Analysis: 6.17 The End

And so it ends. It finished where it began – with Jack lying in the jungle – and the notion of purgatory hung over proceedings just like it had from the very beginning. Yet despite such longstanding, almost predicted-to-death notions, the freshness of novel concepts and surprise revelations closed out the show. Indeed, the very familiarity of it was almost the genius of the execution: the truth had been there from the start.

Like in the beginning of the show, the actual events on the Island were relatively simple. Our heroes had a specific plan and there were some very clear problems in the way of them succeeding. For the majority trying to get off the Island was their chief mission – just like it was from the start! There was just a further complication in that there was someone else they wanted to prevent from getting off the place with them. . .

Nameless, it would seem, fundamentally did just want off the Island purely to get to that place across the sea, the place he considered home. One of the first things he did when he had assumed the body of John Locke was to stand at the beach and look out at the horizon. That purpose had been there all along – I guess we just all got so taken up with mysteries and grand ideas that distracted us from the simple purpose.

His talk of destroying the Island, of sinking it to the bottom of the ocean, was an afterthought idea that Desmond brought about (but did also serve the purpose of fooling we watching audience into concern that the Alternate Timeline was some form of consequence of his success – more on that later).

But no. Beware distractions, as someone once said. Nameless wanted to physically leave the Island. Given that Jacob’s eventual death and the cessation of power on the Island returned Nameless to a state of mortality, it has to be concluded that part of his ambition was not just to get off the Island but also to reclaim his humanity. His remarks to Ben, about how he didn’t always travel around in smoke form purely because he liked the feel of the ground at his feet, to remind him of being human, are more significant in this light.

Nameless told various other characters that he used to be a man and, really, it was this that he wanted back. Jacob, as we saw and heard he regretted, was responsible for what had happened to Nameless. And what is clear is that the only way Nameless could leave the Island would be if he was free of the place, and its power. Indeed, it may be possible to surmise that Nameless leaving the Island may have had a similar effect as what was produced when Desmond pulled the plug, or ‘uncorked’ the power.

Potentially it was the death of Jacob that returned Nameless to a state of mortality, and had nothing to do with Desmond pulling the plug. That works. Nameless only sustained an injury to display his mortality after both things had happened. Yet consider Alpert. . .

. . . who received his first grey hair on his way to Hydra Island with Miles. He was finally ageing! And the only reason that could be was because Jacob was gone, the ashes burned away completely, and the blessing of longevity that had been bestowed on Alpert died with him. The same thing could have applied to Nameless and his return to mortality and Jack could have killed him, like any man, before Desmond got anywhere near the cave of light.

Like much of the last episodes of Lost, the grand meaning behind much of what we saw was left deliberately free of detail so that the audience could ascribe their own meaning. There are religious interpretations, scientific interpretations, or more philosophical, moral-based learnings. So quite what the terrible thing that would have occurred had Nameless left the Island is left open to such interpretation. It’s like asking, What is hell? Some consider it a hot place of fire and brimstone, others consider it a state of mind, intolerable conditions, or simply other people. One concept, different meanings. Pick your most satisfying. The point was that it would have been bad had Nameless left, but luckily there was one man standing in his way.

In terms of climactic spectacle, there’s no doubt for me that the Jack versus Nameless showdown on the cliff was the highlight of the episode. Drenched in slashing rain, cliff rock tumbling into the broiling ocean and Michael Giacchino’s riotous score giving it all it was worth, Jack and Nameless’ scrap was exactly the kind of powerhouse moment we all tuned in to see. And it was, of course, the fight that would kill them both. Nameless met his end over the cliff edge thanks to Kate (who had been cited as a potential threat he had overlooked by virtue of that simple line through her name on a cave ceiling). . .

. . . whereas Jack’s wounds would take longer to finish him off. But this was where each struck the fatal blow. And now we understood why the cut on Jack’s neck appeared, and what the meaning of his scar was in the ‘Alternate Timeline’ (what it’s really called I’ll finalise, at least for myself, further on).

These cuts and scars were manifestations of the injuries he sustained in life, the ones that would see him to his death. Cleverly Jack on the Island knew his time was coming and managed to pass on the baton of Island Protector to, perhaps, the most unlikely of people (yet what a perfect fit): Hurley.

We would later learn that Hurley made for a great Island Protector, and that Ben made for a terrific “number two”. No doubt Hurley saw to it that Desmond was able to leave and be reunited with Penny, but what else he did with the place – whether the Island was filled with people partying and laughing, or was converted into a refuge for those that needed the most care – it’s all open to conjecture (until the DVD release which purportedly contains scenes showing Hurley and Ben's time on the Island). The one thing you can’t imagine, under Hurley’s watch and rules, was that the Island was ever as miserable and hostile as we had seen it.

