6.16 “What They Died For”
The castaways face their destiny when their search for Desmond leads them to a long-awaited meeting. The Man in Black devises an endgame and recruits an old friend to help make it happen.
Jack awakens in his apartment and finds his neck bleeding — in the exact same spot it bled when he looked in the mirror on Oceanic 815. David greets him with an offer of breakfast, and the two of them sit down to eat while David confirms that his dad is coming to a very important concert that night. Jack says that he is indeed, and asks if David’s mother is also going to be there. David says yes, and warns Jack not to “get all weird” around her. Claire joins them at the breakfast table and reports that all is well with the baby.
Jack gets a phone call from Oceanic Airlines, informing him that they’ve found his “missing cargo” — his father’s body. He’s told that the coffin will be arriving in Los Angeles by the end of the day, but the point-of-view switches to the caller, and we see that it’s not a representative from Oceanic at all. It’s Desmond, doing an American accent.
Locke returns to his substitute teaching job at the high school, where Desmond again waits and watches him from his car nearby. Desmond starts his car and looks ready to run him down a second time, when Ben suddenly appears outside the car and announces that he’s not going to let Desmond hurt Locke again. He tries calling for help and says that he’s making a citizen’s arrest of Desmond, but Desmond jumps out of the car and attacks him, beating him in the face over and over. Despite this, Ben says he won’t let Desmond hurt Locke again. “I’m not here to hurt him,” replies Desmond. “I’m here to help him let go.” When Ben asks who he is, Desmond lays into him again, and for a split second, Ben sees a flash of memory — the moment when Desmond similarly beat him up at the Los Angeles pier, where Ben tried (and failed) to kill Penny. With that, Desmond throws Ben to the ground, gets back inside his car, and drives off.
Later, Ben visits the school nurse, who patches him up and fits his arm with a sling. Ben stares momentarily into a mirror when the nurse leaves him alone for a moment, and Locke enters in his wheelchair. He’s stunned to hear about Ben’s attack, and how it was the same assailant who hit him with a car. When Ben recounts the events of his attack, he admits to Locke that something strange happened in the midst of it all: “I saw something.” He stops when he sees Locke has his phone out and is calling the police. Ben tells him not to call the cops, because of what Desmond said to him about not trying to hurt Locke, but trying to help him to “let go.” Ben says that for some reason, he believed Desmond when he said this. He asks if that phrase means anything to Locke, but Locke is too lost in thought to reply.
At the police station, Miles is busy putting on a tie and he reminds Sawyer about the concert/benefit for his father’s museum that’s taking place that night — the same concert that Jack and David are slated to attend. He asks if Sawyer has changed his mind and would like to go, but when Miles confirms that Charlotte is going to be there, Sawyer says he’ll pass on the invite. Desmond goes to them and turns himself in as the man who attacked both John Locke and Benjamin Linus. They lock him up in a cell — right next to both Sayid and Kate. Desmond grins at the sight of them being right where he knew he would find them.
Later that afternoon as he’s leaving for home, Ben runs into Alex, who can’t believe the state he’s in. She’s very concerned for him, and offers to give him a ride home. Her mother, Danielle, is parked nearby waiting for her, and she too insists that Ben ride with them — upping the offer to dinner at their house. This Danielle is very much sane, happy, and grateful for all that Ben has done for her daughter.
After dinner at the Rousseau home, Danielle thanks Ben again, in the privacy of the kitchen, for all he’s done, and mentions how nice it is to get to cook for someone besides her daughter. Ben delicately broaches the topic of Alex’s father, and Danielle mentions that her husband Robert died when Alex was just two years old. “It’s probably why she’s so attached to you,” Danielle says, and Ben’s taken aback. Danielle mentions all the ways Ben has helped Alex, and tells him he’s the closest thing to a father Alex has ever had. At this, Ben ducks out into the living room to look in on Alex, who’s working hard at her studies. Suddenly overcome with emotion, he returns to the kitchen but says that he’s just reacting to the onions in Danielle’s meal. Danielle is touched, and jokes that she’ll put in less onions next time. The two of them share a long smile at one another, and it seems that a very unlikely connection has been sparked…
Jack is surprised to get a late afternoon visit at his office from John Locke. Locke floats a theory to Jack that everything that’s happened to both of them since Oceanic 815 could be happening for a reason. He’s come to this conclusion, crazy as he knows it sounds, because of what happened that morning between Desmond and Ben. “Maybe you’re supposed to fix me,” Locke says. Jack argues that he thinks Locke might be confusing coincidence with fate, though he certainly still wants to fix Locke’s back injury. “Call it what you want… but I think I’m ready to get out of this chair,” Locke says with a grin.
Late in the day, Sawyer releases his three prisoners to be transferred to the county lockup. Kate tries to convince him to let her go, on the grounds that she’s innocent, and she knows he believes her. He refuses because he’s a cop, but as he walks away, something about seeing him through jail cell bars seems to stick in her mind for a moment…
In the prison van, Desmond is chipper as ever, announcing that “it’s time to leave.” Kate and Sayid don’t believe or trust him, but Desmond assures them that the van’s driver knows when and where to stop, to set them free. And he says that when that happens, Desmond needs the two of them to give him their trust. “After I set you free, I’m going to ask each of you to do something. And you have to promise me that you’ll do it.” Sayid quickly agrees, and Kate laughs at how crazy this sounds but makes her promise as well.
Suddenly the van stops just as Desmond said it would, and the driver comes around to the back. Opening the door, we see that it’s Ana-Lucia! She asks which of them is Desmond Hume, and asks where his friend is with her money. Desmond assures her the money will be there, so she sets them all free. Outside, they’re at a dock, and right on cue, Hurley pulls up in his big yellow Hummer. Hurley seems to have recovered a lot more of his memories from the island, because he recognizes Ana-Lucia immediately. But he plays it down, claiming to have “never met” her. He gives her a package containing $125,000, and Desmond sends her on her way. “She’s not coming with us?” Hurley asks as she walks away. “No,” Desmond replies, “she’s not ready yet.” Hurley points out that he’s brought a Camero that’s parked nearby, for Desmond to use. Desmond sends Sayid with Hurley in the Hummer, while Kate is going to come with him in the Camero. Kate’s confused, wondering where he’s taking her, and Desmond pulls a dress out of a bag in the trunk and declares that they’re going to a concert.
It’s the morning after the submarine’s sinking, and Jack is sewing up Kate’s bullet wound with a needle and thread. He reports that the bullet went straight through her, so she’s not in any danger from that, but the wound needs to be closed or it’ll get infected. While Jack works, Kate distracts herself from the pain by telling Jack about Sun and Jin’s daughter, Ji Yeon, and how Jin never got to meet her. She suddenly becomes angry and notes that the Man in Black killed their friends. And for that, they have to kill him. “I know,” replies Jack.
Nearby, Sawyer has regained consciousness, and he watches several life preservers wash ashore while anger smolders beneath his surface. One by one, the others join him and share a brief, unspoken moment of grief. Jack breaks the silence by pointing out that they need to get moving. He reminds them what Sayid said about needing Desmond to fight MiB, and the well they can find him in. Sawyer hears this and grabs a gun; he says nothing but has murder in his heart.
Ben, Miles, and Richard finally reach the Barracks, where Ben informs them that he has C4 hidden in his secret room. When they enter the compound, Miles picks up on something with his sixth sense and realizes he’s standing on an unmarked grave. Before Miles can reveal the occupant, Richard speaks up and tells them that it’s Alex, Ben’s adopted daughter. Richard buried her there after Ben left the island, three years ago. Ben thanks him for doing that, and then proceeds on to his house.
Inside, he goes straight to the secret room with the hidden, hieroglyph-covered door. Seeing it for the first time, Miles asks what it is. “It’s where I was told I could summon the monster,” Ben replies, noting that that was before he realized that the monster had been manipulating him for most of his life. Next to the ancient door is a small safe built into the wall, and Ben opens it to find several blocks of C4, just as expected. When Richard indicates he wants to destroy the entire plane rather than just cripple it, Ben retrieves all of the explosives from the safe. Richard places the blocks inside a backpack, but suddenly the three men hear the sound of someone inside the house.
Out in the kitchen, they find Zoe, rummaging through the cabinets. Ben asks who she is, but Charles Widmore steps through the front door and says “she’s with me.” Ben is stunned to see his old enemy, and his shock doesn’t go away when Widmore greets him and asks if he can come in. Once inside, Widmore orders Zoe to go to the dock, retrieve the equipment they brought with them on their outrigger canoe from Hydra Island, and then sink the small ship. Ben, who still has his gun trained on both of them, tells her not to move, but Widmore warns that shooting him will eliminate their last chance of survival. Widmore asks Richard why they’re there, at the Barracks, and Richard says they’ve come to get explosives to destroy the plane. Widmore tells them it’s unnecessary, as he rigged the plane with explosives when he first arrived. Ben cuts to the chase and asks how Widmore managed to find the island and get back to it. “Jacob invited me,” Widmore responds. Ben doesn’t want to believe it, but Widmore explains that after his freighter was destroyed three years ago, Jacob visited him and convinced him of the error of his ways, and told him everything he needed to know to get back to the island and try to keep the smoke monster from escaping.
Before Ben can respond to this, Widmore gets a call on his radio. Zoe is near the dock and sees MiB approaching the shore in his own canoe. She reports that she hasn’t been spotted yet, but their equipment is still in the canoe; she didn’t have time to get it before MiB appeared. Widmore cuts her off and orders her to run back to the Barracks fast, before she’s seen. When he’s done talking to her, he tells the three men standing before him that if they don’t want to die, they need to hide. Now.
In the jungle, Jack and Sawyer talk about where to find Desmond, and Sawyer wonders aloud why MiB didn’t just kill Desmond instead of throwing him into a well. Jack suggests that maybe one of “the rules” prevented this. Sawyer, still broken from what happened to Sun, Jin, and Sayid, picks up on the topic of the rules and points out that Jack said MiB couldn’t kill any of them. Jack says that maybe he was wrong, but Sawyer knows the truth: “I killed ‘em, didn’t I?” Jack assures Sawyer that it was MiB who was ultimately responsible, but Sawyer knows that he did the job for MiB.
Trailing behind them, Hurley spots the young boy Jacob, watching him from a distance. Kate asks if he’s okay, and he says yes, but now the boy is gone. After she walks away, he turns and the boy is standing right in front of him. The boy tells him to hand over the ashes that he took from Ilana’s things after she died. When Hurley asks why he wants them, the boy says they’re his. He grabs the small sack of ashes and runs, and Hurley chases after. But instead of the boy, he comes upon adult Jacob, sitting in a clearing at a fire. Hurley’s relieved to see his friend, and asks where he’s been the last few days. “Doesn’t matter, I’m here now,” Jacob replies. Hurley asks about the boy who took the ashes, but Jacob points to the fire burning on the ground and says that the ashes are in there. And when the fire burns out, Hurley will never see him again. Hurley doesn’t understand, but Jacob says, “You should get your friends. We’re very close to the end.”
Locke docks at the tiny pier and notes the other canoe there full of metal cases. But he chooses to ignore them and proceeds on toward the Barracks.
Zoe arrives back at Ben’s house and wants to run for it, but Widmore says they’re going to hide in Ben’s hidden room instead. As the two of them head for the room, Ben stays put and says he’d rather get the inevitable over with. Miles announces that he’s going to try to escape into the jungle, and tries to get Richard to come with him. Before Miles can go, Ben asks Widmore for his walkie-talkies, and he gives one to Miles, “in case I need you.” Widmore warns Ben that MiB is going to kill him, and Ben says that he guesses this is goodbye, then. Widmore and Zoe retreat into the hidden room, and Ben too offers Richard his company. But Richard opts to assist neither of his friends, instead saying that he’s going to leave behind his weapons and try to talk to MiB. “All he wants is for me to join him,” Richard reasons, “and if I can get him to leave with me, that will give the rest of you a chance.” Miles takes off, while Richard casually walks outside, followed by Ben.
As Richard steps out into the open, he hears the wail of the smoke monster’s approach, but before he can even react, the monster is there, and it rams into him at full bore, launching him into the air. We never see where Richard’s body lands; instead, we focus on Ben’s reaction and his calm turn to sit in a chair outside his house, where he waits for “Locke” to appear. MiB does indeed soon appear and says that Ben is just the person he was looking for. “I need you to kill some people for me, Ben,” he says. When Ben asks why he would do that, MiB says that once he’s left the island, Ben can have it all to himself. Ben considers this briefly and agrees. MiB asks who the outrigger at the dock belongs to, and Ben answers truthfully that it’s Widmore’s. When MiB asks where he might find Widmore, Ben gives up the hiding spot without hesitation.
The two of them walk inside, and Ben shows him where to find the closet. MiB tells Ben to wait outside because Ben “doesn’t need to see this,” but Ben says he wants to see it. Inside, Zoe and Widmore stand waiting in the dark, and MiB sarcastically remarks about how nice it is to talk without Widmore’s fence standing between them. MiB asks who Zoe is, and she starts to answer, but Widmore stops her and tells her to say nothing. MiB immediately steps forward and slits her throat. Widmore asks why MiB killed her, and MiB replies that Widmore told her not to talk to him and that made her pointless. MiB notes that Widmore’s not afraid to die, so there can only be one way to motivate him to explain what he’s been up to lately: when MiB finally leaves the island, he says the first thing he’s going to do is kill Widmore’s daughter, Penny. Unless Widmore tells him why he came back to the island. Widmore notes that MiB will kill Penny whether he talks or not, but MiB offers his word that he won’t. “I brought Desmond Hume back here, because of his unique resistance to electromagnetism,” Widmore explains. “He was a measure of last resort.” MiB asks what “last resort” Widmore’s referring to, but Widmore says he won’t say anything else in front of Ben. With a nod from MiB, Ben turns away, and Widmore whispers the rest to MiB. From the hallway, Ben suddenly turns back and shoots Widmore three times in the chest, and Widmore falls to the ground, dead. “He doesn’t get to save his daughter,” Ben says bitterly to MiB. Fortunately, MiB says, Widmore had already told him what he needed to know, so Ben faces no retribution for this action.
