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. . .


Matthew said...

excellent analysis! i look forward to these after every episode.

one thing i that i remembered was that when Michael betrayed the survivors to get Walt and leave the island, he was very guilty and wasn't happy at all with his decision. this is similar to how Desmond convinced Sayid not to kill him because Nadia would not respect him for what he had to do to see her again. i just thought they seemed like a theme (two points create a line, right?); the lesson being that it's not worth "selling your soul to the devil" to see someone you love. What's done is done.

anyway, i would love to hear a response. Thanks! - Matt

Corellian said...

I really hope they come back to Christian appearances, because Nameless just saying it was him all along leaves some holes, like those you said.

And as I was unable to comment it before, I found it a shame that they got to bring Libby back to Lost but still didn't bring anything new about her possible relation to Widmore, or even at least what the hell she was doing on the same hospital as Hurley...

Anonymous said...

i think Adam & Eve are Rose and Bernard. They didnt jump back to 2007 (as far as we know), so they would have stayed there for 30 years, which would have given them time to decompose (as jack said in the first episode we see the bodies). Then again, I dont see why they would have a little bag with a white and a black stone in it.

Kit Foster said...

Great post as usual AC!

Fantastic, you don't hear the word 'switcharoo' for months and then it pops up twice in the same post. Sweet.

(sorry I haven't anything constructive to add...)

Matt B said...

I love your idea that MiB incorrectly assumes Jack is still a man of science; this makes wonderful sense and seems to fit the ideas many of us have about the show and its current direction.

Regarding Christian, you said, "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." I have some ideas on this I'd like to share with you.

I have the notion that we have seen multiple forms of Christian. The first form is of the smoke monster, like in the cabin in Season 4. The second form would be the "soul that can't move on" that visited Michael on the freighter moments before it exploded (off all MiBs abilities, I do not think long distance teleportation is one of them; plus this appearance was, I believe, preceded by the death whispers). The third form was his visit to Jack in the hospital (though this is probably just an extension of the second form). People like to think that this was the smoke monster (especially because his visit was preceded by the smoke detector going off!) but as you pointed out, he is stuck on the Island! What was this then?

We do not know, but I am beginning to suspect that Hurley's "unique" ability is not all that unique at all. It is possible that it is an ability many people can possess but just never "tap into" it. Like psychic powers, some people can apparently have them on at will (Hugo) while others might just have brief unknowing lapses a few times throughout their life (Jack). Of course, the hospital visit might have just been a hallucination, but I doubt it. In fact, there is a supposed link between paranormal activity and electrostatic energy. One sign of a "ghost" is batteries becoming drained quickly. The smoke detector in the hospital did not "go off," it was just I think the low battery beep. Also, the Christian apparition disappeared when Jack was distracted, and this happens to Hugo as well (though Hugo intentionally tries to distract himself because he cannot deal with what he is seeing).

There is also that strange difference between "season 1 Christian" (stern look and dressed in a suit) and "season 4 Christian" (friendly demeanor and casual attire).

Also, I related very well with one line from this post regarding Jin and Sun, and laughed heartily at your description: "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". Good writing.

Our journey is nearing completion. In a short amount of time, there will never again be a "new" Lost episode to look forward to. However, I think the series will be largely "open to interpretation." So if you continue Lost analysis (working backwards with the knowledge we gain at the end game), I for one will be glad to participate and analyze the hell out of it!

abid said...

Thanks for this post! I haven't read any of the comments so I'm not sure if the issue of smokie being evil has been tackled.

My take on it is that they're BOTH dodgy characters.

I hated Smokie all through season 6 and felt he was a crazy walking talking version of evil itself but this episode changed my mind. Right now I can't pin him down as either good or bad and that's enough for me.

My argument for Jacob potentially being not so good and Widmore being a sleazy little weasel comes down to the fact that these two characters appear to be related in terms of overall goals. I don't have much to go on this except for Jacob's statement that "someone is coming to the Island" but hopefully this will be cleared up in the coming episodes.

When I reflect on Widmore I think about the person who sent Martin Keamy to the Island (who had no qualms about exterminating everyone there), the person who made Desmond's life hell and now the person who double-crossed Sawyer.

I think that, funnily enough, Ben Linus was playing a Smokie role when he left the Island and recruited Sayeed as his hitman. Sayeed plays the same roles for both Ben and the Smoke monster - he's a ruthless killer set out to remove any obstacles in the way. Ben used him (via preying on his hurt for his deceased wife) to kill off Widmore's allies in the Real World, much the same way that Smokie has used him to kill in the Island World.

abid said...

And I'll also add that this season has been so much less impressive than what I expected. I love going back and watching episodes from seasons past but, except the Desmond episodes, its been ok. And some of the lines and errors they've made this season have been awful. Last weeks episode had Sun and Locke showing up at the hospital at the same time even though, at that point in time, they'd both been in LA for different periods (unless Jin spent a week in the fridge OR something else happened...).

A friend of mine considers this the best season since season 1 though so I'm sure there's people who love it. For me, season 5 was the highlight with the tail end of season 3 coming in a close second. I really hope that next week's Lost can make me feel how those episodes did.

AngeloComet said...

Matthew - There was an episode called 'the greater good' and it's a big theme on Lost; when does 'bad' become unjust in the face of what must be done. Mr. Eko's entire judgement was founded on it. The key for Eko was his lack of penance. . .

Corellian - Nice to see you back. Libby certainly did feel like a wasted opportunity, you're right.

Anonymous - You know, I'd completely forgotten about Rose and Bernard. . .!

Matt B - I like your thoughts on Christian. If we never get further clarification your notions of their being a 'bit of Hurley' in Jack work nicely enough to cover the crack - though it's annoying it takes the mental gymntastics of us viewers to compensate the lack of clarity on the show.

Abid - I though Season 3 was ace as well!

Corellian said...

Hahaha, I spent the last month working on Abu Dhabi. Only managed to watch Lost when I arrived back home a few days ago. Some tough days away from Lost...hahahahaha...

James Mc said...

Is it me or did Desmond's well dramatically shrink in depth in this episode?

Fred said...

One thing that has always bothered me is why does Jacob need a replacement? If Jacob is replaced, where does he go? Does he go to some other job/life, go fishing, or go home? We've gone along with the idea that the candidates are replacements for Jacob, but why is this necessary?
We can tie an answer to physics--the Pauli Exclusion Principle. If one electron is in a energy state, no other electron can be. If one moves into an energy state, the previous electron has to move out. Is it really that simple?
While we are on it, Sun's reaction to seeing Locke brought to the hospital was extreme, almost an unconscious fear. Sure she recognizes him as similar to the island-Locke, but her dealings with island-Locke were limited. Does Sun's memories extend beyond what we've seen in the episodes--in other words, are the memories awaken in Sun of the entire arc of the story of island-Locke? So far we've all assumed the recall of memories is to a limited time (where we as viewers are in our episodes). But what if the memories are complete, including what will happen in the last episodes we haven't yet seen. This may explain Sun's reaction to Locke, and even Desmond's maniacal drive to get everyone together. (That is unless Alt-LA X Desmond is under teh spell of Smokie).

glf said...

Belated comment. Seeming as you say we're getting some obvious answers to questions, have we also been given the answer to Adam & Eve? Nameless uses dead bodies to interact with people (Christian, Yemi, Locke), what happens to the physical bodies once he's stop using them. Are Adam & Eve discarded dead bodies? (Yes I know NO-ONE is going to like this theory as everyone wants it to be Jack & Kate or Rose & Bernard.)
Otherwise, thanks for all your blogging so far. looking forward to your conclusions.