Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost, Season 6, Episode 16: What They Died For

My Smartpop review of Lost is up. Here is a sample. Click for more.

One thing the second to last episode of a season of Lost does well is ANNOUNCE stuff. They say they are going to do stuff, and then they DO it in the last episode of the season. “We have to move the island.” “Let’s set off a nuke.” “I am going to kill Jacob” and now “I am going to destroy the island.” (I am probably forgetting similar pronouncements from the end of seasons 1, 2, and 3: “I am not going to push the button” maybe?). The moment was a little undercut tonight, the only flaw in tonight’s fantastic episode — as a friend pointed out, earlier in the episode The Man in Black told Ben he could have the island if Ben would help him, presumably help him kill Jack (and maybe the others if, now that Jack has become the new Jacob, they still even matter). He tells him in the end he is going to destroy it — so what exactly is Ben’s motivation again? I got a little lost there.

I noticed a lot of people bothered by the campfire scene, where Jacob tells the four of them any of them can have the job if they want it. I was fine with it. I think the problem the writers ran into here was it was pretty clear how the candidate was being chosen -- everyone else was dead. They needed to do this now and in this way because they don't want Kate, Sawyer and Hurley dead just to make Jack the protector of the island.

Jacob here joins a long list of fictional characters who take FOREVER to actually die after they are said to be dead.

One thing I would like cleared up that I feel is not going to get cleared up is how "the rules" work. "Rule" is a word like "law" -- there is ambiguity if it is what you should do (like civil law) or what you must do (like the law that nothing can go faster than the speed of light). In one of the best episodes of season 4 we were told Widmore "broke the rules" when he had Alex killed, and another rule kept Ben from killing Widmore in that episode -- but not from trying to kill his daughter. I guess these rules went out the window when Jacob died, but it seems weird and I feel like it might mean nothing.

One more thing I want to know is about the babies dying. We still don't know what caused that and with the birth of Ethan Rom in the 70s it is clear something happened after that to cause it. I hope this one gets answered. I can live without the other half of the outrigger shootout -- which was clearly supposed to take place in What They Died For. But there are some things Lost needs to land. What do they need to land for you.


brad said...

I need a BIG rug pull. Just one giant, end-of-season-3-size rug pull. That's all. They just have to give me the chills one more time, and I'll forgive them for any dangling plot points they don't resolve.

neilshyminsky said...

I love Ben. This wasn't a swerve, wasn't anything new - the dude's just a survivor, with no allowance for morals or ethics. He saw the monster kill Richard, and decided in that moment that the only way he'd live is if he threw his lot in with Locke. And did it 100%. The difference between Ben and Sawyer, in this case, is that Sawyer was only pretending. Ben makes face- and heel-turns like he's a pro wrestler. (Which isn't to say that Ben can't flip sides again, but it would only happen if he was certain that Jack gave him a better chance to survive.)

James said...

Dharma drops! Just kidding.

Jack stitching up Kate was another good Episode 1 callback.

Put me down as bothered by the campfire scene, for exactly the reason you lay out - the writers' hand was WAY too visible in that one. I think the same could be said of all the weakest parts of this season.

"O’Quinn explaining to Jack that no, he does not think Jack sent Desmond to assault him, he thinks it is fate."
That was fantastic. Jack's stance in that scene brings back another Lost tradition of characters regressing in their understanding/acceptance of Crazy Magic Stuff. And that's not a complaint; we tend to expect fictional characters to be much less hypocritical than real people are.

Any new Sideways Universe theories off the back of this one? I'm sticking with After rather than Before, but now it seems like the whole thing could be Locke's creation? Maybe Smokey will "win" on the Island, but whatever there is of Locke in him will create the Sideways U in an attempt to Fix things, giving everyone what they want, and punishing himself by getting back in the wheelchair. So Desmond will have to fix THAT so we can get back to the Island for Climax II! I'd like that.

Doesn't seem like I'll get my rejection of both deities, and it looks like we already got Jack straightforwardly taking the job from Good Jacob (which I didn't want, for those keeping track). Holding out for specific plot points is a madman's game, obviously, but it at least seems like there's scope for Jack NOT sitting on an Island in a white t-shirt for the rest of his days. I could live with that.

