May 20 2010 5:08pm

Lost Round Table “What They Died For”

The penultimate (I love that word) episode of Lost has come, which brings us to the penultimate Lost Round Table. Bloggers Theresa DeLucci, Bridget McGovern and Rajan Khanna offer their penultimate Lost thoughts and invite you to do the same (penultimately). This is your penultimate Lost Spoiler Warning.

Raj: Dear Lost, I know things have been awkward between us of late. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve been together for 6 years now and things aren’t the way that they used to be. I think maybe you’ve started taking me for granted. And I think that my expectations might be set too high. But after last night, I have new hope for the both of us. Last night I felt like some of the excitement of the early days was back. Some of the promises I thought would remain unfulfilled were addressed. And I can’t wait for our next date.

That Jack was the candidate was expected, but made sense. I was surprised, however, by how sympathetic Jacob was in this episode, especially after the previous episode. Though I guess we had murderous Smocke to play against him. Though Bridget will be happy to see Zoe taken care of. Widmore’s death was unexpected, too, though I still wonder at his true objective. Was he telling the truth when he said that Jacob came to him? Is he going to try to detonate an EMP to destroy Smocke?

I also liked seeing Desmond as the kind-of Jacob of Earth-2, maneuvering all the people there to where, I assume, they’ll be able to affect or interact with Earth-1. But the shape of that interaction is still hard to predict. Will Earth-2 ultimately collapse? I hope not. I like having a world where Sayid and Locke are still alive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I miss original John Locke. It’s nice to see him, and in a better place.

Which brings up an interesting point between the two Earths. Some have previously brought up the fact that Earth-2 might be the inferior world, but in this episode we hear Jacob say that the reason he reached out to the candidates on Earth-1 was that they were, essentially, lost. They were alone. They needed something to make things right. Earth-2, however, doesn’t seem to have the same problem. Jack has a family, is less angry, and seems to be able to heal in more than just the physical sense. Claire has found a family. Hurley is not cursed. Some of them are not in the best of circumstances—Kate, for example—but is she any worse off than on Earth-1? I wonder if this will come into play.

Finally, I was happy to see some of my old favorites back for this episode. Richard (who isn’t dead by any means), Ben, and Miles. I wish Miles had had more to do, but then I always do. Ben’s turn in this one was really interesting, especially compared to his Earth-2 counterpart, but in the end it’s all about Alex. Which makes his shooting of Widmore understandable. I wonder if he’s really lost himself, in the way that Sayid did, though, or if he’s just playing along like Sawyer did. I wouldn’t put the latter past one of the Island’s master manipulators. But then again, maybe he is lost as well, and maybe Jack will be the one to help turn him back in the end. A new Jacob. A Jacob who can fix people.

Oh, and I still maintain that Sawyer had no reason to trust Jack with the bomb. He was behind the failed Jughead scheme that ended up killing Juliet. But I think that in the end, Sawyer now is seeing things from the other side. Jin and Sun’s deaths (and Sayid’s) weren’t his fault strictly, but it’s possible things might have worked out another way.

So, Lost, I think we may still have a future together. But I will be paying a lot of attention to our next date...

Theresa: I liked this episode. It served its purpose, setting everything up for the big finale. When it ended, I was actually pretty sad. Only one new episode of Lost left. Ever. But those feelings will have to wait until Sunday night. For now, the pieces are moved to their final, finale position.

Oh, Ben. It feels like we haven’t seen him in a long time. When last we saw him, he was talked out of being the MIB’s lackey and seemed humble, repentant for his manipulations, and ready to destroy the MIB. But as soon as he was face-to-face with his true enemy, Charles, all that meekness flew out the window and he reverted back to his sneaky ways. I love Ben when he’s manipulative, sly and a bit impulsive. And you have to give him some credit for getting so close to his revenge—I was so afraid for Penny. Ben knows how to turn almost any situation to his benefit. But it also feels like a step backwards for where his character was. And yet... we never really know what Ben’s got planned. If Charles is three steps ahead of Ben (loved that!) then Ben is still about five steps ahead of anyone else on the Island. He didn’t give Miles that walkie-talkie for nothing.

(As an aside, I’m pretty sure I heard Bridget’s cheer from Brooklyn as soon as Zoe died.)

