Re-Written History?

Anyone who has been paying any kind of attention to the recent Comic-Con event, and in particular at what has been happening about Lost there, might have had their brows furrowed at certain videos that have emerged. If you haven't been made aware of it, fear not: I'm here with the crucial goods to get you up to date - so you can furrow your brow in puzzlement like the rest of us.

First up then, try this 'advert' on for size.

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The very simple message being delivered here, courtesy of Oceanic's claim of 30 years safe flying, is that the crash of Oceanic didn't happen. History has apparently been re-written, eh? Now, of course, this feeds into the cliffhanger of Season 5 regarding 'the incident' and whether the detonation of the bomb had somehow destroyed The Swan Station and so prevented the crash from ever happening.

This is what the videos are implying - that the history of the characters and events on the Island as we know them are no longer viable. Take this more amusing 'advert', for example.

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So there's Hurley, apparently having been and returned to Australia without a plane crash and an Island getting in the way. Except there's a little more of a twist. . . Note how he says that he has been blessed with good luck? This is not the same Hurley that went to Australia that we saw. That Hurley was riddled and panicked by the sense that he was cursed. Not so here. Here he can't believe his good fortune and wants to tell the world about his lottery win and amazing luck.

Brow furrowed yet? Then check out this last one - the perhaps more infamous 'Kate: America's Most Wanted' clip (the quality isn't as good as this was recorded on camcorder at Comic-Con):

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Here is a more overt example of how even the history of the characters before the crash of Oceanic 815 doesn't tally with what we know. She didn't kill Wayne and then get apprehended by Agent Mars and put on Oceanic - here she killed some other guy by mistake and has been on the run ever since.

You may have noticed at the end of that last clip there was a brief glimpse of the Lost Comic-Con panel, with Jorge Garcia about to step up and ask a question. I've seen the whole thing and can state that it was all scripted, humourously so, which might just be our first 'don't panic' piece of advice: they might be pulling our legs.

Just a bit of teaser fun from the Lost creators for their one last time at being able to do so before the show closes completely. I'll be honest, if I was them, I'd be tempted to do the same. Messing with the mind of a fervent Lost fan, baiting them with impossible scenarios. . . Yeah, I'd be very tempted indeed!

So let me lay out what I think. I think that history as we know it has not been re-written. As Jorge jokingly asked at Comic-Con, how could they change everything that had already happened without it being a massive cheat? Fact is, I don't think they can. But what I think these videos may indicate is that the 'new flashback' for this season might be characters receiving visions or flashes of these alternate histories or futures for themselves that may force them to consider what the Island, and being brought to it, means to them all.

Like Desmond received glimpses of a future where Charlie died numerous times after he turned the Fail Safe, maybe the likes of Jack and Kate and Hurley, being at the site of the hydrogen Swan explosion, will receive different kinds of flashes - flashes of lives they could have had, or could still have - which will inform their destiny and purpose about what life they should have. Carlton Cuse stated at the Comic-Con panel that they had a new device in mind to tell their story for the final season - with flashforwards done, and the time travel season over - and I think this 'alternaflash' (you heard it coined here first!) might just be the manner of it.

This is completely my own thought, mind - I've heard or read nothing else that could confirm or deny it. So whilst I don't think we should take the above videos too literally, I think thematically they may be a major indicator about the direction the sixth and final Season of Lost may be taking us into.

Perhaps now your brow is a little less furrowed?

Top 15 Unanswered Questions - Part 1

EW.com recently polled their readers on what they considered the “must-answer” questions for Lost before it comes to an end. Over the course of three posts I’ll reproduce the Top 15 questions raised, and then provide my best attempt at answering them. If anything it may at least prove to be amusing once the finale is over and we all (hopefully) know the real answers. Let’s get cracking with Part 1, questions 15 to 11.

15: What are The Whispers?



We kick off with that creepy murmur that usually precedes the appearance of The Others. Why the ethereal gossiping? How do they do it? Maybe season 6 will tell us the answer — in a loud, clear voice.

I would have put this higher up the ranks, to be fair, because it’s one mystery I have turned over and over. The closest I have come to an ‘answer’ is to say they are voices whose existence is a halfway level between the phenomena exhibited by Miles and Hurley in regards their experiences with dead people.

