Lost, “What They Died For.”
When the episode began with a close up of Jack’s eye -- as episodes have done twice before, including in the pilot -- it immediately kicked in: The nostalgia, the feeling that I didn’t want this to end, no matter how maddening, confusing and sometimes frustrating Lost can be.
I realized that I actually DIDN’T want ghost Jacob to sit down at a camp fire -- looking like something taken from the show Survivor -- with the three remaining candidates plus Kate, and give us answers, like why Kate’s name was crossed off (because she became a mother).
I actually didn’t want to hear Jacob tell Sawyer, Hurley and Jack that they’re flawed, alone, had huge holes in their lives and because of those things made for good candidates to protect the light inside the magic golden drain pipe, the light in the center of The Island that’s the key to all life. ("I didn't pluck any of you out of a happy existence . . . I chose you because you were like me. You were all alone. You were all looking for something that you couldn't find out there. I chose you because you needed this place as much as it needed you.")
I didn’t want to see Jack step forward and accept that responsibility, to become the new Jacob, the chosen one, as I always assumed he would. (A key moment: Jacob said he wanted to give the candidates a choice -- calling upon their free will -- to accept the responsibility of being The Island’s protector, as opposed to having it imposed upon them as it had been on Jacob by Allison Janney. Though one could argue that Jacob certainly manipulated the situation into occurring, not giving them much choice.) This scene led to the best line of the episode which was uttered by Sawyer, "And I thought that guy had a God complex before."
The realizations that I didn't want to know these things surprised me, because in order for me to get these answers means that Lost is really ending.
By contrast, I found myself being more intrigued by the sideways-flashing Desmond who was using an odd series of maneuvers to bring the Oceanic 815 passengers back together in a bid to get them to remember their exploits on The Island, pre-Jughead. (Sideways-flashing Desmond reminded me of Jacob.)
The brutal beating of Ben Linus -- whom I was happy to see got more than a one-minute scene -- at the hand of Desmond triggered Ben’s amber-tinted recollections of Island life, much to my glee. Seeing Hurley bribe cop Ana Lucia to let the prisoners -- Desmond, Sayid and Kate -- go free was similarly awesome, as was seeing Ben have dinner with a beautifully cleaned up Rousseau who told Ben that he was like a father to her daughter Alex, causing Ben to choke up with emotion.
Back on The Island, Ben proved himself to be a delightful villain once again by betraying Charles Widmore and telling Smoky Locke that Widmore was hiding in Ben’s secret room behind the bookcase. Why did Ben cooperate? Because Smoky Locke offered Ben The Island -- once Smoky Locke leaves it -- in exchange for Ben killing some people on Smoky Locke's behalf.
Just before Ben plugged Widmore with some lead -- payback for having Ben’s daughter Alex killed (“He doesn’t get to save his daughter.”) -- Widmore shared with Smoky Locke the fact that Desmond is some kind of a “fail safe” who, if all of Jacob's candidates were killed, could be used to destroy The Island, the one Jack had just vowed to protect with his life, by way of protecting all human life from the snuffing out of The Island’s inner light.
Sure, “What They Died For” had flaws and left us with more questions. (Why couldn’t Jacob have just remained a ghost-like presence to help Jack instead of dying when the camp fire went out? Why have Jack be a father in the sideways-flash? Why did Jacob appear as a kid to Hurley and then as an adult? If Jacob crossed Kate off because she became a mother why did she have to get on that plane the second time?) But in my present mood, feeling nostalgic and all, I embraced all the chaos of "What They Died For" as I look forward to the big finale which’ll take up a bazillion hours of ABC programming on Sunday. My hopes are very high for the finale. I've got my fingers crossed that I'm not disappointed.
What did you think of “What They Died For?” Did it meet your expectations? Oh, and what the hell did Smoky Locke do with Richard, he who shall have eternal life?
Image credit: Mario Perez/ABC.