On the flip side, after weeks of speculating about who would be the ultimate Candidate, it was a bit anticlimactic for Jack to step up and take Jacob’s place. No debate, no real questions. Was anyone really surprised? We expect nothing less from Jack. What did surprise me was Hurley saying he’s glad it wasn’t him. I’m glad, too! But it didn’t seem like a Hurley thing to say. That whole scene with Jacob and the Losties around the campfire was handled well. We got a great deal of exposition, but it all seemed pretty satisfying to me. I’d be okay with walking away from the finale feeling like this. Not wowed, not shocked, but satisfied. They were brought to the island because they were... lost. Did anyone think anything else of these characters and their dramatic, soap opera lives, way back in the first season?

But, what gives me hope that the finale can still wow me and maybe throw in a few gut-punches is the sideways universe. I loved all the stuff going on in there and the way I predict we’re moving towards some heart-wrenching, bittersweet musical montage with the whole ensemble at a concert. Raj, you make a great point about most of the characters being less lonely in Earth-2. Look at the chemistry between Rousseau and Ben, of all people. I never would have imagined that. But what did those two people always have in common on Earth-1? Their love for Alex. It makes so much sense. And it was just so sweet. I feel invested in these alternate characters and their fates just as much as the people on the island.

Bridget: I have to say that by the end of this episode, I felt far more secure about the writers’ ability to pull off a satisfying finale than I had when it started. A lot of things felt rushed, as if they are working off a checklist (“Mention Ji Yeon’s existence!—be sad!—check!”), but the steady pacing and a few deft touches here and there kept the show from feeling forced. Once again, the mirroring between the Island and Earth-2 worked well, and how great was it to have Ben and Miles back?!!!

Richard—well, I’m still processing that. I agree, Raj: he can’t be dead. Not only because he was supposed to be immortal (although the Rules are always debatable), but because it just wasn’t an acceptable death for a major character; they threw him away like a lame, unlikeable, third-string redshirt. Ahem. Speaking of Zoe, while it was semi-enjoyable to see her on the receiving end of what Jason Henninger memorably called “the slapdash Cuban necktie treatment,” her death just reinforced the character’s essential pointlessness: I still don’t know why she was there, taking up precious space and time, but now she’s not. Fine. Moving on: so glad Miles made it through the episode: he keeps things light, and he’s always good for snotty meta-commentary…what’s not to love?

And then there was Ben: stone-cold gangsta and slayer of Widmores in one reality, while in the other he’s having a heaping helping of the warm fuzzies for dinner with charming French MILF Danielle Rousseau. And he’s equally great in both roles—say what you want about this season, but anytime Michael Emerson is onscreen, Lost is nothing less than brilliant.

I also enjoyed watching Desmond’s gleeful machinations unfold on Earth-2. So, everybody and their mother (or at least David’s mother—who is Juliet, right? RIGHT?!) are going to end up at this concert. I’m assuming there will eventually be a choice to make, as there is on the Island. What the choice will be, and who will be making it remain to be seen—will it be one person, or a collective decision? One thing is certain: this is going to be one hell of a concert; it’s going to be like nerd Woodstock up in that thing.

Finally, like Theresa, I was a little underwhelmed by the candidates’ storyline; it did feel somewhat anticlimactic (and the scene around the campfire had a weird Survivor: Craphole Island vibe; I kept waiting for Jacob to whip out an immunity idol). Jack’s choice to be the Island’s guardian went way too smoothly, and I don’t trust it—either the Island has other plans, or the truly difficult, climactic decision has yet to be made. Personally, my hope for Sunday’s finale is that the show will leave us with an ending that is satisfying, but allows for a certain amount of ambiguity and interpretation; Lost’s penchant for inspiring philosophical and ethical debate has always been one of its most appealing aspects. Now that we’re at the end, I’m okay with some unanswered questions, as long as whatever ultimate explanation they provide gives us plenty to think about and obsess over while we’re updating and retrofitting all our old theories. I can’t wait!

Please check out our list of Lost’s Top 15 Moments, join us below in the comments, and enjoy our penultimate (!) round of Lost links:

Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Chizine.

Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Way of the Wizard, Shimmer, GUD, and Steampunk Tales. He is also a member of NY-based writing group, Altered Fluid. He lives in Brooklyn.

Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She would like to make a vacation home out of Ben Linus' secreter room, where she would invite Rose and Bernard over for Mai Tais and gossip.

Chin Bawambi
1. bawambi
I like the fact that Jack is the candidate because that means more terrible stuff is going to happen to our heroes. I used to call this show "Jack is always wrong" instead of Lost - I just hope the writers keep that theme going or at least the series ends on earth-2 where most of our characters (including Jack) are much more balanced then they are in earth-1.
Dave Thompson
2. DKT
I really, really enjoyed this one. And I stand by my frustration with last week's episode - aside from the last five minutes or so, we really didn't need the rest of it. (I think someone said it here last week, but it would've been so much stronger of an episode if Jacob's dead brother had been talking to him at the end after putting him to rest in the cave - would've at least given us a little more sympathy for Jacob, but I digress.)

