DarkUFO - Lost

With a title as presumptuous as "What They Died For", I was worried that this episode would disappoint fans if it was lacking in answers.


Luckily, the episode seemed to put most of the pieces in place for the series finale, while making us feel a little more comfortable, if not clear, about the whole Jacob succession thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and judging from the polls, so did many of you.

So, is everyone ready for the end? I know I'm not. It feels like only yesterday when I emailed Dark on a whim and asked to write recaps. Now, after Sunday, I'll be writing my last one. And even harder to believe, there will be no new Lost, ever! DarkUFO is certain to become the biggest support group on the Internet.

Before I get to my recap, permit me a little self-promotion. If you've enjoyed my recaps and/or writing style, please consider friending me on Facebook. No, I'm not desperately seeking friends, but I do write plenty of articles, all of which I publish to my Facebook page. I'll be writing for a magazine starting in mid-June, so I will stay busy writing even after Lost ends.

Okay, so, let's examine the ATL (alternate timeline), Ben's group, and then catch up with Jack.

DESMOND'S RAMPAGE CONTINUES

"What They Died For" begins like so many other episodes, notably "Pilot": with Jack waking up. He discovers that his mysterious neck wound from "LA X" is bleeding. Rather than signaling that the ATL is taking place after the on-island action, as some have theorized, I think the persistence of this mysterious wound is merely meant to show that one Jack is absorbing the physical pain of the other Jack (who just survived the submarine sinking). If we are to believe Flocke in "The Last Recruit" when he told Sun that he didn't take away her ability to speak, then this process was almost certainly happening in reverse in "The Package" when ATL Sun's inability to speak English was transferred to on-island Sun.


Anyway, Jack heads to breakfast, where his relationship with his son, David, seems pretty solid. Jack even has plans to attend David's concert. In the ATL, this concert is the ultimate event where everyone is going to reunite. It's certain to be the same concert that Eloise is throwing, and also the same event that Miles mentions later this episode. David and Jack are joined by Claire, who makes her only appearance of the hour. It was nice to see her and Jack finally getting to be half-brother and sister. I did keep wondering where Claire was in the on-island reality, though, since we don't see her and she isn't with Flocke.

A word on David's mother: at this point, I can't see her being anyone other than Juliet. Juliet hasn't shown up in the ATL yet, so this seems like a good way for that to happen.

Jack learns that Oceanic Airlines found his father, but we the viewers learn that it's Desmond feeding him this information, and it's likely untrue (if it is true, this only means that Desmond found the body, not Oceanic). Somehow, this will fit in with Desmond's plan, Operation Let Go, and hopefully trigger Jack's other memories (and in time to make it to the ultimate concert, I assume).

But Desmond's crazy ATL antics hardly end there. He returns to the scene of the crime at the high school, and it looks as if he's fully prepared to run Locke down again. Interestingly enough, Ben intervenes, putting his own body in the way. This is something that on-island Ben would never do, not even after his supposed redemption with Ilana in "Dr. Linus" (said redemption seeming a little premature after the on-island events of last night). But ATL Ben truly represents everything Ben could have been, the good person that Ben might have become, had destiny not interfered.

Desmond is perfectly happy, though, to take this opportunity to beat some other memories into Ben, which of course causes Ben to have flashes to the dock scene in the flashback of "Dead Is Dead". Desmond knew that a beating would have this exact effect on Ben; he knows it, because he must have already remembered that event by now. (If Hurley knows enough of the on-island reality to instantly identify Ana-Lucia, Desmond certainly has enough of his memories back to recall Ben's attack on Penny).


