We’re Very Near the End, Hugo
So I didn’t get to comment on last week’s episode – thank you Kathryn for jumping in as I experience technical troubles! Perhaps I’m just getting sentimental, but even with all the interesting theological stuff going on and my hero Allison Janney at the helm, I just wasn’t crazy about last week’s episode. But I do love these ones that are packed with our favourite characters – especially when they bring the return of my favourite, Ben! On the island we had some not-so-gentle reminders of how Ben’s ambitious choosing of the island over his daughter led to Alex’s death: first, her unmarked grave and second, Ben’s ruthless execution of Widmore (note: the execution was for the failed purpose of disallowing him to save his daughter, not out of cold-blooded revenge – interesting). And in Alterna-world we had the redeemed version of Ben’s story as his failures (note his despondence at having a doctorate but teaching in a high school) are what lead him to be a true father figure to Alex.
My goodness, Danielle looks different with a little lip gloss eh!? But as this pseudo-family gathered around a meal together, we encountered reconciliation and healing on numerous levels – indeed, on levels too deep for Ben to even recognize in a cognitive way. As he shed a tear, I finally started to understand why an addled Faraday cried at the fake wreckage of Oceanic 815 on the news back in season 3 or 4…it’s an emotional recognition, a deep sub-conscious recognition of an existence that remains out of reach. And it makes an interesting statement about identity and selfhood. In the Lost world, people might not know themselves (all their multiple selves), but they can intuit them. There are, in this narrative, depths of one’s self that are only accessed through intuition and emotion, not intellection – and I think that rings true in our world too.
Speaking of Ben’s doctorate and recognition – I found it interesting that Locke gave him the desired recognition of his title in the hospital room; a recognition that others overlooked. This happens just as Ben on the island re-partners (in a tenuous way) with Flocke, and so I wonder if we’re supposed to see the two as connected.
And speaking of reconciled families – we had Jack, his son and Claire all breakfasting together – another reconciliation around a meal. But why the mysterious call that Christian’s body had been found? Did they just want to tie up that loose end, or is something more going to happen there?
And while I’m tossing out random questions, what was with Jack’s mysterious bleeding in Alterna-world at the beginning of the episode? Are we to connect it to his acceptance of the island-guardian role at the end of the episode? And speaking of that, apparently on the island both water and wine are sacred if the right words are uttered over them. Sure, we might be playing with lots of spiritual themes, but when it comes down to the hocus pocus magic, it seems that Lost wants to stick with it’s core Christian symbols. So does this mean that with Jack taking over Team Jacob and Ben joining with Team MiB that we’re coming up on a Jack-Ben showdown? And will Desmond get caught in the middle – needing to choose whether his destiny is to save or to damn the island and, by extension, all human existence?
One more random question: is Richard dead? Did Smokie take him out? He got thumped, for sure, but I’m not sure if that means he’s actually deceased.
What really intrigued me about this episode though was the amount of morally questionable behavior in Alterna-world that ended up leading to good. First we have Desmond beating the crap out of everybody in a way that allows violence to be redemptive – or to at least reveal the truth…a questionable proposition at best. And then we have him bribing Ana Lucia (what fun to see her again, even if she “isn’t ready”!) to get him, Sayid and Kate out of their transport to jail and on their way to a party. Really, is Lost going to end with a party in a museum at which everyone will show up? Desmond is taking Hugo, Kate and Sayid. Faraday and Widmore, Eloise and Penny are all slated to be there. Miles is on his way, potentially with Sawyer in tow. Charlotte and Dr. Chang work there. And while Jack, Claire, David and David’s mystery mother are going to meet up at David’s concert, I can’t help but wonder if the concert and the party are the same thing (Desmond did say they were headed to a concert, but we know from previous episodes that he intends to hook it up with Penny at the museum). Granted, I’m kind of a fashion junkie, but if a show that’s had all its characters in jeans and brandless t-shirts for all 6 seasons is going to wind up at a black-tie affair…well, I’m pretty jazzed about that!
And finally, after all the wondering about why Kate’s name was crossed off Jacob’s list, was anyone else a little disappointed in the reason? I’ve said it before, and am likely to say it again, but for all the ways that Lost is pretty enlightened, it really fails at its feminism. Kate got crossed off because she became a mother?! Really?! First, why didn’t that disqualify the Kwons? And second, didn’t Jacob remember that he and his handful of a brother were raised by a single mother on a deserted island with no support network AND that this single mother also single-handedly kept the island safe from a village of bad guys?!? True, Allison Janney is crazy badass. But, despite my usual dislike of her, so is Kate…she could totally handle the job! And to be fair, Jacob let her back in if she wanted it. But it was a little anti-climactic, and we all knew Jack was going to grab the reins anyway, so it sort of seemed like a half-hearted attempt at a failed affirmative action.
I love you Lost, but sometimes when it comes to the women, you really f*ck things up!
Jumping in again – I just can’t avoid it when we are so close to the end. And even though there is a lot left to learn, this episode went a long way to clarify mysteries. When Jacob reconstituted his body out of the ashes in the bag Hurley had pilfered and promised to tell Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hugo everything they needed to know, I was expecting a bit longer scene of exposition than the very pointed explanation he gave. What, didn’t even one of our characters have a question about what exactly this light is that they are supposed to be protecting? Or how exactly Jacob was responsible for creating the smoke monster? Or what it means to protect the light? Maybe they were all too shell-shocked from the trauma of losing Jin and Sun and Sayid. I do hope they get a bit more curious in the finale so we can clear up a few more mysteries.
Like, what exactly are the rules that bind the Man in Black to Jacob/Jacob’s successor and how does Desmond potentially change all that? Once Jack drank the holy water – a sort of baptismal communion – and became like Jacob, I presume that the MiB can’t kill him. He could try to get Ben to do it, but it appears he has a new plan: destroying the island entirely. If Ben isn’t faking him out, it appears he has re-discovered his love for power and revenge and joined forces with the MiB. As you point out, that might easily make him MiB’s pawn in a showdown with Jack. But the one thing MiB promises Ben is that he can have the island to himself, which will be a pretty empty promise if the island is destroyed. Does Ben just want an-all-over cosmic revenge against the suffering and misfortunes he feels he has been forced to bear? Is his guilt driving him to nihilistic ends? Also, do you remember the scene between Widmore and Ben in Widmore’s bedroom back in season 4? Widmore reminds Ben that he can’t kill him – it is as though they are bound by the same rules as Jacob and MiB. Except it turns out that 1) they both claim to work for or in the name of Jacob and 2) Ben can actually kill Widmore. Is this just a slip in logic? Am I missing something? Or does it mean something significant?
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me was the suggestion that once Desmond gets the whole gang together at the museum concert (and yes, I am sure they are the same event) something significant is going to happen. Are they all going to suddenly remember the truth? Wake up – like the image of the eye opening that has started so many episodes, this one included? What happens then? What exactly is the relationship between Alterna-world and the island and will we finally find out? Is there any chance that Desmond’s importance lies more in what he is doing in Alterna-world than whatever electromagnetic fail-safe mechanism he is supposed to provide on the island? Perhaps this is the one thing Flocke can’t reckon on – some action in Alterna-world that will have consequences for his plan.
One final thought: I loved the momentousness of the moment of Jack’s transformation being marked by Sawyer’s attempt at sarcasm, and then his own realization that this was not the moment. It was just pitch-perfect emotionally for me.
I sort of can’t believe we are very near the end. I can’t believe we will both be out of town for the finale, but I absolutely can’t wait to watch as soon as I can and join you here for a final discussion. Answers or no answers, I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye.