'Lost' instant reaction: Start talking about 'What They Died For'
Image Credit: Mario Perez/ABCBefore we begin, let’s talk about the importance of a high fiber diet. It’s one of the few subjects we haven’t discussed in obsessive detail over the past six years, but it’s an important one, and I think here at the end, we should squeeze in a conversation about the matter. Getting mucho fiber into your body each day is crucial to living a healthy, fully-realized life. For starters, it keeps you regular. I know it’s unseemly to talk about our poops, but we can’t afford to be shy about this. You don’t want to get backed up. Seriously. Do you know what happens when you keep too much toxicity inside you for too long? That’s right: You become a steaming coil of psychopathic black smoke. Forever. You don’t want that. Nobody wants that.
Second, a high fiber diet grows your brain. For example, if you eat a bowl of bran flakes each morning, your capacity for memory will grow by 0.02 percent every day. It’s true! I hear there have been reports of semi-credible scientific studies! That adds up to a lot of extra memory over time! In fact, do you know what would happen if you ate a bowl of Super-Bran, like they do in the Sideways world on Lost? That’s right: Past life recovery. Island Enlightenment. Instantaneous multiverse omniscience. I’m sure of it. Not that it was proven in tonight’s episode. While the awkwardly charming new family unit of Jack Shephard, David Shephard, and Claire Littleton sat down to enjoy a hearty morning breakfast of conspicuously showcased Super-Bran, they never got to finish. Darn that Desmond Hume with his (prank?) phone call about Oceanic Airlines finding Christian Shephard’s body! Because I’m telling you, if they had stayed at that table and finished their bowls of vitamin enriched fiber, they would have remembered everything. Jack would have recalled his days as a castaway leader, Claire would have recalled her many months eating Charlie’s pretend peanut butter, and David would have recalled his years scampering around The Island on all fours and whizzing on the Banyon trees. Yep, I’m calling it. David = Vincent.
(Okay, now that my contractually obligated requirement to say nothing of importance in the initial paragraphs in order to avoid hitting you early and unfairly with spoilers has been fulfilled, we can begin in earnest. But seriously: Eat your fiber. And seriously: Super-Bran is probably the key to everything. Or at least, this episode.)
It began with the remaining castaway heroes vowing to kill Fake Locke, a demonic man-thing that once was a Mother-scarred human. It ended with this humanity-stripped monster vowing to destroy The Island, the hiding place of The Source, the divine sweet spot of life, death, and rebirth, whose radiance imbues all things with spiritual meaning. “What They Died For” announced that a (metaphorical) war between heaven and hell awaits us in the series finale on Pentecost Sunday. Will paradise be lost or will paradise be saved? A book of revelations awaits. But how many revelations? I suspect this episode didn’t do much to assuage the anxieties of the Mystery Resolution Zealots for whom a successful endgame requires a leave-nothing-to-guesswork explication of “answers.” Unless we’re getting Marix Reloaded-inspired epic 8-minute Architect moment, I don’t see how Sunday’s capper will be able to cover everything these folks want covered. And yes, I’m not one of those zealots. Here, in the end, the guy who has only spent six seasons trying to “solve” Lost finds himself perfectly content with enduring ambiguity. The Saul of Lost seekers has had a Pauline conversion. Go figure.
“What They Died For” — a set-up episode, albeit an extremely entertaining one — paved the way for an apocalyptic race-against-time thriller, part 24, part Heroes (but only season 1, and minus the crap season finale). If ABC would like to up the ante on both the hype and the wink-wink cleverness, I suggest spamming the culture with a marketing campaign built around the slogan: “Save The Cheerful Scotsman, Save The World!” After all, both Smokey and the now-deceased Charles Widmore seemed to suggest that super-buddha/super-magnet Desmond is the key to Island salvation — the messianic, love-driven, free radical Neo. (Actually, click that above link and watch The Architect’s explanation for The Matrix. Does it work as a Lost theory?)
