Please bear with me, as I’m trying to process everything that happened in “The Incident” as I write this. Finally, we meet Jacob, ye most mysterious of island god-figures, and in addition to being a great weaver of the tapestry of fate (which is what I believe he is, as the metaphor of fate as woven exists in several ancient mythologies, as well as in Wanted), he’s also Mark Pellegrino and cooks up some mean orange roughy on hot-ass rocks. He also has a friend, a friend with no name who seems to be slightly at odds with Jacob as they sit, looking out at the clipper ship on the ocean that will undoubtedly be revealed to be the Black Rock and will likely carry one Richard Alpert, helper to island gods and island leaders.
Jacob’s unnamed associate asserts that he knows that Jacob brought the Black Rock here, specifically to prove him wrong about, I assume, humanity. Since I just went back and watched this intro, let me give you the rest of their conversation from this point:
Dude: “They come. Fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”
Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that, it’s just progress.”
Dude: “Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?”
Dude: “One of these days, sooner or later, I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.”
Jacob: “Well, when you do I’ll be right here.”
Dude: “Always nice talking to you, Jacob.”
Jacob: “Nice talking to you, too.”
It seems pretty clear to me that my husband is right about the battle of the gods that’s taking place on this island, with Jacob and this other dude trying to prove something to one another about human nature (I think). To facilitate that argument, Jacob has started bringing people to the island, setting up a tropical microcosm in which to prove his point. I think Jacob is trying to prove that there is some inherent goodness in humanity, hence why we spent the first season of this show examining how being marooned on a tropical island with total strangers can somehow serve as atonement for sins of the past. And just as he brought the Black Rock to the island, so, too, he brought the castaways, as seen through a series of flashbacks:
- Kate: Saved her from juvie as a child when she and young Mackenzie Astin stole an NKOTB lunchbox. He makes her promise that she’ll never steal again.
- Sawyer: At the boy’s parents’ funeral, Jacob gives young Sawyer a pencil to finish the letter he will carry with him until the day he kills Anthony Cooper. Sawyer’s uncle tells him that what’s done is done.
- Jin and Sun: As the only white man at their beautiful wedding, he reminds them to never doubt their love for one another, a compliment to Jin’s moving vows, which promise that he and Sun will never be apart because that would be like the sky being apart from the earth.
- Locke: When his father tosses him out a window, Jacob is nearby reading Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Arises Must Converge (perhaps a subtle nod to assure the viewers that, yes, everything brought up on this crazy-ass show will make sense in the end). He revives unconscious Locke with a touch and tells him everything will be okay.
- Sayid: Jacob distracts Sayid while crossing an L.A. street while Nadya gets hit by a car and dies, and I gasped out loud because it was so horrifying.
- Jack: After his father gives him hell during his first surgery, Jack tries to get an Apollo bar out of the machine. It gets stuck and he confronts his father. Jacob makes Jack feel better by getting a second candy bar and giving one to Jack. “I guess it just needed a little push,” he says, which isn’t just about the candy bar.
- Ilana: As she lies wounded in a Russian hospital, Jacob comes to ask her to help him.
- Hurley: When he gets discharged from jail, Jacob is waiting to share a cab with him. He asks Hurley why he won’t go back to the island, to which he replies that he’s cursed. Jacob suggests that his ability to talk to the dead is a blessing and tells Hurley he has a choice to be on A316 and leaves him Charlie’s guitar. (Or the guitar that will replace Charlie’s on the plane.)
This is not the order in which these Jacob flashbacks occur, but I listed them in this way because the first three people didn’t seem to follow the path Jacob set for them. Kate still became a criminal. Sawyer lives his life with the goal of killing the real Sawyer. And Sun and Jin do doubt their love. But, as with the rest of the people Jacob visited, they do come to the island. They do, ultimately, end up where Jacob wants them. Because Ilana is part of this group, I believe this lends some credibility to the theory that Oceanic 815 was not the plane that was supposed to come to the island, but that Ajira 316 was. However, I can’t totally buy that O815 was never meant to be because it allowed so many people to redeem themselves and atone for their pasts: for Jin and Sun to save their marriage, especially.
