“The Last Recruit” reminded me very much of the song “One Day More” in the musical theatre version of Les Miserables. Both Lost and Les Miserables involve epic stories with ensemble casts. Although I’ve not seen the episodes to come after “The Last Recruit,” what’s clear is that the, like “One Day More,” the episode served to move all characters into place for their final act. Both TLR and ODM occur right before an intermission – on Broadway, the lights come up and you get to pee and buy ju-ju bees. On TV, Lost has a one week hiatus before hitting the home stretch. Finally, both TLR and ODM temporarily bring the entire cast together before sending them all back out on their respective paths of destiny. Of course, the comparison is not perfect. ODM is a legitimate show stopper – the kind of rousing anthem that makes you buy the overpriced soundtrack album in the lobby after the show lets out. By contrast, TLR, for all its advancement of the plot, and its solving of one particular lingering mystery, felt a bit lurchy, like the chess pieces were being yanked and pulled around, sometimes in uncharacteristic ways, just so they can get where they need to be going forward. In the larger scheme of Lost, this doesn’t bother me, and the episode was fine in the watching, mostly because so much happened. It just wasn’t a classic the way “Happily Ever After” was two weeks ago. Anyway, on with it!
As with “One Day More,” or, more appropriately, the Oscar-winning movie “Crash,” the entire principal cast crossed paths in little flash-sideways vignettes this week. First, we got the return to Alterna-Locke in the wake of last week’s vicious Desmond2-inflicted hit and run. Dr. Linus rides with him in the ambulance. The paramedics blurt out the line that I suspected last week – Locke2’s wheelchair saved him from taking the full impact of the car crash (which, if, like me, you believe Desmond2 was not expressly trying to kill Locke2, explains part of how he knew his actions would not prove fatal). Ben2 says he barely knows the substitute, except for his last name and the fact that he’s paralyzed (and yet, this version of Ben Linus didn’t hesitate before accompanying a virtual stranger to the hospital to look after him – something I doubt even “new” Ben would contemplate on the island). Locke2 says he “was gonna” marry Helen Norwood. Ben2 assures he still will because he’ll be ok. As they arrive, Locke2 and Sun2 (who is taken from the next ambulance over, fresh from her Mikhail2-inflicted gunshot wound) are wheeled in in parallel. Sun2 sees Locke2 and recognizes him, and says, in Korean, “no, no, it’s him, it’s him.”
Aside #1 – Since the method to Desmond2’s madness seems to be to try to get the alterna-Losties to flash recognize their island selves, let’s view these scenes through that prism. I interpret Locke2’s reference to his pending marriage to Helen2 in the past tense as a sign that he’s been infiltrated, in part, by his (departed) island self. He seems as surprised as anything by the realization that he was bound to marry his lost love, which I take as a sign that the “real” John Locke is no longer dead, and now has something to live for in his broken Sideways body. Of course, the other alternative is that Locke2, who already urged Helen2 to leave him over his paralysis, now just assumed, whatever the outcome of this accident, it somehow cost him the marriage he never felt he deserved. I prefer my first reading.
Then there’s Sun. Rather than gain insight into herself, she recognized Locke. The terrified reaction suggested she remembered him, not as his former wacky self, but more as the monster whose offer to reunite her with Jin she rejected. That said, it’s hard to tell if she had a full Hurley-type download of her island memories, or if she’s just skimming the surface of additional insight.
And now…the big continuity problem of the episode. We know from “The Package” that Sun2 was shot within 2 days of having arrived from
Det. Ford2 offers Kate2 an apple. He reads her rap sheet. “Funny, you don’t strike me as the murdering kind,” he grins. “That’s because I’m not,” she insists. (I kind of believe her…more on that in the next aside) “You be sure to mention that to the Feds when they get here,” James2 retorts. He asks if she thinks it’s weird they met up at the airport before she smashed into his car. It’s as if someone was trying to put them together, he surmises. He denies having seen her handcuffs at the airport. She thinks he let her go because he didn’t want anyone to know he was in
Aside #2 – At this point, I see no reason to revise my assumption that the characters’ sideways lives reflect an opportunity they’ve been given to change one thing about their pre-815 existences. As such, it’s telling to see what has changed for Kate2. She did not choose to have her life on the lam erased (if indeed conscious choice was involved). Rather, the change in her sideways life is that, while she’s still accused of murder, she’s actually innocent. Yes, that’s right, I really do believe her when she says she didn’t do it, since island Kate was always about justifying her violent act, and not pretending it didn’t happen. So if her heart’s desire was to not have the crime on her cosmic conscience, it suggests that her justifications to herself never quite worked on a fundamental level.