Out in the jungle, a very long-awaited moment arrives: Hurley introduces Jack, Kate, and Sawyer to Jacob, who Hurley is surprised to note that they can see and hear for themselves. Kate confirms that Jacob is the one who wrote their names on the cave wall. She asks if he wrote Sun, Jin, and Sayid’s names on the wall, and if that’s why they’re dead. Jacob says he’s very sorry for their deaths. But Kate’s livid about this, demanding to know why. She says she wants to know that her friends didn’t die for nothing. Jacob looks at his guests and says that if they join him by the fire, he’ll explain what the others died for. “I’ll tell you why I chose them, and why I chose you,” says Jacob. “And then I’ll tell you everything you need to know about protecting this island. Because by the time that fire burns out, one of you is going to have to start doing it.”
Night falls as Jacob settles in to tell his tale, and he begins with the reason he brought them all to the island. “I brought all of you here because I made a mistake, a very long time ago. And now, because of that, there’s a very good chance that every single one of you, and everyone you’ve ever cared about, is going to die.” He’s referring to what he did to his brother, all those years ago. Sawyer asks what this mistake was. “You call him the monster,” Jacob replies. “I’m responsible for what happened to him. I made him that way. And ever since then, he’s been trying to kill me. It was only a matter of time before he figured out how. And when he did, someone would have to replace me. That’s why I brought you all here.” Sawyer’s having none of it, and asks why he has to be punished for Jacob’s mistake, suggesting that he was doing just fine before Jacob brought him to the island. “No you weren’t,” Jacob shoots back. “None of you were. I didn’t pluck any of you out of a happy existence. You were all flawed. I chose you because you were like me. You were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn’t find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.”
Kate asks why Jacob crossed her name off of the cave wall. “Because you became a mother,” Jacob replies. Then he adds, “It’s just a line of chalk in a cave. The job is yours if you want it, Kate.” Jack asks what the job is, and Jacob tells them that there’s a Light at the center of the island that has to be protected at all costs. His successor’s job will be to keep that Light from going out. Sawyer notes that MiB told him there was nothing to protect the island from. Jacob smiles without humor, explaining that what the Light must be protected from is the Man in Black himself. Jacob says that whoever takes the job, will have to do what he never could: kill his brother. Jack asks if it’s even possible to kill the monster. “I hope so,” Jacob replies, “because he is certainly going to try to kill you.”
There’s a long silence as the truth settles in that one of them must take on Jacob’s job. Hurley speaks up and asks how Jacob is going to pick his successor. But Jacob says he’s not. “I want you to have the one thing that I was never given: a choice.” Kate asks what happens if none of them take the job. “This ends very badly,” Jacob replies. Jack stands to his feet and says, “I’ll do it.” His voice grows equally stronger and more emotional as he declares, “This is why I’m here. This is what I’m supposed to do.” Jacob whispers, “Is that a question, Jack?” Tears in his eyes, Jack shakes his head and says with conviction, “No.” “Good,” Jacob smiles. “Then it’s time.”
Jacob leads Jack deeper into the jungle, toward a stream, while the others watch from a distance. Jacob tells Jack that the Light can be found beyond the bamboo field that Jack woke up in when he first came to the island. This is where MiB is trying to go, and it’s what Jack has to protect. Jack doesn’t remember ever seeing the Light out there, but Jacob assures him it’s there, and now Jack will be able to get to it. Jacob asks Jack for a cup and Jack produces one from his backpack. Jacob reaches into the stream with the cup and dips out some water, saying the same blessing over it that Mother said when passing the mantle to him. Jack asks how long he’ll have to do this job, and Jacob tells him the same thing that he was told: “As long as you can.” Jack drinks the water, and with satisfaction, Jacob says that now Jack’s like him.
Ben and MiB walk through the jungle toward Desmond’s well, and Ben asks why MiB walks when he can turn himself into smoke and fly through the air anytime he wants. “I like the feel of my feet on the ground,” MiB replies. “Reminds me that I was human.” They arrive at the well, but they’re surprised to find that Desmond’s gone, and there’s a rope dangling over the side that Desmond must’ve climbed to escape. But MiB isn’t upset about this development, instead he’s pleased. Ben asks what Widmore told him, and MiB says that Desmond was a failsafe. Jacob’s measure of last resort, in case MiB managed to kill all of the Candidates. Desmond is Jacob’s final means of ensuring that MiB never leaves the island. Ben asks why MiB’s so happy that Desmond’s still alive. “Because I’m going to find Desmond,” MiB replies. “And when I do, he’s going to help me do the one thing I could never do myself. I’m going to destroy the island.”
- It would appear that as long as some part of Jacob’s body was still intact — even just his ashes — he could still appear to Hurley as a ghost. Once his ashes are gone, he’ll be gone forever too.
Why did Ilana take Jacob’s ashes from the statue chamber? Might they be used as protection against the smoke monster? [6.04]
- Looks like it.
Why was Sawyer able to see the boy, but Richard could not? Is it because Sawyer is a Candidate? [6.04]
- Jacob needed Jack to come to terms with his own faith in himself and in the island’s importance, so that he could be properly prepared to accept the role of island protector, if that’s what he wanted to do.
What does Jacob want Jack to do? Take his place as the island’s protector? Or something else? [6.05]
- Widmore found the island again thanks to Jacob, who personally visited him and gave him specific instructions for returning to the island in 2007 to try and stop the Man in Black from escaping.
Before sending the freighter to the island, Widmore spent 20 years searching for it after being banished. How did he find the island? Did Eloise Hawking decide to help him (after she presumably spent the last 20 years not helping him)? Did he plant some kind of tracking device on Locke? Or is there another explanation? [6.07]
- Jacob insisted that the remaining Candidates decide for themselves which of them would take the job, because he wanted them to have the one thing he never had in the matter: a choice.
Ilana said that there are only six Candidates left, and that one of them would be selected to replace Jacob. Since Jacob is dead, who will make this selection? [6.07]
- We can safely infer from her comments and her well-adjusted personality that this Danielle never went to the island.
Sideways reality: Since Alex and Danielle Rousseau are both alive and well and together… does that mean Danielle was never on the island? [6.07]
- Widmore brought Desmond back on Jacob’s orders. Jacob intended to use Desmond as some kind of measure of last resort if all else failed to keep the Man in Black from escaping the island. We don’t yet know the exact mechanics of how this would work.
Why did Widmore bring Desmond back to the island? What does he plan to do with Desmond? [6.10]
- Jacob crossed out Kate’s name as a possibility when she became Aaron’s mother. But as Jacob said, it was “just a line of chalk on a wall,” and didn’t actually eliminate the possibility of her taking the job. It just meant he assumed she would never be interested, because she already had a very important job.
Kate was once a Candidate, like so many others. Why was her name crossed out? Why isn’t she a Candidate anymore? [6.10]
- Desmond was trying to help Locke let go of his guilt about how he got into his wheelchair, and steer Locke toward his destiny of being able to walk again.
Sideways reality: Why did Desmond hit Locke with his car? [6.12]
- Jacob claimed that the monster didn’t exist until he threw his brother down into the Light, but it wasn’t really a matter of creating the monster. It was a matter of changing the Man in Black into something that Jacob knew would be “much worse than death.” He caused his brother to be changed into this monstrous creature.
What exactly happened when MiB fell into the Light source beneath the island? Did sending a person (MiB) down into the source create the smoke monster, or release it? [6.15]
- Sideways reality: Why did Desmond pretend to be a rep from Oceanic Airlines, and lie to Jack about his father’s body being found? Might Desmond actually have found Jack’s father?
- Sideways reality: Desmond is getting all of his old friends together at this concert benefit. What’s his master plan for them?
- Who told Ben that he could summon the monster using the room under his house?
- What kind of equipment did Widmore and Zoe bring in their canoe from the other island?
Well, this is it, kids. My last opportunity ever to sit back and theorize with you about what’s to come on Lost. It’s hard to believe that the journey is nearly over, but wow, what an episode this was! So many big moments, so much payoff.
Where to begin…
The opening scene on the island had a nice little echo/role-reversal of the pilot with Jack sewing up Kate’s wound using a needle and thread.
It was pretty cool to get confirmation of an old theory of mine: that Ben’s leadership of the Others was never legitimate, aka Jacob-approved. He was an unwitting puppet his entire life, used by the Man in Black to become the Others’ leader, where MiB could use him for his own purposes. This is why Jacob was less than concerned with Ben’s pains and sacrifices just before Ben murdered him — Jacob knew the kind of man Ben really was, and that he was only in the position of authority that he was because of the machinations of Jacob’s brother. He was never meant to be the leader of the Others, and considering that, Widmore’s vengeful desire to oust Ben from the island was in some ways justified. Widmore’s island authority was usurped by Ben — an unworthy mongrel — so we know now why he really had it in for Ben.
A longstanding — and much-debated by you, readers — question has finally been resolved: whether Widmore is in the “good guy” or “bad guy” camp. Apparently he was, for most of his off-island life, a part of the “bad guy” brigade, but after his visit from Jacob, he signed on with the good guys and has been operating as one ever since. His methods can still be harsh, but his goal has been to assist Jacob. Which explains his actions in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” — how he knew to have surveillance equipment in place at the Exit to look for Locke’s arrival in the Tunisian desert, and why he tried so hard to help Locke assemble his friends and get back to the island. All of the help he gave Locke was sincere, without ulterior motives, because he was acting after Jacob visited him, and therefore he knew a whole lot more about Locke’s importance as a Candidate than Locke himself did. (Unfortunately for both of them, Ben screwed everything up by murdering Locke.)
RIP Richard Alpert. Sad to see him go, but I suppose he’s with Isabella now. Maybe we’ll see him again before the end, giving some last bit of advice before breathing his last, or appearing to Hurley as a ghost.