Benjamin Linus was in rare form last night, and his scenes with Miles, Alpert, Widmore, and FLocke (and in the Sideways world, Desmond, Locke, and a cleaned-up, sanity-restored suburban Rousseau) produced much of what made the episode fun: a knowing and sometimes quite dark sense of humor. (See: that Super-Bran box; the Desmond-Ben beatdown; the taunting Widmore-Locke whisper.) The scene in which a seemingly fear-stricken Ben took a seat on the porch of his old New Otherton home as he waited for Fake Locke to stroll in, unsheath his knife, and quietly bully him into becoming his personal assassin (a reversal of what Ben did to Sayid during the Oceanic 6 days) was both chilling and hysterical, at least in that uniquely comedic Lost way. So was this: “He doesn’t get to save his daughter,” Ben quipped seconds after shooting Charles Widmore dead — a cold cloak-room assassination that leaves much about Chuck unresolved. Yes, he whispered secrets into Fake Locke’s ear (something about Desmond functioning as Jacob’s failsafe mechanism), and how rude of Lost not to let us eavesdrop! (Yep: the show does taunt us sometimes, doesn’t it?)
Do you think Ben has really switched teams and fallen off the redemption wagon? Or do you think Ben is playing a con on Fake Locke and still fights on the side of the castaway angels? I’m hoping for the latter, for many reasons. I like Ben. And it would be fitting. Throughout Lost, Ben always got the best of the original John Locke in their psychological skirmishes. Ben got his just desserts last year when Fake Locke brilliantly manipulated him into killing Jacob. But Ben won’t let it happen again. I say, Ben will now return the favor, and play the Monster toward his doom. (Then again, if Island Ben does go totally dark, it does set up the dramatically delicious moment when his more morally principled Sideways doppelganger becomes fully “Island Enlightened” and remembers all his past life crimes. There goes that happily ever after with Rousseau and Alex.)
By the way, I think we got official confirmation last night that the entity in the cabin that Ben took to be Jacob was actually The Monster. “I thought I was summoning The Monster. Little did I know he was summoning me.” This is interesting to think about. If Ben has always been wrong about being Jacob’s chosen one for a period of time, then that means his tenure as the leader of The Others was fraudulent and invalid — which means that Charles Widmore was probably quite sincere in his persecution of Ben. He never wanted to get back to The Island to exploit it. He wanted to get back to The Island to save it from Ben’s corrupt administration. Still, I’d like to think that through it all, Jacob was always in control, and that he remains in control even now. I cling to my theory that Lost will end with Ben installed Island guardian, and that in fact, his Island story has been about preparing him for the job and to be worthy of the job.
If I’m correct, then that means that Jack Shephard’s tenure as Island guardian will have to be quite short. We saw him accept the position (and drink his cup of liquid enlightenment — The Island equivalent of Super-Bran) after Quasi-Ghost Jacob revealed to his remaining candidates that any of them could have the job. All one of them had to do was want it — even Kate. Jacob — determined to give his replacements a freedom of choice that he never had — told the forlorn fugitive, so puffy-eyed sad over the deaths of Jin, Sun, and Sayid, that he had crossed her name off his list only because she had accepted another custodial calling by becoming Aaron’s mother/guardian. But Jacob also said she could still have the job of Island guardian if she wanted it.
I suspect some people will be howling over this twist, another example of Lost resolving a tantalizing mystery with a shrug. (Think: The Whispers.) I think others may be bothered by the fact there seem to be no “objective rules” to The Island, that almost everything seems so subjective — an expression of Jacob’s unique, idiosyncratic pathology, or an expression of The Monster’s unresolved rage. I’m not bothered by any of this. I like the idea that here at the end, we’re learning that the castaways have more free will than we thought and that they were led to believe. As for shruggy answers and Jacob’s whimsy, I take Jacob to be something of a spiritual rorschach test. How you feel about Jacob probably says something about how you feel about the whole concept of a personal God, most likely the God of The Bible, a thoroughly Good dude prone to expressing himself in ambiguous and troubling ways (think: Job, Jesus, and that whole Abraham/Isaac thing), who doesn’t feel obligated to explain or justify himself. If you feel that isn’t any way for a god to be a god, then Jacob probably bugs the bejeezus out of you. If you’ve come to peace with that, then Jacob is probably a little easier to accept.
There’s more to say — about Desmond’s advancing enlightenment project in the Sideways world; about the clarifying criteria for recalling your Island past (looks like there’s some validity to my Buddhism-derived attachment-to-wordliness theory, after all); about John Locke deciding to take a leap of faith and accept Jack’s offer of restorative surgery; and about how the whole Sideways scheme fits into the endgame of the show — and I’m currently in the process of saying all of it in my recap. In the meantime, please check out our new episode of Totally Lost with special guest stats Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver. What if Jacob and the Man In Black were forced into a room and had to hug out their issues? Well imagine no more! We bring you that scenario and more, including their insights into what happened last week in “Across The Sea.”
Back tomorrow with more.