Now, about James2’s assumption that someone is trying to bring them together: I don’t get the sense that this particular happenstance has Desmond2’s fingerprints on it. What this suggests is that, whichever universe they’re in, course correction is in full effect (and Desmond2 is simply functioning as “course correction’s agent,” in much the same way Eloise Hawking did in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”).
Claire2 signs in for an appointment with the Western Pacific Adoption Agency. Desmond2 greets her at the security desk, and recalls meeting her at the airport. Creepily, he reads her name off the sign-in sheet and introduces himself. She says he was right about it being a boy. He follows her, and suggests she should have some legal representation before going to an adoption agency. He says he knows a lawyer, who he’s on his way to see at that very moment. She selects 15, and he says he’s going there, too. He urges Claire2 to see this lawyer, and promises it won’t cost her a cent. He leads her to the lawyer’s office, and… it’s Ilana2 (sans accent)! Ilana2 hugs Desmond2, and when he introduces her to “Claire(2)
Sayid2 returns to Noor2’s house and starts packing, quickly. She asks what’s going on, and he tells her, “everything will be ok for you, now, but I have to leave.” He says he’s never going to be able to come back, again. The doorbell rings, and he says, “stall them.” It’s Miles2. She opens the door. He sees the suitcase, but as Sayid2 tries to flee out the back, Ford2 catches him in the backyard.
Aside #3: I thought the story was going to take Miles2 and James2 to the hospital, to interview Jin2, perhaps with the aid of Korean-speaking Charlotte2. Instead, they somehow were able to figure out from a single photo of Sayid2, not only who he was, but what local relative’s house he’d be staying at. Again, a little herky-jerky, but I guess it served to move the plot forward. Given island Sawyer’s increasing animosity towards the possessed Iraqi, I wonder if spending time together will get these two to have their flashes.
Jack2 and his son arrive at Ilana2’s office. David’s mother (who we still don’t see – anyone at this point think it’s not Juliet?) calls, and Jack2 says he’ll have him home at 5, but a longing glance from David, and he pushes it to 7. Jack2 assures him it will be sad to hear the will read, and David says he’s sad for Jack2. Ilana2 asks if Jack2 believes in fate. In the conference room, he’s introduced to Claire2. Jack2, who only knew her name from the will, asks how she knew his father. And she tells him – he was my father, too. As Jack2 processes this, he gets a call, and he tells the hospital to go ahead and prep. He apologizes to Ilana2 (and, out of politeness, Claire2), but he has to get to the hospital for an emergency.
Aside #4: For any other character, the discovery that Claire2 was his sister would have been enough of a jolt to push Jack2 to have his island flash. But Jack2 is right back in the “man of science” mode his island counterpart is only now shedding. Mysteries and miracles don’t faze him, not when he has crises and medical emergencies to tend to. So, at least at this point, no island flash (and, after getting past the appendix scar, the Charlie2 rescue, and seeing Kate2 on the run, you kind of wonder if he’ll need to have a lighthouse literally fall on him to “see” his other life).
Sun2 awakens, Jin2 asleep, holding her hand. She calls for him. He wakes up. She asks what happened. He tells her she was shot, but will be ok. She asks about the baby, and he says the baby is fine. He tells her it’s over, and they’re all going to be ok.
Aside #5 – “the baby is fine” was a nice moment for these two, but it pales in comparison to their big island moment this episode. There’s also no real sense that Sun2 awoke with the same realization of her island life as she had while bleeding from a gunshot wound. Jin2, of course, has shown no sign of flashing.
