By Jeff Jensen May 05, 2010
Hurley summed this one up for me. Slumped on the sand at the end of ''The Candidate,'' the lovably unlucky lug hung his head and hid behind his veil of coiled locks and tried very hard not to break. But he couldn't, and the sound of his sobbing just got me. Behold the deadliest hour in Lost history.
Jin-Soo Kwon: Dead. Sun-Hwa Kwon: Dead. Sayid Jarrah: Dead. All three: Torpedoed by the Man In Black's submarine subterfuge. All three: Das Booted from the Lost saga. There can no longer be any doubt about this: The Locke-ness Monster is pure evil. Right? Fake Locke — the incarnation of the smoke monster; the manifestation of Jacob's cynical enemy, the Man In Black — has been lying to the castaways (and to us) all season. He never wanted to save the castaways. He never wanted to liberate Jacob's candidates from their perverted destiny. He never wanted to fly them to a world where everything they had lost would be regained. No: Smokey wanted them dead. He couldn't kill them to achieve his goal because those were the rules (although I'm still unclear what the rules truly are and why they even exist) so he put the castaways in a position where their own manic striving for escape would do the deadly job for him. And now three of our oldest, dearest Lost friends are gone. Our only consolation is that Fake Locke's plan actually didn't work. He wanted — needed — to wipe out all of Jacob's candidates. FAIL. Now that Jack and co. know Smokey's motivation and M.O., how can Fake Locke possibly finish his mission? As the Monster marched into the night, the scowl on his borrowed face may have been the look of a man-thing realizing that he hadn't won a battle — he had just lost the war. I have a theory about Fake Locke's next move — but that's for later.
I'm guessing my Smokey analysis provides only the coldest of comfort for you right now. You are sad, I'm sure. Are you angry, too? Maybe not about Sayid. His demise seemed inevitable following his post-Temple zombifiation. But Mr. Natural Born Killer got a chance to prove himself by hustling off with the bomb in hopes of diminishing its impact. In the end, Sayid's heart tilted the right way, to borrow some jargon from the late Dogen. The drowning of Jin and Sun were tougher pills to swallow. The long-separated lovers finally reunited in the previous episode. Now: Ciao! Brutal. They died holding each other, but we weren't shown that image. Instead, we were given a shot of their joined hands unclasping, and I found it ice-cold that the final visual of Jin and Sun should emphasize separation, not unity. Add the Kwons to the list of Lost deaths marked by pitiless poignancy. Does that piss you off? And how do you feel about Jin's choice to die with his wife, thus making Ji-Yeon an orphan? I think Jin made the correct call — but that's for later, too.
Oh, and there was a Sideways story in this episode, too. Something about Jack and Locke and brain dead Anthony Cooper. Honestly, I can barely remember it. That's how much the Island world story colonized my brain. So let's do this: I'm going to go watch the episode again for the Sideways stuff, and you guys finish your hugging and crying, and then we'll move on with the recap. Okay?
[One hour later]
The Island World
Things Fall Apart: A Lamentation
The Island world story was as crisp and propulsive as an episode of 24. Lots of action. Not much too much to theorize about. It was what it was, with only traces of ambiguity. For example: Do you think it's possible that Smokey and Charles Widmore are in cahoots? I found myself entertaining the notion. Penny's shifty father showed up briefly to insist, yet again, that he's some kind of hero: ''You may not believe this,'' he said after locking Sawyer and co. up in the Hydra cages, ''but I'm doing this for your own good.'' But then he vanished from the story and was conspicuously absent when Smokey-hell broke loose. Another example: Do you think Smokey was executing a master plan from the start, or was he making it up as he went? (I say: A little bit of both.) One more example: Do you think Desmond would have made a difference? Fake Locke — freaked by Des' cheery fearlessness — threw the electromagnetic Buddha down a well, presumably to keep him away from the castaways. What do you think Desmond could have said to his friends or even done to them to cause them to subvert Fake Locke's plan? My simple answer: He would have taken away their fear of loss and death and left them wanting for nothing that Smokey could provide or replace. My more complicated answer: Another time.
