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WARNING! The following article discusses the events of the episode What They Died For. If you have not viewed the episode yet, it's best to go away. Otherwise, read on ahead.
Armed with a notebook and a red pen, I sat down and took notes throughout the entire episode, hastily writing down quotes and multiple exclamations of YES and WTF?? At the end, I was completely stunned. I sort of knew that all of this was going to happen, but it's just awesome seeing it all come to fruition. So here's my review/analysis of the episode as far as I can remember. TiVo can suck it.
The episode begins with a close up on Jack's eye, an allusion to Pilot, Part 1. This is further carried on with Jacob later telling Jack that the Source is near the bamboo grove that he woke up in when he first came to the Island, also seen in the Pilot. Jack then notices another cut that has appeared on his neck, possibly an indication of the fact that the two timelines are getting closer and closer together. Let's hope that everybody just doesn't start bleeding out of every pore in the FST in the finale... David reminds Jack that he is coming to his concert that evening, and that his mother will be there as well. I think Claire will also be attending, but I'm not sure of this. Based on the fact that Miles announces that he is going to the concert later with Charlotte, I think we can expect to see all the survivors there at the concert. As Jack tries to sew Kate up, he tells her "this is the best I could do.", a common theme throughout the show. Jack never feels like he can do enough for everybody.
In the FST, Desmond beats up Ben in a parking lot. Ben says he won't let him hurt Locke, akin to Ben suddenly becoming FLocke's "protector" of sorts in the OT. Desmond responds to this with "I'm not here to hurt him. I'm here to help him let go." This phrase, also commonly repeated in the series, is indicative of the fact that some characters have a terrible time letting go of their past. Every single one of the survivors had baggage in their past that they were having trouble letting go of. Jacob had to let go of his contempt for his brother. The MiB needs to let go of his contempt and feelings of betrayal by Jacob.
Locke comes to Jack in the FST and asks him to fix him. Throughout the first four seasons, the two have been trying to help each other, but their interests have always conflicted. This will definitely impact the two of them in the OT. Unlike the OT, Jack really doesn't have much to let go of. He has a son who he loves and who loves him. He has a successful career. He's a good father, a good doctor, and a good man overall. The only bitterness that he might have would be about why he and David's mother split up. Locke also realizes that everything that has been happening to the passengers onboard Flight 815 has been happening for a reason. "What if all this is happening for a reason? Maybe you're supposed to fix me!" Perhaps this is the one key difference between the two timelines. Because the Island healed Locke and got him out of his chair, he didn't feel like there was anything that needed fixing. In the FST, he is still in his wheelchair and realizes that it is time for him to let go and to be fixed. If Locke had submitted to Jack during the original time on the Island, then perhaps this would have all been prevented. The surgery will definitely be featured in the finale, probably being shown parallel of another surgical-like procedure in the original timeline.
We're informed in this episode that supposedly, Jacob appeared to Widmore after the freighter incident, telling him that he needed to come back to the Island with Desmond for one precise purpose. Widmore realized that he had made a mistake, and now he's trying to make up for it. FLocke uses the temptation of authority to tempt Ben to his side, an allusion to the Temptation of Jesus Christ. Luke 4:6-7 (the same passage Richard was reading in Ab Aeterno) says "[The Devil] said to him, 'To you I will give all this authority and their glory , for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." However, Ben does not resist this temptation and sells out to Flocke. Whether or not he had previously planned this is unknown, but in my opinion Ben is consumed by revenge and he's using Flocke to help him get this revenge. Widmore tells Blocke that "Desmond was a measure of last resort." Flocke asks Widmore to whisper to him, a clear reference to "the whispers" as you can clearly hear a similar sound when they whisper. Unfortunately, Widmore is shot and killed by Ben before he is able to take any immediate action. Arguably, Ben carried out a just revenge, but it could be said that it was not for the greater good. And what was up with that Richard death scene? To me, that was just a lame way to kill him off. I was expecting some kind of ancient knife battle or Flocke sneaking up on him and stabbing ala Mother. Oh well. Maybe we'll see him briefly in the Finale. At the conclusion of the episode, we learn that Desmond was a "fail-safe", ironic because Desmond used the fail-safe in the Swan previously, potentially preventing a global catastrophe. And now, he could possibly become an antithesis to this very purpose of his.
