Not once, but twice in relatively quick succession, Unlocke observed tonight that there was a lot of catching up to do. He wasn’t kidding. “The Last Recruit” moved briskly, touched on a myriad of mysteries, and served up more explosions and twists. But the delicate balance of plot and character definitely felt askew, and along with all the forward velocity, there were moments that seemed to lose traction. At the end of last week’s episode, we felt the stage was set for the final sprint. Tonight’s tale had a lot of flash, but it still feels like we’re waiting for the big show. And with a week off before the next new episode, “The Last Recruit” definitely left us wanting more.
In the flash-sideways, the inevitable collision of our wayward survivors was aggressively accelerated. Sun makes her connection with the island world when she spots Locke on the next gurney. And Jack gets his hands on Locke’s dural sack without a consult. And by the close of our multi-faceted tour of Los Angeles, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Sayid, Jin, Sun, Jack, Claire, Desmond, Locke, and Ben are clearly interconnected. But can they all be unified and even embark on a plan in the few hours ahead?
I did like Jack’s renewed connection with David, as well as the interplay between cop Sawyer and fugitive Kate, perhaps the strongest character moments in the episode. Seeing Ilana turn up as a lawyer the week after she was blown up on the island was fun, but It still doesn’t make up for her untimely end. Desmond’s actions are again curious, though. Why was he going to see a lawyer? At first we guessed it was just a ruse to point Claire toward Jack, drawn from post-flash omniscience. But he knew Ilana, and had an appointment. Perhaps she’s just corporation counsel for Widmore Industries?
On the island, our unified camp of survivors doesn’t last long, as Sawyer executes his plan and separates Unlocke from several of his precious candidates. It serves the Man in Black right for entrusting a key part of his plan to a con man. Of course, on “LOST,” it can’t be that simple, and after another long look at the ocean, Jack decides that his work’s not done, and jumps overboard. As soon as he returns to the island, Unlocke is there to claim him.
Is Jack “The Last Recruit”? He seems pretty set on confounding Unlocke, but he is also told twice that he’s already “with” him. Claire told Jack that his mistake was letting Unlocke speak. And after Unlocke rescues a dazed Jack from a huge explosion reminiscent of Claire’s crossing over in New Otherton he also tells Jack, “You’re with me, now.” I’m wondering if Unlocke is now back to square one… or if there’s a chance that Jack was really the only candidate he needed.
In terms of answers, Unlocke confirms to Jack that he had appeared as Christian Shephard soon after the crash. As with the explanation of the whispers last week, though, the answer seems to bring more questions. Was the Man In Black portraying Christian in Jacob’s cabin? (Probably.) Visiting Jack off the island? (Probably not?) Telling Locke to turn the donkey wheel? (Probably.) Talking to Sun and Frank about the DHARMA Initiative? (Probably not, since at the same time, the Man In Black was Unlocke with the Ajira crew, and supposedly “stuck” in that form.) And a few weeks ago, it seemed significant that Claire described her father and her “friend” as two separate entities. Did she just not know she was in the middle of a puppet show?
And while Unlocke’s darker nature seems even more pronounced now, I’m struck by what he told Jack: he appeared as his father to lead him to water. In retrospect, it does seem to be what the vision accomplished way back in Season 1. And Unlocke also brought water and food to Richard at the Black Rock. Of course, he wanted something from Richard, and still wants something from Jack. But I found the tiny shard of implied benevolence interesting.
Jack was trapped on the island before he even got there? Absolutely. All the Man in Black wanted to do was help them leave? I’m not sure. I think Jack is right to question why he wants them gone, and just how their continued presence is a threat.
While Sawyer was ready to write off Claire and Sayid, both seemed to get a glimmer of hope tonight. Claire’s homicidal urges toward Kate seemed to subside (again) as she was welcomed aboard the escape boat, and Sayid’s hesitation after returning to Locke suggests that talking to Desmond may have reawakened some humanity within him.
Sayid’s character is definitely an empty one now, with even Sawyer dismissing him as a zombie. We’re hoping for a tragic and sad end, or a heroic final turn, but this blank-faced moping around has got to stop. At least Hurley suggests that redemption is possible, invoking what seems to be a contractually obligated “Star Wars” reference. (A reference that pop-culture wise-ass Sawyer inexplicably doesn’t recognize.) Anakin Skywalker turned against his dark lord in a climactic battle, so perhaps Sayid will do the same.
And, yes, at long last, Sun and Jin were reunited. As we’d feared, the overextended separation and the episode’s rushed pace robbed the moment of much of its dramatic power. Actually, the portable sonic fence on the beach seemed to have been purposely situated between them as they ran toward each other, and we were half expecting there to be yet another cheesy contrivance to keep them apart one more week. Fortunately, they embraced and declared their love… but the writers let Lapitas channel David Caruso with a smirking one-liner that deflated whatever emotional power was left in the scene.
Why did Widmore call off the deal with Sawyer? Why does anyone on Team Widmore think missiles are an effective weapon against Unlocke? Where has the spirit of Jacob been all this time, and what is Unlocke’s ultimate plan? And how are we going to survive two weeks before getting our next shot at answers?
- The conversation between Unlocke and Jack was a powerful one. When Unlocke said John Locke was stupid, and a sucker, at first I felt it was just adding insult to injury when it came to one of the most interesting and promising characters on “LOST.” But then I started to think (or hope) that they were actually setting John Locke up to be vindicated somehow. I hope so.
- Off the island, we learn that Locke’s wheelchair actually saved his life. Jen said it reminded her of how losing his kidney saved his life when he was shot by Ben.
- Flash-sideways Kate emphatically insists she’s innocent. And if the flash-sideways are going to ultimately suggest happier lives for our survivors, it would make sense that she is. Notice that Sawyer offers Kate an apple in the police station. A reference to Eve and the Garden of Eden? Or is it just an apple?
- Sawyer’s observation that it’s “weird” how he and Kate ended up crossing each others paths reminded us of Jack remarking to Kate in “316” that it was “crazy” to see that they were all back together on an airplane.
- We loved how cool Unlocke was when the first warning missile struck in the jungle. The huge explosion behind his unflinching figure called to mind the moment he blew up the submarine in Season 3.
- Zoe’s conversation with Unlocke, in which Unlocke says he has no idea what she’s talking about, is a direct mirror of the conversation Unlocke has with Widmore over a similar situation in “The Package.”
- Miles says his last name is Straum. So even though he’s got a good relationship with his museum-managing dad, Dr. Chang, there’s still a kink or two in that family tree.
- Ilana’s last name is Verdanski. Couldn’t think of how that might be significant, if only in comparison to Radzinski and Minkowski.
- Hurley says, “People are trying to kill us again.” Just like old times.
- Sawyer gets of at least one notable nickname: Chesty. It was funny how he referred to Lapitas as a guy who looked like he stepped out of a Burt Reynold’s movie… but it was an unusually clunky line of dialogue where “the pilot” probably would have sufficed.
- Locations: The office building where Claire, Desmond, Jack, David, and Ilana came together was Pauahi Tower in downtown Honolulu. The hospital where Sun and Jin and Jack and Locke turned up was the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific (though I think the ambulance bay and emergency entrance was Kuakini Hospital). The house where Sayid was captured by Sawyer and Miles is on Waiohinu Drive in Kahala. The “old pier” where Jack and his group boarded the Elizabeth was Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay.
How did you like “The Last Recruit”? Favorite moments? New theories? Please comment below and join the conversation. You can also call and leave a brief (ideally, one-minute long) message on the LOSTLine at (815) 310-0808, or email us at email@example.com.