Miles communes with the dead only at the level where, close to the deceased’s body, he can learn what the dead person knew – their thoughts and feelings as well as the circumstances of their death. What is crucial is that this communication is passive and one-way – Miles cannot ‘talk’ with them, he can simply use a dead person almost like reading a book to glean whatever information he wants.

Hurley, on the other hand, has experiences with dead people that are highly active. He talks and interacts with them (a game of chess!) as though they were real people. The Whispers then, being these sometimes passive but usually active disembodied voices, seem to be a similar force to what Miles hears when he communes with the dead, but possessing more of the interactive, independent qualities of the dead people Hurley is visited by.

Are they actual dead people brought back to life? Personally, I don’t think so. Dead is dead, right? I think they’re manifestations of what already resides in people’s heads, exacerbated and pronounced due to the Island’s particular qualities. Like a conscience given audible or physical presence. In the same breath, though, I must concede that these whispers are surely the voices of people that have died. Make of that mess what you will.

14: What's Libby's backstory?



When this Tailie was killed by Michael at the end of season 2, she left behind several unanswered questions. Why did she end up in Hurley's mental institution? Was it merely coincidence that she was the one who gave Desmond his sailboat? As much as fans want resolution, alas, the producers have said that actress Cynthia Watros is unlikely to return to the show.


Honestly, I think we’ve had the answer. And I think it’s simpler than we all pondered and perhaps hoped for. I think Libby was in a relationship with a man named David, and he died as she said. This totally floored her, producing a breakdown of sorts that saw her spend some time in Santa Rosa (whilst Hurley happened to be there). Eventually she got better and, by chance, encountered a man named Desmond who just happened to be in need of a yacht that she could provide him with, that she had no use for. It was a chance encounter. She gave it to Desmond as he wanted it for love, and that was as noble a gesture she could think of to honour the love she had for David.

That she wound up on Oceanic 815 was another example of coincidence and fate intertwined. Libby was linked in with the lives of other passengers, as they were to her, because they are all part of the masterplan design. Maybe it’s Jacob’s design (symbolically presented by the tapestry he has painstakingly been weaving together) or fate, or just plain coincidence. I suspect that will be up to the viewer to decide, and Libby is just one tiny piece of that mosaic puzzle.

13: What's the complete Dharma backstory?



We still haven't met the majordomos who ran the secretive utopian science enclave from afar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And where in the world is its mysterious Danish financial backer, Alvar Hanso? And why did Pierre Chang use alternative names in the Dharma orientation films? And another thing. . .


There’s an absolute mass pile of details and unknown questions surrounding the intricacies of the Dharma Initiative. Broadly-speaking, however, I believe they are pretty much what we have been presented with: a fringe scientific body that discovered the Island and wanted to use it as a giant laboratory to make amazing discoveries.

Potentially the Dharma Initiative existed as a kind of lesson, that the power of the Island cannot be harnessed and manipulated by humans without catastrophic results (such as ‘the incident’).

There’s an outside chance that the Dharma Initiative have morphed and adapted into a group that is more aligned with defending the Island – perhaps they are even represented on the Island by the likes of Ilana and Bram? More likely, however, is that the Dharma Initiative, in whatever form they exist as in 2004, will represent the opposing faction in the upcoming war that has been spoke of. They haven’t appreciated that the Island is not something they can have control over, but that isn’t going to stop them trying (just as Nameless said – these people come to the Island with their destructive ways, and they never change and they never learn).

12: Where did The Others come from?



They speak Latin, hang out in Egyptian temples, like to dress up in the clothes of the Island visitors. . . that they kidnap and kill! They have been called The Island's ''indigenous'' people but who are they really?

I think The Others have been an ever-changing group from various sources throughout the history of the Island. Richard Alpert was perhaps a true original – potentially even around in the time of the Egyptian statue-building heyday. For whatever reason he has the capacity for everlasting life and so facilitates a continuation of a group that protects the Island. This group have become colloquially known as The Others by all parties outside of that group.

Where did they come from? I suspect Richard was around to collect new recruits from when the Black Rock arrived on the Island. When Dharma showed up, Richard found the likes of Ben within their ranks, to absorb into their number. Recently a plane crash deposited a bunch of people The Others could siphon from the group, dictated by lists from ‘Jacob’, and gather into their faction. And when The Others are not harvesting members from people that land on the Island, they occasionally venture into the outside world and recruit them – like Juliet.

