“What they Died For” was an action-packed show that sets up things for Sunday quite nicely. I’m not going to spend as much time on the episode synopsis / analysis this week, as we’ve only got four days until it’s all over.
Overall, I thought it was a very strong episode. My only complaint would be the same one I’ve made the last few weeks: Namely, some of the events seemed rushed.Widmore’s final scene and death was particularly congested. Both he and Richard deserved better send-offs after all they’ve contributed to the series as characters. However, there simply isn’t time. And, yes, I’m assuming that Richard, like Lapidus, is dead.
That’s one of the good things about the finale - the extended length may mean that some of those overly-tight scenes get a bit of room to breathe. Widmore’s scene seemed especially rushed in terms of his explanation that Jacob had visited him off-island and shown him the error of his ways. At least Widmore’s death did have a reasonable explanation (Ben indirectly avenging Alex).
I think that the comments made at various points by both Jacob and the Man in Black during “What they Died For” lend further credence to the theory that the Man in Black became the monster, rather than the monster being a pre-existing entity that merely assumed the form of the dead MiB.
I loved the parallelism of two of the Jack scenes. First, his FST conversation with Locke obviously mirrored the conversation they had back in Exodus, while the stitching up of Kate’s wound was a reversal of the events of the Pilot.I thought that Jacob’s reveal of why Kate’s name was crossed off the list of candidates was one of the strongest writing moments of the season. First, it provided a perfectly-reasonable, yet unexpected explanation (she became a mother). Secondly, Jacob followed that up by noting that it was “just chalk on a wall,” and that the job was still hers if she wanted it. I loved that moment as a nod to the idea that many of these things we see on the show are contrivances invented by him. And, of course, as I’ve believed for a while, Jack is officially Jacob’s replacement.
Desmond’s puppet-master act in FST is really working for me. More on that in the speculation section. It’s clear that he has a very specific master plan now. Getting incarcerated so he could come into contact with the three (or four, with Miles) people who wouldn’t otherwise be accessible was a nice touch.
Now, to Sunday . . .
I said last week of The End that: “We all know that there will be answers left open. If you’re expecting to get resolution on even all of the big questions, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed. Next time, I’ll make a list of stuff that must be answered in order for the finale to be a success. The important thing to note is that this will be a short list.”
Here’s what I think needs to be answered in the finale:
1. What is the conclusion of the Man in Black / Smoke Monster’s story? MiB has to be neutralized, redeemed, destroyed, or set free. I think this is a near-certainty. As much as the writers will leave on the table, I don’t think even they dare leave this point unresolved. By episode’s end, the Man in Black will either be neutralized (de-powered?) and stuck on the island, destroyed altogether, redeemed, or he’ll escape. The early money is on “killed,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a combination of redemption / death, a la Sayid. Likelihood: Very High2. How did Eloise acquire superior knowledge? There are many, many unanswered questions on the show that can remain so because the show won’t fall apart without those answers. As much as I’d love to hear more about Hanso and the DeGroots, the story ultimately won’t fail without them. Ditto the pregnancy mystery. Getting that cleared up would be on a wish list, but the story will be ok if we don’t get more on that. The issue of Eloise is one of the exceptions to the rule. In 1977, she had no idea until after the fact that she had just killed her own son. In 1996, she knew Desmond wasn’t “supposed” to buy the engagement ring, that the man with the red shoes was going to die, and that the universe has a way of course-correcting. Similarly, in the FST in 2004, she told Desmond he wasn’t “ready” to know more about Penny yet. So, what happened between 1977 and 1996? Without some explanation, some pretty key elements of this story don’t add up (the early part of Season 5, for one). While I’m optimistic that this information has been set up to be delivered, I also realize it’s not a lock to be included. Likelihood: High
3. Why is Aaron so important? This was a point that was absolutely hammered home way back in the early part of the series. The writers practically reached through the television set, grabbed the home viewer by the lapels, and explained that Aaron would be very important at some indeterminate time in the future. Unlike Walt, Aaron remained on the show, tying in to critical storylines from Season 1 through 5, and in the Season 6 FST. This is why I think it remains quite possible that this will be explained. As much as some people may be troubled by the emphasis put on Walt and his possible omission from the finale (although I still think we may see him), it’s important to remember that he hasn’t been on the show in a long, long time. Aaron, one way or another, has stayed in the picture, even when Claire was MIA. If they can find a way to pay this off, even in a few throwaway lines, that would be appreciated. I think I’ve come up with a solution for this, which I’ll discuss in a moment. Likelihood: Low (but see below)4. Why is the island sunk in FST / what happens if MiB “wins?” I think these are more or less one in the same at this point, per Jacob’s speech around the campfire. But that begs the question: If MiB won in the FST, why hasn’t everyone died in that reality? I’ve been saying since the beginning that one of the reasons the FST exists may be to show us what happens if MiB is successful. It’s a way to show us what the stakes are in OT. We’ve had vague warnings about everyone dying / ceasing to exist, but what does that mean, exactly? That MiB is going to kill everyone in the world, one by one? Implausible, and not part of his motivation. Does it mean that everyone ceases to exist because of some kind of physics / space-time issue? This was my theory for most of the season. I’ll elaborate on my take now below, but the point is that this must be answered more clearly. The good news is that I think there’s a decent chance this will be clarified. Likelihood: Moderate
5. How do the timelines merge? We’ve been waiting for this all season. How does it work? Do the minds of the FST people simply “slide” over, like Desmond? If so, what about people who are dead in the OT? What happens to them? This is an absolute lock to be revealed, of course. Likelihood: Near-Metaphysical Certainty
That brings us at last to the finale.
