May 4, 2010

LOST S6E13: The Last Recruit

Filed under: Lost,TV — DB @ 2:30 pm

Right off the bat, let me say that I loved this episode, for the way it brought everyone together (in both timelines) as well as for the way it threw the tension into high-gear. My heart was racing for the full hour, which can only mean that the end of the season is fast approaching. Lost always amps up in a season’s final run of episodes…and with this being the end of the series, I have to assume that we’re heading into overdrive.

As I suspected, this episode’s trip to SidewaysLand didn’t focus on one character, but instead kick-started the process of drawing them all together, beginning with Locke arriving at the hospital in the wake of Desmond’s aggressive moving violation. (Locke is accompanied in the ambulance by Ben, and is able to talk to him lucidly during the ride). Another ambulance pulls up to the hospital just as Locke’s does, and this one carries Sun and Jin. Locke and Sun are wheeled in literally side by side, and when Sun turns sideways and sees Locke, she cries out, “No! No! It’s him! It’s him.” An interesting connection between the two timelines. And a creepy one.

Meanwhile, at his police station, Sawyer sits down to talk with Kate about the coincidence of them being on the same plane. “Almost like someone’s trying to put us together,” he says.  Their exchange crackles with the same antagonistic flirting that marked their early island days, and Sawyer is at first bothered by, then turned on by, Kate’s accusation/observation that he didn’t arrest her when he saw her handcuffs at the airport because he didn’t want anybody to know he had been in Australia. Their conversation is interrupted when Miles calls Sawyer away and informs him that there’s been a quadruple homicide at a restaurant. He mentions Keamy by name, and also mentions a female Korean gunshot victim and her non-English speaking boyfriend. They have surveillance video that shows Sayid leaving the restaurant.

Sayid goes back to Omer and Nadia’s and urgently packs his bag. He tells Nadia that things are going to be okay for her now but that he has to leave and can never come back. As she asks what he did, the doorbell rings. She gives it a moment before opening it and letting Miles in. Sayid sneaks out the back, but Sawyer’s on him like hummus on falafel, and arrests him. It seems like Sayid, with all of his training, would think to do something as obvious as look down before sneaking out the door, in case somebody happened to be there holding a hose for him to trip over. But that wouldn’t be narratively convenient.

Claire enters an office building that is home to an adoption agency. As she’s in the lobby signing herself in, Desmond appears beside her. She remembers him from the airport and he walks with her toward the elevators, saying that he noticed she was going to an adoption agency and advising her to have a lawyer with her. He says he happens to be going to see one right now who’s a friend and owes him a favor. Claire seems skeptical that this guy she doesn’t really know is so insistent, but he convinces her. They ascend to floor 15 and into a law office, where Desmond is greeted by his attorney friend – a non-blown-up Ilana. When she gets Claire’s name, she looks taken aback and asks Claire if she’s from Australia. She tells Claire what a coincidence her appearance is, as she’s been looking for her. When she asks Desmond if she can speak to Claire privately, Desmond looks as if he expected this to transpire. Which I suppose he probably did and that’s why he tried so hard to get her into the office: knowing that Claire’s visit to Ilana would put her in touch with Jack. Not sure how Desmond knows about Jack and Claire’s connection, but no matter.

Jack and his son David arrive at the same office building and proceed into the same attorney’s office, where they’re greeted by Ilana (Desmond no longer seems to be there). “Do you believe in fate?” she asks as she ushers them into a conference room and introduces Claire. (If you recall from Jack’s sideways-episode earlier in the season, he and his mother found Christian’s will…in which Claire was named.) “You found her,” Jack says to Ilana. “Actually, she found us.” When Jack asks Claire if she knows why she was in his father’s will, Claire answers that he was her father too (I’m assuming that she’s just learned about this from Ilana, though she may have already met Christian if in SidewaysLand she was still in an car accident with her mother. (It was under those circumstances, prior to getting pregnant, that Claire first became aware of her father.) Jack barely has time to comprehend the news that he has a sister; his pager goes off, summoning him to an emergency at the hospital. He tells Claire and Ilana that he’ll have to reschedule.

