THINGS I NOTICED - The Last Recruit
Let's face facts: The Last Recruit was a transitional episode. With only a few weeks left to tell the final chapters of LOST's story, the episode was designed to place everyone exactly where they need to be. The writers did what they could to keep things interesting, writing in some of Sawyer's best season six jokes and even saving the Sun/Jin reunion to help out. In the end, it was a good episode - but that's pretty much all it was. Things I Noticed:
Who's Your Daddy?
We've been drooling for a long time to see this confrontation between Jack and Flocke; a meeting that's starting to feel a lot like the calm before a great big storm. Some of the answers we get here are exactly what we expect, but some of the dark man's words also seem contradictory when compared to things he's been telling our other LOST characters.
I loved the visuals in this scene. Flocke leads Jack to a clearing with two rocks so that they might sit down and finally discuss things, yet Jack refuses to sit. Instead, Jack gets up close and personal with the entity assuming John's form, almost as if studying him. As the MIB sits comfortably Jack squats before him, bringing himself down to the same level, staring his opponent face to face, eye to eye. Like Desmond, Jack is showing no fear or apprehension here. There's an intangible equality between these two characters, as if both respect each other's power and neither wants to give his opponent any advantage.
We get a big reveal here, going all the way back to the beginning of the show: the dark man was responsible for representing himself as Jack's father. For a split second I thought he might be bullshitting, based solely upon his hesitation when Jack asked him why. But then the dark man mentions leading Jack to water, which is exactly what happened in White Rabbit. Unless the MIB conjured up this memory from John Locke's consciousness - which is entirely possible, since John was there too - one of LOST's biggest long-standing mysteries gets solved, right here in this clearing.
The dark man points out John Locke's foolishness in thinking he was brought to the island for a reason, even going as far as to call him stupid and a sucker. Initially this seems to contradict what he'd said about admiring John Locke during LAX. Looking back however, all the smoke monster admired about John was that he recognized his on-island existence was much better than his previous life. While everyone else was desperately looking for a way to leave, John Locke was the only person with a clear enough vision to want to stay.
What happens next is the same thing that happened to all the other recruits: the MIB dangles a carrot. Based upon Jack's actions for the past five and a half seasons, that carrot is rescue. Flocke knows how vehemently Jack has resisted the island's call. He knows how often Jack has laughed in John Locke's face whenever destiny or purpose was mentioned. Flocke is banking on the same old Jack, the guy who called the freighter, the one who fought so hard to leave the island. He emphatically bashes John Locke's belief that "everyone is here for a reason", and he intentionally does this in front of Jack as a way of saying "There's nothing here for any of us."
But once again, the MIB might be lying his ass off. Although Jacob may be dead, the dark man realizes that his recruits are still dangerous. If a candidate happens to take up Jacob's gauntlet, the smoke monster will once again be stuck on the island for good. I'm thinking Flocke recognizes something within Jack during that first staredown in the clearing... something that tells him "he's the one". Above all other possible recruits, Flocke seems to fear Jack the most. Unable to kill him, sending Jack off the island becomes top priority. And yes, I believe he gave Sawyer access to the boat for that exact purpose.
If you think about it, the dark man has sent Jack off the island before. I've long theorized that Jacob was the one trying to kill Charlie in season three, to prevent him from flipping that jamming switch in the Looking Glass. The dark man's countermove was to give Desmond his visions, saving Charlie just long enough to get the job done. This brought the freighter to the island, ultimately allowing the Oceanic Six to leave. Jacob eventually brought them back, using mirrors to show each of them they were living a lie.
This is the chess game, move by move. Jacob (or perhaps the island) wants the characters to stay, to accomplish some end goal. The dark man wants them dead or gone, away from the island. Back and forth they've pushed their playing pieces across the game board, and even now they're still making moves. The dark man is about to send Jack off the island for what he hopes is the last time... but before getting to him, Jacob has already instilled a strong sense of purpose within Jack during Lighthouse. Enough purpose to stop him from leaving the island on his own accord, and staying by his own choice.
Another line I thought interesting this scene came from Flocke: "You were trapped on this island before you even got here". While it's representative of Jack being fated to come to this place since the moment Jacob touched him, it also gave me a sense of how far-reaching the "island" really is.
If I'm Not The Same, Then The Question Is... Who In The World Am I?