Naturally, this line of thinking and the show itself leads us to question what the Island actually was. (I realise that for many this lack of clarity about the nature of the Island has given rise to their frustration. I believe that definite specifics about the nature of the Island would have robbed the show of some wonder.)

You can devote a whole show to selling the idea that the Island is really a spaceship from a dying alien world. You can even try to make that the most incredible story you’ve ever heard. But, for me, that level of underlining utterly destroys the magic. Besides, like Mother once said, answers only lead to more questions. Where did the alien race come from? Why were they dying? What did they use the Island for. . .?

You get the idea. You can’t be provided satisfaction with this. You have to provide your own. It's better that the fundamentals about the Island remain ambiguous. Just like Nameless was never given a name – it’s for you to decide if he really was bad, flawed or a victim with just cause for his actions. I fall down somewhere around the view that he seemed a decent man that had been dealt a very harsh hand, but that didn’t make it OK for him to kill as ruthlessly and carelessly for his own ends as he did. When Jack, with Kate, triumphed over Nameless it did feel like a victory for the ‘good’ guys, did it not?

If that’s what you felt then it’s your gut interpretation and no one can tell you you’re wrong.

As stated, the only reason Nameless could seemingly be defeated was because of Desmond – the ‘Fail Safe’ man pulling out the fail safe plug of the Island to pretty much ‘switch off’ its powers. It was actually a little bit like when Desmond was late in pushing the button on a certain September 22nd 2004.

On that day he wasn’t around when the button needed to be pushed in The Swan Station and the electromagnetic anomaly was triggered just enough to create tremors on the Island and a surging force that would rip apart Oceanic 815 from the skies and send it hurtling to the land below.

But then Desmond entered the button and the anomaly was dissipated and normality resumed. On a larger scale, the same principle was applied to the Island. Desmond unplugged it (and out came a lot of hot magma, because as we learned in Season 3 the Island sits atop a volcano plume) and for a little while the place rumbled and crumbled and would have eventually been destroyed, but then Jack returned the plug to its hole and normality was resumed. Once more the Lost creators had primed us for these grand ideas in small ways.

It is worth taking some time, whilst we’re dwelling around The Swan Station, to consider the truth about ‘the incident’.

Since the end of Season 5 and the vast majority of Season 6 we were lead to understand that ‘the incident’ had somehow created the Alternate Timeline. Juliet’s dying remarks, about how it had worked (not quite sure what she meant by that, in hindsight) and Alt-Daniel Faraday’s sense of concern about having detonated a nuclear bomb that could have triggered such a situation all fuelled that notion. It was, as proved, a great big red herring. So if ‘the incident’ didn’t create a divergent timeline then what did it do?

Answer is, not much. But that’s not exactly a depressing answer. Miles unwittingly nailed it when he raised the point to Jack that going setting Jughead off at The Swan construction site might very well turn out to create the very ‘incident’ that he was trying to avert. And it seems he was spot on correct.

It’s easiest to understand this from Dharma’s – or Pierre Chang’s – point of view. There he is in the 1970s working on this fabulous Swan Station. During this time he comes to learn that his own son, and other people from the future, have been sent back in time as a result of his own work. The disaster has to play out, however, in order to avoid a paradox – and it always would have. Radzinsky was already digging too deeply, but even if he hadn’t Jack was there with a bomb. . . The universe would have course corrected it no matter what so that ‘the incident’ always happened and The Swan would always have to be there, venting electromagnetism, and Desmond would one day fatefully fail to push the button and so would come down Oceanic 815.

As far as the Losties were concerned; Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest – they took their part in the 1970s history as they were always supposed to, as they always had done, and the electromagnetic jolt from Jughead and ‘the incident’ rocketed them back to their own time.

That’s all there is to it. That’s what happened. Again, like many aspects of the show, we audience had a tendency to over-think and convolute what was simple enough already. Now we know better. We know how streamlined the show was in terms of its focus on the main characters and mostly everything else can either be answered as ‘it was as we saw it’ or as an open-ended mystery we don’t really know (but neither did they).

So we don’t really know why there was a Dharma food drop in the jungle. And we don’t know if Ben deliberately got himself caught in a net. Why was Horace Goodspeed building a cabin just like Jacob’s? And who, for that matter, was the person whose eye we saw peeping at Hurley from that same cabin?

We don’t know for sure, but what we do know is this: we’ve been shown as much as we ever will so our guesses are now as good as anyone’s. No one can tell you your wrong. I reckon that Dharma preset food drops to arrive in the future from their time in the 1970s using a focused version of the Island’s wormholes through time (like what Ben and Locke travelled through to end up in the desert). That’s what I think and no one can tell me I am wrong!

