Analysis: 6.13 The Last Recruit

Who is the last recruit? From the perspective of people like Claire, and probably Nameless himself, Jack has become the last recruit. Of the 6 candidates (7, including Jin), Nameless has managed to speak to every single one of them with seemingly little lasting success. But Jack was the last of the candidates Nameless spoke to directly. Like Claire stated, once Nameless has spoken to you you’re recruited.

Only this matter doesn’t actually feel quite so clear cut for various reasons I’ll identify in due course. But let’s just deal with the thrilling encounter between Jack and Nameless in this episode. I was giddily excited when the pair of them broke off for some one-on-one time. Interesting, also, that Jack still retained the hubris to defer to Hurley’s permission before he accepted Nameless’ invitation. That was the first indicator Jack’s recruitment was really no such thing. Remember Claire’s remark, that the minute Jack accepted to talk with Nameless he was already taken? It wasn’t a direct acceptance Jack made. He obtained permission. That’s crucial, I think.

Jack asked some good questions and, I think, Nameless was honest with his answers (though the matter of Christian Shephard is one that needs more analysis – I’ll get to that). Nameless’ remarks about Locke being a sucker who believed he had a destiny on the Island which was what made him so perfect to be used was, I believe, part of his attempt to persuade Jack to join him.

Just like Nameless dangled the proposition of what people wanted (Sayid for Nadia, Sawyer for freedom), I believe he thought this line of thinking would appeal to Jack’s ‘man of science’ sensibility. Nameless, evidently, possesses all of the thoughts and awareness that Locke had prior to his death – and that Locke was only ever in conflict with Jack. Indeed, Locke went to see Jack to appeal for a return to the Island which Jack flat out refused (The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham).

As far as Nameless is aware, Jack is still the guy that was the polar opposite of Locke’s faith, and as such he appeals to that sense of folly by ridiculing Locke’s ideological viewpoint. Only Jack’s shifted since then. He now sees things the way Locke used to see things so, if anything, Nameless’ criticism of Locke was going to further strengthen Jack’s resolve. As we saw, this proved to be so. On the boat – Desmond’s (formerly Libby’s, potentially Widmore’s all along) yacht, having miraculously lasted all these years moored safely in an Island inlet – Jack looked out to sea and thought some more. Eventually he reached the decision that if Nameless wanted them all to leave that was because he was afraid of what would happen if they stayed.

Jack’s return to the beach fundamentally provoked the situation where he, as the ‘last recruit’, looks also like being Nameless’ only recruit! Sayid, we can be sure, didn’t kill Desmond in the well. This means he’s betrayed Nameless. He’s lied to him, and learned he can get away with the deception. His once dreadfully cold loyalty has quickly ebbed away. Sawyer was never loyal at all – merely playing along. Kate never took Nameless’ hand, Sun ran away and Hurley hasn’t engaged him beyond peacemaker.

Fact is, for all Nameless’ recruiting his success rate is actually looking rather woeful. Unless this was part of the plan. . .

There has been an ongoing debate around some quarters of Lost fandom arguing the case that Nameless isn’t really the ‘bad guy’, and Jacob isn’t particularly the ‘good guy’. That the big switcheroo about to be whipped up to surprise us all is that Nameless, MIB, is really someone manipulated and used by Jacob and held on the Island against his eternal will and all of his actions are desperate measures for a greater good.

I don’t really believe that, personally. I agree Jacob hasn’t done a great job explaining his ambiguous, passive manipulation style all too well. Ilana’s devotion rewarded with a face full of dynamite, for example, and, really, what was the deal with letting Nadia get knocked down and killed? And Nameless dragging Jack away from Widmore’s explosions to safety did, for the first time, make me wonder if this surprise shift was beginning.

Potentially it was because that scene was juxtaposed against Widmore’s sudden turn against Sawyer and the gang. Just when it looked like Widmore, whilst unscrupulous, at least retained a modicum of decency he then turned the guns on our heroes. (For what it’s worth, that he didn’t just order their execution suggests he ‘merely’ intends to use them – either as a lure for Nameless or, more likely, as a means of getting Desmond back.) And so the end of the episode, with Nameless almost comfortingly telling Jack that he was now with him, did give me pause to wonder.

Yet now I think the episode ending was a little bit fluffed. That Nameless pulling Jack into his world, stating he was with him, was meant to be a dreaded ‘oh my God’ cliffhanger. That Jack was now in the darkest place possible – our golden Island believer caught firmly in the clutches of the Island’s most hated resident. The hero entangled in the web of the villain. That’s the effect I think I, as a viewer, was supposed to be hit with. But let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s try and be positive about Nameless whilst we consider Nameless’ reveal that he was, indeed, Christian Shephard that had been sighted on numerous occasions.

