ENDGAME- “What They Died For” Recap

19 May

Awww... look at all my little Candidates... aren't you precious?

During my sophomore year of college I rewatched the first and second seasons of LOST in preparation for the third season premiere. This is actually how Alison got into the show, but it was also a period where my friend and roommate Jordan would sit down and watch some episodes just so he could make fun of them and comment on how illogically hot all the actresses were. He didn’t actually think the show was a joke, but knew that picking apart its intricacies would annoy me. It did, but Jordan wanted to make it up to me by having me one day explain the entire plot to him while he was drunk. When I reminded him of this last Saturday, the below exchange followed:

JORDAN: What’s the cloud monster?
ALEX: You mean, Smoke Monster.
JORDAN: Alright, whatever, Smoke Monster- what is it?
ALEX: Actually, it used to be a person.
JORDAN: Okay. How did he become the monster?
ALEX: He was thrown into a tunnel of light.
JORDAN: What’s the tunnel of light?
ALEX: The source of everything.
JORDAN: (throws hands in air) Okay, that’s it, I’m out. I’m out. (walks away)

I think that exchange so brilliantly displays why LOST has literally become a way of life for some, and is totally baffling to others. For whatever reason, it touched me, and as cheesy as it may sound, changed my life. So while I can’t say I’m not excited for Sunday’s finale, I’m also depressed that such a big part of my life will be gone forever.

On the bright side, I think nearly all LOST fans can agree that last night’s episode, “What They Died For” was a stellar outing. I’ve already been reading some other blogs (I know… breaking my “radio silence” declaration) and all seem to be saying the same thing: this was classic LOST. It had drama, it had intrigue, it had humor, it had horror & shocking deaths, and it had answers. Unlike divisive mythos episode “Across The Sea,” this episode seemed like it was written in such a way that every kind of fan of the show would be pleased. It was also a great setup for the finale, and unlike previous setups, didn’t feel like a transitionary filler episode designed to get all the players in the right spot for the end. It felt natural, and I think that’s why it worked so well.

First off, I’d like to say Rest in Peace to Richard and Widmore (but not Zoe. I hate her.), and point out that so far my death predictions have been correct. Sure, we’re all still arguing about whether or not Richard is dead, but we were doing the same thing for Lapidus and I haven’t seen him rear his ugly head since the sub disaster. Then there are some of you who say his death was cheap and not a good send-off for the character. I agree, and disagree. While Richard’s sudden demise does leave me longing for more- not only did I just want him to stick around because I liked the character so much, but I also felt there was more story to be told. Then again, from a structural standpoint, it was once again, a well crafted death that definitely serves the story.

Fuck you Richard!!!!!!

What I liked about it is how Richard’s convinced he can negotiate with the Man in Black and buy everyone time by becoming his lackey, only to discover that he only had one chance to join MIB, and now, he’s toast. MIB isn’t interested in Richard anymore, he wants Ben, and in the same way Zoe no longer served a purpose, so too did Richard. It was like Smokey was trying to make a point- “you think you can negotiate with me? You think you can trick me, Eyelashes? Fuck you. I’m going to kill you just to make a point about how badass I am.” In that respect, it worked. I also feel the writers wanted to whittle down the cast to the most essential characters, so that the Island plot of the finale focuses just on those people. Widmore and Richard didn’t really deserve to make it to the end- but Ben certainly did, and I’m glad he’s playing such an important role.

Dr. Linus returned to full form this episode, and in a matter of seconds transformed from mopey, apologetic Ben, to “I’m going to gun you down you British bastard!!” Ben. Back is the Benjamin Linus we all know and love, but I have mixed feelings about his apparent return to darkness. However, I’m not too hung up about it because I’m pretty sure Ben is still not on anyone’s side but his own, and that he’s got a classic Linus secret plan cued up, one that probably involves the destruction of Smokey. Also, Alison pointed out a little detail I almost forgot about: Ben giving one of Widmore’s walkies to Miles, who took off into the jungle before Evil with a capital E showed up. This implies he does have a secret plan, and also implies that Miles may have been the one who rescued Desmond. Once Ben found out MIB was after Desmond, it’s completely plausible that he contacted Miles in secret and told him to grab the Scotsman. It could also just as very well been Claire, who was MIA this episode. Either way, it’s hard to believe Ben is going to follow Smokey to the end when he first promised him total rule of the Island, then recanted that five minutes later and declared his intent to destroy it. I’m hoping Ben ends up being the one responsible for Smokey’s demise, an action that will also probably be a sacrifice.

That being said, Desmond is clearly the one with the ability to destroy our villain, but also apparently to destroy the entire Island. While Smokey’s new plan did seem to come out of left field, I imagine it is tied to his long-standing desire to leave. Perhaps he means to destroy the Source, and perhaps the resulting electromagnetic implosion will teleport him off the rock. This also seems to match up with a theory I developed after “Sundown”, that the alternate reality wasn’t created by the detonation of Jughead, but by an event we have yet to see. That’s what was so awesome about “What They Died For”- all the pieces of the puzzle finally seem to be settling into place. Remember, after Desmond jumped to Sideways world, he told Widmore he understood why the old man wanted him to perform a sacrifice. In other words, Desmond saw what the world was like without the Island, didn’t like it, and realized he had to stop MIB from destroying it.