A very important thing happens in the ambulance as Locke mentions Helen. The way he spoke, the way he referred to her and asked Ben to call him 'John'... it seemed for a minute as if the old Locke was talking here. Instead of just asking for his fiance' as LAX_Locke would've done, it appeared as if the John Locke we all know and love - the one we last saw being choked to death by Ben - had somehow made the transition into LAX_Locke's broken body. He referred to Helen as a man near death and remembering the bigger regrets of his life; of losing someone he loved and desperately wanted to marry.
Are we getting Locke back??? I really hope so. I totally love this angle, and it would really bring John's story full circle. Dying abruptly the way he did, it always seemed like John Locke's story was never finished. We'd all been rooting for him to break out of being the gullible off-island loser we'd watched for so long, and we never got the chance to see that happen. Perhaps, if John's transition becomes permanent, we'll finally get the opportunity and closure needed for such a great, epic character.
Sun on the other hand, is experiencing a transition of her own. Island Sun's current memories include seeing John Locke as a monster, which is why she's screaming in fear as she's rushed into the hospital alongside him. In both cases the transition occurs during trauma, semi consciousness, or near-death. This, or a brutal headwound, seems to be yet another way for the characters to suddenly remember their previous island lives.
You're My Brotha From Another Mother!
I'm still confused by the sickness. There are times when Claire seems batshit crazy, and times when she's lucid enough to resemble the old Claire. Her scene with Jack was cool enough, but the brother/sister thing was a little underwhelming. I think it's a case of the writers giving this answer away so very long ago, and then waiting a bit too long to put these two characters together again. The impact of their on-screen connection as siblings has sorta, well, totally worn off for me by now.
Claire does point out that Jack is now "with Locke", something Jack seems to know nothing about. I'm pretty sure Jack hasn't accepted any offer from Flocke just yet, but if he'd stayed on the boat that might have qualified. By making his own decision and not taking what the dark man offered him (even indirectly) I think Jack remains on his own side. His choice to stay on the island this episode was a big one.
You Can Always Bring People Back From The Dark Side
Hugo's Star Wars reference here might not be all that far off. While we all watched Sayid's degeneration into a zombie-like bad guy, we've also seen recent signs of improvement. First he lets Zoe live (which didn't make the dark man very happy), and last episode he cared enough to start questioning Flocke's whereabouts and motives. This week, Sayid seems to struggle greatly with shooting Desmond in cold blood.
I think there are two possibilities at this point. In one, Sayid has been playing dumb the whole time, firmly implanting himself within Flocke's camp as a sleeper agent. While I really like this idea, it doesn't seem to make sense for me - especially after watching the way he killed Dogen. That Sayid was just way too dark to be pretending.
More likely I think, Sayid has been gradually 'getting better'. I don't think for a minute that he'll fully recover, but he's consciously regretting his decision to take the dark man's offer and is beginning to rethink things. Sayid is demonstrating remorse and independent thought, which will probably lead to a very kickass uprising. I'd love to see his character go out in a blaze of glory, kicking a huge dent in the MIB's overall master plan as he goes down.
And I don't think for a minute that he killed Desmond in that well.
An Apple a Day Keeps The Po-Po Away
I have to admit, this was almost a wasted scene. If it was designed to answer the not-so-burning question as to why Sawyer let Kate go in the airport elevator, then fine. It didn't really do it for me, because that wasn't even a mystery as far as I was concerned. Thankfully, Miles calls us away from this scene so we can move to more interesting on-island events.
The only thing noteworthy here: just about everyone in this scene wears black. Sawyer, Kate, the police, the detectives... even the hat Kate puts on as Sawyer runs off to catch Sayid is black. In stark contrast are the two bright red apples, perhaps once again a reference to a third, outside influence. Sawyer eats his apple, but Kate leaves hers alone. Not yet sure what that means.
Mortar Strike Beats Rock, Paper, And Scissor
Widmore's return to the island has been marked by some real high-tech shit. First the sonic fence, then the giant copper doughnuts... now it looks like he's got GPS-guided mortars. Unlike the Shadow-Statue people, it's good to see he came prepared. But unlike the filthy barefoot leader who shunned technology during his on-island rule, it certainly seems as if Charles Widmore has turned over a new leaf.
It occurred to me that if Flocke wants all the candidates dead he might encourage and welcome a mortar strike. We already know it won't hurt him, and it indirectly accomplishes his end goal. Smashing the walkie with his staff may have been an act of defiance, but it also may have been his way of intentionally provoking another hit. We see this happen later on, at the end of the episode.
