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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lost - Anticipation And Dread, Indeed

(Episode: Through the Looking Glass. Spoilers ahead.)

This has got to be the most convoluted and disorienting season cliffhanger in television history. And almost as depressing as the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Why didn't anyone expressing concerns about the Smoke Monster as Jack and company made the long trek to the radio tower?

The flash-forwards barely tell us anything about the future. Jack and Kate (at the very least) are off the island; according to Jack's remarks at the end of the episode he is required to tell some lie(s) as part of the deal. Jack's life has fallen into a downward spiral, he's drinking heavily and he's grown addicted to oxycodone, presumably triggered by some untreatable chronic pain. (Has leaving the island made him sick?) It's agonizing to watch, even more so because we have no idea over what Jack is feeling bitter remorse.

One of the future's mysteries is: who is in the coffin? At Amy Welborn's the popular theory is Locke; commenters cite clever souls who found a capital J in the news article Jack found. My first thought was Sawyer, but that can't be right. Hurley and Kate at the very least would show up to his funeral. (Assuming Hurley's off the island.) Eko and Boone were the closest Locke came to having friends on the island, and they're both dead. Thing is, what killed him? Did everyone who left the island get sick?

A high-res image of the news clipping reveals parts of the name of the deceased: Jo___ ____tham. That doesn't preclude Locke; it coudl be an alias. The deceased is male and from New York.

But the coffin seems a bit short for Locke...

Ben made a serious error. He didn't realize how successfully he drove Jack over the edge. Even threatening to kill his three friends would not break his resolve. Jack had had it with being manipulated by Ben, and was probably convinced that the Others would always be a threat to their survival as long as they stayed on the island.

In different ways, Ben and Locke demonstrated what happens when you don't trust people. Locke went off and did stuff and discovered stuff without telling others about it. He killed Naomi without telling Jack why. (If the island didn't tell Locke why he had to kill Naomi, then the island needs to learn a few things about gaining people's trust as well.) You can't get people to cooperate with you if you don't tell them what's going on.

Ben wove a web of skullduggery to preserve his power, lying and withholding information from even his own people, and in the end he became powerless. If Locke didn't know who sent the freighter, Ben did. People will not respond to vague talk like "She's one of the bad guys" and "Jack, you don't know what you're doing" - but they might respond to specifics like (assuming this is the case) "They're the DHARMA Institute, they want their island back, and if you think we were bad news to your little group let me tell your what DHARMA has in store..."

Of course, by declaring war the Others guaranteed that the Lostaways would never trust them (their leaders, at any rate). Unless they are faced with a common enemy, which appears to be the case in these upcoming final three seasons.

Ben inadvertently saved the lives of Jin, Sayid, and Bernard. Commando leader dude Ryan Pryce could see that Ben had "lost it," and over Tom's objections kept the three hostages alive until he could figure out what to do. This led to the high point of the entire episode, Hurley coming to the rescue in the DHARMA hippie van. Sawyer finally carries out his promise, when he said to the then-bearded Tom "You and me ain't through, Zeke."

Mikhail's battle tactics backfired. He should have first located Desmond, killed the two interlopers, and then then killed the women. (No wonder the Russians lost in Afghanistan.) And he should not have hesitated to ensure Bonnie's death. (And Desmond should have ensured that Mikhail was out of commission. Didn't they teach him anything in the Royal Navy?) As it turned out, Charlie was able to use cite Ben's duplicity to convince Bonnie to give over the code necessary to stop the signal jamming.

Charlie still has a chance to survive if the laws of physics are not overturned. There should be a pocket of air in the communications room above the level of the top of the porthole, which happens to be wide enough for Charlie to swim through. Charlie can catch some air, swim out, and then swim to the Looking Glass sub landing bay, surprise the heck out of Desmond, grab the diving gear and leave.

This my best (and most optimistic) guess at the outcome. A new power has taken over the island - most likely DHARMA or one of its sponsors. Ben is kept prisoner while the rest of the Others are hunted down; few if any survive. The Power will allow those Lostaways that they can find to return to civilization, on the condition that they tell no one about the island and the events that happen there. To keep them silent, Kate will serve as insurance; she will be brought to the US under the watchful eye of the Power. Locke will be punished by being included among the returning survivors, whereby he will be confined to a wheelchair once again. A few will evade the Power and organize as the new Hostiles. Its core will consist of those not present at the radio tower: Hurley, Sawyer, Juliet, Bernard, Sayid, Jin, Desmond, possibly Charlie. Also on the likely list are the Rousseaus and Karl. Some surviving Others might join also - I'm betting on the never-aging Richard Alpert. The Hostiles will seek to spy on and undermine the Power, and some of the returned survivors will plot to get back to the island.

Update: Link to Amy Welborn's Lost post is now in place.

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