
3) "What They Died For," the title of tonight's episode, sets of high expectations for the very thing I've addressed in the last two points: answers. It's unclear (especially since I refuse to watch the preview clips for upcoming episodes) whether it's in reference to the most recent deaths on the Island -- Sayid, Jin, Sun, Lapidus -- or what our whole cast has been fighting for. Remember, John Locke is not only dead, he was murdered. The Island has caused bloodshed for our Losties and while tonight's episode will most likely be reactionary to those who have most recently passed, I expect it will work retroactively. As we head into "The End," we (and by extension, the Losties) need to be reminded what this was all for. Lost is about purpose, fate and destiny.
4) The writers seemed to purposely portray Jacob as naive and stupid in "Across the Sea." What happened over centuries that turned Jacob from Mamma's Boy to Island philosopher? Something happened in the years we'll (likely) never actually be witness to between "Across the Sea," and the last arc of Lost, but Jacob wised up along the way. Or has he simply been a good liar?