Desmond's Comprehensive Guide To Stalking Blondes
Alright, I need to come clean about something. In watching the whole Desmond/Claire/Illana/Jack/David at the law office sequence, I was just looking for it to end. It's not that it was bad, because it wasn't. But as these precious long minutes ticked off my DVR clock... I found myself just wanting more than this.
On one hand I feel bad for feeling this way. I know the LAX storyline is important to the overall plot, and I trust the writers are eventually going somewhere cool with it. At the same time though, there's a big part of me that knows we're in the home stretch. That part wants as much time on the island as possible, because let's face it: the LAX stuff isn't half as exciting.
I noticed the big sign that said "Visitors must sign in". Both Claire and Desmond signed it, and later Jack but not David. Perhaps this is indicative of our heroes being nothing more than visitors to this timeline. I also loved the upward-angled shot of the long escalator, which reminded me instantly of Boone's warning vision to Locke in further instructions. It wasn't the same escalator, but it was close.
Desmond is borderline stalking Claire here, practically shoving her into Illana's office. Maybe his goal is to reunite her with Jack, hoping for some type of mutual recollection. It looked more to me however, as if his goal was to stop her from signing those adoption papers. He mentions that she shouldn't do something "irreversible", which directly conflicts with Jack's LAX assertion that nothing is irreversible.
Have You Seen Cindy? She's Starting To Give Taller Ghost Walt a Run For His Money
As Flocke once again instructs his group to break camp, he explains their new mission: get to Hydra island. By now there are so many red-shirts that he sends Sawyer off to pick up Desmond's boat, presumably so everyone can travel in style. "Take whoever you want", he tells Sawyer, knowing full well that he'll pick Kate. And that's when the MIB moves on to more pressing business: getting Sayid to kill Desmond.
If you ask me, Flocke doesn't care about his followers at all. The recruits are all he's ever been concerned about, and the rest of the red-shirts are there to keep up appearances. He'd just as soon take a couple of outriggers to Hydra island, leaving all non-essential personnel behind.
For this reason, we should consider the possibility that the MIB knew exactly what would happen here. Flocke sends Sawyer off knowing full well he intends to sail away from the island, and even more importantly, that he'll take Jack with him. He disappears with Sayid, intentionally moving out of sight in order to to give these two time to hatch their "plot". Later on it appears he's listening to Jack and Claire's conversation, and then conveniently picks this time to go off and look for Sayid, giving Jack plenty of time to gather his allies and bolt.
At the same time, Flocke really does want Desmond dead. He might not know exactly why Widmore brought Des to the island, but he can't take any chances in leaving him alive. The smoke monster also can't kill Desmond directly, lending more weight to the theory that Desmond might just be a candidate. We see Sayid's hesitation here, as the dark man asks if he still wants what he offered him. At this point, Sayid is not so sure.
At the well, Desmond wisely shows Sayid a reflection of himself through Nadia's eyes. "What will you tell her?" Des hits a home run here. Perhaps the only thing Sayid cares about at this point is what Nadia thinks of him, both on and off the island. In the LAX world he packs his things, telling Nadia: "I'm leaving, and I'm never going to be able to come back again." This line is not only similar to the way Ben described leaving the island, it's also an ominous sign that maybe we're coming up on the end of Sayid's storyline.
Welcome Back To The Cool Kids Table
I thought they wrapped up the crazy-Claire story rather nicely here, as Kate finally convinces Claire to stop being "one of them" and start being "one of us" again. This took some very slick wording and non-threatening movement, but it also took an extension of Kate's genuine feelings for both Claire and Aaron.
Turns out three seasons ago the dark man had offered Claire the one thing she needed most: commitment. During the course of her life she'd been abandoned by her family, by her boyfriend Thomas, and then seemingly by everyone she crashed onto the island with. Cue the dark man approaching as Christian Shephard, the father-figure Claire never had. Three years and a squirrel-baby later, her loyalty now lies with him.
Kate says everything necessary to recruit Claire back into the heroes' fold. She's truthful about her reasons for returning to the island, and honest about her intentions to reunite Claire with Aaron. Claire stops blindly hating Kate just long enough to realize that she did nothing wrong, and starts to trust her again. Even so, we can't blame Kate one bit for taking Claire's rifle.