Six years in the making, this is the last piece (like it or not) of a very complex, sometimes almost-incomprehensible television puzzle.The writers of the show have done what they can to manage expectations. Cuse has said essentially that Across the Sea was the big reveal episode. I’m sure there will be more revelations to come in the finale, especially in regards to the Source, but the take-home point is that we probably shouldn’t be disappointed if The End isn’t as explanatory as some might like. To the writers, the story of these characters seems to be more important than the bizarre mysteries of the island. Speaking personally, I’ve come to terms with the fact that a great many things will be left unexplained. As long as they hit the big points, I’m happy.
Before I continue with speculation on the last episode, I’ll pause here. Although all of these are guesses, not “spoilers,” I can understand why someone else might not want to get another person's thoughts before watching the last show. Whether I’m wrong or right, please don’t let my notions interfere with your own. Fair warning.
I think the next step in the FST merger, and possibly the merger itself, will take place at the benefit concert hosted by Eloise. This isn’t a shocker. Jack, Miles, Sawyer (as Miles’ “date”), Charlotte, Faraday, Charlie, Claire (because she’s now part of Jack’s family), Penny, Desmond, Hurley, Libby, and Sayid and Kate (because Desmond told them to) all have reason to be there. Jin, Sun, and Locke don’t, but I’m sure those dots will be connected. Oh, and I’m fairly sure that Jack’s FST ex-wife will be revealed to be Juliet.
What I’m unsure of is whether the merger story will run the length of the episode, or if it will take place prior to the last act, with all events being in one reality before show’s end. The more pressing question is - what happens to FST people who are dead in OT? Do they come back to life? Do they vanish? That’s a major plot point.
Desmond’s OT story will also be critical. First, who rescued him? Claire is a possibility, as is Miles. However, there’s someone else on the island who’s unaccounted for: Rose and Bernard. They would be my guess as to Desmond’s rescuers.I think Ben will get his redemption. He reverted to “old Ben” form this week, but, this time, I think he’s using his squirrelly ways for good. There will be some critical moment in the finale when he does something to interfere with MiB’s plan. Of course, this will probably come right after Miles reveals some heartwarming final thought that OT Alex had about her adoptive father.
Then there’s Claire. This may not get addressed at all, but, if it does, here’s how it might happen. It occurred to me as I was writing this that I might have been looking at the “Aaron problem” all wrong.
What if, when Richard Malkin tells Claire that she must raise this child herself, it wasn’t because of Aaron’s significance, but because of hers?
If the child were deprived of her gentle, loving nature, perhaps that meant she would lose those traits out of the frustration of being separated from her child. This would build a desire up in her to leave the island. Throw in an absentee father and the fact that she’s the sibling of the island’s (new) protector, and there’s an interesting parallel.
I’m just wondering if the show will end with Claire having taken MiB’s place as the force on the island that wants to leave, and Jack remains as the protector of the Source as well as Claire’s “warden.” Of course, this might require her to turn into a smoke monster, but I’m just throwing it out there. It’s a roundabout way of accounting for Aaron’s significance by revealing that it was Claire who was the significant one all along.Finally, the endgame. This is nearly impossible to predict. Desmond and Jack obviously play important roles. I think Ben will as well. Sawyer feels like a dramatic, sacrificial lamb, but events prior to his death may lead us to believe that this is merely a form of him winding up with Juliet. I think Hurley and Kate probably make it out alive, but absolutely no one is safe. The bottom line will be: Good guys win, but pay a significant price. What's interesting is that they might swerve us with a Jack death to help save the island, but then someone else taking over the island protector duties (Hurley saying, "I'm just glad it isn't me" has stuck with me). That might also explain how he sustains the neck injury that keeps bleeding over into the FST. That could be over-thinking it, however.
I think the ending plays out differently depending on the treatment of the FST. If the FST doesn’t “go away” somehow, then it’s fairly obvious that certain OT people will die (Linus, especially, but probably also Hurley, Sawyer and/or Jack himself) because their lives are "better" in the FST. If the two timelines somehow carry on, I think the OT people will wind up in the timeline that suits them best. So, Hurley dies in OT and goes to FST to be with Libby. Sawyer does the same to be with Juliet. Jack is a tougher call because he’s got powers now, but the fact that he has a son in FST might mean he dies to save the island (and the world) in OT.
Of course, all of that presumes that FST carries on, which I actually don’t think will be the case, primarily for the “stakes” reason mentioned above.Since the creators have claimed to know the final shot of the show since day one, that leads to the question of what it might be? There are two main possibilities I can think of, both of which involve Jack. Either it’s a close-up shot of (a dying?) Jack closing his eyes, bookending the original shot of Jack opening them in the Pilot, or it’s a shot of Jack standing alone on the island, left to do what he was meant to do all along. I’m thinking a crane shot on the beach, slowly zooming out before the final “LOST” title card.
There aren’t many TV shows that could get me to turn off my computer and cell phone for three hours, but this one will do the trick. I feel like I should be wearing a Truman Show “How’s It Going to End?” button.
Oh, and I sure could use a montage.
Next time: All thoughts. No speculation.
See you Monday, folks . . .
--Montecore's Revenge 22:16, May 19, 2010 (UTC)