So what about that H bomb and Jack’s quest to reset history and erase everyone’s stories of redemption? Alpert, Sayid, Swayer and Eloise puzzle over how to transport a giant bomb across the island, and Sayid finds instructions in Faraday’s journal that indicate they only need to use the core. Sayid, who can now add dismantling atomic bombs to his ever-growing skillset, removes the core and carefully wraps it. Richard moves a wall in the tunnel that leads into the cellar of a Dharma house (just like Ben has a secret closet that leads to his Smokey-calling device; also his magical Schrödinger’s cat box in which he kept Anthony Cooper). Eloise insists that she wants to lead the way because she will not hesitate to kill any Dharmites that get in the way. Richard reminds her that she’s pregnant, and then knocks her unconscious, instructing Jack and Sayid to go on without them because he has helped them as much as he can. Because of all the hullabaloo going down in Dharmaville, Sayid and Jack try to hide in plain sight by donning Dharma uniforms. This works, until Roger Linus recognizes Sayid and shoots him right in the gut, despite Sayid’s protest that he’s kind of carrying a nuclear device. (Roger Linus douchebag points just keep on adding up.) A giant shootout ensues, and Jin, Hurley and Miles swing by in a Dharma van just in time to pick up Jack and Sayid, which pleases Jack to no end. Sayid, who is pretty certain he’s going to die, tells Jack that he just needs to stay alive long enough to rewire the bomb to detonate on impact.
As for Kate the Romance Ruiner, she informs Juliet and Sawyer that Jack is planning to blow up the island and erase history. Sawyer seems totally fine with this because Kate returning to the island totally fucked up his great life as LaFleur. But Juliet decides that they can’t let everyone die, so she engineers an escape from the sub and the three of them row back to the shore after instructing the sub captain to stay on his course and get away as quickly as possible. Once on land, they begin their quest to stop Jack by running in to Vincent, who takes them to the fantastic little island cabin where Rose and Bernard have been living for the past three years. (Best use of “Son of a Bitch” ever: Bernard, upon seeing the trio for the first time since the flaming arrow attack.) Rose and Bernard want nothing to do with this whole crazy stopping Jack plan. They’ve been living happily in the jungle and show great disdain for all of the fighting factions amongst their former people. My theory: when whatever happens at the end of this episode happens, Rose and Bernard become Adam and Eve, the skeletons in the cave from season 1, each of which held a white and a black rock. I don’t know how that would work, necessarily, but I like it, especially because Rose and Bernard both agreed that they’d be totally fine with dying should someone fail to stop Jack. Kate, Sawyer and Juliet head off on their way, despite Rose and Bernard’s assurance that none of this really matters, and stop the van.
Meanwhile, Locke, Ben, Alpert and the others continue on their path to Jacob. Alpert marvels at how Locke is alive, given the recent information he receive that Ben had strangled him to death. Alpert tells Locke that he is immortal because of Jacob, which Locke reckons is how he came to be alive again, as well. He also mentions that he plans to “deal with” the rest of the Ajira passengers once he’s done killing Jacob. Ben informs Locke of his promise to his dead daughter, who instructed him to do whatever Locke says, no matter what. Locke grins from ear to ear upon hearing this, because now he won’t have to convince Ben to kill Jacob. Ben will simply do it. Ben tells Locke what he already knew: that Ben was faking his conversation with Jacob the first time he took Locke to the cabin. He admits that he has never seen Jacob, the man who gave him orders for all those years as leader of the Others. “So yes, I lied,” he mutters. “That’s what I do.” He asks Locke why he has to be the one to kill Jacob, and Locke simply says that after all his years in service to the island, he got cancer, saw his daughter die and was banished – shouldn’t that be reason enough?
As for Ilana, Bram and the rest of the Ajira passengers, they’ve taken an unconscious Lapidus on their journey to whatever lies in the shadow of the statue, along with a giant-ass box. Lapidus wakes up to hear Bram dismiss him as unworthy of being some kind of sacrifice, and they show Lapidus what’s in that thar box, leading me to squeel, “What’s in the box!? What’s in the box?!” at every commercial break. Bram assures Lapidus that he and his cronies are the good guys as they cart that box to Jacob’s cabin. Ilana enters and finds the place trashed. She tells everyone to burn it down because Jacob’s not there (but his dog man portrait is; so much for the Jacob the Dog Man theories) and someone else has been using it. When Bram questions her motives, she hands him a piece of the tapestry Jacob had woven and pinned to the wall.
