After such a remarkable previous episode, it was inevitable that there would be a bit of a step backward in this installment. After all, this is still the complication phase of the season arc, and the pieces are still moving around the board. If nothing else, this episode made it very clear where the final battle will take place, and helped to clarify some of the stakes.
This episode focused a great deal on Jin and Sun, both in terms of the âLost Primeâ timeline and the âLost Xâ timeline. As usual, while the âLost Xâ timeline appears to be moving towards a convergence of the familiar characters in their unusual roles, there is little or no sign of how this connects to the âLost Primeâ timeline, other than the apparent lack of Jacobâs intervention in their lives.
However, it is interesting to note that this is the first time that the characters in âLost Xâ were not in a better psychological space when compared to the âLost Primeâ events. Jin and Sun were in love, but being targeted by Mr. Paik for sleeping with the bossâ daughter doesnât look like something easy to resolve. Jin is not in a good place, and Sun is badly wounded.
Then again, this does seem to suggest, as Sayid and Sawyerâs stories in the âLost Xâ timeline, that some tragic events still take place, when they were independent of Jacobâs intervention. Jin and Sun still live in a violent world, and there are still consequences to their choices in keeping with that world. Ultimately it may turn out better, but in the meantime, this seems like more of a reason to have Juliet appear in the âLost Xâ universe. (Presumably to assist in saving Sunâs baby.)
In the primary timeline, itâs interesting to consider what position the characters are in, based on their respective camps. Because it is still not clear which Kwon is the Candidate, Jacobâs rival cannot eliminate Jin. If he is the Candidate, subverting him until the point of departure is vital. Jacobâs rival cannot allow any of the Candidates to remain alive or on Jacobâs side. And that means that if Sun is the Candidate, Jin is the most convenient bargaining tool.
This is the same logic being applied to keeping Claire from killing Kate. Jacobâs rival needs the Ajira plane to get off the island (or, alternatively, he could probably use the submarine). He needs to kill or control all the last Candidates to ensure that Jacob will not have a living successor. Right now, two things are in his way: Team Jacob, where Sun, Hurley, and Jack all reside, and Team Widmore, which currently possesses the plane.
As Richard points out, the best way to win this endgame is to eliminate the means. Take out the plane, and Jacobâs rival cannot leave. Then, since Jacobâs rival can only kill the Candidates once they are excluded (or so it appears), Jacob can make whatever selection he wants. One would suspect that the presence of both the plane and the sub is intentional. There might be a reason why Jacobâs rival keeps talking about the plane as the means of leaving the island. Destroying the plane might do the trick on its own, leaving the sub as the means for the last of the survivors to leave the island for good. (Minus, of course, anyone who chooses to stay with Jacobâs replacement.)
It would probably be a good idea for Richard to explain this kind of reasoning to the rest of Team Jacob, because with the proper context, Sun might be willing to go along with the plan. As it stands, she has every reason to place her priorities at the top of the list. She has a reason to leave the island. She wants to pull her family back together. If she is the Candidate, that doesnât bode well for her, even if her desire to stay with Jin and build a future is their mutual path to redemption.
When it comes to the question of who might become Jacobâs successor, a lot of the evidence points to Jack. But that could be a long-term red herring. After all, Jack has serious issues. As he admitted himself, heâs broken. That makes it hard to imagine that the last several episodes will be enough to put him in the right mindset to become the next protector of the island. Even if he is the kind of control freak that would perfect for the role.
Instead, there may be a more subtle endgame unfolding. Jacobâs rival is under the assumption, based on the information in the cave, that Kate is no longer a Candidate. He wants to keep her alive until the end because it gives him a way to control Sawyer and potentially others like Jack. Yet, in Jacobâs lighthouse, Kateâs name was still not crossed out.
Itâs clear that Jacob knew that the final endgame was approaching in some shape or form; there were only so many Candidates left. Jacobâs rival took this as the opportunity to shape Ben into the tool required for his âloopholeâ. Jacobâs countermove could have been one of disinformation. Itâs possible that he let his rival know about all but one of the remaining viable Candidates: Kate.
While Kate is far from the most popular character on the show, her character arc has been the most tenuous. Her purpose has never been particularly clear. Every other major character has played a critical part at some point along the way. Other than taking care of Aaron for three years (and his place in the story is still unclear, for that matter), what has Kate really achieved?
