LOST EPISODE 6.13 – “THE LAST RECRUIT”

Reunited. And split. And reunited some more!

Well this week we got a story that furthered along the Sideways arcs of ALL our castaways in one fell swoop. And I’m beginning to think it’s also impossible for them to die in Sideways, as it is on the island (fate/the island/Jacob/God/etc. isn’t done with them yet, which was reiterated by Jack to Sawyer in this episode)… See Sun and her baby surviving a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and Locke being saved by Jack the surgeon after surviving being hit by a speeding car.

The title “The Last Recruit”, I think referred to quite a few people. Desmond seems to be hopping all over Sideways gathering up as many Oceanic passengers as he can, at least the ones he recognizes from his Island timeline. In that way, I think he’s been recruiting the castaways to open their eyes to their other timeline. Also, Jack ended up staying behind with the MIB, he is likely the most important recruit, and the last to arrive in MIB’s camp. Jin was also the only one not in MIB’s group at the end of the last episode. And Claire was wanted by some but not by others on the sailboat… Kate said she wasn’t leaving without Claire, so she hopped aboard. And what about Desmond himself… He was busy in Sideways recruiting others, but on the island, Widmore sure did want to get him back!

Doc Jensen:
‘The Last Recruit” didn’t blow me away. Some of it really bugged me, actually, but it was a necessary staging episode for the final act of the season (and the series!), and I won’t judge it too harshly. But can I just say that the Lapidus quip ”Looks like someone got their voice back” was maybe the most cornball line ever uttered on Lost? (Like I said: not too harshly.) Still, there were plenty of meaty things in this busybusybusy outing to chew and savor. Jack’s torchlight chat with [MIB] was dense with significance. (Mystery Resolution Alert! Christian Shephard has always been a Smokey apparition! But did you believe M-T’s claim?) Sayid’s wellside conversation with Desmond also captured my imagination (do you think Mr. Designated Assassin executed his kill order?), as did Sideways Sun’s freak-out over seeing Sideways John Locke. And then there was the set-up for the next episode: Sideways Jack’s scramble to save Sideways John’s life. That passing reference to Locke’s obliterated neural sac was a nod to the classic moment in the pilot when Jack recounted his most harrowing moment as a young doctor. It led me to wonder if Lost is about to come full circle and give Jack an encounter with mind-clouding fear in both worlds. Count to five, folks: I think things are about to get scary.

Some quick thoughts from each story:

Sideways Locke, Jin and Sun:

Sun exclaims in Korean “It’s him! It’s him!” as they are wheeled next to each other at the hospital. Seeing as how they haven’t run into each other in Sideways at all, she was most likely crossing over into her island life through her traumatic brush with death.

"It's Him!"

And I think Locke was having a similar experience in his traumatic state. In the ambulance he said “My name is John!” (just as his mother insisted “His name is John!” the day he was born), but he also remembered that he was supposed to marry Helen Norwood. The pathetic past tense of that statement is all John Locke, but as soon as Sun recognized him he smiled: MIB.

Also in this scene, the paramedic suggests Locke’s wheelchair probably saved his life. Just as in the island timeline, his missing a kidney saved his life after being shot in that very spot.

Sideways Sawyer, Kate and Sayid:

At the police department, Sawyer waltzed to his desk biting into an apple… symbol of the Tree of Knowledge, of course. Sawyer and Kate flirt but don’t hit it off like their island counterparts.

Sayid is on the run after killing Keamy and his men and heads back to Nadia’s to pack. Sawyer and Miles see Sayid on video surveillance footage and states: “That’s our bad guy.” As he escapes out the back door, he’s tripped by Sawyer holding a taut garden hose. This is reminiscent of Rousseau’s trapping methods used to catch Sayid back in season 1.

Sideways Desmond, Claire and Jack:

Desmond catches up with Claire, his next target, and creepily pushes her into Ilana the lawyer’s office so she can bring Jack and Claire together at the reading of their father’s will. Jack is taken aback, but gets called in to work to perform a complicated surgery. In other words, he is forced to abandon Claire at the lawyer’s office just after reuniting with her, just as he abandons her in the jungle on the island. But… Duty calls! At the hospital, Jack sees Locke’s reflection in the mirror (Sideways mirrors), and recognizes him immediately.