The story made clear what Smokey was doing every step of the way (the watch swipe; the C-4 steal; the backpack switcheroo) yet still managed to surprise us — especially if you didn't spot the backpack switcheroo. The Monster's murder plot was sly and simple. Step 1: Get Jack and Sayid to spring the other castaways held captive by Widmore. Step 2: Convince his intended victims that the Ajira airplane was unsafe and redirect them to Widmore's submarine. Step 3: Use one of the castaways to sneak a bomb aboard the boat. Step 4: Count on the castaways' drive to survive to trigger the bomb via trying to defuse it. Step 5: Ka-Boom! (My only quibble: If Jack was right — if Smokey's plan required that the castaways trigger the bomb themselves — then good thing for Smokey that Kate got shot, because otherwise Jack never would have looked inside his backpack and found the bomb.)
The more I think about what Smokey tried to do in ''The Candidate,'' the more I think about everything he's done this season to set the candidates up. His scheme was all about getting the castaways to use him as a means to an end, while also getting them to fear him so profoundly and mistrust him so completely that they would conspire to cut him loose once they got what they needed. The second part of that equation was the easiest. Slaughtering the Temple dwellers, copping to deceiving Jack with visions of his dead father, manipulating Claire by filling her heart with anger, never quite denying to Sawyer that he was responsible for the mass murder of the Ajira castaways, disposing of Desmond without comment or explanation — Smokey did everything he could to radiate a terrifying persona, even when he was insisting he was nothing of the sort. (Let us also remember that the castaways who weren't in his camp but joined him later — Jack, Sun, Hurley and Lapidus — had been well drilled by Richard and various Island ghosts that Smokey shouldn't be trusted and shouldn't be allowed to leave the Island. Did Smokey pose as Isabella and Michael in order to manipulate the castaways? This week, I say yes.)
As for getting the castaways to see him as a means to an end, Smokey needed to convince them that he was sincere about escaping, and the only way he was going to do that was to make them spend some time with him. Hence, the protracted stay at Twiddle Thumb Creek. But Smokey's ace in the hole was the man who tried to be the wild card: Sawyer. The Man In Black didn't just con the castaway con man — he exploited Sawyer's redemption. Once a selfish rogue, Sawyer has become a selfless hero over the past six seasons, and Smokey used that turn to his advantage. There's a lengthy analysis to be had about how Fake Locke played Sawyer by basically giving him a Jack Shephard makeover (who's the desperate-reckless hero now, James?) — and I'll give it to you in Friday's Doc Jensen column.
A brief comment about the backpack. A couple weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a reader complaining about Fake Locke's backpack. Yes, complaining. She thought it was totally ridiculous. He's a smoke monster! What does he need the backpack for? After tonight's episode, I'm thinking the backpack was the masterstroke of Smokey's deception. Sawyer taught us seasons ago that the key to a con was the details. What did Smokey gain from the detail of his backpack? The illusion of vulnerability. Smokey had to be appear awesome enough to spook the castaways, but also human enough to trick them into thinking they could play him. The backpack was a subtle visual detail that worked on the castaways in a subliminal, subconscious way. And it certainly set up the switcheroo maneuver with Jack. Backpack = the key to everything! Should I expand by explaining the backpack as a metaphor for the explosive, self-destructive potential of unresolved psychological baggage? No? Oh, okay…
Some quick observations and questions before we get into the sub:
BULLY BLUFF OR RULE CLARIFICATION? For most of the season, I assumed that ''the rules'' that governed Smokey prevented him from killing the candidates under any circumstances. Tonight, Fake Locke told Jack: ''I could kill you Jack, Right here. Right now. And I could kill every single one of your friends. And there's not a single thing you can do to stop me.'' The safest interpretation: Locke was lying to Jack and trying to bully/threaten him into obedience. But here's an alternate interpretation: Fake Locke really can kill the candidates himself — he just won't get what he wants: escape. Bookmark this idea. I'll be coming back to it when I foist my What's-Next-For-FLocke theory on you at the end of the section.
SAWYER AND KATE BACK IN THE POLAR BEAR CAGE So mean to tease the Skaters like that. On a serious note, I was struck by the moment when Widmore was threatening to kill Kate, and Kate was pleading with Sawyer to not buckle to Widmore's will, and Sawyer ultimately stood down to save his former polar bear-cage paramour. I processed this scene in contrast to the Jack/FLocke confrontation, when Jack told the Monster he had no intention of leaving The Island, and Smokey manipulated Jack to obedience both by threatening his friends and by reminding him that by not helping Sawyer and co., he was denying them their happiness, i.e., Island escape. It hit me that the castaways' ''live together, die alone'' idealism is both their most admirable quality and their greatest vulnerability. If you're a bad guy on Lost, all you need to do to get someone to do what you want is threaten his or her friends. Works every time.