If you find gaps in what you feel you need to know, find your own answer.

Nowhere, naturally, was ambivalence more prevalent than with the ending to the show. On this I do have my own fairly assured views on what it was all about, but like with all interpretations it is just that: my own interpretation. (I just happen to think mine is a pretty good one.)

Let’s just tackle directly the Alternate Timeline. We thought it was some kind of tangent world for our Losties. A world configured around how things would have been had they never remained, or been on, the Island. We saw the scene where Ben talked with his father about being taken off the Island and figured that was the case.

Only that wasn’t the case. This whole timeline, this whole world, wasn’t an Alternate Timeline at all. It was an Afterlife Timeline. Now an interpretation of this world is purgatory. As in a place between heaven and hell where lost souls work out their good and bad demons to earn the right to move on to a better place. Hard and fast, you stack that notion against what we saw Jack do then the concept of purgatory applies. He died on the Island and then was rendered in this Afterlife Timeline where he was the last to realise what had happened, the last to awaken. But slowly he came to a place where he learned to acknowledge the importance of letting go and eventually met those he could reconcile his time with and. . . no. . . not for me. It’s not that simple – the ideas here are more elegant.

The moment the episode opened with Jack looking against a skull, he was a dead man. There was a very obvious statement being made. But let me take you back to the opening of Season 6, with Jack on Oceanic 815 (that didn’t crash). Let’s be clear that this was the launch point for the ‘afterlife world’, and very tellingly we were plunged through an aeroplane window to the depths of the ocean to a sunken Island.

Funnily enough, in my first analysis for the Season 6 episode LA X I discussed the idea of the sunken Island being akin to the memory of the Island being pushed down into the subconscious of Jack, and other characters. (Don’t get me wrong, I had a great many other ideas back then that all turned out to be utter dead ends, but this was one where I hit a pulse I didn’t feel the pressure of properly.) The Alternate Timeline was fundamentally an Afterlife waiting room – one where people that mean the most to each other can reside until all are gathered to move on.

This, I believe, is a tremendous notion. It’s a comforting idea for anyone bereaved or fearing for their own mortality: there’s a place you’ll have, a place you’ll go to, where those that count will gather together. But away from interpretative ideas, in terms of Lost this concept explains every ‘ghostly’ encounter we have witnessed.

What was Charlie that visited Hurley? Nothing more than a ‘ghost’ from this Afterlife World, encouraging Hurley to go back to the Island to fulfill what needed to be done in his existence. Other ‘ghosts’ visited Hurley too, imbuing him with the same ideology. Why? Because they had learned better, but furthermore because they could not move on from their own ‘afterlife world’ until he was prompted into action that would propagate the required outcome.

It’s a big idea to grapple, really it is. The biggest idea being captured in Christian Shepherd’s throwaway line about how time had no meaning in the afterworld timeline.

This one statement explained why the ‘Alternate Timelime’ timeline didn’t quite add up. Jin and Sun arriving in LA and being captured, shot, rushed to hospital and told their baby was fine and leaving all in a matter of days, playing alongside Locke landing a job as a temporary teacher and getting friendly with the staff and students before being hit by a car and returning to work afterwards before having spinal surgery performed successfully. . . these things just don’t at all work out in reality. But this wasn’t reality. This was like a shared dream between all of the Oceanic 815 people – one they were all involved in and one they all had to collectively wake up from.

It turned out Desmond was the catalyst they needed to pop this dream bubble and make them realise: they were dead, had lived their lives, and now needed to convene with the people that had meant the most to them before progressing to the next world.

Time being an irrelevance in this place meant we could grasp that Kate and Sawyer and Claire probably went on to lead long lives, but never finding a place or people that meant as much to them as their Oceanic survivors and their time on the Island. Hurley and Ben could have watched over the Island for hundreds of years before they eventually passed away. Meanwhile Boone and Shannon and Locke and the rest were already dead, already ‘waiting’, and Jack was simply the last of them to realise what had happened. And he had some father issues he needed to work out.

Only in this afterlife could Jack get to tell his father what he felt, and vice versa. And then he could rejoin with all the people that had collectively meant the most in his life, and to each other, to move on.

For Alpert you could imagine the same scenario existed, only in a different setting. Him finding Isabella again and awakening to his own mortality for the two of them to be together. And we may have even seen a version of this ‘afterlife’ when Mr. Eko died. Remember how it flashed back to him and Yemi, as children, walking away together?

Just like Kate and Sawyer may have lived long lives, their ‘afterlife’ returned them to a younger age, a certain time in their lives that meant most. For Mr. Eko you could say he went back to when he was a boy, a happier time with his brother, and that was where he found his peace. (In reality Mr. Eko wasn’t present in this scene because the actor had demanded more money than the creators were willing to pay – so luckily that flashback to his boyhood works even better in hindsight!)