With this confirmation, I think it’s reasonably fair to suggest that where a body has been on the Island and then the dead counterpart has shown up we can be certain it was Nameless in disguise. So that means Yemi, for sure. Or, where Nameless, as Black Smoke, has managed to ‘scan’ individuals he can then generate phantom visions of people they know – like for Mr. Eko and the gangsters he killed, or Isabella for Richard Alpert.

Yet Isabella is a good case in point because we know, from what Hurley saw, that her soul exists on the Island, too. And Young Ben also saw his dead mother on the Island, and she appeared on the inside of the sonar fence suggesting that it wasn’t Black Smoke/Nameless. (There’s an outside bet that Jacob possesses similar shapeshifting qualities and other appearances of dead people are down to him – I don’t think that’s the case.)

So what we have are instances of dead people appearing and they are either Nameless in disguise, or genuine souls of the departed. So far so not particularly new. Potentially we have enough information to ascertain how Ilana could be sure that Nameless, in Locke’s body, could not change again: the difference between him as Locke compared to Christian and Yemi is that Locke’s body was in their possession. Yemi and Christian’s corpses were never seen after they had been used by Nameless. I can’t explain what’s stopping Nameless from just doing to Locke’s body whatever it was he did to Christian and Yemi’s bodies but I’m figuring that’s part and parcel of his now permanent status. (Maybe the body got ‘used up’ somehow, but because Locke was a candidate it provided a more substantial frame of reference.)

And so this brings us to Christian Shephard. For those that saw the mobisode So It Begins there’s even further intrigue to be mined. In brief, it’s a short sequence set minutes before Jack wakes up in the Pilot episode.

We see Vincent come across strewn luggage and, eventually, Christian Shephard in the jungle. Christian Shephard there instructs Vincent to go and wake Jack up, that he has work to do. Now this was really Nameless. Right from the moment of the crash he had assumed the form of Christian Shephard and was issuing commands to get the ball rolling on his plans to find this loophole to kill Jacob and leave the Island. Evidently he knew who Jack was (the cave bore his name on the ceiling) and so understood his potential significance. The question is: Was Nameless here acting on intention of doing ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Only his speech here, of getting Jack up to get work done, and his explanation to Jack about how he lead him through the jungle so that he may find water, all of those don’t seem particularly bad. Could it be that Nameless has been more of a fostering guide for our candidates and really does intend to lead them out of the manipulative design Jacob created for them?

Hmm. It’s a compelling notion, although it should be noted that when Jack was chasing the vision of his dead father through the jungle it did nearly send him flying off the edge of a cliff (where he was, ironically, actually rescued by Locke!).

More troubling are the appearances of Christian Shephard, apparently as Nameless, that baffle. Christian turning up onboard The Freighter to tell Michael he could go seems incongruent with what we know. But more perplexing is his appearance to Jack in Something Nice Back Home, back in the regular world.

Now if all Nameless wants to do is get off the Island, and Christian Shephard’s appearances have all been Nameless in disguise, then Nameless appearing off-Island makes absolutely no sense at all. I don’t really have a good answer for that. I hope Lost does.

Even despite some positive spin on Nameless it’s still easier for me to see the ‘bad’ in him. Claire, for example, acknowledged that he was the person that pretended to be her father. She was very much in need of a father-figure, and with Nameless in the guise of family, when everyone else abandoned her, so formed loyalty. It’s still pretty hard to imagine what Nameless could have told Claire that would have caused her to leave Aaron in the jungle, mind.

The sweeping generalisation that once Nameless has spoken the allegiance is already confirmed doesn’t quite work for me. Especially when you consider that Claire also, rather quickly, joined up with Kate’s promise to get back to Aaron, leaped aboard the yacht and defied Nameless in a hearbeat. About a day or two ago she was an axe-wielding murderer and total Nameless convert apparently riddled with sickness!

Yet Claire remains another pertinent example of our leading characters willingly choosing to go against Nameless. (Unless this is a plot and she’s a double-crosser; again, I don’t think that’s the case.) Nameless is the same man that criticised all who come to the Island as being corrupt, of bringing destruction. Really it is Nameless that seeks to corrupt, and he who has been wreaking destruction. His treatment of Sayid is one such example – brought back from the dead as an unfeeling, merciless killer. What Nameless couldn’t conceive is that love – his love for Nadia and the thought of what he would look like to her now – would be strong enough to supersede his instruction to kill Desmond. It’ll be interesting to see where Desmond has got to!

Fact is, if Nameless did turn out to be a ‘good guy’ then it would mean all the instincts of our main cast, and the plot machinations orchestrated thus far, and the drama generated from this threat that Nameless is said to possess would all be undermined. Consider Alt-Sun’s terror, when she saw Locke being transported into the hospital.

Evidently this was another moment (a near-death moment) provoking a crossover of awareness between the Alt-Timeline and the Island Timeline. The sheer level of stricken reaction from Sun was so strong, so pertinent, to have that turned around and presented as her being mistaken is either the biggest and best misdirection Lost has ever played, or it’s a twist that will completely undercut the dramatic tension and stakes currently in play.