THREE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE MONSTER
1. WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S STILL SMOKEY For several weeks now, fans have been wondering if Fake Locke had lost the ability to revert back to smoke form. As he assisted in helping Jack bust Sawyer and co. out of the Hydra Station cages by smoking Widmore's men, the Man In Black proved he's still capable of becoming monstrous.
2. TERMINATOR LOCKE Behold the Satanic Superman! Fake Locke charged into a hail of bullets fired by Widmore's goons. Their shells either bounced right off him or right through. Regardless, Smokey never stopped. He reached one of the gunmen and snapped his neck. He took a gun and blew the other one away. He was as ruthlessly efficient as Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
3. THE MAN IN BLACK GOT ALL WET — AND HE'S OKAY Many fans have wondered if Smokey's secret weakness — his kryptonite — is water. Which is why an island would make such an effective prison for him. At one point in ''The Candidate,'' Jack shoved Fake Locke into the ocean, and when FLocke climbed out of the drink seconds later, the monster looked a little shaken, like a cat that had been forced to take a bath. Still, I'm not sure I buy the idea that water is Smokey's Achilles' heel.
The deadly climax aboard Widmore's hijacked sub was filled with delicious drama and twisted ironies. Here was Sawyer's big chance to succeed where Jack had always failed: pulling off an escape plan that didn't blow up in their faces. Yet instead of finding victory, Sawyer found his Waterloo — his Jughead. Under fire from Widmore's goons and needing to dive ASAP, Sawyer made the tough call of leaving Claire behind. He wasn't too heartbroken; he was never wild about letting Aaron's mad, squirrelly mama join his club, anyway. Still, you could tell by the look on Sawyer's face that he felt like a jackass. Leadership's a bitch, ain't it, Sawyer? And so is payback. PREDICTION: If Sawyer should die by season's end, it will be by Claire's hand.
Kate was shot during the firefight with Widmore's goons on the docks, and when they all got into the sub, Jack tended to it. But when he opened up his backpack, the good doctor found Smokey's bomb. A sickening realization settled in. ''Locke,'' Jack murmured. ''We did exactly what he wanted.'' Sawyer wanted to snip the wires and defuse the bomb, but Jack tried to talk him out of it. He became convinced that if they did nothing — if they just let the cheap digital watch tick all the way to zero — the bomb wouldn't detonate. It was as if Jack was applying his Black Rock dynamite experience with Richard, supplemented with some hunches and hazy reasoning about the Man In Black and the rules that govern him. ''Locke said he could kill any one of us anytime he wanted to,'' Jack said. ''So what if he hasn't because he's not allowed to? What if he wants us to kill each other?'' Sawyer wasn't buying Jack's mystical mumbo jumbo. Besides, the Hero Formerly Known As James LaFleur isn't wired to wait for miracles. ''I'm not going to stand here and do nothing!'' Jack grabbed him by the shirt, looked him in the eye, and gave him his last best pitch: ''James: We are going to be okay. You just have to trust me.''
That was probably the last thing Jack should have said. Sawyer couldn't trust Jack. Not after Jughead. He pushed Jack aside and pulled the wires. The bomb stopped ticking... and then started ticking faster. The bomb was going to explode. They were goners. Then, Sayid made a choice. A heroic choice. A choice that seemed to suggest that Sayid did have a redemption moment at Desmond's well in the last episode. Super Buddha had jump-started Zombie Sayid's heart! It was very Return of the Jedi: Darth Jarrah looked into his soul, saw a glimmer of good within the gloom, and sprinted toward the light — and he took the bomb with him. Sayid's a smart soldier; he knew he was only making a small bit of difference. He wasn't trying to save his friends outright as much as increase their chances of surviving. He wanted create separation between the explosion and his friends. Like a fullback, Sayid took the rock and ran up the gut of the sub. The bomb went BOOM. Sayid went to pieces. In the classic words of Jack: ''There is no Sayid!''