Interesting that Ben remained outside of the church, not quite ready to move on. If this ‘afterlife’ was to be likened to purgatory it was more like a self-judgemental form of purgatory. Note how Jack saw a smile of forgiveness in Boone’s eyes, and returned the smile, because we know that the death of Boone, like the deaths of many people, would have weighed on his conscience. But they had all found peace, and so could Jack. He had been enabled and was ready to “let go”.

Ben wasn’t quite ready. He had done good things and he had done bad things and all of that meant he wasn’t quite able to reconcile within himself what kind of man he was. I could almost imagine him remaining there interminably, puzzled, forever trying to grapple with his own justification. Just like all of us watching, we were never able to fully define Ben’s moral character. I particularly liked how his character was left in this manner.

Jack’s eye opening was the first image of Lost and so, how fitting, that it was his eye closing which was the last. As Jack staggered to his resting point and lay down in the bamboo Vincent bounded over, like a replay of that first scene. It was important that Vincent was present though – his purpose was to fulfil Jack’s philosophy, his saving ideology. Live together or die alone.

Jack had strived to live together and paid the biggest sacrifice and so he didn’t get to die alone. I thought that was dignified and beautiful. Just like the ending to the show itself. The church scene, with the gorgeous music accompanying smiling faces and warm embraces was a gloriously heartwarming happy ending free of sentimentality. Lost may have been an imperfect show, but The End, for the characters, provided a perfect finish.

Namaste to all. See you in another life. You will certainly be missed. . .

Analysis: 6.16 What They Died For

The one before the big one. The deep breath before the plunge. Anyone going into What They Died For figuring they’d be in for an episode of set-up and arrangement for the final stage to play out on would have been kind of right, and yet mostly just unprepared for the whammies slamming out.


Alpert strides out confidently for a more up close and personal meet ‘n’ greet with Smokey than he expected.

Slash! An inconsequential bit-player bites the dirt.

Blam! Blam! Blam! Down goes Widmore.

And in between all that there was Jacob gathering the remaining candidates and explaining his motives before ordaining Jack as new Island Protector.

As a lead-in to the grand finale this wasn’t mere filler. And yet, somehow, the episode did have to get on with the business of set-up to make sure The End had a platform worthy of the climax. Nowhere was this plotting more apparent than in the Alt-Timeline and Desmond’s machinations, where he’s been busy pulling together all kinds of character threads to weave into his own design – Jacob would be impressed!

Desmond’s experiences with electromagnetism previously, which we can now also tie-in as being part of ‘the source’ at the heart of the Island, have imbued him with this knowledge and power and purpose. In some respects he’s almost like a more pure Island servant than Jacob was (and Jack now is). He was characterised as a ‘fail safe’ for the Island, presumably suggesting that whilst he retains the power to thwart Nameless’ plans the resolution will come with drawbacks.

If we parallel him with the Fail Safe from The Swan the function there prevented the terrible electromagnetic overload that was happening but, as a consequence, destroyed the place. Does the same apply to the Island? Desmond the Fail Safe preventing Nameless from leaving but at the cost of the Island itself? It would make sense. A measure of last resort.

So what are Desmond’s plans in the Alternate Timeline? Well, ever since he requested the manifest from Oceanic 815 it was clear his intention was to gather together the passengers. Not all the passengers are going to be a part of this convergence, however.

Hurley’s offhand remark, upon seeing Ana Lucia, asking if she was also coming along showed us that his ‘Island awareness’ has very much kicked in. And Desmond’s answer, that Ana Lucia wasn’t ready yet, underlined the point that some people just aren’t coming along for the ride. That makes me think we’re not likely to be seeing the likes of Shannon or Mr. Eko, either, but I hold out hope!

Where are they going? Well, there seems to be a strong pull towards this benefit concert. Miles mentioned it to Sawyer, that his father, Pierre Chang, was going to be there, along with Charlotte. Whilst Sawyer declined the invitation I suspect he’ll get there somehow – even if it’s just to recapture Kate. (Aside: Kate leaned on Sawyer as they looked out to sea, and now Jack’s committed to the Island does that mean we’re going to get a Kate-Sawyer conclusion to the love triangle?)

Young David Shephard is playing piano at this benefit concert, and has invited his father along. I suspect Claire will also be in attendance. Throw in Desmond and Kate, and whoever else Hurley and Sayid have been sent off to rustle up and it’s clear there’s a solid meeting place. Expect other familiar guests. And one thing they’ll have in common is the Island, and the choice about whether they ‘awaken’ themselves to this other life or not. And then what?