This week was pretty much as great as a set-up could be. I wish we'd seen Island Demsond, because his careless, zen-like free spirit is such a fun departure. His sideways ploys were fun, though.

Everything with Locke, Ben, Widmore, Miles, and Alpert was awesome. Ben's scheming something with the walkies and the C4 and Miles running around in the jungle, but I love watching him scheme.

Good show. Sunday. Can't wait for Sunday.

(But if Alpert went out like that I'm going to be extremely pissed off!)
Bridget McGovern
3. BMcGovern
@bawambi "Jack is always wrong" made me laugh out loud--it's so true :)

Also, my friend and awesome Lost aficionado Priya just passed this along: it's a contest to sum up the entire plot of the show in a single Tweet. Six crazy, crazy seasons in 14o characters--I love it!
Steve Timberlake
4. Linkmeister
In the half-dozen posts about this episode that I've read, this is the only one that's picked up on the coming confluence of Losties at the concert in the Sideways universe. That was one of the lasting things I took away from the whole hour: that there was going to be something big happening there. Miles, Desmond, Kate, Jack (and son, and his as-yet-unidentified wife) are all confirmed attendees, and I'm willing to bet that within the first half-hour of the finale Locke, Ben, Hurley and Sayid will get there as well. And possibly Sawyer if he can get past his understandable reluctance to meet Charlotte again.
Eugene Myers
5. ecmyers
I enjoyed the episode and I continue to have high hopes for a satisfying finale. It certainly justified the previous episode, since there was too much backstory for Jacob to cover in their fireside chat. I was disappointed that Jack is the candidate, because it wasn't surprising, but I'm pretty sure he won't end up being the ultimate protector. I'm assuming he'll have to die to destroy the smoke monster, and my money's on Hurley or Desmond to step up--especially Hurley, because he doesn't want it. Unless they somehow destroy the island and release the life energy... I'm very intrigued by Desmond's role as "the failsafe."
6. Makeda42
If Locke "lets go", will his waveform collapse? Will he fall back to the island and take control over his body image that the smoke monster now controls? (And how on earth would you show such an interior fight on the screen?)
7. asotir
I liked this one too. Loved it. I have a good feeling about the finale 'event' too. Looking forward to the concert where musician/physicist Faraday can somehow bridge the worlds and give us maybe a quantum physics pseudo-explanation.

Jack as The Replacement? Yeah, well, remember: his job is only to kill Smoke monster. After that, he could just pass the cup on to Ben and Ben can be alone on the Island, HIS Island, just like he always wanted.

I look forward also to the continuation of the motif of 'choice' - maybe the survivors can get to leave the Island via the portal on Earth 1, or live on Sideways Earth, where everybody has, or is getting, what they always wanted.

One thing I loved about this episode was the laughs. Half a dozen or so dry wit comments that had me laughing out loud. Some from Ben were priceless. I too loved the contrast between sweet 'father' Dr Linus, and the mofo on the Island.
8. Tenesmus
So far my prediction for the series finale is still intact, nothing has happened to keep it from happening. Here it is: Everyone dies. It will come down to Smocke and Jack. The show will end with them battling, and destroying the island. Jack will sacrifice himself so that Smocke can't leave. The action will split between the island battle and the concert. The concert goers will slowly regain memories of island life and will "remember" the battle raging between Jack and Smocke. Jack will die, the island will be destroyed and the everyone at the concert will have a "memory" of everything that took place in the island and. Everyone will cry and stare at each other and the show will end. Jack's sacrifice will allow him to "fix" everyone that was on 815
Jordan Hamessley
9. Jordache
I also agree that Jack will end up sacrificing himself to kill Smocke. I have a hunch he will die from a puncture to his neck since he keeps bleeding out of his neck in the sideways world.

It seems like Jacob could be killed by anyone except for his smokey bro, which explains why he hid out for hundreds of years and used Richard to pass on his "rules". Jack is going into a battle. It's not going to be pretty.
Theresa DeLucci
10. theresa_delucci

Good call about Jack's bleeding neck. I didn't know what to make of it, but, yeah, could be foreshadowing.
Eugene Myers
11. ecmyers
@9 Jordache

I have a hunch he will die from a puncture to his neck since he keeps bleeding out of his neck in the sideways world.