Sawyer takes Jack aside and requests five minutes to convince him not to change what had happened by telling him that last year, in 1976, the other Sawyer killed his parents. At any time during his tenure in Dharmaville, he could have taken a sub off-island and stopped it. But he didn’t because what’s done is done. Sawyer urges Jack to admit why he’s doing this, and Jack says he wants to erase time because he fucked up his relationship with Kate. Sawyer casually reminds him that if what he does works out, he won’t even meet Kate and she’ll spend her days in handcuffs. So Jack and Sawyer solve this the only way they know how: a super bloody fistfight, later broken up by Juliet, who now believes that they have to allow Jack to do what he wants to do. Why did she change her mind? Because Sawyer bothered to look at that freckled homewrecker when she descended into the sub. Just because they love each other, Juliet says, doesn’t mean they should be together. “If I never meet you,” she tells him, “then I never have to lose you.” (This revelation was mitigated by a flashback to her parents divorce, and was the only flashback not involving Jacob in this episode. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? It strikes me as odd.)
After the fight, Kate and Jack reenact their first meeting on the island as she cleans his wounds. She tells him she came back to save Claire and Aaron, because if Jack’s plan works, then Aaron would never be away from his mum. Even though she planned to give him up for adoption, she never would have gotten on that plane and maybe, just maybe, she’d have had a choice about what to do with her son. Hearing Kate’s belief in his plan, Jack insists that nothing in his life has ever felt as right as what he is about to do. So while Phil alerts Radzinsky to Sayid’s presence, Radzinsky remains on the warpath, insisting that he must keep drilling at the Swan site, no matter what the cost. Pierre Chang, who has tried his damnedest to get as many people off the island as possible, tries to convince Radzinsky to stop drilling, but he won’t do it. Jack takes the bomb, ready to drop it as close to the site of electromagnetism as possible and as he heads off, Miles suddenly points out to his companions that maybe, just maybe, Jack is going to end up causing the very thing he’s trying to prevent. “Maybe that little nuke IS the incident?” he questions. “Glad you guys thought this one through.”
With Hurley driving the Dharmavan, everyone in the group pulls up shooting to give Jack and clear path to the drilling site. As he drops the bomb, they all brace for their imminent death . . . but nothing happens . . . until suddenly anything metal gets sucked down the drill hole, including the drill itself, which collapses and crushes Pierre Chang’s left arm (thus confirming the theory that he would lose it in he Incident, which is why his left arm looks strangely immobile in all the Dharma videos). Phil gets impaled with rebar, which made me really happy.
Worse, though, is that a metal chain wraps itself around Juliet’s waist and drags her down into the hole. Kate, a woman she spent some time handcuffed to once, tries to save her, but loses her grip as Juliet calls out for Sawyer. He begs her to hold on, but the pull is too strong and she lets go, assuring him that he loves her and I AM SO COMPLETELY SAD IN THAT MOMENT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF! Why wouldn’t it have taken Kate!? No one likes her!
Richard leads Locke and crew to the statue, where he says Jacob lives now, but as Locke leads Ben in, Richard protests and insists that no one but the leaders get to see Jacob. To which Locke suggests that, since he’s the leader, he’s sure Richard can make an exception. After they enter, Ilana and her crew arrive at the statue. She calls Alpert “Ricardos,” and asks him what lies in the shadow of the statue. Richard responds, in Latin, “”Ille qui nos omnes servabit,” which, according to the good folks at Lostpedia, is Latin for “He who shall protect/save us all.” Because he passed her test, she reveals to him, and us, the contents of the box. Just like last season, it’s Locke’s corpse, which prompts Sun to ask: if that’s Locke, then who the fuck just entered Jacob’s house?
The answer is that Jacob’s frenemy from the opening sequence, his rival island god, found his loophole. As Not-Locke urges Ben to do as he says and kill Jacob, Jacob insists that Ben has a choice. He can kill him, or he can simply leave. But Ben, finally in the presence of the man he worked so hard for without any recognition, becomes a simpering, wounded child and wonders aloud why this is the first time in his 35 years Jacob isn’t ignoring him. (Although, I would venture that it’s not the first time, being as Ben was brought back to life and all.) So Ben does what any mild sociopath would do and stabs the shit out of Jacob, allowing Not-Locke to incinerate him in his own fireplace as Jacob whispers, “They’re coming.”