I loved all the ironies in the FST. One big thing that I noticed was that Ben's black eye (from his fight with Desmond?) bled over to the OT. Either that, or Ben had a black eye previously and it bled over to the FST. Seeing Danielle Rousseau again was great. Especially since Mira Furlan is a great actress and it sucked seeing her as a crazy chick in the first few seasons. She looked wonderful. I loved that Alex told Ben he "only has one hand. You look like Napoleon!" and that Danielle tells Ben "We insist you come to dinner, even if we have to kidnap you!" At dinner, Danielle tells Ben that he was "the closest thing to a father [Alex] has ever had." It was great to see them together as a family again, for both Ben and Danielle to have Alex as their daughter in a sense. If the show were to go on for another season and the FST more developed, I would love to see the two of them get married.
The campfire scene is definitely my favorite. Jacob, in his child form, takes his ashes from Hurley then puts them in the fire. Jacob died in a fire and he is briefly brought back to life in a fire. The choker is that Jacob tells Hurley to "gather [his] friends. You're close to the end. Once this fire burns out, you won't see me again." As one user pointed out on the forums, Hurley shouldn't be worried about finding his friends, he needs to be gathering firewood! But regardless, I'm slightly saddened by the fact that we might not see Jacob in the finale. I was ecstatic at the thought of finally getting some answers. I had a feeling that the reason why Jacob brought the candidates to the Island and why he waited until AFTER he died to choose a candidate (unlike Mother) was so that he could give them a choice. He brought them there because he made a mistake, a mistake in a fit of rage. Sawyer, completely beside himself after the submarine explosion which he feels responsible for, asks Jacob "Why do I have to be punished for your mistakes? I was living a happy life until you brought me here." Jacob tells them that none of them came from a happy existence. They were all alone and searching for something. He chose each and every one of them was chosen because they were like him. It was nice to know that Kate was crossed off the list because she was a mother. Jacob tells her that she can still be the Island protector if she wants to, indicating that the list was not binding. I knew that Jack would become the new Jacob due to everything that led up to it, but I was still about ready to jump up and down in excitement. It was great to hear Jack say "This is why I'm here. This is what I'm supposed to do." Interestingly enough, fate led him to the choice that would make him Protector of the Island. Seeing the cup ceremony was great too. It showed that over the 2,000-odd years that occurred since Across the Sea, Jacob never came to the conclusion that Mother lied to him, because she didn't. We also learn the location of the Source - "Do you remember the bamboo grove that you woke up in when you first came here? Beyond that field, across the bridge, is the Source." What did they all die for? They all died because if they hadn't, those final four candidates would never have even considered the choice of becoming Jacob. If Jacob had just asked them from the get-go, I doubt that any of them would have agreed. It wasn't until they saw the brutal viciousness that is the MiB and a need to see a purpose in their loved one's deaths that they would consider the choice, and that Jack would pony up and accept the job.
Finally, we get to see what Desmond has been up to this whole time. All of these near death experiences that he's caused and brutal beatings that have seemed to go on without a purpose, are finally revealed to have a purpose. I think it is apparent that Desmond is the representation of Jacob in the FST. Perhaps Desmond even is Jacob and that's why he's so special in the OT. It was great to see Ana-Lucia back again, although I kind of wish Desmond would have convinced her to come with them. Perhaps Sayid and Kate were the two that he knew he couldn't get to the concert without his direct intervention.
What we can expect in the finale: Based on the contents of this episode, the FST will feature Locke's surgery, the remaining passengers of 815 getting to the concert, and the final big event at the concert. In the original timeline, we will see the final showdown between Jack and FLocke. Based on the fact that Jacob and MiB could not hurt each other and that Jacob tells Jack that "he is now like him", perhaps this creates a loophole allowing Jack to kill Flocke. I have a strong feeling that we'll see Rose and Bernard again, and Vincent as well (didn't Darlton say that we would see him again and that he'd be very important?). It'd be nice to see Lapidus, but I think we can go ahead and say that he's dead :(
I, for one, cannot wait until the finale. I'm going to be spending my time finishing up my rewatch of the series (probably won't finish it in time, but oh well) and sitting on pins and needles. I can't believe that it's almost over.