Perhaps the more pertinent question is: What is the agenda of The Others? I would suggest it is to preserve the sanctity of the Island, and obey the will of Jacob. Potentially the two are not mutually exclusive (but we know there’s that dark-clothed Nameless character that has been operating in the sidelines and perhaps poisoning their efforts for quite some time).

11: Do all the castaways have a secret connection?



The first season suggested that the castaways — complete strangers to each other prior to Oceanic 815's crash — are at the very least linked by common acquaintances or experiences. But do they share a more cosmic connection? Perhaps: the season 5 finale revealed that many of them had previously met — and were conspicuously touched by — Jacob.


I think Lost is going to challenge us to question the notion of ‘Destiny’. It’s been the crux of the thematic concerns ever since Jack and Locke challenged one another about why they were on the Island. As the seasons have progressed I feel we have been steered more and more towards the idea that everything was meant to happen, and no matter how coincidental and improbable it all seems, there’s a man called Jacob, weaving the threads of some grand tapestry, waiting for a resolution to come together.

It’s highly improbable that a guy like Hurley would play 4 8 15 16 23 42 as numbers on the lottery that would then convince him of a curse, which would result in him landing on an Island where there is a hatch with those same numbers stenciled on the side of it, beneath which was a computer that required those same numbers to be entered into a computer. It all beggars belief, right? It makes you think it was all fated to happen.

Except the curious thing is the numbers originated from the Island – Leonard heard them transmitted from there. And Hurley learned them from Leonard. So that Hurley arrived on the Island – the source – suddenly makes it all seem less improbable and more appreciable. Less like fate, then, and more like coincidence.

Apply that same idea to all the characters, and their checkered histories and intertwining pasts, and you can ask the question of yourself: Do you see a grand pattern, or a series of haphazard events masquerading as fate? It’s a big question, one that applies to life and faith for us all, and it’s one that Lost will pose but never ultimately resolve for us.

Part 2, looking at questions 10 to 6, will follow shortly.

Flashed Before Your Eyes

The Season 3 episode, Flashes Before Your Eyes, was an absolute classic which revealed what Desmond experienced after he turned the Fail Safe switch in The Swan Station. His mental time leap to his own body in the past, living in a London flat with Penny, was initially a confusing period for Desmond whose memory of being on the Island was hard to recall.

Curiously, during the first few scenes – from the moment Desmond ‘woke up’ in the past to after his interview with Charles Widmore – there were numerous references to the Island that served to hint at what Desmond’s consciousness was already aware of about his Island future. As well as being an interesting easter egg fest, these signs also point towards intriguing ideas about the Island, Desmond, interconnections and fate. . .

First up was probably more of an Island reference to wrongfoot the viewer; Desmond lying covered in blood, dressed in clothes that look not entirely dis-similar to Dharma overalls.



Of course we come to learn that Desmond was really just wearing regular overalls and the 'blood' was just red paint. But it's clear from the outset that this 'flashback' experience is to be laced with the experiences Desmond had on the Island. Next up, Penny rushes to his aid and the eagle-eyed viewer notices something odd on the table. . .



Fancifully we'd all like to think those two items are the black and white stones, somehow present in Desmond's flat. More realistically they're just two bottle tops. Curious, however, how parallel they are placed and how they do, indeed, give the impression of being black and white stones. Whatever they are, they draw to mind the black and white stones from the skeleton cave, which brings up another reference to the Island. Next:


Desmond looks at the clock and sees the figures read 1:08. Obviously his consciousness knows all too well that 108 was the number of minutes the timer in the Swan Station reset at when the button was pushed; something Desmond had done for three years on the Island. Of course, as all Lost fans know, 108 is the sum total of 4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42. But you knew that already, right? (I should hope so!)

Next!

Just after Penny gives Desmond a little pep talk before his interview, and mentions something about saving the world, the microwave begins to beep in a noise not unlike the beeping noise of the Swan Station timer. You know, that button he pushed to save the world. . . By now Desmond's consciousness is becoming more and more piqued by the distant memory of his life on the Island that his 'present' world appears to be constantly reminding him of.

