IN THE BEGINNING was the word, and it was the most important thing there was, from the Alpha to the Omega, but that word was also something else, something equally important to all that came after it. That word which begat all else was also the answer to a question, a choice made when a decision was presented.
And that was only a small part of last night’s penultimate word of Lost, the appropriately and devastatingly titled “What They Died For.” And much in the same vein as last week, but vastly more important, let’s tackle 23 stray observations about last night’s episode…
1. Eye See You!
We open the episode on Jack’s eye again (in the Sideways universe) which is a familiar image on this show, certainly, and that’s a good thing. The show has always been good creating a certain visual language for itself (the motif of opening episodes on eyes, especially since we deal with so much perspective), one that tells you how understand and translate this episode into yourself. And one that tells you how to feel and teases those same feelings (example: the pan reveal to Locke in the casket in “There’s No Place Like Home,” which is the same pan reveal of Locke in Bram and Ilana’s box at the end of “The Incident”). I mention this only because it worries me, or, well, it intrigues me. Part of me just assumed that the finale would open with an image of Jack’s eye, or, possibly, close on that same image. But I do like the fact that now is the time for safe assumptions about coming full circle, which will keep you warm and happy, and can only be wrong.
2. Similarly, mirrors! Jack sees himself there in the mirror in the Sideways world, just as Ben will see himself as well. This has, of course, been a recurring thing in the Sideways world, a slow hint towards these characters seeing themselves and really seeing themselves for the first time, and looking past that image and through the looking glass…
3. It goes without saying, but things are coming together, merging both excitedly and under a dark cloud of fearful symmetry. Jack and Claire are living together. Ben is starting to see himself for realsies and having dinner with Alex and Rousseau, playing all nice and domestic. Locke is possibly accepting fate, exploring the swarming veins that connect coincidence and fate and synchronicity and realizing that he has a choice about what kind of man he is going to be. Oh, and of course…
4. Motherfucking Desmond “See you another life, brotha!” Hume.
Our favorite Scottish bastard started off as a mad man who had been beaten down and had the shit kicked out of him by destiny and by mysterious connections that held the world together. He struggled towards his saving grace, Penelope, and finally found happiness. But the universe wasn’t done with him yet, not ours and not the Sideways one either. Desmond has become a smooth, suave motherfucker (well, perhaps the motherfucking is to be more of a Ben thing in the Sideways world now?), hasn’t he?
It’s like he’s the wet nurse to something new, something that only his mojo can bring into existence. He’s got a master plan and he’s working to it, slowly at first, but now more steadily, with a higher velocity, and he’s lighting up more circuits and connections on the way.
And, yes, both Benjie and Lola and I actually sat there last night, staring dumbfounded at our TVs, thinking to ourselves, “Holy shit, is Desmond really going to hit Locke with his car again? In the same fucking parking lot where he did before?” Of course Ben ruined that, but you know what’s interesting? I really think that Desmond probably would have. But because he’s Desmond, his master plan can be interrupted and still work to his advantage, can’t it?
5. I love that Jack is now the one stitching up Kate, a lovely reference to their first real scene together in the pilot, and also a nice turn around of that moment. The basic black thread is there, of course, the only thing missing, actually was Jack’s “Count to five” story. But Kate had plenty to say about what had just happened to all of them, and more on that in a moment.
6. But, going back to Desmond for a moment here before I forget, when last we saw him, he was down in that well, and now… he’s not. The Man In Black/The Locke-ness Monster doesn’t know where he is, only that someone came to his rescue, and I have a theory about who that was. In fact, to me, it feels rather elementary:
6. Fathers and daughters.
Island Ben has been on a redemptive white horse for most of this season now and of course the only thing that can throw him off of it is the mention and literal grave of his daughter, Alex. And then he’s back to the old him, but something worse, something more ruined and destroyed and lost. Throw in Widmore and Zoe, and the fact that nothing in Ben’s life will probably matter anymore because his death at the Locke-ness Monster’s hands is probably a foregone conclusion, and he’s more than dangerous. Of course he’ll shoot Widmore, not just to possibly stop him from whispering the secrets into Locke’s ear, but because, “He doesn’t get to save his daughter.”
But don’t forget that that’s what Kate used to try and get Jack primed up there on the beach as he was stitching her up, the reminder that Jin and Sun had a daughter, a daughter that Jin had never even gotten to meet. And for that, Kate said to Jack, we need to kill him. For the moment, Crazy Jackface is gone, all those tears cried out, all those drops in the ocean taken away on the tide. Jack just nodded his head and said simply, “I know.”
7. The title of this episode, “What They Died For,” is one I heard a while back from the SUPER SPOILERY NEW DEPARTMENTS of the Internet and it blew me away. I mean, it absolutely floored me. Initially, it was incorrectly reported as the title of the last episode and that was heavy, man. That was like gravity dropping an Acme piano on me. Then I found out that it was actually just the title of the second to last – or “penultimate,” if you will – episode and it still felt heavy, possibly in comparison to the last episodes very fitting title. (You notice how we only ever use the word “penultimate” when talking about TV shows these days?) And for something so big, something dealing literally with the mourning after of such chaos and death, this episode wasn’t a downer, nor super sad. All those tears were cried out, like I said. This episode was coping and fast and intriguing and surprisingly funny in places.
