I’m not sure what’s left to write about, quite frankly.
Aside from my usual hyper-analysis of every little Easter egg, I think I’ve said enough over the past two seasons about the major thematic elements that to do so again would be boring. We know that, perhaps, the single most important theme of the show that’s developed is that of choice vs. destiny. Faith vs. science. In no single character has this idea been more evident than in Jack, who finally “saw the light” (pun intended) earlier this season and made the choice to accept his destiny. Heh. But him choosing to embrace it is key. Jacob never had a real choice to accept the mantle of Island guardianship, and it’s resulted in countless deaths and suffering over the years. His finally coming to that realization is what will ultimately decide the conflict between light and dark once and for all (perhaps). Now, excuse me while I again talk about the major thematic elements of the show.
Now that Jack’s made that choice to succeed Jacob as Island protector, seemingly the only items left to reconcile are the conflict with Esau and how the sideways timeline will correlate to that final battle. And there’s the rub. Jack’s accepted his destiny in the Island timeline, but what happens when/if he gets wind of all he could have in the sideways timeline? A son. A sister. How could he possibly give that up? How could he give that type of happiness up?
Is he truly happy, though? As the sideways story’s progressed, we’ve been given hints all may not be as idyllic as it appears. Jack’s son makes allusions to the fact Jack gets weird around his ex-wife. Perhaps he’s just as obsessed about her as he was in the original timeline, sans beard and alcohol. As Jacob explains to his candidates why he chose them, he speaks of their flaws and the fact none of them were truly happy with their lives. They were all looking for something that couldn’t be found in the “real world.”
I think back to the opening scene of the season, with a still-intact Oceanic 815 flying over the Island submerged beneath hundreds or thousands of feet of water. What better way to protect the Light than to sink the Island to the bottom of the ocean? Recall that Esau told Mother he’d found a way to channel the Light and water with the donkey wheel. If Jack could find a way to sink the Island, could that be protection enough for the Light such that he wouldn’t have to stay there to guard it? That might be the “happily ever after” ending if ever there was one.
Then again, if that’s an option and allows the candidates to opt for their sideways realities, it ain’t so happy for everyone. Kate and Sawyer don’t seem too happy in their sideways lives and might opt for the Island reality, all the pain and hardship they’ve gone through notwithstanding. I’d like to make up the rule that says, if you’ve died in the Island timeline, your sideways self can’t make the choice between the two timelines; you’re stuck in sideways-land. Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley have the opportunity to make that choice (along with Ben and Miles, presumably).
Desmond might have something to say about that rule. His attempts at connecting the sideways selves with their Island counterparts have included contact with Sayid and Locke, neither of which have a living body to return to on the Island. Unless, of course, Desmond — failsafe that he is — is able to somehow take advantage of Esau having taken on Locke’s appearance and using it against the man in black. I speculated on this a while back and can’t really see any other way for the Locke storyline to conclude itself — John and Esau are going to face off with each other for control of that body. And if that happens, perhaps John Locke will end up as Island caretaker after all. Jack utters the incantation, offers Locke a drink, down the hatch, presto — new Island guardian at your service and Jack can be on his way.
This is the stage of the recap where I realize I’m starting to reach and ramble incoherently and need to start wrapping things up. Let me just run things down a little more succintly: the candidates are going to be faced with a choice in the finale over which life they truly want. Neither the sideways or Island timelines are perfect; each has its flaws. The ability to make that choice is dependent upon Esau being stopped from extinguishing the Light, else all reality — all of the timelines and all life on Earth — will cease to exist.
Enough said ’til Sunday?