Alt-Sun, and Island Sun to an extent, did find happiness though. Mother and unborn baby survived the gunshot in the Alternate Timeline whilst on the Island there was the Jin and Sun reunion we’ve waited a long time to see (even though it did come with some moments of concern that they were going to embrace right in the sonar fence killzone and upset everyone that ever had a heart).

I don’t even want to talk about how bad Frank’s line of dialogue about Sun getting her voice back was. Sometimes, like Sun, it’s better when things aren’t said. What didn’t need saying was that it was once more a burst of love that reignited Sun’s unconscious awareness of her Alt-Timeline counterpart (or, perhaps, dispelled it to return her English-speaking knowledge). Moments of true love, or near-death. Heightened emotions creating heightened awareness. I wonder what kind of awareness Locke will have when he wakes up?

Could Locke re-awaken with awareness of his Island life? Could he come back as ‘old Locke’, with his belief and faith in the Island? And could he connect with Jack there to awaken his awareness and provide him with that last piece of information he needs to know what to do next, on the Island? It would certainly allow the Alternate-Timeline to culminate into something meaningful.

Jack’s conversation with Sawyer, about how he didn’t want to leave the Island because he had experienced what life was like when he left unfinished business there, felt very primed for Jack to become the genuine replacement for Jacob. Sawyer, of course, has never left the Island since he got there so doesn’t know such a feeling. But it’s actually interesting, indeed may be absolutely integral, that of all the candidates only Jack returned there out of a sense of genuine need.

Kate only came back to get Claire. Sayid only came back because Ilana captured him and put him on Ajira 316. Sun came back for Jin. Hurley? Well, Jacob told him to go and he kind of went along with it, but it wasn’t particularly convincing. There’s really only Jack that has felt a strong sense of being out of place off the Island, which makes it seem all the more inevitable he’ll find his place on it. And, furthermore, the way Kate looked back as he jumped overboard, I wouldn’t be surprised if she made sure Claire went back home safe and then remained with Jack.

If The Whispers can turn out to be as obvious as just the voices of dead souls then I vote that the skeleton cave couple turns out to be Jack and Kate after all! Season 6 is the season of surprises: the surprise being Lost wasn’t as complicated as we all thought it was! Unless, of course, there’s a seriously big switcheroo surprise heading our way. . .

6.13 - Pre-Post Update

Hello everyone,

Given that there is a break of a week for next week's episode I thought it might be prudent that I take a little more time and reflection on the analysis for 6.13 -and probably do another more personal post about my current thoughts and feelings as a fan about how this season has turned out. Those will crop up this week and next. I've also got ideas about a stock take about the unanswered questions a lot of you had input in before Season 6 began that it might be fun to look back at and tick off to see how we're doing.

However, this means a little bit more work and a slight delay. Whilst I have got all my notes and organised my thoughts and opinions about the latest episode, I thought it might be nice to open up this blog page for comments from you guys, about The Last Recruit which we have just seen, which I may incorporate into my next analysis. God knows you guys have said some smart stuff along the way, and I don't pretend to know it all, and whilst we have this chance I'd like to hear what you say before me! Just for once! I rather like the idea, whilst we have this brief hiatus, of being able to connect a bit more with what you think and what I think.

Glad to have you around for the home stretch! How exciting is it right now to be a Lost fan!? Pity the fools that quit before now - they know not what they miss!

Namaste, friends!

Analysis: 6.12 Everybody Loves Hugo

Shocks! Answers! Bigger mysteries! Lost is hitting the home straight and in this episode managed to juggle a good few plot threads, keep them all moving, all intriguing, all inexorably heading to a climactic resolution. But before all that we had the heady business of people dying, dead people returning and people we thought we’d never see again suddenly rolling back into the frame. Just when you thought Arzt and his slapdash manner with dynamite had made you shockproof, they pull the same trick and stun you again.

Whilst Ilana’s sudden exit certainly packed a wow factor, it was swiftly followed up for me with a sense of disappointment. Like, wait a second. . . Is that it? That’s Ilana done with? Whilst Ben ruminated on how abruptly those that the Island was done with (and, by extension, those Jacob had utilised) were dispatched I wasn’t satisfied we’d seen the last of Ilana. I mean, it’s irritating that we don’t know why she was all bandaged in hospital when Jacob came to see her, but it’s slightly more damning that Jacob would have used her purely to complete half a mission: reveal Locke’s dead body, deliver the candidates news of their importance and otherwise blindly trust that Alpert knew what to do next.

For the record, I’d have gone with Hurley, too. But it was interesting that it was Hurley now stepping up to fulfil his own role of importance, taking heed from the words of Dead Michael and acknowledging the fact that he figuratively carries more weight amongst the group than he realises. What was intriguing for me was the turning point, after Ilana was gone, when Hurley looked amongst her possessions and seemingly found something that made his mind up.