Sun wakes up in the hospital, where Jin tells her that she’s going to be fine and that the baby is safe as well. As they savor their good fortune, Jack and David pass by their room, still talking about Claire’s revelation. Jack leaves David waiting while he scrubs in for his surgery, realizing when he gets into the O.R. and catches a view of the patient – Locke – that they’ve met before.

What a perfect place to segue into the island action, which picks up right where the previous episode ended: Team Jacob’s arrival at Man in Locke’s camp. Locke tells Jack they have some catching up to do. Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Sayid seem quite fascinated by the arrival of Team Jacob and by Jack and Man in Locke taking off for some male bonding in the woods. They go off on their own, and another one of the series’ great Jack/Locke exchanges unfolds, even if this time Locke isn’t Locke anymore.

The one thing that worries me about the revelation that Jack’s vision of his father in the early Season One episode White Rabbit was really the Man in Black – which therefore leads us to assume that every time we’ve seen Christian Shephard on the island it was the Man in Black – is that it absolves the writers of having to deal with Christian beyond this point. Jack still has some daddy issues to work out and it has seemed for a while like he might have one last chance to hash them over with his father on the island. These issues have been deeply entwined in his journey, not to mention that Christian has been a huge part of the show all along, influencing not just Jack’s life but crossing paths with multiple other castaways as well. So as far as I’m concerned, we need to see actor John Terry return as Christian. He’s been too large a presence for this scene with Jack and Man in Locke to be the resolution. However he’s able to take shape or whatever spectral plane he exists on, we’re owed stronger closure on the curious case of Christian Shephard.

One hopeful sign is that according to the show’s own rules, the Man in Black couldn’t have been Christian every time we’ve seen him. If you recall, earlier this season in The Substitute, Ilana told Ben that the Man in Black couldn’t change his form again now that he had taken on Locke’s appearance. (It hasn’t been explained why that is, but the why is irrelevant to the point I’m about to make; we’ve been told that Man in Black is stuck looking like John Locke.) Yet I take you back to last season, when Ajira 316 crashed on Hydra Island and suddenly John Locke was back from the dead. Except we know now that it was the Man in Black.

Fast forward a few episodes to Namaste, in which Sun and Lapidus travel over to the main island and find the abandoned Dharma barracks at New Otherton. And what else do they find there? Christian Shephard, who shows them the picture with Jack, Kate and Hurley among the Dharma Initiative new recruits from 1977. Therefore…if the Man in Black can’t change his appearance now that he’s adopted Locke’s look, then he couldn’t have been taking on the form of Christian Shephard. So either the writers and producers have once again made a major continuity error – and frankly it wouldn’t be the first time – or there’s evidence to suggest that not every appearance of Christian Shephard on the island has been the Man in Black personally.

As Man in Locke and Jack make their way back, Locke senses someone following them. Claire steps out of the jungle, and casually says that she’s following them because Jack is her brother. Locke leaves them to catch up. “Did he tell you? That he was the one pretending to be our father?” she asks. “Yeah. Yeah, he told me.” So Claire now knows that Man in Black was pretending to be her father. When did she figure that out? It’s only been a few days since she was in her hut telling Jin that both her father and her “friend” told her the Others had stolen her baby. She kept referring to Locke as her friend, and still referred to her father as if she’d really been with him, yet now she seems to know that they were one and the same.

She tells Jack it’s good to see him, and they embrace – finally with the knowledge of their connection. She says she never had much in the way of family so she’s happy he’s coming with them. When he tells her he hasn’t made up his mind about that yet, she disagrees. “Yeah you have. You decided the moment you let him talk to you. Just like the rest of us. So you know, whether you like it or not, you’re with him now.”

