M: I’ll start right off with the fact that I’m not sure what to write this week, so if this is short, or scattered or just plain lame, my apologies in advance. I like this episode, a good deal happened, I’m just not sure I have all that much rattling around in my head this time. Here are some of the thoughts, and as always, spoilers abound.
The first thought only came to me because of the title of the episode, The Last Recruit. Early in the season we saw Smokey start recruiting. Over the course of the season they have made a point to show the people that he added to his little posse (his pretty dingy, mostly harmless posse, by the way). Obviously we had Claire right from the start. Sawyer seemed to join him, but has always been Sawyer, trying to work an angle, so we’re not really sold that he was actually recruited. For a time Jin was in his camp, but Jin never bought in. We got all the red shirts from the temple that didn’t want to die, which includes Cindy the stewardess who pops up on camera every once in a while, and Zach and Emma, the kids from the tail section that we learned about in The Other 48 Days. It also included Miles and Kate, but again they have never felt like they were on Locke’s team. Sayid, on the other hand, felt like he was on board. We’ll get to him later, he had an odd week this week.
What’s the point of all this? Well, my speculation has been that the reason Smokey killed Jacob, the reason he’s recruiting, the reason he keeps saying they all have to leave together, is because for him to be able to leave there has to be no one to bind him to the island. I think Jacob’s role in their adversarial relationship has been to bind him to the island, to keep him there locked up. If Jacob described the island as the cork in the bottle, I think Jacob was the bottle itself. The candidates are candidates to replace Jacob, and while there are still candidates there is still a bottle, there is still a barrier. So Smokey needs to either eliminate them all or take them all with him to be able to leave.
Now, my thought has been that candidates cease being candidates, thus having their name crossed off the cave wall, either by dying or by being recruited by Smokey, and joining him. Now, it seems pretty clear that as part of the “rules”, Smokey can’t directly kill a candidate himself. So he’s been going about trying to turn them, bring them to the side of the great deceiver. So who is the last recruit? Well, they threw the kitchen sink at us to make us believe it’s Jack. You had Claire tell him that he made his choice and that he’s on Smokey’s team now, you had Smokey spouting off about appearing as Christian (for those who say they aren’t answering any questions, um, here’s another!) to help him because he only ever wanted to help him, and in the end telling him “you’re with me now”.
I think the word recruit was chosen carefully. Much like when someone is a candidate, when someone’s a recruit they have not necessarily committed. A college will recruit players for their sports teams, but not all recruits choose that school. I think that Jack is the crown jewel recruit that Smokey is trying to convince to join him, and I think that he thinks that he succeeded at the end. But I think Jack took his next step to becoming the last candidate, and the eventual replacement for Jacob. Jack has given in to the will of the island, has learned to not try to control everything, and has taken his leap of faith, which this week was literal as well as figurative, with his leap off “Sawyer’s boat”. Smokey may think he’s got him, but I thinl this is similar to the Emperor after Luke has just defeated Darth Vader near the end of Return of the Jedi. Smokey thinks he has just turned him, but Jack is more Jacob’s now than he ever has been. So the question that remains is… is that a good thing?
Moving on from that, we had a bunch of other stuff go down. The most important, to me at least, is that Sayid turned away from the dark side. This was foreshadowed by Hurley and Sawyer discussing him, and Hurley, who I think should be the new Jacob, and Hurley saying if Anakin can be saved, anyone can turn back. Anyone who knows me, or who read the previous paragraph, knows I’m a sucker for Star Wars references and analogies. This one I thought was done well. They didn’t make Hurley’s comment overt, and they didn’t make Sayid’s turning back completely clear. How did it happen, you ask? Let me tell you.
Zoe showed up in Smokey’s cool looking tree fort camp demanding that they give back “what they stole”. To prove that they were serious, they fired a missile into the trees right near them. I’m not sure what difference that would make to the smoke monster, which can’t be killed with a 150+ year old knife to the chest, but hey, that’s just me. Smokey had no intention of giving Desmond back, and it seemed the interest made him only want Des dead even more. So he sent Sayid off to kill Desmond, who’s been hanging out at the bottom of a well that he clearly could have climbed out of. Sayid get to the well, but before he could kill him, Desmond asks what Smokey offered him. Sayid explains that he offered him his dead love back, and that he knows he can do it because Smokey brought him back already. I found that interesting, considering Sayid was brought back inside the temple before Dogen was killed and Smokey could get in it, and was brought back because Jacob told Hurley to take him there. More on that in a minute. For now, Desmond asked Sayid the question that made the difference. He asked what he would tell Nadia he did to bring her back. He played to what Sayid had to know, that Nadia would not take him back if it had cost him his soul.