Captain Sawyer... Driving Cool Water Sales Up 300%
As they sail away from the island for what might be the last time, Sawyer's conversation with Jack mirrors the one they had at the end of The Incident. Jack was a man of faith then, and he's a man of even stronger faith now. By contrast, Sawyer's pendulum has swung in the opposite direction: at one point he was content to stay on the island forever, but now he only wants off. What Sawyer doesn't realize is that the off-island world isn't all that it's cracked up to be... something Jack learned first-hand a few seasons back.
All that hardcore pondering with a faraway look in his eye has finally done Jack some good: he's starting to see the big picture. The further they get from land, the more uneasy Jack feels about leaving. Inwardly, he somehow knows there's something still left to do. He steals his agenda, mannerisms, and even full lines of dialogue directly from his old nemesis... John Locke, man of faith. Sawyer sees this, and is hella-pissed.
After apologizing once more for Juliet, Jack takes his own leap of faith. His jump parallels Sawyer's jump from the helicopter, complete with Kate calling out after him and Jack swimming to shore. Kate parallels Jack's own words from the season three finale, telling Sawyer "We have to go back." Sawyer disagrees, telling her "We're done going back."
All on his own, Jack's figured out something important: that the MIB is more afraid of them than they are of him. He's also conceded that whatever agenda the island has for everyone can no longer be ignored. Jack surrenders to fate, and gives himself fully and completely to the island. He's ready to face the dark man rather than go back to living another off-island lie. This is a critical continuation of Jack's one big lesson: letting go.
Here's Some Money For The Vending Machine. See Ya In a Bit.
David and Jack's relationship has certainly sweetened since Lighthouse. He's now a supportive, loving, caring son, and Jack is doing his best to make up time. We still don't know who his mother is, but I'm guessing they're saving that up to make the reveal even juicier. My money's on Juliet or Ana Lucia, because we've seen just about everyone else so far.
Jack peers into the operating room mirror and sees Locke's face, and as viewers we're flashed back to the spinal operation he did on Ben at the Hydra station. This is where Ben cryptically told Jack "See you on the other side", something that made little sense at the time. Now however, Jack is on the other side. Maybe this scenario is what triggers his own magic memory moment, but we'll have to wait for next week to be sure.
A Love So Deep... Not Even A Sonic Fence Can Come Between Them
The Sun/Jin reunion has been a long time in coming... maybe even a little too long. These are two very good characters, and it was satisfying to see them finally reunited with one another. It sucked to see them apart for so long, mainly because both Sun and Jin have been reduced to token roles since the freighter blew up. And damn, I can't believe that was a whole two and a half seasons ago.
Like everyone else, I cringed as they approached the sonic fence, thinking how cruel and yet legendary it would be to see them both get their eardrums fried. This didn't happen of course, and they had a happy reunion - in both the island world, and in their room at the hospital. LAX_Jin tells Sun that it's over, and that they're all finally safe - including the baby. Maybe this is even true for them, in that timeline. On-island however, things still aren't looking so hot.
The very sight of Jin brings back Sun's ability to speak English. Just in case somebody might've missed this, Lapidus is there to help out. "Looks like someone got their voice back". Pure awesome.
Good, Bad, Whatever
The end of this episode gave us a few little twists and turns. Widmore's crew turning their guns on Sawyer and company was more than a bit surprising. Score one point for those who still think Charles Widmore is a dick. He had yet another chance to win us over, and he just blew it.
Simultaneously, the sub-people begin launching mortars at the MIB's team. Maybe the screaming sound of an incoming projectile wasn't enough for some people, because despite being shelled only hours earlier, no one moves until Jack barks out a warning. Even when he does Flocke moves not a single inch, all but confirming that he's impervious.
This is where the dark man scoops Jack into a fireman's carry, Platoon-style, and reassures him that everything will be alright. "You're with me now", he tells him. Flocke sure is pushing for recruitment here, but as far as I'm concerned Jack still hasn't made a decision of his own.
In the end, The Last Recruit was another solid episode of LOST. On island it continued to split sides and shake up alliances, while off-island it continued to gather everyone together in one single place: the hospital.
It will be interesting to see where Jack and Locke go next. I think that at this point, their fates are completely intertwined. Eventually they're going to disagree on something, and I'm crossing my fingers that all hell will break loose.
THINGS I NOTICED - The Last Recruit