At Widmore's offices, Desmond speaks to the receptionist when a courier person steps up to remark, "This is for eight-fifteen."

For eight-fifteen. 4 8 15. The first three digits of the numbers. These Island references keep coming thick and fast and are going to get increasingly more overt.

In Widmore's office, there's a curious picture of a polar bear with the word 'Namaste' written in reverse along the top of it.

If the polar bear was not enough, the presence of the 'Namaste' word is massively unignorable. It's no surprise that a man of Widmore's relation and interest to the Island (as we now know) would have such an article, but it also serves as a massive prompt to Desmond's consciousness about the Island life he has lived/will live (dependent on how you look at it).

If that wasn't enough, Desmond also notices this particular item on display. . .



Widmore informs him that this yacht is linked in with the sailing race he sponsors, sowing the seeds of the plan Desmond will one day have - to win the race to win Widmore's respect and earn the right for Penny's hand in marriage. Indeed, in this same scene, Widmore also asks Desmond if he has a military background - another prompt that provokes Desmond to joining the army. Both joining the military and sailing the yacht being critical events that would shape Desmond's fate to arrive on the Island.

Lost theorists may wish to debate the idea of how much Widmore is manipulating Desmond. There's a good argument to make the case that Widmore is as fundamental in ensuring Desmond winds up on the Island as Ms. Hawking eventually is. This all depends on how much you're willing to invest in the idea that Widmore somehow has knowledge of Desmond's fate and the function he has to serve on the Island. Anyway, outside Widmore's office. . .


A certain busker going by the name of Charlie "Hieronymous" Pace is trying to earn some cash and an already-wired Desmond realises where he knows him from. What has to be remembered is that this meeting - Charlie encountering Desmond - probably didn't happen first time around (as first time around Desmond would have had no reason to speak to him). In the grand scheme of course correction it didn't change anything, of course, but it's an interesting element to consider (if you're into considering this kind of thing).


There's certainly no denying that Charlie's presence serves as a major reminder about Desmond's life on the Island, something he can no longer convince himself is just some weird, dreamy fantasy recollection. As if to underline the point:



A sudden, torrential downpour erupts. A bit like how it does back on the good old Island, in fact. Desmond even remembers it is due to happen just before it does, in fact. A bit like how good old Locke used to back on the Island!

Now convinced that his future lies on the Island, and that he has come into the past to re-live events over, he goes to the pub and tells his friend about it. And what should come on the jukebox? Ah, nothing less than 'Make Your Own Kind Of Music' by Mama Cass, the song that memorably played at the start of Season 2 when Desmond's morning routine in The Swan was interrupted by dynamite blowing 'the hatch' open.



At this stage the point, I feel, is well made: Desmond's life was rife with Island references long before he ever got there. But I must remark on two other bits of business that were present in this episode that hold significance in the Lost universe. A football game was playing on the television, but it's the advertisement hoardings that are of particular interest. You might have to click on the images to enlarge them and see clearly, but this first has adverts for Apollo chocolate and the television programme Expose!



This next one advertises McCluck's chicken and Oceanic airlines. Again, click to enlarge.



None of these things are massively symbolic of anything but they do, I feel, serve to further highlight the notion that there is a Lost-universe to which all the major characters belong, and Desmond, before he ever got to the Island, was well-wrapped up in it.

So, as this episode Flashes Before Your Eyes demostrates, Desmond's life before the Island was utterly littered with references to his Island future - almost as though it was his destiny to be there. There's a larger theory to be made about this, one that takes in all of the cross-referencing meetings and overlapping lives of characters that got to the Island to consider the idea of an enormous Jacob-spun tapestry at work, interweaving all events and people inextricably together.

But that's a really large theory and here I just wanted a bit of a rundown of the easter egg visual issues that were present in this particular episode. I think I got them all, but if you know better then please let me know.

Lastly, as a personal confession, even I thought there was a reference in the episode to the Lost universe that turned out to not be true. I honestly believed that when Desmond stepped out of Widmore's offices, just before he encountered Charlie busking, the news stand behind him had the words 'Mars Agent' written on it - as a reference to Agent Mars, Edward Mars, the man that caught and transported Kate on Oceanic 815.