Crazy theory: they’ll get on a plane together and head for the Island. Those that want to will go back. And maybe somehow they’ll crash on the Island in a renewed kind of timeline after a battle with Nameless and Desmond’s been a fail safe and who knows what else, and they will all possess memories of both their ‘lives’ and have a better realisation of how to live together and not die alone.

Yeah, it seems kind of remote, I know. But this close to the end I had to squeeze in one last long shot prediction! And an important axis of the Alternate Timeline surrounds, as ever, Jack and Locke. Locke may have been mistaking coincidence for fate (we’ve heard that before, and the reverse) but Desmond’s little nudge has made a believer out of him. When he says he wants to get out of the wheelchair it’s more of a metaphor that he wants to stand up and become the man he, deep down, was born to be. John Locke may literally rise again.

Quite how this fits in with the timescales is tricky, though. Does Jack have time to complete major spinal surgery, fix Locke, and get to the concert (whilst taking Locke with him!?). Unlikely. And what was Desmond’s fake call to Jack, about his father being found, setting in motion? Get Jack to the airport? Just remind Jack about his father, to foster that Island awakening? And, nicely, the cut on Jack’s neck made a re-appearance from its first emergence on Oceanic 815. I don’t know what it means still but I like that it looks set to mean something.

Maybe Jack the Island Protector will know. When he elected to take on Jacob’s role (well, of course, he was always going to be the man) and drank the water, when Jacob pronounced that he and Jack were now the same, did Jack suddenly become awash with knowledge and insight? Difficult to say because the recent humanising of Jacob has emphasised the point he made: that an Island Protector is a flawed human. He made a mistake with his actions over Nameless, and the people he brought to the Island to replace him were all, in their own ways, lonely and incomplete.

This criteria doesn’t just apply to the candidates here, mind, it applies to practically all of the Oceanic survivors. Consider Charlie or Boone or Shannon or Michael – they all had a lack of resolution when they came to the Island. (This was a necessary factor given that this is a dramatic television show, but the majority of characters also found redemption on some level during their time on the Island. Again, plot arcs dictate as much but it feeds in nicely to the theme of the show also. Those that are still ‘lost’ and alive remain as candidates.)

I liked Jacob’s amusing notice that Kate, despite having her name crossed out, was still viable as a candidate. She had become a mother and therefore was not ‘lost’, but that still didn’t preclude her from an Island Protector destiny if she so chose. It was, after all, just a line drawn in chalk! But, as stated, it was surely always meant to be Jack. . .

The place he landed in the jungle at the very beginning of the show wasn’t too far from the ‘heart’ of the Island, the cave of light. Whilst it’s been a popular idea that Jack was situated away from the crash site for all kinds of mystery reasons (mostly revolving around a time loop) I think the idea that he landed closest to the spot that was most treasured on the Island is good enough justification. He just had a lot of work to do before he’d evolve from the man of science to the man of faith before he could see it.

And it’s certainly not over yet because Jack has a couple of formidable adversaries in the shape of Nameless and his new acolyte, Ben.

The motivation of Nameless is clear enough. His instant brute attack of Alpert was due to the fact he knew he could not win him round. Alpert had had his chance, and he overestimated his value to Nameless. I’m 50/50 on Alpert being dead. I quite like how sudden the attack happened and Alpert was gone – but on the principle of a person not being confirmed dead without a body I expect to see a battered and crumpled Alpert found lying in the trees somewhere, still breathing. Same idea applies to Lapidus who, surely, got out of the sinking sub and is now over at the Ajira plane fixing it up ready for flight.

Nameless’ recruitment of Ben is a necessity; once again he requires his killer capacity against the candidates the same way he needed him to kill Jacob. The big question concerns how complicit is Ben in this. . .

His eventual murder of Widmore was understandable. The deft reminder of Alex, as Miles crossed over the resting place where Alpert had buried her, brought her back into our memories but she’d never have left Ben’s heart (and guilt). And seeing Widmore again would have brought back all those feelings of revenge. Remember how enraged he was when he killed Keamy – that same murderous intent was displayed when he shot Widmore, but it was certainly a lot more controlled.

In fact, I would go as far as to say it was more controlled than it appeared. That Ben’s apparently irrational killer impulse was a little too contrived; the urge to pull the trigger coinciding just as Widmore was whispering in Nameless’ ear. Nameless himself didn’t mind too much, since he had heard enough – but Ben was quick to justify his action with his remarks about how Penny, his daughter, didn’t get to live.

My interpretation is that Ben achieved his goals. He got Nameless on side, in his trust, and he also saw Widmore dead. I wouldn’t go so far as to consider Ben a ‘good guy’, but I doubt he’s as aligned and with Nameless as much as Nameless might believe. Let’s not forget he also sent Miles away with a walkie-talkie, too. The man with the masterplan looks like he’s cooking something up.