(Shortly after the episode, one of my Twitter followers suggested to me that Sayid's sacrifice was some kind of clever inversion of suicide bomber terrorism. Separately, I have received other e-mails over the past several weeks from readers who've been alternately intrigued and worried by the implications of a story where the heroes are trying to save the day — i.e., stop Locke from leaving The Island — by conspiring to blow up a plane, or put another way, acting like terrorists. I have attempted some political readings of Lost over the years, and I have learned the hard way that my interpretations don't go over well with readers. I blame myself; I don't know if I'm all that skilled at that kind of analysis. I'm barely skilled at the kind of ''analysis'' that I choose to do! Yet I've been on record as saying that I see Lost as an allegory for our post 9/11 world, and so it seems fitting the series should end with a heroic response to terrorism. I'd love to see a better mind than mine explore these themes.)
Some critics will tell you that Lost kinda fumbled the Sayid storyline — that somewhere along the way, the show erred by shying away from exploring more of his Arab identity. I do wish we could have seen more of Sayid's childhood. And I do wish we could have learned more about what Islam meant to him. As I noted in my recap of ''Sundown,'' Sayid used to be a man who prayed. I don't think Lost forgot this detail. Indeed, I think Lost was trying to say something by turning Sayid into a man who stopped praying. Still, I would have liked to have seen more stories about Sayid's thoughts and feelings about his religion. And yet, at the same time, over the years, Sayid has come to embody a very relatable and challenging idea. We are feedback loops; we are the stories that we tell ourselves. For too long, Sayid has allowed the story of himself to be told by other people. The story has always been the same. You are a killer. The story Sayid wanted to believe about himself was quite different. I'm a lover, not a fighter. For various reasons, Sayid could never buy into this narrative. Not completely. Not consistently. Not faithfully. So praise Allah for Desmond. Whatever happened at the well, whatever Des said or did, it seemed to challenge Sayid, to shut down the voices of other people inside his head and listen to his own. It was his voice that told him to pick up that bomb. It was his voice that said, Go out the man you want to be — the man you believe you are. And he did. In the end, he died that others may live. He died a lover. Amen to that.
(BTW: What did you make of Sayid's final instructions to Jack? Sayid told him that Desmond was alive and in the well. He told him that Fake Locke wanted him dead — which by Sayid's reasoning must mean that Desmond poses some kind of threat to him. Jack asked: ''Why are you telling me this?'' Sayid: ''Because it's going to be you, Jack.'' Most likely, this was Sayid's way of saying: ''You have to do the work of saving him, because I'm about to get blown up.'' But is it possible that Sayid was actually revealing to us something that he probably learned from Desmond — that Jack is ''The Candidate,'' Jacob's final choice for Island protector?)
So anyway, the bomb exploded — but thanks to Sayid, his friends did not die. At least not immediately. Jack ordered Hurley to take Kate and swim her to safety. (I'm sure we were all thinking the same thing. Hurley? Doing the lifeguard thing? Seriously? But apparently, Dude can do more in water than land cannonballs.) Frank Lapidus got nailed by a flying door. He could be dead, too, but I'm listing his fate as ''uncertain.'' Sun got pinned by submarine stuff. Jack, Sawyer and Jin cleared away a shelf, only to find that Sun's legs were stuck in some pipes. The sub rocked and rolled as it sank. Something exploded. Sawyer got hit in the head and got knocked out. Jin told Jack: ''Save Sawyer.'' Jack wanted to stay; he believed he could save everyone. Jin disagreed, and the two men shared a meaningful stare. Jin was sending a message, and Jack was receiving that message, and so did we.
Jack swam away with Sawyer (oh, sweet irony), and Jin stayed with Sun. She begged him to leave. She never invoked Ji Yeon's name, but I believed their daughter was part of the unspoken subtext. Jin refused. He tried to pry her loose. The sub wouldn't surrender. Sun drew him close. She begged him anew: Go. He said: Nope. Actually, he said: ''I won't leave you. I will never leave you again.'' He also said it in Korean. That killed me. They held each other and kissed, and then Lost cut away from them while they died. Just a big old pile of heartbreaking suckage right there. Dammit!