I really thought that was a curious example of the Lost world infringing on Desmond's history. Only, as it turned out, this is what the news stand actually looked like.



It doesn't say Mars Agent. I could have sworn it did, before I went back and checked for this post, but it actually says, rather more logically, 'News Agent'. Truth will out, I suppose, but this particular fact certainly made this episode just a tad less exciting than it used to be for me. . . It's still good, mind, it's just not as good!

Releasing Henry Gale

Best ending to an episode of Lost ever? It’s a tough call because it’s a crowded field of competitors all vying for the crown. It comes down to personal opinion and, for me, this takes the prize. The absolute jaw-to-floor interface the moment Michael takes the gun off Ana Lucia could be described and discussed for how much impact it generates, but better is to just watch the thing and see it for yourself.

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How I watched this scene was like this: Back in Season 2, here in the UK we were well behind the air-times of the US. It’s all changed now, but back then pretty much an entire Season of Lost would have been shown in the US before it was shown in this country. I didn’t know or care about that back during Season 1, but once I realised the US was well into Season 2 whilst I was still sitting around waiting for it was truly an annoyance. (I wanted to know what the hell was down the hatch!)

So began the beginning of my downloading Lost before it was shown here and watching it on my computer. It’s a practice I still continue with, even though it’s shown in the UK just a few days after the US now. But back then I downloaded stacks of episodes and watched them all in my spare room, computer monitor pointed towards me. My girlfriend at the time, she didn’t care for watching television on the computer and was happy to wait for Lost to come on TV ‘properly’. So I invariably watched it alone.

When I watched the episode Two For The Road it was late on a Saturday night. I had no idea what I was in for. And then that scene played out, and the screen went blank and the episode was over. Past midnight, the house quiet and the world dark, I went to bed and could not sleep, mind reeling from the shock and astonishment at what Michael had done, and what was potentially going to happen next (had he killed himself as well!?).

No other episode ending of Lost has had such a profound effect on me, which is why I consider it the best of them all. I’d be happy to hear about your own particular favourites, though, and the reason why.

A Question Never Answered?

Forgive me a moment, but I’m going to resurrect the rotting carcass of the ‘clue in the Pilot’ myth that persists amongst certain Lost-theorists in light of some ‘logical’ conclusions that can be reached to provide support for this notion as a result of the Season 5 finale. The thinking goes like this:

The scene in Pilot – Part 2, where Locke is talking with Walt about backgammon. He talks about how the game is over 5,000 years old and then, memorably, holds up two pieces and declares: “Two players. Two sides. One is black. One is white.”


Thematically this works great, but you can take it more literally because immediately after Locke says this he leans forwards and ominously asks Walt, “Do you want to know a secret?”

The scene finishes there and we never learn precisely what Locke said to Walt. With such grey area comes scope for supposition. Talk of a game that is thousands of years old, and black and white opposing sides, you can’t help but think of these two:



And Locke intimating that he has a secret to tell could lead some minds into wondering whether Locke knew more about this age-old game between Jacob and Nameless right back at the start. That the ‘clue in the Pilot’ myth revolves around this very unanswered question.

But hold up. Whoa there. A little thought, of even trying to consider that Locke was aware of this deeper level at work on the Island, doesn’t make much sense when you consider his actions and frustrations and lack of understanding about Jacob. Besides, I believe we did receive as close to an answer as we are ever likely to get in the Tabula Rasa episode, during this exchange between Michael and Walt when Michael is suspicious of Locke spending time with his kid and is fishing for information.



Michael: “Yeah, what did he say?”

Walt: “I don’t know.”

Michael: “What do you mean you don’t know? What did he say?”

Walt: “Some of it’s secret.”

Michael: “Did he tell you not to tell me?”

Walt: “No.”

Michael: “Then what’s the secret.”

Walt: “Mr. Locke said a miracle happened to him.”

Michael: “Yeah, well, a miracle happened to all of us, Walt. We survived a plane crash. Look, I don’t want you hanging around with him anymore.”


I think it’s reasonable to assume we know the secret Locke shared with Walt; when he boarded Oceanic 815 he was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair and it was since crashing on the Island that he was able to walk again. If Michael hadn’t dismissed his interrogation and assumed he understood the nature of the miracle Locke had spoken to Walt about then he too may have learned of this secret – but he didn’t!

