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.