It’s interesting though how a word or a phrase can mean something so clearly when you hear it out of context, then mean something else when you hear it again, immersed in it’s proper place. It’s kind of like what you think of when you first hear the word “Might.” Is it a threat or a possibility to you when you first hear it? And “what they died for,” while sounding scary and ominous and morbid from far away, now feels hopeful and exciting to me. The “what” in “what they died for” carries over well into a question we’re all turning over in our brains now: “What’s next?”
8. Speech is for confessions. One of the things we’ve been hearing since she made her first appearance on the show is how important the Zoe character would be. She had secrets to spill, we were told. But if she won’t spill them, then what good is she?
There’s a fine line between all the girls and boys on Lost, but especially those that have passed on to the other side. Some perished with their mouths shut, their secrets taken to their graves with them, and there’s those who died with their tongues loosed, their sins laid bare and confessed and the Island was then done with them.
9. Music is a transcendent form, a primal force for magic. It can bring people together and it can change them, and I think we’re going to learn that in the Sideways world as seemingly everyone collides there. Seemingly David’s (Jack’s son) concert is the same as the one that Daniel Faraday was putting on, right? The same one that I’m willing to bet also features Driveshaft (not that anyone is asking for that). And it’ll be at the museum where Pierre Chang and Charlotte work, right? And Hurley and Sawyer Kate and Sayid and Desmond will all be in attendance too, I imagine? It would certainly seem that way.
Provided, of course, that you don’t pay too much attention to the actual chronology of the Sideways universe. Time seems a bit wonky there, going fast in some places, and moving glacially in others. Benjie and I were talking about this earlier, trying to work it out and I believe at one point I actually said this, “So Sawyer went back in time to arrest Sayid, who then sat in a jail cell for a few weeks, right?”
10. I’m going to amend my statement from last week slightly: I do think there are certain things we deserve in the last episode of the show…
And I did say last week that there were certain answers that I just don’t think we were going to get and that we really shouldn’t be getting. You’ll notice that that’s me being all enlightened and shit. I’ve “let go” of things like that and moved into a place of acceptances. Much like characters in the Sideways universe. From now on, in the last 2 1/2 hours of the show, I think the answers that do come should all be important and organic (like the revelation of why Kate’s name was crossed out in the cave: She became a mother).
But while I do think that we’re not only owed, but need to know what exactly the deal with the Sideways world is, I think there’s another question we desperately need: What is “The Source?” Or, if you will, “The Light?” Those home fires that Jack in GOD MODE now has to protect? WTF is that?
11. Real quick, this is something that Benjamin LIGHT and I are desperately hoping for next week: Actually seeing (not intuiting or be told, but seeing) the form of John Locke convert into the Smoke Monster. Or vice versa. That’s an image I want to take away from this show. Perhaps because I’m a nut.
12. Also real quick: Benjie and I are in agreement that Richard Alpert is probably not actually dead yet. It seems like Locke wanted him out of the equation for a while and gave him a good thumping, possibly sending him flying through the air, who knows. But that would be a terrible ending for a character that has meant so much, and in such subtle ways, to both this show and it’s mythology and the history of the Island.
15. Is that it for Jacob on this show? That’s both good and bad. We see him in his youthful form and then we see him as he looked when he actually died. He summons are remaining living heroes from Oceanic 815 and finally really addresses them. He promises them answers but no, they don’t really get any. Gods and supernatural beings are hard to get straight talk out of. I didn’t find his argument for why they need to do this thing all that persuasive, really, but I don’t think it needed to be. They were there and then and probably knew what he was saying was true since it’s been building up within them for a while now. Yes, the motivation for so many actions on this Island, the reason behind them had to do with a man making a mistake and feeling lost because of it. So he sought out others like him, those who had found themselves astray and needed to be found and to find themselves. They needed something bigger. And so he brought them to his crazy, magic Island to slay a dragon for him.
Why hadn’t he ever said any of this to them before now? Well, first you should be asking why none of these characters have ever really shared some of these mega important details that had popped up over the years with each other when it was super important to do so. Maybe because you don’t always know what’s important at the time. And maybe because you’re a human being (or once were a proper human being). And because, as Jacob told Richard Alpert many, many years ago over a jug of wine at the foot of a destroyed statue of a fertility goddess: It’s not doing the right thing if I have to tell you to do the right thing. Sometimes you need to feel like you have a choice, even if it was never really yours.