"I need a BIG rug pull. Just one giant, end-of-season-3-size rug pull. That's all. They just have to give me the chills one more time, and I'll forgive them for any dangling plot points they don't resolve."
You said it, brother.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, now that killing Locke and destroying the island are stated goals, I will be disappointed if only one or neither of these things happens.

Other random (possibly stupid) stuff I'm confused about but don't necessarily NEED to have answered:

1. So we know the Man in Black has appeared as Christian Shephard, but is he the one who appears to Michael right before the freighter explodes? (Did the Smoke Monster silently travel to the freighter? Can he astral project?)

2. Likewise, if the Man in Black is the one who appears to Locke as Christian Shephard down in the well, does that mean the MiB time travels with the castaways, even though the other Island inhabitants (the Others) do not? We know the scene in which John moves the island is set before 1867, since, above ground, Sawyer and the others see the still-standing statue of Tawaret. If the MiB did not time shift, maybe the still-missing body of Christian Shephard did to allow MiB to take his form? Or is the MiB so bad-ass that he can appear as the dead Christian Shephard BEFORE HE'S EVEN BORN??? ;)

If one or both of these is not the Man in Black, then my hope is that the true ghost of Christian Shephard is somehow working in service of the Island, independently of Jacob. If so, I want the reveal for this to be good.

Teebore said...

One thing I would like cleared up that I feel is not going to get cleared up is how "the rules" work.

Ditto. I mean, I guess I could say that, with Jacob dead and the fact that he's been played all along forefront in Ben's mind at this point, he said "screw the rules" and shot Widmore.

That theory, of course, assumes the rules are something you "should" do, and not an inviolable law, like going faster than the speed of light. I always assumed the rules were the later, since, if the only thing keeping players from following the rules was their sense of fairplay, why didn't Smokey just say "screw it" way back when, but apparently, they are the former.

One more thing I want to know is about the babies dying.

The prevailing theory I've heard is that the energy discharged as part of the Incident caused the pregnancy problem, which fits with the timeline we've been given.

Of course, while that's as good a theory as any, it'd be nice if the show confirmed or denied that, since, after all, it's the writer's job to tell the story, not the audience's.

Personally, I'd have liked to have learned more about the Others, beyond the vague "Richard came to the island and helped the people Jacob brought there resist Smokey's temptations long enough to stay alive and become Jacob's followers" muttering we got.

Were the Others kidnapping kids and "good" people to appease Jacob and/or help him find candidates? Did the know about candidates? Richard didn't, but Dogen did. Where did Dogen fit in the Other hierarchy? How was he keeping Smokey out of the temple? Why did Smokey live in the walls around the temple? Why are there hieroglyphics of Smokey when he (presumably) came about AFTER the ruins were built? Richard once said they had a specific process for choosing their leader; what was that process? Did Jacob give it to them? Did Richard make it up? How much of the Others dogma came from Jacob through Richard, and how much of it was perverted by their leaders through the years, working in Jacob's name to their own ends, or as they believed Jacob wanted it done? I assume Jacob ordered the purge; why did he order it when he did, instead of after the Incident?

Again, I can come up with answers to some of these questions, but it's not my job to answer these questions; that's the writer's job.

I'd also like to know a bit more about Jacob's role as protector and Smokey. When Smokey was created, did Jacob's job change so that he was only concerned with keeping Smokey on the island? Or does he need to protect the light from the outside world AND the outside world from Smokey? Why, exactly, does Smokey leaving mean the end of existence? Does he have all the light inside of him? Does the light go out if Smokey leaves? If Jacob is supposed to keep the light safe from outsiders, and the only way Smokey can leave/kill Jacob is via outsiders, why bring outsiders to the island just to prove a point to Smokey? Is proving that point more important than defending existence? If so, why? If not, why is Jacob so cavalier, so willing to risk existence, to make his point?

James said...

Yeah, I think the Jacob-Richard-Others relationship is the most confusing/unsatisfying thing. Ben's "I was told I could summon the monster" wasn't great either, since it begs the question BY WHO? Clearly not Richard. The most obvious answer is "Smokey impersonating someone", but I doubt "he thinks he's summoning it but the monster is just playing along" was the original intent. It definitely seems like they had more planned with the whole cabin/security system/enslavement aspect. It would have been

James said...

a nice way to make us more ambivalent about Smokey, plus goofy sci fi magic fun.