One last question, that I can’t answer, is how Ben was able to kill Widmore. When they met in The Shape Of Things To Come Widmore made a comment about how Ben could not kill him. We never really got a reason as to why that was, and now we don’t have a reason as to why that. . . wasn’t!

Typical Lost.

Alternate Timeline Ben, however, is in an altogether better place. Despite getting a beat down off Desmond (Ben has certainly made for quite the punching bag over the years!) he found emotional redemption in the Rousseau household – with Alex apparently looking to him as a father-figure and Danielle (looking absolutely fabulous and breezy) giving off heavy ‘you’re my man’ signals.

Whilst Desmond rained down the blows on Ben a memory triggered of the other time he received such a beating – from the Island Timeline. If there really is a matter of choice in whether or not a person elects to become ‘aware’ and accepting of the Island Timeline then Alt-Ben is one such character that is really not going to be thrilled about the man he was in the other place. Yet I don’t think that’ll be the way of it. I suspect we may have seen the last of ‘Dr. Linus’. Ben, on the Island, clearly has a big part to play but I still hold to the belief that death will be his resolution. Whether he goes as a martyr in the battle against Nameless, or is taken down as Nameless’ villainous sidekick remains to be seen. It’s good to see him get back to being conniving, though!

The episode reached the cliffhanging declaration from Nameless that he was now within the realms of possibility of destroying the Island completely.

Seeing that Desmond was no longer in the well, Nameless had put together whatever Widmore told him and been convinced his scheme could work. I suspect it may involve simply flinging Desmond into the cave of light – the very cave that made Nameless into the Black Smoke. Only with Desmond’s curious resistance to these forces the ‘fail safe’ result of such an action may mean the light is simply extinguished. As if Desmond’s durability would somehow enable him to try and claim the light (as Mother suggested all men want to do) and thus it would need to be snuffed out. The heart of the Island stopped dead.

Who let Desmond out of the well? Sayid’s last words to Jack inferred that Desmond was down there, so you have to assume that was the case. If none of the candidates threw a rope down to Desmond then the only other person who knew about where Desmond was, who heard what Sayid said, was Frank Lapidus. Maybe Frank figured he needed a hand getting Ajira 316 up and running and so swung by Desmond’s well on the way! (OK, the two locations are on separate Islands which means this isn’t exactly handy, but you get the idea. I say that if Frank isn’t at Ajira then he’s the guy that got Desmond out of the well!)

Like the last flickering ash embers denoting Jacob’s remaining time left, the group has been rapidly pruned down to just a few remaining key players. This certainly bodes for a tense, fraught finale that, no doubt, has a good few twists, turns, shocks and surprises before the curtain comes down. And probably some tears, too. The End awaits. The end of Lost. We’ve come a long way to get to this point and we face the final curtain with excitement and trepidation. The one before the big one. The deep breath before the plunge. Hold on tight. . . and I’ll see you on the other side.

Analysis: 6.15 Across The Sea

Mother: “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.”

It was a joke from the writers and also a form of warning. Anyone that ever sought answers was a scientist. Anyone that ever believed without question had faith. The quandary this episode and, I suspect, Lost will leave us with by the end is the matter of what questions to demand answers of, and what vagaries and mysteries we quench with our own interpretation.

So this analysis is going to be formed very much from my interpretation, the only stipulation that it be coherent without contradiction from previously established information. Somewhere within the rather distant and frustrating history of the Island this episode presented there is coherence to be found. . .

So we learned that Jacob and Nameless (even at birth he wasn’t prescribed a name!) came to the Island via their mother, Claudia. Non-identical twins, it transpired that they were to be raised by another when Mother took it upon herself to smash Claudia’s head in with a rock. First impressions are that Nameless’ remarks to Kate, about how he had a crazy, disturbed mother were duly deserved.

The matter of Mother is very much open to interpretation. Mad woman? Manipulator? Monster?

Probably she was mortal, at first, with a mother of her own. Somehow she came to the Island and remained there. Maybe when she got there she encountered someone else, a previous guardian, who bestowed her with the role of Island protector. A bit like how there were people working in The Swan Station pressing the button for a shift until other Dharma people showed up to take over. This theme echoes on different levels throughout Lost. You take your turn, you do your duty, and then you get to relinquish the burden to someone else.

Indeed, if I may take a brief sidetrack, parallel with The Swan is more pertinent than you might first think. Consider Live Together, Die Alone, that showed us Desmond’s arrival on the Island. Desmond was shipwrecked on the beach and there found by Kelvin who took him back to The Swan. Kelvin informed Desmond that there was an infection and he was unable to leave the place. Compare and contrast with Mother stating that there was nothing else beyond the Island. Desmond, drunk and upset, would actually cry out that the Island was all there was, like a snowglobe, there being nothing else beyond the sea!