But then again, fate and free will and destiny and the psychology of fucked up people is a tricky thing, yo. Remember Mrs. Hawking telling us that when the Universe/Time goes off track, it’ll always course correct to fix the error? The important thing there isn’t necessarily that the house (of fate) always wins, but that things can go off track. If you try hard enough you break free of your chains and disturb the Universe just enough that it has to get off it’s ass to course correct because of your actions. You can obliterate the solipsistic barriers. And if you can do that, if you fingerbang the very threads of existence and reality then, well, I imagine you can do anything.
16. And then, ladies and gentlemen, there’s Jack. The new Jacob. Two guys pretty much cut from the same cloth, hardened and forged by their haunting pasts. But Jack has just leveled up, as they say. The new guardian/protector of not just the Island, and the Source, but everything the Island represents. Jacob picked up some of the waters of the river, did an incantation, then had Jack drink it after accepting the job. He took the communion wine as his friends looked walk, musing about how this was fitting for a man with an already sizable God complex. And who may now very well be about to start passing judgment over the living and the dead. And that leaves us not just with the chess pieces all taking up the proper places for the endgame, but also…
17. … a few questions! Is Jack now immortal? Does Jack now have magic powers? Can he travel on and off the Island just as Jacob did? Can he touch people, and imbue them things, or nudge them into a different path? Does he now possess all of Jacob’s knowledge/memories? Or, really, just the knowledge? Will people listen to him? And, perhaps most importantly, perhaps echoing his father’s words to him all those years ago, does Jack Shepard have what it takes?
20. Numbers. They’re everywhere! Not just the ones in the cave that correspond to the candidates, nor “the Valenzetti equation,” which we never actually heard talked about on the show, but the magic of numbers in general. Just like words, they are their own language, and one that haunts and delights and confounds us in ways. Just a reminder that the finale airs on May 23, this Sunday, a mere five days after “What They Died For.”
21. Just a theory: Remember the start of the Sideways world this season? Someone brought this up to me and now I can’t stop thinking about it, but remember how we saw the Island there at the bottom of the ocean? What if that’s not just (part of) the beginning of the Sideways universe, but what if that’s also (part of) the end of the Island we’ve come to know and love and be obsessed with over the past six years?
Also, Kate slumping into Sawyer there, was that her making a choice? And if so, will that choice be (dramatically) negated when Sawyer (most likely) has to make some epic sacrifice somewhere in the finale? Cause that’s all he really has to offer us now, right? Or was that moment just because it was what Sawyer needed it? And she was the strong one who could provide it at that point? And, take a moment, nerds, to appreciate how important this love triangle has been. Better than the TEAM ANGEL/TEAM SPIKE debates on Buffy? Kind of, but only because that was such a one sided contest, cause… Team Angel? Fuck off! And don’t even mention TEAM EDWARD/TEAM JACOB because, frankly, that’s lame. I mean, come on, a love triangle is a hard thing to maintain when one of the members in the trio suddenly has powers over time and space. And besides, I imagine that this love triangle was already hard to maintain since Kate was the focal point of it.
22. I could not believe how excited I actually was to see Ana Lucia/Michelle Rodridguez.
I kind of half suspected it would be her when Desmond mentioned the driver of their van, but then… well, I was excited and happy, let’s just say that. And I never in a million, billion years, not even in a Sideways universe, ever thought I’d be thinking that, let alone expressing it to you weird fuckers in Internet land.
23. Things squirm and wiggle and change as they get closer. As they slouch towards birth and Bethlehem. “The End” is really going to be the end of so many things. Not just of the show, but of us. Sure, we’ll always have this, sure, but it’ll be different. You can always pop in your DVDs and watch these episodes again but it’ll be all nostalgia and fond memories of this time, this right now, this haecceity, and it’s all fading away. Time is speeding up and will soon be disappearing. Newbies will discover this show in the future and be amazed by it and they’ll still be lacking this. This thisness. Right here and now, you, me, and everyone else, we’re all in this together. As I’m sure August Bravo would tell you, we’re all sword fighting and bumping our Lost Boners together. But it won’t last, so it has to be appreciated now. The wait over the next few days will be excruciating, but it’s worth it. You’ll never have this again. I can’t say that again. And not just with Lost, but can you honestly ever imagine a story striving for this level of EPIC in your lifetime again? For all the morons (especially on the internet) who hate this show, there’s something they’ll never be able to deny: How many shows actually strive and make the attempts for the layers and the storytelling that Lost has tried? Regardless of it’s failures and successes, only Lost has done this. We’ll all be sad when this show is over, and that’s appropriate, of course, but it’s okay to be excited. In fact, you better be.
I feel like we’re five days away from a party. And everyone’s invited. You all everybody! You just have to want to be there. All of us in one place (spread out over time zones, of course)(and internet viewing the next day, sure, but whatever!), and we want to feel all those sweaty ups and downs, the tugging of our heartstrings, the reaching for the kleenex, the cheering, all of it. We’re going to do it together and it’s going to be a massive celebration. Sometimes the party you want is a bonfire to dance around and sometimes that bonfire is a viking funeral. And we’re all going to sing and dance and hold onto this thing until the last little bit of that light goes out…