And Widmore’s dead too. Oh well. Never have had much invested in his character, though he’s always been a pretty intriguing guy. But he’s not important to how the story ends.
What happened to Miles? He pretty much disappeared right before Richard was killed by the monster, and we never saw him again for the rest of the episode. Maybe he’s holed up somewhere with Claire, who’s also MIA, and they’re planning to start a family. I smell spinoff!
Loved the scene between MiB/Locke and Ben on the front porch. These two actors just never cease to amaze when they’re put together on screen. The subtleties and nuances they pull out of every single line reading is utterly delicious.
Has Ben truly switched sides? Not a chance. His hatred of Charles Widmore notwithstanding — and it’s entirely possible he shot Widmore in an attempt to keep MiB from finding out what Widmore was planning to do with Desmond — Ben signed on with the good guys when Ilana took him in, and despite his many, many duplicitous ways, by now he knows all too well that he can’t trust the Man in Black. Ben’s still Ben, and he knows an opportunity when he sees one. And this one represented a two birds/one stone deal: the chance to finally get rid of his nemesis Charles Widmore, and the chance to outwit MiB by learning what his endgame is. He’s going to turn the tables on MiB somehow before the end (maybe using that radio that connects him to Miles, maybe using the C4 from his safe), and he’ll probably be killed for his betrayal. Lost is all about characters in need of redemption, and there’s no greater love than laying down one’s life for his friends.
I contend that MiB’s offer to give the island to Ben after he’s gone was a lie from the start. He may not have known that he could use Desmond to destroy the island when he made the offer, but I think his endgame always involved finding a way to destroy the island, because he knows that that’s the only way he can ever escape the place. He never intended to give Ben the island — and I think Ben’s smart enough to know that. The question is… Does MiB know that Ben’s playing him?
Some of you might be wondering how and why Ben was suddenly able to kill Widmore, when way back in Season 4, the two of them couldn’t harm each other because of certain rules. I think this was explained even earlier in the show, back in Season 3, when Juliet killed one of the Others while she was still one of them. It was a very big deal that Juliet killed one of her people, and she was put on trial and would have been executed for it if not for a last minute reprieve from Ben. That firmly established that a fundamental rule of the Others’ society is that they do not kill their own kind. Ever. Widmore and Ben may have both been off the island when they talked about their inability to kill one another, but they were both still technically Others, aka followers of Jacob. So their declaration that they couldn’t kill each other wasn’t about any metaphysical, set-in-stone barrier that prevented them from fighting. They were merely referring to this never-broken (until Juliet) guideline that Jacob’s followers don’t harm one another, without dire consequences from the rest of the Others. By the time of “What They Died For,” the Others are all but extinct and Jacob himself is dead, so those old guidelines have little meaning anymore.
How cute are Sideways Ben and Danielle? Did not see that coming, but in the happily-ever-after land of the Sideways world, it makes perfect sense. Those two getting together (in spite of the endless irony of their history in the original reality) would give Ben the chance to be Alex’s father once more, and what could be a happier ending for this good, kindhearted version of Ben than that?
The most important part of the episode, of course, was the big campfire meet-up with Jacob. What was surprising about this infodump was how emotionally resonant it was. Jacob’s revelations to the castaways put some of the final pieces of the puzzle into place: of course he chose these people to bring to the island because they were in need of redemption. Redemption is one of the show’s key themes, so this dovetails beautifully with everything we’ve seen these characters go through. They’re all different now, changed so much, and they’ve made peace with their past failures. It’s an astonishing thing to think about, seeing them sit there under Jacob’s tutelage at the end of this incredible journey.
Never has Lost worn its mythological and biblical allegories so clearly on its sleeve than in this scene. The god-man who chose to redeem those who couldn’t save themselves… Water being (metaphorically) turned into wine… And then there’s the added information we got about the smoke monster’s birth, and how it was essentially the Man in Black’s fall from grace. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were warned never to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but when they did, sin entered their lives. Adam and Eve went from light to dark. When the Man in Black touched the Light at the heart of the island — a Light that, similar to the biblical Tree, is tapped into the truth of existence — he turned into a physical representation of evil, or if you will, sin.
I was kinda surprised to learn that the Light didn’t go out permanently when Jacob threw his brother into it. It seemed as though it was gone for good, but I guess it merely dimmed by the emergence of the smoke monster, and returned to full strength after he was expelled. If it wasn’t still there, the island wouldn’t be all that important anymore, would it?
And now we know why Jacob has always been so big on emphasizing that everyone has a choice: because Mother never gave him one. Another of Lost‘s big questions is posed here: is destiny ever a matter of free will? Are our lives ruled by fate, or by choice? Or can it be both? Jack seemed to think so, when he knew that he was supposed to take Jacob’s place, but still chose to go through with it.