In essence, Kate has undergone a long-term redemptive process. Up until the fourth season, when events forced her to face the consequences of her actions, Kate was content to keep running away from her problems. Choosing to return to the island, for the express purpose of finding Claire and getting her back to her child, whatever the cost, is her redemptive shift. It would be fitting for Kate to make the choice to remain on the island. (Especially since she has already seen to Aaronâs safety and care; even if Claire couldnât go back to raise her child, there would be no reason for her to go back to the mainland.)
Of course, Jacob understood the logic of having someone serve as his intermediary, as seen in the previous episode. Logically, there would be an argument for having the same system as worked for all the centuries before: the islandâs caretaker, the intermediary, and the leader of the group of potential and failed Candidates. If Kate were to become the caretaker, then one can imagine Jack being a reasonably good choice as intermediary. (There would even be a nice bit of symbolism there, after what happened in âDr. Linusâ.)
With Sun and Jin having plenty of reason to leave the island, as mentioned earlier, along with Sawyer (who would probably still leave, since he technically has a family out there somewhere), who else is likely to survive? Ben is on the path to a redemptive sacrifice, Sayid and Claire are all but cannon fodder, so that pretty much leaves Hurley. And who better than Hurley to be the leader of the New Others?
This assumes that once a Candidate is chosen, the rules reset, and the new caretaker of the island would have a certain number of opportunities to find a replacement of his or her own. That assumption is based on the fact that Jacobâs plan appears to be selection of a successor, not elimination of his rival. In fact, thereâs no reason to believe that Jacobâs rival can be killed, only that he can be contained.
(A side point: if the island really is akin to a cork holding back âhellâ, then it seems rather appropriate that Jacobâs rival was once referred to as âCerberusâ. Cerberus, after all, was the hound that stood at the gates of the underworld in Greek myth. In many respects, the writers have been referring to this apparent purpose of the island for a very, very long time. In fact, elements of the Lost Experience now sound as though they were quite revealing in retrospect!)
So it all seems to be coming together rather nicely. Of course, that means that there must be some twist that will make all this speculation null and void (as has been the case since the very beginning!). Two elements still need to be accounted for, at least at it currently stands.
First, there is the existence of the âLost Xâ timeline. While it serves its purpose as a demonstration of the âcourse correctionâ concept and perhaps how a lack of Jacobâs intervention would have played out, that doesnât quite justify all the time taken on âLost Xâ during the final season. It has to serve a larger purpose; why else would Julietâs dying words lend it such importance? Some have conjectured that this is the world Jacobâs rival is promising to his servants, or perhaps that âLost Xâ is the timeline that will result from the resolution of the series (thus playing out the denouement concurrent with the climax), but neither explanation rings true.
And thatâs because of the second element that could change the playing field: Desmond. Desmond has been shown, more than once, as someone outside of the normal rules. This goes right back to âFlashes Before Your Eyesâ. Desmond is tied into the temporal anomalies on the island, and he has been connected to alterations in the âLost Primeâ timeline. âCourse correctionâ has always forced the timeline back into the expected flow, but âthe Incidentâ was a major event in a very specific and unique location.
So now that Desmond has been revealed as âthe packageâ, what does Widmore intend to do with him? It doesnât seem likely that Desmond would be a Candidate at this point, secret or otherwise, so it must have something to do with his nature. Eloise Hawking could have told Widmore all about Desmondâs unusual history. So it all comes down to the question of what Widmore thinks Desmond can do to either help Jacob (if he is on Jacobâs side) or stop Jacobâs rival. One can assume that Widmore wouldnât be on the island if he didnât know something of the stakes of the endgame.
Thereâs another reason to think that the âLost Xâ timeline and Desmond are connected. In reviews for previous episodes this season, the potential relationship between the electromagnetic and temporal anomalies and the purpose of the island has been noted. If Widmore has a purpose in mind for Desmond, who was originally changed by exposure to a powerful burst of that electromagnetic and temporal energy at the end of the second season, and Widmore is looking for the concentrations of that energy on the island (not unlike the pocket that was related to âthe Incidentâ), the connections suggest themselves.
Overall, this episode was a typical transitional episode for the final season: focused on Jin and Sun on the surface, but suggestive of the big picture that is driving the resolution of the series. There doesnât seem to be much time left, but as fans well know, âLostâ is capable of accelerating without warning. The return of Desmond certainly feels like a potential game-changer.