So, once again, the ‘clue in the Pilot’ idea gets shot down. I do believe the closest thing to the ‘clue’ is in considering Locke’s speech about the very old game of backgammon being played by a white and black opposing side to be foreshadowing of Jacob and Nameless but, I suppose, the question is: Did the writer’s intend that? The eternal cynic in me says: Probably not. But, again, it’s really just another unanswered question. . .

Return Of The King



Jack: “How are they, the others?”

Locke: “. . . they need someone to tell them what to do.”

Jack: “Me? I can’t.”

Locke: “Why can’t you?”

Jack: “Because I’m not a leader.”

Locke: “And yet they all treat you like one.”

Jack: “I don’t know how to help them. I’ll fail. I don’t have what it takes.”

This conversation took place way back in Season One, episode White Rabbit. Jack, as we know, claimed the mantle of leader and tried his best to take up the challenge and lead his people to rescue. That he was flawed, and made bad decisions, is absolutely true. By his own admission, as drummed into him by his father, he didn’t have what it took. But that was Jack back then – I think the Jack that has come back now is a different proposition. I think Jacob’s sacrifice hinges entirely upon it.



At the end of Season 5, Nameless had exploited the loophole he promised Jacob he would find. He had managed to assume the form of Locke and manipulate his way into being lead to an audience with Jacob, shown there by Richard. Not only that, but he had convinced Ben to be his weapon of choice and cajoled him into murderous intent.

Jacob’s last words to Nameless – “They are coming” – and Nameless’ angered response hinted to the notion that this was merely another step of progression towards a goal we don’t yet know. But it seemed to me that Jacob’s death served a function, one that Nameless hadn’t realised due to his vengeful intent. They are coming.



I believe “they”, surely, has to mean Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest. They might not necessarily be coming immediately following the blast at The Swan Station we last witnessed (that seems too straightforward to me), but they are on their way. And the situation they are coming into is one where The Others have discovered their newly-appointed chief – Locke – is actually dead. So there’s a space for a new leader. . .

Jack: “I’m not a leader.”

Locke: “And yet they all treat you like one.”

Suddenly Jack – reformed from the man of science into one that has aligned himself more as a man of faith – is a viable proposition. Previously Jack walked amongst them but was not one of them; I believe this is set to change. The last thing Jack said to Richard, when Richard remarked that he had seen nothing special in Locke, was to not give up on him. Jack has belief in Locke, in his ideology, and so finding Locke is dead may just be the prompt he needs to smoothly slide into his place and become the new leader.



Jack-haters (an inexplicable section of Lost fandom, if you ask me) may not like it, but the stage seems set. I also believe Nameless is aware of Jack’s potential. If he is the shapeshifting form on the Island, then has he not already confronted Jack – in the shape of his father, Christian Shephard? (This is a murky point, as ‘Christian Shephard’ on the Island – who he is, what his agenda is – is ill-defined at the moment. But it’s safe to say that whatever he is, Jack has been a focus for him which, in turn, marks Jack out as important.)



Like that ranger from the north, Aragorn, who took up the throne of king to rise up against Sauron after years in the wilderness, I can envisage a similar trajectory for Jack. Ilana and Bram are part of a faction operating as one side that are aware a war is coming, and The Others are leaderless on the brink of his war breaking out. Jack may very well be the returning king that can unite them and lead them to victory.

I don’t think he will be alone and unaided, though. I believe a great ally resides in an unlikely source.



Once Ben realises the scale of his actions, of how far duped he has been, he may be forced to assess himself deeply. “What about you?” Jacob asked of him. What about Ben indeed. He will have to ask himself about his worth, question his own nature, and perhaps find a renewed determination to prove himself in an alliance with Jack. Whatever you think of Ben, there’s no doubt that if he’s on your side he is a formidable ally. Jack’s rise to king is not finished yet, and I believe – like the way Sawyer and Kate and the rest came to his aid at the close of Season 5 – the very mantra he instilled in his people will become the most fundamental one of all:

Jack: “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”



It’s with leadership qualities like this where Jacob may find his faith in the people that come to the Island borne out, and his sacrifice justified.