Furthermore, Kelvin explained that there was a button that needed to be pushed, to save the world no less, and though he didn’t know the source or the reason behind this force it was still a matter to be dealt with. Compare and contrast with Mother showing Jacob and Nameless the cave that needed to be protected, it housing a white light power of indeterminate source.

As an extra, Kelvin and Desmond’s relationship came to an end when Desmond, feeling betrayed, sought Kelvin out and so ensued a struggle that finished with a dull thud of skull against rock. Again, parallels, with Mother shoving Nameless’ head against a rock in the proto-donkey wheel cave, but fundamentally ending when the betrayed mete out fatal vengeance, as in Nameless killing Mother.

So Mother was on the Island, and then along came Claudia and the twins. Would Claudia have been killed had she given birth to just one child? I think so. Mother had a fundamentally negative view about man, but a child she could raise as her own was one she could mould to her own design – as her successor. That they were twins simply doubled her odds at finding a replacement. They were both, in effect, candidates. The chilling matter is that I believe Mother only wanted - needed - one of them. What she would have done with the child she didn't need is the chilling element. What eventually happened with the three of them I can't quite decide if it's what she wanted or expected.

I believe Jacob’s assessment that Mother preferred Nameless was correct. She referred to him as special and appeared to indulge his capacity for deception, such as with the Senet game he had found. Indeed, Mother was almost certainly lying when she said she had left the game for him to find. Jacob, on the other hand, was said to never lie – he possessed different qualities, amongst which was absolute devotion to Mother that Nameless turned his back on when the lure of his people, of going ‘home’ across the sea, beckoned.

At this point it’s worth asking the question of how grand was Mother’s plan. I believe the fact that she was shown weaving constantly was a very adamant suggestion that she, like Jacob, was in the business of forging bigger pictures by painstaking means. So it’s worth asking the question: Did she intend all that transpired to happen purely so that she could find a successor to protect the Island? Or was the fact that she was presented with twins what changed her initial plans of just finding a successor into something more?

It was very telling that she actually thanked Nameless for stabbing her.

The idea that Mother could conceive such a longstanding plan would beggar belief, but then we’ve seen Jacob touch the likes of Kate and Sawyer when they were children as part of his longterm plan of them being candidates on the Island – such ambition is not beyond the realms of reality in this show!

That Jacob and Nameless came as a package certainly aided this plan. Had Jacob been an only child then it’s hard to imagine him accepting the mantle of Island protector and also having the necessary rage to kill Mother. And that Jacob and Nameless, these two, have eventually formed the ‘black and white’ evil and protector role of the Island (I appreciate these are not as well-defined as a literal black and white interpretation, but it’s applicable enough for now) it’s tempting to figure that Mother herself once fulfilled both functions. Namely, that she was both black and white. Put bluntly: she was the Black Smoke as well as Island protector.

There’s evidence to suggest there was more power in Mother than was immediately apparent. Consider the well Nameless and ‘the others’ had dug; Mother knocked Nameless unconscious and then, off-screen, apparently carted his body up the ladder and then filled in the entire hole in a very short space of time.

Then she went off to wreak fire and death on ‘the others’.

It’s hard to imagine her managing such a thing without more formidable powers. Consider also that Nameless delivered the fatal dagger strike by stabbing Mother before she got the chance to speak to him; the same means by which Sayid was instructed to attack and kill Nameless.

Of course, Nameless instructed Alpert to find and kill Jacob with the same instruction. Stab him with the dagger before he gets the chance to speak. Maybe this really was a genuine rule that held for all three of them Mother, Jacob and Nameless – or maybe the fact that Nameless managed to kill his mother in this way simply informed his belief that it was the only way it could be done! The more questions you ask the more questions you find.

Yet the very notion that Mother was really capable of assuming a Black Smoke form just doesn’t sit right with me, purely because of how I interpret what happened with Jacob, Nameless and the tunnel of light. What I think is that Mother was both, black and white together, but whatever power for good or bad she had was not as powerful as the force for ‘good’ that Jacob would eventually possess, nor the extreme power of ‘bad’ that Nameless would exhibit in Black Smoke form. Here we enter the interpretation zone and I’ll just tell you about what I think.

I do take a very religion-based angle from what we saw in this episode. When Mother showed Jacob and Nameless the cave of light and proclaimed it to be a pure source of what we’ll call ‘goodness’ for the sake of simplicity, I believed her. If there’s some conceptual profound power in the world beyond science’s reach it was shining out of that cave and religions of many types have given that force a name: God.