RIP Jin and Sun. I took a break after writing that last paragraph to wipe away some tears and read some other reviews of the episode. It seems everyone is agreed that the married entity that was Sun/Jin was a moving, compelling presence on the show. Their love for each other and commitment to each other was inspiring. Yet there are those who will also say that Lost didn't quite do justice to Jin and Sun as individual characters, especially over the past two seasons, when their storylines were all about their respective quests across space and time to be reunited. I do think Jin and Sun's individual redemption arcs were all but resolved in the season 4 episode ''Ji Yeon,'' and I do think Sun's telescoped and underdeveloped Lady Vengeance storyline in season 5 ranks as one of Lost's biggest blown opportunities.
But screw the haters! I think with time and perspective, the Jin/Sun storyline will grow in power and significance. Yes, their long separation felt like a story contrivance, and it probably was — but I think the more that we think through the Man In Black's master plan (and I suspect the majority of post-Lost theorizing will and should be devoted to puzzling out and re-reading the entire saga through the Monster's conspiracy), the more the Sun/Jin separation will make sense to us as a necessary part of his strategy. Oh, and by the way? What the hell is so wrong with only focusing on Jin and Sun as a marital unit? Let me tell you what's wrong with that: Nothing. I think it's awesome that Lost chose to tell us a story about two people who took their marriage seriously, who worked through their problems when their union was in crisis, who forgave each other for their sins and redeemed their transgressions by using them as opportunities to build a stronger relationship (Jin's admission in ''Ji Yeon'' that he was basically responsible for Sun's infidelity was a powerful expression of grace and reflection), who saw themselves a better and greater when they were together than apart. I am grateful that Lost told that story. Lost is better for telling that story than not telling any other Jin and Sun story. I am not saying it was perfect. I'm saying I appreciate it for what it was, not what it wasn't.
Finally, let's talk about the Ji Yeon thing, because apparently this is an issue. I'm seeing Tweets and reading comments that basically say that Jin was a selfish jerk for choosing to die with his wife than give his kid a father. That's horrible! You mean to tell me that you think Jin would be a better man if he lived the rest of his life wracked with guilt over letting his wife die alone? Let me rephrase: How do you think Ji Yeon will feel when she gets old enough to realize that her father chose her over her mother? I suppose she might say, ''Wow! Thanks, Daddy! I feel special! I feel loved!'' But if she was any kind of thoughtful, sensitive, normal person, I suspect she'd follow that up with: ''Wow. Now I kinda feel like crap. My dad chose me over his true love. He's never gotten over it. Does he secretly hate me? Does he blame me for his misery? Probably not, because my dad is kick-ass cool! He knows martial arts and catches fish! But has he never been able to love me fully because every time he looks at me he sees a choice he regrets? That's very possible, if not extremely likely. Now I have to live the rest of my life burdened with this guilt. Thanks, Dad. And thanks, Dead Mom. Thanks a lot!'' I could be wrong. But I also think my defense of Jin is just as plausible as any criticism of Jin. I like to think that if Ji Yeon should ever learn about what happened to her mother and father, and if she were to ever learn of the choice her father made, she would be grateful, and more, she would be inspired. It's a wonderful story, a story that says something about the way life should be lived, a story she can pass on to her children, and they to their children, and so on. Jin didn't hurt his daughter with his choice — he gave her a gift. If you disagree with me, you're just wrong.
Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley swam to shore. They wept. Jack tried not to rage. And Fake Locke seethed. He knew that his plan had failed. How did he know? That's a great question — maybe the question that's most pertinent to the endgame of the show. Perhaps if all the candidates had died, Smokey would have received some kind of permission slip from The Island that said, ''You can go now.'' But I got the sense that the Monster was waiting for something else to happen — something like The End Of The World. I wonder: When Fake Locke said he wanted to go home lo those many episodes ago, did he mean a place of being — or did he mean a place of nothingness? Was he referring to a location — or was he referring to annihilation?