Speaking of Jack, I’m not going to gloat and say how right I was that he would be the new Jacob, because let’s face it: the writers have been telegraphing this to us all season long. What I’ll say instead is how moving it was when Jack accepted this calling, allowing this cup to pass to him, knowing what it would cost him. It brought to mind Frodo, timidly but forcefully accepting the charge to carry the Ring to Mt. Doom. It was Jack’s Gethsemane moment, and he passed the test. It might just be the most spiritual scene Lost has ever churned out.
I’m anxious to see what Jack will be like now that he’s accepted Jacob’s position. Did drinking the water give him some special communion with the island? Does he know more, understand more, than he ever did before? Will he be calm and wise, just like Jacob always seemed to be? Or will he still be the same old Jack, flying by the seat of his pants?
Yes, I’ll admit that the perfectionist in me was a bit bothered by everyone suddenly being able to see and interact with Jacob, when he’s been an incorporeal ghost ever since his death. It seemed to violate the rules of the show, but this inexplicable discrepancy is worth overlooking for the sake of the story. Jack and Jacob simply had to meet at some point, for the all-important passing of the torch.
Regarding the Sideways developments in this ep… Oh man, I’m LOVING Sideways Desmond’s big master plan. By the time he set Sayid and Kate free at that dock, with Hurley’s help, I was nearly on my feet cheering with excitement. Everything is falling perfectly into place! Too awesome. But I’m dying to know just how much everyone who’s been woken up so far now remembers about their former lives. Do they still just have bits and pieces, or do they remember it all?
I’m not sure what to say about Sideways Ana-Lucia being a crooked cop who accepted a payoff to set some prisoners free. Other than it made me laugh.
Now that the finale is upon us, I think it’s time we take a big step back and look at the big mysteries still lingering. There are tons of less important details that are still unexplained, but I believe many of them can be inferred or interpreted by the viewer. (And I’ll get back to that stuff in another post, at some point after the show’s over.)
So for now, let’s run down the major mysteries that haven’t yet been addressed, and still need answers:
- Why was/is Aaron so important? And what’s the deal with Walt? Were either of these boys connected to the island, or important to it somehow?
- The Dharma food drops. We were told last year that this would be addressed in Season 6, but it hasn’t yet been. I suspect it’s probably not as big a priority for the writers at this point, but it’s a nagging question.
- Libby. Why did she keep her past connection to Hurley a secret? And was her encounter with Desmond really just a coincidence? Is it possible, as many have theorized, that she worked for Widmore?
- What was the deal with the big green “Hurley bird” in the Season 2 finale? This is another one we were told would be addressed in Season 6.
- Who built the statue of Tawaret, and why? Sure, we’ve seen how it was destroyed and when, but I’m dying to know who built it to begin with, and more importantly, why. Why was an ancient statue of an Egyptian fertility goddess built on this island in the Pacific ocean?
- Why do pregnant women die on the island? I suspect this probably has something to do with the detonation of Jughead the hydrogen bomb, but I’d like to get a definitive word on the matter.
- What’s the deal with Eloise Hawking? Why is she able to see the future, and the truth about the Sideways reality? Eloise is just too deeply connected to the show’s mythology for her to be brushed aside with no answers about how she can do the things she can do.
- Why are there two realities?
- What was the Spring inside the Temple, and why did it have healing properties? Was it connected to the Light? It seems more likely that it was connected to Jacob somehow, since it turned muddy and lost its healing power after he died.
- What is the Light beneath the island? I think this is probably going to be left intentionally ambiguous, and open to interpretation, but it’s become so important in these last few episodes, it’d be nice to get a little more clarity about it.
Aside from the lingering mysteries, there’s still a lot of unresolved plotlines that I’m eager to see addressed — such as what will become of Claire, and if there’s any hope for her. I imagine this kind of thing is mostly of what the finale will concern itself with, but hopefully some of these last few remaining mysteries will be tackled as well.
Before I get to my last-ever Big Theory, I want to address a couple of things.
First, when can you expect to see my super-sized recap and analysis of the finale? I don’t have a specific answer, but I’m hoping to have it done a few days after the finale airs. It goes without saying that the final recap will take a lot more time to do than usual — not just because of the length of the episode, but because of all of the analysis involved.
Secondly, what happens to this website once the series has run its course? Well, I intend for it to remain here as an archive of reading material for fans of the show. It’s not going anywhere. So all of my crazy theories (and the right ones, too) will be here for your eternal enjoyment.
Thirdly, will there be any new content added after the finale recap’s been posted? Yes, most definitely. I’m thinking right now that at some point, I’d like to come back and revisit all of the questions that are still unanswered after the show ends, and attempt to resolve or explain them somehow with my own interpretation of what they meant. I also still need to finish importing all of my recaps from the first two seasons, and I’d like to get some other stuff in here too, like my reviews of the DVDs/Blu-rays and books and other merch related to the show. Have you heard about the big, 400-page Lost Encyclopedia coming in August? I’d love to review that one, as well as the Season 6 DVD/Blu-ray, and who knows what else. Hopefully, there will still be plenty to discuss about Lost for a long time to come, but don’t expect my articles to be posted as frequently as the weekly recaps have been.