Desmond eventually turns himself in to Detective Sawyer and is locked up with Sayid and Kate. I wonder if Kate and Sayid have had any other memory interferences concerning each other, since they've been spending some time locked up together? En route to county lockup, Desmond offers them their freedom, but it comes with a price: they have to promise to do something for him (attend a concert, probably). They agree, half-jokingly, and are busted out by Ana-Lucia, who's taking bribes from Hurley. Hurley, for his part, seems to know everything, even asking if Ana-Lucia is coming with them, too (meaning he must know everything about Desmond's plans and the other reality). This makes sense, since Desmond courted Hurley's favor in "Everybody Loves Hugo" through much less violent or creepy means than those by which he has pursued the others.

Sayid goes with Hurley, and Kate with Desmond. Desmond instructs her to wear a dress, much like Tom did in "A Tale of Two Cities". Kate and Desmond have a concert date.


BEN + DANIELLE = TRUE LOVE?

Ben is clearly affected by his flashes to the island. He may even be disturbed. It at least appears that way when he looks at himself in the mirror (looking in a mirror obviously being an act that has forced our characters to confront competing memories of themselves so far this season). Wouldn't ATL Ben Linus, who loves kids and is a genuinely nice guy, be horrified at the things his on-island self has done? Perhaps triggering his memories will cause a change in behavior for on-island Ben, preventing him from doing Flocke's bidding any longer.

As Ben is being treated by the school nurse (the one the principal was sleeping with, I think), John comes in and questions him about the attack. Ben says that Desmond was trying to get John to let go. Desmond probably means this in the sense that he wants John to let go of everything that prevents him from seeing the life he was supposed to have in a reality where he was broken until he finally found a place that made him special, or that celebrated his specialness. But John takes this in a different light - as confirmation that he is special in this very reality, and that he has to let go of his guilt at having taken away his father's ability to walk (something his father took from him in the original reality).

John goes to see Jack, where they have what might be their last (or one of their last) conversations about destiny. Jack and John discussing this topic has made for great Lost moments the many times that it's happened over the last six years, starting in "White Rabbit", where John suggests to Jack that the island might be special, and they may have been brought there for a reason. In the ATL, John has been persuaded to have the surgery, not by science or reason, but by faith and destiny. He knows that fate is telling him to have the surgery, and will in fact pummel him until he submits to it. Jack isn't necessarily buying this, even uttering Eko's famous line, "Don't mistake coincidence for fate." But as John points out, how different are these two concepts, when they both lead the characters to do the same things?


My only wonder, though, is how John could possibly have the surgery before the concert, which is taking place that same night (even in a world where the passage of time has been especially loopy, even by Lost standards - John, Jack and Ben go through several days after the Oceanic flight, but for Sayid, Jin and Sun, only one or two days seem to have passed). I'm fairly certain we won't see anything in the ATL post-concert, so maybe Jack won't get around to fixing John, after all. Or maybe "fixing him" won't involve fixing John's ATL self, but instead Jack will fix the destructive, evil force running around in John's form on the island.

Meanwhile, Ben's injuries lead to him being offered a ride home (and then dinner) by his favorite student, Alex Rousseau. I was truly shocked when he actually was able to meet the original Rousseau, Danielle herself (!) Since I only started blogging for Lost this season, none of my readers would necessarily know this, but Danielle was one of my favorite characters, and I was absolutely furious with her sudden exit in season four. I didn't expect to actually see her again, and though she didn't have a major role (there was a lot going on in this episode, after all), I really enjoyed her contribution.

There's clearly a hint of a possible romance between Danielle and Ben, which kind of actually makes sense ("even if we have to kidnap you", ha!). They both love Alex, in both timelines. On the island, they even seemed to have established a sort of begrudging respect (or at least acknowledgment of each others' importance to Alex) before Danielle was killed. In the ATL, Danielle makes clear to Ben how much he means to Alex, and in a very touching scene, this brings him to tears. I'm not sure if the time-space fabric of the ATL is going to endure whatever Desmond is about to do to it, but if it does, I would expect Danielle and Ben to get together. This (and John's scheduled surgery) makes me think that the ATL won't just fade out of existence after all, despite being a reality that was never supposed to happen.