Island (2007):

Jack and MIB talk civilly apart from the group. We find out for sure that the MIB can only impersonate those who are dead, and whose bodies are on the island. He said he took the role of Christian simply to show Jack where to find water. Not sure we can believe this completely, but sounds plausible…

Doc Jensen:
”Because you needed to find water,” he said. There was an implied ”Duh!” in there, as well as some implied irony. Back in season 1, Ghost Christian was a storytelling device that revealed Jack’s character and solved a castaway survival issue (finding water) — but did it mean anything more than that? Did the writers really know that Ghost Christian was a manifestation of The Monster, or was that something they decided after the fact? I know many of you are debating the question today, and my answer is that I don’t really care because either way, I am satisfied with resolution of the Ghost Christian mystery.

Claire was following them, and when she gets time alone with her big brother, says cryptically that because Jack let the MIB talk to him, whether he likes it or not, he is now WITH HIM. So then all the rest of the castaways are with him too… right?

Doc Jensen:
To be honest, I think the Jack-Claire twist hasn’t panned out to be as cool as it first seemed to be. Making them related by blood nourished the important thematic idea of interconnection between characters that existed prior their Island meeting. It also ratcheted up Jack’s angst over abandoning the castaways and during his Oceanic days. Perhaps there’s time to squeeze more out of it.

Zoe comes into the MIB’s camp threatening to get Desmond back by nightfall (though she doesn’t refer to him by name. Widmore’s team refers to him as the “package”, MIB keeps him hidden from the rest of the Candidates, everyone’s trying to keep his presence on the island hush-hush).  Zoe has a warning shot fired using her radio. She leaves the device with the MIB, who promptly smashes it. Just as Locke smashed Naomi’s radio from the freighter. He says “here we go” and lays out an elaborate plan for the group to split up, get the sailboat, and meet at Hydra. Sawyer has plans of his own, based on his deal with Widmore (why on earth did he still think that was valid??), and recruits Jack, Kate, and the rest of the castaways to steal the sailboat, rendezvous with Widmore, and take the sub off the island. Good point about the plane plan not working… Everyone comes and goes via sub!

Sayid goes to kill Desmond, but Desmond (presumably) talks him out of it. Sayid lies to the MIB later and says the job is done, hoping he’ll trust that it is.

"What will you tell her?" Desmond's question breathed life back to zombie-Sayid. Doc Jensen: Nadia's reaction (''Did you hurt someone?'' And then, chilling: ''What did you do, Sayid?'') only confirmed what Island Desmond had said to Island Sayid about the cost of reunion.

Jack decides that this “doesn’t feel right”, and after talking to Sawyer, jumps off the sailboat and heads back to the island. This is reminiscent of their last escape attempt via helicopter… Frank urged them to drop all the weight they could, when Sawyer decided one less passenger would help them make it out alive.

Doc Jensen: "We were brought here because we were supposed to do something, James. And if Locke — if that 'thing' — wants us to leave, then maybe it's afraid of what happens if we stay?'' 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 Island bad guys. Island bad guys figure out what you want most in life, then exploit it. They motivate you with fear and urgency, and make it sound like you share common interests, but in most cases, whatever it is they want you to do is actually the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

The sailboat arrives, and Sun and Jin are finally reunited after 29 episodes apart… yay! And with her constant back, she’s able to speak English again. The celebration is short-lived when Zoe gets word that Widmore’s deal is off and holds them all kneeling at gunpoint.

Jack makes it back to the beach and is met by Locke and his group, who guesses that Sawyer took his (well, Desmond’s) boat. After saving Jack from the explosions, he reassures him: “You’re with me now.” Eek! Also: Jack is saving Locke’s life in the flash-sideways timeline, while in the original timeline, the fake Locke is saving Jack’s life.

Sidenote: We didn’t see Richard, Miles, and Ben at all this episode. Methinks their quest to destroy Ajira over on Hydra will be key to the endgame!

Miscellaneous:

• Trailers for this episode featured the Pendulum song “Through The Loop“. The song features samples of The Rowing Song, as spoken by Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which was again adapted from “The Rowers”, a 1959 poem by Roald Dahl. In the movie it is part of the selection process of choosing a Candidate to succeed Willy Wonka.

• Ilana’s office where Desmond, Claire, and Jack go is on the 15th floor.

