The Season 5 finale gave us the widest view yet of what’s been unfolding on the The Island, and for that, I’m thrilled. But the Season 5 finale also honed in on some of our character’s most petty failings, and for that, we’re both somewhat annoyed. Frankly, Jen was livid. I like the suggestion that we’ve been watching only the latest round in a perpetual battle between light and dark one in which our survivors finally opened a “loophole” for the dark forces to gain the upper hand. I don’t like the idea that the huge, dramatic, cataclysmic detonation of the Jughead core we’ve been building up to all season came only as the result of more twists in the “para-love-ogram.”
Let’s start with what I liked. Though “like” is dependent entirely on the foolhardy presumption that my interpretation of what we’ve seen with Jacob is right. Based solely on the opening scene, no less. To wit:
Jacob is light, goodness, benevolence. His nemesis, yet unnamed, is dark, petty, judgemental. Perhaps for an eternity, they have battled on The Island. But they cannot vanquish each other directly. The Island is largely the chess board, and the pieces are men. Imperfect, flawed humans. By the time the Black Rock arrives, they’ve been through the cycle many times. Jacob summoned another group, believing they might avoid self destruction. Darkness says, “It always ends the same.”
So the Black Rock, the Dharma Initiative, perhaps even The Others, and most certainly the survivors of Flight 815… each group came to the island, struggled over leadership, and self destructed.
Richard Alpert, perpetual advisor, serves Jacob by trying to guide and protect whomever is the leader: Eloise (who Richard called his leader in 1977), Ben (whom Richard and perhaps Jacob felt was ultimately an inadequate leader), and Locke (who Richard presumed to be special, even if it was Locke that gave him that idea in the first place). Darkness, meanwhile, acts through visions, or actually possessing the form of the dead. Christian Shephard. Alex. Perhaps Claire. And, yes, the late Locke, whom we now know isn’t Locke. We’ll call him Dark Locke.
Jacob is compassionate and feels for these flawed people. He visits them, literally touches them, perhaps merely knowing their path, or perhaps steering them. However the cycle ends, he knows it must end.
But something happened with Oceanic Flight 815. Something about this last cycle was different. And the why and how are, most likely, part of what awaits in Season Six. Nonetheless, the combination of The Incident, of Desmond turning the failsafe, of Eloise sending them back on Ajira 316 but scattering them through time this whole convoluted series events, the entirety of the last five seasons of “LOST” has led us to the loophole. The loophole that allowed Darkness to vanquish Jacob, with Ben as his instrument.
What is the loophole?
I can only guess by guessing at the rules. Only the leader can enter the temple. There can be only one leader. And the leader, essentially, decides who wins. Darkness, through manipulating the leader with visions and the reanimated dead, has probably brought the leader to Jacob dozens or hundreds of times. Each time, the leader has probably arrived, ready to reject and kill Jacob. But once inside, alone, Jacob appeals to the leader’s better self, gives them a choice, and they always choose light.
Darkness found his loophole through Locke. I’m not sure exactly when, but Locke had been the key for a while. Locke eventually died. And, yes, Locke is still dead. But with his body returned to the island, Darkness was able to take the form of Locke, becoming Dark Locke, and bewilder everyone including Ben and, curiously, Richard with his knowledge of The Island. He asserts many times that he is the leader. And he repeatedly taunts Ben for never having made the cut with Jacob.
Dark Locke brings everyone to Jacob. He, the supposed leader, goes into Jacob’s lair, and insists on bringing Ben. Why? Because Ben is the leader. Ben’s been the leader ever since he returned on Ajira 316 and woke up in the infirmary, because Locke is still dead. That’s the loophole. And Dark Locke, having goaded Ben during the entire journey, looses his jealousy and insecurity and rage, and Ben, the leader, stabs Jacob and throws him into the fire.
Of course not. With his last breath, Jacob says, “They’re coming.” Who? My guess, perhaps obviously, is that “they” are everyone misplaced in time, back in 1977, who are near the Swan and subjected to the universe-twisting combination of electromagnetism and a hydrogen bomb blast. My guess for Season 6 is that everyone is reunited in 2007, but Darkness rules The Island, and the epic battle will be these imperfect, flawed humans trying to vanquish him.
But I could be completely wrong.
For example, where does the smoke monster fit? Is it an agent of Darkness? I’m inclined to think so, since it does stand in judgment of men, finding them unworthy and destroying them much as I imagine Darkness would. It could also be the agent through which Darkness assumes the form of the dead, such as both Alex and Dark Locke in the temple. Jen’s question, though, is how Ben became familiar enough with it to use it for his own means. It may be more likely that the smoke monster is a free agent.
Where do Bram and Ilana fit? Given the riddle, I guess they’re aligned with Alpert, and therefore presumably Jacob. What role will they play? I certainly hope it’s something more significant than teasing viewers with a mystery box for half a season. And if we now know that Ilana always knew Locke was in that box, she was obviously not surprised by seeing Dark Locke eating a mango in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.” How can she not be surprised by Dark Locke, but Alpert be apparently merely suspicious? And could they actually be agents of Darkness? After all, in the opening scene in the ancient past, it’s Darkness who calls Jacob “my friend.”