Regardless: What does Fake Locke do now? Now that the castaways know what he's up to, how can Fake Locke possibly succeed at his goal? The answer: By rebooting the system. For most of the season, we've been led to believe that there are two choices. Either The Island will get a new guardian, or Fake Locke will deny The Island a new guardian. But if you remember ''The Substitute,'' you may remember that Fake Locke actually sketched three scenarios. 1. The Island gets a new protector. 2. Everyone ''leaves.'' (I now interpret that to mean the fulfillment of Smokey's scheme — which is to say, getting the candidates killed.) 3. As he told Sawyer, ''You can do nothing and see how all this plays out and possibly your name gets crossed out.'' We've never thought much about what ''do nothing and see how this plays out'' might look like — though it probably involves death. My theory? Smokey will now try to kill all the candidates himself. If he succeeds, The Island drama will start over again with new players. Jacob as we know him would be resurrected and returned to power. He'll choose a new batch of ''candidates,'' i.e. redemption projects, and Smokey will execute his function within The Island's storytelling machine while nurturing a new escape plan. Coming in 2015 — Lost: The Next Generation!
Again, all of this depends on Smokey killing Jack, Hurley and Sawyer. Will he succeed? Can the candidates defend themselves? How do you kill a smoke monster, anyway? Might Charles Widmore know? Oh, and WHERE THE HELL ARE RICHARD, BEN AND MILES?
The Sideways World
A Momentary Reprise From Chaos
Carl Jung defined ''synchronicity'' as ''the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.'' In other words: a meaningful coincidence, or what Deepak Chopra calls ''a momentary reprise of chaos.'' For the past few episodes, we've either seen outbreaks of synchronicity in the Sideways world, or attempted outbreaks of synchronicity. The Jack-driven Sideways story in ''The Candidate'' (which also doubled as an important John Locke story) fell into the latter category. It made for a thematically rich tale yet one that initially left me a little frustrated.
The one-two punch of ''Happily Ever After'' and ''Everybody Loves Hugo'' seemed to signal a transition in the Sideways saga; I felt the show was encouraging us to anticipate a wildfire of what I will call (whether you like it or not) ''Island Enlightenment.'' Instead, Lost has decided to slow down the process of what I will also call (again, with total disregard for your feelings about the matter) ''Quantum Pentecost.'' I will own up to being impatient...
Or maybe I am confusing intrigue for frustration. It seemed that the Desmond and Hugo stories were establishing the rules for becoming Island Enlightened. Either you had to suffer some kind of profound trauma, or you had to fall in love or become reconnected with your Island-world soul mate. (In some cultures, the latter phenomenon counts as ''trauma.'') I thought for sure that Sun's ordeal would qualify her for Island Enlightenment; instead, it appears her brief flirtation with multiverse self-awareness didn't stick. Why? Similarly, I thought John Locke was destined for a cosmic wake-up call after Desmond rammed him with the car. Nope. In ''The Candidate,'' we heard him suddenly blurt ''push the button'' in his sleep (possibly Terry O'Quinn's lamest acting moment on the show), do a double-take at Jin, and flinch at Jack's line ''I wish you believed me,'' which is what Locke wrote in his suicide note to Jack. But those dim epiphanies failed to blow his mind.
And yet as is often the case, I find myself figuring some stuff out as I wrestle with my Lost frustration. My conclusions could be wrong, but for the moment, they interest me. Perhaps there are a few more ingredients needed for Island Enlightenment besides trauma and love. In fact, perhaps there's only one more: a Buddhist-like sense of detachment. An essential part of Charlie's, Desmond's, and Hurley's ''activation'' stories was profound dissatisfaction despite great material success. Each of them came to their Born Again moments or learned through their Born Again moments that the ''world is not enough,'' or even ''this world isn't even real.'' Yet with Sun, Jin, and Locke, we've seen that despite an experience of trauma and the bliss of feeling loved, they remain firmly tethered and deeply invested in the Sideways world. For Jin and Sun, it's their relationship (which despite my defense earlier in this recap can, like anything, become a corrupting idol), and now their child. Locke has Helen — and he has his guilt. In one of the best scenes Sideways Lost has given us, Locke told Jack how he became a paraplegic. It was most ironic. Upon getting his pilot's license, Locke took his father for a ride — and they crashed. Locke lost the use of his legs. Anthony Cooper lost his mind. (The visual of Locke's brain-damaged father was chilling. I also kept waiting for Cooper to do something, like wink or sinister smirk, as if Island world Cooper was hiding out inside the shell of Sideways Cooper.)