What it is defies explanation. And, as Mother warned, questions only lead to further questions. Sometimes you have to have faith and those that can’t, that won’t, they just aren’t candidate material. So, if we consider Mother was somewhat ‘old testament’ in her approach to how this shining source be protected then you can parallel her with the kind of ‘God’ that was ruthless as well as all-loving, vengeful as well as peaceful. The kind of powerful entity that can apologetically bludgeon a woman to death for the greater good of the children she could raise to succeed her.

To this end, Jacob can be considered more ‘new testament’. Rather than maintain an apathetic distance between himself and man, condemning them as corrupt out of hand, he seeks to see the good in them, the light they all carry within them burning without greed or destruction.

The Island was described, by Jacob to Alpert, as a place that holds up all that is ‘evil’. Now I believe we can better understand that concept. Previously, when the cave of light existed, this is where the ‘goodness’ was sourced, saved, protected. However, when Nameless was cast into the cave I could not help but interpret it like Eve taking fruit from the forbidden tree. The perfect Garden Of Eden was besmirched, man was imbued with sin – but the potential for redemption. There was a definite ‘fall of man, fall from grace’ allegorical vibe happening.

That the episode took a non-subtle reminder visit to the Season 1 scenes when the skeletons in the cave were found and dubbed ‘Adam and Eve’ this point seems more enforced.

(Personally I wish those scenes hadn’t been included. I got it without the reminder, but on this Lost was perhaps catering for the audience that might not remember these crucial moments from so many years back and the creators wanted this moment underlined as one of those pivotal proofs that they had this thing well-planned long ago.)

That Nameless became the Black Smoke was almost like a formation of ‘sin’, this evil force now brought about and capable of casting judgement against man. The punishment for eating the forbidden fruit. The Island therefore does ‘contain’ Nameless, this death-dealing force of judgement. I think of the bottle metaphor. The Island being a cork in the bottle therefore suggesting that the Black Smoke is akin to a wasp trapped inside the bottle, angrily buzzing inside, longing to escape.

As stated, that’s pretty much my interpretation and I must stress that I don’t consider this right. I think the only thing that can be considered correct is that there is no true answer. Interpretation does depend on the individual and the only provision for it to be considered worthy is in its coherence.

Naturally, I can’t explain what would happen if the wasp escaped from the bottle. I can’t explain what the sunken Island in the Alternate Timeline means in the context of this battle between Jacob and Nameless. I can’t even explain why it is Jacob can freely come and go off the Island. But in broad strokes there’s a gist, a feel, a faith-based comprehension I can hold to. And I certainly have to believe that there is a profound power at the source of the Island that defies explanation, purely because of the explanation-defying powers that have been exhibited.

Mother on the Island could create her own rules. She says that Jacob and Nameless cannot hurt each other (I presume she meant not kill each other, as Jacob was perfectly capable of pounding Nameless’ face into burger a few times) and it is so – thus it becomes a matter of Nameless needing to find a loophole around the rule Mother created.

Incidentally, the image of Jacob as a boy with bloodied hands that Nameless saw. . .

. . . can now be explained as how his arms were bloody after punching Nameless' face on the night he abandoned Mother and went to the world of men in search of freedom – the beginning of the end, if you like. And the boy Jacob apparition reminded Nameless that there were rules, rules that Jacob had been able to construct for himself in his own whimsy. Just like how Nameless had the game of Senet and was able to make up the rules of this game as he saw fit, he prophetically predicted Jacob would one day do the same.

The Island is an extension of that same principle. Perhaps that was why Mother indulged Nameless playing the game, back when she considered him ‘special’, as it was this mentality that would serve him well on the Island. This kind of power is absolute proof of there being something defying explanation. It’s why Jacob could effortlessly grant Richard Alpert agelessness, and why these bizarre rules around who can kill candidates or Jacob abound.

When Keamy shot Alex Ben said, “He changed the rules.” It’s a remark we can now mull over in all manner of interpretations, but we have a firm basis from which to do so. The Island is a giant controllable game, of which the rules are arbitrarily applied for the basis of seeking out the true ‘goodness’ of people who may be able to bring back and control the light within them without extinguishing it. The light that once shone from the cave on the Island but was since dispelled and cast out, it is now housed in the hope for goodness in all mankind.

The man that first stumbled across ‘Adam and Eve’, that perhaps symbolically pocketed the black and white Senet pieces, was Jack. I say symbolically because if it’s true that Mother once, metaphorically, was comprised of both black and white together within her then perhaps Jack may also manage the same balance. I wonder, if he were to become the Island protector, what kind of ‘rules’ would he apply to the place? One mantra immediately springs to mind; the founding philosophy of Jack’s view of how humanity should survive: Live together, or die alone. Amen.