Locke launches his master plan! Jack becomes 1977's Locke!! Sayid's triumphant return!!! All this, plus more Richard Alpert than you can handle, in season 5's penultimate outing, "Follow the Leader."
This episode marks a huge variation on a theme that has spanned the series - namely, which leader should be followed, the skeptical man of science, or man so dedicated to his faith that he has trouble dealing its insane ramifications (pretty clear which way I lean). The variation here is that the traditional roles of skeptic Jack and believer Locke seem to have been turned on their heads...or have they? Jack is blindly (faithfully) following a scientist, albeit one willing to die for his theory. Locke, on the other hand, becomes a skeptic, but only because he thinks the island told him to. Let's see how this played out...
1977 - In the Jungle (the Mighty Jungle)
Jack and Kate observe the Daniel in the Others' Den scene from the end of "The Variable," and Jack muses that this moment is the reason they were brought back, to change the future…until Daniel is shot. Jack tries to go help, but Kate convinces him otherwise. Suddenly, two Others, including Charles Widmore, arrive on horseback. Charles knocks Jack around and takes them prisoner.
Elloise finds Daniel’s journal, and recognizes her handwriting. Charles brings Jack and Kate in. Elloise has Jack and Kate put in her tent. Charles wants to know why DHARMA has declared war, but Elloise says they’re not from DHARMA. Charles wonders, "then where the hell are they from?"
Aside Number 1 - One of the things that became apparent throughout this episode is that the apparent omniscient foreknowledge of things to come shared by the Others' leadership is not simply a fact that's always existed. Rather, at various points in time, they had to learn things - perhaps from Daniel's journal - that told them about the future. There are some interesting implications for this, which we'll expound upon later.
Jack and Kate get roughed up a bit as they are brought to the tent. Kate returns them to their interrupted discussion, about putting things back to the way they were supposed to be. Jack talks about the losses, the misery they can undo. Kate asks about them. “We just go on living our life, because we’ve never met?” Kate insists it wasn’t all misery. Jack responds, “enough of it was,” and Kate gets teary.
Aside Number 2 - Oh, Jack. For a guy who is so dedicated to fixing things, why are you so determined to mess up what could be a good thing with Kate? For that matter, why are you so determined to push her back to Sawyer, messing up a good thing with Juliet? Jack never had the self-confidence to accept that Kate didn't just end up with him by default, but because she wanted to. He let his jealousy over Sawyer break them up when Sawyer was nowhere to be found, and the fact that they broke up he allowed to let him believe Kate never wanted him in the first place. As heroes go, Jack continues to be a bit of a lame-o.
Eloise returns and asks what Daniel needed the bomb for. Jack says she wouldn’t believe him. Ellie tells Jack about what happened when she was 17, about how Daniel was from the future, and how he disappeared. "Ten minutes ago, I shot that man, in the back, and before he died, he told that he, he said he was my son. Explain it to me, and you have my word I will believe you.” Jack says he thinks there’s a way to take back her shooting her own son. Eloise asks Kate if Jack knows what he’s talking about, and, exasperated, she says, “he thinks he does.” She decides to take them to the bomb. The only problem is that an entire village has been built over it – DHARMA. She assumes they can just sneak back in and help retrieve it, but Jack points out the complication of their being DHARMA fugitives.
Widmore asks why Daniel looks familiar to him, but Elloise interrupts and orders Richard to come with them. Elloise covers Daniel, and closes his eyes. She tells Charles she’s taking Jack and Kate to the bomb, but Charles protests. They have a bit of discussion out of earshot, and it appears as though Charles briefly rubs her belly (is she pregnant with the man she just killed at this very moment?). Richard tells Jack that’s Charles, and he and Elly, "well let’s just say love can be complicated."
Elloise and one of the Others with Guns takes them to a pond, and she explains they have to swim to a tunnel. Kate doesn’t want to go any further, but as she turns to leave. Eloise and her stooge order her, at gunpoint, to stop, because they're not in the habit of revealing their secrets to strangers only to have them toddle off. The gunman makes to shoot Kate, only to be shot dead by Sayid, who was (conveniently) hiding in the bushes.
As Jack, Kate and Sayid powwow, Richard asks Eloise what they’re doing. Eloise says their dead comrade won't matter if Jack succeeds in what he's doing.
Sayid thinks Jack's plan is flawed, because he already changed things by killing Ben, and they’re all still here. Kate tells him how she and Sawyer took Ben to the Others. When Sayid demands to know why she would do that, Kate, even more shocked than Sayid, asks when shooting kids and blowing up hydrogen bombs became ok. Jack insists this is their destiny. Kate asks if he knows who he sounds like, and reminds them everyone will die if he’s wrong. Kate says she’s going to find their people, because if she can’t stop Jack, maybe they can. And with that, she's off.
