Wow, I’m not sure where to start. What began as a “feels-like-filler” episode meant solely to move our players from point A to point B turned into an emotional farewell to two of our candidates, as well as re-emphasizing via inference just what our final endgame may be. It’s rare I can get past all the precise analysis of all the show’s (sometimes) trivial minutiae and focus on the story, but tonight had enough emotional weight to get me to put down the pen and almost shed a tear as Jin and Sun perished in the sub; finally together to the end. In stark contrast to the previous few episodes’ trite and seemingly rushed reunion between the two, their final scene together (The Abyss, anyone?) was poignant and affecting.
Poignant and affecting almost long enough to make me forget Jin and Sun are still alive and relatively well in the X timeline, robbing the drowning of a bit of its weight. Anyway, their living existence in X-land serves as a perfect segue to the second of the three main facets of the episode: letting go. I’ve posited for a few weeks now that all our (remaining) castaways/candidates will have to make a choice between the two realities and, in doing so, make some sort of sacrifice. We’ve seen various examples of what the castaways would have to give up should they forsake their X-lives and return to the original reality of the Island timeline: Jack’s son; Locke’s fiancee; Claire’s son; Hurley’s good fortune; etc. I’ll make the assumption that, if the castaways choose their X-lives, they die (or off themselves) in the Island timeline and thus secure Smokey/Esau/Locke/Man-in-Black the victory and escape he so desperately wants. And if we are to believe Jacob, that means hell gets unleashed and we’re all screwed. I’ve also guessed, though, that there may need to be some sort of balance between the two realities — some can choose the X-timeline as long as others stay on the Island timeline.
As long as there is at least one candidate still living and fulfilling his or her duties on the Island, Smokey can’t leave and can’t win. Which brings me to Jack: Candidate Numero Uno. The conversation he has with Locke (the real one) at episode’s end tells us just about everything we need to know (as only Lost can: vaguely). Much like John convinced Jack to let go of his deceased father, body or no, Shephard tries to tell Locke he can let go of his braindead father and forgive himself; he can let go and get busy livin’, to paraphrase Andy Dufresne. Dwelling on what might’ve been leads nowhere; “what happened, happened.” Some things are just meant to be.
Jack-X seems to have figured this out, but certainly doesn’t quite understand the full implication of what he may have stumbled upon. The dawning realization of a different reality he’s treating with a seeming optimism will be sorely tested when he realizes what’s truly at stake and what he’ll have to give up. I predict crying.
In Jack’s own words, “it’s not easy.” I referred to the good doctor as “Candidate Numero Uno,” and tonight’s narrative certainly seems to cement his place as Jacob’s prime replacement. He takes charge of the castaways on the Island timeline and asks for their trust in him. What gives me pause is the seemingly cute, throwaway line concerning Locke-X being a “candidate” for a new type of surgery to repair his damaged spine. Locke-X’s utterance of “push the button” and “I wish you had believed me” clearly signify he’s made “contact” with the Island timeline, just as Desmond intended when he ran him down in his BMW. If Locke can somehow return to the Island timeline and take back his body from Esau, I could easily envision him taking the mantle as Island caretaker, a role he seemed so desperate to embody in past seasons. Perhaps Jack can have his son while Locke sacrifices his relationship with Helen in order to save the world from the forces of evil.
Two men sit on opposites sides of a small table. They’re on a beach, ocean crashing onto the shoreline in the distance. A backgammon board lie on the table, white and black pieces in various positions around the playing surface. Both men stare intently at the board, strategizing. Locke looks up at Esau across the table and smiles. “Your move.” Fade to black.
I think I’d be good with that being the final shot of Lost.