We didn’t get to see what was in the small bag Hurley looked inside but the likeliest thing it could be in my mind are the ashes of Jacob that Ilana scooped up. Yet why would Hurley see what amounted to a bag of ashes and be so moved? If he even realised they were Jacob’s ashes, why would that trigger this newfound resolve? Well, perhaps, it would have reminded Hurley that Ilana believed deeply, as Hurley himself does, and to turn his back on the hope Jacob held for his candidates would mean Ilana died for nothing. This does, at least, mean Ilana’s purpose wasn’t entirely blown away – her death had meaning. I am hanging on to hope that she’ll reappear to impart further wisdom and influence from the other side.

It’s hard to imagine Hurley calculated the plan of blowing up the Black Rock and forcing a choice of going to meet Locke or going to find more explosives, but it’s (as ever!) either fate or coincidence that has seen to it that the candidates Jack, Hurley and Sun (with tag-along Frank) have all delivered themselves to Nameless whilst Alpert, Ben and Miles have gone off to The Barracks to find more means of blowing things up.

The thrilling moment where Jack and ‘Locke’ faced each other after so long apart in the jungle was terrific, and underlined for me that here we were looking at the central protagonist and antagonist of the show. I know Desmond during this episode was rocking a distinctly Jacob-like vibe, but whatever he’s about at the moment (of which more later) one thing I don’t believe is that he is the new Jacob replacement.

I’m still pegging Jack as the Jacob replacement. How he completely relented control, handed himself over to the guidance of Hurley, was just another step towards absolute faith – faith in the goodness of others. The shit-eating grin of Nameless, however, certainly looked like a daunting proposition. I’m really looking forward to seeing that confrontation play out.

But back to Dead Michael. . .

. . . who quietly, calmly delivered some massive revelations that may have felt underwhelming or anti-climactic either because of how they were relayed, or by how rather unsurprising they were. First, Michael himself claimed that he was now fundamentally a trapped soul on the Island on account of the things he did.

Ummm. . . yeah. That does. . . you know. . . sound a bit like. . . ah. . . purgatory.

To be fair, the idea of the Island being purgatory is one that I properly aired as a possibility back in Season 5 (the analysis for the Dead Is Dead episode if you wanna check!). Note the difference between stating the Island is purgatory and the now-debunked theory that our Losties are in purgatory. There’s a difference.

For Jack and the rest of Oceanic 815 to be in purgatory they’d have had to be dead, killed in the crash. We know they weren’t. Instead, what has been a potential truth for a good while, is that the Island is purgatory. Only, like the way Jacob described all the evil that the Island keeps bottled up as being the thing that some people refer to as “hell”, the Island may just be the thing that some people refer to as “purgatory”. Again, the difference is subtle, but it’s there.

It fits again, though. Purgatory fundamentally being the waiting room between heaven and hell where the dead go to exercise their penance; Michael being trapped there for the murders of Ana Lucia and Libby fits that definition. And the further revelation that ‘the whispers’ we have heard belong to souls trapped between heaven and hell (or what people refer to as heaven and hell), dead souls stuck on the Island observing what happens, also slots into that idea.

And, yeah, for the record, ‘the whispers’ turning out to be voices of the dead both landed like the biggest non-surprise ever and an almost resentful feel from me personally that it doesn’t quite explain the matter properly.

Harper’s appearance in Season 4, The Other Woman, is a good example of where ‘the whispers’ have featured and, given what we now know, either give us an entirely different take on that scene or contradict what seemed to happen. Because, basically, that scene now plays out like Harley was dead and visited Juliet as one of these ‘trapped souls’. ‘The whispers’ sounded, Harper appeared and spoke to Juliet, then ‘the whispers’ sounded again and she was gone. If Harper was a ‘trapped soul’ then that works. If she wasn’t. . . that’s less clear.

There have been instances, such as Sayid alone in the jungle, or when Cindy was snatched by The Others, or even recently, when Jack and co first entered The Temple, where ‘the whispers’ have been heard that didn’t provoke any kind of dead apparition encounter.

On this, I suppose, we are to simply assume that ‘the whispers’, the whisperers, they are always watching and it’s only during moments of crucial action or high drama where they become agitated or forceful enough to almost try to exert influence. Perhaps only when they have a strong connection to the living are they able to ‘break through’ and communicate. Of course, if this were true, then it would mean Juliet had actually stood and talked with a dead person – which suddenly makes Hurley’s ‘unique’ ability to do this very same thing somewhat less unique.

I can only hope there’s a little more clarification on life, death and what’s in between on its way in due course.

Hurley: “Dead people are more reliable than alive people.”