I was glad that Claire’s return was acknowledged by those who hadn’t seen her since she’s been back. She had only a brief moment with Hurley, but that was all I needed. And speaking of Hurley, Sawyer tells him about the submarine and his deal with Widmore, while Kate shares the same with Sun. Sawyer tells Hurley that Sayid isn’t invited, having gone over to the dark side. Hurley cites Anakin Skywalker to argue that people can come back from the dark side. Sayid does seem pretty far gone, and yet…well, we’ll get to that.

Zoe, from The Fightin’ Widmores, marches into Man in Locke’s camp and tells him that he took something from them which they want back. Man in Locke feigns ignorance, just as Widmore did when Locke went to reclaim Jin. Zoe pulls out a walkie-talkie and asks someone on the other end if they have a fix on her position and to show Locke what they’re capable of. A missile sound is heard overhead and suddenly there’s a huge explosion just outside the camp. She tells Locke he has until nightfall to return what he took or the next time the explosion wouldn’t miss. She gives Locke the walkie and leaves. Locke drops it on the ground and smashes it. “Well,” he says, “here we go.”

He gathers everyone together and says that while this is happening a bit earlier than expected, Widmore’s actions have forced his hand and that they’re leaving for Hydra Island. What is it about everyone’s timeline being thrown off? When Zoe and her team kidnapped Jin, Widmore was upset because it wasn’t supposed to happen for days. Then the experiment on Desmond happened earlier than Zoe and Co. were prepared for. Now this. Why is the timing of all this so important?

Locke gives Sawyer a hand-drawn map and points out a spot where there’s a boat anchored. He tasks Sawyer with getting the boat and meeting the rest of them at another spot on the map for the trip to Hydra Island. Sawyer says he could use another pair of hands, and asks Kate to accompany him. Locke then calls Sayid away, and as they exit together, Sawyer approaches Jack and gives him the map. He says they aren’t meeting Locke. First chance Jack gets, he’s to grab Hurley, Sun and Lapidus and make for another point where there’s a dock. He says they’ll sail over to Hydra together and cash in on the deal with Widmore. Jack asks about Sayid and Claire. Sawyer says Sayid’s a zombie and Claire is nuts. “She gave up her ticket when she tried to kill Kate.”

Meanwhile, Locke instructs Sayid to go out to the well where Desmond is and kill him. (We’ll ignore the fact that Desmond’s head-first plunge into that well should have killed him already.) In their encounter, Desmond just looks up – still unafraid, but showing a little more emotion than he has since his incident in the wooden shack. Sayid, on the other hand, remains completely devoid of emotion.

Sayid doesn’t answer Desmond’s last question, or rather we don’t see him answer. But I like how the question recalls Michael and the way he alienated Walt by telling him about killing Ana Lucia and Libby (we never see that, but it’s referred to in Season Four’s Michael-flashback, Meet Kevin Johnson).

Also, we never did find out how Sayid came back to life and became infected with what Dogen referred to as “poison.” How did Man in Locke, who was nowhere near The Temple at the time, manage to infiltrate Sayid’s body with the illness Dogen diagnosed him with?

Although it happens later in the episode, the clip also includes the scene with Man in Locke finding Sayid, who may well have been on his way to rejoin Locke’s crew, though I got the feeling something else was afoot. He seemed to be looking up, at the trees. I’m sure the fact that we didn’t see the outcome of his encounter with Desmond for ourselves means we can safely assume he didn’t carry out his orders. And if we’re right, what’s his plan now? Did Desmond manage to reach the fading glimmer of humanity that might still be alive inside Sayid? Is it possible he even helped Desmond out of that well? My guess is that when Locke found him, he was looking for something that he could lower down to Desmond to help him climb out. (I was surprised by the outcome of their scene, considering that in the preview for this episode that aired the week before, Sayid fired his gun into the well. Maybe the “exploding bullet” effect was just added to the preview to throw us off.

As Desmond and Sayid are having their tense moment, Sawyer and Kate arrive at the shore near the boat. Sawyer lets her in on his plan, and she notes that his list of fugitives doesn’t include Claire.