In the hallway, Jack2 and David walk by Jin2 and Sun2. David can’t believe Jack2 never knew he had a sister. “Grandfather kept a lot of things to himself,” Jack2 apologizes for his departed father. “Now I know where you get it from,” David playfully observes. David wishes him luck. Jack examines the x-ray, which, of course, belongs to Locke2, and sees a tricky dural sac problem. “Yeah, I got this.” He goes into the O.R., and sees himself in the mirror under the operating table, and then sees Locke2’s face in it. Jack2 suddenly realizes, “I think I know this guy.”
Aside #6 – Ah, spinal surgeon Jack and his dural sacs. Astute Lost watchers will recall that, back in the pilot, Jack told Kate about his first solo surgery, in which he nicked a dural sac, and nearly killed the patient, before he dug down and found the strength and focus to continue. In last season’s finale, we learned that this episode in his island life widened the wedge between Jack and his father, and immediately preceded his touch from Jacob. Now, Jack2 confronts the same surgical crisis, only here, it’s at a time where it most likely will serve to jumpstart his personal island flash. Moreover, it comes at a time when the life at stake is another sideways Lostie, also on the verge of self-realization. So, the question that remains is, does Jack2 recognize Locke2 from their LAX airport exchange, or does his view of his island frienemy bring back memories of their other selves’ connection, of his desperate (failed) attempt to save Boone, of the whole “last recruit” status the island bestows upon him in this very episode? Indeed, Jack2’s almost willful blindness to his other existence suggests he is, indeed, the last recruit in both worlds.
Island – Also Everybody
Picking up where “Everybody Loves Hugo” left off, Flocke greets the last member of Team Hurley to enter the clearing. “Hello, Jack. I was hoping you’d come.” Flocke takes Hurley’s torch, and invites Jack to “catch up” with him. Jack follows, but only after getting the blessing (a better you than me) from his new spiritual guidepost, Hurley (who may just as easily have been relinquishing the reigns on island destiny to his once and future leader).
Flocke plants his torch. Jack marvels, “you look just like him.” “Does that bother you,” old Smokey asks. “No,” Jack responds, “what bothers me is I don’t have any idea what the hell you are.” “Sure you do,” Flocke responds.
Aside #7: What the heck does Flocke mean here? He had always insisted deep down he was a man, who just wants to go home. I don’t get that at all underlying the “sure you do,” as though Flocke knows he’s more than just that, and more than just a “smoke monster,” and, what’s more, he knows that Jack knows this, too. I’m betting we’ll get smokey’s backstory two episodes from now. But now back to our scene…
Changing the subject (deep realizations are never Jack’s strong suit), he asks, “why John Locke?” “Because,” Smokey eagerly explains, as though he has longed to unload this on someone worthy, “he was stupid enough to believe he was brought here for a reason, because he pursued that belief until it got him killed, and because you were kind enough to bring his body back here in a nice wooden box.” He confirms someone has to be dead before he can take their form. Jack tries to build to his real query by asking who else Smokey has been, but when prompted instead to ask the “real” question, Jack asks if he was his father. “Yes, that was me,” Flocke candidly admits. “Why?” Jack asks, and we wonder if he means “why him” or “why me?” Flocke shrugs, “you needed to find water. This may be hard for you to believe, Jack, but all I’ve ever been interested in is helping you.” “To help me to do what,” an incredulous Jack asks. “Leave,” says Flocke, his familiar diatribe just getting started. “But because Jacob chose you, you were trapped on this island, before you ever even got here.” He assures Jack, with Jacob dead they can leave, but it has always had to be to be together. Jack protests that Locke was the only one who believed in the island. “He did everything he could to keep us from leaving this place.” “John Locke was not a believer, Jack,” Flocke responds. “He was a sucker.”