RICHARD DIES YOUNG

On the island, we finally check in with Ben, Miles and Richard, who've apparently been taking quite a long time to reach the Barracks. Their "blow up the Ajira plane" plan is a little melodramatic for us, since we're two episodes ahead of the Ajira plane mattering.

Courtesy of Miles and Richard, Ben gets a reminder of Alex's death. This reminder is very important, I think, in explaining Ben's motivations for the following scene.

They run into Zoe and Charles Widmore at Ben's house. Widmore explains that Jacob invited him to come back to the island, which Ben immediately dismisses as impossible. Ben wants to believe that since Jacob never spoke to him, he wouldn't have spoken to any other former Others leader. But Charles reveals that Jacob did indeed come to see him after the freighter explosion and showed him "the error of my ways". Charles even explains that he already rigged the Ajira plane to blow, which torpedoes the theories that Flocke did that himself. It's interesting that it was Widmore who did this after all, since this action pretty much played right into Flocke's hands. But Widmore brags about it, telling Ben that he's always a step ahead of him.

Unfortunately for him, nobody is a step head of Benjamin Linus. Widmore's arrogance, coupled with the memory of Alex's death fresh in his mind (also coupled, possibly, with ALT-Ben's closeness to Alex merging with this Ben as his other memories come back), causes Ben to lapse into one of his old habits - kill by trickery.

I can't decide whether Ben knew Richard was going to get run down by the Smoke Monster. Richard is one of Ben's only true friends, so it seems not, but Ben didn't appear quite as shook up as I would have liked. Then again, Ben can be pretty cold, and he may have just been faking in order to gain Flocke's trust.


Speaking of Richard, dead or not dead? When Frank met an ambiguous fate in "The Candidate", I sided with him still being alive. Since he hasn't shown up since then, I'm guessing I was wrong. It seems to me even less likely that Richard is still alive, though. I know he's a more important character, but his story has basically been completely resolved since "Ab Aeterno". Also, I don't think someone could survive that blow. Does Richard's agelessness also make him immortal? We know he can't kill himself (like the candidates), and the Man in Black has obviously left him alive for 150 years. But maybe Richard just hadn't been worth killing yet. Maybe MIB thought, until recently, that he would still be able to use Richard. And thinking back on it, he certainly did use Richard - in "Follow the Leader" and "The Incident". My girlfriend also had the idea that perhaps Richard was immortal until he shouted that he had changed his mind at the end of "Ab Aeterno", stripping himself of his safety. In any case, I side with Richard being dead, and I'm mostly OKAY with that. He's had a good, long life, and has contributed plenty. Still hoping Frank makes it, though.

Also, Miles escapes with a walkie, and Ben has the other one. This is going to have to matter at some point, unless it was just there to show us how completely Ben tricked Charles. Anyway, I'm glad Miles survived again, and I'll be interested to see what role he plays in the finale.

HE DOESN'T GET TO SAVE HIS ZOE

I loved the look on Ben's face as Flocke sat down next to him. Ben is terrified of him, but he knows that if he plays his cards right, not only will he survive, but he'll also get to finally kill Widmore. Flocke calmly tells Ben that there some people he needs to kill, knowing that Ben has no choice but to say yes. He even plays the "you get to be leader of the island when I leave" card again. Ben probably isn't convinced by this, and I don't really think Flocke actually believes that Ben buys the act. But both of them know that if Ben doesn't play along, he'll end up like Richard.

Speaking of Ben's face, it is definitely, definitely bruised as he enters the house. I would say that this is proof that the flash-sideways universe is manifesting itself physically in the on-island universe (Ben was just beaten up by Desmond, remember), if I hadn't also read a report saying that Michael Emerson accidentally got punched in real life during the shooting of that scene.


Flocke kills Zoe almost immediately, even calling her "pointless". Was that enough for all you Zoe haters? Are you satisfied, now?