But finally, before I ruminate on some stuff, there’s one more piece of information that’s necessary here. It seems the bomb didn’t detonate at all, as Juliet lies at the bottom of the Swan pit, only a few feet away from the bomb. And so, desperate, I think, to be sure that what was supposed to happen happened, she reaches for a rock and smashes it against the bomb as my television screen went white and the title card appears.
We’re left here with the big question: can you change the past or not? I believe still as I have always believed that what’s done is done, whatever happened, happened and so Juliet’s sacrifice was entirely the way things were supposed to go down. I’ll spend the rest of today reading the opinions of those who say otherwise, though, because that would be a really interesting turn of events. However, because I believe that Jacob wanted to prove human goodness to his unnamed assassin, these events serve as a proof of that. I think this Incident is the thing that’s supposed to send everyone back to 2007 (except for Juliet and Sayid, who I think are pretty much dead). And next season, everyone will have to unite in a front against Not-Locke and fight against the new island god. There are, of course, multiple ways to interpret Jacob’s last words, but I take them as a warning to Not-Locke about those who follow Jacob, those who will avenge him in his name.
I do not, however, have any thoughts on what exactly Not-Locke’s loophole is (other than borrowing the image of a dead body) or its necessity in convincing a follower to kill Jacob. As always, a riveting finale, which is everything I’ve come to expect from Lost and it’s only a bummer that I have to wait until 2010 (dude, how weird is it that next year is 2010?) to continue the journey. Now I’m going to go write about something easy, like Top Model. Because Lost makes my brain hurt.
Lost did something incredible this year.
Despite the awesomeness of the time travel and the paradoxes it created, the philosophy getting thrown down hard over the last 16 episode, the tragic and unflinching hand of fate, the battling timelines and the fact that it’s amazing that we as audiences can accept that we can follow Richard in two concurrent timelines 30 years separated without thinking it’s even remotely weird, it did one thing that I consider amazing.
It turned Sawyer into the show’s greatest tragic figure.
Sure, I loved Sawyer before, playing an incredible foil, both dramatic and comedic, to Jack’s honor, Locke’s faith and Kate’s “goodness,” and he was responsible for just as many badass moments as the one and only Sayid (to quote Drew McWeeney over at HitFix.com, “I love how Sayid’s so badass he can just walk around the jungle with a hydrogen bomb slung over his shoulder”). His backstory, true, was indeed tragic, but had been so clouded by dark revenge, seemingly from the moment his own personal Incident occurred, that the emotions were buried under so many layers of hate.
Here’s something I wrote for the eight episode of this season, “LaFleur”:
But what I loved was that it gave Sawyer, for once, his first uplifting storyline of the entire series. We’ve been smacked with his terrible life again and again – his dead parents, his bloodlust on his search to find the original Sawyer, his destructive cons, and all the bad decisions he’s made on the islands – so it’s just such a breath of fresh air to see a happy, productive, non-thieving, non-growling James Ford/James LaFleur. His redemption as a person, or as much as what can be called redemption, drove my emotions in this episode more than most of Jack’s entire arc, and that’s impressive.
Hell, I teared up twice during the last ten minutes of the episode, first when he and Juliet kiss and the second when Sawyer spots Kate Austen coming out of the blue VW van only moments after revealing that he couldn’t even remember her face anymore. And these tears are for the guy who stole items out of people’s luggage for bartering purposes in s1. Come on, man. Give some respect.
In short, he evolved into an honorable and overall good human being. A leader. A decider. A lover. A faithful man. And a potential family down the line after having fucked up everything with Cassidy and Clementine back in the real world.
But here’s Jack to fuck everything up, playing a part in destiny’s cruel game. And every step moves Sawyer and Juliet closer to the collapse of their relationship, disallowing Sawyer from any semblance of happiness no matter how hard he fought to make it otherwise. And no moment is worse than Juliet’s hand slipping from his, as she plummets down into the Swan hatch, where a hydrogen bomb waits for her. Sawyer was given everything he ever asked for, and it’s been ripped away. And there’s no question that he’s going to rage against this next season. He may not have believed in destiny before, but he might now.
I am completely in the dark about what next season entails, and I like it that way. I avoid spoilers, I avoid little nuggets of clues, and I tend to even avoid most speculation. Just give it to me good in 2010, and I’ll be happy.