• Drinking the Kool-Aid: Sawyer tells Kate that Claire can’t come with them because she “drank Locke’s Kool-Aid.” This may be a reference to the Jonestown cult mass suicide of 1978, when over 900 followers of Jim Jones committed suicide at their Guyana camp. Jones had cups of Flavor Aid or Kool-Aid dosed with cyanide.

Jonestown Massacre

• Regarding MIB’s role:

Doc Jensen:
My recap hinges on a reading of Lost that I’ve had since ”Ab Aeterno.” In the climactic scene of the episode, the Man In Black vowed to kill Jacob and any of his replacements. It’s been my stated theory since then that MIB has been lying to the castaway candidates about getting them off The Island alive. Instead, what he’s been conspiring to do is get them killed by either trying to escape — or by trying to stop him from escaping. MIB can’t kill the candidates himself, per the implied rules expressed by the Ghost Boy that’s been haunting him, so he needs to manipulate Widmore into slaying the castaways, or trick the castaways into killing each other. All this said, MIB’s homicidal ambitions may not be ”evil.” I have previously speculated that the castaways have lived long past their natural expiration date and need to pass into the afterlife, which may or may not be represented by the Sideways world. Thus, killing the castaways isn’t wrong, but rather the means to end their unnatural state of being. Among the flaws in my line of thinking: it does seem to be increasingly likely that the Sideways world is some manufactured reality that represents the pay-out of MIB’s happily-ever-after promises to the castaways. The following recap leans more on the latter perspective, though it doesn’t quite square with my characterization of MIB as a tough love angel/afterlife traffic cop. Indeed, with each passing week, it does truly seem that MIB is as Satanic as we fear him to be.

• Regarding Hurley’s role:

Doc Jensen:
Should we be skeptical about the legitimacy of Hurley’s ability to see and converse with the dead? Ghosts have visited Hurley since ”The Beginning of The End,” the season 4 premiere, when Charlie’s specter visited him at the mental hospital in the flash-forward time frame and began wooing him to go back to The Island. That was also the episode where Hurley got lost in the jungle and stumbled upon Jacob’s haunted shack and peeked in the window and saw Ghost Christian in a rocking chair. Then an eyeball popped into the frame and glared right back at him and scared the hell out of Hurley. Or maybe it scared the hell into Hurley. Assuming that Jacob’s haunted shack didn’t belong to Jacob at all, but was instead a prison for The Man In Black, I wonder if the dark man literally got into Hurley’s head in that eyeball moment and has been messing with him ever since. Consider Ghost Jacob. In the season premiere, he instructed Hurley to take Sayid to The Temple for healing. How did that turn out? Sayid came back to life and helped MIB lay waste to The Island’s spiritual epicenter. In ”Lighthouse,” Ghost Jacob instructed Hurley to take Jack to the lighthouse by evoking his father’s memory. (”You have what it takes.”) How did that turn out? The experience left Jack convinced that Jacob was a perverted voyeur who had been spying on him since childhood and further convinced him that The Island was not a place where he’d find healing for his brokenness. Putting Jack in such a place helps MIB’s cause because it sets Jack up for one of his Faustian bargains. What do you want most in the world, Jack? Reconciliation with someone you love? Your father, perhaps? Because I can do that.

~ I wonder though if this can be true because (A) Hurley saw ghosts off-island in the original timeline before he came back to the island, and (B) Ilana mentioned quite a few episodes ago that the MIB is now stuck in John Locke’s body. We’ve since seen him turn into the smoke monster, but he hasn’t inhabited anyone else but Locke since then…

• Sawyer refers to Lapidus as a guy from a Burt Reynolds movie… People are saying this points specifically to the Burt Reynolds movie, Deliverance. I’ll be exploring this option eventually (as I’ve never seen the movie), but in the meantime I’m pointing you in the right direction. Take note!

Deliverance could hold some Lost clues.

Next week: “The Candidate” …But which one? I’m guessing another Jack episode, but we’ll see!

Sorry so short this week, I may add in if free time allows! Lost is taking a week off next week, and I wish they left us with a bigger cliffhanger to explore for 2 weeks, but maybe things will reveal themselves the longer I mull them over! Thanks for reading, as always. Comment and share!

Jen / desmondismyconstant

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