Aside #8 – I’ll let Doc Jensen (who never thanks me, by the way), take over at this point: “What were some of Man-Thing's previous disguises? Man-Thing didn't answer the last one. Instead, he huffily asked Jack to ask him the question he really wanted to ask. Yes, Man-Thing wanted Jack to cut to the chase. But I also wondered if Man-Thing was trying to derail Jack's philosophical investigation, lest he find himself dealing with questions he didn't want to deal with, including the ones that I really wanted answered, like 'What's your name?' and 'Where do you come from?' and 'Who's your mom?'
“When Man-Thing said that John Locke wasn't a believer but rather a 'sucker,' I didn't disagree. The story of John Locke plays like a cautionary tale about faith, not a glorious affirmation of it. Jack and the castaways have surely been negatively impacted by their dead friend's scary need for The
Flocke calls out Claire, who was following them, but did not expect her leader to see her. She was following them because “he’s my brother.” Flocke leaves them to catch up. Claire asks if Flocke said he was the one pretending to be their father. Claire says she pretty much gave up hoping Jack ever come back, but now that he’s here…(pregnant pause)… it’s great to see him (phew! She put away the crazy…right?) She says it means a lot that he’s coming with them. He corrects he hasn’t decided to come, but she says, “yeah, you have, you decided the moment you let him talk to you, just like the rest of us. So, like it or not, you’re with him, now.”
Sawyer and Hurley compare notes on their post-Temple experiences, including Widmore and the sub, and Sawyer’s plan to leave. Kate tells Sun simultaneously now. “Sayid ain’t invited,” Sawyer tells Hugo, “because he’s gone over to the dark side.” Hurley insists Sayid can be brought back from the dark side, like Anakin. Sawyer, who has no idea who “Anakin” is, tells him to keep his mouth shut. Claire, Flocke and Jack return, and Flocke announces, “it’s so nice to have everyone back together again.”
Aside #9: Doc Jensen on the “Anakin” reference: “Sawyer looked at Hurley like he was speaking Korean when the ex-Dharma chef (and would-be rewriter of The Empire Strikes Back) invoked the name ‘Anakin' when he likened Sayid's potential for redemption to Darth Vader's character arc in the complete saga. Sawyer knew enough geek stuff to make a 'dark side' reference, but not enough to know the significance of the name Anakin. Three thoughts: 1. Sawyer is most likely a prequel hater. 2. Sawyer is offering us a metaphor of Kant's Thing-in-itself. He knows Darth Vader only by appearance, but doesn't know the reality behind the mask. 3. Sawyer probably only ever saw Star Wars: A
Kate joins Jack, watching Sayid. She says he’s different now. “I guess we’re all different now,” Jack responds, in the second loopiest line of the episode. Jack tells her FLocke said he wants to leave, and they all have to go together, but he’s not sure yet if he believes him.
Zoe walks into their camp and asks for the man in charge. Flocke comes out. She says she wants what they took from them. She orders into a walkie-talkie, “show them what we’re capable of.” And a rocket detonates a few feet away. “You have until nightfall to return what you took, or next time we won’t miss.” She leaves him the walkie and says, “call me when you’re ready for us to pick him up.” As she leaves, he smashes the walkie, and says, “well, here we go.”
Aside #10 – no astute observation here, but doesn’t Zoe kind of make you question if Nikki really was Lost’s worst character, ever?
Claire asks what’s going on, and Hurley responds, matter-of-factly, “people trying to kill us again.” Flocke says it was only a matter of time before confrontation. He directs Sawyer (with Kate) to a boat moored around the island. Flocke then takes Sayid off for another mission.
Sawyer takes Jack, and says they’re not going to the rendezvous point. He says to bring Hugo, Sun, and Frank away from Flocke and meet up with them at the dock. “Sayid ain’t coming and Claire’s nuts.”
Aside #11 – for me, the weakest part of “The Last Recruit” was Jack’s response to Claire. Sure, Claire is Kate’s mission. But learning that he has a sister, and that she’s one of the ones he left behind, was what made Jack start to question his off-island life, and what cost him his relationship with Kate and Aaron. Now he finally sees Claire, for the first time sharing space with her as his sister, and, odd behavior or not, he is content to just sit back and let Sawyer say she’s getting abandoned? I know Jack has had some “growth” in his ability not to always be in charge, but ditching your sister? Cold, man. Just cold.