Oh, good one! I also figure Jack's only role is to die and take the monster with him, but I think you're on to something... We'll know soon!
Rajan Khanna
12. rajanyk
Ooh, I like the idea of Jack dying and someone else having to take his place. And I agree, after what Hurley said, it might likely be him. It would be a great end for his arc, too, as he has been stepping up all season. And I also like the idea of the neck wound.

I have a sudden theory that maybe Earth-2 will basically come into existence in the final battle. That whatever is going to happen with the elecromagnetism will do to the Losties what it did to Desmond (sorta) before and they will end up in Earth-2 and Desmond gathering everyone is to bring them back in time for the climactic finale in the other world.

Or something.
Thomas Jeffries
13. thomstel
I'm still one of those that believes that Jacob/Mother/Jack can assume another form, most likely the white light or white smoke that Locke saw in S1, as well as being able to appear as other people. Some of Christian's off-island appearances just flat out couldn't have been Smokey according to what we know so far.

So if you buy that assumption with me, what I'm hoping for is a powerful Smokey-on-Smokey fight of some kind. It would tie in the multitude of black/white imagery in one final symbol/climax.

Also, asotir@7, I think Ben was potentially closer to being a mofo in the sideways than on the island...winkwinknudgenudgesaynomore ;)
Jennifer B
14. JennB
I like the alternate universe better now. The island plot is losing my interest. It seems like nothing is happening except the systematic killing of characters.

Looking forward to the fianle.
15. dmg
An interesting, if pompous, article from today's NY Times...

"... making sense of the show became the responsibility, and even the privilege, of the viewers rather than the producers. The compromises and continuity lapses and narrative backing and filling that characterize all broadcast network series became fodder for a kind of populist biblical commentary, and the logical gymnastics performed to read authorial intention into every word and image and in-joke began to feel religious in nature. Every question about the show had to have one true answer, and discerning it..."

Really, now, so the tail wags the dog?
Allison Lockwood Hansen
16. Talisyn
"I also agree that Jack will end up sacrificing himself to kill Smocke. I have a hunch he will die from a puncture to his neck since he keeps bleeding out of his neck in the sideways world."

@Jordache - Oh, very good! I think you're on to something.
Brian Roloff
17. Ronin-alTyr
I was so glad for this episode. I did feel the last one with Jacob and Marley (MIB) was important, but that much exposition without actually explaining S#!t, let me with slim hopes for a satisfying finale. However, this week’s episode, told me to hang in there. I am expecting to be satisfied with the conclusion.

Ben was AWESOME in this episode! He finally got his revenge on Widmore. Also, I believe he was trying to prevent Widmore from passing valuable info to Smocke. I am convinced he feels fooled by Smocke and nobody gets even like Ben. That ought to be fun to watch. I am anticipating he will be appear to be on Smocke’s side right up to the bitter end, when he tips the scales to Jack’s favor.

As far as how it ends, sign me up for the Jack and Smocke death match. I think essence of Smocke will somehow “re-joining” the light of the island, which will complete Marley’s (MIB’s) journey. The light and dark will then be restored to balance once again and Hurley will take over as protector. Why Hurley? You don’t hear a line like, “I’m glad it wasn’t me.”, without it then being passed to the person who said so. Perhaps then everyone else lives on “happily ever after” on Earth2. Either way, like a lot of you have said, it’s gonna be one helluva concert!
18. rogerothornhill
I've got a bad feeling about this. Whenever things I think are going to happen happen this early, I assume there has to be a reversal.

Guesses: (1) Killing Locke and/or MiB is not the real final battle--saving him and ending the cycle is; (2) It will not be just Jack who does it but a collective action; (3) Sending Desmond down the magic hole to effect a reboot of Jacob's primal sin on his brother would seem to be the key here.

Summation: I'm not getting a BSG feeling here but I am getting a Buffy feeling. The whole series wasn't a cheat (as some of my friends are descrying) but this last season was badly managed. Sad to say, 24 and FlashForward are still on track to go out more elegantly and primally than Lost.
19. rogerothornhill
And oh god yes on Emerson. O'Quinn is only being given something to play in Earth Gray'sAnatomy but Emerson has something to play in both worlds and knows what to do with it.

My big question is still: what if they had indeed been able to keep Eko through now?
Allison Lockwood Hansen
20. Talisyn
"Ben was AWESOME in this episode!"
@Ronin-AlTyr - He really was. He is such a fabulous character. Henry Gale, the smart ass. I really do believe he is one of the good guys... I do.
And the actor is amazing.

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