Aside Number 3 - the Jack/ Locke comparisons become pretty overt at this point. However, like Locke, as much as Jack may wish that Kate would just follow his lead, he seems powerless to stop her from going her own way. Unlike Locke, however, Jack doesn't even try. He is no longer a leader as a man on a mission who is happy to have others with him, but indifferent to those who would choose another path.
Richard dives into the pool. Jack tells Sayid, "if I don’t see you on the other side, I won’t blame you." He dives under, and swims into a tunnel. He emerges, into what looks like a temple, similar to the room where Ben met Smokey. Richard tells him this is (fittingly enough), the Tunnels. Jack says it was a lot further than he thought it was. He asks how they’ll get the bomb out. Richard says, "the same way we borught it in." Jack wonders if he means that passage they swam through, but Richard, annoyed, responds, "it’s a 12 foot long, 40,000 pound hydrogen bomb, so, no, not through the pool." Elly and Sayid emerge from the pool. Jack is ecstatic that Sayid joined him, to which Sayid rakishly responds, "if this works, you might just save us all. If it doesn’t, at least you’ll put us out of our misery." They light torches, and Eloise says, as she will again 30 years in the future before explaining to Jack and company how to return to the island, "let’s get started. "
Aside Number 4 - One of the nagging questions has been why, if DHARMA built the barracks, does Ben's appropriated house have a secret passage into hieroglyphic-strewn tunnels? We now know that DHARMA built its barracks directly on top the ancient tunnels the Others knew about. The question is, when DHARMA built their village, did they know what was underneath? Given the hostility and subsequent truce between Hostiles and DHARMA, how could Eloise's people stomach having DHARMA sit on top of their tunnels?
Aside Number 5 - It would appear another one of theories is now blown to hell - the bomb was not what the concrete under the Swan station was put in place to contain. This still raises the question, though, of just what was under the Swan station. For all Daniel's foreknowledge, all we know is it's energy 30,000 times stronger than what seeps out from the donkey wheel. Please, any physicists out there who can explain things like this, chime in and let me know.
Also, in light of Sayid's point about Eloise's intent to wipe out DHARMA, is that why they allowed the DI to build their camp right above the bomb, because they knew they had a failsafe device if they ever lost control of their island to these Ann Arborites?
1977 - DHARMA Barracks
At the DHARMA security station, Radzinsky starts beating answers out of Sawyer, and refuses to listen to Horace’s order to stop. “You don’t have the stomach for what happens next,” he tells his deposed former leader. Stuart (Radzinsky's first name) has Phil slam Sawyer’s head into the desk by the monitor, and demands to know where Kate is, "or so help me God, I will kill you." Sawyer refuses, and Radzinsky gets tougher. Juliet begs him to stop, pleading that they've known each other for 3 years and have no interest in hurting them. Sawyer begs Juliet not to talk. "Whatever you tell them," he moans, "they won’t believe." Phil insists he can make him talk. He punches Juliet, and Sawyer says he’ll kill him. Someone else arrives with the sub manifest, and points out the Shepherd, Austin and Reyes were last minute add-ons. When Radzinsky asks who Reyes is, Phil says, “he’s the fat guy.”
Aside Number 6 - I can see that Phil might be a bit peeved about getting cold-cocked and stuffed in a closet, but he's quite the little bitch, ain't he?
Hurley loads a backpack with supplies, then tries to look inconspicuous as he slips away carrying his guitar case. Chang follows him into the jungle. Hurley shows Jin and Miles his foodstocks. Miles insists they leave Sawyer and Juliet behind, because the three of them can't take on DHARMA alone, when Chang comes out and finds them. Chang asks again about the future story. His interrogation of Hurley is awesome:
Chang asks Miles if he’s really his son, and Miles admits it. Chang asks about Faraday's warning to evacuate the island. Miles says he’s been right about everything. "If he said get people off the island, I’d do it." Pierre says, "let’s hope he knows what he’s doing."
Chang finds the Sawyer interrogation and tries to order the evac. Radzinsky says no, and insists Horace is no longer in charge, and Pierre needs to get back to the Swan site. Sawyer says to put the women and children on a sub and get them out, "and if you put Juliet and me on the sub with them, we’ll tell you anything you want to know." Radzinsky demands that Sawyer draw a map to the Hostiles.
