Many likely won’t have noticed what was perhaps the biggest reveal of tonight’s episode about two-thirds of the way through it (though you should have, if you’ve been on-board with Lost since season 1 and are well-versed in the art of pausing live TV via DVR), but let me deal with some old business and some thematic discussion first. The last bit of follow-up from last week’s premiere can be found in the comments section of the recap: click here. Now then, on to this week’s unfortunately titled episode, “What Kate Does.” I call it unfortunate because Kate’s steadily grown to be the most annoying and one-note character on the show. She’s either running, crying or making out with Sawyer or Jack. I’m hoping the writers have more in store for her to make all this tedium worthwhile in the end, but I’m not holding my breath.
All that said, the running was actually kept to a minimum, with the story more focused on some thematic elements that should grow over the course of the season just as steadily as Kate’s annoyance factor. Of particular import tonight was the theme of redemption. Early in the episode, Sawyer references Sayid’s miraculous resurrection with his history as a torturer to illustrate all of them “deserving another go-round.” While a decidedly sarcastic reference, Sawyer might be exactly right. Sayid, back from the dead, has a chance to redeem himself for his past sins. As do they all. Kate’s desired redemption will apparently come when she locates the long-missing/”dead” Claire and brings her back to the mainland and Aaron. More on that in a bit.
Later, the Ninja Herbalist (or Dogen, if you prefer) does his best Ben impression in trying to manipulate Jack into giving Sayid the green (poison) pill as a way to obtain redemption for all the suffering the good doctor’s been responsible for (directly or indirectly). Jack, more than any other character, has always seemed in desperate need of some type of redemption to make himself whole — to find some peace. He’s never quite been able to put his finger on what he has to do, always seeming to come up short when he tries, with disastrous consequences. He says it himself tonight: “I don’t trust myself.”
Redemption on a grander scale might just be what Jacob and Esau were discussing in the beginning of the season 5 finale.
Esau: “You brought them here” (referring to the crew of the Black Rock). “Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?”
Jacob: “You are wrong.”
Esau: “Am I? They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.”
Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that…just progress.”
Let’s assume (always a dangerous verb to employ when talking about Lost) that Jacob is the good/light side of the equation, and the Island is his attempt at allowing man to find some sense of redemption for all their worldly sins since the dawn of human history. He’s apparently attempted it many times in the past if we extrapolate the above conversation, without success. He’s an omnipotent mathematician attempting to solve a nearly impossible-to-solve equation, all of humankind his variables. Reducing that scale, those that Jacob has chosen (by physically touching them at various points in their lives) to come to the Island (via various coincidences and twists of fate) could be the ones to finally prove him right and redeem humanity. There are opposing forces at work, however…
Dogen explains to Jack his use of a translator (whose name is “Lennon,” by the way) as a means of separating himself from those he’s in charge of (the Others within the Temple walls). Rather than simply answering Jack’s question as to why he wouldn’t speak English (most of the time), Dogen may have been trying to instill a lesson-of-sorts in the doctor. Jack’s more or less always been the reluctant leader of the castaways, yet also very much one of them. He’s never truly been able to separate himself and make objective decisions because of the emotional attachments he’s made to all of them. Perhaps Dogen is trying to tell Jack that, to finally find that redemption he aches for, he has to separate himself from everyone he’s come to care for and protect on the Island. He can’t keep making decisions while emotionally compromised. The concept of sacrifice keeps echoing in my mind, and I can’t help but think Jack will find his ultimate redemption, and that of his fellow castaways (and thus, humanity) by sacrificing himself in the end. The particulars of how that would come to pass would, of course, take all season, but it’s something about the theory that feels right.
And if right, Esau/Man in Black will do everything in his power to make sure that separation and sacrifice don’t happen. Think back to Jack’s aborted suicide attempt in season 4 – was it fate or a more tangible force at work that prevented him from killing himself, and eventually led him back to the Island with all of the castaways (and Ben)? His efforts to get everyone back there eventually led to Jacob’s death at the hands of Ben. I’m starting to reach a bit here, but I’m hoping I’ve made my first inklings of an endgame theory plausible. And that sound you hear is Smokey the Giant Pillar of Doom coming to waylay the best laid plans of Others and men. We’ve got 15 episodes left to develop this a bit more, so let’s move on to the Quick Hits and that “big” reveal I referred to earlier.