Michael warned Hurley from going to Hydra Island on the mission to blow up the plane, ostensibly because a lot of people were going to die because people were listening to him. If Hurley hadn’t met up with Michael again later it might have given us cause to wonder whether Hurley suddenly stepping up, blowing up the Black Rock and lying about Jacob saying they had to go and face Nameless, was a big mistake. But that Michael later pointed out exactly where Nameless was suggests this was precisely what was meant to happen. And, as Hurley said, dead people are more reliable than alive people precisely because they have little reason to lie. Indeed, if the Island is a form of purgatory for the likes of Michael, then the very act of helping may be what allows him to serve his penance!

(Flipside idea would be that Nameless succeeding in his plans to leave the Island and wipe out the existence of the Island Timeline may mean that Michael wouldn’t be dead! As such, Michael leading Hurley and the rest to Nameless was a self-serving act, but I don’t particularly believe that notion.)

The dead from the Island Timeline, as this episode showed, don’t seem to be particularly affronted by it in the Alternate Timeline. . .

Ah yes, Libby. As one character (Ilana) meets a premature, inconclusive end another one (Libby) pops up to surprisingly offer up more depth to her premature, inconclusive end. But then still doesn’t really conclude it. Of course. There was one telling difference between the Libby from the Island Timeline and Alt-Libby – namely that Alt-Libby wasn’t on Oceanic 815 (OK, she probably wasn’t, I can’t say she definitely 100% wasn’t!), and she didn’t seem quite as away with the fairies as she was when Hurley was in Santa Rosa.

But there again, in the Alternate Timeline, Hurley evidently didn’t kill any people on a pier and enter a catatonic state with a compulsive eating disorder that sent him for a spell at Santa Rosa either. (Again, milder versions of the real thing that has been prevalent in the Alternate Timeline for all the characters.)

Libby had seen a commercial featuring Hurley and this had awoken her awareness of the Island Timeline, however dimly that was. Are we to then reach some vague ideas that the Libby we saw provide Desmond with a yacht was somehow acting with awareness of events in ‘another life’?

Nah. Surely not. Like I said, whatever inconclusive ends Libby’s story left for some after her death in Season 2 have not been resolved by her appearance here. What did seem nice, however, was that despite her being dead in the Alternate Timeline she still had the feeling that the Island Timeline was the proper and true place where she belonged.

One kiss blasted over some awareness of the ‘other world’ for Hurley, like Charlie, Daniel and Desmond before him. And, in a very Jacob-like way, Desmond himself had been the gentle guiding hand coaxing Hurley towards this revelation. Unlike Libby, I don’t think there’s any question that Desmond does possess awareness of both timelines. The pertinent matter is just how much Desmond knows – in both timelines!

But before tackling what Desmond is, let me express what I don’t think he is: I don’t think he’s Jacob reborn, or the next potential candidate. Don’t get me wrong, he really suits the role. He’s spent years on the Island in the service of nothing more than faith (pushing a button) and with his benign manipulation of Hurley, just one person he’s working his way through in the Alternate Timeline manifest, he’s assuming the role of passive guidance effortlessly.

In McCluck’s he was, symbolically, assigned ticket number 42 – a candidate number in the Alt-Timeline. I don’t want to read too much into trying to compare and contrast the idea of the Alt-Candidates, but I think the number 42 connection distinguishes Desmond in the Alt-Timeline as intrinsically important on behalf of the Island Timeline.

As stated, I don’t think Desmond’s function is there as replacement for Jacob, or the reincarnated version of him somehow. Maybe Jacob’s own powers, the history of his life and how he became who he is, stem from ‘an incident’ with electromagnetism, only on a grander scale, and so Desmond’s Jacob-like qualities are purely a manifestation of a similar type of process. Maybe.

Consider when Nameless took Island Desmond out to the well.

He talked of how people had dug down to a deep point on the Island, trying to tap into the source of this strange power they were aware was down there. Now I suspect we are going to be treated to the backstory of Nameless and Jacob, and I can’t help but wonder if they were perhaps part and parcel of these long ago people, digging down deep. Literally like ‘the incident’, history repeating and creating anew. One thing was certain: Nameless seemed intrigued by Desmond’s experiences with electromagnetism, and he was unnerved by his lack of fear, and his mask of innocence and ignorance didn’t stop Nameless from perceiving him as a direct threat.

If the rules state that Nameless cannot directly kill Jacob, then I believe it ought to have been impossible for Nameless to shove Desmond down the well if he really were the rebirth version of him. Again, another reason why I don’t think Desmond is ‘it’.

But Desmond has certainly marked himself out as special. Unlike Alpert, but like Sawyer, he too could also see the strange boy, who had aged and had slightly darker hair this time around.

The grin on the boy suggested malevolent superiority, a mocking sneer at Nameless directly. Perhaps the boy could see the concern in Nameless about this man, Desmond, who showed no fear. But for me it was the smile of someone who knows better, who is confident that all Nameless’ plans and schemes won’t work out the way he wants. Who is the boy? I’m stuck between it being Jacob or Nameless himself.