Miles watches the sub, and sees Charlotte and her mom board. He then sees the baby version of him with his mother (who I'm pretty sure got her makeup stolen by Gaby on this week's Desperate Housewives). Chang yells at her, harshly and Miles, for the first time understanding that his father really did care about him and his mother, realizes the harshness was the only way to get her to leave. They see Jim and Juliet pull up. Hurley says don’t worry, Sawyer always has a plan. Sawyer says to Juliet as they're marched to the sub, in cuffs, they’ll buy Microsoft, and bet on the 78 Cowboys. He apologizes for not leaving with her three years ago, but she smiles and thanks him for convincing her to stay. Juliet goes down the hatch. Jim "Sawyer/LaFleur" Ford turns around, looks at the island, and says, “good riddance,” then follows her down. (So much for giving a flying fig about Hurley and company).
Juliet asks what they’re going to do when they get to Ann Arbor, but Jim says they’re not going there, because DHARMA has no authority over them when they get off the sub. "Whatever happens, I got your back, remember?" Tenderly, Juliet says, "I love you," and Jim responds, "I love you, back." Suddenly, Phil shows up, and puts Kate on the sub, and chains her to the table. next to them. Kate lamely says, “hey,” and Sawyer, wondering what he has to do to be with Juliet away from this elephant in the room, responds merely, “hey.” Juliet rolls her eyes, as if wondering the same thing, i.e. why can't she and her man get away from this third wheel (love, love, love Elizabeth Mithcell). The sub pulls out. For the first time, we see Galaga in motion, as it dives under the waves.
Richard constructs a ship in a bottle on the beach when Locke arrives, bearing boar. “I brought dinner.” Richard asks where he’s been for three years. Locke tells him he’ll explain on the way to run an errand. Richard says something seems different about him, and John responds, “I have a purpose now.” Sun and Ben follow in. Richard asks what Ben’s doing here. Sun asks Ben why Locke say these are his people, not Ben's. "When I left the island," Ben explains (sort of), "he stepped in." Ben says Richard is an advisor, "and he has had that job for a very, very long time." Sun whips out the 1977 picture and storms over to Richard. She asks if he met Jack, Kate and Hurley in 1977. Richard says he remembers meeting them very clearly, because he watched them all die.
Sun plays with Jin’s ring. She asks Locke if it’s true that they’re all dead, but John says he doesn’t think they went through all this for nothing. Richard walks up and says he's ready. He still has John’s compass. John wants Ben to join, which prompts Ben to ask if John's afraid he'll stage a coup if left behind with the Others. John confidently responds, "I'm not afraid of anything you can do anymore," and Ben snarkily agrees to join them. John tells Sun to stay there, but swears that, if there’s a way to get her and Jin together, to save their people, he’ll find it.
Richard asks John where he’s been the last three years. John is surprised he didn’t know. He says he’ll show him where he disappeared to, and then he needs to see Jacob. Ben says that’s not how it works, and Richard, concerned about John's brashness, tries to talk him down, "you just got back. There's no reason to rush things." John mentions having a plan, and asks, "I am the leader, right? Then I want you to take me to see Jacob." As they beging to walk, Ben asks Richard, “what plan?”
John shows Richard and Ben the Beechcraft. He explains to Richard that his past/future self is about to arrive, and Richard will have to quickly take a bullet out of his leg, give him back the compass (so John can give it to Richard in 1954), tell him he needs to bring everyone back, and tell him he has to die to do it. We get a replay of the scene from earlier this year, where Richard helped John, gave him the compass, and watched him disappear. This time we got to see it from Richard’s perspective. Richard says John told him there’s a bullet in his leg. Ben tells present John this must be like an out of body experience, and asks how he knew when to be here? Locke responds, "the island told me." He gets Ben to admit the island never told him anything, but Ben continues, if it did for John, he wouldn’t need Richard to take him to Jacob. John deduces Ben never saw Jacob. Past John disappears. Richard returns and offers him the bullet. He says he's glad the dying thing didn’t happen, and John smiles and says, "it did."
What's also cool is how Locke created his own destiny. He told Richard to give him the compass, so that Locke himself could go back in time to give it to Richard, to hold for him until he came back again to claim his role as Others leader. Richard then spent decades waiting for John to come and become their leader. So the $64 question is, where did the compass actually come from?
As day breaks, the Others form up and march off the beach. Ben, ever the manipulative weasel, tells John about Richard’s concerns, how this trek makes him uncomfortable, and how he wonders if John knows what he’s doing. Ben offers to be John's lapdog, and says he’ll help to reunite John with his people, but John says that’s not why he’s going to Jacob, despite what he told Sun. He says he’s going to see Jacob "so I can kill him."