Of course, this is all happening in 2007 you say, three years after the events we’re seeing in Sideways world. How can the destruction of the Island in the year 2007 of one timeline create a new timeline that has differences in it pre-2007? Well, I don’t really know. I’m just throwing shit out there- I say the puzzle pieces are coming together, but I still have no clue how this is all going to play out. What I meant was that the story feels like it’s all coming together- what the specifics are, I don’t know. However, I have always held to the idea that the Island is a place that exists outside of any one reality, that time itself does not really apply to it. This has already been implied with the difficulties characters have getting on and off and the deadly time-jumping, as well as the reveal of the Source. The existence of such a thing tells me the Island must defy all the laws of physics, and therefore, it’s not out of the question that the destruction of the Island in 2007 would create a new universe. Not to mention that they brought back Jack’s mysterious neck scar, a wound I’m sure he’ll sustain on-Island this Sunday.

Whatever Desmond’s doing in the alternate reality must be in service of this plan to save the Island. I have never been more intrigued by the Flash-Sideways than I was last night, even though I have not even the remotest idea what Desmond’s up to. It was just cool to watch him do it. I have some ideas about what he might be trying to accomplish. He’s obviously trying to get all the characters together in one place, which is clearly going to happen on Sunday at Pierre Chang’s museum benefit. We learned this week that Desmond didn’t run down Locke because he’s MIB in disguise or anything of the sort- he was trying to get him to let go of his guilt over Anthony Cooper’s vegetablism, so he can nut up and let Jack fix his spine. That made me recall last year, when Eloise Hawking demanded Jack give Locke’s corpse an item of his father’s so as to have Ajira Flight 316 resemble Oceanic Flight 815 as closely as possible. Perhaps that’s part of Desmond’s plan- to get all the survivors in one place, with a Locke who can stand, thus recreating their Island life as closely as possible. What will that accomplish? No idea. But I feel like the show’s moving towards a resolution where the two universes merge, not a Fringe-esque “THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE… UNIVERSE” (btw, super stoked for this week’s Fringe finale as well).

All this theorizing is loads of fun, but let’s talk about what this episode was really about: character. I already talked about Ben’s glorious return to form, now I want to talk about Jack, the Candidates, and the campfire scene. AMAZING SCENE. Not only did we get “super cool prescient Jacob” as opposed to “slightly retarded man child Jacob,” the dude basically spelt out his whole plan. As a longtime LOST fan, that scene was more than satisfying. To hear Jacob explain himself, and then argue his decisions was a blast. A character would attack him for a totally legitimate complaint- why did you let so many innocents die, why do I have to make a sacrifice for your mistake, etc.- and he would fire back with a completely logical retort.

Dude, Jacob... this kinda tastes like Sprite...

But what was most satisfying was seeing Jack take his rightful place as the Island’s new Protector. I’ve watched a LOT of TV shows, but that has to be the single most cathartic character moment I’ve ever witnessed. Finally. FINALLY. Finally Jack finds what he’s looking for: his purpose, his destiny, the very thing he once believed didn’t exist. “This is what I’m supposed to do,” he declares. “Is that a question?” Jacob asks. Jack just shakes his head. He knows now. And the look on his face when he drank from the cup- the mix of relief and epiphany- it was beautiful. Maybe my favorite moment of LOST ever.

And now, there are only two and a half hours left. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LEFT. What will happen? I don’t know. Will I be satisfied? Probably. Will everyone be satisfied? Probably not. Will all our questions be answered? Definitely not, although apparently we’ll get some random 20 mins of answers when the DVDs hit shelves. Regardless, it will be a momentous occasion for television, and for weird geeks like me. It’ll be emotional- I’ll probably cry. And it’ll be awesome.

I could theorize and theorize but at this stage, what’s the point? I don’t even care about having mysteries answered- I just want the story to finish in a natural and satisfying way. I’ll be the first to admit that this has not been the most stellar of the series’ seasons. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but when compared to the taught character drama of Season One, or the mind-bending storytelling structure of Season Five, Season Six just doesn’t stack up. Even if the finale is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, the season as a whole will not be as good as past years. I blame this on the writers’ desire to stuff too much into eighteen hours. There was just so much going on, even when characters were just sitting around talking, that the season never felt like it had a focus. Unlike most fans, I had no problem with the Temple storyline, in fact, I liked it, just like I liked Hyrda Island in Season Three. It’s what came in between that and “The Last Recruit” that bothered me. The whole middle act felt like it was all over the place, and the story slowed. In the end though, it was all worth it, because everything we’ve seen so far this year has just been set-up for the incredible endgame I’m sure we’ll all witness come Sunday. I can’t wait.

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