Since the boy is ageing, and how quickly Nameless wants to ignore him, I rather like the idea that it is Nameless himself, as a boy. (Previously the boy had distanced himself from being Jacob with his remark “you know the rules, you can’t kill him”.) I suspect Nameless, like most characters we meet, has a past he’d rather not face up to - blood on his hands - but as the boy ages he becomes more and more the man he has to confront. Nameless has never sought out redemption. If there is a disparity between genuine ‘good’ and ‘evil’ on Lost, I’d say the lack of acknowledgment of bad things is as close to it as human people can be judged.

I’m sure there was water in the bottom of the well. Whilst anyone really ought to have been killed by such a plunge down there, I suspect Desmond will have survived. We’ll see him again.

But we saw him a lot sooner than we perhaps anticipated in the episode's final, brutal, hit-and-run.

So what? Is this a moment where Alt-Desmond was somehow aware of how ‘Locke’ threw him down a well on the Island and this was his payback? I’m not so sure. Desmond did prove awareness of the Island Timeline by how quickly, unblinkingly, he remarked to Ben that he had a son named Charlie. He didn’t – his Island counterpart does. But in Desmond’s mind they are one and the same now. Yet I am not so sure the link is there so that Alt-Desmond remains conscious of whatever happens to Desmond on the Island – that just seems too much.

So why knock Locke down? Maybe trying to trigger a connection with his Island Timeline, I’d say. Awaken his consciousness. Whereas Desmond and Hurley and Daniel used love, Desmond also heard Charlie’s story of swallowing heroin and nearly choking to death which induced his moment of revelation.

A near-death experience served as the catalyst for Charlie, potentially Desmond was trying to trigger that same awakening in Locke by a similar process. That’s my favourite idea (I mean, if he really wanted to kill Locke surely he would have reversed, right!?). But maybe killing Locke was his intention, the idea being that the events in the Alt-Tineline can have an effect in the Island Timeline (again, we’ve seen that reverse bleed through with Sun, her non-English speaking Alt-consciousness awoken on the Island after she bumped her head). Damage Alt-Locke to hinder Nameless in Locke's form; that would be the logic.

Here’s what I think seems certain, though. A reunion is on the cards. And I think it’s going to take place at Jack’s hospital. Locke will, evidently, be rushed there. (And certainly he’ll be under Jack’s care when he arrives – a meeting that might parallel their meeting on the Island.) Sun, don’t forget, was shot last time we saw her and is hospital-bound (potentially her physician will be Juliet!?). Charlie might even still be at the hospital. . . Sayid could be found there just visiting his injured brother. . . Kate and Sawyer can invariably find their way there through any number of means. . .

They’ll gather together on the Island. They’ll gather together in the Alt-Timeline. I’m sure of that. What’s thrilling, what I don’t know, is exactly what’s going to happen when they do.

Analysis: 6.11 Happily Ever After

‘Please don’t give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us.’Letter from Penny Widmore to Desmond Hume

For the first time in Season 6 we spent a sustained period in the Alternate Timeline courtesy of that temporal wildcard, Desmond. Consequently we learned much of what the very nature of this Alt-Timeline is and, surely, received verification that the Island Timeline is the dominant one, the ‘true’ reality, and the foundations of the show’s resolution seems to have its way paved in front of us.

The now-standard mirror-reflection moment in this episode showed Desmond caught walking towards a door. He was wearing sunglasses, but in the reflection he removed them. Pretty rudimentary symbolism here; the blinkered, lonely soul of Alt-Desmond suddenly seeing clearly, a new awareness presented to him. And it took Charlie, a near-death experience, and a mind-altering blasting taste of love to get him there.

Probably the one big ‘whoa’ moment of the episode came courtesy of Charlie planting his hand against the glass in the submerged car and triggering that iconic image ‘memory’ for Desmond:

Here was a moment of true awakening. Jack and Sun, arguably, have had moments where they became dimly aware of their ‘other’ reality, but this was the clinch point. The best way I can think of it is almost as though this whole Alternate Timeline is a vast dream, collectively shared by everyone. Desmond, in this instant, had his dreamworld punctured very briefly by flashes of the reality he really ought to be in.

The idea that the Island Timeline is the Prime Timeline isn’t exactly a clear-cut one, mind. Consider Minkowski.

I liked how he offered Desmond free run of his contacts in the city, and how Desmond turned them down. Minkowski’s remark about how this was why Desmond was the main man married events in the Island Timeline. Both Desmond and Minkowski had their consciousness hurled back and forth through time – it was only Desmond that managed to find his Constant to save himself. Desmond was the main man and Minkowski a poor proxy.

If Desmond were to have convinced Minkowski that this world wasn’t the world he was supposed to be in, that the universe to have taken priority was one where he would wind up on a Freighter in the middle of the ocean, strapped to a bed whilst his mind short-circuited, do you think Minkowski would have been thrilled by that? Seems unlikely. So whilst I have stated that the Island Timeline seems to be the prime timeline (and I do believe it is), it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be the promised land for everyone.