Lastly, what’s this about a book…? Well, it’s always been my hope to compile everything I’ve written about Lost into a guide to the show’s overall storyline, explaining it all and connecting every last dot, from beginning to end. Since there will be little use for theories in such a book, my thinking is that it would focus more on explaining and interpreting what happened rather than theorizing about it. If I ever get a chance to do this — and at the time of this writing, my plate is very full, so it won’t happen soon — it will probably be something I’ll self-publish as an ebook or print-on-demand, unless I can find an interested publisher. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to know when/if this book becomes available.
It’s now or never.
I’m going out as far on a limb as I’ve ever been. That’s right: I’m about to give you my biggest theory ever.
This is how Lost ends.
If I’m right (and my theories have been correct about as much as they haven’t been, so there’s a good 50/50 chance), then this should be considered massively spoilery. (But hey, I’m probably not. This is Lost, after all.)
I still believe the Sideways reality represents the show’s ultimate endgame. Damon and Carlton have said several times now that they couldn’t do the finale that they wanted to do unless the Sideways world existed. Therein lies the rub. Whether the two are happening concurrently, or one is taking place after the other reset time, the dual nature of reality must be resolved in the end. So here’s how I think it’s going to play out.
It’s all going to build to some kind of epic confrontation on the island between Jack and Locke/MiB — as it was always meant to be — where Jack will have some kind of plan to finally destroy MiB once and for all, and MiB will be using Desmond in his wild scheme to destroy the island once and for all. And I think that in the end… they’re both going to win. The island will be destroyed, sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and smoke monster will be destroyed as well (and Jack and everybody else on the island right along with it, probably). Maybe Jack will even get that mysterious little cut on his neck from MiB right at the end of the battle. But the point is that somehow, all of the electromagnetic energy released by destroying the island will come together to reset the timeline, and boom: the Sideways world is born.
But I think that in the end, the birth and survival of the Sideways world is going to be left ambiguous instead of outright shown. Take it from a storyteller: if the ultra-happy ending is spelled out for us, it will feel too much like a cheat. Like an ending that wasn’t entirely earned, and wasn’t true to the tone of the story that came before it.
But it will be there, nonetheless, to be accepted as the “happy ending” for those who want to believe in it.
Now I’m not going to say this theory is foolproof. There are a few sticking points. Such as what happens when the Light is destroyed, which we’ve been told several times now must be protected at all costs. The implication is, the Light is vital to the world in some grandiose, spiritual sense, and the world can’t survive without it. But maybe this is why the island is sunken in the end, and not just blown to smithereens: so the Light can go on existing, down at the bottom of the ocean, where no one can ever find or reach it.
There’s also the problem of the castaways waking up in the Sideways world, and what Desmond’s endgame is there. He’s been busy waking everybody up, and he still has some work to do in that regard, but what he hopes to accomplish by gathering everyone in one place (this mysterious concert) is anybody’s guess. (Side thought: how cool would it be to see Michael Giacchino — Lost‘s celebrated composer — performing as part of this on-screen concert?!) And it seems clear that this is probably where Juliet will be revealed as David’s mother, and also where she’ll finally meet Sawyer. Who else besides the main castaways might be in attendance? We already know Charlotte will be. What about Charlie, perhaps, so he can find Claire at last? Libby? Boone and Shannon? Michael and Waaaaaalt? What a thrill it would be to see absolutely everybody there!
But back to Desmond. Maybe he just wants to make everyone else aware of what they did in their former life, so they can appreciate what they have now all the more. Maybe his plan is something grander, such as resolving the two realities somehow — stabilizing the universe by combining them or eliminating one of them. I’m sure some will theorize that, assuming the two realities aren’t taking place parallel to one another, Desmond may be trying to get everyone to help him “fix” the timeline back to the way it used to be — and his throw-caution-to-the-wind, play-fast-and-loose-with-the-law attitude might be evidence of a man who has no concerns about what becomes of himself in the reality he’s in — but the whole notion of reverting to the old timeline seems counterintuitive by now. Desmond’s knowledge of the other reality appears to have grown to the point that he remembers most, if not all, of what happened there. So he must know that if he died destroying the island, then there’s nothing in it for him or anyone else, to restore that version of events.
So there it is. “The End” will truly be the end of everything — for the castaways, and for the island. And the Sideways reality will be the final one, where everyone gets a happy ending that was earned by the sacrifices they all made in a previous timeline.
I also hope to see them pull off something really profound and poetic, that circles back on the last six seasons and gives everything that’s ever happened on the show a deeper meaning.
It’s almost here, friends. Hold on tight.