And if we’ve actually been watching pawns on a chess board, manipulated by Jacob and Darkness, it’d be somewhat disheartening to imagine that the longstanding battle between crafty and clever Ben and rich industrialist Charles Widmore is essentially insignificant. There has to be more to it.
Yet, Ben was goaded into killing Jacob after decades of servitude simply by becoming a petulant, whiny, sore loser. Juliet reverses herself halfway through the “Stop Jack” mission, simply because Sawyer looked at Kate funny. And Jack admits that his talk about destiny was all a crock: he wants to detonate a deadly hydrogen bomb simply because he blew it with Kate. Sayid is shot, valiantly rigs the bomb to go off on impact, but it doesn’t. Juliet dies, but doesn’t, but does, because Jack didn’t detonate the bomb, she did. And Miles gets the throwaway line about how their actions are creating the events they’re trying to stop… all bringing us to the big dramatic blast that wasn’t, because it was effectively “defused” by all the character machinations that led up to it.
The preceding paragraph is essentially why Jen went to bed angry. Here’s hoping she’s feeling a little more charitable by the time we record our podcast.
Notes and Notions:
- Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse hinted that the end of this Season 5 finale would be like the end of the Season 1 finale, and it was. Just as we saw nothing at the bottom of the hatch after Locke finally blew it open, we saw nothing after the bright white flash of Jughead. It’s a cliffhanger in only the faintest sense of the word. No tangible piece of what may come in Season 6 beyond “they’re coming.”
- If the “what’s in the box” teases weren’t enough, what’s the deal with Hurley’s guitar case? We know Jacob gave it to him, which is great, but… really? Will we just not know? Or will it be blasted into 2007 alongside Hurley to taunt us in Season 6?
- When Juliet said, “Live together, die alone,” didn’t you want to punch her in the face?
- Juliet’s death was wrenching, but probably would’ve been moreso if she hadn’t essentially dumped Sawyer two scenes earlier. It doesn’t look good for Sayid, either. And while it was good to see Phil get skewered, I really felt Sawyer deserved to have his death under his belt, rather than a random pipe.
- I’m not sure whether Jacob’s visits with all our characters were meant to direct them to their fates or change them. They made a point of showing him physically touch each of them, tapping Kate on the nose, holding young Sawyer’s hand a moment when handing him a pen. But it seems odd that Jacob helps revive Locke after falling from a high rise, but doesn’t do much more than give Jack an Apollo Bar.
- I really liked how Rose and Bernard were handled, even if I’m pretty sure this is the last we’ll see of them (beyond perhaps more explicit confirmation that they’re the “Adam and Eve” skeletons from Season 1). Their dismay at being found was hilarious. They got the lives they always wanted, they retired from the cycle of violence, and they’re happy to die as long as they’re together. Aww…
- We saw Vincent, too, but he’s now a mystery to me. If he survives the hydrogen bomb blast in 1977, he’s not likely to still be around in 2007. Unless he’s thrown through time along with Jack and friends. I can’t think of any other way Vincent makes it to the end of Season 6, as the creators seem to suggest he will.
- I liked how Bram called Frank a “yahoo.” Since it turned out that Frank was only pretending to be unconscious, I would’ve enjoyed having him pop up to respond to the word like he did in Season 4. He also got the great line, “In my experience the people who go out of their way to tell you they’re the good guys are the bad guys.”
- Talk about writing themselves out of a corner. Jughead already shrunk by several feet between “Jughead” and “Follow the Leader.” But after talking so much about its size and weight, turns out all we need is the core, which conveniently fits in a backpack. Now we can walk it over to the Swan!
- Some of the flashbacks were so short, and linked so plainly to the scenes that followed, I would’ve rather not seen them. Juliet’s parents got divorced, so that’s why she dumps Sawyer! Sayid watched Nadia die in the street, so that’s why he’s ready to die after being shot! Jacob recruited Ilana, and Jacob put Hurley on Ajira 316! It felt off.
- When Locke was thrown through the window, didn’t he bring a cascade of broken glass with him? The way he drops, singularly, with a thud before Jacob walks up seemed a bit strange. And were they suggesting Jacob saved Sayid’s life by pulling him back off the street?
- I can forgive Miles’ anvilicious “what if this causes the incident” epiphany because he also had the great line after Jack said the plan is not to go back in time. “Right, because that would be ridiculous.”
- Snarky Ben is fun. “I’m a Pisces.” Or, “I lied. It’s what I do.” Or when Sun asks Ben if he expects her to believe he doesn’t know about the statue. “Not really.”
- I liked that Sun found Charlie’s Drive Shaft ring in Aaron’s old crib, and that Charlie was mentioned in Jacob’s conversation with Hurley (along with Libby). Interesting how some long lost characters still get shoutouts, while many others don’t.
- Book: “Everything that Rises must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor. Interestingly, Jen’s working her way through an anthology of O’Connor short stories right now.
- Locations: Too many to list completely. Sun and Jin got married at the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. Locke fell out of the Waikiki Landmark highrise on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki. Young Kate shoplifted from a small store near Haleiwa (the name escapes me at the moment, but we mentioned it on our podcast). Young Sawyer’s funeral was at a church in Ewa Villages. Hurley was released from the Oahu Community Correctional Center on Dillingham Blvd. Nadia was killed at the corner of Auahi and Kamani streets off Ward.
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