Charlie, for one.

With his talk of this blonde woman that he felt such overpowering love for, we can be sure he was talking about Claire (personally I believe this interpretation of Charlie’s feelings for Claire doesn’t quite match with the relationship we saw them have on the Island). Now what if he knew that Claire was in town, in L.A.? That he could find her, meet with her, and maybe make that romance real? You tell him he can trade his Alt-Timeline existence (with, admittedly, a suicidal disposition) for one where, on the Island, he gets this love but makes the ultimate sacrifice for it, would he make that trade? Maybe. It would seem he'd rather die than exist in the Alternate Timeline, so what difference does dying in the Island Timeline make?

But by the end of the episode Desmond, with help from Minkowski who can amazingly get his hands on the Oceanic 815 manifest (!), plans on gathering everyone together to, I believe, awaken their consciousness’ to the existence of both timelines.

Again, not sure how thrilled this guy would be about what his ‘other life’ had in store. . .

Maybe, like Charlie, he'd rather be dead, to be released from his miserable Alternate Timeline existence. The fundamental question being posed is where would our characters find their ‘happily ever after’? Is it in the Island Timeline? Or is it in the Alternate Timeline? I’m still leaning towards it being the Island Timeline (purely because that’s the one we’ve invested most of our interest, and where the battle lines for Jacob and Nameless are marked out). And we mustn’t forget that death seemingly isn’t quite the end on Lost; whether it’s from Miles communicating, Hurley seeing and interacting, whispers or visions – the dead have a presence, and maybe, like Charlie, once sampled it’s a taste of paradise.

Daniel Faraday was also on hand to talk about how this Alternate Timeline, from the quantum mathematics he had conjured despite himself, was surely one that was a product of some terrible event committed elsewhere, elsewhen.

It was interesting that Faraday was a musician in the Alternate Timeline. And also still had his father, Charles Widmore, in his life. I’ll get to Charles and Eloise shortly, but I wanted to spare a moment to consider the facet of the Alt-Timeline that has more often than not showed our characters gaining the kind of life that seems more like a ‘happily ever after’ than the one they forged on the Island.

Faraday, evidently, was steered away from science and allowed to pursue his interest and enjoyment in music. Jack had managed to become a father-figure more adept than his own father. Locke had managed to subdue his rage and find happiness with Helen.

It’s been tempting to consider the Alternate Timeline as an ideal outcome, a what should have been. Yet consider Charlie. His band Driveshaft are evidently more of the success he hoped for (note his clean brother, still in the band, popped up in a previous episode asking after him – the importance of that now making more sense).

Charlie wasn’t a washed-up junkie rock star. He was just a junkie rock star! A slight improvement. . . But his near-death taste of love from the Island Timeline convinced him it wasn’t what he wanted. Daniel, too, had figured his alternate self of complex maths had provoked this inferior timeline, and his ‘real’ timeline was what he has lost, not been averted from. And Desmond himself, apparently so happy to be travelling the world, free and single, only had to chance upon the name Penny to sample a force way more intoxicating and alluring than this life he had in the Alt-Timeline.

Again, it makes me fall back on the idea that this Alternate Timeline may, on the surface, appear ‘better’ but it is fundamentally not as good as the real thing. I’ve said it previously, but it’s like a watered-down version of the full life experience the Island afforded. The bigger question: Is this apparent fulfilment our characters are reaching in the Alt-Timeline merely chance, or design? On this I am not so clear.

My initial take, for example, was to assume that there was no design. Take Charles Widmore and his behaviour towards Desmond. In the Alternate Timeline he embraced him with care, deigned to share a glass of his prestigious whisky. We hear that all Desmond wanted was to earn the respect of Charles Widmore in the Island Timeline and here, in the Alternate world, he had managed it.

My initial interpretation was, as stated, not to see design in this. Just one of those ironic things. Desmond believed he had all he wanted, but that was before he met Penny. But then I thought of Widmore’s encouragement and respect for Desmond at maintaining his single life. And how quickly he turned when Desmond failed to rein Charlie in and get him to Eloise’s function. For a man that showed such care he didn’t seem overly-concerned with how Desmond felt after surviving a car crash plunging into deep water.

Dare I say it, but was it possible that Widmore in this timeline was manipulating Desmond into not finding this blast of love, this Constant, Penny? That he was playing the role of caring figure to provide what Desmond thought he wanted as a sidetrack to what would wake him up?

(Aside: Note that Penny's surname (somehow!) was Milton in this Timeline. Not going to labour the reference, but it was surely a nod to Milton, writer of Paradise Lost. Again, the message I am getting here is that the Alternate Timeline is the less-perfect version of the world.)

Eloise Hawking – sorry, Eloise Widmore here. . .

