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. . .