S: She ain’t comin.’  The Claire you came back for is gone.
K: I promised I would bring her back.
S: That’s before she started drinkin’ Locke’s kool-aid. She’s dangerous; you really want her around Aaron?

Kate isn’t comfortable with the decision, but there’s no time to argue now. They head into the water and make for the boat – which, if you’re wondering, is Desmond’s boat – the Elizabeth. If you recall Season Two’s finale Live Together, Die Alone you may remember that the boat is named after Libby – who gave it to Desmond after a chance encounter in which she shared the story that her husband died before ever getting to sail it.

As Man in Locke’s group marches across the island, Jack asks Claire how long she’s been with Locke. “Ever since you left,” she says.” When he asks if she trusts him, she says yes, because he was the only one who didn’t abandon her. To which I just have to say – let’s be fair, Claire Bear: nobody abandoned you. Let’s recap what happened:

a) You walked off into the jungle with your inexplicably island-occupying father, leaving your baby behind. Sure, he probably cast some funky voodoo on you, seeing as he wasn’t really your father, but still.

b) Your friends, after failing to locate you, tried to get to the freighter, with the intention of coming back to the island on the helicopter to look for you. But then the helicopter got shot and was leaking fuel…

c) …which doesn’t matter anyway, because the island DISAPPEARED in front of their eyes. And then they crashed.

So while your circumstances are genuinely regrettable, let’s not be passive-aggressive toward your friends and family. The only abandoning that happened was you abandoning your baby – again, under the influence of a force powerful enough that we can’t blame you. And now that you know “Locke” was pretending to be your father and that he’s the one who lured you away from your baby, from your friends, from rescue…isn’t he pretty much the last person who deserves your trust at this point?

When Locke leaves the group to go look for Sayid, Jack – acting without having time to think, as he still hasn’t made up his mind about his intentions and what he thinks Man in Locke is up to – quickly gathers Hurley, Sun and Lapidus and leads them away from the pack unnoticed by all…except Claire, who watches with an understandable look of anger and hurt on her face: that, Claire, is being abandoned.

Jack, Hurley, Sun and Frank find Sawyer and Kate docked and waiting. As they board, Frank assumes they’re using the boat to get away, but Sawyer says they can’t do that without the proper bearing. For three years the only way Dharma folk got on or off the island was via submarine, so that’s what they’re doing. But they’re barely all onboard when Claire shows up, rifle pointed. Kate moves toward her and attempts to reason with her.

K: We’re leaving the island.
C: Then why aren’t you waiting for John?
K: Because that’s not John, and whoever he is, he’s not one of us. Claire, come with us. I can get you back to Aaron.
S: Wait a damn…
K: Sawyer, shut up. She is coming or I’m not. Come with us, Claire.
C: John promised me…
K: I’m promising you. I was there when he was born. And I never should have raised him. It should have been you. I came back to get you so you could be with him again. That’s the only reason I came back to the island, Claire. So please come with us. Let’s go home.

Claire agrees to go with them, allowing Kate to take her rifle. But she warns, “He finds out we’re gone, he’s gonna be mad.”

As they make for Hydra Island, Jack sits alone on the other side of the boat from the others, and Sawyer goes over to talk to him…

I think this may be the first time that Jack has ever called Sawyer by the name James. After Sawyer tells him to get off the boat, Jack looks toward Kate and then jumps anyway. When he and Sawyer square off in last season’s finale, Jack tells Sawyer that part of his reason for wanting to reset the timeline and stop 815 from crashing is that he’d had Kate and he lost her. When Sawyer reasons that they probably won’t even meet if the plane lands safely in Los Angeles, Jack just says that if it’s meant to be, it will be. So it’s a sign of his current state of mind that he’s no longer motivated by a desire to be with Kate. He’s now making decisions based on what his gut is telling him is right for him. He chooses the Island over Kate because he’s now being driven by a sense of destiny, or some other force inside him. (On the other hand, he told Kate in the same episode that detonating Jughead felt more right than anything he’d ever done. He knew it was what he was supposed to do…so that decision may have come out of both heartache and a sense of destiny. And we may yet find out he was right.)