Jack Shephard — whose Sideways-world maturity offered peeks at what a fully resolved Island-world Jack might look like — insisted that he could help Locke walk again if he let him. He identified Locke as ''a candidate'' for restorative surgery. (Was Lost hinting that Jacob's choice for Island guardian was John Locke all along?) Jack's trademark ''fixer'' pathology was tempered with humility and self-awareness, wisdom and grace. He tried to coach Locke through his father guilt with counsel that his Island world self has only recently learned to accept. ''What happened happened,'' Jack said. ''And you can let it go.'' Locke's response echoed Doc Jensen's Personal Pick For The Greatest Lost Moment Ever — the moment in the season 2 episode ''Orientation'' when Jack accused Locke of being too quick to believe and Locke retorted ''It has never been easy!''
Sideways Locke: What makes you think letting go is so easy?
Sideways Jack: It's not. I don't really know how to do it myself. Which is why was kind of hoping you could go fist.
I loved that exchange. I like the implication that these two flawed, fallen men could join forces and labor together to complete their respective redemption projects. This is what we religious people call ''church.'' But Locke wasn't quite ready to become a man of faith. He said goodbye and wheeled away. Jack stopped him in his tracks with ''I wish you believed me,'' (which, I must admit, felt a little forced, too, but I rolled with it) and Locke had a moment of recognition... and then kept on going.
In the wake of ''Happily Ever After,'' I tried to convince you guys that the Sideways world was the ultimate destination for the Island-world castaways, that their minds/souls will ''transmigrate'' into their Sideways world bodies and create super-plus-good idealized composites of their joined-world selves. Many of you gagged and barfed. Your biggest quibble was your belief that the Sideways world itself is phony — a fraudulent, even profoundly evil reality akin to The Matrix, a temptation to be resisted rather than embraced. I stand somewhat corrected. I don't share your cynicism, but after ''The Candidate,'' it really does seem that there's something fundamentally ''off'' about the Sideways world. I come to this conclusion not because of what anyone said in the episode, but because of Jack's reactions to the increasing pile-up of incredible post-Oceanic 815 coincidences. Fellow passengers Locke, Bernard (who came off to me as totally Island Enlightened, especially when he told Jack, ''I hope you find what you're looking for''), and then another encounter with Claire — all of these moments made Matthew Fox do that weird blinking thing when he gets flustered. In the context of the Sideways world, it gives the impression of a man trying to wake up. Maybe that's going to be the key to Jack's Island Enlightenment: a slow, steady, gentle pounding of meaningful coincidences that will finally cause the wall between his Island world and Sideways world selves to collapse. More likely, all these little moments are probably setting him for One Big Moment, a head-spinning Synchronicity, that will finally seal the deal.
But first, I think he'll have to surrender his Sideways world attachments. That includes his newfound relationship with his half-sister, Claire, who may or may not be Island Enlightened; I really can't tell. I waited for Jack to become ''activated'' when he and Claire shared that mirror-moment together. But per my new making-this-up-as-I-go attachment/detachment theory, perhaps the reason Jack didn't blaze into self-awareness was that Claire represents a stronger, even reinforced attachment to the Sideways world. (After all, he did ask her to move in.) Jack's biggest obstacle to becoming linked to his Island mind is his son, David. Through his boy, Jack has experienced the reconciliation of his father issues — the resolution of Island Jack's ''white rabbit'' angst. If we are correct with this whole ''the Sideways isn't real'' conjecturing, Jack could be headed toward a Through The Looking Glass ending. (The Lewis Carroll book, not the season 3 Lost episode.) And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can either hit the library... or enjoy this long and pretentious essay I wrote about the Lost/Alice In Wonderland connection a few months back.
It's time for me to shut up. And I didn't even give you my theories about the significance of Dr. Bernard's prosthetic teeth (false teeth: a dream symbol for insincerity and insecurity; a clue to Sideways world inauthenticity?) and how Locke's story about flying and falling with his father could be an allusion to the Daedalus and Icarus story. And I wanted to impress you by quoting from ''The Second Coming'' by William Butler Yeats and linking the poem to Sawyer's recklessness, Jin and Sun's death, anti-Christ FLocke, and mounting Sideways world fragility!
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Maybe I'll get to all that stuff on Friday in my Doc Jensen column.
Three more episodes, peeps. Three more. And we still haven't gotten the answer to the Dharma notebooks! I am really, really worried…