Flocke tells Sayid to go kill Desmond. “You do still want what you asked me for, right,” urges Flocke. “Yes, I do,” responds a wavering Sayid. “Then you’ll do what I said.”
Sayid comes to the well, gun in hand, and spots Desmond at the bottom. He points the gun. Desmond asks, “so what did he offer you? If you’re going to shoot me in cold blood, brother, I think I have the right to know” Sayid responds, “he told me I’d get back something I lost... the woman I loved.” He explains that he believes Flocke will be able to bring her back, because, “I died, and he brought me back.” “So what will you tell her,” Desmond asks calmly.” “This woman, what if she asks you what you did to be with her again? What will you tell her?”
Aside #12 – If it was effective, this was a far cooler Jedi mind trick than “these are not the droids you’re looking for.” Doc Jensen on some possible motivation behind Desmond’s tactics: “If we are to believe that Island Desmond shares a mind with Sideways Desmond, then clearly Island Desmond knows that Man-Thing's Faustian bargains won't quite play out the way that the castaways are expecting. (This assumes that the Sideways world is the payout for said bargains.) So why didn't Desmond just say so? Because Desmond can only help bring enlightenment through indirect means. Oh, and by running people over with a car. Fortunately, Desmond's brand of indirect can be pretty damn effective.”
Sawyer and Kate find the boat – Desmond’s boat,
Flocke leads his group. Jack approaches Claire. He asks how long she’s been with FLocke. “Ever since you left.” (Okay, Claire, we get it. You’re pissed about being left behind). “You trust him,” Jack asks. “Yes. He’s the only one that didn’t abandon me.” (Seriously, Princess Koo-Koo Bananas – you’re the one who wandered off with him and abandoned your baby.) Flocke asks Sun if she’s seen Sayid. She looks at him. “Oh, the silent treatment,” he smiles. She writes, “you did this to me,” but he apologizes that he didn’t do anything. Flocke goes to find James, and Jack pulls Frank, Hurley, and Sun out, and says they have to come now. Claire watches them leave, steels herself, and follows.
Aside #13 – According to Doc Jensen, a number of on-line posters have surmised that Sun’s loss of English resulted, not from Flocke, but rather from a reverse link to her Sideways self, who didn’t know English. That link may have been forged, I’m assuming, by Sun’s decision not to follow Flocke with his promise to reunite her with Jin. Hey, if we’re going that far, perhaps her getting shot in Sideways world was a consequence of her not quite buying into Flocke’s brand of wish fulfillment. In any case, Flocke can do all sorts of things, but I kind of believe he didn’t really cause her aphasia, particularly since she did, in fact, hit her head pretty hard.
Flocke finds Sayid, and asks where he’s been. “Doing what you asked,” Sayid says coldly, and Flocke seems to detect for the first time since Sayid’s conversion a bit of rebellion in his voice. “What took you so long,” Flocke asks. “I just shot an unarmed man, I needed a moment,” Sayid says, somewhat sarcastically. “Did you do it,” Flocke asks pointedly. “Of course I did,” Sayid says. “Go and check if you like.” Flocke considers this, then says, “come on, we got a boat to catch.”
Aside #14 – the germ of a theory begins here. I believe that, of all the Sideways characters, Sayid2 is the one who began his journey most in touch with how he got there. I believe the reason he, back in time, pushed Nadia to his brother instead of loving her himself is that, in order to make this alternate world happen, he did, indeed, have to kill Desmond. This, and not the actions he committed in
Jacks’ crew boards
Aside #15 – again, I would have preferred just one line of Jack telling Sawyer it had to be this way. Jack’s indifference towards Claire really doesn’t work for me.
On the boat, Frank asks Sawyer the plan. “Make for the sub, put a gun in someone’s face, and make him take us home.” Frank and Claire go below for food (would you want to be alone with Claire?). Sawyer goes to talk to Jack. “Taking orders doesn’t seem your strong suit,” Sawyer observes. “Glad to see you came around.” Jack tells him leaving the island doesn’t feel right, because he remembers how he felt last time. Channeling his inner Locke, Jack says, “we were brought here because we’re supposed to do something.” And if Flocke wants them to leave, maybe it’s scared of what we’ll do if we stay.