Jack makes it back to shore, where Locke and a few of his people are standing. “Nice day for a swim,” he says, scanning the ocean. “Sawyer took my boat, didn’t he?” Jack confirms it. I wonder if Locke thinks that Jack came back because he’s chosen his side.

Sawyer and Co. arrive on Hydra Island, where the pylons run along the beach. No sooner have they stepped ashore do Zoe and some of Widmore’s team pop up pointing guns. Zoe recognizes Sawyer and radios Widmore. As this is happening, Jin arrives on the beach and he and Sun see each other. It’s been three years since they’ve been together, and they run into each other’s arms for a welcome reunion. Now I know many people feel that the reunion felt short. I’ve also heard comments that it felt anti-climactic. I didn’t think it seemed too short. What more could they have done really, other than strip down and begin making sweet love on the beach like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity?

I can go with the anti-climactic argument a little more easily. For me, the reunion was dampened by the fact that I was terribly afraid something awful was going to happen in that moment. I thought maybe the pylons were turned on to some deadly frequency like the full-sized ones near New Otherton, and that when Sun ran toward Jin and crossed behind them they were going to fry her brain and she would collapse in Jin’s arms, dead. Or that one of them was going to get shot. Or that a terribly animated CGI shark was going to jump out of the water totally unexpectedly and eat Lapidus.

There was a really cool moment that I missed upon first viewing: two brief shots of Sawyer reacting to Sun and Jin’s embrace. The second one, especially, is a great moment where Sawyer’s own loss crosses his face, and we see that while he’s happy for Sun and Jin, he’s heartbroken for himself and the fact that no similar reunion awaits him and Juliet.

Opinions that the reunion was anti-climactic might also have to do with Zoe receiving her instructions from Widmore and telling Sawyer and the rest to get on their knees. When Sawyer protests that he had a deal with Widmore, she tells him the deal’s off.  She then radios someone else, asking if they have a lock on Locke. She orders a fire, and back on the main island’s shore, Jack and Locke look around as a missile sound is heard. Jack leaps out of the way as an explosion rocks the beach. He lands in the sand, a little bloody and disoriented, and Locke runs over and pulls him out of the way before another explosion hits right where he was lying. Locke carries him just into the jungle and sits him against a tree, where he tells him not to worry. “You’re with me now,” he says reassuringly.

Wish I knew whether or not that was really so reassuring.

-So if the deal is off, what is Widmore’s intention with them? What are all of Widmore’s intentions? What was Desmond supposed to do for him?

-Damon Lindelof recently gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter in which he talked about the end of the season and said that while the finale will definitely serve as an end to the story, it will be open for interpretation and debate, just as Lost has always been. So whatever mysteries from the past six years get solved in the next few weeks, expect there to be one that we can debate and puzzle over for the rest of our natural lives.

-That link above contains this link, but I wanted to call it out separately. It has scans from a TV Guide feature with the final official cast photo of the show, along with a fun bonus of each actor naming another TV show to which their character might be well suited.

-A friend passed on this link to the Flickr page of an artist who has created posters for every single episode of Lost (or is continuing to create them. It looks like he’s only gotten about halfway through Season Five). These are pretty cool, especially if you can actually recall episode titles and what occurred in each given installment; or to put it another way, especially if you’re sick like me.

-And here is Muppet Dr. Chang with Lost Untangled’s breakdown of The Last Recruit.

If you just can’t get enough, this one is essentially a rap video about the life and times of John Locke.

These things are like watching Muppets on steroids.

-Will you please, for the love of GOD, give Lapidus something to do in these last four episodes?

“We’re gonna ditch Locke. You, me, Jack, Hurley, Sun and that pilot who looks like he stepped off the set of a Burt Reynolds movie.” – Sawyer

Tonight’s Episode: The Candidate

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