Before Flocke kills Charles, he needs answers. This time resorting to one of Ben's tactics, he threatens to kill Penny once he leaves the island unless Charles spills everything. I wasn't convinced that this would actually motivate Charles to tell him anything (can't he simply keep Flocke from leaving by not telling him about Desmond's purpose?), but whatever. Right after he tells Flocke, Ben cuts the confession short by murdering Charles. So much for those pesky rules that prevented them from killing each other. "He doesn't get to save his daughter," Ben says.

Widmore has been a consistent enough nemesis to Ben that I can buy Ben wanting to kill him regardless of whatever else he might be feeling toward serving Flocke. I'll be surprised, though, if Ben has any intention of helping Flocke kill the candidates, or destroy the island, as he swears to do later.

A NEW JACOB IS CHRISTENED

Though we only spent a few scenes with Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sawyer, they were rewarding scenes. In justa few lines of dialogue, Jack and Sawyer forgive each other, and Kate and Jack grow closer (Jack sews up Kate, mirroring Kate's medical assistance to Jack in "Pilot").

In no time at all, young Jacob appears to Hurley, takes back the ashes Ilana had kept, and lures the candidates to a conference with adult Jacob. I don't expect to ever learn why Jacob had been appearing as a kid, but perhaps it's because his ashes weren't in his possession. Part of his 'essence' was missing, reducing him to a child-like state. Who knows?


As the ashes burn in the fire and Jacob's remaining time ticks away, he explains much: He shouldn't have pushed the MIB into the Source - this act of creating the Smoke Monster was a horrid mistake on his part. For a long time, he's known that MIB would find a way to kill him, so he's enlisted people who were "like him" to eventually take his place. Sawyer quips that Jacob had no right to pull them out of their lives, but Jacob says that none of their lives were fulfilled. "You needed this place just as much as it needed you." When it comes down to it, the island is a special and magical place. It may be the cork preventing malevolence from seeping into the world, but it's also a place of renewal where groups of people - from the Dharma Initiative to the Others to the Oceanic 815 survivors - have found a way of life that suits them and gives them meaning.

My favorite moment of the hour, though, was Jacob telling Kate that her name being crossed off didn't really matter. "The job is yours if you want it," he says. We've been obsessing over "The Rules" for three seasons, and in two quick lines, Jacob dismisses their importance entirely. In light of this, I don't think Mother actually did devise some way to stop her boys from hurting each other, and I don't think there were ever rules to stop Ben and Widmore from killing each other or each others' daughters. These "rules" were made up by whomever was in charge at the time to trick people into obeying. In the end, it comes down to free will after all. The candidates have a choice. But this choice has been influenced by their destinies, by the magic allure of the island itself, perhaps, and thus only one candidate steps forward to become the new Jacob: Jack.

Consider Jack's transformation from someone who didn't believe in destiny or the specialness of the island into the one person who is most sure that it's his destiny to protect this important place. And Jacob is happy to have him. They go through the ritual of succession, and Jack vows to protect the island as long as he can.


A WORD ON REMEMBERING OTHER LIVES

By the way, it just recently clicked for me that this whole business of the characters undergoing emotional or traumatic events in the ATL and then remembering their on-island lives is similar to something that happens in the popular science fiction novel series, Dune. I'm going to spoil one small aspect of the science of Dune, so stop reading if you don't want to know.

In Dune, characters can be "resurrected" by regrowing them from the original person's cells. Eventually in the series, scientists figure out how to restore the person's original memories in the clone body. They do this by putting the clone in an extremely traumatic situation, such as a violent or sexual one, and then the memories come flooding back. This is very similar to the way that Desmond has gone about restoring the on-island memories (running down Locke, beating up Ben, Charlie trying to drown Desmond, etc.).

Just thought I'd mention it. If you've read the later books of the series, you'll know what I mean.

THE END IS COMING

As always, thank you for reading. Please join me in the next few days for my final recap, and happy finale to all of you.

Lost, I'm going to miss you, but I don't have to say goodbye just yet.

- Robby "Robz888"

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