Aside #16 – Jensen’s take on Jack’s plea: “In that line, it seemed to me that Jack was applying several lessons of his Island experience, including all the hard lessons Ben had taught him over the years about
James tells Jack to get off the boat or stow it. “You want to take a leap of fate, you take it,” he says, his tone getting harsher. “Get off my damn boat.” Jack apologizes for getting Juliet killed, and then, channeling Sawyer, Season 4, jumps off the boat. As he swims for shore, Kate demands to know what Jack said to Sawyer. She says they have to go back to get him, but Sawyer says they’re done going back, channeling Season 4 Kate.
Jack stumbles onto the shore, and Flocke is there. “Nice day for a swim,” Flocke observes. The Others are all there, too. “Sawyer took my boat, didn’t he,” the astute former smoke monster asks. “Yeah,” Jack admits.
Team Sawyer takes to the beach on Hydra island. They’re greeted with Widmore’s armed people. Zoe has them turn the fences off, and, finally, Jin and Sun see each other. Their embrace rivals Desmond’s and Penny’s call from “The Constant” as one of the most satisfying emotional moments Lost has ever delivered. Sun says – in English – “I love you. I never stopped looking for you.” He promises they’ll never be apart again, and they kiss. Frank comments, ham-handedly, “hey, look who got her voice back,” in the easy winner of the worst line of the episode award, and the scene gets stopped dead by this cornballery, preserving Des/Pen as the best tear-jerking love moment in the series. Zoe takes a call, then tells them all to get on their knees, as they raise their guns. Sawyer says they had a deal, and she says, “deal is off.” A missile fires at team Locke. Jack gets caught in the blast wave, and Flocke carries him off as more rockets fire. Flocke assures him it will be ok. “You’re with me now.” And with that, by happenstance, Jack, indeed, becomes “The Last Recruit.”
Aside #17 – I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge again Doc Jensen, who wrote, “I wish to use this opportunity to acknowledge a school of thought that theorizes that Man-Thing's conflict with Team Widmore is a giant ruse, that The Monster and Charles Widmore are actually collaborators in a conspiracy to manipulate (and ultimately destroy) the castaways in order to achieve mutually advantageous goals. We know that Man-Thing wants to leave The
So there will be no Lost this week, I’m afraid, a decision that seems motivated by ABC’s desire to maximize the number of Sweeps period episodes it can air. But when Lost resumes, from its intermission (just as Les Mis did after “One Day More,”) it will be in what can only be considered the final, bloody act. Bear in mind that in Les Mis, (spoiler alert, if in fact you never saw the show), one of the most beloved characters, Eponine, is killed almost as soon as the last act begins, and consider that was we head into the home stretch of Lost.
I leave you this week with an observation Doc Jensen posted yesterday about what Lost, from its inception, has really been about. We’re almost, but not quite, at the point where retrospective of the entire Lost experience makes sense. So read this, and check back in after the next episode, “The Candidate,” airs. Until then, Namaste!
Lost is a show full of mystery, but I don't think finding ''the answers'' has ever been the point. I think the point has been to dramatize the usefulness of mystery. Lost shows us that mystery is an invitation to seek meaning in life. But it also shows us that you can get Lost in mystery, too. And the cost for those who do can be profound. It's about the perils and pitfalls of anyone who dares to seek meaning in such an age — and about the cost to anyone who dares to not seek meaning in life regardless of the age, and especially now. Lost is about the pain of being Lost and the profound challenge of being found. That's what I think Lost is about. That's what I've always believed it was about, even back in Season 2, when I wrote my first serious piece about Lost and identified it as an attempt to make sense of the world in spiritual terms. Time and again in my writing, as I have pursued all sorts of nutty flights of fancy, I have always returned to this theme. And now I'm going to hold fast to it as Lost takes us into its last act.