. . . was even more blatant than Charles. The moment she turned to look at Desmond for the ‘first’ time there was a widening of her eyes in recognition, and her remarks about how it was a shame they hadn’t met earlier didn’t seem genuine. And then she turned. When Desmond enquired about Penny the fa├žade dropped and Eloise Hawking emerged, demanding that Desmond stop travelling down whatever new road he was forging because he wasn’t ready.

Given the likes of Desmond, Charlie and Daniel have all tapped into becoming consciously aware, on whatever level, of this ‘other world’ then it’s not impossible to surmise that Eloise holds the same awareness. (Indeed, this may be the very nature of her power of knowing the future, and her active interest in making Desmond ‘push the button’ in Flashes Before Your Eyes.)

In Widmore’s office there was a picture of black and white scales:

Does this indicate that Widmore actively wants to maintain the balance in this Alternate Timeline? Or the Island one? It ought to be remembered that Widmore and Eloise in the Alternate Timeline were the same people we saw together on the Island so perhaps the black and white scales picture is merely a throwback, a momento, of that time. The time when they were The Others and served the will of Jacob to maintain the Island’s integrity.

I’m not overly-keen on Alt-Widmore possessing the same dual awareness that Eloise probably possesses, but it’s a maybe. What may make sense is that Eloise, remaining married to Widmore, has manipulated and shaped him into the kind of man that would embrace Desmond so warmly (his remarks about how fearsome Desmond may find Eloise would suggest he’s been on the end of her sharp tongue enough to know she’s not to be trifled with). And Eloise herself, of course, was responsible for the death of her son in the Island Timeline and here, in the Alternate Timeline, she got to raise him with love and indulgence for his music and keep him safe, so she has motive for wanting this timeline to sustain.

I, however, don’t imagine it will sustain. The endgame resides on the Island. One very pertinent point is that the creators didn’t have this Alternate Timeline in mind when the show was conceived, and so whatever end they have planned will surely play out on the Island.

On the Island, Widmore is refreshingly free and open with his intentions and information to the likes of Jin. Is he genuine, or is this a manipulation? I’m going with him being genuine. He’s honest enough to inform Desmond that he needs him, and that it will involve a sacrifice. Even the little detail of Widmore pulling back the sheet to view the poor soul that got electro-fried suggested a level of care behind that stern demeanour.

What sacrifice for Desmond? I can only think of three things that matter enough that Desmond could sacrifice: Penny, baby Charlie, or Desmond’s life. The intention of Widmore would seem to be one of marching Desmond out to one of the Island’s electromagnetic hotspots (as identified by Jin on the map created by Zoe) to expose him to more massive electromagnetism – maybe creating another ‘incident’, one that erases the Alternate Timeline?

Why would that matter? Well, as previously suggested, the Alternate Timeline does seem to be one that fuels the desires of the Losties. Nameless is very much in the market of dangling the idea of escape and wish-fulfilment over people – maybe it’s the erasure of the Island Timeline and rebirth in the Alternate Timeline that he is intending. Maybe his plan to gather the Candidates together is similar to Desmond’s plan to gather the Oceanic passengers via the manifest: so he can show them a promised land. Only when Nameless shows people their ‘other lives’, I would imagine he’ll omit anything bad and forgo the sense of it being a lesser version of what they should be.

When Nameless says he wants to escape the Island, maybe he doesn’t mean physically leave rather he intends to literally wipe out the Island Timeline to render the Island at the bottom of the ocean. . .

. . . into an Alternate Timeline where Jacob has no influence and, presumably, one where Nameless is granted the freedom to go ‘home’ like he so seeks. Again, we can’t equate Nameless’ desire to leave as to be just to go out into the regular world. His ‘home’ may be release from immortal bondage to the Island. Tying this up with Widmore’s previous remarks about how allowing Nameless to leave would mean everyone and everything would cease to be makes this notion feel pretty accurate. In short: If Nameless leaves the Island Timeline will be wiped clear and the Alternate Timeline will become the actual one and only timeline. That’s the bad ending – the one Widmore, and probably Jacob, are seeking to avoid.

By the end of the episode Desmond is in a strange duality, seemingly aware in both timelines of the ‘other side’. He willingly goes along with Sayid, perhaps with the same intention he has in the Alternate Timeline – so he can get to the Oceanic 815 people, gather them all together, and make them aware.

His pacified manner, his new-found acceptance, possesses something of the messianic. I believe he will gather the Oceanic 815 passengers in the Alternate Timeline and tell them, There’s a better reality than this where you really belong. In the Island Timeline he’ll tell people, This is where you’re supposed to be. And the sacrifice for this, that I suspect he knows already, will be the end of him in both timelines. For the sake of Penny and baby Charlie, he’ll sacrifice himself to maintain the Island Timeline. Or maybe he smiles because he knows that he’ll survive – because like Penny said, all he really needs to survive is one person who truly loves him.

After that, there’s just one slot left open: Jacob’s replacement. To maintain balance on the Island, to continue the black and white equilibrium in the Island Timeline. Our Candidates are all still in play and the stakes are as high as you can imagine.