There was a masterful switch over at that point to the sideways world, where Sayid was rushing back to the house that Nadia shares with his brother, having just killed several men. Clearly, she is happy to see him, but then saddened by what she knows he must have done, what he has gone back to becoming. This was very subtle, but very well put together, the tie in between the Nadia-Sayid relationship in both. So in the end of the episode, Smokey asks if Desmond is dead and Sayid clearly lies to him telling him he is. It’s not clear if Smokey believed him, but I don’t think he did.
Ok, let’s travel sideways. The sideways flashes were kind of patchy and scattered this week, but I think the point in them was for our Losties to start to converge. We had Sun and Locke being rushed to the hospital side by side. Of course, since we know there is only one hospital in all of LA, it was Jack’s hospital. Jack has to rush there after just having met his sister Claire for the first time in the sideways world, because he’s apparently the only neurosurgeon in LA. Or at least the only one with the balls to operate on a guy that was already paralyzed and just got run over by a car. Tying more people in, we pick back up where we left off with Sawyer and Kate, her arrested and him hitting on her. He has to leave with Miles to go arrest Sayid. Seemed mostly like set up, but we did get to see Demond act TOTALLY creepy while stalking Claire before introducing her to his lawyer friend Ilana (Please stop! I’m beggin you lost writers and casting director, find new people to play these roles! I know the last day of filming for the show is Thursday, but dammit, reshoot if you need to. Enough! Uncle!). No one realized they were in love and flashed to the island time. However, we got one interesting tidbit that may have been a cross over. When they were being rolled into the ER on parallel gurneys, Sun saw Locke and started yelling “It’s him!” She appears, in that moment of trauma, to have somehow gained some sideways knowledge, but we have yet to be privy to what or how or why. I suppose that will have to come soon.
In our other plot line, Sawyer decided to seize an opportunity, take Desmond’s (Libby’s) sailboat, and make for Widmore’s camp with Jack, Sun, Kate, Hurley and Lapidus, or as Sawyer called him in the two best lines of the night, “chesty” or “the guy that looks like he just stepped out of a Burt Reynolds movie”. I’ve missed Sawyer’s nicknames, those were always some of my favorite moments, I’m glad they brought some back before the end. Anyway, Claire followed them, then hitched a ride at Kate’s request (I still think they are going to duke it out before the end). While they were heading for Hydra Island, Jack had his epiphany, realizing the island wasn’t done with him, so he leapt.
Sawyer and crew wound up ion the beach near the pylons, and Zoe and company showed up with rifles. However, ambling along with them was Jin. He and Sun finally saw each other for the first time in three years. As they ran to each other, they forgot about the pylons, and both died with blood spilling out their ears. Oh, sorry, that was just what I assumed would happen, apparently Zoe or someone got the fence turned off in time. I like my version better. While they were embracing, Zoe talked on the walkie with Widmore, who decided to back out of his deal with Sawyer the rag tag crew of candidates held at gunpoint.
On the main island, Jack swam to shore at the exact spot where Smokey and about eight of his red shirts were standing. Pretty convenient. Anyway, as JAck’s getting reoriented to the land, Widmore launched a strike on Smokey, again forgetting that he’s shooting missiles at a puff of smoke. Jack almost gets blown up, the red shirts do (SHOCKER!), and Jack’s neck gets a cut that looks kind of like the one he had on the plane in LA X. Smokey, in a move that actually surprised me, picked Jack up and carried him out of harms way. I’m not sure what to make of that move yet. If my previously stated theory about wanting the candidates to either turn or die is correct, Jack dying would have been good for him. Maybe they are mirroring the plot of Locke trying to recruit the Oceanic 6 to go back, where he knows that if Jack agrees then the others will follow. It’d be nice symmetry.
So, turns out some thoughts came to me after all. Anyway, looking ahead be warned… there’s no new episode next week. I’ve heard they’re going to show Ab Aeterno again, which makes me think that they want the “island is cork” dsicussion fresh in people’s memory before the final four episodes (which includes the 2 hour finale) start up in May. Until then…